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Gun Selection: 1930s

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Nightcrawler, Jan 18, 2003.

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  1. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    Okay, I'm conteplating writing a story set in, I don't know, 1930 or so.

    What kind of guns would my characters have available? Here're some ideas I have, but I'm especially fuzzy on the handguns of the era.

    LONG GUNS

    -Winchester 97 (or trench variant)
    -Browning Auto-5 (was it out then?)
    -M1903 Sprinfield (which model...A3, A4, what's the difference?)
    -Enfield No 1 Mk. III (when the the No. 4 come out?)
    -Winchester 95 lever action
    -Thompson 1921, 1928, Navy Model
    -Browning Automatic Rifle (M1918A1, A2...or was the A2 a World War 2 variant?)

    Was Marlin's 1895 really released in 1895? Would a .45-70 lever rifle have been available at that period? What about a .45 Colt one? I heard those didn't come out until later.

    HAND GUNS

    -Colt Government Model/M1911/M1911A1 .45/.38 Super
    -Browning Hi-Power (If I set my story in or after 1935...but were these widely available in the US?)
    -S&W 1917
    -Webley (Could one function well if converted to .45ACP?)

    What kind of large framed, double action revolvers were available in .44 Special and .45 Colt?

    What kind of small pistols were available then? I know there were all kinds of .380s and .32s, but I don't know anything about them.

    Any input and suggestions for revolvers, pistols, rifles, and shotguns is appreciated. It'd especially help if you included pictures or links to pictures. Also things like magazine capacity, and other little details to make sure I get things right.
     
  2. Jim V

    Jim V Member

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    S&W had their "N" framed .44 Specials and .38-44s. Colt's New Service revolvers were still around and they were chambered in several calibers, NYSP used them in .45 Colt for a long time. Lots of 1917 Colts and S&Ws.

    There were a number of small caliber non-US made pistols on the market. Colt was still producing their 1903/1908 pocket automatics.

    Lever action rifles were not chambered in .45 Colt, at least not as a commercial product.

    Winchester had their semi-auto rifles in .351 and .401 Self-loading.

    Lots of P-08 pistols floating around from the Great War.
     
  3. Dave Markowitz

    Dave Markowitz Member

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    The -A3 and -A4 versions of the M1903 Springfield were not introduced until World War 2.

    The No.4 Lee-Enfield did not enter production until early WW2, and didn't see widespread issue until '42, if not later.

    No production lever guns were available in .45 Colt.

    .45-70 lever guns available during that time frame (perhaps as used) were the original Marlin 1895 and the Winchester 1886.

    The Browning Auto 5 was intorduced in 1905. It was also made in the USA as the Remington Model 11.
     
  4. jjmorgan64

    jjmorgan64 Member

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    Great Gun for a story, Remington model 8 in 35 Rem, you get to mention the unique action of the gun.
     
  5. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    :uhoh: Uh, yeah, that unique action...um...how did that go again? (I know nothing about this rifle....) What was unique about it?
     
  6. jjmorgan64

    jjmorgan64 Member

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    Nightcrawler, it's the only gun I know of where you can move the bolt by pushing the end of the barrel and.
    It's recoil operated, the bolt and barrel move back together, the barrel goes forward before the bolt, thus cycling the action, I don't know the technical term but someone here can explain it better than I This was one of the rifles used to kill Bonnie and Clyde
     
  7. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    O.F. Stoeger was a big gun dealer/distributor in New York City during this period (1930’s and 40’s). They published a thick (about 1â€) catalog with everything related to guns, ammunition and accessories of the time. Their 1940 catalog is available for modest cost in reprint form. Any bookseller should be able to get you a copy and within it you’ll find everything you need. Between 1930-1940 guns didn’t change much because the Great Depression was on. All you really need to check is the introduction date on whatever weapons you chose to use.
     
