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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  CAS TOPICS  |  The Darksider's Den (Moderators: Marshal Halloway, Major 2, Capt Quirk)  |  Topic: Could .31 Remington and Colt Pocket Pistols actually kill a person? 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Could .31 Remington and Colt Pocket Pistols actually kill a person?  (Read 3405 times)
Gomezy3k
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« on: January 01, 2017, 03:38:56 pm »


Just wondering, I have a .31 Remington that I shoot and with the recommended 8 grains of powder, it seems awfully weak.  I know these guns were sold as defensive weapons back in the 1800's, but would they really stop someone or would getting shot just PO the target?  I know any gun can kill but it seems to me, that the chances of that little lead pill doing much damage seems awful slight.  You would have to be pretty lucky to get a killing shot with one of these.


    How do they stack up against a .22 long rifle?  I would bet the .22 would hit harder.

Anyway just wondering if anyone has any ideas on these little pistols...
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« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2017, 05:02:51 pm »

Of course, from the laws of physics, such a small projectile wouldn't do much, unless it hit the target in the eye. OTOH, in the days before antibiotics and expert surgery you could die a long lingering death from infection.  If an artery was hit, it could also be quite fatal. Would I prefer something with more oomph?  Oh, yeah! But just the threat of a gun may deter somebody from doing something bad.
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« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2017, 05:11:44 pm »

Not too much different in power to the .22 rf. They have killed!

Back in the day, infection after the wound was pretty fatal.
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« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2017, 06:06:28 pm »

My Dear Gomez -

As Sir C has pointed out, it is about comparable to the .22LR out of a pistol, the
30-40 gr hits 800-950 fps from a 3 inch pistol for just about 100 ft-pounds.


this fellow http://poconoshooting.com/blackpowderballistics.html

got these results:
.31 pocket 1858.......15 gr pyrodex.........    52 gr .323 ball.....770 ft/s avg...... 68 ft/lbs
.31 Pocket 1858       15 grains 3F Triple 7    49 gr, buck .32     811 ft/s           73 ft-lbs

this fellow reports http://www.wideopenspaces.com/practical-uses-cap-and-ball-revolver/ :

"The 50-grain lead ball that is nominally .323-inch diameter is the most common fodder for these little guns, but 70-grain conical bullets are also available. Some shooters use 4F blackpowder that is normally used for priming flintlocks in the small chambers of this revolver for the best possible velocity. I have personally used Pyrodex substitute powder and 3F blackpowder with good results and the same is true for .36 and .44 caliber revolvers.

These little .31 caliber revolvers are best on small game though they are no slouch shooting targets at the range. The accuracy and power is ample for small game out to about 25-30 yards. Outside the target range, I have used a .31 caliber Remington loaded with 10 grains of powder and a 50-grain ball to dispatch rabbit in my traps, and one brain shot does the job. Another virtue of the .31 is the small ball and relatively low velocity means that if the shot is not perfect on game, it is not terribly destructive on meat."

some folks like to compare the .31 BP pistols to the .32 ACP, but even the scoffed .32 ACP achieves more than 120 ft-lb

60 gr (4 g) JHP[1]    1,100 ft/s (335 m/s)    161 ft·lbf (218 J)
65 gr (4 g) JHP[2]    925 ft/s (282 m/s)    123 ft·lbf (167 J)
73 gr (5 g) FMJ[3]    984 ft/s (300 m/s)    158 ft·lbf (214 J)
73 gr (5 g) FMJ[4]    1,043 ft/s (318 m/s)    177 ft·lbf (240 J)
 
Then for the worry-wart, there are the number of cases in which Thick Skulled folks were "head-shot" with a .22 mouse pistol and survived.


hope this helps
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« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2017, 06:51:45 pm »

Of course they could kill - that was why they were invented...

They did it admirably - pushing a filthy little lead ball covered with grease and pocket detritus deep inside the body cavity, to fester and cause sepsis.

Dying that way was slow and agonizing - and to be feared.

Could they blow a man out of his saddle like you see in the movies?

No - but not much could.

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« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2017, 07:05:42 pm »

Thanks for the replies...  

I have always wondered about lower caliber guns like the .31's. the Sharps .22 derringer and the S&W Model 1.  If I lived back in the 1800's, I am not sure I would want to stake my life on any of them.  And shooting someone and then waiting around for them to die from blood poisoning or infection doesn't seem like it would be an effective mode of defense.  Not to mention shooting them, and not hitting something vital, seems like it would give the target time to shoot you.

