The Firearms and Gun Safe of Ernest Hemingway

While most people know Ernest Hemingway for his landmark works of the 20th century, such as The Old Man and the Sea and A Farewell to Arms, he had a wide variety of interests that he liked to share with his friends. One of his friends, A.E. Hotchner, described a picture that he and Ernest Hemingway took back when they were children. This picture showed Ernest carrying a rifle at around five or six years of age. In fact, Hemingway’s mother stated that his father taught Ernest how to shoot around age two and could capably handle a pistol at age four. This unique and lesser-known passion has carried over into the industry today.

Hemingway’s Firearms Passion

Because Hemingway was so passionate about firearms from a young age, this passion spilled over into his writing. During his high school years, he was a member of the firearms club with his classmates. When he turned 18, he joined the military and served his country. While he wasn’t overseas, he hunted a variety of animals such as bears, deer, and elk on the American frontier. He also traveled on a variety of safaris, well-represented in his work. He worked hard to maintain his skills with firearms until the day he died.

The Chronicles of War

Hemingway served his country during World War I and worked as a reporter during World War II. This, combined with the passions described above, obviously meant that Hemingway led an action-packed life. There are over a thousand photographs of Hemingway’s time both overseas and abroad, including some photographs of Hemingway hitting small targets with his variety of firearms, such as cigarettes from people’s mouths.

The Guns He Carried

Hemingway used a variety of guns including a Browning Superposed. The Browning Superposed was:

  • A Grade 1 gun with no engraving
  • One of the first over-under shotguns made
  • Introduced the single-select trigger on the stack-barrel
  • It was the last firearm manufactured by Mr. Browning

Hemingway also used other guns including the Browning Automatic 5. The Browning Automatic 5 is:

  • A shotgun that is operated by recoil
  • It was one of the first semi-automatic shotguns to be successful

Hemingway also used a Winchester Model 21, a handful of Merkel over-unders, and the Colt Woodsman .22 pistol. In fact, there are many photos of him as a child using this Colt pistol. His favorite weapon was the Griffin and Howe .30-’06 Sprg. Sporting rifle. This was the gun that he would use on his African safaris and played a prominent role in his work. View Ernest Hemingway’s gun collection here.

The Gun Safe

Hemingway served overseas during World War I as a driver of an ambulance for the Italian military. Due to his bravery, he was awarded the Italian Silver Medal. During his service, he was injured and had to spend time in a hospital located in Milan. Shortly after this, Hemingway would marry Pauline Pfeiffer, his second marriage. When Pauline became pregnant, the couple moved back to the United States. They named their son Patrick and decided to take up residence in Key West, FL. As they got to know the local residents, they decided they wanted to stay in Key West.

In 1931, one of Hemingway’s relatives helped them purchase a house on Whitehead Street. In fact, this house is still standing today. Visitors can tour the house and view the gun safe that Hemingway used during his time in Key West. The gun safe sits in the same spot as it did since it’s delivery in 1935. The safe was manufactured by York Safe and Lock. The safe, along with the house, was a gift from Uncle Gus to Ernest Hemingway and his wife, Pauline. The safe is built with a lock made by Sargent and Greenleaf. If the name Sargent and Greenleaf sound familiar, it is because the same company still manufactures high-security locks, and is used on Champion Safes today.

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