This story was fun to do – My friend Jim enjoys history, gun collecting and an appreciation for family and military life.
Jim Miller, Jr
“The more history behind a gun, the better,” said Jim Miller of Uniondale, Indiana. Miller collects antique guns, particularly pre-WWI and those manufactured during the 1800s.
He currently owns 50 antique guns. Possibly one of the most notorious is one owned and fired by Annie Oakley, the famed pioneer sharpshooter who traveled with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show during the 1800s.
Miller bought the gun at an auction several years ago and has papers verifying that Oakley owned and fired the gun. “She is reported to have held this gun behind her back and shot coins tossed into the air with it,” he said.
He also has collected Winchesters and his Pennsylvania long rifles and Kentucky rifles are from the 1800s. A rifle made by the esteemed gunsmith Joseph Manton was manufactured by hand circa 1800.
Miller’s Snider rifle, circa 1820, was an improvement over the muzzle loader of the era which had to be reloaded after each shot. “The Snider had a trap door for cartridges,’ he said.
His Parker brothers shot gun was also made in the late 1800s. “This might have been the type used on stage coaches for protection,” said Miller. “That’s how we get the phrase, ‘I’ll ride shotgun.’”
He has an impressive matching pair of military issue Remington revolvers from the mid-1800s. “I think these would have been issued to a high ranking officer during the Civil War,” said Miller.
His 1861Tower rifle is also from the Civil War era. “It was shot with a 50-caliber mini ball and kicked like a mule because it is light,” he said.
His Damascus double barrel shot gun is from the pre-1910 era. He even has Russian gun from World War II. “After the war, someone found thousands of these guns packed in grease to keep them from rusting,” he said.
Not all of Miller’s guns are pre-1910. He has possession of his father’s M14, which Jim Miller, Sr. of Bluffton used while serving as a military police officer in the Marines during the Vietnam era. He also has an M1which belonged to his father. “General George S. Patton said that was the gun that won the Second World War,” said Miller.
Jim Miller (son) does not collect just military guns. He also owns his grandfather’s DB 20-gauge shotgun.
Miller prefers to only buy and not sell his guns. He displays several in his collection in a gun holder mounted on a wall in his home. The rest he keeps in a home safe.
Miller hopes to extend his love for guns to the next generation. He has taken each of his school-age daughters, Country and Nature, on hunting trips during which each girl shot various small animals.
Besides hunting with his daughters, Miller takes two major hunting trips each year and has shot an assortment of animals which are mounted in his home.
“I love collecting guns and hope they will continue to be part of my family’s heritage for years to come,” he said.