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  #1  
Old 05-02-2020, 04:49 AM
Totally Tactical Totally Tactical is offline
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80's Detectives guns, Colt Commander

I was watching the Chuck Norris movie "Eye for and eye".
I noticed he carried a Colt Commander as a LA detective.

That got me to thinking, I was just starting into guns in the late 80's.
I know hollowpoints were just starting out and mostly reserved for revolvers.
The autos at the time were designed for ball ammo and early hollowpoint ammo did not feed well.
I know alot of police department at that time let their Officers carry whatever they want as long as they could qualify with it.

So I was wondering where the Commander came in.
A plainclothes detective looking for a flat concealable gun that still packed a punch would probably go to a Commander.

Anybody know or worked back then as a detective as to how the Commander was regarded?
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  #2  
Old 05-02-2020, 05:06 AM
Starship Enterpris Starship Enterpris is offline
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Back in the 80’s my department only authorized revolvers. I had a habit of having a 1911 concealed on me as a backup. I was considered to be strange.
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  #3  
Old 05-02-2020, 05:15 AM
MaximRecoil MaximRecoil is offline
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Sheriff Jim Wilson has written magazine articles about Colt Commanders and their use by LEOs, particularly in his home state of Texas. He has, or at least had, several of them himself.

In the movie Extreme Prejudice (1987), Nick Nolte plays a Texas Ranger who carries a Colt Commander:

Quote:
A Colt Commander with custom grips is the sidearm carried by Texas Ranger Jack Benteen (Nick Nolte) in the film. In fact, this was the main service sidearm of real-life Texas Ranger Joaquin Jackson, who was the inspiration for Nolte's character. Nick Nolte bought a .45 Colt Commander, just like the one owned by Jackson, including the custom grips and also an identical holster to carry the gun, to use it in the film. However, in his autobiography "One Ranger", Jackson remembers that the .45 Commander was not reliable with blanks. Therefore, a 9mm Colt Commander was used instead. Nolte spent several weeks with Jackson to model his character after him. During that time, Nolte was with Jackson for his annual gun qualification. Nolte also shot targets himself and passed Ranger standards.
In that case, a Commander was chosen because that's what the real-life Texas Ranger Joaquin Jackson carried, but in many other cases in old movies and TV shows, a Commander was chosen over a Government Model simply because it was available in 9mm (which worked better with blanks) and the Government Model wasn't. That changed in 1970 when Colt introduced a 9mm version of the Government Model in their new Series 70 lineup. Another option was to use a Star Model B 9mm as a "stunt double" for a 1911. The most blatant example of that is probably in The Wild Bunch (1969). Because of that, Star Model Bs were far more common in American movies than they ever were in real-life America.
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  #4  
Old 05-02-2020, 05:30 AM
DRM813 DRM813 is offline
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Those of us working the street were issued revolvers. The plain clothes people were allowed to carry anything they could qualify with as you mentioned.

I remember a wide spectrum of pistols. Ranging from the five shot "Chief Specials" to full size 1911's (nickel plated was the rage) and a couple of six inch .44 magnums in jackass shoulder rigs. The low light night shoot was a blast to watch those .44 magnums flame!

I do not remember any Commander length guns. There might have been some as a 1911 in an off duty holster was not a subject that even raised an eyebrow. Training sessions were a wild assortment of off duty hardware on peoples waistlines.

I carried a .41 magnum for a short time in a four inch nickel plate. The thought was that the nickel plated barrel was more intimidating when pointed at people. Like anyone was thinking, when looking down the barrel of a gun that was big enough to walk in with your hat on, "I better not mess with that guy who has the shinny barrel".

They were some crazy days.
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  #5  
Old 05-02-2020, 10:47 AM
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The Colt Commander was considered the ultimate carry gun by a good number of people throughout the '50s, '60, '70s, and '80s, especially the lightweight alloy-framed version. Unfortunately it didn't serve many in law enforcement because most were still limited to their issue .38 or .357 revolvers. There were of course exceptions, but it was usually limited to small-town sheriffs and other agencies where personal sidearms were permitted.
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Old 05-02-2020, 11:12 AM
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We sold our local large city undercover officers a few P220 .45's back in the 80's .
Sig LE sales didn't really take off until the 90's so the Sig didn't "scream" police .
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Old 05-02-2020, 05:40 PM
Rock185 Rock185 is online now
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Our Range Master back in the day was a 110% died-in-the-wool revolver man. Until about '86, our uniformed officers and detectives were only authorized revolvers for on duty use. Even when semi-autos were approved for on duty, no Commanders or other 1911 types were allowed, only specific DA/SA 9MMs. I'd carried other semi-autos off duty, but around '81 IIRC I started carrying a lightweight .45 Commander off duty. I found it to be reliable with the old Speer 200 grain "Flying Ashtray" JHP and carried that ammo for some time. But back then reliability with JHP ammo in the Colts I owned, Governments, Gold Cups and a Combat Government, could not be taken for granted. Unlike several other Series 70 Colts I had back then, the Commander I carried was one Colt that was reliable from day-1.....
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  #8  
Old 05-02-2020, 05:47 PM
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I still can't get over the history of the semi-automatic pistol in law enforcement:

