Why 33 Rounds Makes Sense In A Defensive Weapon

Sleek, its lines rakishly tilted to boost the ergonomics that index grip placement to barrel, this automatic pistol has but one function: to eliminate human beings easily. That sinister intent is expressed most eloquently in the extended magazine that reaches far beneath the pistol grip, easily tripling the amount of ammunition available to the killer.

It’s the Colt Super .38 automatic pistol, customized into a machine pistol by an underworld gunsmith so that Babyface Nelson could use it to kill an FBI agent outside Little Bohemia, Wis., in 1934. Maybe you saw the movie.

Even if you didn’t, you can still see the point: There’s nothing really new when it comes to guns. To the contrary, the extended magazine that Jared Loughner allegedly carried in his Glock 19 the day he is accused of having fatally shot six people outside Tucson and wounding 13 others, and that President Obama is likely to suggest banning in an upcoming speech, may be traced way back.

During World War I, American armorers tried to adapt the 1903 Springfield into a counter-sniper “periscope rifle” by, among other things, installing a 25-round magazine. The Germans tried to turn the Luger pistol into a “trench broom” by devising a 32-round “snail drum” magazine (it fired the same round as the Glock 19). The Texas Ranger Frank Hamer carried a Remington Model 8 with an extended magazine in his hunt for Bonnie and Clyde in 1934. The Thompson submachine gun of World War II and the M-16 of Vietnam were improved by extending their magazine from 20 to 30 rounds. In 1957, the U.S. Army adopted the M-14 rifle, which was hardly more than an M-1 Garand rifle with an extended magazine. And who wouldn’t want our soldiers, Marines and law officers to benefit from extended magazines?

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