Sunday, December 16, 2018

Gats Hackett - Greatest Shot in the Underworld

Gats Hackett is the leader of a minor New York gang in The Shadow's Shadow (February 1, 1933) story.  Even though he leads a minor gang, he plays a big part in the story!  Gats Hackett is working with Douglas Carleton and international crook Felix Zubian in a plot to steal diamonds.  The three know that they need to get rid of The Shadow.

The physical description of Gats is that he is a little chunky, but has a firm face with crude features that gave him a wolfish expression.  His mannerisms were crude as well.  Another telling description of this gangster is that he has an evil heart and fiendish spirit.  In the underworld, Gats was famous for his aim and was known as the greatest shot in the underworld.

Gats got his moniker because of the two gats he carried, sometimes in a briefcase but mostly in shoulder holsters.  His weapons of choice were described as huge .45 revolvers.  These two gats of Gats, along with his excellent aim, were his gangdom claim to fame.

Gats puts his revolvers to work several times in the story.  The first time is when he springs a trap on The Shadow and chases him down in a spectacular car chase.  Gats empties his guns into the car The Shadow was driving, only to learn The Shadow had escaped.  The next time he unleashes his twin smoke wagons are when he sets up a hit on Lamont Cranston in the Holland Tunnel.  Once again Gats unleashes his .45s only to find he's missed his prey.  The final time he uses his guns is at the end of the story when he faces off against The Shadow.  I'll tell about that in just a moment!

The trio of villains (Gats, Douglas Carleton, and Felix Zubian) had learned that Harry Vincent and Rutledge Mann were agents of The Shadow.  Gats and his gang kidnap Vincent and Mann so that Gats can make them talk and tell him who The Shadow is.  Gats has constructed a device to help persuade them to talk!  Rutledge Mann is laying down face-up on a guillotine like contraption while Harry Vincent is suspended above him and facing down towards Mann.  They have 12 minutes to talk or Mann's head will be cut off while Harry Vincent helplessly watches!  The Shadow saves Vincent and Mann and wipes out Gats' gang in the process.  Gats escapes to the taunting laugh of The Shadow.  Here's how the story describes it.  "Governed by mad fear, Gats Hackett turned and dashed away to safety...Terror had gripped his fiendish spirit.  Behind him came a new sound - a weird mockery that chilled the gang leader's veins.  The laugh of The Shadow!"

With his gang wiped out and a jewel heist still needing to be carried out, Gats recruits a new gang.  Unbeknownst to Gats, one of his new gang recruits is none other than Cliff Marsland, agent of The Shadow!

Gats faces off against The Shadow one final time.  Once again another gun battle between Gats' gang and The Shadow is on, and The Shadow is making an exit climbing down the side of the building.  Gats sees him and figures he has the drop on The Shadow.  Gats takes aim with his smoke wagons but one shot from The Shadow's automatic ends the life of Gats Hackett.

I did some research on .45 revolvers in the 1930s.  While I have no solid proof, I'd like to think that Gats Hackett's revolvers were the M1917 .45 revolvers made by either Smith and Wesson or Colt.  The M1917 was manufactured for our soldiers fighting in World War 1.  After the war, these revolvers became popular with both civilians and law enforcement agencies.  In the second picture below, you see the M1917 revolver next to the M1911 .45 automatic (which I believe is the weapon The Shadow carried.).  The revolver is a bit bigger than the automatic.  The M1917 was a large framed revolver and that is close to fitting the description of Gats' weapons. 

M1917 .45 revolver (L)  M1911 .45 automatic (R)

I really enjoyed reading about Gats Hackett.    He almost bumped off Lamont Cranston and two of The Shadow's agents.  He was a tough opponent for The Shadow and a compelling character in The Shadow's Shadow story.

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