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The Guns Of Grady Pardue

This lawman preferred the .45 Colt.

October 01, 2001  |  by Gary Paul Johnston


Along with two law enforcement badges, Deputy Grady Pardue’s Colt .45 six-shooters remain together after almost a century. The Colt New Service (top gun) was used by Grady to kill two armed robbers in a gunfight in Arcadia, California just prior to World War II.

There is something almost mystical about a lawman's guns. Distinctly personal, unlike pens or uniform shoes, a lawman's guns are often as much a partner to them as their flesh-and-blood buddy in the saddle next to them. When those same guns were the key players in a shoot-out or belonged to a famous cop, they become even more magical. The nicks, worn bluing and well-handled grips speak of years in a duty holster and untold stories often lurk, just out of reach. "If they could only talk," is often muttered quietly. Sometimes, just sometimes, they can talk.

Although not many details are known about the early law enforcement career of Grady Pardue, it began in Texas in the early 1930s, possibly in the town of Farwell. In fact, most of the information about Grady from those days revolves around the gun he carried in Texas. It's about all that remains of that era, along with a questionable town Marshall's badge.

Somewhat unusual, Grady's Texas six-shooter is a Colt Single Action Army revolver that he reportedly had converted to .45 Colt caliber. This is apparent since few of this gun's parts have matching serial numbers. The frame number is 345184, indicating it was made in 1923. One thing is for certain and that is the 4-3/4" barrel is newer than the rest of the gun.

Equally interesting is its front sight. Instead of the standard Colt factory front sight, Grady's gun has had a Marble gold bead partridge style front sight fitted. This was a fairly common conversion back in those days and consists of reducing the height of the front sight until just enough protrudes from the barrel to accept the Marble sight that straddles it like a tight-fitting saddle.

What is important here is that the combined height of the old stub and the new sight equal the height of the original. With the new sight in place two holes are drilled through it and the old front sight stub and two cross pins are then installed to fix the new sight in place. The gold bead provided a much better sight picture in low light in those "pre-tritium" days! This gun shoots point of aim, point of impact with factory .45 Colt ammunition.

Nothing is known about Grady Pardue's use of this Colt SAA during his Texas tenure, but it's obvious the gun has been carried and used heavily. This Colt remains in fine shooting condition to this day and has a tight, crisp action and a very good trigger pull.

Off To California

After spending a few years as a lawman in Texas, Grady moved to Los Angeles. He resumed his career in law enforcement there, this time with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office (LASO) sometime in the late 1930s. After becoming a deputy in L.A., Grady bought a Colt New Service double action revolver, serial number 148326. He didn't have to convert this gun since it came from the factory in .45 Colt. This was long before the days of jacketed hollowpoint bullets in handguns. Indeed, nothing meant business like the .45 Colt with its 255 gr. lead slug traveling at close to 900 fps. Grady would prove this only a couple of years after coming to California.

Assigned to eastern Los Angeles County, Grady Pardue was working the day watch patrolling in the town of Arcadia when things hit the fan. There was a report of a robbery in progress at a grocery store on Double Drive (now Santa Anita) not far from the Old Pony Express Museum. Responding to the location, Grady arrived only to be confronted by two armed robbers running out of the store. A classic cops and robbers situation if there ever was one!

Grady leapt out of his patrol car only to be met by gunfire. With bullets zipping past him and the big Colt already in his hand, Grady returned fire. He neatly killed both bandits without having to reload his revolver. The big Colt had spoken.

Whether or not Grady Pardue was ever in another gunfight in LA is unknown, but he became famous for this one for the remainder of his career. Retiring as a Lieutenant in 1958, Grady Pardue's reputation lived on for many years in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office. Although Grady has now passed on, his two Colt .45s reside in the private collection of one of his contemporaries along with one of his early LA County badges and a Town Marshall's badge from Farwell, Texas. Let's hope Grady is still helping to keep the peace somewhere.

We finally allowed Gary to write about his first love: old guns. Okay, maybe not his first love. We believe his first love has something to do with Kentucky and comes in square bottles. We may be wrong so we'll attempt to properly research the matter ourselves. Who is this "Mr. Daniels", anyway?

Tags: Revolvers, Colt, Police History


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