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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Happy New Year everyone; I don't get to this forum much and I think my last post was the summer or so of last year.

(Some New Info) - Anyhow, I wanted to let readers know that through the Freedom of Info Act, I've obtained multiple documents for my continued research on FBI Agent's of the 1930's. In particular, I've obtained documents from files revealing some of the FBI's first real coordinated implementation (testing, purchases etc.) of weapons beginning in 1933 immediately after the Kansas City Massacre. Needless to say, you'll see Colt was at the top of the list.

If you go to my site, in the navigation area you'll find some of these documents in the "FBI Weapons Decision...." Section about half way down the page. You can review, download, save them at your leisure. (If you use them elsewhere, please provide proper crediting per our copyright notice)

There is one aspect of the decision process that I am not qualified to explain, nor really understand at this point, but others here may have some opinion about this. You'll see one document recommending the .38 Colt over the .45, which if I read it right basically mentions a "condition" of using the "Keith bullet," with the .38. (By the way, Agent John Keith in the memos is NOT related to Elmer Keith to my knowledge.) The average "layman" would probably contest this decision to use a .38 over a .45, but again, apparently it had some caveat with using the "Keith bullet." (By the way, I do realize that in his memo, John Keith referred to "grams" when he should have used "grains.")

I've added multiple photos since last posting to the site also in the photo gallery to include "Jelly" Bryce, Hank Sloan, Charles Winstead and others.

Stop by our site at and enjoy the reading. Go to: http://historicalgmen.squarespace.com/

You can contact me through the site if need be.
Thanks
Larry Wack
Retired FBI
 

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Great site! Thank you. I'm looking forward to reading more.
I noticed in the FBIs comparison of the .45 to the .38 Special they note the muzzle velocity out of the Police Positive was 1125 fps. That seems way fast for the bullets of the time. I thought they would be more between 800-900. Did the FBI load their own ammunition back then?
 

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Thanks for the link to your website. I'm sure we all will read about information we never knew existed.
I commend you on your efforts. As a person who has studied US orgainzed crime families and the Soviet KGB, I agree with you that history and an almost adulation seem to favor the criminals.
Although I find these sociopathic organizations and members very interesting, I try never to forget that they were ruthless killers and criminals, not heroes.
Your website should be referred to often so we remember the men who fought these criminals with little or no recognition of their brave efforts.
 

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historicalgmen site

Larry. Thanks for returning and please stop by more often. We appreciate the web site information and I am sure the Forum members will enjoy reading it. Regards, Cam.
 

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the "keith" bullet was indeed designed by the great elmer keith for the purpose of improving the .38, .44 and .45 caliber rounds as manstoppers. he writes about its development in his classic book "sixguns".
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Your comments/notes

Thanks for the notes gents; enjoy the info. (If you haven't seen it, take a look at Charlie Winstead's application for the Bureau in 1925 when you can - in navigation area. Got a charge out of his answer to the question of his citizenship when he entered "Texas." )

Twaits, I have no indication the early Bureau loaded its own rounds from any of my own research. In fact I'm sure we could find records of ammo purchases in the files if we really looked.

The comparison of the .38 Colt and the .45 you see in that one memo, as I mentioned, appears to involve the Bureau using the "Keith bullets" which I mentioned and it seems to me that there must have been some independent research that this particular round may have had a better "punch" than the .45 at the time. I am not totally familiar with the "Keith bullet" they mention, and how it compared velocity and otherwise with the .45 round, so I'm doing a bit of guessing at this time since it's the only logical one to me anyhow. I'm sure there are others on here more versed in this comparison of the time.

For info, SA John Keith who is mentioned in the memos and who participated as an advisor to all of this to Hoover (along with Frank Baughman and others) left the Bureau circa 1935 and died in 1936, apparently taking his own life as a result of a lingering bout with cancer. Right now, there is very little known about him.

larry wack
 

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Great info! If the powers that be had studied info like this, the 1986 Miami Shootout might have gone a lot better for the Agents.

Now, I just hope you might find the reasoning for them choosing the Model 8 Remington rifle over the Model 1907 .351 WSL. Yeah, the Remington may have had better ballistics and, for what it's worth, is a "cooler" looking gun, but it was longer, slower to reload and most will say it was generally less reliable. (And either one of those ancient rifles would have been better than what the Agents had in Miami-what the heck happened??)

Interesting that they were considering adopting an autopistol-50 years prior to their nationwide acceptance by LE.


according to the second memo, they were using .38/44 cartridges in their police positives! this should prompt a discussion here...
And to think I hear all the time that it is dangerous to shoot those old guns due to "inferior metallurgy";)

I hear Colt gave the OK to .38-44 HD rounds in OPs and PPs, but can't remember where.

