Jay the “Beating Machine” speaks up for new Zooters

~May 26th, 2019

What Guns are YOU Using for Zoot—Our Top 5 Recommendations

Let’s talk about which gun you’re bringing to the gunfight. If you’re going to show up to a Zoot shoot, you’ll need a decent roscoe.
Unfortunately, the coppers have cleared most of the Tommy Guns and Browning Automatic Rifles off the streets. But, if you can get one of those, you’ll have most everyone outgunned. Just lock it up tight in a safe that’s ready to wire, so your lead slinger doesn’t get snapped up in a raid.
Since it’s tough to get your hands on those big guns, let’s talk about the best guns from our era that you can get.
Colt 1911
The Colt 1911 is probably the first great semi-automatic pistol. It’s indisputably one of the longest lasting pieces of John Browning’s legacy.
A whole boatload of these pistols returned from World War I. Naturally, gangsters got a hold of many of them, and quickly started overpowering police squads armed with revolvers. This prompted police forces to purchase their own lots of Colt 1911 pistols. The Colt 1911 has been a favorite on both sides of the law ever since.
The handy thing about using a Colt 1911 in a Zoot shoot is that you’ve got two ammunition choices: .45 ACP and .38 Super. Both have some pros and cons.
.45 ACP is easier to get, both in terms of ammunition and pistols chambered in the caliber. It’s also cheaper than .38 Super. But, the magazine only holds 7 rounds.
The main benefit of using a .38 Super model is that you’ll have more gas in the tank—a total of 9 rounds. But, the ammunition is more expensive, and the .38 Super handguns are harder to find.
Remington Model 29
The Remington Model 29 is based on the original Remington Model 10 Trench Gun, a beloved piece for short range fighting in World War I.
Gangsters had managed to dredge up a stock of Remington Model 10 shotguns in the years following World War I. The Model 10 sawed-off shotgun was a favorite in the mob. However, the Model 29 was much more common, since it was the shotgun Remington sold to law enforcement agencies.
The Model 29 is most common in 12 gauge. 12 gauge is the most common and affordable shotgun round for Zoot shooting.
Browning Hi-Power
The Browning Hi-Power is another design from John Browning. This one comes in 9mm and .40 S&W.
Although the Hi-Power was originally created for the French military, it was a favorite among gunfighting professionals and gangsters for it’s improved magazine capacity over other pistols of our era like the Colt 1911 and German Luger.
The Hi-Power also wasn’t distributed until 1935, two decades after the adoption of the 1911. So, fellas using Hi-Power pistols often won gunfights while opponents were reloading.
Fortunately, 9mm ammunition is still some of the cheapest and easiest to get. You’ll save money and reload less if you’re Zoot shooting with a Hi-Power.
However, the double-stack magazine design makes for a slightly wider grip, which might be uncomfortable if you’ve got small hands.
Colt Detective Special
Sometime during the 1920’s, John Henry Fitzgerald modified a Colt Police Positive Special revolver to make it better for gunfighting and concealment.
He shortened the barrel to two inches, trimmed the hammer spur down, and removed the front half of the trigger guard. This produced a revolver that concealed easily, could be drawn without snagging on clothing, and was easy to fire quickly, even if you had thick fingers or were wearing gloves. The modified revolver was dubbed the “Fitz Special.”
Colt was so impressed with the modifications that they produced the Colt Detective Special. The Colt Detective Special was a short version of the Police Positive Special, with an enlarged trigger guard.
It is found in >38 Special and .32 S&W Long .38 Special is a capable round. It’s easy to shoot. And it’s cheap and easy to find.
Also, the Colt Detective Special is still around. There are several modern Colt revolvers based on the design, many of which come in .357 Magnum, if you like something with a little more bang to it.
Colt Police Positive
The Colt Police Positive was a long standing contender to the Colt 1911 in the law enforcement community. Colt specifically designed the pistol for police squads, and many uniformed police officers carried these as their duty guns throughout the 1930s and 1940’s.
The Police Positive was usually preferred over the 1911 for its reliability and accuracy. Colt offered the Police Positive with a 3 inch, 4 inch, and 5 inch barrel. And the simpler mechanisms of the revolver were less prone to mechanical failures than semi-auto pistols.
Colt built this smoke wagon to be sturdy. So, it’s heavy. But, the added weight helps keep it flat when you shoot. So, you can really lay down the lead.
This piece usually comes in .38 Special. But, .22 Long Rifle variants have also made the rounds. If you can’t find an original Police Positive from our era, the Colt Cobra is a distant ancestor of the Police Positive that offers both .38 Special and .357 Magnum chamberings.
Shutting Down the Operation
As you can see, handguns were the most common iron around. Most needed to conceal their pieces. So, it wasn’t practical to be sporting a long gun all the time.
These guns all have a place the legacy of our era, and you can still find some used models around. There are also modern variants of all of these that will pass our ten foot rule, since it can be tough to get original equipment from the day.
These are some of our favorites for Zoot shooting. What will you be using for your next caper?


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