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Old 10-10-2017, 04:01 AM
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Default US Revolvers vs Euro Pistols??

It's my impression (although I may be way off base) that following WWI revolvers sorta ruled in the US, clearly with S&W (and Colt) way in the lead, with cops and gangstas carrying them almost to the exclusion of pistols (maybe the 1911 excepted). And revolvers surely ruled prior to 1911....for, as we know, the 1911 was invented to replace the revolver in the US military.

In Europe, on the other hand, I get the feeling that pistols were the gun of choice for LEOs....all them little .25 and 32s and later the .380s. I can't think of a major revolver brand from the end of WWI to the beginning of WWII that dominated the market like S&W or Colt. (Okay, Webley, but that's the only one I can recall....but then I'm just a dabbler in terms of firearms history)

And I wonder (if I'm correct) why? Why little pistols in Europe and revolvers here?
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Old 10-10-2017, 04:41 AM
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I believe that the main reason Police used a Revolver here for most of the 20th Century is because we wanted them to be armed with an effective cartridge that they could shoot accurately. Reliability was also key, and nothing is more inherently reliable than a Colt or S&W DA Revolver.

Many Police Officers could not handle or shoot effectively the 1911's and while they are very reliable, not as much as a Revolver is. Clearing jams from an Auto-loader under fire is a learned and practiced skill - not easily done in a gun fight. If you get a "dud" with a Revolver, simply pull the trigger again - not so with an Auto. Most Auto's are "less safe" when carried with a round in the chamber and a DA Revolver is way more safe in that condition.

As far as Europe is concerned, up until recent times it is my opinion that their Police have been "under - armed" with small caliber weapons. I do not think a .25, .32 or .380 cartridge for Police is adequate and they obviously did. Be that as it may, the smaller caliber pistols are a lot easier to handle, shoot with better accuracy do to less recoil, and they felt it worked for them.

Now the European PD's are mostly armed with 9mm Pistols as are our own PD's. They offer good reliability, high capacity, manageable recoil, effective cartridges are now readily available, and they can be carried relatively safe ready to fire - assuming the PO's get proper training.

So that's my take on your post.
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Old 10-10-2017, 06:28 AM
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as from my point of view as a German, the handgun industry in Europe started very early with auto pistols of their own make. Luger pistol, Brownings made by Fabrique Nationale, Sauer, Walther etc. So I guess availability played a major role in the early success of auto pistols in Europe compared to USA. Ballistics didn't play much of a role, so the .32 Browning was the most widely used caliber for police pistols - until in the 70s left wing terrorism made the police cry for stronger cartridges.

On the other hand, in the late 60s and 70s German police special groups used mostly US made revolvers (357 Mag) for special purposes like storming criminal's flats when they expected a firefight with barriers.

regards from Germany
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Old 10-10-2017, 06:29 AM
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I think that you will find cost to be a major influence. The European countries were often impoverished, from war debt and with the loss of colonial resources, they didn't have a budget for large armed police forces. The outfitting of police forces was Nation expense, not local as in the US. The Kings and Princes didn't like weapons at the local level!

The European mindset of following instructions had a lot to do with weapon/caliber size also. Even to this day, in Germany people stop when the police say "Stop" (Halt!) and then wait for the officer to investigate and write a summons. That is one reason why, the riots of immigrants are so offensive to them.

For a very long time 1911's were very expensive and of limited availability to civilian markets. The gun companies were also limited in the capabilities, (Colt made many or most of the machine guns used by our military. Smith didn't make autos. Before and after WWI Colt had the 1903/1908 32 & 380 autos that were very popular, but America thought "POWER" was in a six shooter! And the local funding of police department left many LEO's providing their own weapons, and a revolve was less expensive. Large scale firepower wasn't an issue except against gangs (weather cattle rustling, or later Chicago style. Then Semi-auto 1911 hand guns and full auto Thompson's (advertised as the "Rancher's Helper) and Minotaur's (1918 BAR's) came on the scene. And they were all made by COLT.

Lastly, We have a mindset in the US of, "Build a better mouse trap, and the world will beat a path to your door." We had and have inventers in every basement workshop! So we like the latest and greatest, and we don't leave "good enough" alone, look at all the changes in "K" frame revolvers from 1898 to 1940 (3 in the 1902 and at least 5 in the 1905) and even after the war look at all the changes before 1981 (after that they were mostly for manufacturing ease, and seldom use improvements)

Ivan

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Old 10-10-2017, 07:51 AM
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Could the revolver trend in the US be also due in part to the long tradition of the old west 6 shooter for taming the frontier?

