In the 1950s Smith and Wesson gave the Colt Detective Special a run for its money when they introduced the J-frame snub, and the Airweight 642, building on that legacy, has been one of my favorite carry guns for decades.
In the 1920s, a new wave of Prohibition criminals such as John Dillinger, Machinegun Kelly, and Clyde Barrow captured the public’s imagination. They also scared the crap out of law enforcement. With these criminals being equipped with high-powered Thompson subguns bought over the counter, coupled with weapons stolen from National Guard armories, law enforcement needed to upgrade their sidearms. Plainclothes detectives either had to carry full sized revolvers or pistols, or were forced to tote small and ineffective European revolvers in tiny calibers such as the Velo Dog. What they needed was a handgun capable of being carried concealed, yet still chambered in an effective caliber.
Colt, looking to cash in in this need introduced the Detective Special in 1927. Taking their 1908-vintage Police Positive revolver, a double-action revolver constructed with a carbon steel frame and six-shot swing out cylinder, it was equipped with a “Positive Lock” safety that prevented the firing pin from hitting the primer unless the trigger was deliberately pulled, they created a new gun. With the Positive’s proven design that was already popular both with law enforcement and civilians, Colt streamlined and shrunk it down until it was only 6.75-inches overall length with a 2-inch barrel. Weighs with fixed sights and wooden grips was just 21-ounces.
Smith steps in
Colt’s gun sold very well for two decades and became a favorite of bank tellers, shop keepers, postal clerks, travelers, and of course, detectives. So much so that in 1950 Smith and Wesson debuted their J-frame Chief’s Special (still around as the Model 36), with comparable specs to the Colt Detective.
The next year, to trim down the weight, Smith introduced the Model 37 Airweight with an aluminum frame and cylinder then, to compact the gun further, the shrouded hammer Centennial came out in 1952.
Finally, in 1990, the gun that is the subject of this piece, the Model 642, a Centennial (enclosed hammer) Airweight (aluminum frame) was debuted.
And mine, carried for the past 20 years, has a bit of wear to it.
With the German military going to hell in a handbasket and the once-vaunted HK G36 having some serious teething issues, they are picking up some 1,200 HK417s to help ease the pain as noted by local media.
For those of you unclear on just what the ‘417 is, think of a short-stroke piston AR-10 with a few modern updates and capable of using the same 20-round mag used by the old-school G3 battle rifle if you run out of the groovy clear polymer ones it comes with.
Come to think of it, why did they get rid of the G3 anyway?
NASA is seeking names to load up on their InSight Mars lander planned for launch in March 2016. Yes, you can send your name at cut rate prices (free) to the Martian wilderness.
And you know I’m down.
Today we think that the current generation of shooters practically invented super modified combat carry guns. Then comes the shock when we stumble across something like the 1960s ASP 9 and we realize, all we have been doing is just building a better mousetrap.
Never heard of the ASP 9? Well my friends, this story begins with one Mr. Paris Theodore of Seventrees Ltd, and the time was the 1966.
Paris Theodore was the product of New York in the 1950s. The son of a vaudeville dancer and an art professor, he grew up on and off Broadway. After disappearing and allegedly working for shadowy government agencies for a few years, in 1966 at the age of 23, he started Seventrees Ltd, which specialized in custom and semi-custom holsters.
From his shop on West 39th Street in New York, he made several radical departures from the standards of the time, filing more than a dozen patents on new concepts. His work used hand boning to fit the exact pistol, for the express purpose of reducing wear and simultaneously retaining the pistol. He also pushed for muzzles that extended beyond the holster; and molded front sight protection, industry standards in many cases today. Nevertheless, he was much more than a holstersmith.
You see, behind a safe in his holster shop, he made clandestine firearms for a number of government agencies. These included 22 pen guns, cigarette lighter guns, a clipboard for the FBI that could fire live rounds, and briefcase guns. In his spare time, he invented the Quell shooting system, a reactive point-shooting technique that concentrated on central nervous system shots using muscle memory.
In the late 1960s, he was approached by those unknown and asked to make a very special gun. One that could be used overseas where 9mm was readily available. A gun that could be carried concealed but when put into service could win a gunfight. This gun became known as the ASP 9.
I wrote a work up on the neat pistol for Guns.com a couple years ago and you can read that here.
My homie Ian over at Forgotten Weapons, however, got his hands on one in an upcoming RIA auction and gives it a great run down below.
These things are used for oceanography data collection and have even crossed the Atlantic (in 221 days, no one said they were fast!). They work by adjusting their buoyancy to create forward movement but usually have a set of wings. Kind of like one of those cereal-box submarines that you had as a kid, but without the need for baking soda. Their commo is via satellite.
But the funny thing is, it took the Chinese 3 years to figure out its not theirs…or at least three years to make the statement known.
When Huang Yunlai from Hainan province found a one-meter-long, torpedo-like device while fishing 3 years ago, he took photos of it and informed the province’s National Security Bureau immediately. Experts preliminarily concluded it was suspicious and brought it back for further analysis.
It is now confirmed that the unmanned underwater machine, disguised to look like a torpedo, is an intelligence device capable of taking pictures with fiber-optic and satellite communication. It was secretly placed in the water by a foreign country to obtain information on the Chinese navy fleet’s operations at sea.
An aerial view of the first U.S. Navy battleship battle group to deploy to the Western Pacific since the Korean War underway with Australian ships during a training exercise. The ships are, clockwise from left: USS Long Beach (CGN-9), USS Merrill (DD-976), HMAS Swan (DE 50), HMAS Stuart (DE 48), HMAS Parramatta (DE 46), USNS Passumpsic (T-AO-107), USS Wabash (AOR-5), HMAS Derwent (DE 49), USS Kirk (FF-1087), USS Thach (FFG-43), HMAS Hobart (D 39) and USS New Jersey (BB-62), center.
You know the GMGs on Thach had to feel a little emasculated with their 76mm OTO Melera maingun when compared to the nine 16 and some two dozen 5 inchers surrounding them.
Tiny Belgium, like most Western European countries, may have a token military force when it comes to having to fight off an entire Russian Guards Army, but when it comes to special ops units can punch well above their weigh-class.
The Belgian Special Forces Group traces its lineage to 1942 when Free Belgium forces in the UK trained alongside commando units and established an Independent Parachute Company which later became known as the Belgian SAS Squadron. After the war they expanded and re-branded until 2000 when they officially became the SFG.
SOFREP has an interesting tale of how Belgium’s SF group quietly went to the Horn of Africa to take care of business.
The Hobyo-Harardhere Pirate Network was probably the most notorious pirate gang in Somalia in 2009, and its ring leader was the pirate kingpin known as Afweyneh or “big mouth” whose real name is Mohammed Abdi Hassan. Abdi Hassan became notorious as his men engaged in a spree of ship hijackings that included kidnapping a British couple from their yacht, capturing a Saudi oil tanker, and a Ukrainian flagged ship that turned out to be loaded with 33 T-72 tanks. But the beginning of the end for Abdi Hassan actually came after his gang hijacked a Belgian vessel, the MV Pompei.
When Abdi Hassan’s pirates captured the Pompei in 2009, Belgian Special Forces immediately began planning to conduct a hostage rescue mission to recover the ship’s crew. A 9-man advanced party from the Belgian Special Operations Group traveled to the French air base, Base Aerienne 188, in Djibouti and began preparing for the eventual arrival of a 50-man element to conduct the hostage rescue mission…
It doesn’t end well for Afweyneh