Monday, May 26, 2014

He just loves to sell guns


This is Don Davis, the most famous gun dealer in Indiana – maybe in the whole Midwest.

I shot this photo to go with a story I wrote about his business – I think sometime in the mid- or late 1970s – across County Line Road from the Greenwood Mall south of Indianapolis. At that time, he was selling more handguns than anyone else in the state.

I used a 35mm wide angle lens on my Pentax Spotmatic, taking advantage of the lens’s extreme depth of field, and got as close to the muzzle of the revolver – - it was either a .44 magnum or a .357 magnum – as possible so as to make it look huge.

Don loved the photo and ordered several prints. He used it in his advertising and when he opened a store on the northside of Indianapolis, his signage included an artist’s rendering of the image.

Don had a series of TV commercials in which he grinned at the camera and said, “I don’t want to make a lot of money, folks. I just love to sell guns.”

If you love guns and the Second Amendment, the commercials were a bright spot in your TV day, made even sweeter by knowing he was offending all the right people.

I bought my first pistol – a Charter Arms .38 special – from Don.

I was in his northside store one day when he took me to the range in back and handed me a 1911 .45 that had been custom accurized and set me up with a 1” bullseye paper target at 20 feet.

I had never fired a 1911 semiautomatic pistol before. The only one I had handled belonged to an Army Air Forces bombardier whose daughter showed to me when we were about 6.

I took careful aim and squeezed the trigger, expecting to miss the 6” square target completely.

To my amazement, when we reeled the target in, there was a bullet hole dead center in the middle of the bullseye. I couldn’t have centered it any better if I had held the target up to the muzzle of the gun.

Don closed his northside and southside businesses and now has a store at 3807 Lafayette Road in Indianapolis, just south of the Lafayette Square Shopping Mall. He claims to have the largest inventory in America.

Check him out at

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