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Old April 26, 2011, 11:46 PM   #1
dylanlandis
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fiction writer asks: popular '70s revolver?

I'm new to The Firing Line--writing a 2nd book of fiction, and in need of expert advice. Can anyone on this forum suggest a revolver that my character might own in 1970 for self-protection? This guy, about 40, has enough money to own something good. Not fantastic--but good. He lives in NYC, if that makes a difference. He's not a tough guy by any stretch; he's a professional musician, who keeps the gun stashed deep in a drawer, just in case.
A photo would be incredibly helpful. Thank you!
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Old April 26, 2011, 11:56 PM   #2
Mike Irwin
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You have a bunch to choose from.

All of the following are either .38 or .357 Magnum. All of the S&Ws I've listed are blued, there were similar stainless steel counterparts.

Google any of them for photos.

Smith & Wesson Model 19.

Smith & Wesson Model 10 - the classic police gun.

Smith & Wesson Model 14

Smith & Wesson Model 15

S&W Model 36, 37, 38, 40, 42, 49

Colt Python - High end even back then.

Colt Cobra

Colt Trooper

Colt Detective Special

Ruger Security Six

Ruger Service Six

A bit lower down on the scale, but very serviceable

Charter Arms Off Duty

Charter Arms Undercover

Charter Arms Bulldog

Hi Standard Magnum Sentinel III
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Old April 26, 2011, 11:57 PM   #3
kraigwy
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70s, not a gun guy, stuffed in the dresser drawers:

I'd say a 2 in Colt Det. Special or Smith Model 10 2 inch.
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Old April 27, 2011, 12:07 AM   #4
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Smith & Wesson Model 10, 4" barrel, 38 special.

Since your character isn't really a gun guy, I doubt he'd have spent a lot of money on something "fancy." A 4" 38 Model 10 is about as plain Jane as you could have gotten back then, and about as inexpensive as you could get a good, quality revolver.



This particular one was made in 1979, but they haven't changed much over the years.
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Old April 27, 2011, 12:13 AM   #5
Jim March
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An old-school reliable choice would be the Colt Detective Special, 6-shooter, 38Spl, 2" barrel:

http://www.google.com/search?q=colt+...ed=0CBMQ_AUoAQ

Ammo for same: standard 158gr 38Spl semi-wadcutter if he's a "normal guy" of the time. If he knows his stuff, he's got handloaded 148gr hollow-base wadcutters turned around backwards into giant hollowpoints from hell - slow moving but they'll expand to almost the size of a quarter.

A more "aggressive" piece would be an S&W model 19, 4" barrel 357Magnum...previously known as the "Combat Masterpiece" pushed for by the late Bill Jordan, a "high speed, low drag" serious combat option:

http://www.google.com/search?q=S%26W...ed=0CAsQ_AUoAQ

Ammo for same: the "Super Vel" 110gr JHP invented by Lee Jurras starting in the late '60s. This stuff was the first "super hollowpoint" and is basically the ancestor of all modern hollowpoint combat ammo. The gun will burn out with too many of 'em but while it holds it has serious power, on par with modern 40S&W police ammo.

If he's really serious: S&W model 28 "Highway Patrolman", 4" or 5" barrel. Dirty Harry had the Model 29, same gun in 44Mag. The 27 was the 357Mag in the same large "N" frame and a high-polish finish. The 28 was the same gun as a 27 but with a cheaper finish for a daily-carry piece you didn't mind scratching up and for less money.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&s...qi=g2&aql=&oq=

Ammo for same: 357Mag full-house 158gr lead "Keith" type slugs, big power. Can crack a car engine block, can stop a 600lb black bear with one round.
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Old April 27, 2011, 12:32 AM   #6
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Your character doesn't sound like much of a gun guy, and neither do you, therefore I'm going to keep this simple. Not being a gun guy, he's likely to own something small that's easy to stash and very common. I would suggest a S&W Model 36, known as the "Chief's Special":



It's your typical hideaway gun, and being a S&W it wasn't a cheap gun. Chambered for .38 Special ammo would likely be 158gr lead round nose or 158gr. semi-wadcutters.
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Old April 27, 2011, 12:40 AM   #7
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Glad you're researching. I burst out laughing several times at the stupidities printed in Stieg Larsson's Millenium series. Five minutes on Google would have corrected most of them.

Taxi Driver was set in the 70's NYC, and DeNiro/Travis buys several guns. That's a movie, though.
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Old April 27, 2011, 02:38 AM   #8
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I double the S&W model 36 or 10.

*EDIT*
On a side-note, I don't think the character described would own a .357. That's a gun that takes some dedication to own.
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Old April 27, 2011, 03:30 AM   #9
Nero45
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Mike Irwin you named all but a few S&Ws and that would be the 357 Registered Magnum and 13. But still that would me most of them.
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Old April 27, 2011, 04:08 AM   #10
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Old April 27, 2011, 05:54 AM   #11
Mike Irwin
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Well, in that time frame there are actually others, as well.

The reason I didn't name any of the big N frame .357s (Registered Magnum, Model 27, Model 28, Model 520 or any of the .38-44 Heavy Duties), and stuck with the K frame, J frame, and equivalent is that the N frames are really guns for people who know guns.

