Technical question re: old load handgun kept in storage

Discussion in 'Technical Questions & Information' started by Cyn71, Aug 11, 2012.

  1. Cyn71

    Cyn71 New Member

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    Interesting experiment, Alpo.

    Based on Jim's comment, I keep going back and forth between having there be a couple rounds of bad ammo or just a cylinder that's partially loaded. I'm typing up the scene as we speak, so I'll be coming to a decision soon - a decision that I might change the more I think about it. LOL
  2. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Well, movie writers always have the bad guy "die" at least 23 times to build up suspense! A couple of movies had the villainous corpse popping up and down like the coyote in the old cartoons.

    Jim
  3. Cyn71

    Cyn71 New Member

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    ha ha - yeah, I know. I don't want my scene to be that over the top for sure; hence my decision to consult with experts. :D
  4. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    I remember an episode of Police Story, with Lloyd Bridges being the experienced cop and Ryan O'Neil being the rookie in plainclothes (Ryan O'Neil being a young rookie - shows how long ago that was). Lloyd had him have the first chamber up, in his "six-inch", be empty. Since he knew it was empty, if he ever had to shoot somebody he'd just double-tap - click-pow. But if a bad guy got his gun and tried to shoot HIM with it, it would go click, confusing the bad guy and giving the cop time to "pull your two-inch and let him have it".

    Seemed kind of dumb to me, and I was in junior high. But if a screenwriter could dream it up, somebody probably did it. Maybe whoever stored the gun away thought like that, so the first one up is empty.
  5. Cyn71

    Cyn71 New Member

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    The scenario I'd dreamed up was that it's a personal firearm stored away by a previous owner decades earlier, discovered by the protagonist during a moment of crisis (the existence of the firearm was already known - but its whereabouts was not up until this scene) and grabbed out of desperation for lack of anything better.

    I preferred to have it that a couple rounds of ammo were 'bad' (just because of the age of the gun), but that it does eventually fire. I'm in a bit of a quandary though because, while a couple rounds of bad ammo is dramatic/suspenseful for storytelling purposes maybe it comes off as too unrealistic. So my other option was to have a couple of empty chambers, but now even that seems lame ...
  6. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Why not just have the gun fire and forget about the suspense?

    Or (a common storage situation) the gun could be stored empty, but with a box of cartridges next to it. Then the hero would have to fumble around getting cartridges out of the box, loading the gun, maybe only getting a few rounds in the cylinder before the BG interrupts him, but the first chamber up is empty.... Suspense all over the place, loaded cartridges falling on the floor, and so on. Of course that would mean the hero would have to know enough about guns to know how to load that one, so he can't be a complete newbie. (For example, to open the cylinder in a Smith & Wesson, the thumb piece is pushed forward, but in a Colt it is pulled backward.)

    Jim
  7. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Could be even more fun. Could be a S&W top-break, and there are four different ways to open them.
  8. Cyn71

    Cyn71 New Member

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    Me again! :-D

    I'm editing the scene I wrote earlier and had a couple new thoughts. If a safety has been turned on in an old 1930s/1940s S&W handgun/revolver (or if I changed it to a Remington - I like what someone mentioned about the 22s), what does it sound or feel like?

    Did they even have safety's in guns that old?

    I'm thinking I'll go with safety being on in the first attempt, bad primer(s) in the next one or two and then "bang".
  9. Cyn71

    Cyn71 New Member

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    I totally missed your latest comments, sorry about that.

    Originally, I've opted for the protagonist just reaching for the gun, not fumbling with bullets because he's actually just a teenager and doesn't really know the first things about guns. It's there, he grabs it out of desperation. (ETA: he is *not* the one who ends up firing successfully ... even though he does make the effort, I'm trying to avoid the scenario of a kid being the one who shoots the antagonist.)

    BUT - I do like the idea about him fumbling for the bullets. That adds to the drama. Because of the constraints of my storyline, it's rather important that there are one/or two false fires (safety on, bad primer, etc.). That's why I'm trying so hard to make it work.

    If the safety is on, does this affect loading the gun in any way?
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2012
  10. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Safety.

    First, yes they had safeties in guns that old.

    Revolvers, except for a few European types, don't have safeties. This is a major "look at what that stupid author wrote" laugh causer, to pro-gun people. "Rick Shovel pulled his Smith and Wesson revolver and took the safety off".

    Unlike what it shows in the movies, generally a safety prevents the trigger and/or hammer from moving, so pulling the trigger with the safety on would result in nothing. Trigger don't pull. Nothing moves. No sound.

    Smith and Wesson, pretty much, only made revolvers back then. They made one little pocket auto, and it didn't sell really well, so they weren't around very long.

    The feel. When you pull the trigger on a gun that is ready to fire, you feel the trigger start to move. There is some resistance against your finger, and as you continue pulling the resistance gets greater (you are compressing a spring) until the trigger "breaks" and the hammer falls.

    When you pull the trigger of a gun that has the safety on, there is no movement at all. The trigger feels like it is a solid part of the gun, instead of a moveable part. You can pull 'til the veins bulge on your forehead and your nose starts to bleed, and it doesn't move.

