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Gun in The Big Heat?


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> {quote:title=cinemafan wrote:}{quote}

> The gun that Glenn Ford was using was very distinctive - it had a very short barrel. As far as I could tell, he used it as a police detective, but he owned it. Can anyone tell me what kind it was? Thanks.


Until fairly recent times, it was standard, and traditional, for American police detectives to carry snub-nosed .38-caliber revolvers, called .38 Police Specials (most police now carry .9-millimeter semi-automatic pistols. A lot of police considered semi-automatics too prone to jamming; modern models, such as Berettas and Glocks, have all but eliminated that concern).


While the short barrel made the pistol less accurate at more than fifteen or twenty feet, most officer-involved shootings occur at shorter range, and the short barrel allowed the gun to clear its holster quickly and be less bulky when worn under a suit-jacket.


Interesting that you should bring up this subject. During this afternoon's TCM showing of A WOMAN'S SECRET, characters kept referring to the gun that shoots Gloria Grahame's character as a "revolver," even though the film establishes firmly, through dialogue and visually, that the weapon is, in fact, a German military Luger, one of the earliest mass-produced automatic pistols. Even Jay C. Flippen's police detective character makes this mistake in nomenclature, something no cop would ever do.


It's obvious that neither screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, nor director Nicholas Ray, knew enough about guns to correct this simple, but rather inexcusable error. Had they just allowed the characters to call it a "pistol" or "gun," it would've been accurate and worked fine within the context of the story.

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HudsonH - Thanks for that info - I truly was not aware of the many different kinds of guns. Even revolver vs semi-automatic vs automatic.


I would have thought that guns were issued by and property of the

police department - but I can see why you would want your own trusty



Maybe you know about this one - last week, while watching *3:10 to Yuma*, I wondered what kind of rifle/gun Van Heflin carried. It was short, also. Was it made that way, or altered? (hey, I have more time to notice these things lately)


Thanks again and welcome - we need knowledgeable, helpful folks here. cinemafan


Message was edited by: cinemafan to correct my spelling

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I think Van Heflin?s gun, while he was guarding his prisoner, was a sawed-off double-barreled shotgun. I think I heard him say, ?I?ll let you have it with both barrels.?


A shotgun shell is filled with round pellets, some have small pellets, others have larger pellets. A long-barreled shotgun will tend to keep the multiple pellets in a tight ?grouping? at a longer distance, while a sawed-off shotgun will allow the multiple pellets to spread out quickly in a very broad manner at close range, plus they are easier to carry and hold when the target is close, especially inside buildings.


A holder of a sawed-off shotgun doesn?t have to be very accurate with his shots, since the pellets spread out so quickly, he?s likely to hit his target with one or more pellets.


A disadvantage of a sawed-off shotgun is that they are almost useless in a small room when other people (non-targets) are also in the room, since the pattern of the pellets is so wide at close distances, there is a risk of hitting a person who is not an intended target.

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> {quote:title=cinemafan wrote:}{quote}

> Thanks, Fred. I guess it would have been was useful in that hotel room with just Glenn Ford. One more question - are they literally "sawed off", or are they made that way. (Learning is fun.)


I?ve only known of the double-barreled ones being ?sawed off?, with a hacksaw blade, but back in the early 1950s a kid showed me a shotgun pistol that belonged to his father. It had a real pistol handle, and it was a small-bore .410 type. The barrel was about 8 inches long. It shot a single small shotgun shell. I?ve never seen any other pistol like that, and I don?t know what it was used for. I think they are probably illegal today.


Sawed-off shotguns were used in bank robberies and other kinds of crimes years ago, and the government finally banned them because they were so dangerous, since the pellets would hit so many people in a crowded room.


I think the legal limit on short barrels on shotguns today is 18 inches. I bought a short barrel from Mossberg years ago that was 18-1/2 inches, thus legal. It fit onto a regular inexpensive Mossberg 12 gauge shotgun I owned. The barrels were easily changeable.


PS, I changed 310 to .410. :)


Message was edited by: FredCDobbs

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> {quote:title=Hudson_Hawk wrote:}{quote}

> Many police officers keep a second gun on their person while on duty, though I suspect that some police departments discourage this practice.


True on both counts. One of my friends was a police officer for several years in the midwest, and often kept a 9 mm strapped to her leg for "extra firepower," as she expressed it.

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