questions about gun terminology used by Thai bandits 110 years ago
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Old 01-11-2013, 06:50 PM   #1
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Default questions about gun terminology used by Thai bandits 110 years ago

Hi everyone,

I am working on a translation of "A Conversation with a Bandit" from Thailand in 1903. There are two questions and the bandit's answers about the types of guns they used. Since I don't know anything about guns, I'm having a little trouble figuring out what the bandits are talking about in Thai, and also finding the appropriate translation in English. I'm coming to the experts for help!

I'm especially having trouble with one term in Thai, "pastan" (maybe from "bustion"?). One definition of a "pastan gun" that I found in Thai says that it is a rifle with "flinging" or "swinging" shaft that has a tubular magazine of 6, 7, or 12 rounds. (This is opposed to a rifle with a seperable or non-seperable "box" magazine.) Does this definition make sense? What English term is equivalent?

Below I've pasted my translation of the two questions and answers. Could you all, first, suggest what "pastan" refers to? In the first question, it looks like it might refer to the "charge" of the gun? In the second, it looks like it might be "bullet" or "cartridge"? Second, could you comment on anything else that looks wrong or awkward in my translation?

Thanks!
Matt

TRANSLATION:
26. What kinds of guns are used nowadays by bandits?

Percussion cap guns and single-round muzzle-loaders are not really used anymore. We usually use guns that hold more rounds. There are four kinds of guns that bandits use these days. First, breech-loading guns with eight rounds are sometimes used, though infrequently because they are so heavy. We usually prefer to use these three kinds of guns: seven-round guns (Mauser), twelve-round guns (Winchester), and sixteen-round guns (Colt Lightning). But, the ones with seven rounds are the best because the "pastan" is strong. In the guns with twelve and sixteen bullets, the "pastan" is weaker.

27. Where do bandits buy these kinds of guns?

These guns are sold on two rafts moored under the Bangkok distillery, in a raft in Bangkok Nὸi canal, and at two Muslim shops near Wat Kὸ. Each gun costs 120 baht; the same price for all three kinds. Each circular "pastan" is sold for two salueng [1 salueng = 1/4 baht] each. These "pastan guns" are sold openly, not in hiding.

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Old 01-11-2013, 07:32 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by mizzenmatt View Post
One definition of a "pastan gun" that I found in Thai says that it is a rifle with "flinging" or "swinging" shaft that has a tubular magazine of 6, 7, or 12 rounds.
Are they talking about a lever action rifle like was popular in the American west of the late 1800's & early 1900's (still popular for hunting)? You move the lever down and back up to the stock to remove the empty cartridge case, load the new cartridge, and cock the hammer.


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Old 01-11-2013, 07:54 PM   #3
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It sounds like they're just referring to the action of the rifle. That Colt Lightning they talk about fired .44-40 rounds from a pump action. The Mauser, the gun they seem to have favored, was a bolt action. To fire it, you swing the bolt handle up, pull it back, and it ejects the spent case. Push the bolt forward to rechamber a new round, swing the handle back down, and then fire.

Alternatively, they might just be talking about the round itself. The Mauser likely had a greater stopping power, as it was the most high-powered cartridge of the ones listed.

You might also consider that "pastan" is slang with no direct translation. Something the bandits made up from existing terms, kind of like how Thais will say "Wat di" to close friends, but would never say such a thing to a stranger or a farang.

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Old 01-12-2013, 12:02 AM   #4
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I don't know any Thai...but I have translated some things from Spanish so I know the frustration.

Through context it sounds like he is referring to either the "Action" of the rifle (The physical mecahnism by which the weapon operates)

Or maybe the power. The Winchester and Colt Lightning shot (for the most part) smaller pistol cartridges. The Mauser of the time would have fired a more powerful rifle cartridge which gives it more "stopping power."

Hope this helps.

EDIT: After reading the translation for question number 27, I believe "pastan" may be referring to the term "Cartridge" or another word for ammunition.

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Old 01-12-2013, 12:14 AM   #5
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Okay, let's look at the context.

The bandit says that they no longer use percussion cap or muskets... and they have switched to a "pastan" gun...

So... Back in the day, here in the US, a "cartridge" firing rifle was considered a big improvement over the cap and musket styles of rifles. These also tended to often be lever actions, as orangello showed.

I think that "pastan" means cartridge.

Another reason is because of the way their power was related. A tubular magazine lever action rifle, firing "cartridges", that held a lot of rounds, was usually firing a weaker, pistol caliber "cartridge". Those that only held 4-7 rounds, fired much more powerful rifle "cartridges".

Pastan=Cartridge, by my backwoods logic.

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Old 01-12-2013, 12:16 AM   #6
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Please note my sig line below!

Originally, bullets (the projectiles) were spheres- and one loading was a "round" of ammunition. We still use that term. However, translating from one language to another, some words- especially special terms- get a bit twisted. A "round" of ammunition could easily become a "circular" of ammo.

Pashtan appears to refer to the cartridge used by the rifle, and "pashtan gun" may refer to the distinction between cartridge arms and a muzzle loader. The 7 shot STRONG bolt action Mauser would have been in 7mm or 8mm- a good powerful 600 yard cartridge. However, the lever action (flinging) Winchester, or the pump Colt Lightning carbines were shooting a pistol cartridge- such as 44-40, 38-40, etc- and were 100-150 yd guns- the "pashtan"- the cartridge- does not have the power to reach as far, shoot THRU things, etc


In translation- remember that "Out of sight, out of mind" CAN be translated as "Invisible Idiot".

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Old 01-12-2013, 12:17 AM   #7
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Trip- you type quicker!

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Old 01-12-2013, 12:19 AM   #8
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Consider this also...

27. Where do bandits buy these kinds of guns?

These guns are sold on two rafts moored under the Bangkok distillery, in a raft in Bangkok Nὸi canal, and at two Muslim shops near Wat Kὸ. Each gun costs 120 baht; the same price for all three kinds. Each circular "pastan" is sold for two salueng [1 salueng = 1/4 baht] each. These "pastan guns" are sold openly, not in hiding.

A "pastan" is much, much cheaper than the rifle itself, much the same way that our ammo is cheaper than our guns, yes? And these are clearly denoted at two different things, with two different prices.

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Old 01-13-2013, 02:56 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trip286 View Post
Consider this also...

27. Where do bandits buy these kinds of guns?

Each circular "pastan" is sold for two salueng [1 salueng = 1/4 baht] each. These "pastan guns" are sold openly, not in hiding.
Took the words out of my mouth you guys....

Makes a lot of sense that "circular" may be a mistranslation of "round"
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Old 01-13-2013, 03:52 PM   #10
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Thanks so much, all of you. This is really the kind of feedback I was hoping for. I think you are right that "pastan" is refering to "cartridge." Thanks also for the details about how these old guns worked and what the bandit's statements probably meant.

Best,
Matt

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