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JF89

Why did Law Enforcement carry wheel guns instead of 1911s?

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The military adopted the 1911 in the early 1900s, why didnt LE adopt the 1911 back in the 20s through the 80s before Glocks  and all the fantastic plastic pistols took over? 

 

My grandfather retired in the  80s (not sure the exact date) but he told me he was issued wheel guns his whole LE career and that only big city PDs issued semi autos really.

Edited by JF89

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I think it is a reliability thing since a 6 cylinder revolver isn't prone to jamming like a single chamber, with a detachable magazine pistol is.  

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Mr Mackc is right. Also, have you ever fired a S and W 357 magnum revolver? Or a Colt Python? They are accurate as all get out. And until the 10mm showed up, there was no controlable semi auto that had that kind of punch. Including going through car doors if necessary. I will never sell my S and W Highway Patrolman. Still the most accurate pistol I have. 

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5 hours ago, JF89 said:

The military adopted the 1911 in the early 1900s, why didnt LE adopt the 1911 back in the 20s...

The Texas Rangers did, right away. 

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Remember too, that LE has always been more about uniformity and public appearance. Putting a wheel gun in your fancy basket weave leather holster is significantly more presentable than a 1911 in a covered flap holster. 

Also think about the use and purpose of the firearm. Military trains to use the pistol when all else fails and that's your last option. If you're using your pistol, you either ran out of rifle ammo or one hand has been disabled. In LE, the pistol is your first reaction. We don't get the privilege of walking into a scene holding a long gun, unless the situation warranted that response beforehand. We show up, hoping for the best, and when "it" hit the fan we have to be able to draw a side arm from the easiest and most effective holster that we can utilize. The holster needs to be sturdy enough for daily wear/use, and provide a faster draw than the military flap holsters provided.

Lastly, is the difference of being involved in a "shooting" vs being in a "shoot out". 99% of LE gun use happens within 7 yards and only lasted 1-3 rounds, and 1 or 2 seconds. That's what is defined as a "shooting"... Something happened, the officer responded with gunfire, somebody died... the end! This was identified by Jeff Cooper as a trigger having been switched, and lethal force being required. Condition Red was designed to identify a LE "shooting" as it can quickly deescalate back to Condition Orange or even Yellow. For Mil usage, Jeff went on to explain the less popular "Condition Black" which would describe an ongoing gun battle, or a scene where you are entering a preexisting gun battle. This is not a violent/lethal "incident". This is a violent/lethal "situation". This is the definition of a "shoot out" where there is a Force-on-Force, multiple rounds fired, multiple combatants, and an extended period of time. This is not a situation a cop finds himself in. In fact, over the last 100 years, there have probably only been 10 or 12 such incidents in LE that would qualify as a "Shoot out" or even be considered a Condition Black.

The use of semiautomatic firearms in the home is a relatively novel idea. Many households didn't have a semi auto firearm till the 80's, and even then it wasn't "popular" till the mid to late 90's when the Gov started threatening to take them all away. LE has been, and always will be, a reactive industry. They will not upgrade their presence or ability until society forces them to take the next level. The North Hollywood Shootout is a prime example of reacting. Same with the Columbine HS Shooting. LE made considerable changes to their equipment and their responses based off those two incidents. It's not that the equipment and training weren't available. It's that society didn't feel LE needed that kind of resources... Until it was too late.

 

A perfect modern example about being "Reactive" vs "Proactive":

2017 Las Vegas Shooting

A shooter breaks out a window on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. He then proceeds to shoot at an assembled crowd, over 400 yards away. Officers on scene were armed with simple AR-15's, shotguns, and pistols. Not a single officer present was equipped/trained to make a shot in response to the threat. Not even a LE trained sniper would be trained or equipped for that kind of engagement. 99.9% of LE snipers use .308Win rifles and only train up to about 300 yards. Because of this, the shooter was allowed to continue for approximately 11 minutes before officers arrived on scene... This is partially my drive to bring the CROM CR-7 .338LM rifle to LE use. A LE Sniper, armed with a CR-7 rifle, equipped with a high-power/thermal optic, could have engaged that suspect from over 1.5 miles away. If that LE Sniper had been on an over-watch with a thermal scope, he would have immediately seen the window break, would have been able to immediately identify the threat, and would have been able to immediately interdict that threat, and neutralize the threat before a single innocent life was lost... Hell, with a suppressor, the people below probably would've never known they were ever in any danger till they read about it on the news.

Adding a .338LM to a LE arsenal is now "Reactive". The gun/cartridge has existed for years, but LE never felt they needed it... until now. This is the same reason why they carried .38 revolvers for so long, and the reason why they felt they needed to upgrade. Death is an incredible incentive for evolution.

