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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The ongoing debate "is the .38 special enough, is the .380 enough" gets me to thinking about what people used in the past. I would say that turn back the clock 100 years and you'll find the "carry gun" of that era was a small five shot revolver in .32 or .38 S&W. Names like Iver Johnson, Hopkins & Allen, H&R, Forendhand & Wadsworth far out numbered the more expensive but similar size Smith & Wessons. Lots of early auto postols were also .25s and .32s. The number of these "Saturday Night Specials" produced would seem to indicate that most people felt they were adequate for their purpose. Even most police agencies felt the .32s and short .38s were enough. We all think of Wild Bill Hickock strutting around with a brace of Navy Colts but in truth he seldom made a display of weapons at all, he often carried only a small single shot derringer in each coat pocket and when he did use a Colt the ballistics were about like a .380 auto. A .22 short or a .25 auto in the brain or heart will take the fight out of anyone pretty durn quick so hows come we all need magnums today?
 

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so hows come we all need magnums today?

Simple, it's all the steroids in your Big Macs! Or, maybe the street level pharmaceuticals.

Savage
 

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The difference is modern medicine. In Hickock's day, it didn't matter where you were shot and with what caliber, chances were good that you would die of infection within a few weeks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
That is quite true, a gut shot was pretty much a guarantee of a slow miserable death. However, it wouldn't stop the victim from taking the shooter with him, in fact it would give him a really good reason to do so. A criminal today, if slightly wounded, knows he needs a hospital and therefore will be caught. If he is rational, he has good reason to surrender and not to compound his offence.
 

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Okay, don't laugh at this, but 25 years ago I was stationed in Spain and used a 1903 Colt .32 pocket pistol for my concealed carry. It did not snag, carried well, and always worked. Believe it or not, lots of Spanish police officers at that time used .32 automatics as well. Hardball ammo was all we could get.

This next bit is going to be a little off topic, but General Franco (who had recently died) did not trust the police and each officer could only buy two boxes of ammo for his gun per year. I remember seeing cops carrying sub-machine guns and one could look at the witness holes and tell the gun only had 10 or 12 shells in it.
 

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Well, we could go on about what WAS carried/used and the thoughts and opinions are good----but----just wondering---What would those boys be using today??? It is today we are concerned with.
Blessings
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well it may be today that YOU are concerned with. I'm putting together a little collection of pocket pistols of the sort that would have been found at the poker table or crap shoot from 1880 to 1940. I have an Iver Johnson top break .32, an H&R "American" .32, a Hopkins & Allen top break .38 and a Forehand & Wadsworth top break .38, the classic Saturday Night Specials. These will be displayed on a green felt background with poker chips and cards. In the same scenario today I suspect the guns would still be mostly 5 shot revolvers in .38 special rather than .38 S&W but with standard lead roundnose bullets there is not all that much difference.
 

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Here are some of the old "pocket pistols"

The S&W #1 in 22 short. The first S&W 7 shooter. Supposedly carried by some Officers during the Civil War.



Colt's Pocket revolvers in 36 caliber, 5 shooters.





And my favorite, a cut down 1860, 44 caliber, 6 shot



Personally, the 22 is pretty but not something I would carry.

The other guns, well...
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The .36 colts are pretty neat, I've played around with a couple of them, reproductions of course. Since they came on the scene at the end of the cap&ball era, there never were many produced but it seems a high percentage of then were converted to cartridge, .38 Colt short if I'm not mistaken, both center and rimfire.
 

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Nice collection.
I have a double action S&W in 32 and a S&W No. 1 single action (Baby Russian) in 38. and would not feel under gunned with either as a pocket gun. But a pocket gun is to get you out of trouble you may stumble into and at close ranges. They both have 3" barrels but are the same length as my Det. Special. Also back then you shot till they got away or were dead. Self defense did not stop at a point and become murder.
If you expect trouble you bring a tank! And maybe that is the answer. More people expect trouble and want more fire power.
Hey the Brits used the 38 S&W into the 50's when they adopted the Browning hi power as their side arm.
The Brits called their round 38-200 man stopper and used a 200 grain bullet out of their Enfield revolvers.
I think we all like horse power as Americans. Who wants a V6 When you can get a V8? Especially if they are the same price. Or cheaper.
I have carried a .380 as a carry gun and did not feel like I was under gunned at any point. Again it was to get me out of troublen not to make arrests on the felony squad.
I do have a problem with the 2" revolvers in 38 Spl. I have shot a modified steel match with my Det Spl. and the 130 grain fmj rounds do not have the horse power to move some of the swingers. The same round out of the 4" or 6" revolvers I also own do. My 380 will move all of the swingers. Think about that next time someone tells you, " you need a .38 snub nose and not to carry a .380 as they are too weak".
I would like to see Guns and Ammo Magazine do a test of ammo out of various barrel lengths and see what bullet is most effective out of what length. Will the #1 performing bullet out of a 5" barrel in 45 still do the job out of a 3"? Or are there better choices? Pick a self Defense round each month and put it through the ringer in three different guns. Full size, compact, and sub compact.
 
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