There was a guy running .357 powered reloads in some beater PPs he picked up cheap-just to see if they would take it-remotely fired of course. Last I knew, none of them had blown up yet. Guy goes by "Clark" on some of the gun boards, I think.
 

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"I am not totally familiar with the 'Keith bullet' they mention, and how it compared velocity and otherwise with the .45 round,"

The Keith bullet was/is a sharp shouldered semi-wadcutter. Elmer Keith was rancher/hunting guide in the Northwest and he designed a number of bullets for handguns.

The standard bullet in the .38 special was a round nose soft swaged lead type. The SWC cuts a better hole in flesh as opped to the RNL.

Velocity between the .38 special and the .45 ACP was similar. However, the .45 had the advantage of weight, or mass, 230 grains as opposed to the 158 grains of the .38.

The sharp shoulder and flat nose of Keith's .38 bullet helped compensate. Elmer designed SWCs for the .44 and .45 calibers also.

At the time there were no jacketed hollow point bullets loaded in handgun ammunition.
 

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Great site! Thank you. I'm looking forward to reading more.
I noticed in the FBIs comparison of the .45 to the .38 Special they note the muzzle velocity out of the Police Positive was 1125 fps. That seems way fast for the bullets of the time. I thought they would be more between 800-900. Did the FBI load their own ammunition back then?

Mr. Keith, in his Letter -


http://historicalgmen.squarespace.com/storage/3845comparison.pdf



...appears to be entirely misinformed, unfamiliar and confused about all fundamental Firearms Ballistics.


Some of the ".38-44" versions of the .38 special, or, some of the "High Velocity" versions, intended for the Colt New Service or S & W N-Frame revolvers chambering .38 Special, could give velocities of 1125 FPS, but, these were virtually onto or anticipitory to the .357 Magnum Cartridge in pressures and pperformance, in a .38 Special Cartridge Case, and, I for one would never load or fire such a Carttridge in a Police Positive! Or I would make sure no one was standing to the side, if I did!


The Velocities, when shooting standard loadings of .38 S & W Special, in the usual Barrel Length Police Positive of four inches, would have been in the 700s of FPS or maybe into the very low 800s, tops.
 

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"I am not totally familiar with the 'Keith bullet' they mention, and how it compared velocity and otherwise with the .45 round,"

The Keith bullet was/is a sharp shouldered semi-wadcutter. Elmer Keith was rancher/hunting guide in the Northwest and he designed a number of bullets for handguns.

The standard bullet in the .38 special was a round nose soft swaged lead type. The SWC cuts a better hole in flesh as opped to the RNL.

Velocity between the .38 special and the .45 ACP was similar. However, the .45 had the advantage of weight, or mass, 230 grains as opposed to the 158 grains of the .38.

The sharp shoulder and flat nose of Keith's .38 bullet helped compensate. Elmer designed SWCs for the .44 and .45 calibers also.

At the time there were no jacketed hollow point bullets loaded in handgun ammunition.

I wonder if everyone negelcted to consider the .38 Super, using an appropriately hard Lead semi wadcutter Bullet.


It would have punched through Automobiles or people far better than either a souped up .38 Special, or, the standard .45 Automatic, and, was available by 1927 of course.


I will guess that their refencing the 'Keith Bullet', was also a naive way of including tacitly, the Bullet being loaded into a .38-44 Cartridge.


What a fascinating Thread..!


Half awake, and a nice way to start the day.
 

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@charles issac...the old .38/44 rounds were very comparable, ballistically, to today's .357 magnum loads.
Yes, but this guy was running .357s equivalent to the original 1600fps 158gr load-really says something about the strength of those little old guns!

As far as them them talking about the standard loaded .38 being better than the .45acp-I bought a box of 30's era Remington 158gr "Police Service", which would be a standard load for back then. The stuff was much hotter than today's .38 158s. I still have a few and will chrono them next time I'm at the range and someone is there with a chronograph.
 

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charles...we live in a lawyered up society inhabited by a lot of nervous nellies who don't think anything of running hot loads through a gun made out of plastic but believe that steel of the sort used by all sides in world war 1 was delicate and frail stuff.
 

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A Stupid Question

What was the ".38-44"? From this thread I get the idea that it was a .38spl loaded up to .44spl power levels. Is that right? Thanks guys:)
 

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The 38-44 was a .38 Special loaded to "high velocity" what we call +P today, and were intended for the big N Frame 38 revolver.
 

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Yes...the S & W N-Frame Revolvers were primarily offered in .44 Special, and, it was on that Frame which when chambered for .38 Special, that the term ".38-44" came about - a Hopped-Up .38 Special Cartridge, intended for use in a Big Frame Revolver with thick Cylinder Walls.


I am amazed the Police Positive Revolvers would handle it!


Wow...


This is actually pretty inspiring.
 
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