I’ve been poking around for information but what I’m really looking for are some opinions. Feel free to relocate this question if appropriate. My story is that I’m a film historian, and between books I’ve been writing a detective novel; a side project to keep my creative juices flowing when the history of motion pictures gets boring. I’ve been at the novel for years, and I might even finish it in the next few decades. But every so often I manage to solidify details and bring the thing closer to completion.
I know enough about guns and ammunition to know what I have in mind for two plot points is possible. Not sure if it is likely, and certainly don’t know enough about guns and ammunition during the period I’m writing about. I also know I don’t know enough to see the glaring problems with the scenario that others would see in an instant. It’s a known unknown, to paraphrase poet Donald Rumsfeld. So, I present this as a thought exercise and invite your observations.
The story is set in 1926, and there are three weapons that are important: An M1921 Thompson submachine gun with a stick magazine (I remember enough to know the barrel magazines weren’t around yet), an M1911 pistol, and an M1917 revolver. My understanding is that all three could use the .45 acp round (if they were bored for that caliber). The owners of the three guns work for the same non-military organization and draw their ammunition from the same source (all bought in bulk by a guy always looking for a deal, maybe WWI surplus). One person is killed at short range by a shot to the head with the M1911 pistol, and then the car that the body is in is raked by the Thompson submachine gun to cover the single shot. The car is rolled off the end of a wharf in San Francisco and into the muck of the bay, the submachine gun thrown in after it, so the submachine gun is out of the picture. All the evidence spends a night in muck. When the body and car are recovered, the shot to the head is one of several wounds found on the body. At a later point the same M1911 pistol is used to shoot someone; the person who is shot manages to shoot back once with his M1917 revolver. Both die. A third person in the room (wanting it to look like they were both shot by a completely different party with the pistol) replaces the spent shell from the revolver with one from the magazine of the pistol. The revolver is replaced in the holster, the two spent shells (one from the pistol, one from the revolver) are moved so it looks like they were both discharged from the pistol at a different part of the room. The person doing the doctoring leaves the scene with the pistol. Hopefully, this is not too confusing.
In theory, it’s all possible. But what are the problems with this scenario from the ammunition point of view? Police investigating would walk into the scene already believing the two men were shot by a missing third person with the missing pistol. They would not be looking too carefully at the details. All the bullets come from the same source, so headstamps would all indicate the same manufacturer. But would markings on the two discharged shells be so glaring obvious that even the most oblivious person would see they were from different weapons? There are questions I have about powder burn and smells that I’ll take elsewhere. I’m wondering about the bullets used and shells left behind. Is there a specific manufacturer’s round that a knowledgeable person in the mid-1920s would know to buy that could reasonably be used by all three? One that would be plentiful enough to be bought in bulk? If this is entirely unrealistic, feel free to blow holes in the idea, so I can come up with something more likely. Hope the exercise is interesting and not an annoyance to the board. Thanks!