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I would be ashamed of using the Las Vegas shooting for an example of anything except ineptness.

As for wheel guns,every room in the house has one,including the bathroom, no way am I going out pulp fiction style

 

Edited by Ravenworks

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6 hours ago, Ravenworks said:

I would be ashamed of using the Las Vegas shooting for an example of anything except ineptness.

In the situation he just described above, it is the perfect example for what he just stated.  Perfect. 

Edited by 98Z5V

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You come into my house uninvited you are going to be greeted by a 40 or 50 year old Ruger security Six .357 loaded with jacked HP ammo.  I am proud of my 1908 model .32 auto, my CZ .40 cal 11 shot, even my Ruger .380 auto pea-shooter, and my series 70 1911 45 ACP Govt. model with the Crimson Trace green laser grips, but it has failed to fire a couple of times on the second shot.  Security Six has NEVER failed to fire on the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, or sixth shots. It shoots where I point it, maybe because I have been shooting it since 1982 when I bought it second hand from a coworker.

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On 2/24/2019 at 8:44 PM, mrmackc said:

 and my series 70 1911 45 ACP Govt. model with the Crimson Trace green laser grips, but it has failed to fire a couple of times on the second shot. 

We have people here that can fix that.  For good.  I'm just sayin'...   :thumbup:

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I know that,  but on a revolver even if the first shot is a bad primer or fails to fire , all you have to do to fire the next round is PULL THE TRIGGER!.... now unless it is a life or death situation, anytime you have a fail to fire you need to check out the failure before pulling the trigger!. . . .be sure it wasn't a round with no powder. a centerfire primer has enough power to move a bullet a ways down the barrel, and if a second round is fired your pistol/revolver can become a bomb.

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11 hours ago, mrmackc said:

I know that,  but on a revolver even if the first shot is a bad primer or fails to fire , all you have to do to fire the next round is PULL THE TRIGGER!.... now unless it is a life or death situation, anytime you have a fail to fire you need to check out the failure before pulling the trigger!. . . .be sure it wasn't a round with no powder. a centerfire primer has enough power to move a bullet a ways down the barrel, and if a second round is fired your pistol/revolver can become a bomb.

I see a problem in the making when a new shooter buys a Ruger revolver in 9mm and doesn't read the instructions.

I had one and wanted to see which ammo caused problems.

5 samples and all 5 failed after 4 shots using cheap Brazer Brass ammo.

Anything that was crimped had no issue,the cheap gun really liked Ranger T

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1 hour ago, Ravenworks said:

I see a problem in the making when a new shooter buys a Ruger revolver in 9mm and doesn't read the instructions.

I had one and wanted to see which ammo caused problems.

5 samples and all 5 failed after 4 shots using cheap Brazer Brass ammo.

Anything that was crimped had no issue,the cheap gun really liked Ranger T

I remember an old 45 Long Colt service revolver a friend of my Dad had. Also Shot 45acp with half moon clips, but not very accurately or reliably. I always thought it was a good idea to stick with ammo designed for wheel guns in wheel guns. And stick with ammo designed for semi autos in semi autos.

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On 2/24/2019 at 10:43 AM, Robocop1051 said:

Remember too, that LE has always been more about uniformity and public appearance. Putting a wheel gun in your fancy basket weave leather holster is significantly more presentable than a 1911 in a covered flap holster. 

Also think about the use and purpose of the firearm. Military trains to use the pistol when all else fails and that's your last option. If you're using your pistol, you either ran out of rifle ammo or one hand has been disabled. In LE, the pistol is your first reaction. We don't get the privilege of walking into a scene holding a long gun, unless the situation warranted that response beforehand. We show up, hoping for the best, and when "it" hit the fan we have to be able to draw a side arm from the easiest and most effective holster that we can utilize. The holster needs to be sturdy enough for daily wear/use, and provide a faster draw than the military flap holsters provided.

Lastly, is the difference of being involved in a "shooting" vs being in a "shoot out". 99% of LE gun use happens within 7 yards and only lasted 1-3 rounds, and 1 or 2 seconds. That's what is defined as a "shooting"... Something happened, the officer responded with gunfire, somebody died... the end! This was identified by Jeff Cooper as a trigger having been switched, and lethal force being required. Condition Red was designed to identify a LE "shooting" as it can quickly deescalate back to Condition Orange or even Yellow. For Mil usage, Jeff went on to explain the less popular "Condition Black" which would describe an ongoing gun battle, or a scene where you are entering a preexisting gun battle. This is not a violent/lethal "incident". This is a violent/lethal "situation". This is the definition of a "shoot out" where there is a Force-on-Force, multiple rounds fired, multiple combatants, and an extended period of time. This is not a situation a cop finds himself in. In fact, over the last 100 years, there have probably only been 10 or 12 such incidents in LE that would qualify as a "Shoot out" or even be considered a Condition Black.

