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Old May 17, 2015, 02:00 PM   #1
wally
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"Gat" and "Roscoe"?

I've always wondered where the terms "Gat" and "Roscoe" came from as slang for a handgun.

I asked this in the "why do we call it that" thread but it got no reponse, I'm curious about these origins.

I would guess "Roscoe" comes from the old Detective Novels, but its just a guess.
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Old May 17, 2015, 02:33 PM   #2
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Gat probably comes from Gatling gun.
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Old May 17, 2015, 03:03 PM   #3
Ed N.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wally View Post

I would guess "Roscoe" comes from the old Detective Novels, but its just a guess.
Probably from author Damon Runyan. He was well known for colorful phrasing and invented slang. He used the word "Roscoe" but I don't know how he came up with it.
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Old May 17, 2015, 04:45 PM   #4
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The Oxford English Dictionary quotes the source as 'Gatling' and gives the earliest recorded use as 1904.
The 'Gat' was a brand of spring-powered air pistol manufactured in England, but in this case the branding probably followed the etymology.
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Old May 17, 2015, 08:20 PM   #5
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Urbandictionary.com ....

I've found www.Urbandictionary.com handy for stuff like that.


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Old May 17, 2015, 08:48 PM   #6
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I don’t know the origin of “Gat” but ChaoSS reference in post 2 is as likely as any. The most common use was usually in reference to a Thompson sub-machine gun in the 1920s gangster era. I’ve only heard “Roscoe” used in reference to a penis.
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Old May 17, 2015, 08:53 PM   #7
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Well that was referred to as a "gun" on FMJ. Honestly I've never heard of the term "roscoe" used.
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Old May 17, 2015, 09:21 PM   #8
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I had heard "Gat" was from the book "The Great Gatsby"
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Old May 17, 2015, 09:34 PM   #9
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I have heard these used in old movies. Also heard the term "heater" frefferring to a handgun.
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Old May 17, 2015, 10:48 PM   #10
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Pretty sure "gat" enjoyed a renaissance of sorts in the late 80s early 90s gangsta rap scene. Held sideways... naturally.
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Old May 17, 2015, 10:57 PM   #11
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I've heard a sidearm referred to as a Roscoe a lot before, but can't remember if it predated Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane's character..
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Old May 17, 2015, 10:59 PM   #12
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Heater, rod, roscoe, gat, and other terms were a lot more common back in the gangster (not "-sta"), Prohibition days, and in the hard-boiled detective fiction of print and radio and the film noir genres that hearkened to those times. Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall (what a dish!), and so on.

Probably not so easy to figure the exact derivations of some, but I like the Damon Runyan suggestion as he and some of his fellow hacks probably created more fedora'd two-fisted history than ever really existed! Now 23 Skidoo!
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Old May 17, 2015, 11:46 PM   #13
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You forget....Micky Spillane's creation, Mike Hammer!

Maybe in one of those early detective novels someone had a gun named 'Roscoe'.

Kinda like my rifle named after my wife.. Geraldine.

When the going gets tough, I reach for Geraldine!

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Old May 18, 2015, 12:03 AM   #14
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Gun slang terms ....

Some street kids call the AK47s choppers, .
There's also Rooney Guns, hog-leg, burner, 6-gun, six shooter, "Sat Night Special", snub nose, mouse gun, shootin iron, blaster, Chicago Typewriter, .

RS

PS: Mike Hammer's GI 1911a1 .45acp was named Betsy. In the detective novels Hammer toted Betsy in WWII. In the hit CBS TV series, Hammer had Betsy with him during his combat tours in SE Asia.
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Old May 18, 2015, 10:23 AM   #15
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In more recent decades, "Roscoe" is a name derogatorially applied to the cheaper revolvers made by Rohm Gmbh in Germany in the '50s and '60s. They were often said to be so unreliable that many a cop owed his life to the gun failing to fire in the perp's hand.
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Old May 19, 2015, 11:01 PM   #16
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Barney Fife called his Gat "roscoe"
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Old May 20, 2015, 02:52 AM   #17
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There are tons of street terms for guns. Stingers are .22s or derringers, a "b###h" is a shotgun, "chopper" is a rifle, "Nina" is a 9 etc... A "glock" is basically anything that isn't out of the ordinary. My favorite that I heard recently was about Hi Points.

Hi Points are known to "stick". Stick means to jam. Personally I like that one but if there are any big city cops out there hopefully they'll chime in.

Always been a fan of "strapped" too. That is still very relevant but I imagine it goes back many years, strapping on a weapon goes back centuries.


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Old May 20, 2015, 03:37 AM   #18
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380 Auto ....

I've been known to use the phrase: 380 Auto, .
It's a throwback to the 80s cop shows like NBC's popular Miami Vice.
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Old May 20, 2015, 07:52 AM   #19
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Quote:
Barney Fife called his Gat "roscoe"
I did not know that. Of the hundreds of times I've watched that show.....never noticed. Guncheese, do you know the specific episode that references "Roscoe"?
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Old May 20, 2015, 08:01 AM   #20
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Quote:
I did not know that. Of the hundreds of times I've watched that show.....never noticed. Guncheese, do you know the specific episode that references "Roscoe"?
I'm not sure which episode, but I seem to remember Barney patting his holster and using the term "Roscoe".

If he didn't, he should have.
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Old May 20, 2015, 10:38 PM   #21
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I do not know the specific derivation of many euphemisms for weapons, but I suspect many were coined in earlier times as a form of 'code' between villains not wanting to be noticed.

So 'roscoe' - which does pre-date Roscoe P. Coltrane by some time, by the way - probably came from some cutpurse telling another "I'll bring Roscoe" to signify being armed without fear of being overheard. Just for the record, I have never heard the term used in reference to a penis. (Which may only mean I've lived a sheltered life.)

"Gat" comes from Richard J. Gatling's invention of the crank operated firearm being his name.

"Chicago Typewriter" refers to the Thomson submachine gun - available over the counter prior to 1934 - and is based on the sound it makes and Chicago being a mob town.

"Shootin' iron" is attributed to the Western United States, but I suspect may have more to do with Hollywood 'B' westerns than actual usage in the real world. One does agree it more of a ring than "Shootin' polymer" at any rate.

"Chopper" used to signify any submachine gun - in the 'old days' that was a Thompson, with one or two others rarely seen. The German MP38 and MP40 was typically referred to as a "Schmeisser", but Hugo Schmeisser, who did design weapons for the German Army had nothing to do with that particular weapon design. (He did patent the idea for the magazine.)

I understand Davey Crockett named his rifle (probably several of them) "Old Betsy". This seems to have started a trend followed by Mickey Spillane with Mike Hammer and others.

All the above is based on being around older shooters and collectors for the greater part of my sixty-five years. So I suppose the provenance of the information is similar to a sea story. But guys, I tell you, this is no ...
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Old May 20, 2015, 10:44 PM   #22
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Old May 20, 2015, 11:20 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RustyShackelford View Post
Some street kids call the AK47s choppers, .
There's also Rooney Guns, hog-leg, burner, 6-gun, six shooter, "Sat Night Special", snub nose, mouse gun, shootin iron, blaster, Chicago Typewriter, .....
Don't forget Kurt Russel telling Billy Bob Thornton in "Tombstone", to "skin that smokewagon" !!
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Old May 20, 2015, 11:27 PM   #24
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Quote:
There are tons of street terms for guns. Stingers are .22s or derringers, a "b###h" is a shotgun, "chopper" is a rifle, "Nina" is a 9 etc... A "glock" is basically anything that isn't out of the ordinary. My favorite that I heard recently was about Hi Points.

Hi Points are known to "stick". Stick means to jam. Personally I like that one but if there are any big city cops out there hopefully they'll chime in.

Always been a fan of "strapped" too. That is still very relevant but I imagine it goes back many years, strapping on a weapon goes back centuries.


HB
From what I have heard this is pretty accurate. Just my casual observation anyway.
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Old May 21, 2015, 08:36 AM   #25
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And we have had newer phrases enter the gun lexicon.
I personally like "Combat Tupperware" and "Plastic Fantastic", both applied to Glocks and other polymer framed guns.
The "Mattel Rifle" for the M-16.
I once saw a news report on TV (before I stopped watching it) where-in a distraught woman in an urban neighborhood, describing the handgun she saw the perp using called it "A three eighty magnum!" Hehehe......
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