Someone who doesn't know guns, but has one will, I feel, invariably have a J frame or K frame.
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Old April 27, 2011, 06:22 AM   #12
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Just something a bit different, Colt Metropolitan made 69-72...think it was Colt's last wheelie aimed at law enforcement when everyone was going to autos. Good classic for a city dweller.

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Old April 27, 2011, 06:58 AM   #13
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Here's a pic of that Model 10 snubbie... this one made in '64.

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Old April 27, 2011, 07:12 AM   #14
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I would go for the S&W 36.

The Service Six did not exist in 1970, they were all Security Sixes until a few years later (1973-1974?).

Although I have read that the first Security prototypes were made somewhere between 1969 and 1970, I don't believe the guns were sold in substantial numbers until 1972 (the Ruger Serial Number site also lists this as the case). Consequently, I don't think an average Joe would have access to these guns in 1970.
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Old April 27, 2011, 07:13 AM   #15
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In that scenario, the first gun I picture is a Colt Detective Special.
But a Browning 1910 could lend the narration some Old World charm. Ooops, not a revolver!

Anyway: http://guns4u.info/?cat=40
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Old April 27, 2011, 07:40 AM   #16
mrbro
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In 1970, if he had a few bucks and was a musician, he would probably go for something like a Colt Detective Special, Python or Diamondback. If he had a classical or historical bend he might have gone for an old Colt Single Action Army or something unique like a Webley.
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Old April 27, 2011, 07:44 AM   #17
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Another vote for a Model 36 Smith. Colt Detective Special as second choice.
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Old April 27, 2011, 08:15 AM   #18
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Knew a 70s musician, wailed a mean sax, not a private eye but real street smart, carried a 5-shot 38 spl S&W snub in his (short) boot.

Best of luck with your next novel.
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Old April 27, 2011, 09:03 AM   #19
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"The Service Six did not exist in 1970, they were all Security Sixes until a few years later (1973-1974?)."

Interesting. I thought that the two models were introduced concurrently.
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Old April 27, 2011, 09:49 AM   #20
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Quote:
Another vote for a Model 36 Smith. Colt Detective Special as second choice.
+1. (+4?) From talking to collectors who were active back then, I believe these guns were the lowest-priced .38 Special firearms in these companies' catalogs ca. 1970. They seem to have been frequently recommended by gun store clerks whenever a customer unfamiliar with guns asked for something to use for personal protection.

I've frequently seen these guns show up at gun shows or the firing range in more-or-less unfired condition with signs of improper storage- e.g. the bluing (black-colored finish) is damaged on only one side the cylinder, from sitting in a felt-lined desk drawer for 30 years without ever being moved.
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Old April 27, 2011, 10:00 AM   #21
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Count me in as suggesting a Smith & Wesson Model 10 or a Model 36 or, perhaps, one of the Colt equivalents. A relatively plain, small, fixed sight revolver is exactly what someone would have owned if he/she wanted it for home defense or to stuff into a coat pocket or purse on occasion. Just one note of correction: the OP says that his story would be set in 1970. I don't think that either Smith or Colt had begun manufacturing stainless revolvers in 1970, didn't that come a year or two later? So, whatever the character owned would be blued or nickel plated, correct?
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Old April 27, 2011, 10:09 AM   #22
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Hi, Dylanlandis,

One question I have is how he managed to get a NYC pistol license. Who did he have to bribe and how much?

As for fiction writing, it is very difficult for the non-expert (or even sometimes, the expert) to write about guns in any detail without making mistakes. As you now know, guns come in a large variety and many types so, in my opinion, the non-expert writer is best to stick to generalitles, and especially avoid pseudo-knowledgable nonsense.

For example, "The detective waiting in the shadows drew his .34 millimeter Smythe and Western Police Luger Special and clicked open the drum. Then he looked in the nozzle to see if it was loaded. Pulling back the clicker thing, he waited for the villain." All stupid nonsense and a story spoiler to anyone who knows anything about guns.

Far better (unless you are being paid by the word) is "The detective standing in the shadows drew his gun and waited."

Jim
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Old April 27, 2011, 10:11 AM   #23
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I vote for a Model 10 - you pick the barrel length. But, since you said he wasn't much of a gun guy I'd go with the 4".

On another note:

What are you guys doing up at 12:01 in the morning? Is there a breakfast club I can be invited to?

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Old April 27, 2011, 10:12 AM   #24
Mike Irwin
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"I don't think that either Smith or Colt had begun manufacturing stainless revolvers in 1970"

S&W Chief's Special Stainless hit the market in 1965.

The 66 (stainless version of the Model 19) was introduced in 1970.

I believe that the 64 and the 65 were also introduced at roughly the same time.
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Old April 27, 2011, 10:12 AM   #25
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"For example, "The detective waiting in the shadows drew his .34 millimeter Smythe and Western Police Luger Special and clicked open the drum. Then he looked in the nozzle to see if it was loaded. Pulling back the clicker thing, he waited for the villain." All stupid nonsense and a story spoiler to anyone who knows anything about guns."


What's wrong with that? Seems to be perfectly accurate to me...
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