The use of semiautomatic firearms in the home is a relatively novel idea. Many households didn't have a semi auto firearm till the 80's, and even then it wasn't "popular" till the mid to late 90's when the Gov started threatening to take them all away. LE has been, and always will be, a reactive industry. They will not upgrade their presence or ability until society forces them to take the next level. The North Hollywood Shootout is a prime example of reacting. Same with the Columbine HS Shooting. LE made considerable changes to their equipment and their responses based off those two incidents. It's not that the equipment and training weren't available. It's that society didn't feel LE needed that kind of resources... Until it was too late.

 

A perfect modern example about being "Reactive" vs "Proactive":

2017 Las Vegas Shooting

A shooter breaks out a window on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. He then proceeds to shoot at an assembled crowd, over 400 yards away. Officers on scene were armed with simple AR-15's, shotguns, and pistols. Not a single officer present was equipped/trained to make a shot in response to the threat. Not even a LE trained sniper would be trained or equipped for that kind of engagement. 99.9% of LE snipers use .308Win rifles and only train up to about 300 yards. Because of this, the shooter was allowed to continue for approximately 11 minutes before officers arrived on scene... This is partially my drive to bring the CROM CR-7 .338LM rifle to LE use. A LE Sniper, armed with a CR-7 rifle, equipped with a high-power/thermal optic, could have engaged that suspect from over 1.5 miles away. If that LE Sniper had been on an over-watch with a thermal scope, he would have immediately seen the window break, would have been able to immediately identify the threat, and would have been able to immediately interdict that threat, and neutralize the threat before a single innocent life was lost... Hell, with a suppressor, the people below probably would've never known they were ever in any danger till they read about it on the news.

Adding a .338LM to a LE arsenal is now "Reactive". The gun/cartridge has existed for years, but LE never felt they needed it... until now. This is the same reason why they carried .38 revolvers for so long, and the reason why they felt they needed to upgrade. Death is an incredible incentive for evolution.

Makes sense, thats exactly the type of answer I was looking for.

 

I like reading the old gun rags and books from the old border lawmen like Bill Jordan , Charles Askins , Skeeter Skelton etc and they all seemed to love their wheel guns. All these guys had experience with the 1911 but really seemed to advocate wheel guns. With Cooper having a similar military background, I always wondered why those lawmen had such a different opinion.

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2 hours ago, JF89 said:

Makes sense, thats exactly the type of answer I was looking for.

 

I like reading the old gun rags and books from the old border lawmen like Bill Jordan , Charles Askins , Skeeter Skelton etc and they all seemed to love their wheel guns. All these guys had experience with the 1911 but really seemed to advocate wheel guns. With Cooper having a similar military background, I always wondered why those lawmen had such a different opinion.

It’s old-school tactics… Have you ever hit somebody with a semi automatic? Gets your point across a lot better, when you’re swinging 2 pounds solid steel revolver. That dates all the way back to the Buntline Special.  My father started in 1972, and he repeatedly says that his magnum was his best “impact weapon“.

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A well built revolver is a handy substitute for a blackjack, exsept it is also ready to fire if the dork causing trouble decides to pull a pea-shooter on you. Grandad said that is why Texas Rangers used to carry a 7.5 barreled .45 Peacemaker. (They didn't make a .50 Peacemaker that he knowed of)

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On 2/26/2019 at 11:46 AM, Sisco said:

 Also Shot 45acp with half moon clips, but not very accurately or reliably. I always thought it was a good idea to stick with ammo designed for wheel guns in wheel guns. And stick with ammo designed for semi autos in semi autos.

Those S&W 45 ACP revolvers weren't accurate for a reason. S&W used 45 Colt bored barrels to build them. The 45 Colt used a .454 bore and 45 ACP was .451. the bullets were a bit smaller than the barrel they were going through, not the best thing for accuracy!

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On 2/23/2019 at 4:28 PM, JF89 said:

The military adopted the 1911 in the early 1900s, why didnt LE adopt the 1911 back in the 20s through the 80s before Glocks  and all the fantastic plastic pistols took over? 

 

My grandfather retired in the  80s (not sure the exact date) but he told me he was issued wheel guns his whole LE career and that only big city PDs issued semi autos really.

