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Old April 27, 2011, 10:19 AM   #26
James K
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Yep, that .34 mm (about the thickness of printer paper) is a real powerhouse round. Seriously, many press reports talk about "a .9mm handgun", which should be even more devastating, being over twice the diameter.

Jim
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Old April 27, 2011, 10:21 AM   #27
ClydeFrog
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Popular 1970s era Rooney Guns...

If your fiction character wants a good revolver meant for defense or maybe concealment(carry), I'd suggest the following brands/models:

The Smith and Wesson model 19(blue steel) or 66(stainless steel) .357magnum with a 2.5" or 4" barrel.
This medium size revolver was popular many cops & federal agents. It was standard issue for the US Border Patrol & US Secret Service(2.5" barrel) for many years.
The Colt Python 2" or 4" barrel in bright nickel or stainless steel. This .357magnum was not cheap & was considered the "best" of the DA revolvers of the era.
The Ruger Speed-Six or Security-Six .357magnum revolver. This robust stainless steel revolver was a real work horse. These Ruger six shooters were issued to USAF security police in SE Asia & popular with armed security guards.
The S&W model 27 N frame .357magnum 2.75" barrel or the model 28 Highway Patrolman 4" barrel. These large(N frame) revolvers were in use by a few state troopers, cops & armed citizens.
The S&W model 60 .38spl J frame 5 shot. This small or snub J frame .38spl caliber was Smith & Wesson's first production stainless chief's special. It was used by Richard Roundtree in the hit film: Shaft.

In closing, please keep in mind that most revolvers of the 1970s only fired 5 or 6 rounds and they DID NOT have safety levers. This is a common mix up in many novels/fiction.

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Old April 27, 2011, 10:35 AM   #28
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Remember, this guy is probably an off shoot from the flower child era and doesn't know squat about guns, so he would have chosen something more like an H&R 929 .22 for "protection".

Something that goes bang, but his knowledge of minimal ballistics would be zero. No internet in those days to research and he probably didn't look this stuff up in libraries, so anything small, and loud would have been the ticket.

And any gun smuggler would have be happy to pawn off he cheap gun as a reliable home defense to such an gun nerd.

Think outside the box, all of you knowledgeable gun nuts!
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Old April 27, 2011, 10:36 AM   #29
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IIRC the S&W Model 60 was introduced in '65. Another great choice.

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Old April 27, 2011, 10:39 AM   #30
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NYC carry permits have always been scarce, usually issued only to the wealthy and/or politically powerful. But in that era, carry permits were issued only for revolvers, since that was what the police carried. Police were told to shoot to kill anyone with an auto pistol, as he/she could not be an off duty cop or a legal carrier.

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Old April 27, 2011, 10:40 AM   #31
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Wrong place..phone messed up
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Two weapons that was designed by the same man still in use by the us military 100 years later...1911 and m2...is there anything that comes close.....lol annd maybe perhaps a sig sauer p226 tac ops edition..
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Old April 27, 2011, 10:43 AM   #32
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Jim Keenan, suppose that might have come as a shock to any Feds who might have had a 1911 or such...

I can't quite see any department issuing "shoot to kill if you see this gun" orders.
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Old April 27, 2011, 10:50 AM   #33
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Since the musician isn't a "gun guy", then you might think he got the gun from a relative who was a cop. Of course, revolvers from the '70s were essentially identical to revolvers from the '20s, so the choice of guns wouldn't change much. I'd choose either a Colt Detective Special or a S&W Military & Police. Now, since the guy is in NY, the only way he could legally have the gun is if he had friends in high places, so maybe the gun was a gift from the Mayor, or the Chief of Police, and in that case it could maybe be something more exotic, like a Colt Python or S&W Combat Magnum.
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Old April 27, 2011, 10:55 AM   #34
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Hi, MLeake,

Federal LEOs didn't carry 1911's then and still don't, though most now carry autos of one kind or another.

