The Gary Gilmore Gun

The true story of the gun that brought back capital punishment to America.

The Gilmore Gun – Echo of Murder by Dennis R. Stilson

July 1976 - Gary Gilmore robbed and murdered a gas station attendant in Orem, Utah.

The following day he again robbed and murdered the manager of a motel in Provo, Utah. The same pistol was used for both murders and is now known as the “Gilmore Gun.” January 1977 - Gilmore was executed only six months after committing murder. His death was by firing squad making him the first person to be executed in America in over a decade ending a federal moratorium prohibiting capital punishment nationwide. The firearm used by Gilmore for both of these tragic robberies and murders was returned to the owner from whom Gilmore stole it after the court case and execution. It was stored away for 25 years before resurfacing.

One of American histories most famous, historical, and valuable firearms.

January 17,2017 Marks 40 years since the execution of Gary Mark Gilmore

The Gilmore Gun – Editorial Book Reviews

The Gilmore Gun – Echo of Murder is a fascinating account of a key crime in American history and the tale of the gun involved. Amazingly, there are times when the criminal has a higher commitment to justice than many in the system. Stilson preserves an important record with this book. - Larry Pratt – Executive Director – Gun Owners of America

My favorite quote in the book was ” I didn’t realize how much opinions about guns differ in America. I simply never considered other’s lifestyles.” This book tells a true and tragic story of a failed family and a piece of equipment that became famous because it was used to do a terrible evil. JEANIE ALMOND - Director of Education – Elm Fork Shooting sports – Dallas, Tx.

The extra-ordinary life story of the Gilmore Gun, a .22 caliber Browning pistol that rose from humble origins to become America’s most wanted firearm, is a fascinating parable for the modern age. -Toby Dye- Award winning documentary producer and director. Toby Dye said, Quote “This story is extremely rare for two reasons, first; you are trying to do something good with the gun, your experience and story, second; you are still alive to do it.”

“A shocking, but thought-provoking story… well researched and told. The author knows his subject and pries open the reader’s mind for a look into the real world.” Forrest Bryant Johnson - author of Phantom Warrior and Hour of Redemption. 4.0 out of 5 stars

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and fascinating 18 Sep 2011 By Keri Boda - Published on I have always known of the Gary Gilmore story since I was a small child. My Mother loved the book,The Executioner’s Song and the tv movie based on it. I had no clue of the interesting story behind the actual weapon used in the crimes. Dennis Stilson has written an interesting book that not only tells the story of the crime and the criminal and his background, but it is also,(and the main story of the book)the weapon used in horrible crimes. Mr. Stilson knows whereof he speaks. He has personal ties to the crimes and as a firearms dealer and bounty hunter, he is familiar with the law and weapons. He presents the story of The Gilmore Gun thoughtfully and in a way as to not lose readers who might not be interested in weapons. I found this a very interesting read that was well researched and presented.I am proud to say I own a copy of this book. If you are interested in True Crime books, this is one you need to add to your collection. If you are a firearms enthusiast, this book will interest you a great

The “Gilmore gun” is a Browning Challenger II semi-automatic .22 LR FACT- “No other firearm in ANY CASE has legally affected everyone in America at this level, the return of the most severe punishment for committing the most horrendous crime.”

Beginning over thirty five years ago Dennis Stilson’s ties with one of America’s key historical murder cases continues. He gives a unique and qualified perspective of the epilogue of a murder weapon. As an experienced firearm dealer, bail bondsman, and bounty hunter his background adds to this rare view of the execution that brought back capital punishment to America and the events that surrounded one of history’s rarest collectible firearms. Articles, documents, and court records all solidify the extraordinary tale of the Gary Gilmore murders and the Gilmore Gun.

Gary Gilmore

The chair where Gary Gilmore sat while executed by firing squad. January 17, 1977.

The Gilmore Gun – The Firearm that Brought Back the Death Penalty

Published on Friday, April 12, 2013 Tags:Browning|Firearms History|Gun Collections|Rare Guns

The Gilmore Gun – Browning Challenger Two .22 LR semi-automatic pistol

USA --( With any collectible items we all have our favorites be it cars, coins, art, guns or whatever it may be. And as with any of these objects we all have our favorite maker, model, year of production, artist, etc. Whether it’s because grandpa, grandma, dad, mom or some other person’s influence in our life may have had this similar interest and perhaps sparked the beginning of ours. Our interests may be sentimental, historical, etc. but we generally consider the value as one of the most important factors.
This article is about one rare and unique firearm which has been tagged the Gilmore Gun.

