Lovecraft’s “The Last Test”

Part of Lovecraft’s Investigators and Their Guns.

(set in 1899, written in 1927, published in 1928)

“Shut up, you fool! Do you suppose your grotesque nonsense has any weight with me? Words and formulae – words and formulae – what do they all mean to one who has the substance behind them? We’re in a material sphere now, and subject to material laws. You have your fever; I have my revolver. You’ll get no specimens, and I’ll get no fever so long as I have you in front of me with this gun between!”


Written by Adolphe de Castro and H.P. Lovecraft, the Bad Guy in this Gaslight story is clinic-man Surama, a man of dubious extraction and allegiance.

Surama used a revolver of unspecified make and model. We can assume that he acquired it in America rather than brought it from North Africa. A suitable choice would be a Colt New Army & Navy revolver in .38 Long Colt (9×26mmR) or a S&W Safety Hammerless revolver (Investigator Weapons 1: The 1920s and 1930s, p. 57) in .32 S&W (7.9×15mmR) or .38 S&W (9×20mmR).

SD_From Beyond

Lovecraft’s “The Lurking Fear”

Part of Lovecraft’s Investigators and Their Guns.

(set in 1922?, written in 1922, published in 1923)

Then, in spite of my daze of fright and disgust, my morbid curiosity triumphed; and as the last of the monstrosities oozed up alone from that nether world of unknown nightmare, I drew my automatic pistol and shot it under cover of the thunder.


The only thing we immediately learn is that the weapon was an “automatic pistol.” To an American in 1922, the eminent automatic pistol was probably the Colt Government in .45 ACP, adopted by the US military as the M1911 (Investigator Weapons 1: The 1920s and 1930s, pp. 37-38). We do know that the anonymous narrator was a seasoned investigator of “strange horrors” and a veteran of many “ghastly explorations.” This suggests he probably carried a serviceable weapon rather than one of the many .25-calibre vest pocket pistols that were so popular with contemporary civilians, but offer so little real power.

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Tactical Shooting: Ronin

C’est pas parce-que on veut achéter des flingues on n’est pas armé.

– Spence in Ronin (1998)

John Frankenheimer’s Ronin (1998) is an awesome thriller set in a shadowy world of freelance agents following the end of the Cold War. An IRA splinter cell operating in Paris, France, hires a team of mercenaries to “secure a package.” Among them are ex-CIA agent Sam (Robert De Niro), ex-DGSE agent Vincent (Jean Reno), and Spence (Sean Bean), who claims he is ex-SAS.

The melancholic atmosphere and the depiction of professionals adept at tradecraft, gunplay, and driving skills have made it an important influence for both Investigator Weapons 2: Modern Day and Ken Hite’s Night’s Black Agents. It was a primary source for GURPS Tactical Shooting, as well. Here I analyse one of several gunfights in GURPS terms. Watch just the scene here (the action starts at 1:56).

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Lovecraft’s “The Mound”

(set partly in 1928, written in 1930, published in 1940)

Part of Lovecraft’s Investigators and Their Guns.

When they saw they could not deter me from my trip, the Binger citizens sadly did what they could to aid my outfitting. Having known before my arrival the sort of work to be done, I had most of my supplies already with me ‒ machete and trench-knife for shrub-clearing and excavating, electric torches for any underground phase which might develop, rope, field-glasses, tape-measure, microscope, and incidentals for emergencies ‒ as much, in fact, as might be comfortably stowed in a convenient handbag. To this equipment I added only the heavy revolver which the sheriff forced upon me, and the pick and shovel which I thought might expedite my work.


This is another story written by H.P. Lovecraft for Zealia Bishop. The anonymous narrator, an ethnologist, is outfitted not unlike archaeologist Dr “Indiana” Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark (set in 1936). The “heavy revolver” could be one of several types then popular with American rural law enforcement, including the Colt New Service (Investigator Weapons 1: The 1920s and 1930s, pp. 39-40) in .45 Long Colt or .45 ACP. The old Colt Single Action Army (Investigator Weapons 1, pp. 42-43) in .45 Long Colt was also still widely used the West in 1928. The most modern type would be the S&W Hand Ejector in .44 Special or .45 ACP. In .44-calibre, it was preferred by legendary gun fighter “Jelly” Bryce, then a detective with the Oklahoma City Police Department.

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