Of course, no PD would admit to issuing such an order or even to allowing it as an "informal" policy, but that was the word I got and have no reason to doubt it.

Are you from NYC or have had any contact with their police?

Jim
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Old April 27, 2011, 11:07 AM   #35
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Jim Keenan,

I'm not from NYC, though I've had relatives live for a while in Brooklyn, and my BIL still works in Manhattan.

I've met a couple of NYPD guys (and some FDNY, too) over the years. Most were pretty good guys. (My best friend's Uncle Louie was retired NYPD; never saw a worse guy for printing - liked SOB carry, under a sweater, at least, as an old retired guy he did. Every time he leaned forward to tie a shoe, etc.... We still call printing badly an "Uncle Louie.")

Looked up Federally issued weapons, looks like you were correct, as of 1970.

FBI used to issue the Browning HiPower to their HRT guys, but I don't know when that started. From a quick google, looks like that started in 1983, so not in 1970. Looks like standard issue in 1970 was a 4" S&W Model 19, or 4" S&W Model 10.

Looks like the Model 19 and 10, in 4" and 2.5" versions, were also used by US Marshals, State Dept Diplomatic Security, and Border Patrol in 1970.

FBI currently issues the Springfield TRP 1911 to HRT. I realize that's in the here and now, but at least one agency authorizes and even issues a 1911, in limited numbers.

Question, though - did those departments put limits on what their agents carried off-duty?
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Old April 27, 2011, 11:16 AM   #36
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Quote:
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.
They were, according to the SCSW. I was just reading up on the 64 and 65 the other day (partly to answer a question for somebody else, partly to prep myself for my incoming 2" 64).
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Old April 27, 2011, 11:36 AM   #37
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"Federal LEOs didn't carry 1911's then and still don't, though most now carry autos of one kind or another."

Uhm... that's sort of incorrect...

In years past FBI agents, especially ones who had a number of years in service, had quite a bit of leeway on what they could carry.

"Official" handguns were Colt or S&W revolvers, but agents could, with proper approval, carry things like the 1911 or a Smith & Wesson 39 or 59.

US Border Patrol agents (Col. Charles Askins) also had leeway on what they could carry, especially in the 1930s and 1940s. Askins frequently carried a 1911.

Treasury Agents also apparently had some leeway in what they could carry over the years. Eliott Ness is known to have carried a 1911, although he apparently carried a Detective Special more often.
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Old April 27, 2011, 12:00 PM   #38
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What's wrong with that? Seems to be perfectly cromulent to me...
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FTFY, Mike.

Dylan,

I second the 2" snubnose Colt or S&W .38 Special suggested above.

I'd also suggest you address the NYC license issue simply by having the character - even if only referenced in past tense - asking one of his quasi-criminal friends in the music world what he'd do about self-protection, and this friend provides the aforementioned weapon for a handful of Jacksons and the promise that your character "forgot where you got this".

To save you the time searching, I've seen various oldtimers comments about paying for or selling a Model 36 around 1970-71 for $85 - 90.

So a 'friend' selling your musician character a cold .38 for $100 cash wouldn't be out of line.

nb : This begets another question - what happens to the hero if there's a shooting in NYC circa 1970, with an unlicensed revolver? At least the shooter won't have to worry about empty cartridge cases left behind...

Last edited by Story; April 27, 2011 at 12:14 PM. Reason: syntax errors
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Old April 27, 2011, 12:24 PM   #39
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Quote:
dylanlandis

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!
If this is your fictional main character, the choice of his weapon can be part of the character development. If you choose to make his background one which has no training in firearms then you are wise to choose a revolver. A .38 spl would fit the times as it was the most popular cartridge used by police and the pubic in 1970.

I have no authority for this next statement, but I think that 2", 3" and 4" barreled .38 spl revolvers (including .357 mag. which can chamber .38 spl) might have accounted for over half of all center-fire handguns in possession of the U.S. public in 1970.