 I suppose as a last ditch, going down fighting, they are better than nothing, but personally I would want at least a .36 caliber and preferably a .44 to defend myself.

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« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2017, 09:20:05 pm »

One thing to consider is the "recommended 8 gr powder". The loads recommended by Pietta and Uberti are nowhere near the charge normally used in these. I tried the recommended load in a .36 Pocket Police, I think it was something like 12 gr, and had bullets bouncing back at me from my backstop(Stack of car tires filled with sand).
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« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2017, 11:05:57 pm »

I tend to think that if the little .31's didn't work well, they wouldn't have sold well. I'm sure they'd do the job, though I doubt that they would stop a man in one shot unless you got lucky.
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« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2017, 12:30:22 am »

Go to your next shoot, and ask around to see if anyone there would volunteer to be shot with 'just' a .22 Short, and you won't get any takers.

The hairy-chested all want to have a .36 or .44 to defend themselves a'la' C&WAS scenarios, but the truth of the matter is that most towns prohibited carrying while in town, and as soon as towns sprang up, that became a general rule, because townsfolk objected to being ventilated by drunken cowboys.

Seriously.

That means that what saw the most actual violence and the seediest dives were these pocket revolvers - carried by all manner of folks - and by the time these were seen, things had progressed well past the verbal stage, and the distance was 'Minute of Belly-Button'.

When a man is actually shot, shock sets in fast - that's a massive help in putting a man on the ground, with little or no waiting.

When all this is happening, it's exceptionally difficult for the wounded individual to return fire, and that's when he's been trained to respond - average folks aren't, and the realization that they've been shot often removes any resistance.

That even happens when they're shot in the shoulder - just like the Duke - but at the ranges most common, the rounds went into center mass, and the effect is equally dramatic.

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« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2017, 01:30:47 pm »

OK thanks for the responses...  This is something I have been wondering about for quite a while...well at least since I got my little .31 Remington anyway.  I was curious what others thought about the subject...
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« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2017, 02:43:33 pm »

Those little pistols could do genuine damage.  Much better than a knife (which is always loaded).  Usually if used they were used at point blank range.  Take a look at a nail gun charge.  It's no bigger than a S&W .32 and will drive a nail into concrete.

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« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2017, 03:03:26 pm »

Also if you lived, the bullet would need to be dug out.
Those doctors probing for the bullet had good odds of killing you Undecided
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« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2017, 06:46:27 pm »

Poison pills?  No, not really.  But, they were dirty enough to cause lethal sepsis.  The whore that shot you might die at your angry hands, but that would be the merciful death.  Yours would be lots longer and far more painful.

So, pay her.

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« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2017, 06:51:59 pm »

If all else failed you could likely beat a man to death with one... or shove it down his throat and choke him with it.
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« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2017, 06:04:13 pm »

Bullet placement is what  kills.
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« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2017, 11:44:37 am »

Amen to bullet placement.  My first fatal investigation in my LEO career was an AD with a 22 LR that hit the victim in the chest.  Aslo the point was made about lingering infections ion the old days. A gut shot with even a .31 Remmie would eventually fatal from peritonitis of blood poisoning..
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« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2017, 01:39:30 am »

Bullet placement is what  kills.

Practice hard.
Aim for the eyes.

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« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2017, 08:37:08 pm »

There are a half a dozen places where arteries are close enough to the surface that a pencil stub can kill you. So yeah it can kill you fast enough you'll never lay a hand on the dirty dawg whut done you in.
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« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2017, 06:52:17 pm »

As I said, "Pay her".  She's earned it.  Give her a tip.  She'll welcome you back.

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« Reply #19 on: March 05, 2017, 09:50:02 pm »

As I remember hearing the story, it went something like this….There was a very small store located about half-a-days ride out of Lynchburg town traveling east along the James River.  This store faced up to the dirt road with only space for the front porch and hitch’n post out front, it was right on the edge of the road.  I recall passing by the little old store quite a few times when younger, always seemed unusual that it was right on the road edge.  It had very narrow double front doors, a very shallow covered front porch and only one window on each side wall, these were also very narrow

As is goes, late one night, the local boys were playing cards on the board and barrel located in the middle of the very small building.  The proprietor was sitting with his back toward the rear of the store, with a pot-belly stove behind him and a chimney stack on the rear wall of the building (I remember the location of the chimney).  The rest of the players circled the table, sitting on wood boxes or chairs or whatever was available.  As the game progressed there seemed to be a serious disagreement between the proprietor and one of his friends, the man sitting directly across the board from him, this man’s back, toward the open front doors.