In Europe, especially Germany, complexity of the machine (rather than the self-reliance of the individual in the US) is emphasized. Note the complexity of the Luger compared to the 1911.
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Old 10-10-2017, 08:25 AM
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French police used Manhurin (famous for making Wathers under licence) produced .357 caliber revolvers after WW2.
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Old 10-10-2017, 08:46 AM
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Don't know much about theory....history of Euro Po-Po, etc. but as far as America and its long history of revolvers.....I have seen many photos of old time western hero's and bad guys and I just cannot find a picture of Bill Hickok, Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid, Jesse James with a Colt .25 acp (MOP grips of course) hanging low in a holster.

Come to think about it...even in movies, which we ALL know are based on actual fact...never fiction, how many flicks of Clint Eastwood whipping out a Colt Junior with maybe extended mag from his vest and saying that famous line..."I know what you're thinking did he fire 10, or 13 or ?" The punk would have been laughing, and we would have never ended up with the Model 29 love affair that has been going on for so long (at least in my gun room).
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Old 10-10-2017, 09:13 AM
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This will get your attention. Might call this a revolver.
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Old 10-10-2017, 09:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chief38 View Post
If you get a "dud" with a Revolver, simply pull the trigger again - not so with an Auto. Most Auto's are "less safe" when carried with a round in the chamber and a DA Revolver is way more safe in that condition.
Unless you carry a DAO semi like my Remington RM 380. I. An resstrike a round f it misfires, and is that fails, I can eject the round as fast as anyone can turn the barrel of a revolver. My gun has no safety and offers the same security as a DA revolver.
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Old 10-10-2017, 09:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by American1776 View Post
Could the revolver trend in the US be also due in part to the long tradition of the old west 6 shooter for taming the frontier?

In Europe, especially Germany, complexity of the machine (rather than the self-reliance of the individual in the US) is emphasized. Note the complexity of the Luger compared to the 1911.
This is how I see it. Revolvers just transitioned from the frontiers into the cities. A lot of those frontiers became large cities as time went on.

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Old 10-10-2017, 09:42 AM
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As to caliber....... IIRC.... as a generalization.... West of the Mississippi.... the .44 and .45 caliber dominated...... East of the Big River. .38s (2 or 3 fairly weak loads predated the .38 special) and .32 revolvers.... again IIRC Teddy Roosevelt.... adopted the .32 revolver for the NY City Police force.

A fair amount of the handguns carried in the Civil war were .35 caliber...... and the brand new .22 cartridge revolvers. as back up.
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Old 10-10-2017, 10:09 AM
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I don't know about the continent, but police in the USA were carrying weapons before those in Britain. (Even though the concept of having a municipal police force rather than a sheriff enforce the laws in urban areas originated in Britain.)

Before cartridge firearms were widley used, the New York City Police pocket carried 5 shot, Colt .36 caliber cap and ball revolvers, similar to, but smaller than the Navy revolvers.

Organizations tend to dislike change, and handle incremental change (cap and ball pocket carry-cartridge pocket carry-holster carry .32-holster carry .38 special, all revolvers), better than wholesale change.

My impression is that prior to the mid 19th century wave of revolt in Europe, only the landed classes owned firearms, wheras in 1848 America most adults had access to firearms. (In the antebellum South there were regulations posted, in NC at least, specifying the situations in which slaves were and were not permitted to be armed.)

If European police forces armed after the introduction of bottom feeders, in an environment where the population was not armed, with indegenous manufacturers creating locally produced autoloaders (albeit designed by John Moses Browning), while revolvers were expensive (more precision machining goes into production of a revolver) imports or licenced products then naturally the semi auto had an advantage (just not in terms of accuracy).
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Old 10-10-2017, 12:21 PM
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I think the main difference, beyond any technicalities, is a cultural one:

In continental European countries, especially Germany, the police emerged as a semi-military organization and armed organ of the state, almost a branch of the military. In Germany, until 1945 police officer’s guns were identical to those of the military. By the way, that’s the main reason for all those occupation-marked Victory models: At the surrender, what was left of the German police had to be disarmed because they carried the same Lugers and 98k rifles as any German infantryman, and not because it was wartime, but because that’s the way it had always been. Until the early 20th century, rural constables, usually retired NCO’s, still carried sabres.

On the other hand, policing in the US has always been a very civilian activity. Most European countries don’t even have anything like our locally appointed police chiefs and elected sheriffs.

So American officers have always carried civilian-type handguns, and when the US military switched to semi-auto pistols with the 1911, that really had no impact on civilian police armaments. Culturally, the revolver was the American tradition, so that’s what they kept carrying.