    There were a few pistols, back then, that had what was called a "hammer-drop safety" (Walther springs immediately to mind). When the gun is cocked, the trigger is to the rear of the trigger guard. If you put the safety on, the trigger is locked in that position, a block moves in front of the firing pin, and the hammer falls, hitting the block so the gun does not fire. As long as the safety is on, the block is there, the gun won't fire, and the trigger is locked to the back of the trigger guard, and will not move. If, however, the hammer was down (the gun was NOT cocked), and you put the safety on, it still moves the block in the way, but now the trigger is disconnected. If you were to pull the trigger, it moves, but the spring pressure you are pushing against is less that what you would find on a ball-point pen. Nothing else will happen. The hammer does not move, the gun won't fire.

    That might be an idea. Have him find a Walther - either a PP or PPK, fully loaded and hammer down on a loaded chamber, but the safety on. He picks it up and pull the trigger a time or two, and nothing happens - the trigger kinda swinging freely - and the he looks, sees the safety lever, disengages it and the gun is now good to go, with from seven to nine shots, depending on gun and caliber.
  11. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Except for the old Remington double derringer (in .41 caliber) and the Model 51 auto pistol, there were no Remington handguns being made in the era you have chosen. I think your idea of an S&W swingout cylinder revolver in .38 Special is more realistic. By the late 1930s around 3/4 million had been made so they were quite common.

    There are some oddball exceptions, but usually revolvers don't have safety catches; to have an S&W revolver with a safety would show ignorance.

    Jim
  12. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Safety affecting loading the gun.

    That's a good question. Depends on the gun. Browning-designs (which were all the FNs and all the Colts) the safety also locked the slide. You could put a loaded magazine in the gun, but you could not work the slide to put a round in the chamber. Remington - don't know. Never had one in my hand. Savage and Walther - don't remember, and I'm to lazy to go dig one out of the safe to check. :p

    Luger - safety locks the toggle, so could not load the chamber. Mauser - same thing. Matter of fact, if it's a broomhandle, you have to pull the slide back to load the magazine, so you could not load anything in it with the safety on. Don't know about the Webley autos. Never saw one for real.
  13. Cyn71

    Cyn71 New Member

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    And this is exactly the type of reaction I'm trying to avoid. :D
  14. Cyn71

    Cyn71 New Member

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    This could work; have not heard of that type of gun before so I'll look into this one. The primer issue can still happen with this type, correct? As in, one or two maybe bad?
  15. Cyn71

    Cyn71 New Member

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    I see that the Walther (PPK) was created for the German Criminal Police; given the history of the time (when the gun was originally stored away in my book - during WWII), is it feasible that an American would own such a gun?
  16. Cyn71

    Cyn71 New Member

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    The S&W revolver you mentioned was my first pick all along (and it fits b/c as you said, it was a common piece). Since there's no safety, then either I'll have to pick another gun or just stay with my original scenario of a couple bad primers.
  17. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Well, the PP (Police Pistol - uniformed officer's holster gun) was released in 1929. PPK (Police Pistol, Criminal - detective/plainclothesman's concealed gun) was released in 1931. I can see, in the next ten years, it being possible for one to make it from Germany to here.
  18. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Should not be a problem with it being a "foreign gun". The Ortgies (won't work for your plot - no safety) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ortgies_Semi-Automatic_Pistol was a German gun, made from 1919 to 1924, and Dillinger carried one. He was killed in 34, so somewhere in that ten or so years, several German Ortgies made it over here. I don't see why Walthers wouldn't.
  19. Cyn71

    Cyn71 New Member

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    Many thanks! I'm nearly done with 2nd draft and will soon be ready to start on 3rd. Before I return to the gun scenes a third time, I'll explore everything that's recently been posted and weigh my options between the S&W and the Walthers. Going with the Walthers will require a little tweaking, but it is certainly do-able; I like that it's got a safety feature - and the fact that it's a German gun kinda adds a neat twist to the end (given the identity of my antagonist).

    To clarify for my own mind - is it still possible to have the primer issue (one or two of them going bad) on a gun like the Walther?
  20. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Certainly. Bad primers can happen, no matter what the gun is.

    But, with a revolver, you got loaded chambers at 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 o'clock. You pull the trigger and they all move, 1/6 of the way around. 12 goes to 10, 6 goes to 4, 2 goes to 12, etc. When 2 goes to 12, and the hammer falls, if it is a bad primer it just goes click. Pull the trigger again and they all move again, and the bad one at 12 moves to 10 and the one at 2 comes up to 12. So you could have a couple of dead ones. Click, click, and now the one that was originally at 6:00 comes up to 12:00, and it goes bang. Yay. Shoot the bad guy.

    An automatic, though, only works "automatically" if the gun fires. If, with your Walther, you pull the trigger and it goes "click", if you just pull the trigger again it will still go click. No matter how many times you pull the trigger it will still go click, because you are hitting the same bad primer. What you have to do with an automatic is grab hold of the slide and yank it back, ejecting the bad shell and loading the top one from the magazine. And, of course, if it also has a bad primer, you must work the slide again, to get THAT one out of the way, so the next one can feed.

    Saw almost this same idea in a Frank Yerby book. Civil War veteran, broke, in NYC, decides to kill himself. Tries twice to shoot himself in the head, but bad caps prevent the gun from firing. So he takes that as a sign, and says, "Hell with it, I'll go west and be a cowboy", and then points the gun at the fireplace and pulls the trigger again. The bullet hitting the burning log breaks it in two and fire is now burning on the rug. :eek:
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