A more heated argument broke out between the two about the last hand played, both shouting and then finally standing to confront each other.  In the heat of the exchange, the proprietor reached into his cash cigar box on the board and drew out what looked to be a very small pistol….taking aim, he fired.  The other man threw both hands to his mouth as he stumbled backwards toward the front door, he fell backwards over the front porch and broke the cross bar of the hitching post as he hit the ground.

The whole crowd from the store went rushing out with the proprietor leading the group yelling about how sorry he was to have shot his friend over a simple hand of cards. As they gathered around the victim, they were amazed to see him stand up coughing and gagging.  With that, he stumbled to one of the still standing posts and heaved something that hit the ground with a thud.  One of the men picked it up, spat on it to wash it off and found it to be a bullet slug.

The Story ends with all the boys going back to the poker game, apologies and “sorrys” exchanged….Oh, and more drinking (of course) to clear the boy’s throat…..the two gents involved remained the closest of friends well into their old age.

As for the gun and bullet…a .31, who knows, cap & ball….a rim fire, maybe…too little powder or  old dampt powder, possible??

Just thought I’d throw this in. 
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« Reply #20 on: March 07, 2017, 11:16:54 am »

As I remember hearing the story, it went something like this….There was a very small store located about half-a-days ride out of Lynchburg town traveling east along the James River.  This store faced up to the dirt road with only space for the front porch and hitch’n post out front, it was right on the edge of the road.  I recall passing by the little old store quite a few times when younger, always seemed unusual that it was right on the road edge.  It had very narrow double front doors, a very shallow covered front porch and only one window on each side wall, these were also very narrow

As is goes, late one night, the local boys were playing cards on the board and barrel located in the middle of the very small building.  The proprietor was sitting with his back toward the rear of the store, with a pot-belly stove behind him and a chimney stack on the rear wall of the building (I remember the location of the chimney).  The rest of the players circled the table, sitting on wood boxes or chairs or whatever was available.  As the game progressed there seemed to be a serious disagreement between the proprietor and one of his friends, the man sitting directly across the board from him, this man’s back, toward the open front doors.

A more heated argument broke out between the two about the last hand played, both shouting and then finally standing to confront each other.  In the heat of the exchange, the proprietor reached into his cash cigar box on the board and drew out what looked to be a very small pistol….taking aim, he fired.  The other man threw both hands to his mouth as he stumbled backwards toward the front door, he fell backwards over the front porch and broke the cross bar of the hitching post as he hit the ground.

The whole crowd from the store went rushing out with the proprietor leading the group yelling about how sorry he was to have shot his friend over a simple hand of cards. As they gathered around the victim, they were amazed to see him stand up coughing and gagging.  With that, he stumbled to one of the still standing posts and heaved something that hit the ground with a thud.  One of the men picked it up, spat on it to wash it off and found it to be a bullet slug.

The Story ends with all the boys going back to the poker game, apologies and “sorrys” exchanged….Oh, and more drinking (of course) to clear the boy’s throat…..the two gents involved remained the closest of friends well into their old age.

As for the gun and bullet…a .31, who knows, cap & ball….a rim fire, maybe…too little powder or  old dampt powder, possible??

Just thought I’d throw this in. 


I've heard that the .41 rimfire was rather anemic. I don't have any personal experience of course, but I recall hearing some where that a thick coat could stop it. Again, not sure if it's true or not, but if so then maybe that's our culprit?
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« Reply #21 on: March 07, 2017, 03:43:21 pm »

Go back and read Post #4.

These rounds wouldn't've stayed in production if they hadn't done their job.

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« Reply #22 on: October 14, 2017, 03:25:16 am »

Shot placement being the key.
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« Reply #23 on: October 14, 2017, 07:51:09 pm »

I have always loved the little Anemic Caliber.
Never had any tackers willing to put their money were their mouth is . Shocked

A little .31 round ball with a full load of FFFF will pass threw a 2x4 at 5 feet .
Just sayin .
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« Reply #24 on: October 16, 2017, 05:32:48 am »

they would definitely stop someone! all you have to do to stop me is say you have a gun in your pocket, I don't need to know the caliber, you don't even have to show it to me, I will stop! and leave you alone,,,,,,,,,,,
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