Popular Guns of Detective Movies from the 1970s

The 1970s brought us big hair, disco music and some of the finest detective movies to ever grace the big screen. We look back at some of our favorites from Chinatown to Shaft and the guns that made these movies instant classics.

*Word of warning: spoilers ahead!*

Colt Detective Special

This one seems rather obvious to have on the list and it’s found in many crime thrillers from the 1970s. The Colt Detective Special is a six-shot snub-nosed revolver. It’s most commonly chambered in .38 Special.

The Detective Special was first introduced in 1927 and made its way into many law enforcement agencies across the country. You won’t find many in service anymore but these were among the most common service handguns in America. It’s reflected in detective thrillers of the 70s.

You can find these little revolvers in many movies from this era but the one who gave it the most flair, the most panache, the most 1970s cool to the gun was probably the man with the baddest leather duster of all-time, John Shaft.

In the clip below you can see Shaft making a heroic rescue by crashing through a window. He even sports his nickel-plated Colt Detective Special on the movie poster.

We’ve got a handful of Detective Specials in stock right now, check them out by clicking the button below.


Smith & Wesson Model 10

The S&W Model 10 has been in production in some form or another since 1899. It’s gone through several variants and with over 6,000,000 sold it’s no wonder that it’s a commonplace gun. From the original M&P through the 10-10 and beyond, this gun was commonplace as both a duty revolver and a home defense handgun in real life and the movies.

You can find the Model 10 scattered throughout the 70s detective movies from The Long Goodbye to The French Connection it’s played a pivotal role. One of the more famous scenes which feature the revolver comes from Roman Polanski’s classic, Chinatown. In the film’s final scene we see Lt. Escobar take out Evelyn with his Model 10 snub nose as she tries to escape. This scene also features a nice shot of Evelyn’s Colt Model 1908 Vest Pocket.

Looking for your own Model 10? We have a handful in stock right now and you can see them all by clicking the button below.


Smith & Wesson Model 29

The S&W Model 29 appears in many movies in the 1970s but it was immortalized by Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry series. Chambered in .44 Magnum this was the most powerful handgun in the world at the time of its introduction. Inspector Harry Callahan lets us know all about it.

His famous “Do you feel lucky punk?” line has been replicated in many movies and stands as one of the most iconic lines in cinematic history.

Callahan continued to use the Model 29 throughout the series. Both Magnum Force and The Enforcer the gun is prominently featured on the movie posters.

Legend has it that the script originally called for a 4-inch barrel. These proved difficult to get so the 6.5- and 8.375-inch barreled models are what you see instead.

Want to own an iconic Model 29 like the one used in Dirty Harry? Click the button below to see what Guns.com has in stock right now.


Honorable Mention: Colt Police Positive

It should be noted that Paul Kersey was not a detective, rather an architect with a mean streak. It would seem disingenuous though to talk about crime thrillers of the 1970s without mentioning Death Wish. Kersey handles a few guns while avenging the death of his wife in the film but the most recognizable is his nickel-plated Colt Police Positive.

Chambered in .32 S&W Long this six-shot revolver served Kersey well as he distributed his brand of vigilante justice across the city of New York. He even mastered shooting through the jacket as you’ll see in many of the shootouts in this movie.

Guns.com has a few Colt Police models in stock but you better get them while they last. These revolvers were only produced for forty years so they are a bit rarer than others on this list. Check them out by clicking the button below!



The 1970s produced some of the most meaningful films ever made. The genre of crime thriller following a detective had been popular for years but the characters in these movies took the genre to new heights. They were only complimented by some amazing guns to match.

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