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I wonder, is there any database on the types of revolvers that SAC and the US Air Force issued to base guards during the Cold War? They seemed to be really into them. Also, I wonder if the gov't still has stocks of them salted away? They had some nice six-guns and some nice holster rigs as I recall.
 

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It's kind of ironic that Curtis LeMay introduced the M-16 into the U.S military, but didn't do much to advance the handgun technology of the day. (Charlie, who met the general a time or two, will probably weigh in here.)

The aircrew handgun of the sixties and seventies was a lowly .38 Special Smith & Wesson, and, IIRC, the same weapon was carried by the Security Police. As a matter of fact, I don't ever recall seeing a semi-auto carried by a sky cop.

Of course, I wasn't paying much attention to such things in those days, so others may beg to differ.
 

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To All,

In my experience, the USAF's Security Police PRIMARILY used Model 15 S&W 2 & 4 inch barreled revolvers.

When I was an Army MP & USACIDC supervisor (who briefly was "Director of Security" at an AFB for about 120 days in 1976. - I was "temporarily loaned out to" the USAF by the USA's MPs, as the REAL USAF SP officer literally "fell over dead in his breakfast". - We had a 5-member Resident Agency that was simply a "tenant" on the base & I was "present & readily available".), we also had a FEW Model 10 S&W & Colt's Commandos in the inventory that were "leftovers" from the Korean War era.
(Fwiw, I "breathed a sigh of relief" when a USAF officer showed up to be the REAL director, as the SPs manner of doing things are REALLY different from the Army's MP forces.)

yours, sw
 

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I can confirm that USAF used S&W 15s, as I was a USAF small arms instructor in the early '70s. I never saw a 2" one but my base didn't have any plainclothes types. All ours, and every one I ever saw in training, was 4", blued, with Target Hammer and Target Trigger but Magna (not Target) stocks.

When USAF phased them out, most if not all got chopped up/torched. Couple years ago at a gun show, there was a custom grip maker who had about a dozen of his samples mounted on what were obviously the torched frames of shiny blue Smith 15s. When I asked, he confirmed my suspicions/fears--these were the sad remains of USAF M15s. :cry:
 

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Snake45,

Then OSI lads & the 2 DoD (GS grade) detectives were issued 2" revolvers, at least at that base.

Btw, I issued myself a Colt's 4" Commando, as I already had a suitable holster & we had several in the arms room that weren't being used, just as I issued myself a 4" S&W Model 10 when I was PM at Ft Pickett & Ft McCoy. = At Ft Pickett & Ft McCoy we never had enough 1911A1 pistols "to go around" & NO M-9 pistols at all, when I was there, so we issued revolvers to the DoD police, DoD guards, Game Wardens & the 5 Desk Sergeants.
(Seldom does a PM need a revolver for anything more than SELF defense or bi-annual qualification. Thankfully, for self-defense, a PM needs a revolver very seldom. - In nearly 3 decades of USA, USAR & ARNG service, I know of exactly TWO incidents where a PM was involved in an "active shooting incident". = One was at Ft Hood & the other at Ft Mead.)

yours, sw
 

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Off the top of my head I can't give dates, aircrews were issued both S&W and Colt "Aircrewman" revolvers that were alloy frame 2" revolvers at least through Vietnam and probably longer.

While it is true that I met LeMay he did not consult me on those matters. He was entirely responsible for the formation of the USAF Marksmanship School where I was lucky enough to serve but our focus was on the official service pistol which was the AFPG 1911A1. We also worked on S&W and High Standard .22s and .38 Super conversions to .38 Special.

I know that the Model 15 was in service at least through the 80s but many of them and the Aircrewman models were destroyed and authentic examples are quite rare and expensive.

It is not well known that the school and later Rock Island Arsenal produced some cut down (commander length) pistols for General Officers and later issue to OSI agents.
 

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My father mentioned the cut down 1911s to me, but I never saw one. I don't know what OSI issued him; I don't believe the issue gun ever came home. I do know that whether or not he carried one depended on what he was doing that day. I also know that last year or so of his career he carried a privately owned Colt Detective Special. It was purchased for $88.75 on 3/10/73. No, it's not for sale.
Ever.
 

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Off the top of my head I can't give dates, aircrews were issued both S&W and Colt "Aircrewman" revolvers that were alloy frame 2" revolvers at least through Vietnam and probably longer.

While it is true that I met LeMay he did not consult me on those matters. He was entirely responsible for the formation of the USAF Marksmanship School where I was lucky enough to serve but our focus was on the official service pistol which was the AFPG 1911A1. We also worked on S&W and High Standard .22s and .38 Super conversions to .38 Special.

Oh, and I know the SAC Elite Guard carried Model 15's with Stag grips in a cross draw holster. LeMay had a certain sense of style.

I know that the Model 15 was in service at least through the 80s but many of them and the Aircrewman models were destroyed and authentic examples are quite rare and expensive.

It is not well known that the school and later Rock Island Arsenal produced some cut down (commander length) pistols for General Officers and later issue to OSI agents.
Yep, SP's carried Model 15's. Unlike Snake, we had revolvers with both target triggers and hammers and standard triggers and hammers. Some had target grips, most did not. And the duty load was a 130 grain (I think) FMJ set deep into the brass, a compressed load I think. Never fired one of those as quals were always with Target Match wadcutters. Too bad they torched all those nice guns.

Oh, and the SAC Elite Guards carried Model 15's with Stag Grips in a cross draw patent leather rig. LeMay had a certain sense of style...

I had a kid who worked for me and became an OSI Agent. Got to play with his cut down .45 ACP. He hated it. I thought it was pretty cool. Never knew who made it Charlie. Thanks!
 

