Firearms Research For Pre-1980s guns

Discussion in 'Training & Safety' started by Max_Redstone, Mar 13, 2014.

  1. Max_Redstone

    Max_Redstone New Member

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    Howdy there folks. Pardon me if this isn't the proper forum for this post. Also, I'll like to give a quick introduction: I am an independent author of men's adventure type fiction.

    I am currently writing a post-apocalypse novel based in America's south that takes place during 1985. The apocalyptic event (a chimera-type biological weapon) occurred in 1979.

    I would like accurate technical details on some popular, prevalent, and practical guns of that era including: assault rifles, submachine guns, sniper rifles, handguns and any other suggestions.

    For the most part, however, my novel will be "gun lite" on details, but I would prefer to have the types and mechanics and how-to-operate details correct for believability.

    Thank you in advance for any and all information that any of you can provide.
     
  2. Axxe55

    Axxe55 The Apocalypse Is Coming.....

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    welcome to the forum. if you intend on staying around please visit the Introductions Section and say hello to everyone.
     

  3. trip286

    trip286 New Member

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    Lucky for you, haven't been much in advancement since then (comparatively speaking to the rest of the 20th century)

    Growing up in Mississippi, I noticed many of the more common guns in households were SKS's, bolt action hunting rifles, lever action hunting rifles, pump action shotguns, semi auto shotguns... some of the more popular handguns were Smith and Wesson semi autos, 1911 pattern handguns, and revolvers of many makes.

    The south was/still is fairly poor compared to some other parts of the country. There were many cheap handguns (saturday night specials-throwaways, so to speak) around when I was a kid. From no-name makers who had poor reputations of being unreliable at best, and dangerous to the user at the worst.

    Modern Sporting Rifles (what some people incorrectly refer to as "assault rifles"), didn't catch on nearly so relevantly back then as they have recently.
     
  4. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

    Actually, the mid 80s is fairly current. The Barrett .50 came on the scene about 1982, and even the Glock pistol had been around since before the mid 80s. Some of the brand new models of the S&W revolvers, the FiveseveN pistol, the .17 caliber rimfires are a few of the guns that were NOT around in the mid 80s.

    But PLEASE hang around and learn a bit about guns before you start writing about them. We used to joke about the Yankee writers with lines like "The heady aroma of the dogwood flowers wafted forth on the cool evening air...." Well, dogwood blooms HAVE no aroma, and you do not chamber a cartridge in a revolver, it is not a muzzle break but a muzzle brake, learn difference between a clip and a magazine, and you will not hit the bad guy at 300 yards with a shotgun. :rolleyes:
     
  5. trip286

    trip286 New Member

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    I beg to differ C3. Clip some dogwood blossoms and put them in a vase in your house, see if you think they have no "aroma" then! They stink so bad they'll run you out of the house! :)
     
  6. danf_fl

    danf_fl Retired

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    By that time most of National Guard units had transferred to the M-16, though there were M-1 Garands and the M-14 still out there.
     
  7. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

    Dan- by 1985, the Garand and M14 were long gone as the Standard A rifle for the Guard.
     
  8. Max_Redstone

    Max_Redstone New Member

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    This was actually going to be one of my next questions. What would be noticeable differences between the M1, M14, and M16. I've done some quick Googling on when each of these weapons peaked popularity and was replaced.

    I would also like to clarify that in my novel the weapons available would have to be manufactured prior to 1979 since this is when The World Ended As We Know It. I would assume that some left over M14s and M1s wouldn't be scoffed at by survivors looting National Guard armories and such. In fact, in one of the series I have read (William Johnstone's Out Of The Ashes) he looted a museum for a Thompson which became his trademark weapon of choice throughout the expansive series.

    I believe I can find out the ranges of the different weapons and have done some reading up on clip vs. magazine.

    Would it be correct to say that a "round is thumbed into the cylinder" when referring to a revolver?
     
  9. Rick1967

    Rick1967 Active Member

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    You could say a round was thumbed into the cylinder. But more likely 5 or 6 rounds would be thumbed into the cylinder. Keep in mind, not all revolvers are 6 shooters. I was in the Army in 1985. I trained with the M-16 and the M-60. The only M-1 or M-14 that I ever saw was in the Firearms museum at Ft Lee VA. I am not saying that no one had one. But I was in during peace time. It was not like Afghanistan.
     
  10. Max_Redstone

    Max_Redstone New Member

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    Would the Colt Cobra chambered with .32 Colt New Police ammo be a nice choice?

    Also, what does "straigh-walled", "centerfire" and "rimfire" mean and how does any of these properties alter the ballistics?
     
  11. seancslaughter

    seancslaughter New Member

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    Loved the ashes series myself, but he had a few inaccuracies as far as weapons go. I would stick with guns made within a 40 year period up to 1979 and maybe a few experimental models that may have been floating around this website has many military small arms in decade to decade lists that might help http://www.militaryfactory.com/smallarms/index.asp
     
  12. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

    Re: 32 caliber. Wuss. And a much older low powered cartridge. Actually rather unusual to find in everyday use. .38 Special, 9mm, .357 Magnum, .45 auto much more everyday.

    Straight walled- shape of the cartridge case. A .357 Magnum has a straight walled case. A 30-30 or .308 has a bottle necked case.

    Centerfire and rimfire refer to the ignition type of the cartridge. A rimfire has a folded over case head, with a dab of priming compound inside the fold. The firing pin pinches the rim against the chamber mouth, causing the priming compound to explode, igniting the powder. One of the oldest systems going back to the American Civil War, used now for small cartridges, such as the .22 LR. They are NOT reloadable.

