Cabot Guns D-Day Tribute Pistols

Commemorating the 80th Anniversary of Operation Overlord

To recognize the incredible sacrifices, sheer bravery, dogged determination, and hard-won victory of genuine American heroes that began in the early hours of 6 June 1944, Cabot Guns is proud to present our 80th Anniversary D-Day Tribute Pistols (“D-Day Pistols”).

Please note – these pistols are not for sale

Of Dust from the Ground

In a 12 June 1944 report from the beachhead at Normandy, France, American war correspondent Ernie Pyle described the Allied invasion dubbed “Operation Overlord” as ‘a pure miracle.’ By that time, the fiercest fighting had moved inland, with only ‘occasional sniping, artillery fire, and geysers of brown sand erupting into the air from hidden mines’ reminding the rear guard to be vigilant.

The story of our D-Day Pistols begins with that sand.

These Sands Forge Metal

Cabot founder Robert Bianchin met Ray Rybar, a renowned blacksmith and Vietnam War veteran, at a small event in Ligonier, PA in 2023 and learned that Ray’s uncle had fought at Normandy. As the 80th anniversary of D-Day approached, Ray suggested something incredible: employing a nearly forgotten art that would turn iron ore-rich sand from Normandy’s beaches into steel. His idea included the use of recovered D-Day metals to forge Damascus steel, and to integrate mosaic sections featuring legible written words and iconography, a rare and complex blacksmithing skill. 

D-Day refers to the joint military operation in World War II when 156,000 American and Allied forces launched the largest amphibious assault in history on the beaches of Normandy. Army Sergeant John Galla (115th Rifle Company, 29th Division)—Ray Rybar’s uncle—was among the very first fighting troops ashore on D-Day, landing at Omaha Beach.

All Gave Some

From our initial discussion with Ray, it took nearly a year to design, plan, and execute the D-Day Pistols. We believe it is our most important project ever, coming with the realization America desperately needs a tangible and timely reminder of its greatness. There is growing concern that what we have achieved through sacrifice, courage, and collective effort is in danger of being lost. The Spanish-American philosopher and writer, George Santayana, is noted for his prescient warning: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

And thus, remembering and honoring our past, especially moments of American exceptionalism during which we have stood in the breach for the freedom of all mankind and conquered evil, is crucial. It inspires hope and unity, reminding us of what we can achieve together. Without these efforts, our world would be drastically different, and our freedom, as we know it, would be at risk.

The A Team

Although certainly not on the scale of the Allied Forces’ D-Day plan, the D-Day Pistols project nevertheless was a complex undertaking that required Ray to assemble a crack team of experts who could smelt and forge the project’s unique materiel and deliver it to us for machining, the final transformation into the finished D-Day Pistols.

In addition to the precious sand from Normandy’s beaches, we collected a conglomerate of bits and pieces of weapons and gear carried into battle by courageous heroes. The creation of all the project steel required a careful blend of Thompson machine gun and M1 Garand bolts and barrels, web buckles, parachute rings and snaps, bayonets, ship and aircraft parts, and one very special piece of steel taken from the actual helmet worn by Uncle John during the D-Day assault.

Kilroy Was Here

Standing in the shadow of Pike’s Peak, Kilroy’s was selected as ground zero for the initial smelting and forging. The smelting process is nothing short of magical. Ray Rybar transformed several crucibles of sand (iron ore and silica) from both Omaha and Utah Beaches into usable iron ore and steel.

Two century-old power-forging hammers were essential throughout the smelting and forging processes. The first was a Chambersburg (PA) C-Frame utility hammer salvaged from National Tube Steel Works in McKeesport, PA, one of many that supported the war effort in 1944. The second was a Beaudry power forging hammer, made in Boston and retrieved from the Westinghouse Air Brake factory. This hammer also contributed to the war effort, and Uncle John, who returned safely stateside, worked as a Master Machinist there for forty-four years.

Some Gave All

Crafting the Damascus billets to yield legible words and icons was one of the most difficult aspects of the D-Day Pistols project. One term of remembrance featured on the pistols, “some gave all” is especially poignant for service member families. It also resonates deeply for visitors to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France. The cemetery is the final resting place for 9,387 American soldiers and overlooks a now-peaceful Omaha Beach and the English Channel to the west. Most of the soldiers buried there died during the D-Day landings and subsequent operations.

