This mysterious code representing vigilante justice has a history steeped in mystery.
Woe be unto he that attracts the ire of the Montana Highway Patrol, or to the enemy that finds himself in the crosshairs of a fighter plane of the Montana Air National Guard. For all these uniforms bear a symbol steeped in antiquity and mystery alike: the code 3-7-77. What does it mean? Those who wear it claim only that they don’t know; but legend says the riddle is known to those in years past who were shown the symbol just before dying at the hands of the Montana Vigilance Committee.
The State of Montana is not best known for its warm embrace of Federal interference. People in Montana tend to like to have things their own way. Threatening a Montanan on his own property is not likely to go well for you; many still consider their sidearm to be the most efficient form of justice. In the 19th century, when no meaningful law had penetrated that far west, your sidearm was likely to be your only justice. And when the enemy was many, or more than one person or town could handle, Montanans and other Westerners developed their own form of law that protected the public interest with maximum efficiency. They were called vigilance committees. Frontier justice was not slowed by bureaucracy or derailed by official trivialities. It was swift, comprehensive, not subject to appeal, and almost always found at the end of a rope.
The origin of 3-7-77 has been debated by Montanans ever since it became publicly known in the late 19th century, but its meaning is clear: