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Famous Gangster Guns of the 1920 - 30's?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by tprice, Mar 3, 2010.

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  1. tprice

    tprice Member

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    Reading too much Chandler recently; getting a hankering for the days of G-men and mob enforcers. While the 1911 is definitely on the list, I was thinking if there are any other handguns (pistols or revolvers) that people feel represent the violence/romance of the Prohibition era in the USA?
     
  2. mesinge2

    mesinge2 Member

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    Last edited: Sep 29, 2010
  3. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    The 1911 in .45 ACP was not as widely used by civilians in the 20's and 30's as it is today, though the .38 Super variant was favored by some. The bulk of handguns on both sides would have been six shot revolvers in .38 Special, .38 S&W, a variety of .32's up to .32-20, and a smaller number of large-bore revolvers. Wheelguns dominated in the US. I'm not even sure any semis were issued to any law enforcement agencies in the US prior to WWII, though I believe the .25's and .32 semis were getting popular in Europe. Every reference and period photo has shown revolvers. Often a Colt PPS, OP, or a S&W M&P (later Model 10).

    To my mind, though, nothing says "get in da car, ya mug!" better than the Fitz:

    FITZ+Special.jpg
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2010
  4. hiram2005

    hiram2005 Member

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    The Colt Official Police and Colt 32 1903 semi-auto.
     
  5. mesinge2

    mesinge2 Member

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    Does this one fit in this time period?

    I am not sure

    .32 Colt DA New Pocket Revolver

    View attachment 116894
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2010
  6. tank mechanic

    tank mechanic Member

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    Heres John Dillinger's collection.

    DILLINGER.jpg
     
  7. Mitch from LA

    Mitch from LA Member

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    I just got started on The Long Goodbye last night. Marlowe already described a guys pistol as "some foreign automatic, def. not a Colt or a Savage." This thread is getting me fired up (though technically this one is set in the '50s)
     
  8. Dimis

    Dimis Member

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    there was a browning design in production from FN in .32ACP in a gun magazine a while back that was linked back to the "G-Men" era but i cant remember the model specificaly i know it was older than a 1911 though
     
  9. jfrey

    jfrey Member

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    Colt 1908 pocket lite in .25 ACP. Put them on the other end of a watch faub.
     
  10. RyanM

    RyanM Member

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  11. THE MACHINIST

    THE MACHINIST Member

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    Note the modified Colt government model M1911A1 pistol in caliber .38 Super in the lower left portion of the photograph. It has been modified to use a Colt Thompson vertical foregrip, extended box magazine, and fired fully automatic.
     
  12. bob.a

    bob.a Member

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    Chandler's Phillip Marlowe carried a .32 revolver in one book. Sam Spade's partner Miles Archer was offed by a Webley-Fosbery in the (even more) rare .38 configuration. The S&W 38/44 was developed as a sort of precursor to the .357 magnum so the Prohibition-era cops could punch thru automobile doors etc.

    The Thompson is not a pistol, but is certainly emblematic of the Prohibition era.
     
  13. Trebor

    Trebor Member

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    Pretty much anything in current or recent production would have been used. I haven't specifically heard of any '20s or 30's gangsters using the Colt SAA, but I bet som were used by lawmen of the era.

    I know Dillinger favored the 1911, although he was carrying a Colt .380 (or was it a .32?) when he was killed.

    Clyde Barrow liked BAR's stolen from NG armories. He'd cut them down for easier handling. I have no idea how well they functioned. He also used both Colt and S&W revolvers.

    The Colt Official Police and Police Positive would have been comon, as would have been the S&W Military and Police. The 5" barrel length was more popular then than it is now.
     
  14. Ronsch

    Ronsch Member

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    Interesting note...Lester (Baby Face Nelson) Gillis was notorious for modifying the .38 Super and .45 ACP 1911 to fire full auto.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2010
  15. Ronsch

    Ronsch Member

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    I wrote an article about my trip to the Little Bohemia Lodge this fall for vacation on the AZSA website. There are pictures of the shootout damage that have been preserved fully intact. There is also a great display of personal items from the gang. You can see it here:

    http://www.zootshooters.com/

    Enjoy.
     
  16. Onmilo

    Onmilo Member

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    1917 Colt in .45 acp
    standard.gif
    1903 Colt in .32 acp
    standard.gif
    1911 Colt in .45 acp
    standard.gif

    These are the most classic of gangster handguns but there are many others.
     
  17. NMGonzo

    NMGonzo Member

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    .25 acp vest gun ... tucked in a bra!
     
  18. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    M1911 pistols were often stolen from NG armories, along with BARs, M1903 rifles and some TSMGs. TSMGs were also bought on the open market, though they were so expensive that (contrary to some belief) not every tiny gun shop had hundreds of them on the rack. Colt GM's also turned up, but as in the rest of civilian life, .45 pistols were not common, and revolvers still were the handgun of choice on both sides of the law.

    The Browning A5 and copies were common, along with pump shotguns.

    Browning (FN) pistols were almost unknown in the U.S. in that era, since Colt and FN had an agreement where Colt didn't sell in Europe and Africa and FN didn't export to North and South America. They shared the Asian market.

    Jim
     
  19. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Member

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    Bonnie Parker's Browning A-5 can be seen on display at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco,Tx.
     
  20. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Member

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    Could be a Mauser HSc:

    [​IMG]

    Or a Walther PP:

    [​IMG]
     
  21. forindooruseonly

    forindooruseonly Member

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    Savages were pretty common automatics in that era as well. Can't think of any connection to a famous crook or lawman, but they were probably used in one capacity or another. Here's two, a 1917 and 1907, both in .32.

    Stuff6.jpg
     
  22. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Good point. Cool pistols, too. Some right out of "Buck Rogers"
     
  23. Ky Larry

    Ky Larry Member

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    Clyde Barrows BAR "Whip It" guns.
    Frank Hamer's Remington Model 8 in .35 Rem.
    Colt Police Positive
    .38 Super
     
  24. forindooruseonly

    forindooruseonly Member

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    Thinking about this, much of the firearms related crime committed in the 20s and 30s was probably done by cheap, easy to get and replace guns, much as it is today. So while a few notorious thugs shot up some joints with BARs and Tommy guns, I bet the vast majority of guns in criminal hands were Iver Johnsons, Hopkin and Allens and H&Rs, ect. Good enough to do the job. A Colt or Smith & Wesson would be the upper end for a common wiseguy.
     
  25. Trebor

    Trebor Member

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