The move in Europe after WW II to the smaller, less martial pistols also largely originated in an attempt to make police less “military”. I don’t believe anyone back then wasted any thoughts on stopping power and such. Guns were more a symbol of authority, and after the widespread abuse of that by Nazis and Fascists, people wanted police to be less military. So: smaller pistols. So the 1950s to the 1970s became the heyday of the 7.65mm: Walther PP/PPK, FN 1910, Beretta, etc.

As mentioned above, it took the terrorists of the 1970s, who fancied cocked-and-locked 1911’s and did not wait for officers to unwrap their PP from the military flap holster, to change that thinking.

A few photos to illustrate my point. Note: I've studied German police history, so it's a bit Germano-centric

1. Police uniforms from a German state pre-WW I
2. Weimar-era officer, 1920s (note Luger holster)
3. ditto, 1931 (note carbines and sword bayonets)
4. the "nicer" civilian 1960s police. You can barely see the PP holster.
5. Nowadays
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Old 10-10-2017, 12:35 PM
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I don't know if it made a difference in selection but ammo choices were much more limited for automatics decades ago. IMO 9mm really was not that great of a choice until modern hollow point ammunition was available and could be reliably fed from a magazine.

A 1911 with ball ammo would have worked, but it meant a big, heavy gun with a manual safety, maybe not the best choice for officers who didn't shoot regularly. A revolver was simpler to use and not dependent on the ammo/magazines of the day.
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Old 10-10-2017, 03:33 PM
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And to further correct the mis-impression that small-caliber handguns were somehow a long-standing European tradition:

Before the adoption of the 1908 (Luger), at a time when many US police officers carried dainty little .32’s like the Roosevelt Colts or the New Jersey Model 1896’s, Berlin police carried a sizable 9mm revolver (top in this picture from the 1911 Stukenbrok catalog).
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Old 10-11-2017, 01:18 AM
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After Absalom's post of historically correct facts, there is nothing left to be added.
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Old 10-11-2017, 04:12 AM
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Many thanks to all who posted. I really learned a lot. So many so very knowledgeable people here. Gotta say that the S&W forum is the most "literate" of all the gun forums.
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Old 10-11-2017, 08:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by American1776 View Post
Could the revolver trend in the US be also due in part to the long tradition of the old west 6 shooter for taming the frontier?

In Europe, especially Germany, complexity of the machine (rather than the self-reliance of the individual in the US) is emphasized. Note the complexity of the Luger compared to the 1911.
You might have a point about the American Frontier tradition!

I guess America learned that Revolvers certainly were reliable - and heck, according to what I see on TV, a six shooter can actually fore 14 rounds before they need re-loading
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Old 10-11-2017, 11:43 AM
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You might have a point about the American Frontier tradition!

I guess America learned that Revolvers certainly were reliable - and heck, according to what I see on TV, a six shooter can actually fore 14 rounds before they need re-loading
About that US frontier tradition:

As Ulrich mentioned in post #3, in the 1970s most German states created SEK’s (SWAT) in response to disasters like the Munich Olympics massacre, and in the absence of very effective 9mm ammo, many adopted US-made revolvers, the S&W K-frames being most popular.

But when the requirements for the new general-issue police sidearms to be tested were put together in the mid-70s, bureaucrats made sure they were laid out so that right off the bat no revolver could qualify.

The argument that was brought up specifically and often whenever critics pointed that out, especially from within the police, was the “Germany isn’t the Wild West” or “we don’t want our officers to walk around looking like Wild West gunfighters”. That would be bad for the image.

Photo: Hamburg 1974. SEK officer taking down a hostage-holding bank robber at close range with a S&W of unidentifiable model. Perp dead, hostage lightly injured.
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Old 10-11-2017, 12:08 PM
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Absalom got it right, there wa a political argument about revolvers, Wild West etc, from avery German point of view. A minister of the interior in the early 70s even replied when the police asked for revolvers in .38 Special or .357 Magnum to match the terrorists in ballistics that German police officers were "no henchmen" and would not shoot to kill but only to stop. So you can imagine why they mostly had the low powered 32. autos. Things changed in the late 70s with the so called German Autumn, the heyday of the Rote Armee Fraktion (RAF)/ Baader Meinhof Gang and the Mogadishu airplane highjacking - with the GSG 9 (German Border Police Special Team) storming the plane armed with their old SIG 210-4 in 9mm, they had nothing but only FMJ, HPs being banned as "terrorist ammo" and DUM-DUM bullets.