Frank DeVita, a Coast Guard gunner’s mate whose job it was to man the ramp controls on a landing craft made one of the first runs to the beaches on that long-ago morning. Afterward, overcome with shock and fear, he recalls asking himself, ‘Do I want to go back into the belly of the beast?’ Everything in the man screamed, ‘Don’t go!’ But Frank realized if he did not, someone else would. He knew he couldn’t live with it if that person died in his place. So, Gunner’s Mate DeVita braved fourteen more runs to the beaches of Normandy that day.

Many years later, when asked if he thought about D-Day much, Frank answered in a soft voice, “I relive D-Day every day of my life.” He wanted to make sure the interviewer understood. “I’m not a hero,” Frank said. “I am a survivor. Those 9,400 kids in Normandy American Cemetery – those kids are heroes.”

We highly recommend watching Frank DeVita’s full interview, which can be found at

The D-Day Pistols

Our motivation for this project drove us to assemble a team comprised of some of the finest steel creators and Damascus artists in America to forge two unique 1911 pistols that would capture the spirit of our brave fighting forces and forever pay tribute to those who selflessly answered when called to enter “the belly of the beast” on D-Day.

Using the smelted sand from Omaha and Utah beaches, and the assorted metal artifacts from D-Day, this amazing team forged these materials into metal bars using the same 100-year-old forging hammers that American workers used during World War II. This unique steel was then forged and reforged into 49 to 70 layers of Damascus steel, with legible sections reading: ALL GAVE SOME, SOME GAVE ALL, 6 JUNE 1944 D-DAY, US PARATROOPER with the silver parachute and wings badge, and RANGER. This extraordinary blacksmithing achievement is both a technical and artistic triumph.

It’s important for us to note that this wasn’t an engraving process. These meaningful words and icons are an elemental aspect of the steel itself. The fact that they appear reversed on one side of the slide but are clearly legible on the other demonstrates how they are an integral, embedded feature of the steel’s composition. On the other hand, the Damascus used for all four grips was forged so that the words and icons would be clear and legible for each panel.


The delicacy and intricate nature of the machining process cannot be overstated. Each Damascus billet had to be cut and machined with precise calculation and extraordinary vision so that the writing and iconography would align perfectly and appear in the exact location on the slide as envisaged. Even the cocking serrations had to be meticulously designed and located to assure proper fit within the Mosaic sections of the slides and are different on each gun.


The Damascus slides, grips, and triggers were finished using traditional bluing techniques. During the process, each D-Day Pistol developed characteristics that accentuate the exclusive nature of the storied materials used to create them. Serial number D-DAY-1944 was considered a “trial” pistol for which the frame and small parts received a relic finish—to create an artifact-like aesthetic that would honor the historic pieces used in its creation.  The “final” 1911 bears serial number 6-JUNE-1944. It displays a more powerful contrast between dark and light, which is derived from a historic oxidation process for the frame and small parts and is finished with polished flats to emphasize the pistol’s distinctiveness further.

The word logistics is rooted from the Greek adjective logistikos, meaning “skilled in calculating.” Logistikos comes from the Greek logos, which refers to the principles of thought and action. That definitely applies to the D-Day Pistols, with concept, design, engineering, and manufacturing taking the better part of a year. Beyond the phenomenal materials used throughout the smelting, forging, machining, and finishing processes, the D-Day Pistols are full-size classic government style 1911s chambered in .45 ACP. Each D-Day Pistol features uppers and grips from Ray Rybar Damascus, with writing infused into the steel itself. Pistol lowers are stainless steel, nicely offset by the D-Day Damascus triggers. Each frame is deeply engraved with a reminder to, “NEVER FORGET” and a reproduction of Ray Rybar’s signature can be found on the main spring housing. Several more honorariums grace the D-Day Pistols. The first is the famous Kilroy symbol, engraved on the memory bump of the grip safety. It is widely accepted that wartime ship inspector James J. Kilroy is the originator of the phrase Kilroy was Here, but the exact time and circumstance when the iconic phrase was paired with what is believed to be a British cartoon is lost to the mists of wartime history. However, it was ubiquitous enough during the war that, legend has it, German intelligence found the phrase on captured American equipment. And so, the story goes, it led Adolf Hitler himself to believe Kilroy was the name or codename of a high-level Allied spy! Second, the slide stop has a sword engraved on it. This icon is from the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF) patch. Eisenhower commanded the SHAEF on D-Day, and the unit patch features this striking symbol of liberation in the form of a crusader’s sword, with flames arising from the hilt and leaping up the blade. At the business end of the beautiful Damascus slide, a brass front sight draws the eye on target. The circular bead was precisely formed using recovered D-Day shell casings from payloads that found their own intended objectives during the momentous battle.

