April 2012

The Way of the Gun

Iconic characters from crime fiction’s most popular writers reflect on the tools of their trade  photographs by BARTHOLOMEW COOKE



JOE PIKE, Businessman

GUN: KIMBER CUSTOM II MODEL 1911 .45 ACP

“The best semiautomatic combat pistol made. The lowered ejector port, full-length guide rail, beveled magazine well and superb tolerances give outstanding out-of-the-box accuracy and reliability. The big .45 ACP bullet is heavy and slow, but that’s what you want. A lighter, faster bullet will punch through a man, carrying its energy with it. A .45 hollowpoint flattens and dumps its energy into the target like a truck T-boning a Prius. You don’t need to double-tap with the .45. One shot will knock a big man off his feet. LAPD SWAT uses the Kimber. USMC Special Operations Command (Force Recon) uses it. I use it. That’s all you need to know.”

WRITER: ROBERT CRAIS


JOSEPH RIZZO, NYPD Detective Sergeant

GUN: COLT COBRA REVOLVER

“Any gun you can carry for twenty-six years and never have to fire, that’s a goddamned good gun. A guy keeps a gun that good.”

WRITER: LOU MANFREDO


KAREN SISCO, U.S. Marshal

GUN: SIG SAUER .38

“Karen was five-nine in the medium heels she wore with her black Chanel suit. Her marshal’s star and ID were in her handbag...Her pistol, a Sig Sauer .38, was in the trunk...The Sig Sauer was her favorite, her evening-wear piece.”

WRITER: ELMORE LEONARD


ERIN MCKENNA, Singer-Songwriter

GUN: THE COWBOY DEFENDER

“My husband gave me the gun as a gift; very small and cute, so far as guns go. I only used it once—against a really bad man. It was him or me. I fired one barrel, and it killed him where he stood. Pure luck. Luck, and that Cowboy Defender, is why I’m still alive to make music. Maybe I’ll write a song about that gun someday.”

WRITER: T. JEFFERSON PARKER


KATHY MALLORY, NYPD Detective

GUN: SMITH & WESSON .357 REVOLVER

“In response to his smile—way too smug—her blazer was slowly drawn open as her hands came to rest on her hips, every woman’s wordless way of saying, You’re dead meat. And to back up that—suggestion—a large revolver, a .357 Smith & Wesson, was now on public display in her shoulder holster. Playtime was over.” 

WRITER: CAROL O'CONNELL


HARRY BOSCH, LAPD Detective

GUN: GLOCK MODEL 27

“I fear the jam. You never want to use your gun, but when the time comes it’s usually not going to be a one-shot deal. You fire and keep firing until the target goes down. If you get a jam, you can’t fire, and it might be you who goes down. So, yeah, I fear the jam. When the time comes, if it comes, it won’t jam, and at the end of that day I’ll get home.”

WRITER: MICHAEL CONNELLY


BOB LEE SWAGGER, Retired USMC Sniper

GUN: COLT AMERICAN CLASSIC 1911 .45 AUTOMATIC

“When I look at the 1911-style .45 automatic, I see my father. Earl Swagger was a WWII Marine and an Arkansas peace officer. Like the gun, he was all steel. Like the gun, he was blunt, practical, deadly. Like the gun, he worked in bad weather, clean or dirty. Like the gun, he needed little attention, no maintenance and little lubrication. Like the gun, he never failed. Like the gun, all his attributes added up to one thing, and I hope it is treasured still: duty.”

WRITER: STEPHEN HUNTER