I am writing a book set in the 1920's and would like to know what a relatively low-class person might call a pistol.

In other books I've read, they are called heaters or gats, but I believe those books were set in the 1940's or later.

  • Actually, "gat" dates back to at least 1904 and "heater" dates back to at least 1929. – Laurel Jan 8 '18 at 0:57
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    How about "piece"? You might find this list helpful. – Stuart Allen Jan 8 '18 at 1:02
  • It should be noted that many terms of this type would have achieved prominence in the 30s gangster era (though they may have been invented earlier). I doubt that many were invented later than 1940. – Hot Licks Jan 8 '18 at 1:25
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    I hope that you'll put your comments in the form of answers so I can accept them. The list Stuart found is absolutely wonderful for my story. – NomadMaker Jan 8 '18 at 5:21


Shooting iron or just iron, for short, was in use since the late 18th century, and I'm sure was still in use during the 1920s, as I've heard the expression commonly used in movie scripts.


If I am not mistaken, they were called Revolvers

  • I'm sorry. A revolver is a type of pistol that keeps the ammunition in a revolving cylinder. There are also semi-automatic pistols which load a new bullet from a magazine by using the energy from the previous shot. But you're right, in a way, because I have heard modern shooters call their pistols "revolvers." I prefer a term that most people would associate with the 1920's. – NomadMaker Jan 9 '18 at 16:00

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