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Old October 16, 2013, 05:46 AM   #1
Don w
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law enforcement wepons of late 40s

Hello,

I am writing book about a lawman in the late 40s Oklahoma. My grand father was a deputy sheriff from the late 50s until early eighties. He was the basis for this character I was thinking on a 1911 A1 for side arm but am hung up on weather to use a Thompson M1A1, some form of shotgun or a semi auto rifle for bigger weapon for the main shootouts. I am not so familiar what a lawman of that period would have used and this is more of a action type novel borderline neo western than a mystery. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
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Old October 16, 2013, 06:37 AM   #2
mw1151
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Winchester Lever rifle
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Old October 16, 2013, 07:25 AM   #3
Hal
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40's in OK?

Bryce and his .357
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Old October 16, 2013, 08:43 AM   #4
Doyle
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Standard LE gun in those days was the S&W M&P which later became the Model 10.
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Old October 16, 2013, 12:51 PM   #5
Tom Servo
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Standard LE gun in those days was the S&W M&P which later became the Model 10.
Yep, and most likely, a Winchester 97.
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Old October 16, 2013, 01:57 PM   #6
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Browning BAR, shotguns, Public Enemy...

I'd look at a Browning BAR. This powerful machine gun was often used by both law enforcement & the "gangsters" of the era.
The model 1918 was a 30/06 caliber full automatic designed for military use.
The Colt Monitor was a modified version of the model 1918 designed for LE agencies & highway patrols.
Id watch Michael Mann's film; Public Enemies(2009) & go over www.imfdb.org .
Shotguns were common too back in that time.
The popular sidearms of the era for police & federal agents included the Smith & Wesson model 27 .357magnum, the model 10 .38spl, the Colt Police Positive, the Colt 1911a1 .45acp & the rare .38Super, and the Hi-Power 9x19mm(9mm Luger). The .25acp "Baby Browning" was often a "back-up"

CF

Last edited by ClydeFrog; October 16, 2013 at 02:19 PM.
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Old October 16, 2013, 03:08 PM   #7
2damnold4this
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A Winchester 94 in 30-30 seems right for a western lawman in the 1940s but a Remington Model 8 would be my choice if you want a semi auto.


I see a Colt or Smith & Wesson in .38 special for a sidearm but he might have a .357. A Detective Special could be a backup.
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Old October 16, 2013, 03:44 PM   #8
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Last Man Standing....

Last Man Standing(1997) the Bruce Willis crime drama about gangsters in a remote Texas location is worth reviewing too.
There are a # of guns used in the film.
www.imdb.com
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Old October 16, 2013, 07:17 PM   #9
Dfariswheel
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Going with the later 1940's, here's pretty much what you'd see in an Oklahoma lawman's armory.
Remember, these were civilian cops, and didn't have a lot of money.
You'd very rarely see any kind of even remotely exotic firearms in their hands, and unless it was a bigger department you usually wouldn't see much in full-auto weapons.

Pistols:
In an automatic it would have been a Colt 1911-A1, most likely a commercial, but possibly a military surplus.
The only other autos around would have been surplus 9mm's and no one would have been carrying one of those.
For something different he could have owned an early Colt aluminum .45 Commander introduced in 1949.
It's possible he could have a Colt Super .38 as it was then known, but the Super .38 was a very rare gun in those days.

Revolvers:
S&W DA revolver, either a large "N" type frame in .44 Special or .45 Colt, possibly a .357 Magnum.
In .38 Special, the S&W Model 10.

Colt would be an Official Police .38 Special, possibly a New Service in .357 or most likely 45 Colt, possibly a surplus Model 1917 in .45ACP.
Out there, a Colt Police Positive Special wouldn't be too common.
If he had a "snub nose" .38 Special it would have been a Colt Detective Special, nothing else.

Shotguns:
Prime law enforcement guns were the Winchester Model 1897 or Model 12. Winchester pretty much owned the police market.
For other brands, the Ithaca Model 37 was around.
In semi-auto shotguns the Remington Model 11/Browning A5 were the only automatic shotguns trusted or even readily available and western cops did like them.
You might find a few other brands of shotguns but these weren't common. You had to look to find someone with anything but a Winchester pump gun.

Rifles:
The standard Winchester Model 1892 or the Model 1894 were popular, you might still see a Winchester 30-06 Model 1895.

A surprising number would have US military surplus Springfield 1903's and possibly a Model 1917 American Enfield.

In commercial bolt action rifles, the Winchester Model 70 and Remington Model 30 were about it.

In semi-auto rifles the Remington Model 8 in various calibers like the .30 or .35 Remington and especially the Winchester Model 1907 in .351.
The Winchester especially was a big law enforcement rifle before WWII in the hands of the FBI and Western lawmen like Ranger Frank Hamer who like many lawmen sent his Winchester to a gunsmith in Joplin Missouri to be fitted with a 30 round magazine.
If he had a semi-auto rifle in the late 40's it would almost certainly be the Winchester.

In automatic weapons, it would be a Model 1921/28 Thompson gun, or a surplus military BAR or possibly a commercial Colt Monitor, which was a commercial sales BAR for the police.

It's unlikely you'd see a M1 or M1A1 Thompson or M3 Grease gun that early. At the time they were still standard military issue and not many were out of military control yet.
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Old October 16, 2013, 07:17 PM   #10
kilimanjaro
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Lots of Border Patrol in the 1950's carried 1911's, don't remember what they used for long guns.