I carried a 1911 most of my career, up to the point when we got a chief that decided he would buy guns for the whole department and issue everyone the same gun. Back when I started in 1980 1911's didn't have the best reputation for reliability unless you stuck with ball ammo. That's all the military used so it was a non-issue for them. The barrels back then weren't designed to handle hollowpoints and there were a lot more barrels ruined by hack gunsmiths trying to make them work with hollowpoints than there were successful throat jobs! I learned the proper way to throat a 1911 barrel and my 1911 ran flawlessly with the CCI 200 gr. hollowpoints that we used to refer to as 'flying ashtrays because they were so blunt and the hollowpoint cavity was so big. A stock 1911 barrel would puke on them every time but I put thousands of them through mine without a hickup. A stock 1911 with hollowpoint bullets was a disaster waiting to happen back in those days and that's a big reason why most cops carried wheelguns. Another reason was that a lot of cops weren't 'gun' guys and they were terrible about keeping their guns clean and in good shape and the wheelgun was much more forgiving of this lackadaisical gun maintenance. I could tell you some horror stories about some of the nasty schit I saw on officers' Sam Brownes back then!

I was active (and our department firearms instructor) all through the period of law enforcement transitioning from revolvers to semi-autos and could go into detail about a lot of what transpired during that time, what had to happen and what the firearms manufacturers had to do to make that transition happen but I'm a two finger typer and I don't want to go into all that plus it would probably bore the crap out of a lot of folks. Just suffice to say it wasn't something that happened overnight and there was a LOT of trial and error involved!

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30 minutes ago, 392heminut said:

 

I was active (and our department firearms instructor) all through the period of law enforcement transitioning from revolvers to semi-autos and could go into detail about a lot of what transpired during that time, what had to happen and what the firearms manufacturers had to do to make that transition happen but I'm a two finger typer and I don't want to go into all that plus it would probably bore the crap out of a lot of folks. Just suffice to say it wasn't something that happened overnight and there was a LOT of trial and error involved!

If I ever get a chance to sit down with you and buy you a couple of beers, I would like to hear it.

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35 minutes ago, 392heminut said:

I carried a 1911 most of my career, up to the point when we got a chief that decided he would buy guns for the whole department and issue everyone the same gun. Back when I started in 1980 1911's didn't have the best reputation for reliability unless you stuck with ball ammo. That's all the military used so it was a non-issue for them. The barrels back then weren't designed to handle hollowpoints and there were a lot more barrels ruined by hack gunsmiths trying to make them work with hollowpoints than there were successful throat jobs! I learned the proper way to throat a 1911 barrel and my 1911 ran flawlessly with the CCI 200 gr. hollowpoints that we used to refer to as 'flying ashtrays because they were so blunt and the hollowpoint cavity was so big. A stock 1911 barrel would puke on them every time but I put thousands of them through mine without a hickup. A stock 1911 with hollowpoint bullets was a disaster waiting to happen back in those days and that's a big reason why most cops carried wheelguns. Another reason was that a lot of cops weren't 'gun' guys and they were terrible about keeping their guns clean and in good shape and the wheelgun was much more forgiving of this lackadaisical gun maintenance. I could tell you some horror stories about some of the nasty schit I saw on officers' Sam Brownes back then!

I was active (and our department firearms instructor) all through the period of law enforcement transitioning from revolvers to semi-autos and could go into detail about a lot of what transpired during that time, what had to happen and what the firearms manufacturers had to do to make that transition happen but I'm a two finger typer and I don't want to go into all that plus it would probably bore the crap out of a lot of folks. Just suffice to say it wasn't something that happened overnight and there was a LOT of trial and error involved!

If you ever feel like sharing im interested in the info. Dosnt sound boring to me.

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2 hours ago, Armed Eye Doc said:

Fall shoot.  Just saying.:hornet:

Exactly.   :thumbup:

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2 hours ago, 392heminut said:

Back when I started in 1980 1911's didn't have the best reputation for reliability unless you stuck with ball ammo.

Feedramp angle, period.  We know that now.   I had some guy come on this board and tell me how badly my Kimber Desert Warrior would perform with hollow-points, because he had all this experience with military 1911s, and it was proven.  Believe it or not, I didn't even respond about that - he was out of touch with current reality.  I think that was in the thread about that pistol.  Whatever, for his "advice"...  

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1 hour ago, 98Z5V said:

Feedramp angle, period.  We know that now.   I had some guy come on this board and tell me how badly my Kimber Desert Warrior would perform with hollow-points, because he had all this experience with military 1911s, and it was proven.  Believe it or not, I didn't even respond about that - he was out of touch with current reality.  I think that was in the thread about that pistol.  Whatever, for his "advice"...  

Most 1911s come tuned ready to run HP dont they? My Les Baer , RIA , SA all ran HP reliably although my newer production Colt 1991 had issues.

Now of days im more of a Glock guy, they are simple ,ugly and loose like my ex but they give me a good time untail they blow up.

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21 hours ago, JF89 said:

Most 1911s come tuned ready to run HP dont they?

GI Issue 1911s were only made to shoot 230gr Ball ammo, nothing else - and the feedramps were only for that fatass ball round. 

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