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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am writing a books, which takes place in LA, in the late 1940's.
My Protagonists is a PI, and WWII vet .
I have him carrying his issued Colt 1911A1 , along with a backup revolver.
I had been originally thinking 38 .special, However I'm now thinking of kicking it up to a .357 Mag.
In the interest of accuracy I am interested in finding out as much as I can about the guns in use at the time. Makes models, etc. both for handguns, and long guns. Along with pictures if possible.
Thank you folks for any ideas you can give me.

Ken Lawson
 

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Welcome to the forum. In the 40's a .38 special was more popular than the .357 mag. (so was the .32) especially among PI's who would have kept it concealed. Military & Police models, WWII surplus Victory models (variation of the same gun) w/ cut down barrels were common. .357's existed but the odds of a PI w/ one are slim. You could stick w/ tradition & have him carry a Colt Detective Special (.38 special caliber).
 

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If your PI is well heeled, he might have a Registered Magnum manufactured by Smith & Wesson. There were about 6000 produced in the late 1930's and each one was ordered by a specific individual, and registered. They fired the then new, most powerful handgun cartridge in the world, 357 Magnum. This gun could have been ordered in barrel lengths from 3 1/2 inches to 8 3/8 inches. Different sights, and different grips. Perfect revolver for an eclectic, discerning PI.

And there isn't a Smith collector alive who wouldn't love to have one. Or more.....
 

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I would think the 1911 with a 32 special on the ankle as a BUG. That was my Granddad's tools as a Policeman. Don't forget the Blackjack.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for getting back to me so fast, I already have a a Colt 1908 model .25 auto, A Colt Detective special, .38 and the Colt 1911 and a Smith & Wesson .38

A pump shotgun, and a Winchester Lever Action, .30/30 so far. All showing up in the story so far.
 

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:wlogo: Welcome to the forums!:wlogo: I'm always on the lookout for a good book, keep us posted on your progress. -Mike
 

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welcome01 to the forums from the Wiregrass! The cool PI's in the 1940's wore shoulder holsters with a snubby revolver under their suit coat. I don't ever recall any using the 1911...not that your PI couldn't be different. It's just a lot more difficult to conceal. These snubs would be chambered for .38 Special as the snub .357 didn't come along until the 1960's. So, I think a 2" K frame .38 M&P S&W or a Colt Dick Special would be more applicable. You might want to watch some old detective movies, like Boston Blackie, to get a feel for the era.
 

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Colt 1911 in .38 Super , just like Elliot Ness. A "Fitz'd'' Detective Special and Colt 1908 .25 ACP as back-ups.
 
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Firearm Gun Revolver Trigger Starting pistol
In the 1940's there were not great numbers of snubs available, none in .357. A commonly encountered one would be a Colt Police Positive or PP Special, shortened by a gunsmith. These were available in .32 Long, .32-20, .38 S&W and .38 Special. The unanchored ejector rod lent Colt's to conversion. The PP/PPS are on what would be considered a .32 sized frame and would not a heavy back-up piece. The Fitz style modifications, bobbing the hammer spur, removing the front of the trigger guard and perhaps reducing the grip profile might be in character?


How deep are your character's pockets?

(photo "borrowed" off Gunbroker depicts a rare factory order)
 

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I think the key for the most likely gun your PI would carry are your words "backup revolver". If he's already toting a Model of 1926 45 Auto (named the 1911A1 in military service), it's unrealistic that he'd care anything other than a small frame snubnose revolver as a backup!

A common backup for the period was the S&W small I frame hand ejector revolver in either 32 Long six shot or the .38 S&W Terrier (not 38 Special) 5 shot, both with 2" barrels. These are both very practical and the only believable size for an ankle carry revolver.

The only 357 of the era was the huge N frame S&W which out weighs the 45 auto by 1 1/2 times and definitely not a backup gun! That would give your gun savvy readers a real chuckle. Even the 38 Special mid size K frame revolvers are too heavy and would not be a back up gun even with 2" barrel.
 
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