Life and Death > Weaponry

what kind of gun

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what kind of gun would a private detective most likely carry?  assuming that they have a permit of course

Andy Connor:
Depends on period and area.  Recently listened to audio book Spade & Archer (Joe Gores' prequel to Chandler's Sam Spade) and there is regular mention of the old Luger.  S&W Airweight Chief's Special is what I went for in regard to my own Harry Rhimes character.  It's a standard snub-nose .38 - the short barrel means less long range accuracy, but it also means it doesn't get snagged on clothing, and it takes a standard round.  Five shots, but with a speed loader the down time is minimal.  Revolvers don't jam and also unlike automatics they don't spew empty cases all over the place (and under your feet if you're not careful.)

Of course, you could go for something a little more personal, like a .22 - 12-shot revolver as used/preferred by gang bangers (though the .22 would be full load, not half load as preferred by assorted hit men.)

If it has to be an automatic (usually 9mm) then go for a Czech made CZ75b or the CZ75b Omega (which can be fitted to take a .40 rather than the old 9mm) which can hold 19 in the magazine, "plus one in the pipe" (not official police procedure, or Army either.)

If you want to have more info then take a read through


Gives you a nice spec rundown in layman's terms and a picture of the thing as well.

Hope that helps?

Lance Charnes:
It also depends on his/her background and experience, and how he/she plans to carry the weapon.

A former police detective, for instance, may be more comfortable with whatever his/her service weapon used to be (for instance, a Glock 19 for an NYPD detective). A former military member may want a Beretta if he/she carried an M9 on duty.

Also, how does your detective carry the weapon? If he/she uses a belt or shoulder holster, it can be a larger weapon than if he carries it in his waistband or she carries it in her purse.

Old school private detectives in fiction seem to invariably carry the Smith & Wesson .38 revolver with 2" barrel (snubby), usually the "airweight" model. This has been the "weapon of choice" since Sam Spade.

Similar to this, older police officers may carry larger frame revolvers, like a Ruger .357 Magnum with 4" or 6" barrel. These are fairly hefty and cannot easily be carried on the waist without "printing" (being visible beneath clothing) but are nicely concealed in a shoulder holster.

Modern police almost exclusively carry pistols ("automatics" in general lingo even though they aren't full auto). Many police carry Glock 9mm, the most prevalent law enforcement weapon worldwide.

9mm however tends to be a bit light in power and many police (if so allowed in their jurisdictions) will carry the higher power .40 cal or the .45 ACP. Modern versions of the venerable Colt 1911 .45 auto are widely used in the Southwest. Although the .45auto only carries 8 rounds vs the 15-17 rounds of the 9mm, it packs a huge punch.

So... a modern PI might likely carry a Glock model 19 in 9mm, or prefer the harder-hitting 1911-style .45 auto. Just remember that full size pistols aren't as well concealed at the waist for the private eye and a shoulder holster for the larger guns is better.

Don't get too fixated on the type of gun carried, just so you don't make common gun errors, the most prevalent being having a safety on a revolver! Some autos have safeties, some don't. Glocks do not. If you've got a round in the chamber of a Glock, you pull the trigger and it goes off. There's no "hammer" to cock because it's "striker fired" with an internal hammer that is always cocked. Conversely, the 1911 .45 must be cocked with a round in the chamber, otherwise it's inert.

A good general purpose modern weapon would be a Glock model 19 in 9mm. Check the Glock website.

And if you wish, ask more. I'm pretty familiar with sidearms.

There are as many answers as there are PI's and guns.

However, in recent years, as revolvers have been more and more phased out of official law enforcement, and replaced by semi-automatic pistols, the same trend has been true in the private sector.

So it wouldn't be at all unusual for your PI to carry something like a SIG-Sauer, a Glock, or any of the many semi-autos manufactured by S&W, Colt, etc.

OTOH, if he's older, he might be more comfortable with the weapon he's always carried, which could be a revolver.

In my capacity as the police technical advisor on Dick Tracy, I suggested that the artist, Joe Staton, arm Dick with a SIG-Sauer P226 in either 9mm or .40 caliber.

Various fictional PI's have been just as various in their choice of weapons.  Spenser used an S&W snub-nosed .38.  Mike Hammer used a Colt 1911 .45 semi-auto.  Phil Marlowe used many different guns, a .38 revolver w/ a 6-inch barrel in The Big Sleep, a .38 Super Colt semi-auto in Farewell, My Lovely, a German Luger in The Little Sister, etc.  Sam Spade eschewed guns altogether, but the Continental Op used a .38 snubbie backed up occasionnaly by a brace of .32 semi-autos.

Do some research, and decide what you like best.


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