Thursday, May 31, 2012

More Good News for Zoot Shooters!

The American Zoot Shooters Association (AZSA) has expanded its website by having “Deacon” write a new blog on the sport. In the interest of disclosure, I’m a proud member of the AZSA. In his first Column, Deacon explains safety rules of handling firearms and some of the firearms and calibers that are used in the sport. The rules have been expanded to include the 1940s, and clarified to include 30 caliber pistol cartridges such as the 30 Luger and 30 Mauser as well as the 351 Winchester for rifles.
Inclusion of these cartridges will allow some great period weapons to be used such as the Winchester Model 1907 and the Mauser C96. The Luger pistol in 30 Parabellum (Luger) was widespread in the United States have been commercially imported since about 1900. The Luger was again imported in large numbers during the 1920s.
Zoot shooting has been around for a couple of years in its nacent stages. A bad economy has probably hampered its growth, but as things are looking up, we should put on our fedoras and look back. Go to look around, and hopefully join!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Someday They’ll Remake Dirty Harry.

It’s going to happen, every great movie is remade, sometimes with good results, or others are disasters like the recent True Grit. I don’t usually enjoy remakes, but if they’re done right, it introduces a new audience to some great characters. The Dirty Harry movie franchise may be ready for a remake or a new adventure. Just as the James Bond franchise transitioned lead actors, Dirty Harry must do the same.
My vote goes to LOSTs’ Josh Holloway. He has the perfect blend of screen presence and charisma to pull it off. Holloway has demonstrated his capacity to play edgy and unpredictable characters. He is really the only man in Hollywood that can play Harry Callahan and breathe life into this long dormant series. This role would require a great talent and that is Josh Holloway.
Ironically, it is more difficult to pick a new signature handgun for Dirty Harry. Of course he could keep the S&W Model 29 as an homage to the original, but I don’t see it happening, as much as I’d like it to. I think a new weapon will be demanded. While the S&W 500 Magnum may be contender, my guess would also be that a semi-automatic will replace the revolver.
Which semi automatic? It will be hard to tell, but it can’t be any ordinary 9mm, 40, or 45. The only two choices I see are HK Mark 23 SOCOM or some form of the Desert Eagle in 50 Action Express.
The Desert Eagle has been so often used in movies it would need some gimmick to make it special.
Whatever is chosen, it will be a key product placement for a gun manufacturer. If the sales of the S&W Model 29 after the release of the original Dirty Harry in 1970 are an indication; the new just might sell like crazy also.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Magnum Force 1973

The best double action revolver movie of all time is Magnum Force made in 1973. The second installment of the “Dirty Harry” movie franchise stars Clint Eastwood as a tough cop, Inspector Harry Callaghan, confronted with a string of vigilante killings. Of course Harry has his trusty S&W Model 29 44 Magnum, and all the bad guys, who turn out to be traffic cops use Colt Python .357 Magnum revolvers, even the bad cops ringleader, played by Hal Holbrook, uses a S&W Model 19 .357 Magnum.
This movie is great because of the action, writing, and of course the revolvers. It was made in the time when the revolver was king; power and reliability were the most desired characteristics in a side arm. Magazine capacity was an afterthought and American police departments all preferred the revolver. Civilians were revolver crazy also. In the rural county where I grew up I did not see a semi automatic handgun until I was about 15, and that was a Colt woodsman 22 that belonged to a friend’s father. I remember all the peace officers carrying Colt Troopers or Smith & Wesson revolvers. Men in business suits routinely carried a snub nose revolver for protection.
I started shooting in the waning days of revolver dominance. Smith & Wesson and Colt were the big dogs in the double action revolver market. Their guns were beautifully fitted, sometimes by hand with forged steel parts. The exterior finish was almost a work of art with the surfaces polished and given a deep blue or nickel finish. In a few years t a variety of semiautomatic pistols largely replaced the revolvers in police use. Many police officers went from the revolver to the Glock seemingly overnight. There may even be a few hold outs today, but I doubt it. On the other hand, lightly used police revolvers were sold at reasonable prices during those years, and they depressed the prices in the used revolver market. It was really a great buyers market.
Magnum Force has one of the most disappointing lines in any Dirty Harry movie, when asked what load he uses in his Model 29, Harry replies “A light special, gives me better control in a gun this size, like wad cutters in a .357 Magnum.” Oh my, he’s not really shooting a 44 Magnum! But a cartridge from 1907, the 44 Special! I guess this came from all the critism that a 44 magnum revolver was too powerful and uncontrollable for police work. Of particular note, Harry does a lot of shooting with one hand during the movie, another great vintage touch. Be all that as it may, Magnum Force is a great movie and a great homage to the 20th century police revolver.