1911: cocked hammer all the time, very bad for safety and the public image.

Glock: semi-cocked with no safety, no visible hammer so not considered unsafe at all.

Like with many other aspects of life, looks matter.
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  #9  
Old 05-02-2020, 09:09 PM
Totally Tactical Totally Tactical is offline
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I also remember then the guns that were top of everybody's list was the Colt Python and the Smith and Wesson model 27.
And those were some really beautiful guns!
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  #10  
Old 05-03-2020, 08:02 AM
mkk41 mkk41 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaximRecoil View Post
Sheriff Jim Wilson has written magazine articles about Colt Commanders and their use by LEOs, particularly in his home state of Texas. He has, or at least had, several of them himself.

In the movie Extreme Prejudice (1987), Nick Nolte plays a Texas Ranger who carries a Colt Commander:



In that case, a Commander was chosen because that's what the real-life Texas Ranger Joaquin Jackson carried, but in many other cases in old movies and TV shows, a Commander was chosen over a Government Model simply because it was available in 9mm (which worked better with blanks) and the Government Model wasn't. That changed in 1970 when Colt introduced a 9mm version of the Government Model in their new Series 70 lineup. Another option was to use a Star Model B 9mm as a "stunt double" for a 1911. The most blatant example of that is probably in The Wild Bunch (1969). Because of that, Star Model Bs were far more common in American movies than they ever were in real-life America.
Star 9mms were supposedly easier to make work with blanks.
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  #11  
Old 05-03-2020, 05:25 PM
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Film armorers have always had difficulty getting .45ACP 1911s to work with blanks. The problem is that a blank round becomes too long after it is fired for it to clear the ejection port. 9mms work better because they're shorter, and whenever a 9mm 1911 or a Star BM could be used instead it was. Even today I still see 1911s in films that FTE during an action shot, and only creative film editing conceals the fact from the viewer. Sometimes when you watch a movie set in WW2 you'll see the 1911s they use have grossly enlarged ejection ports in an attempt to get them to work better.

One of the reasons why 9mm Berettas are so popular in films (aside from the fact that it's a big gun) is that they work wonderfully with blanks, thanks to the large open slide design.
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  #12  
Old 05-03-2020, 05:55 PM
MaximRecoil MaximRecoil is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsk View Post
Film armorers have always had difficulty getting .45ACP 1911s to work with blanks. The problem is that a blank round becomes too long after it is fired for it to clear the ejection port. 9mms work better because they're shorter, and whenever a 9mm 1911 or a Star BM could be used instead it was. Even today I still see 1911s in films that FTE during an action shot, and only creative film editing conceals the fact from the viewer. Sometimes when you watch a movie set in WW2 you'll see the 1911s they use have grossly enlarged ejection ports in an attempt to get them to work better.
The trend lately is to not use blanks at all, but rather, CGI action cycling, ejection, and muzzle flash. If I had my way they would be firing live ammunition, but blanks are still way better than CGI. For many, if not most, shooting scenes in movies and TV shows, live ammunition could safely be used, and we'd finally see real recoil. Look at the shooting scene in Cobra (1986) for example:

https://youtu.be/F_cS_kmSiRY?t=159

No one but Stallone is ever in frame while he's shooting those 9mm blanks, which means he could easily be shooting live ammunition at a safe backstop that's off-camera. They do genuine massive explosions, jump/roll/crash real cars, and so on, all the time in movies, but firing live ammo on camera, which is something that hundreds of no- or low-budget YouTubers do all the time, is too risky?
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  #13  
Old 05-03-2020, 07:09 PM
SC shooter SC shooter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Totally Tactical View Post
I also remember then the guns that were top of everybody's list was the Colt Python and the Smith and Wesson model 27.
And those were some really beautiful guns!
I miss going to the gun shop or hardware store and seeing cases full of blue steel and walnut.
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Old 05-06-2020, 08:48 PM
INV136 INV136 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaximRecoil View Post
The trend lately is to not use blanks at all, but rather, CGI action cycling, ejection, and muzzle flash. If I had my way they would be firing live ammunition, but blanks are still way better than CGI. For many, if not most, shooting scenes in movies and TV shows, live ammunition could safely be used, and we'd finally see real recoil. Look at the shooting scene in Cobra (1986) for example:

https://youtu.be/F_cS_kmSiRY?t=159

No one but Stallone is ever in frame while he's shooting those 9mm blanks, which means he could easily be shooting live ammunition at a safe backstop that's off-camera. They do genuine massive explosions, jump/roll/crash real cars, and so on, all the time in movies, but firing live ammo on camera, which is something that hundreds of no- or low-budget YouTubers do all the time, is too risky?
"Cobra" had to be Stallone's worst movie. That aside, I remember watching an old documentary a long time ago and they mentioned that in the 30' and 40's they used live ammunition in shooting scenes. They were interviewing James Cagney and he mentioned a scene in a movie where he was hiding behind the corner of a building and on cue he would fire his revolver from the corner and then back away. When he backed away, the technical expert (military veteran) would fire a burst from a machine gun with live ammunition at the corner he had just fired from. They showed a short clip of that movie scene where he came around the corner and fired a few rounds and ducked back and then you'd hear and see a number of shots hitting the stone wall of that building.
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Old 05-06-2020, 09:02 PM
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I started carrying a Colt Combat Commander off duty in the early 80’s with HP’s. We were not allowed to carry them on duty. From when I started in 78 and until 1990 we were only issued revolvers. The 1911’s were banned from carry for even off duty carry by my department in 1990.
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  #16  
Old 05-28-2020, 10:25 AM
Josh_Putman Josh_Putman is online now
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A detective in my local Sheriffs department carries a 1911, which I think is pretty cool. And he is only in his 40's I believe.

He also teaches CPL classes.

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Old 05-28-2020, 11:11 AM
magazineman magazineman is offline
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Some of those "Genuine Massive Explosions" ------------------- aren't.

What they are is mostly gasoline with a small explosive charge depending on how much destruction they need.

So when it's ignited it's often more FOOM! than BOOM. The sound dubbed in later if the real noise was insufficient.

Most real explosions are not the fiery-flaming affairs that look so good on film.

Real explosions can have no visible "flames" at all. Explosives can be used to put out fires, rather than start them! So gas is used. Hey, fireballs are cool!

You can really see gasoline in use when "grenades" create a big fireball. Grenades in general are WAY over-played in destructive power in movies & TV.

They are often presented as a hand-thrown massive bomb. They aren't.

I've seen real grenades in use. The "explosion" is more BANG! or THUD! than KAAABOOOOMMM!

And the visible effect was mostly dust kicked up from the ground, from what I could tell.
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  #18  
Old 05-28-2020, 12:40 PM
Plaidad Plaidad is offline
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I remember as a youngster being at the range with my detective uncle and a bunch of his off-duty pals. There was one guy with a Hi Power, and the other guys were kidding him about needing that many rounds. This was around 1970.
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Old 05-28-2020, 12:42 PM
Plaidad Plaidad is offline
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Originally Posted by magazineman View Post
Grenades in general are WAY over-played in destructive power in movies & TV.
Wait! You mean you can't really knock out a tank with one?
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Old 05-28-2020, 12:43 PM
Jim Watson Jim Watson is online now
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An old - 1970s or 1980s - Guns & Ammo Annual had a piece by a NYPD Detective who said he read Cooper and had "romped into the fray with a Commander in one hand and a spare magazine in the other."

But he rethought his priorities and went to a .45 revolver. I misremember whether Smith or Colt, he said he had both, one in use, one as spare.

I was surprised that he was able to carry anything but a "blue steel .38" on NYPD.
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  #21  
Old 05-29-2020, 03:56 PM
mkk41 mkk41 is offline
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The old Remington 185gr SJHP +P of the late 70's ~ 80's was the original hot-rod .45 load and reliable to boot! A big basically hollow bullet , with the profile of the FMJ/ball round , the scalloped jacket fed just as reliably and really opened up on impact. The old Marshall-Sanow actual shooting report compilations rated it around an 88% one-shot stopper. Yeah , some poo-poo on those reports , but it was the best we had at the time.
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