The recipient of the D-Day Pistol will also receive a one-of-a-kind custom case crafted by retired Navy SEAL, Jimmy Hintzke, who served our nation for 30 years. Hintzke and his team of patriots at Valhalla’s Forge in Virginia Beach, Virginia, have crafted a fitting platform in which to display the D-Day Pistol. Metal plaques containing maps and images for the case were created using intricate controlled explosive techniques. The interior of the mahogany case is inscribed with the names of 24 U.S. and Allied divisions that participated in D-Day, along with an invasion map of the five Normandy beaches stormed by the troops. A presentation tray for the pistol provides a resting place for the 80th Anniversary D-Day Pistol, flanked by the insignia of the U.S. Paratrooper and Ranger regiments. These insignia are likewise flanked by miniature reproductions of the “Czech Hedgehogs”, those iconic tank obstructions that defensively lined the beaches of Normandy. As a reminder of America’s founding values, a pocket on the interior lid of the case includes three booklets: the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States of America, and The Bill of Rights.

D-Day Final Pistol

SN: 6-JUNE-1944

D-Day Trial Pistol

SN: D-DAY-1944

Final Orders

One D-Day Pistol will be sold, with one hundred percent of the proceeds contributed directly to veteran charities.  The “trial” pistol will be displayed for educational purposes and a remembrance of the heroes of D-Day, and in the spirit of George Santayana’s fervent warning, make effort to prevent “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” May the sands of a foreign shore never be collected to pay tribute to fallen warriors ever again.

We, the humble craftsmen of America, dedicate these pistols to the brave men and women who served. We remember.



Master ABS Smith Ray Rybar with the assistance and contribution of blacksmiths and patriots, Nick Meyer, Javier H. Arellano, Tony Immordino, Kyrie Schroetlin, Max Harder, and Stanley Yee. Ron Hardman of Kilroy’s Workshop, Colorado Springs, Colorado.


Retired Navy SEAL, Jimmy Hintzke, and the team at Valhalla’s Forge.

Normandy Relics and Artifacts

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the many who contributed cherished relics and mementos to make the D-Day Pistols a reality. Although, for security reasons, we cannot include the full list, it includes the good people at the National Museum of WWII Aviation in Colorado Springs, CO, from whom we obtained Normandy beach sand, plane and ship parts, rivets, and springs, to name a few items.

Veterans and patriots, many of whom had direct connections with those who stormed the beaches on D-Day, include Ray Rybar’s cousin, John Galla, Jr. whose father (John Sr.) wore the helmet during the June 6th assault and from which a cherished piece of steel was donated.

When veterans across the country learned of our project (many by word of mouth), they selflessly offered their own artifacts and mementos. The generosity and patriotism of these donors provided what we needed to complete the D-Day Pistols project. These included a trove of relics, including 20mm shell cases, paratrooper snaps and buckles, M3 daggers, and steel barrels and bolts from Thompson machine guns and M1 Garand rifles, as well as shoe polish cans full of Normandy beach sand, ship parts from troop carriers, and even a full T9 paratrooper harness. Cabot also obtained several certified authentic relics from the D-Day invasion for the project.


Special thanks to Pat Koestner for allowing us to film with his jeep. It features the unit number for his Uncle Steve Bartha who landed D-Day+ 6 with the 3rd Army, 83rd Infantry Division, I Company.

Ron Finch – Jeweler

Thank to to Ron for taking the time to smelt used brass from Normandy and cast it into the Brass Bead front sights for both pistols.

North Texas Military Heritage Collection

Thank you to the Military Heritage Collection in Nevada TX for allowing us to spend 3 days filming with their artifacts and location.

Cabot Gunsmiths & Machinists

Our own craftsmen at Cabot Guns are honored beyond imagination to have participated in this tribute to the brave heroes that fought bravely against evil. While we humbly withhold our names we collectively view this as the most monumental efforts of our collective careers.

Additional Acknowledgments

Stephen Parker 

Michael Dunne

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