Monday, December 7, 2015

A few more weapons from Canada's past

In an earlier post I mention the Adams revolver that the North West Mounted Police were originally issued and that they eventually wound up with the Colt SA Army but over the years they have been subject to a variety of “issue” weapons.

My “Cattle Business” story which might see release in 2016 and tells a story from 1896 (yes, as usual there are some historical aspects) mentions several weapons. Within that story is mention of the British military and the Enfield revolver they issued (and used by some NWMP officers). The Adams and Enfield were replaced by the Colt SA Army and within a few years by the Colt Double Action Army. The first issue of the DA Army was in .44-40 to offer continuance of cartridge but then the .38 Smith & Wesson Special or .38 Special became popular and later Colt DAAs were in that cartridge. Eventually the Smith & Wesson Model 10 became the standard for many police forces.
Enfield Mk II .476
Replaced by the Colt Frontier Double Action (Model 1895)
Replaced by the S&W Model 10

In 1885 the Remington – Lee was being sold in .45 – 70 Government in North America and in at least two other calibers world wide. It has been called the first “modern military” rifle and was supplanted by another weapon with the James Lee magazine, the Lee Enfield, primarily in .303 British.

The armorers who train and advise the RC Mounted Police come from a variety of backgrounds. Their training and what they attempt to pass on to police officers is unsurpassed. However they are subject to pressure from politicians looking for votes and caring little for practical requirements and find themselves issuing weapons that at best are only marginal for the task.
Such is the case with a weapon chambered for either a .38 S&W Special or 9mm; a perfectly adequate cartridge for a trained officer in an urban setting but outclassed by several other cartridges in a rural setting.
I mentioned Elmer Keith in an earlier post and his attachment to both the .357 Magnum and the .44 Magnum. Keith was a prospector, cowboy, guide and hunter who over-loaded .38 Special brass back in the late 1920s which resulted in the development of the .357 cartridge and the discovery that it was by far the caliber best suited for most rural police forces. Later Keith overloaded .44 Special cartridges in his Colt SA Army for the hunting of Elk and deer.
That is to say, several Colt SAAs since his hot loads tended to break the top strap at the front of the cylinder and destroy the weapon even though he was successful most years with his hand-gun hunting.
Keith went to several companies attempting to have them design a .44 brass slightly longer than the .44 Special and eventually Remington agreed to do so. Then he went to S&W and convinced them to make the S&W Model 29 in .44 Magnum which they did. However, Bill Ruger heard about the impending release of the new pistol cartridge intended for hunting and released the Ruger Super Blackhawk before the S&W Model 29 made it to sales.
A stainless steel Ruger Blackhawk .357 M
A nickled (except for the cylinder) Ruger Super Blackhawk in .44M
Note the heavy top straps.

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