Thanks for the photograph, I remember having seen the sequence in the TV news back then. Frightening for me as a boy...
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Old 10-11-2017, 12:29 PM
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Although some countries carried 9mm Parabellum, most of FN's sales to law enforcement around Europe was in .32, with a few .380's. I would guess that in order of numbers from high to low and after WWI, the order would be .32, 9mm Parabellum and then .380. Germany' forces were state-operated, and chose various weapons. After WWII, you saw border guards and such with more 9mms, like those Austrian Browning High Powers that were purchased in large numbers.
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Old 10-11-2017, 01:01 PM
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I always thought that American criminals were tough and required a .45 to bring them down. Whereas, European criminals were a bunch of little sissies, and a sissy little .32 Auto was good enough. After all, when was the last time anyone saw a European as tough as this guy?
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Old 10-11-2017, 01:26 PM
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As for cost, the Colt Government Model .45 and .38 Super were priced about like Colt's larger revolvers. And they were quite popular among Texas Rangers, who often carried highly ornamented guns and holsters.

I recall one Dallas officer in the 1960's who wore a Renaissance Grade Browning 9mm.

But most US police didn't think autos were very reliable and HP ammo was slow to come for them.

UK police had Webley .32 autos for decades, then Webley .38's, finally S&W Model 10's, for the most part. Massad Ayoob mentioned one force that had S&W M-28's in lock boxes in some cars. The Glock 9mm or .40 seems most common now, with semi-auto 9mm H-K MP-5 SMG's for many, too.

A lot of UK police remain unarmed, which is why one one in London was stabbed to death recently. Their government still has a nanny state PC mentality.

BTW, I read that Churchill tried to have his police bodyguard carry a Colt .45 auto, often also carried by Churchill, himself, especially if abroad. But the man preferred his little Webley .32,as being less a burden. Probably didn't figure that he'd have to use it, anyway.

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Old 10-11-2017, 03:07 PM
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I always thought that American criminals were tough and required a .45 to bring them down. Whereas, European criminals were a bunch of little sissies, and a sissy little .32 Auto was good enough. After all, when was the last time anyone saw a European as tough as this guy?
Oh yeah? How about these guys ....
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Old 10-11-2017, 03:26 PM
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US Revolvers vs Euro Pistols?? US Revolvers vs Euro Pistols?? US Revolvers vs Euro Pistols?? US Revolvers vs Euro Pistols?? US Revolvers vs Euro Pistols??  
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Originally Posted by richardw View Post
Unless you carry a DAO semi like my Remington RM 380. I. An resstrike a round f it misfires, and is that fails, I can eject the round as fast as anyone can turn the barrel of a revolver. My gun has no safety and offers the same security as a DA revolver.
No you can't. While your pulling the trigger on the restrike, a revolver is moving on to a new round.
As you fail the second time you need to react to pull slide back, the revolver is moving on to the second fresh round.

You'd be hearing click, click, rack.. I'd hear click, bang,bang, bang.

Life is just a fantasy.
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Old 10-11-2017, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by jag312 View Post
I always thought that American criminals were tough and required a .45 to bring them down. Whereas, European criminals were a bunch of little sissies, and a sissy little .32 Auto was good enough.
The evidence says that if you aim at something vital in Mr. Badguy's anatomy, and hit what you aim at, Mr. Bond's dainty little Walther PPK in 7,65 Browning is just as deadly as Mr. Callahan's big beautiful Model 29.
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Old 10-11-2017, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Texas Star View Post
BTW, I read that Churchill tried to have his police bodyguard carry a Colt .45 auto, often also carried by Churchill, himself, especially if abroad. But the man preferred his little Webley .32,as being less a burden. Probably didn't figure that he'd have to use it, anyway.
This is my impression as well.... in a society where very few people are armed, just the sight of a gun might have seemed sufficient, so stopping power was deemed less important. As crime rates went up in Europe, things changed.

On my last trip to the UK, British police stood outside the train station armed with what appeared to be AR-pattern rifles (I would have asked for details but didn't want to distract them or cause suspicion).
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Old 10-11-2017, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Daimler1989 View Post
..... and the Mogadishu airplane highjacking - with the GSG 9 (German Border Police Special Team) storming the plane armed with their old SIG 210-4 in 9mm, they had nothing but only FMJ, HPs being banned as "terrorist ammo" and DUM-DUM bullets.
.....
Actually, by the time of Mogadishu 1977, they were a little bit further. The old Sig was retired, and the GSG-9 used S&W K- and J-frame revolvers as well as the HK P9S. In one of the few photos from the plane right after the assault, you can see a trooper’s HK over the body of one of the terrorists. And the commander Ulrich Wegener’s Modell 19 is on display in the “Haus der Geschichte” (museum) in Bonn.

The GSG9 also was able to use Dynamit-Nobel’s Action 1 bullets, an all-alloy expanding design, at Mogadischu. But they were the exception. Not until the early 2000s did German states start issuing expanding bullet ammo for general service.
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