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And the duty load was a 130 grain (I think) FMJ set deep into the brass, a compressed load I think.
Yup, 130 FMJ, but I doubt the load was "compressed." Some pathetic FPS like 750. Not especially accurate stuff, either. All I saw was made by Olin (Winchester). You can buy basically the same stuff today in white boxes.

I'll say one thing for this load: The brass is hella stout, MUCH thicker than most .38 commercial cases. I've reloaded a lot of stuff multiple times and have never had to throw one out yet for any reason. Lovely brass!
 

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To the USAF Experts:

In 1991, when I was stationed at USAMPS, Commonwealth Pawn & Gun store had a group of "mint condition" (9mm Lugar caliber) SP-101 Ruger revolvers with "government markings" & lanyard rings on the butt that they said were USAF "surplus".

Do any of you know who those were ordered for OR if the gun-shop owner was "just blowing smoke"?
(I was tempted to buy one at 100.oo cash but did not. - Instead I bought a S&W Model 22 from him for 150.oo. = Wishing that I had bought ALL the Model 22 revolvers that he had!!!!)

yours, sw
 

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Terry I've seen a couple of the cut downs (they actually had an FSN) but never got to shoot one.

One I saw belonged to a 3 star and I thought it was very poorly polished but would have killed for it anyhow.
 

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The one my buddy had wasn't finished well either, Charlie. But this was early to mid-80's I guess, and it just seemed really neat to me. :)
 

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Snake, this is a copy and paste from Wiki, but I do think it's accurate.

A request for more powerful .38 Special ammunition for use by Air Police and security personnel resulted in the Caliber .38 Special, Ball, PGU-12/B High Velocity cartridge.[21] Issued only by the U.S. Air Force, the PGU-12/B had a greatly increased maximum allowable pressure rating of 20,000 psi, sufficient to propel a 130-grain FMJ bullet at 1,125 ft/s (343 m/s) from a solid 6-inch (150 mm) test barrel, and about 950-980 ft/s from a 4-inch (100 mm) revolver barrel.[21] The PGU-12/B High Velocity cartridge differs from M41 Special ammunition in two important respects-the PGU-12/B is a much higher-pressure cartridge, with a bullet deeply set and crimped into the cartridge case.
 

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Snake, this is a copy and paste from Wiki, but I do think it's accurate.

A request for more powerful .38 Special ammunition for use by Air Police and security personnel resulted in the Caliber .38 Special, Ball, PGU-12/B High Velocity cartridge.[21] Issued only by the U.S. Air Force, the PGU-12/B had a greatly increased maximum allowable pressure rating of 20,000 psi, sufficient to propel a 130-grain FMJ bullet at 1,125 ft/s (343 m/s) from a solid 6-inch (150 mm) test barrel, and about 950-980 ft/s from a 4-inch (100 mm) revolver barrel.[21] The PGU-12/B High Velocity cartridge differs from M41 Special ammunition in two important respects-the PGU-12/B is a much higher-pressure cartridge, with a bullet deeply set and crimped into the cartridge case.
All I ever saw was Ball M41. Still have some of it around here. In fact, there was a shortage of it at one point and we only had enough on hand to arm the base security personnel. All qualification had to be done with locally procured wadcutters (better ammo in every way, IMHO).
 

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It's too bad the ammo was so under-loaded. A .38 Special 130 at .38 Super velocities would have been a nice weapon. And you couldn't ask for a finer revolver than a S&W M-15, that's just one of the best revolvers S&W ever made; I just love them.

The "Aircrewman" revolvers were Colt's Cobra's, S&W Model 37's, and S&W M12's (but were stamped "Aircrewman M13). The first batch were the ones with the aluminum cylinders that didn't work out so well. 99% of those were destroyed and replaced with the standard steel cylinders which allowed them to use "normal" ammunition. The Colt's had grips that were different from standard Cobra grips; the S&W grips were just standard S&W "magna" style grips for a round butt revolver.
 

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SW, that was after my time but I have heard of Ruger revolvers with US markings... will check on 9mm
Charlie, I think I remember some Ruger's chambered for 9mm that were sold to the French Government many, many years ago. I know I have never heard of any during my time in uniform ('75-'92).
 

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I went to the Colt collectors association show today and a dealer buddy said he remembered them from way long ago.

Still looking
 

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Odds and Ends

At the last ASLET seminar that I attended (Albuquerque, January 1999), I had a chat with Peter Tarley, who told me the story of how a chance encounter with a much more senior officer had gotten him assigned to OSI. During that assignment, he was able to get the program initiated for the chopped-and-channeled 1911's.

Years later, I had a coworker who had been in OSI and had initially been issued one of those 1911's. He told me that when word came down to go back to .38 Special revolvers, the agents first begged to keep their .45's, then to be allowed to purchase them. Both requests were refused and, to my knowledge, those guns were destroyed.

The 2" S&W Model 15 was the "commercial" spin-off of what was created as the USAF's Model 56, produced in 1962-63. I used to believe that the Model 56 had been spec'd to replace those chopped-and-channeled 1911's but, as I look at its production dates, I'm more inclined to believe that it preceded them.

I had another coworker who retired as a USAF Combat Rescue Officer. He told me that he preferred to carry a 6" .38 Special revolver as he could hit better with it at longer ranges than he could with the M9 pistol. He also told me of the greatest compliment he had received in his 22 years of service: He was on an extraction mission with a group of SEAL's, one of whom began questioning his as to who he was, why he was on the mission and where his firearms were. When the SEAL heard that he was only armed with the revolver, he said, "You're crazy!"

"When a SEAL calls you crazy, that's a compliment."
 
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