  8. Gordon

    Gordon Member

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    I don't know hat kind of "characters" BUT I did have relatives who kyacked down to Panama (!) in acouple ocean going kyac's about 1937 and wrote book about it. They took a shoulder stocked Mauser pistol(!), and 1895 Win. .22WRF pump takendown. They shot Jaguar and deer and other things and routed bandits and hostile indians. When uncle was around his ranch he would carry a 32-20 Official Police Colt and Auntie her .22 WRF Police Positive Target Colt.
     
  9. jar

    jar Member

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    In handguns you have a great selection. The P-35 didn't arrive until the middle of the decade and so would have been pretty rare. But that doesn't mean there weren't lots to choose from. Here are a few of mine from that period.

    The Colt Police Positive
    standard.jpg

    or Army Special
    standard.jpg

    There were the Smith Double Actions
    standard.jpg

    and of course the big framed 1917s
    standard.jpg

    and don't forget the K frames, first marketed as Hand Ejectors.


    There were also the great handguns from Harrington & Richardson, Forehand and Wadsworth, Remington and Sharps.

    In rifles there were the lever actions, and the Springfield 03. Lots of shotguns.

    Don't forget that Sears & Roebuck and Montgomery Wards were where lots of folk got their guns.

    standard.jpg

    standard.jpg
     
  10. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Member

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    Wow. You've bit off a big questions to chew on!

    Literally, there were dozens, if not well over 100, different handguns that could have been relatively easily obtained at this time, in a pretty baffling array of calibers.

    My suggestion would be to hit the local library and see if they have a copy of the Blue Book of Gun Values.

    A few of the manufacturers whose guns could have been easily to relatively easily obtained are:

    Colt/FN -- most of the guns were Browning designs, made in the US by Colt, in Europe by FN, calibers from .25 ACP to .45 ACP.

    The Hi Power probably wouldn't have been available here until WW II.

    Colt of course made a lot of revolvers in this time period.

    Remington -- semi-auto, .32 and .380 ACP (very popular)

    Savage -- semi-auto, .32 and .380 ACP (fairly popular)

    Smith & Wesson -- mostly revolvers, but they did have one semi-auto that was never very popular.

    Iver Johnson -- revolvers, mainly breaktops, not expensive.

    Harrington & Richardson -- same as Iver Johnson, with some Webley inspired semi-autos.

    Walther, Mauser, HsC, and Sauer -- semi-autos, all German. The first PPs and PPKs by Walther MAY have been available around this time, but there were other, earlier designs from all of these companies that could be had.

    Webley -- revolvers and semi-autos.

    Luger -- the German Luger would have come back with Doughboys during WW I, and the gun was also a relatively popular import in the US between the wars.

    These are probably the major manufacturers that would have been readily available at the time in the US.
     
  11. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Gordon - what an adventure your Aunt & Uncle had. What book?
     
  12. BerettaNut92

    BerettaNut92 Member

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    A 1911 WITHOUT front cocking serrations and goofy safeties??? :eek:

    Sweet.
     
  13. ACP230

    ACP230 Member

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    My father bought a 12 gauge Winchester Model 12 duck gun in 1935. It is still the tightest shooting 12 gauge in the family.
     
  14. Gewehr98

    Gewehr98 Member

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    Nightcrawler, THIS Model 8 Remington...

    Which was the same type of gun as Frank Hamer's rifle used against Bonnie & Clyde:

    restored.gif

    Now, the Springfield rifles you had available came in a few different flavors. One was an 1873-pattern Trapdoor Springfield single-shot in .45-70, which would've been available through the DCM at the time for probably very cheap.

    Then there was the 1894-1898 Springfield Krag rifle in .30-40 Krag, which may also have been available through the DCM as surplus.

    The 1903 Springfield in .30-06 was still very much a front-line gun in the military, but the versions in existence would have been the 1903, 1903Mk1, and 1903A1. The 1903A3 and 1903A4 were a later WWII development.

