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GeorgeK
05-25-2010, 11:38 PM
Say the characters find a cache of old firearms. How old of firearms could they be and still be able to go to a gun store and buy modern ammo for them? Assume they were stored well. Would WW2 weapons be too old? WW1?

Cyia
05-25-2010, 11:53 PM
Are they American fire arms or Nazi/Japanese? some soldiers brought back foreign weapons as battle trophies. (My dad retro-fit one into a deer rifle in the 80's, so it's possible to make them work.)

GeorgeK
05-26-2010, 12:27 AM
The story takes place in America, so presumably American, but it could have been a souveneir if that's better. If I understand things correctly revolvers were made by Colt for the US army during WW1-2?

Gary
05-26-2010, 01:11 AM
The Colt model 1911, 45ACP was the standard pistol for the military through WWI, WWII, Korea, and into the Vietnam era. The 100-year-old design is still made by various manufacturers and is probably the most common handgun in America today.

30-06 rifles were also the military standard for decades and it's still a popular caliber for hunters.

Stanmiller
05-26-2010, 01:15 AM
G,
WW1, correct. Colt's Mfg couldn't keep up with 1911 auto demand, so both Colt's and S&W put out M1917 revolvers in .45 ACP. If that's what you're thinking about, they'll shoot any standard pressure .45 ACP ammo you can find. You'll need moon clips though, as the .45 ACP is a rimless case and won't eject without being held by their bases with half or full moon clips.

Stan

Summonere
05-26-2010, 03:22 AM
Say the characters find a cache of old firearms. How old of firearms could they be and still be able to go to a gun store and buy modern ammo for them? Assume they were stored well. Would WW2 weapons be too old? WW1?

That kind of depends on the particular gun and the chambering (a 1903 Springfield in 30-06 isn’t really the same as a 1906 Springfield in 30-06, that cartridge's dimensions having evolved in that short span of time; and the .38 Super of 1900 isn‘t quite the same as the .38 Super Auto of 1929, though the latter’s name was soon shortened to .38 Super…).

Nonetheless, many firearms of those eras used ammunition that remains widely available today, e.g. the aforementioned 30-06 that springs to mind (1906), and the .45 ACP as chambered in 1911 pattern pistols (1911, though this design existed in versions as early as 1905), or 9mm and .380 Auto (1908), .32 Auto (1903), .38 Special (1902), .357 Magnum (1935), .44 Special (1907). There are other, older cartridges which can still be obtained from commercial manufacturers, though many are not available on your local Wal Mart shelves, and sill other, more obscure cartridges remain available, too, albeit from specialty manufacturers.

One of the problems with modern cartridges in old firearms is that even finely preserved firearms may not be strong enough for modern pressures, especially if the modern ammo is +P rated though, “in general,” I should think that normal-pressure ammo would not present problems.

GeorgeK
05-26-2010, 07:49 AM
One of the problems with modern cartridges in old firearms is that even finely preserved firearms may not be strong enough for modern pressures, especially if the modern ammo is +P rated though, “in general,” I should think that normal-pressure ammo would not present problems.

What's +P? Is it magnum or some other term with which I'm unfamiliar?

http://www.collectorsfirearms.com/admin/product_details.php?itemID=30325

There's a nice old looking one that as far as I can tell is from WW1. So would they just ask for 38's, 38 Special, or something else? Would it be expected that modernly purchased ammo should fire fine or is there a real risk of the thing exploding? I'm assuming that a revolver is going to be more likely to still operate as opposed to a 1911 automatic. My brother used to have one of those and I remember it had a whole lot of parts, as opposed to the simpler revolver.

I'm also assuming that old ammo is likely to have corroded the casings, (of course stored separate from the weapon) hence going to the gun store for ammo. Or should they sell the old revolver and buy something new? If so, is there a waiting period to sell a firearm to a dealer, or is it only when a dealer sells to a non-dealer?

Summonere
05-26-2010, 08:18 PM
Short answer:
+P = higher than standard-pressure ammo

Longer Answer:

+P ammunition generates higher chamber pressures at ignition than does regular ammo, thereby blasting bullets out faster. It’s an attempt to generate higher performance loads in guns of a given caliber that can handle the higher pressures. In general, most modern firearms are stronger than older ones and are for that reason capable of handling the higher pressures (though many modern exceptions exist).

The +P designation differs from the Magnum designation in that ammunition rated as +P will chamber in firearms designed to shoot ammunition of a given caliber, but a non-magnum caliber will not chamber the Magnum version of the “same” caliber. That is, a 9mm will chamber standard 9mm or +P ammunition, just as a standard .38 revolver will chamber +P .38 ammo. But ammunition designated “Magnum” will only chamber in firearms also designated as such. A .44 Magnum will not chamber in a .44 Special, a .22 Magnum will not chamber in a .22 Long Rifle. Though the calibers are the same, the cartridge case lengths differ (1.285” and 1.16” respectively for the .44 Magnum vs. .44 Special). On the other hand, Magnum firearms (at least among handguns) can safely chamber and fire the cartridges from which they evolved (.44 Magnum chambers and fires .44 Special; .357 Magnum chambers and fires .38 Special).

The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturer’s Institute (SAAMI) came up with the +P designation in 1974, and member manufacturers follow their guidelines for sake of standardization and safety. (In the respect of setting standards, SAAMI reminds me a bit of the W3C.)

