Crime fiction has always proved to be a popular genre. The protagonist in the stories is either a world-weary cop or a cynical private detective (or a world-weary cop who became a cynical private detective). While there are a few women in the field, like Sara Paretsky’s no-nonsense V.I. Warshawski, the character is usually a man who likes his liquor hard and his women harder, and never goes anywhere without his gun.
To assemble a list of the iconic guns used by some of fiction’s most famous detectives, 24/7 Tempo consulted firearms sites including Glock Talk, ColtForum, and Guns.com, as well as CrimeReads and websites devoted to some of the authors listed below. The detectives on the list are both private investigators and police detectives, or in several cases, non-detectives who frequently find themselves involved in solving crimes. Some detectives here are loyal to a single firearm while others are depicted using different ones under different circumstances and in different books.
These gumshoes always solve a case no matter how difficult. Many times that means using dubious, morally questionable methods, and firing a gun.
Many of crime fiction’s most famous sleuths are associated with a particular firearm – with Colt and Smith & Wesson being particularly popular manufacturers. Philip Marlowe carries a Colt Detective .38 Special revolver in his glove compartment in Raymond Chandler’s “The Big Sleep.” Another iconic hard-boiled private investigator, Sam Spade, grabs a Colt 1911 .45 automatic off of a thug in the Dashiell Hammett novel “The Maltese Falcon.” (These are the 50 most popular guns in the world.)
Jack Harrigan, the cold-blooded hero of “Walk With the Tiger,” uses firearms such as the common Colt 1911 .45 semi-automatic and the Smith & Wesson .357 magnum. Another aficionado of Smith & Wesson is Harry Bosch, the take-no-nonsense cop (and later independent investigator) in Michael Connelly’s novels. (Both Colt and Smith & Wesson are among the world’s largest gunmakers.)
And Lucas Davenport, the “gun freak” Minnesota law enforcement officer in John Sandford’s best-selling “Prey” novels has a whole collection of firearms in addition to the Heckler & Koch P7 mentioned below, including two Colt Gold Cup .45 ACP competition pistols, a Charter Arms .38 Special, and a Browning Citori over-and-under 20 gauge shotgun.
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