    Another military rifle in good supply was the M1917 U.S. Enfield in .30-06.
     
  15. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    Did the 1911 come in anything besides .45 Auto and .38 Super?

    I'm guessing also that aside from Lugers, 9x19mm pistols weren't real popular?

    What were some popular revolver catridges of the day?

    I'm familliar with .45 Auto, 9mm Luger, of course, as well as .45 Colt, .44-40, and a few others.

    When did .44 Special come out? .38 Special? Were there other popular cartridges in the .38 caliber around?
     
  16. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    They had an example of a rifle like that in a gun store for like $1300. I guess they're rare these days.

    What was the magazine capacity? I like that rifle.

    Tell me about the Winchester 95, too. In .30-06. What was it's magazine capacity? What barrel lengths did it come in?

    As for the Krag....I read somewhere that after World War 1 the government was selling them off for a dollar apiece....
     
  17. Gewehr98

    Gewehr98 Member

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    The Remington Model 8 came in a few different flavors...

    5 rounds were the norm, chambered in .25 Remington, .30 Remington, .32 Remington, and .35 Remington. Later Model 81's added the .300 Savage chambering.

    If you were law enforcement, you could also order a 15-round magazine for your Model 8, which looked like this:

    remrifle.gif

    The Model 95 Winchester levergun used a box magazine, was sold in carbine, rifle, and musket lengths, and was chambered in the following calibers:

    .30-40 Krag
    .30-03 Springfield
    .30-06 Springfield
    .303 British
    7.62x54 Mosin-Nagant
    .40-72 W.C.F.
    .35 W.C.F.
    .38-72 W.C.F.
    .405 W.C.F.

    I've shot a .30-06 Model 95, and it walloped my shoulder pretty good. I can only imagine what a .405 W.C.F. Model 95 would feel like.
     
  18. Bostonterrier97

    Bostonterrier97 Member

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    Hey...don't forget the 1908 Colt 25 Vest Pocket

    1908vp_276666a.jpg

    And the 1908 Colt Pocket Hammerless in 380
    1908ph_135161a.jpg
     
  19. Preacherman

    Preacherman Member

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    The .44 Special came out in the early 1900's, and was chambered in the famous S&W "Triple Lock" guns (predecessor of the N-frame, and the basis for the 1917 revolver in .45 ACP). The .44 Russian, precursor to the .44 Special, was chambered in various S&W revolvers as well, although by 1930 it would have been considered obsolete.
     
  20. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Member

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    Preacherman,

    The Triplelock wasn't a predecessor to the N-frame, it WAS an N frame.

    It was simply the earliest variation of it.
     
  21. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Member

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    Forgot to mention for rifles the Savage Model 99.

    Chambered for more standard calibers than any other lever gun.

    In the 1930s it would have been chambered for, among others, the .22 Savage Hi Power, the .250 Savage, the .300 Savage, .30-30, .32-40, and others.

    Mine dates from 1936. Such a sweet gun!


    "I can only imagine what .405 felt like..."

    It's NOT pleasant.
     
  22. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Member

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    Nightcrawler,

    The .44 Spl. came out in 1907, the .38 Spl. about 1899, althought I've seen dates as late as 1902.

    Popular revolver cartridges of the day included:

    .22 LR, .32 & .38 S&W (break top guns), .32-20, .32 S&W Long, .38 Long Colt (losing ground, but still fairly popular), .38 Spl., .41 Long Colt (losing ground, but still available), .44 Special, and .45 Long Colt.

    Other revolver rounds that could be regularly encountered, but which were losing popularity, or just weren't all that popular to begin with, included:

    .32 Short & Long Colt, .38 Short Colt, .44 Russian, .41 Short Colt, .38-40, .44-40, .44 Bull Dog, .45 Auto Rim, and .45 S&W.
     