It takes time for a historical event to become well known throughout the country or the world. Many times the person involved with the event is deceased, which increases the collectible’s value even further because we know there will be no other such items. Collectibles involving famous people and events increase in value over time—more than items without this verifiable type of recognition. When a collectible has intriguing historical recognition and connection, along with absolute documentation, then the collectible is “the best of the best.” There are a limited number of items that are historically significant and, at the same time, are positively documented.

These types of collectibles are rare, desirable, and valuable. The Gilmore Gun has all of these attributes.

In the spring of 1976 Gary Mark Gilmore was released from an Illinois prison on a parole agreement to the care of his relatives in Provo, Utah. He was thirty five years old and had already spent the majority of his life incarcerated. A few months later in July 1976 he robbed and murdered two young men on consecutive days. He was quickly apprehended denying his guilt but shortly after confessed to his crimes, later stating if he had not been caught he would have killed again.

Two weeks prior to Gilmore’s terrible crimes the Supreme Court had reinstated capital punishment after ten years of no executions in all of America. This tragedy has an inimitable place in American history for multiple reasons. Gilmore refused all appeals for the murders he committed insisting on the death penalty which he received by firing squad, his choice over hanging, within six months of his trial making him the test case to bring back the death penalty the only time it had been halted nation wide in American history.

He used the same pistol for both murders and after the case and execution the court returned the murder weapon to the store owner Gilmore had burglarized.

Which in most rational peoples opinion seems fair and logical, but has seldom happened throughout our history. The store owner hid the pistol away for 25 years before asking a local gun dealer and long time friend to sell the gun for him. After some research the pistol was placed on a popular internet gun auction receiving a bid for $500,000.00 but did not meet the reserve or asking price. A few months later the gun was first shown at a Las Vegas gun show.

The Gilmore gun at a Las Vegas gun show.

The gun dealer, Dennis Stilson later purchased the pistol from the original owner. In 2008 the pistol was again listed on an internet auction reaching $780,000.00 but was still insufficient to reach the asking price. Stilson had numerous personal and professional ties with Gilmore’s family and others involved with the Gilmore case. He wrote a book titled “The Gilmore Gun – Echo of murder.” Articles depicting the Gilmore account covered the world in such magazines as Time, New times, Criminal Mind, Playboy, Rolling Stone, People and many more. There were also the books and movies solidifying both the unique and bizarre aspects of this memorable case. The most prominent book is by Norman Mailer titled “The Executioners Song” and won the Pulitzer prize. A TV movie by the same title starring Tommy Lee Jones won him an Emmy and a nomination for his co-star Rosanna Arquette. One of the cover photos used for the movie shows Tommy Lee Jones holding and pointing the Gilmore Gun.

The case that reinstated capital punishment in America should be remembered. It is a shame that this historically rare and important story is not part of our general educational history books and makes a statement of our lack of the pursuit of truth. The fact remains no other gun has been involved in any case that legally affected so many at such a legitimate level affecting laws that we still live by today. Committing the most horrendous crime resulting in the most severe punishment.

Other guns have certainly been used to murder more prominent historical or recognized victims but that is a bit of a different niche, this pistol reflects more of the legal or law affecting and social-political ramifications making it a very rare firearm indeed.

Follow us: @Ammoland on Twitter | Ammoland on Facebook


By Craig Gottlieb

More information of the five guns that changed history. See -

#1 John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

#2 The pistol used for two assassinations which ultimately touched off the First World War.

#3 The derringer used for Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.

#4 The Gilmore Gun – The weapon that reinstated capital punishment in America.

#5 The AK 47.

More information of the five guns that changed history. See -

The Good, the Bad, and the Collectibles

Published on Thursday, August 15, 2013 By Dennis Stilson

USA --( Throughout time society has been forced to endure what the majority of us consider to be the most horrific act that can be committed by any person, the taking of a life.

Murder for personal gain, anger, revenge, or any other negative emotional reason goes against our moral grain, at least for most human beings.

But on the other hand, what about self defense, protecting love ones or others who are in danger and in times of war? These types of incidents seem to warrant the taking of a life and rightfully so.

The killing subject has been, is now and will likely always be the subject of paramount confusion, justification and oddly enough entertainment.

Looking back at a few of those who were well known for their acts of murder does bring up some interesting comparisons and the way society changes their views of those individuals, their crimes, and the weapons used.

Let’s start with Jesse Woodson James better know as “Jesse James.” Born – September 5, 1847 – Died – April 3, 1882. He lived 35 years.

Jesse was born in Missouri to Robert and Zerelda James who were farmers and slave owners. Jesse James had an older brother named Frank who left his family to fight in the civil war while Jesse was too young to accompany him and had to stay at home.

Without getting lost in the many versions of the James gang stories of fact and fiction lets just say this, Jesse James has been credited with killing 16 people including another 180 killings he was involved with also counting those killed while riding with “Bloody Bill Quantrill.” The weapon of choice at this time was the 1851 Navy Colt revolver .36 caliber. This pistol was the first to have a revolving cylinder which held six shots that could be fired in rapid succession. By the end of his short lived career of crime he was packing a Colt .45 Peacemaker which combined the gunpowder , bullet, and percussion cap into a single cartridge making it much easier and quicker to load then fire. Certainly an intimidating force to be reckoned with for most.

Bob Ford was one of the trusted members and friends of Jesse’s gang and on April 3, 1882 he shot Jesse in the back of the head while visiting at his home. Ford assassinated Jesse for a $10,000.00 reward. With friends such as this who needs enemies? One of the pistols that is said to be the gun that killed Jesse James sold for $350,000. 00 on November 12, 2003. It is a Smith & Wesson .44 caliber revolver.

Jesse was a known outlaw, bank and train robber, and murderer. Dime novels were being sold glorifying this disgusting behavior and championing this poor excuse of a human being even while he was still alive. Stories glamorizing killings and robberies ran rampant selling thousands of books and newspapers.

In 1939 Tyrone Power starred as Jesse James in “The Legend of Jesse James.” This was the first of many movies with some of the most well known actors of all time such as Robert Wagner, Robert Duvall, Rob Lowe and Brad Pitt, just to list a few. These movies which starred handsome , dashing stars did not portray them as desperate vicious killers but as men with a cause. They were caught in helpless dangerous and emotional situations and did only what had to be done to survive. The crowds exit the theater feeling sympathy and support for their new found hero’s.

Now lets take a look at William Henry McCarty Jr. alias “Billy the Kid”.” Born – November 23, 1859 – Died – July 14, 1881. He lived 23 years.

Billy was born in New York City with little else known for certain. It is said that he was orphaned young and turn to petty theft. Later he moved out

West became involved with a murderous gang then stole horses and cattle to survive until he was killed. He has been credited with killing anywhere from 4 to 26 people. Again just as the stories of Jesse James were exaggerated and fabricated their reputations were created and glorified.

Billy is said to have preferred multiple firearms such as the Colt single action army model 1873 revolver 45 long caliber and the Colt double action revolver .41 caliber while the rifle he frequently used was a Winchester model 1873 44-40 caliber lever action rifle. At present and so far as I have searched I can find no guns of any certainty that may have belonged to Billy the Kid.

But the story remains the same with more big stars portraying Billy the Kid such as Kris Kristofferson , Paul Newman,Val Kilmer, Robert Conrad, Emilio Estevez, and many more all softening and stealing the hearts of those who watched these semi-fictitious and successful movies. Including myself while growing up being unable to watch enough westerns with guns a blazing to ever satisfy my need for action entertainment.

Bonnie Parkers Snub Nose .38 Colt Revolver, This .38 Detective Special snub-nose revolver was recovered taped to Bonnie Parker’s thigh after she was killed.

Let’s move the clock forward about 50 years and take a brief look at Bonnie Parker

Born – October 1, 1910 – Died May 23, 1934. She lived 23 years. Clyde Barrow – Born March 24, 1909 – Died May 23, 1934. He lived 25 years.

Alias “Bonnie and Clyde.” This pair of murderers were responsible for 13 killings. In 1967 a hit movie titled “Bonnie and Clyde’ starred Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty giving both the killers and actors a memorable place in history.

On September 30, 2012 Bonnie’s snub nose .38 sold for $268,000.00 and Clyde’s Colt Model 1911 .45-caliber automatic sold for $240,000.00.

These criminals turned heroes were nothing more than plagues of society destroying individuals and families hopes and dreams because they were unwilling to work for what they wanted .

Now we all watch these characters in movies, theaters, on television, videos, and we read about them in books, newspapers and on the internet.

I am as guilty as anyone for enjoying them. All of these types of entertainment are for gain and that is fact of life but this does provide jobs for many.

