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Need period firearms info for book

Discussion in 'General Firearms Forum' started by VinnieD, Mar 18, 2012.

  1. VinnieD


    Mar 26, 2011
    I'm currently working on a novel idea. It's your typical throwback gritty Noir detective story, with a healthy dose of the good old ultraviolence.

    Without bogging down too much in the story, the protagonist is a former cop, WWII Vet, Private detective and the setting is the late 40's early 50's. He's a rather old fashioned sort, misogynistic, and a bit of a "wholesome racist." Sort of a Dirty Harry type really.

    That said I wanted to give him an iconic weapon throughout most of the story. Obviously given the setting the .44 magnum isn't available yet, so I'm mostly in a tossup between having him carry a full size .357 magnum, a .45 long colt, or a .45acp 1911.

    Each firearm has significance and he will likely use one of each throughout the story (this thing has lots of guns), but which one to attach to his character is the important part. A .357 somewhat speaks of his police background, and is an obvious upgrade over the .38spl typically carried by most departments at the time. The .45 long colt of course more harkens to the cowboy days and rings true with the old fashioned nature of the character. Lastly the 1911 is something he'd be familiar with from the war. Considering he'll also be using an M1 Garand near the climax of the story, he may end up using a 1911 regardless of which piece is his primary.

    That said what I really need is historical context. What rounds were available at the time, and what reputation might his weapons have for stopping power? Certainly his iconic gun will need to be something with a reputation for one shot stopping.

    At the same time I'd like lots of suggestions on anything cheap and commonly available at the time, for brief cameos, and of course what "Bad guy guns" are common at the time. What would be reasonable to be carried by villains coming over from Russia, Itally, Mexico, and of course common thugs as well? What are common calibers of the era?

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions. Feel free to throw things out there one would expect to see in that time period, and just guns of the era you personally happen to be fond of and would like to see me squeeze in.
  2. 427


    Nov 23, 2009

  3. Bruce M

    Bruce M

    Jan 3, 2010
    S FL
    My opinion is that he would be carrying a Smith and Wesson .357 magnum, with a three and half inch barrel. It would later be known as the Pre- Model 27 and at the time there were no K frame .357s.

  4. pennlineman


    Feb 16, 2009
    Here's one you have not thought of. How about the .44 spl. The gun would be a S&W .44 hand ejector 3rd model. The bullets would be Keith loads. Just do a google search for Elmer Keith and the .44.
  5. Bill Keith

    Bill Keith

    Jan 3, 2006
    Humble, TX
    Depends on the situation the character may be in. The understandings of terminal ballistics would be based onwhat he had observed and experienced in war and 'on the job', and what sort of social encounters he might expect. JHP's were not around, so the ammo is round nose or possibly semiwadcutter. Don't get too flambouyant as to what he would/could carry. Stick to the tried and true. My number one suggestion is a Colt Detective special. It was a 38 special and the ammo was a 158 grain lead bullet. The second gun - car gun, shoulder holstered gun is the tried and true 1911 Colt, bought surplus. It's rattly and carries 45ACP surplus FMJ ammo. He might have access to a S&W .38-44 or an older triple lock in 44 special. 44 special amo is the 246 grain round nose lead bullet.
    The bad guys can and do have all kinds of guns. Look for mostly 38's. Plenty of .32 caliber revolvers around - not so many imports or semiautos- just cheap revolvers, even 22's.
    If the lead character has a long gun, for historical throw back to the great lawmen, he'd have a Remington model 8 semiauto rifle, and an 1897 Winchester 12 gauge. Your character also carries a lead sap, and uses it more than any other is a force multiplier. he may have a back pocket back up gun which would be a 1903 Colt model M in 32 ACP or .380
    .Good Luck
  6. TN.Frank

    TN.Frank Glock4Life

    Oct 11, 2004
    Avondale, AZ.
    The Colt Detective Special was a popular revolver with a lot of privite eyes because of it's light weight and 6 shot capacity. 1911a1 in either 45acp or 38 Super would also be another good choice.
    Don't think anyone would be carrying a SAA in 45 Colt, especially if they were an Ex Cop trained to use a DA revolver.
  7. bac1023


    Sep 26, 2004
    I think the 1911 would be my choice. As mentioned above, the 38 Super was around and it was introduced specifically for the 1911.
  8. Ruble Noon

    Ruble Noon "Cracker"

    Feb 18, 2009
  9. hogship

    hogship It's MY Island

    This may be a little sophisticated for your book character, but something like this is interesting:

    Last edited: Mar 18, 2012
  10. SuperSleuth


    Feb 27, 2010
    This was the first to come to my mind. This was also the gun of choice for Jelly Bryce, IIRC.