    Centerfire uses a primer that sits in a pocket at the rear center of the case. Firing pin crushes the outer shell of the primer against a fixed point, called the anvil, maker priming compound explode. Used in higher powered ammo, they ARE reloadable.

    Picture worth 1000 words. (my rate is .03 per word, please remit payment.:rolleyes: )

    rimfire.jpg
     
  13. Quentin

    Quentin New Member

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    Well the South around 1979, I expect you'd see a lot of S&W and Ruger revolvers in 38 Special and 357 Magnum. As far as semiauto handguns: Colt 45ACP Government Models and WWII/Korea/Vietnam military 45ACPs (Colt/Remington Rand, etc.) Spanish clones like Llama and Star were cheap and worked. And the clunky old Argentine Ballester-Molina 45ACP could be bought for $50-75 but worked like a charm (I had one in the late '70s). 9mm wasn't as popular then but of course there were Hi-Powers/Lugers/P.38s and S&W 39/59s. Lots of other semiautos were around but they weren't as reliable as we expect today so the revolver was preferred by many.

    Long guns would be mostly lever action and bolt action rifles. And shotguns like the Remington 870 and even double barrel relics. ARs and AKs were rare but if breaking in to a National Guard armory then you'd see the first generation M16 and M16A1 and of course Government Model 45ACPs. Civilians never used the term assault rifle much back then, liberals hadn't "invented" it yet! The term Saturday Night Special was as evil as it got back then.

    Ammo available back then would drive the firearms choices: 38 Special, 357 Magnum, 45ACP, .22 short/long/long rifle, 30-30, 30-06, 12 gauge, 20 gauge, 410 gauge, etc.

    Lots of mail order guns would still be around (pre-1968 ban). Lots of imports, weird things, even the rifle that Oswald bought mail order for $12.

    People would be hoarding ammo like crazy and reloading. We might have to go back to making black powder again as supplies of smokeless dries up. Primers, cases and bullets will be like gold. Primitive firearms would have a revival, anything that will shoot.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2014
  14. Rick1967

    Rick1967 Active Member

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    ......................
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2014
  15. Max_Redstone

    Max_Redstone New Member

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    A few of the weapons I've come across use 9mm, 5.56, and 7.62. Would those be difficult to find? Would they be difficult to reload?

    What would someone of military training or knowledge call an "assault rifle" back in 1979?
     
  16. Quentin

    Quentin New Member

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    Those calibers were fairly common back then and could be reloaded if you had the empty brass. The last two likely would have been called .223 and .308 by civilians.

    Assault rifle has and still refers to something like the M16/M16A1 or AK-47 in 1979, which could be fired in full automatic mode. Civilian lookalikes fire in semiauto mode so cannot be called assault rifles. Doesn't matter to gun grabbers though, to them a slingshot is an assault weapon.
     
  17. danf_fl

    danf_fl Retired

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  18. trip286

    trip286 New Member

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    I just want to point out, we've had several aspiring authors stop in throughout time and talk about doing research for a book they're working on.

    They've all asked one or two questions, and dipped out.

    Max, you're the first I've seen that's actually stuck around and made an honest effort to learn something. I applaud you.
     
  19. TekGreg

    TekGreg Lifetime Supporting Member

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    C3shooter is a great source of down-to-Earth info. He was here, he did it, and he doesn't make things up. Most others around here have solid info, but for that time period, there are very few of us that were adults in that time period!

    I was just getting started shooting in 1980 and had a lever-action Winchester 94 in .30-30 that I got on sale for around $150 from a Coast-to-Coast hardware store. I also got my first pistol, a Browning Hi-Power in 9mm around the same time. It held 13 rounds and there were a ton of imported magazines available for them, most military surplus (MilSurp). I happen to remember that one of the the new-fangled "Space Guns" back then was the H&K VP-70Z. It was released in 1970 in 9mm, was the first polymer-framed pistol and predates Glock by 12 years!

    Okay, I'll be uncharacteristically brief and shut up now. I could go on about this forever since this was the era I grew up in. :)
     
  20. Max_Redstone

    Max_Redstone New Member

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    Few things I'd like to say in response to this comment:

    First, my family tried to raise me on guns. At age 7 my daddy gave me a 410 break-action shotgun which I still own somewhere back in Louisiana (I am currently married and living in Tulsa). My father is an avid gun collector and owns a Mini 14, Ar-15, and even a few unregistered guns he's picked up from here and there . . . Unfortunately I don't think he know a lot about the history of the military weapons, just how to load and shoot what he owns. He's the man who got me hooked on the William Jonstone series I mentioned earlier that someone said had inaccuracies.

    So learning about guns is something I desire on a personal level because I neglected to keep interested in the hobby when I was younger as much as I want to learn about them for writing purposes.

    Secondly, I've been studying the craft of fiction for so long that I probably know it as well as some of you here know guns and I don't take the art of writing lightly so when I say I'm here to use this community as a resource you can bet your granny I'm here for the long haul. And also, I've been brainstorming ideas for books and short stories for years and the theme of survivalism, guns, and military keeps popping up in my writing. Just recently in one of my critique groups someone complained that Lee Child got some information wrong.

    Here's the quote:

    And I decided I didn't won't to look a fool by not doing my research. I'm not looking to write a “gun porn” novel but I'd like to know enough about the gun culture to write it accurately during those few times I do mention gunplay.