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Popular guns from the past...


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  • Popular guns from the past...

    I've gained a wealth of knowledge from this forum in the past month - knowledge that was invaluable when the time came to purchase a new pistol. I didn't know a thing about the current lot (and said lot has become huge, making my decision even more difficult) of handguns but at one time, I did.

    Well over 20 years ago I actually worked at a gun shop in Southern California. Just out of high school but too young to work in law enforcement, I was a frequent customer at this local shop. One day, the owner asked me: "hey, kid...you want a job?" At the time, I didn't know it, but that same gun store was the location of the infamous shootout between police and some friends of Charlie Manson. Anyway, things sure have changed since then. I'll list below some of the hot sellers of that day.


    FIE Titan II .38spl.: what a piece of junk, but they flew off the shelves.

    S&W M19, 2.5" bbl: don't know why, but this, along with it's less-popular relative, the M686 round butt, was super popular. I once fitted our display model with Pachmyar grips and the boss told me to "make 'em all that way!" Marked up the price accordingly and no one ever complained.

    Anything manufactured by H&R in .32 or .38: here was a revolver someone could buy for under $100...seriously. Quality, fit and finish were hit and miss. No swing-out cylinder or ejector rod - you had to push a button and remove a pin...yikes.

    Ruger GP-100: cost much less than anything built in Springfield, MA and you could always throw it at the bad guy if you emptied the cylinder.


    Llama VII:: chambered in .38 Super, the locals loved this pistol and we could not keep them in stock. For those that curse their current S/A or other basic 1911s, take a look at a Llama and you'll change your mind.

    Bersa .380: unsure of the model number, but this was a .380 single action about the size of a Beretta M85 but with a single-stack magazine. I loved how the slide felt gritty when retracted

    Beretta M21 or M25: customers loved the little pocket pistol with the flip-up barrel...

    Taurus PT-92/99AF: Brazil's entry in the hi-cap 9mm market. For less than $400 you could get this Beretta look-a-like with adjustable sights and two 15-round magazines. This was before the de-cocker safety days. I had one and put nearly 8,000 rounds through it before the locking lug broke leaving a live round in the chamber. Taurus lifetime warranty fixed it right up in less than two weeks.

    Beretta 92F-C: LASO had just switched to the M92FS and several deputies (and the then Park Police) were looking for a compact, off-duty model. While not that much more "compact" than the FS, we seemed to be the only gun store in the South Bay to carry these and at a good price. The first shipment was gone in a week...

    Rifles & Shotguns:

    Mossberg 500 12ga: the perfect and affordable home-defense shotgun...must have sold 5 of these a week.

    Norinco AK47 or SKS: quite a popular seller as well, especially to those associated with our friends who belonged to the "clubs" Lil' Watts and LNX13... (are they still around, LA Deps?).

    SPAS-12: remember the shotgun that you could fire as a pump or semi-auto? The best of both worlds (except when brought in for warranty work!)!!!

    That's about all I can think of for now. I will add more if they come to mind. I guess because of our geographical location at the time, we didn't sell a lot of hi-cap S&W pistols, SIGs and H&Ks. Glock wasn't even really in the picture and we sold just a few Colt pistols. What firearms do remember from 20 years ago that were popular?

  • #2
    I wonder how many of those guns are no longer legal in California.

    20yrs ago I was into R/C planes, probably only had High Std. Sport King and Marlin model 60, the gun thing did not start for me till around 92


    • #3
      Let's see......20 years ago S&W still dominated the semi-auto market, they had introduced the 4506, replacing the 645 and for a compact 9, the 3913.

      Sig had the 220 out in different calibers...expensive, made in Germany.

      H&K had the squeeze- grip, can't remember the model, 9mm..expensive.

      Ruger was producing the "P" series pistol, not too many people were fans.

      Glock left a couple pistols in training for T&E, anyone could go by and test-drive one, if they liked it, they could order direct. These 17/19's became a big hit with the girl officers.

      The PPK PPK/S was a very common gun along with Smith's J frame.

      Colt had the SP1,Government model, and H-bar, Ruger made the Mini-14. Patrol Officers who wanted to carry a rifle could buy the Marlin camp-9 or 45.

      Springfield Armory was producing the M1A, at the time, generally all parts were surplus G.I, except for the cast receiver.

      Ammo was available EVERYWHERE, including k-mart.


      • #4
        The H&K with the squeeze grip is the P7M8 or P7M13. Expensive, but worth it.

        Ruger 10-22's were pretty popular 20 years ago, as were Browning Hi Powers and Walther P-38's.
        There are no extraordinary men... just extraordinary circumstances that ordinary men are forced to deal with.
        William Halsey


        • #5
          Twenty years ago, I was carrying an S&W Model 66 loaded with 158-grain lead hollowpoints in a Border Patrol holster. Three HKS speedloaders were on my belt, and a Taurus Model 85 5-shot 2" revolver was on my ankle. In the gun rack in the patrol car was a Remington 870, loaded with four slugs and a few more in an elastic band around the stock.
          Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

          I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq


          • #6
            More than 35 years ago, in my neck of the woods the .44 mag Ruger Super Blackhawk was the most popular single action revolver. The Ruger speed 6 and security 6 were the most popular and cheapest (not the best) double action revolver. The first semi-auto I owned was the S&W M39-2 which was the pistol that converted the majority of police forces from revolver to semi-autos. That and the M59 double stack S&W's.

            Hands down the most popular rifle was the Remington 700 in 270, 308 and 30'06. Winchester M70's were a very close second, but much more expensive and harder to find. My first large caliber rifle was the 700 BDL Custom Deluxe in .308. It's still my go to gun for my game getter.

            Remington M870 had been and probably still is the most popular shotgun.


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