Question about Chicago PD early 1900ís


May 13, 2014, 12:34 AM
Iím hoping that some THR historians might be able to provide some information on what side arms were carried by Chicago police in the early 1900s. This weekend I purchased a Smith & Wesson, Military & Police, 38 special, dated to 1906. My Grandfather was a Chicago PD Patrolman from early 1900s until the late 1930s - early 1940s. When he passed in 1957, one of my uncles kept his service revolver. My uncle had no children and his wife (Who survived him) never had anything to do with my side of the family. Consequently, none of my family has any idea what happened to his revolver after that.

My question is, is it likely that this make & model could have been what would have been issued to my Grandfather by the Chicago PD?

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May 13, 2014, 11:33 AM
I found this ...........

"As the 20th Century began, the older .32 caliber revolvers which had been standard-issue for the majority of American police departments began to be phased out in favor of the larger-bore .38 caliber. In 1908 Colt introduced a sleek and modernized revolver they dubbed the Army Special, which in the powerful (for the time) and popular .38 Special quickly became the issue service revolver of many departments.[1][2][3]"

"By 1927 the overwhelming sales of two popular models, the Army Special and Colt Police Positive, had assured Colt’s dominance of the law enforcement firearms market.[1][2] Colt’s marketing strategy was further fine-tuned by making a few superficial alterations to the Army Special revolver and then renaming it as the “Official Police” model."

"By 1933 the Colt sales catalog listed many law enforcement agencies as having adopted the OP as a sidearm, including the New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Kansas City police departments. In addition many state police organizations and even the Federal Bureau of Investigation chose the OP as their issue revolver."

Jim K
May 13, 2014, 03:43 PM
Unless the gun is marked as the property of the Chicago police department, it probably was not an issue firearm. Many departments allowed long-service officers to buy their guns when they retired, but the guns would still show some marking indicating police ownership.

As Midwest says, the revolver of choice of most Northern departments was the Colt, either the OP or the Police Positive. On the other hand, many Southern departments chose S&W, and the southern border of Pennsylvania was sometimes re-named "the Smith & Wesson line". (MD state police, though, carried Colts.)


May 13, 2014, 05:14 PM
Thank you both for your replies. I suspected it has a long shot.

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