Non-gun owner, asking questions for research
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Old 05-08-2010, 02:11 AM   #1
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Default Non-gun owner, asking questions for research

First off: I am not a gun-owner, and claim no first-hand knowledge of guns, but simply what I have learned from my 12 hours or so of research so far. Please understand this in my post, as making fun of me for a lack of knowledge is going to be somewhat pointless.

So, I am planning on writing a book. It has a post-apocolyptic setting (non-nuclear) and a character is looking to have a practical weapon. In that light, the considerations lean towards reliability, low-maintainance, and abundance of ammunition.

My research so far has lead me down to the S&W 547 9mm revolver. Vintage Pistols - Smith & Wesson 547 Range Report

I am pretty set on this concept, as 9mm ammo is very common in the US where the story takes place, and revolvers are famous for their reliability (even the 547, from the fans of the gun).

However, my lack of knowledge prevents me from moving much further:
The 547 normally comes in only two types of barrels: the 3" and 4" barrels. I am trying to figure out if there is a feasable way to attatching an extended barrel, around 5 to 5 1/2"? In particular, would the gun still function with a 357 barrel, or could one even be attatched?

The conceptual goal would be to lower the larger-than-normal recoil on the 547 model, and aid in the already great power and accuracy. If this is impractical, than the character would likely sit on a typical 4" 547, but I, as one who has no gun experience, would have no knowledge of it's practicallity.

So can someone answer this for me?

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Old 05-08-2010, 02:46 AM   #2
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Duct tape.

Seriously? The barrel is not nearly as important as the chamber. Are you asking if a 9mm chamber can handle .357 mag rounds? .357 Sig?

Why would a guy with a 4" barrel need a 5"? Details, man....details.

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Old 05-08-2010, 03:12 AM   #3
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Have your guy carry a .357. It's far more versatile than a 9mm, far more believable than one esoteric model, and you can get them in darn near any barrel length you want. 4" is fine, 5" is nice but less common, 6" get hard to set down with. And in the US .357 ammo is as common as 9mm. Where are you? Thinking you should research a bit more. One of my pet peeves in novels is when someone tries to pretend to greater firearms erudition than they have and sound like an ignorant doofus.

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Old 05-08-2010, 03:13 AM   #4
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So a rare, limited production, impossible to find replacement parts for, 9mm revolver is a practical post-apocolypse weapon? Unless the guy is a dimension crossing gunslinger with expert gunsmithing skills carrying matching custom Sandelwood gripped guns it's just not feasible. (hat tip to fans of Roland)

While it's true that 9mm semi-auto pistols are extremely popular, and that revolvers are also very popular in the US, this is not true for 9mm revolvers. To be honest I never knew such a thing existed.

Why not just have the character carry a plain Jane Glock in 9mm, or if he is really cool give him a 1911. He may not be able to make a 600 yard kill shot with it but hey, it's a 1911.

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Old 05-08-2010, 03:16 AM   #5
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And yes, I'm sure any competent smith could screw a 5" .357 barrel in to a model 547 frame, they're virtually the same (.002") bore size, so 9mm bullets would probably upset sufficiently for reasonable accuracy, but I still think you're needlessly cluttering your story with unreasonable, impractical firearm detail. Go shoot a little, it will open a whole new world for you. Write what you know. Attempting to write what you don't know most likely dooms you to failure and makes you sound ignorant.

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Old 05-08-2010, 03:30 AM   #6
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A truly post-apocalyptic setting would have the main character utilizing a 1911 in 45 ACP, period. No matter what exotic weapons you come up with anyone who survived that type of setting would do so with a 1911 and you can’t miss with the 45 ACP round. The 45 ACP is the pistol round that anyone with any knowledge of weapons would choose as their primary handgun.

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Old 05-08-2010, 06:36 AM   #7
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With the number of weapons available, exactly how does the hero come to get the firearm? If he retrieved it from an auto crash, (especially of an LE was involved in the crash), then use a firearm that is common. A Glock or S&W semi auto in .40 caliber. A S&W 547 would probably be hard to get from someone's safe.

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Old 05-08-2010, 07:35 AM   #8
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I have to agree with Scubie, the 1911 is one of the most used and most known pistols even by those who do not shoot, based on the movies and such. Go with the .45 caliber 1911 in any make you like.

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Old 05-08-2010, 08:57 AM   #9
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I'd go with the .357 magnum. Reason being .357 ammo is quite common along with the gun being just as common and on the plus side you can use .38's and or .38 special's in it also! So your character would have a gun that shot 2 different types of ammo and can find parts for it readily at hand.

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Old 05-08-2010, 02:12 PM   #10
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A few more specifics may help this along:
First, a reminder that this is a non-nuclear apocolyptic setting, so lots of things survive. Many of you already got that.
Second, as a non-nuclear setting, there would be a decent amount of people left: about a quarter of the current population world-wide. The intended method of apocolypse would be a biological weapon, with many of the cities within the US being the primary targets.
So, conceptually, you would have some initial anarchy with a society that slowly gravitates toward something more organized.

But with that many people left, the concern is with some raiders, or others, getting their hands on ammo, and perhaps hoarding a lot of it. The reasons a character may not go for a 1911 .45 acp would probably be along the lines of the abundance of ammo.

The abundance of ammo is the main reason the S&W 547 was researched in the first place, but I do have a feeling that 357 ammo is common enough that it may be the most resultant switch. The other advantage of a 9mm revolver would be the ease of carrying a type of ammo that is more likely to be found among opponents, as a lot of people would likely go for semi-autos, and as the character would adapt to carrying more than one firearm (as many do, I've gathered), it's easier to carry one type of ammo, especially when one can only own as much as they can carry in many cases.

I'd also welcome a possible explanation as to the reasons behind different barrel lengths for revolvers, as this is absent from semi-autos (as far as I have researched). But rather than a personal preference, I would ask more on the reasons behind the different lengths.

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