To continue, On November 22, 1963 President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Lee Harvey Oswald was charged with the murder. The rifle said to be used by Oswald was an Italian Mannlicher / Carcano bolt action 6.5 caliber and is still located in the National Archives. Two days later, November 24,1963, Jack Ruby assassinated Oswald. The .38 caliber Colt Cobra revolver that killed Oswald was publicized as having an offer of $750,000.00 in 2008 at a Las Vegas auction.

June 6, 1968 Senator Robert R. Kennedy, brother of President John F. Kennedy was said to be assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan using a Iver Johnson Cadet revolver .22 caliber. Los Angeles police department investigated this murder and after the trial when asked where the murder weapon was they responded by saying “it has been lost, we have no record.” I wonder if I could use that excuse with the IRS?

Moving ahead a few more years Gary Mark Gilmore – Born – December 4, 1940 – Died – January 17,1977. On July 19, 1976 Gilmore robbed and murdered a service station attendant. The following day, July 20, 1976, Gilmore robbed and murdered a motel manager. This is relatively few killings in comparison to the killers previously discussed, but this particular case and murder weapon had historical and legal significance unmatched by any other murders in American history.

Gilmore chose and fought to be executed by firing squad and was the first to be executed after reinstatement of the death penalty. There had been no executions in all of America for over a decade. This case was heard around the world. Gilmore used the same Browning Challenger II semi-automatic .22 pistol for both robberies and murders. In 2008 an offer of $780,000.00 was bid at auction but did not reach the minimum required.

A book about this case titled “The Executioners Song” won the Pulitzer Prize. A movie by the same title starred Tommy Lee Jones winning him an Emmy, but the role played by Tommy Lee Jones was much more factual than the Jesse or Billy movies mentioned. His believable performance left people in fear and disgust.

This is just a of few of the most prominent cases and the valuable collectible firearms in American history. Firearms used in most murder cases are no longer returned and are said to be destroyed. Who knows for sure where they may end up?

Not all collectible and extremely valuable guns were used to kill. One such firearm will likely never be sold but can be viewed at the Cody Firearms museum in Wyoming. This custom built Winchester model 94 30-30 caliber rifle was designed for former President Ronald Reagan . It showcases gold inlays depicting achievements of his life such as; a football which reflects his days as a player at Eureka College; an antique microphone representing his time as a sportscaster; the famous drama masks depicting his career as an actor; and a Screen Actors’ Guild logo representing his presidency of that organization. Also the seal of California and the Presidential Seal of the United States. The final inlay is a portrait of Ronald Reagan. President Reagan left this rifle to his chauffeur and it was donated by his family to the museum. This can be a very good way to not only get the write off on your taxes as a charitable donation but also guarantees you a respectable place in history for others to view.

Warren Newman – Curator of the Cody Firearms Museum Dennis Stilson - Holding former President Reagans rifle. Remember Teddy or President Theodore Roosevelt ? He went on an African Safari using a Holland-& Holland Royal double rifle in .500/.450 caliber and in 1994 it was sold at auction for a $500,000.00. These types of collectibles are very rare , hard to document and are becoming fewer and much more valuable as time goes on. Many view these types of firearms as relics and curios of significant historical value, I agree. This is a part of free enterprise and the American way of life that should be left to individual choice. These relic firearms are not for everyone and most can’t afford them anyway. If you don’t like them do not participate, the same as with any firearms but do not criticize those who do. I’m sure others do not agree with some of the things that you do, remember the golden rule? We are now faced with those who are trying to persuade us that political correctness should prevail over moral correctness. Telling us what they want is right and what we want and have believed for years is wrong, regardless of where it is written. Just look at some of the television shows and movies today but remember they do not represent the opinions or lifestyles of many. Tragedies of all kinds have always existed and unfortunately will never cease no matter how many laws are written. Those who want firearms, collectible or otherwise and are not criminals should have that right. All we can do is learn to protect ourselves and others to the best of our ability, pay attention to what our leaders are saying and doing and try to do what is right. The media for the most part tells us what they want us to think and believe. Therefore many in society forget the truth and are brainwashed or entertainment washed into forgiveness and forgetfulness of a sort. So accept it or do something about it. Lastly I say, enjoy your firearms of all kinds safely. But most of all do your best to choose the right movie and enjoy your popcorn.

Books available at - Amazon Books Barnes & Nobles Tower Books Order you book now!

Contact :

Copyright 2011 Guns4good Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Privacy Policy

Posted in famous gun, Famous guns, famous pistol, famous pistols, historical gun, Historical Guns, historical pistol, valuable firearms | Tagged capital punishment, executions, famous guns, gary gilmore, historical guns, world famous guns/firearms