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ALEXANDRIA RANDOLPH | DISPATCH RECORD
Ed Harrington of Lampasas fires an authentic 1873 model Winchester, made in 1909, at EJI Firearms on Wednesday. The rifle was used by Paul Newman in the 1967 film “Hombre.”
Ed Harrington of Lampasas fires an authentic 1873 model Winchester, made in 1909, at EJI Firearms on Wednesday. The rifle was used by Paul Newman in the 1967 film “Hombre.”

Some will recall the popular Western television series “Have Gun – Will Travel” that aired in the late 1950s and early ’60s. The moniker aptly applies to a particular rifle that certainly has been around before making its way to Lampasas last week. The rifle is an 1873 Model Winchester, made in 1909, and it was used by Paul Newman in the 1967 film “Hombre.” The 109-year-old rifle is still functional -- and still a smooth shot, as this Dispatch Record reporter can attest after seeing it in action. Its owner, Ron Clayton of Apopka, Florida, was drawn to the firearm after watching the movie and noticing the rifle was an accurate model for the film era. “In Hollywood, back in the early days, they didn’t use antique weapons. They used later-model Winchesters because they were plentiful,” Clayton said. “That’s why I became interested in this particular rifle, because I’m a Winchester collector. I knew the difference. It’s an authentic 1873 model. Why are they using that?” This question began his search for the Paul Newman Winchester in 2014. Clayton’s brother, Ed Harrington of Lampasas, felt the intrigue as well. “When he told me about his quest for the rifle, I was just as excited as he was,” Harrington said. Clayton wasn’t sure how to begin. “Back then, we had the internet, but there was no real definitive information,” he said. “The directors were dead, Paul Newman was dead.” Purely by taking a chance, Clayton used Facebook to contact Peter Sherayko, an actor in the 1993 film “Tombstone” who had a notable collection of Hollywood model rifles. He didn’t hear from Sherayko for weeks and had given up on reaching him, until finally Sherayko responded. “He said, ‘Not only do I know of that rifle, I bought that rifle from 20th Century Fox in the 1980s on auction,’ ” Clayton said. Sherayko agreed to meet with Clayton for an interview about the Winchester, as Clayton was writing for Winchester Collector magazine. But upon seeing the rifle, it wasn’t what Clayton expected. “I’d been waiting for it for a year, and here I am holding the gun – and I was heartbroken,” he said. The rifle was in poor shape. The wooden stock was cracked, a piece of metal had been crudely welded onto the barrel as a false front sight, and two holes had been drilled into the trigger, among other flaws. Clayton did some digging. He went over tapes of the movie “Hombre” and watched carefully, looking for signs that would prove, or deny, the veracity of this rifle. “We ran the video on a big-screen, high-definition television,” he said. “Within seconds I was able to spot all the little things that proved this was the same rifle Paul Newman used.” Sherayko agreed to allow Clayton to display the rifle at gun shows across the country, and several years later, Clayton’s dream came true. “Sherayko appreciated the passion I had for this rifle, and he was willing to sell it to me,” he said. Clayton bought the Winchester last year. “You quest for something to write an article, and now it’s sitting on your kitchen table,” he said. “It’s an amazing journey.” In Clayton’s care, the rifle made its way to Lampasas and into the hands of Harrington, who was eager to shoot the Winchester. He got the chance Wednesday at EJI Firearms in Copperas Cove with his brother and his son, Jeremiah Harrington. “It was unbelievable just to hold the rifle, but to shoot it is a dream come true,” Ed Harrington said, adding that the rifle is incredible to begin with, but “to be in an awesome movie like ‘Hombre’ [is particularly special].” “There’s not another Winchester in the world like it,” Clayton said. “It’s been so heavily modified and damaged. What makes it truly special is that this is the gun Paul Newman used.” Clayton will say he can die a happy man. As for the fate of the rifle, he already has that determined. “I donated it in my will to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West museum. They have guns from movies on display, so I knew they’d be willing to have it.”