Here in Washington state, the .44 Special was the revolver round.

I think the big shootout was a real rarity in those days.
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Old October 16, 2013, 08:07 PM   #11
Bartholomew Roberts
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If it is the late 40s, then you have all kinds of cheap WWII surplus and bringbacks in circulation - 1911s, M1 carbines, sporterized 1903s, etc. The Remington Model 8 was popular with lawmen and the Feds in the late 40s. I believe two Model 8s were used in the Bonnie & Clyde shooting in 1934.
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Old October 16, 2013, 08:50 PM   #12
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Remington and especially the Winchester Model 1907 in .351.
Yep, This was what was going up against the gangsters with the Thompsons.

I have been looking for one but the good one are not cheep and the cheep ones are not good. They were also used in the prisons.

Doug
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Old October 16, 2013, 08:56 PM   #13
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If your hero is a small town sheriff or one of the deputies any non-military rifle, pistol, or shotgun in use at the time would probably be correct. Most big cities were issuing weapons but the small town rural western police forces didn't have the budget for it so officers choice for what he bought and carried. My great grandfather was a Arizona lawman some time late 30's or 40's and passed down a S&W .38/44 Heavy Duty with a 5 inch barrel, a side by side 10 gage, and a Savage model 99 in .303 savage, family history says they were his working guns but I will admit that is not known for sure.
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Old October 16, 2013, 10:15 PM   #14
ClydeFrog
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Cowboy eras....

Most western lawmen in the mid-late 1800s, used a rifle & revolver in the same caliber. It was more efficient & the firearms could serve multiple uses in remote/rural areas.
In the early to mid 1900s, Im sure that tradition remained in many western states.
"Back-up" or aid could be hours away even in the 1940s.
To have a Hi-Power 9mm(P35) or a snub .38spl as a second gun would be smart.
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Old October 17, 2013, 01:03 AM   #15
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You might want to take a look at the book 'Hot Springs' by one of my favorite authors Stephen Hunter. It's a fictional account of a special law enforcement group in the late '40's in Arkansas. In many of his books Hunter highlights guns and shooting.
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Old October 17, 2013, 10:07 AM   #16
kraigwy
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Quote:
Hello,

I am writing book about a lawman in the late 40s Oklahoma. My grand father was a deputy sheriff from the late 50s until early eighties. He was the basis for this character I was thinking on a 1911 A1 for side arm but am hung up on weather to use a Thompson M1A1, some form of shotgun or a semi auto rifle for bigger weapon for the main shootouts. I am not so familiar what a lawman of that period would have used and this is more of a action type novel borderline neo western than a mystery. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
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Go to the Smith & Wesson Forum, the Lounge section and post your question. There are several old guys who were in LE back then, and many knowledgeable people about the area/period, you're talking about.
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Old October 17, 2013, 02:09 PM   #17
ClydeFrog
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Steven Hunter....

I too was thinking of mentioning Hunter's work.
Steven Hunter is very pro-gun/2A & like the late Tom Clancy, he's very detailed in his descriptions.

Id add that the 30/30 lever action is also a popular western LE patrol rifle.
Retired Texas Ranger & NRA board member; J Jackson who detailed his law enforcement career in One Ranger, wrote that he packed a 30/30 lever action rifle & a Commander size 1911a1 .45acp pistol most often. He worked from the early 1960s through the early 1990s, most of it as a Texas Ranger.
Jackson advised actor Nick Nolte in the action film; Extreme Prejudice(1988), www.imdb.com .

Clyde
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Old October 18, 2013, 08:54 PM   #18
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I saw an excellent article about long arms used by one of the agencies in American Rifleman not too long ago. It was quite an interesting history. Take a look for some out of the ordinary models used. It could be just what you need to set yourself apart.
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Old October 18, 2013, 10:47 PM   #19
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Another interesting possibility is the Reising SMG.

In the late 1940s, the US military found itself with a huge surplus of submachine guns, particularly a massive number of M3 Grease Guns that were built in preparation for an invasion of mainland Japan that never happened. However, the USMC had placed a bunch of Reisings in storage after they were deemed unacceptable in combat and replaced with Thompsons. Since the Reisings were pretty much useless and redundant, none of our military allies had big stockpiles of .45ACP ammo, and the guns effectively couldn't be sold to civilians since the NFA was in effect, the solution was to dole them out to law enforcement.

Since most police departments kept "special" weapons in lockers most of the time, the Reising's notorious susceptibility to sand and high humidity was not a serious problem.

I know that the Dallas PD had a bunch of them as late as the 1970s, although they were usually kept locked away at the shooting range to prevent officers from using them in inappropriate situations. (This was prior to the advent of SWAT teams, and this policy had the ironic consequence of preventing their use in a few appropriate situations that happened after the shooting range had already closed for the night. )

Although it's unlikely that any patrol officer would have a Reising in his patrol car on a routine basis, it could be stored at the station for use in a "special situation".
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Old October 19, 2013, 11:30 AM   #20
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About 700 miles due west of you is the Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center in Cody, WY. It would be a great place to do some research, or just spend a couple days exploring.

http://www.bbhc.org/explore/firearms/
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