US guns ‘were Oscar’s favourite’

2013-03-02 09:45

Oscar Pistorius steadily became an avid collector of firearms in his Olympic year, says an official at a South African gun collectors’ club where was a member.

He says Pistorius bought a collection of pistols and shotguns, all American manufactured, his favourite.

John Beare, vice chairperson of the Lowveld Firearm Collectors Association, told Associated Press Pistorius also purchased a semi-automatic rifle for his expanding collection at the end of 2012.

That coincided with the early stages of Pistorius’ romance with Reeva Steenkamp, the model he shot and killed at his home in the early hours of February 14.

Prosecutors have charged Pistorius with premeditated murder for killing Steenkamp with three of four shots fired from his 9mm pistol. Pistorius said he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.

His collection

In 2012, the year he made history as the first double-amputee Olympic runner, Oscar Pistorius bought six guns for what he planned to be a collection of US and South African manufactured firearms, according to the gun collectors’ club he joined last April.

Here is a brief look at the firearms South African police say he applied to have licensed:

» Smith & Wesson 500: The Springfield, Massachusetts, manufacturer calls this “the most powerful production revolver in the world.” It fires .500-caliber shells and holds five rounds. Smith & Wesson says it is “a hunting handgun for any game animal walking”. The company makes various barrel lengths for the 500.

» Smith & Wesson .38-caliber: Another revolver. Holds either five or six rounds, depending on the model. Most .38-caliber models from Smith & Wesson have short barrels, just 4.7 centimetres long, giving them a snub-nose appearance.

» Three shotguns: South African police say Pistorius applied for licences for models from Mossberg, Maverick and Winchester, all American makes.

» Vektor .223-caliber rifle: A civilian version of the R-series assault rifle used by South Africa’s military. Its innards are modified to make it only semi-automatic for civilian use. The Vektor was developed for sports shooters, security firms, farmers and collectors, said Carvel Webb, chairperson of the National Arms and Ammunition Collectors Confederation of South Africa.

For civilian collectors, “it is the closest thing to being able to get an original R5” that South African soldiers use.

Production was discontinued more than a decade ago. “It is rather scarce as not many were made and it has become a sought-after collector’s item if in original good condition for those who are qualified to collect it,” Webb said.

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