A lot of the public in 1970 had revolvers stashed in drawers that they had not touched for years. My grandmother had a S&W model 30 in .32 S&W Long. It was on the I-frame and was a 5 shot revolver. I doubt that she ever fired it in the last ten years of her life.

If you choose to make the character more gun "savvy" you might consider a revolver in .357 magnum or .44 spl; or even a 1911 semi auto in .45acp.

Since your setting is 1970 New York city, you might want to research the laws which would have been in place at that time which could control firearms possession, ownership, transportation and usage.
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Old April 27, 2011, 05:01 PM   #40
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I would say either a Comanche 38, FN Barracuda 357 or a Manurhin MR 73. All of these were very popular.
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Old April 27, 2011, 05:02 PM   #41
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Charter Arms Bulldog 5 shot .44 Spl or a Charter Arms Undercover 5 shot .38 Spl.
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Old April 27, 2011, 05:15 PM   #42
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I know that you said a revolver, but you might also consider a good old fashioned Colt 1911 semi-auto. Back in the 70's the old WWII war horses were common and cheap. I'd write it with either a Colt 1911 semi auto or Cajunbass' S&W 4" 38spl Model 10 revolver for your character.
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Old April 27, 2011, 05:32 PM   #43
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I'm thinkin you guys are all too much on the pricey side. While I'm unsure of the popular brands of that era I'm thinkin a Saturday Night Special of some sort. Something he would of picked up off the street for a few bucks for "just in case" SD.

So what were the best sellin dirt cheap guns of the 60's?

LK
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Old April 27, 2011, 05:35 PM   #44
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Quote:
So what were the best sellin dirt cheap guns of the 60's?
Rohms!
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Old April 27, 2011, 05:55 PM   #45
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Thanks for this wealth of ideas, information, expertise

This is a wealth of information. I'm more appreciative than I can say.

Jim Keenan and others who raised the issue of me and/or the character knowing nothing about guns: quite right. Nor will I fake it. I'll research, and keep it simple. The chosen gun will sit ignored in my character's drawer for some years (perhaps with its bluing rubbed off on one side; thanks, CarGuyChris, for that amazing detail!) till it gets stolen and used. There's no noir-detective-talk. Story, thanks for price info; ClydeFrog, thanks for telling me those older revolvers didn't always have safety levers. These details are so helpful. So is the info on Colt's bluing/nickelplating vs stainless in 1970, and so much more--thank you again. I may come back here when the gun scenes are done to make sure I've got it right.

This has been invaluable.
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Old April 27, 2011, 05:58 PM   #46
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I'm thinking this guy is carrying a Colt Police Positive Special chambered in 30-20 that was made in the mid 1920's and handed down through the family. It's got a large chip out of one of the old hard rubber grips and the bluing is worn through on the hard edges of the gun.
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Old April 27, 2011, 07:28 PM   #47
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WW2 era Harrington and Richardson "DEFENDER 38" is the perfect match for your requirements.
IMG_0119_3.jpg
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Old April 27, 2011, 07:40 PM   #48
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There's no noir-detective-talk.

Bummer

I always liked the.......

"She had a pair of 38s pointed at me, and the .45 in her hand was impressive also."

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Old April 27, 2011, 08:17 PM   #49
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Quote:
ClydeFrog, thanks for telling me those older revolvers didn't always have safety levers.
Newer revolvers don't have safeties either (as a rule - I'm sure there are some rare examples that do, but I can't think of any). Safeties are for semi-autos, and not always on them either. Also, I don't think a gun person would ever say "safety lever" - it's just simply a "safety".

(I'm sure ClydeFrog knows all this, I'm just clarifying for dylanlandis)
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Old April 27, 2011, 08:19 PM   #50
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It's rare to find an American revolver with a safety. The only one that leaps to mind is the old lemon-squeezer, aka Smith&Wesson Safety Hammerless. That one had a grip safety, kind of an oddity as revolvers go.

Not sure what, if any, safety requirements the Gun Control Act of 1968 may have imposed on imported revolvers.
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