Inspector Callahan & Me

“Dirty Harry” previewed nationwide in theaters back in 1971.  Clint Eastwood portrayed a San Francisco Police Inspector, Harry Callahan, who was plagued with losing partners on the job.  Harry also brandished a  .44 Magnum revolver that settled gunfights in a short and violent order.  He also was a thorn in the side of his politically (which way was the wind blowing) astute supervisors.  Commonly termed by veteran police officers as “Stupidvisors”.

“Dirty Harry’s” film success was followed up with a series of Inspector Callahan’s police adventures in “Magnum Force”, “The Enforcer”, “Sudden Impact” and the “Dead Pool. Inspector Callahan had a way with words:

Make my day!”

“A good man should always know his limitations”.

“You’re a legend in your own mind”.

This Gumshoe’s most favorite:

“I know what you’re thinking, did he fire only five shots or six? Well to tell you the truth, in all of this excitement, I kinda lost track myself.  But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and would blow your head clean off, you gotta ask yourself one question:  “Do I feel lucky?”  Well, do ya punk?”

These memorable lines became a credo for Gumshoe who embarked upon his police career in the early 70’s. Gumshoe still has the VCR boxed set of Dirty Harry movies along with a VCR to play ‘em.

No, Gumshoe could not officially carry a .44 Magnum handgun.  Police agencies across the board issued .38 caliber revolvers. Instead, Gumshoe would personally purchase a .357 S&W model 19 revolver, but Gumshoe could only officially use .38 caliber rounds. Somehow, a few speed loaders with .357 ammo found their way into Gumshoe’s dump pouch.

By the close of the ’70s, Gumshoe got employed as a lateral transfer to a “progressive” police agency that had transitioned from the “wheel” guns to semiautomatics.  You see folks, crooks had already made this transition in firepower.  Nothing like being behind the curve. Alleluia! More rounds to bear on target with quick magazine reloads.

Dirty Harry would have loved my S&W 645. Gumshoe referred to it as his personal field artillery piece.

In the decades to follow and after way too many officer-involved shootings, law enforcement agencies adopted the Glocks along with the long guns, AR-15s.  Just maybe they finally realized that Inspector Harry Callahan was on to something?

Gumshoe knew that Dirty Harry was sort of an anti-hero-hero who functioned inside a politically correct police management culture.  Some things never seem to change in some jurisdictions. Dirty Harry was not a rouge cop nor a street vigilante.    He just got the job done.  Police work is not pretty, it is ugly and violent.  There is no second place in a firefight or a street fight don’t cha know?

This was summed up succinctly when Harry’s boss told him:

“You’re a dinosaur, Callahan, your ideas don’t fit today!”

Gumshoe took this line to be all too true when he “pulled the pin” (police talk of removing the badge and going into retirement) after four decades. Gumshoe realized that he reached his expiration date when the new hires did not know who in the heck Dirty Harry was. Their loss.

In closing kind readers always remember to love the ones who love you and really try to love the ones who don’t.

Coram Deo!

PS:  Back the Blue and “Make their day!”


Danny Pitocco
Danny Pitocco
RETIRED (as a Detective with the Snohomish County Sherriff’s Department, Washington State), Danny has over forty years of law enforcement experience across city, county, state and federal levels of government, including service as a Special Agent for the DEA, US Department of Justice. He’s a decorated law enforcement veteran, and recipient of the "Detective of the Year" award for Snohomish County, Danny is a certified composite artist and has testified as an expert witness in the field of narcotics and modus operandi of particular crimes in state and federal courts in California, and has given testimony before federal grand juries. Danny served four years of active duty in the US Marine Corps and loves Jesus as his personal savior.

DO YOU HAVE THE "WRITE" STUFF? If you’re ready to share your wisdom of experience, we’re ready to share it with our massive global audience – by giving you the opportunity to become a published Contributor on our award-winning Site with (your own byline). And who knows? – it may be your first step in discovering your “hidden Hemmingway”. LEARN MORE HERE


  1. Another great article. I remember when I first went on the job in 1970 Uniform Officers carried the S&W .38, Detectives carried the Snub Nose .38.
    Can’t remember the exact date but we then went to the 357 magnum revolver and eventually the Colt .45. I believe Syracuse now uses the Sig 9MM.
    Anyway I do remember when Dirty Harry was shown in the movie theaters. It was shortly after the movie came out when of the guys I worked with came to the locker room and proudly displayed his brand new .44Magnum Handgun. He was never allowed to carry it on the job.
    Given all that is going on in our screwed up country today, you definitely need a weapon that holds more than five or six rounds.
    “You made my Day”!
    Semper Fi

  2. No dispute with your rationale Ken for being CCW with a reliable trusty .38 revolver. You maintained your weapon proficiency as well as an assured sense of security for yourself and others.

    First responders are faced with the disadvantage of being shot at first before returning fire. Faster to act rather to react is a truism.

    An unassuming and lawfully armed citizen always has the advantage to be a good witness either to act or react. That why the cops take the calculated risks and get paid the BIG bucks. (NOT!)

    Your comments always enlighten me and are always welcomed my friend.

  3. When you were toting a .38 in the early 1970 era, I was too. I carried one in a shoulder holster for years and still prefer it to semi-automatics that can jam. I loaded it with a high-grain hollow nose shell. The reason I carried a .38 is a long story, but I spent a couple of hours two or three times each week for a month at a police range in 1971.

    The S&W .38 is relatively light with a manageable recoil, has adequate stopping power for most situations, and is easily concealed. The downside, as you note, is only 5 shots and the re-load time. But for my purpose, if I needed a sixth shot, I was probably already dead.