A June, 1933 "Call To Arms" After The Kansas City Massacre

The early Bureau's authority to maintain weapons for the defense of its agents is found in 1929 regulations. No doubt a reliance on 2nd amendment rights.  Those regulations, in part, are present in the form of an early Bureau employee manual and reveal the regulations for use of, and existence of firearms in field offices. Dr. John Fox, the FBI’s current Historian, summarizes portions of this manual. Emphasis is on the fact this manual is dated 1929.

1930s Colt Advertising - The Colt Police Positive was selected by the Bureau as it's first main handgun - Click to enlarge

From the 1929 Bureau manual...

Section 11, Firearms: Employees are instructed: 

a - That they are legally entitled to carry firearms for  defensive purposes. 

b - That, however, as a matter of policy, they are not to 
carry the same unless such action is authorized by their Special Agent In Charge.

c - That they are never to use such firearms except for  strictly defensive purposes. 

d - That a supply of firearms is kept in each field office 
to be issued, when necessary, to the employees by the Special Agent In Charge.


 The Committe's adoption in 1933 of the .38 Special Police Positive Revolver

The Committe's adoption in 1933 of the .38 Special Police Positive Revolver


The Adoption Of The Colt Police Positive As Prominent Handgun

The meeting in June, 1933 of Executive Committee members set into motion the immediate acquisition of a variety of weapons by the then Bureau Of Investigation, later named "FBI." The Colt Police Positive was chosen by the committee for use with what was termed the "Keith bullet," named after the noted weapons expert, Elmer Keith.  Immediate additional purchases of the Colt Police Positive and appropriate ammunition would begin in order to arm all special agents in the field offices. 

We already know from documentation that Bureau field offices had a limited amount of Colt revolvers and Smith & Wesson .38s available for use. (The existence of Colt revolvers is also readily seen in the above clip.) The immediate purchases would enhance what was already present in limited numbers...



Some documents of interest regarding the 1933 acquisition of these revolvers and training are listed here with their links:

The Bureau directive for training and the already existing weapons in the field. 

The 1933 Tolson memo regarding immediate training set up, and enhanced Colt purchases for the field. 

Keith's comparison of the Colt revolver over the .45 and reasoning for adoption. 

1933 ammunition purchases

Early Colt purchases and serial numbers

1933 Colt manual provided to the Bureau

1934 allowance of personally owned weapons

Readers are reminded that additional information regarding the Bureau's 1933/34 liaison with the US Army and US Marine Corps for assistance are in the navigation "training section."

Read the myth surrounding the 1934 Federal legislation giving the FBI authority to carry firearms!