Archive for May, 2019

Deacon’s Bully Pulpit #10 Gotta love them .32s!

~May 31st, 2019

Okay, it is impressive to watch the big guns get unloaded on targets, and a rush when you touch them off. But, for pure fun, the milder rounds are the cat’s pajamas! And there aren’t many that are more fun than the .32s!

Okay, some of our finest Zootin’ guns are these too! The Walther PP and PPk, the Colt 1903, Browning .32s, the Savage 1907, the Ruby, Tokarev and Mauser HSc and Broomhandle in autos and then every maker made made .32 revolvers. The 32s [with the exception of the Broomhandle] are all small to medium size guns, so are easier for shooters with smaller or weaker hands to handle easily. Recoil is VERY pleasant with these guns and you can find good deals on used top break .32 revolvers easily. There are 2 .32 H&R top breaks in my local gun store right now for $160 each. [I am debating about grabbing one of them myself]

So here’s the break down of these cartridges.
First up, the 7.62 Nagant. A Russian built Belgium designed revolver used for over 80 years! Adopted in 1895, it uses a very unusual system of sealing the cylinder of the gun. Some of these are roughly machined as they were built during the World Wars, but many are very good. It is the only gun that uses this round and surplus ammo has dried up. New ammo is tough to find and will have to be ordered online usually.
Next, the .32 ACP. One of the first really successful auto rounds, designed by John Browning, it is a delight to shoot. There are so many fine guns out there to run this round it is overwhelming! If buying an older gun, make sure magazines are available for them. One oddity about the .32 ACP is that many .32 revolvers can fire this round as it is semi-rimmed. Ammo is easy to find.
Now we have the .32 S&W and it’s progeny. A revolver round that was extremely popular, it was then stretched to make the .32 Long! It’s history soesn’t stop there as it also was stretched twice more to give us the .32 Magnum and now even the .327 Magnum! Both the original and Long are completely legal for Zoot Shooting and many .32 Magnums will pass out 10 foot rule and will fire any of the rounds. Low recoil makes these very fun to shoot and in better quality guns they are ridiculously accurate. .32 S&W is a challenge to find, but any gun store can get Long for you easily.
Next up is the .30 Mauser [7.63 Mauser] and 7.62 Tokarev. The Mauser was developed for that New-fangled Broomhandle gun from 1896 and was a hot rod back then. The Broomhandle is a heavy gun so recoil is smooth and easy. The Russians decided they liked the round but wanted it to run in their submachine guns and their new 1933 Tokarev pistol, so they bumped it up even more! While the 2 rounds are identical externally, do not run Tokarev ammo in a Broomie, it is too hot and will damage the gun! The Tokarev pistol is all steel, very good sights and can have a very good trigger. It is comfortable to shoot, recoil is about that of a .38 Special. It is a LOUD round, so be prepared! Tokarev ammo is easy to find although most surplus is gone.
The pictures below show the cartridges I had on hand with the .45 ACP and .38 Special included for comparison.

Reduced spring kit for Tommy guns!

~May 29th, 2019

For those of you with Tommy guns, the recoil springs from the factory can be a handful. A reduced spring kit has been available but only sporadically and difficult to find. They are now being carried by Howell Arms, a reputable company for those who have been looking for it.

Deacon’s Bully Pulpit #8 The P-35 Hi Power

~May 26th, 2019

One of the finest guns ever designed around the 9mm round was John Browning’s last work, the FN/Browning Hi Power. The “Maestro” as he was called in Belgium, died while while working on this pistols design, originally for the French Army. The gun would be finished by Dieudonné Saive, his protege, and a superb designer in his own right. It was ground breaking, a 13 round magazine capacity with a single action trigger, that could be handled well by almost any hand size. This pistol would be the standard by which 9mm pistols would be measured for the next 80 years! It served over 50 countries armed forces, fought on both sides in World War 2 and remained in production for 82 years by FN. It is still being produced by several other builders today.
Why should Zooters be interested? First, the 9mm round it fires, is light recoiling and accurate, it is also the least expensive centerfire round to buy today. The grip is extremely comfortable for most shooters and the sights are decent on older models and very good on later ones. Magazines are plentiful and affordable, still made by MecGar, who made the ones Browning and FN shipped with their pistols. 10, 13 and 15 round magazines are flush fitting. The Hi Power originally was made with a burr type hammer, which is notorious for biting fleshier hands [like mine! ouch] but the spur type hammer came about later. This hammer is approved for Zoot Shooting. Many folks will improve the trigger weight by removing the magazine retention [a military request] that keeps the magazine from falling free when you hit the mag release. Removing this device improves trigger quality and allows the mag to fall out of the gun. Grips are easy to swap out, only one screw per side and are easy to find. Later guns with the ambidextrous safety may require a small amount of inletting to fit properly. It will fit in almost any 1911 holster as well. Even though it is almost the same weight as the 1911 when loaded up, it does seem better balanced to me, an avowed 1911 fan.
Try one out if you get the chance, it is one of our great handguns.

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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