A regular .38 Special generates about 17,000psi at the chamber upon firing, whereas the +P version generates about 20,000psi. At regular loading pressure, a 110 to 125 grain hollow point may or may not expand in the target. At +P pressures, the same hollow point “should” expand reliably. Put a heavier hollow point in either, chances of expansion go down, but depth of penetration increases, particularly in the +P.

In the 1930’s, folks were already experimenting with hotter loads in their .38 revolvers, but they were only intended for use in Colt and S&W revolvers built on .44 Special frames. The Colt Commando you’ve linked seems to be built on Colt’s medium frame which, in good condition, should work just fine with standard .38 Special ammunition, but +P loads may blow it up straight away, or it may very quickly cause undue wear. Someone more knowledgeable than I will have to address the matter of +P ammo in that particular gun, though. General rule of thumb: don’t fire +P ammo in old guns and guns not rated for it (for the aforementioned two reasons).

Stanmiller
05-26-2010, 11:12 PM
What's +P? Is it magnum or some other term with which I'm unfamiliar?

http://www.collectorsfirearms.com/admin/product_details.php?itemID=30325

There's a nice old looking one that as far as I can tell is from WW1. So would they just ask for 38's, 38 Special, or something else? Would it be expected that modernly purchased ammo should fire fine or is there a real risk of the thing exploding? I'm assuming that a revolver is going to be more likely to still operate as opposed to a 1911 automatic. My brother used to have one of those and I remember it had a whole lot of parts, as opposed to the simpler revolver.

Actually, the 1911 is simpler, with maybe twelve robust parts. The revolver is simpler to operate, but has more, smaller internal parts which you don't ever see. The revolver is more reliable too, as it will shoot anything you can get into the chambers, whereas autos of that era typically only worked reliably with so-called 'ball' ammo, with a fully jacketed round nose bullet.

I'm also assuming that old ammo is likely to have corroded the casings, (of course stored separate from the weapon) hence going to the gun store for ammo. Not necessarily. I've shot .38 S&W that was so old the brass had turned green and the lead bullets had turned white. They fired from a S&W top-break model 38 just fine. Or should they sell the old revolver and buy something new? If so, is there a waiting period to sell a firearm to a dealer, or is it only when a dealer sells to a non-dealer?

GK, That's the Commando, produced '42 to '45 (during WW2). For WW1 military revolvers, you're pretty much stuck with the Colt or S&W M1917s in .45 ACP.

There's also the civilian Colt New Service in a ton of calibers, some very rare today, but includes .38SPL, .45 Colt, and .45 ACP, all common enough to find at Wal-Mart.

As for the S&W, aside from the M1917, there were many models of .38SPL, including the most widely used police weapon in the world, the Model 10 Military and Police. Google S&W Double action and be overwhelmed.

Pick any one you want. Ammo is still available.

The first magnum was the S&W Registered Magnum, in .357 Mag, produced in 1935 or thereabouts, I believe.

--Stan

Summonere
05-27-2010, 12:40 AM
Dang. I see my answer was an incomplete response to your questions. Sorry. Relatives visiting from out of town. Little time.

Short answer: As Stanmiller and the linked ad indicate, the revolver is a WWII era .38, not WWI (and that price seems really high, but I'd have to check the books to see for sure). It should handle .38s no problem. In fact, when people refer to "thirty-eights" they most commonly mean .38 Special, which has been one of the most popular rounds of all time (in fact, my visiting aunt carries a .38 Special snubbie). So if your character pulls a Colt Commando .38 out of a WWII duffel bag, goes to Wal Mart and asks for a box of thirty-eights, he'll have no problem getting exactly what he needs. If in doubt, he may specify .38 Special. If in even more doubt, he may specify .38 Special, no +P.

Would +P loadings blow that thing up? I have no idea. I'm not a gunsmith, and I'm not sure how much difference the extra 3,000psi would make, but that sounds like an awful lot of extra pressure. If it did blow up, the cylinder wall would give way, and possibly the top strap, too (the part of the frame above the cylinder).

Sorry I'm not much help, there.

There should be no significant difference between the chances of a WWII era revolver or semi-auto working, if they've been well preserved, but Stanmiller's advice about ball-ammo only for the semi-autos is pretty much right, too, particularly with the 1911, which was designed for it.

Private sales are not governed by waiting periods or background checks, far as I know.

Sarpedon
05-30-2010, 05:15 AM
Certain common firearms invented nearly a hundred years ago are still in use today. The famous Colt 45 was invented in 1890, adopted by the US Army in 1911, remained the standard pistol until the 90s before the Army retired it, and is still popular and in common use.

I also recently read an article wherein they revealed that the Afgan Taliban were still using the Mauser Rifle, which serves them far better than our shorter-ranged assault rifles. These rifles are little changed from the first Mausers, introduced in the 1870s. Civilian versions of these are also still quite popular today.

The Moisin-Nagant Rifle is also an old weapon. First issued in the 1870s under the Russian Empire, they continued to be the most common weapon of the USSR. After WW2, they were retired from use in the Soviet Army, in favor of the AK-47, but were supplied to other communist countries. These reliable rifles can be bought even today, quite inexpensively, even in the USA.

Yetozen
06-06-2010, 01:11 PM
If its made from quality material and not subjected to extreme climate changes and/or massive abuse most should work

Yaa the mausers pretty amazing, low recoil and cheap ammo (i use one my dad got before vietnam for deer and cat hunting)

Tiger
06-11-2010, 12:57 AM
The only problem I could see (aside from the condition of the old weapons) would be if the old weapons were manufactured before the advent of smokeless powder--which generates higher pressure than the black powder that proceeded it. A weapon that was made for black powder might blow apart.