  23. 106rr

    106rr Member

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    Some popular revolver cartridges were 32-20 and the 41 Long Colt. Others have already mentioned the some good choices. the most popular with the working man might have been Harrington Richardson or Iver Johnson in 32 or 38 S&W (not 38 special)
    Let's not forget the Ruby (32 ACP) automatic, many came home from The Great War.
    It wasn't called WW1 until WW2.
    Remember that there were no antibiotics, so even a small wound was often fatal. Surgury was more fearful than a severe beating.
     
  24. Lone Star

    Lone Star Member

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    Nightcrawler-

    Do you write books about a Michigan game warden named Grady Service, set in the Upper Penn., where I gather you live?

    As for your question about Webley .455's converted to .45 ACP, that was done by USA gun dealers after WWII, when large quantities of the Webleys were sold off as surplus by the British govt., and .455 ammo was fairly scarce. My first handgun was one of these, a Mk. VI. It took .45 Auto Rim ammo, too, and the lead bullet shot a little better, probably swaging up a little more to bore diameter. (Jacketed .451-.452" .45 ACP bullets are too small for good accuracy with a bore running about .457". The Colt New Service .455's converted to .45 Colt work out much better.

    I really think you need a copy of Elmer Keith's, "Sixguns" to give you a general overview of US handguns from the mid 19th century until 1955. A second edition was revised about 1961, and includes a few new models. There are also scads of general gun books that will familarize you with the history of firearms.

    I think your characters would be best off if you limit their guns to US military models of the time, the S&W M&P .38, the Luger, and the Colt pocket model autos in .25. .32, and .380. S&W .38/44 and .44 Special or Colt New Service or Official Police and Detective Special guns were also quite popular. The .357 Magnum appeared in 1935, but would be ordered only by an affluent enthusiast. Most European guns, save the Luger and Mauser Military models would be quite scarce here. The Browning Hi-Power wasn't sold commercially here until 1954. (War trophies would have been here since 1945...)

    My advice is to become familar with the basic types and to not try to be too exotic. Especially, don't try to describe that Remington long recoil action on their M8 and M81 rifles. You'll probably just muck it up, and readers won't care... except for the ones who'll spot your errors and tell your publisher!

    I read a LOT of books with guns in the plots, and quite few authors who aren't already gun knowledgeable get it right. Donald Hamilton was easily the best, with his old Matt Helm series. John Sandford does pretty well with his "Prey" series, and Patricia Cornwell, after getting off to a bad start, got interested in guns and began buying them and now gets into stuff that only a specialist would know, like Birdsong finishes. Robert B. Parker copes pretty well, although he errs sometimes on the side of casual knowledge or desire for drama, as when he equips PI Sunny Randall with a double barrelled 10 ga. shotgun in her closet. Her carry gun makes more sense. His Spenser and associates do okay, but Parker is clearly just into the realm of adequate knowledge.

    Jack Higgins doesn't know guns as well as he'd like to pretend he does, so he just trots out brand names, except for the Walther PPK .32 and the Browning Hi-Power. (He's British, and those see a lot of official use in the UK.) Peter O'Donnell did well by Modesty Blaise, being the only author who had a heroine (and others) ever carrying a .41 Magnum on occasion. She usually had a Colt .32 of unknown type or a Star PD .45. I think that he read some copies of, "Guns & Ammo", a magazine that he badmouthed by having a nutso gunman brag that he studied it and kept copies under his bed. (I think that volume was, "Dragon's Claw".)

    Hope this helps. If you are the author I think you may be, I think that Grady Service's .40 S&W Sig-Sauer makes sense. Is that what Michigan CO's actually carry?

    Lone Star
     
  25. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    Mistaken identity?

    I've yet to write any books, muchless one about a U.P. Game Warden. I am but a college student who writes short fiction in his spare time. I do this mostly to practice, but also because it entertains myself and my friends.

    In any case, thanks for all of your help. The pictures are great, too. :)
     
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