Posts Tagged ‘Revolvers’

Doing What You Love

Sometimes, it’s important to remember that shooting is supposed to be fun.  For me, that means hauling the revolvers and putting the pedal to the metal.  Not worrying about “accuracy” or anything silly like that, just good old fashioned six-shooter speed.

Gun: S&W 625 WCA Custom
Ammo: BVAC .45 ACP
Holster and belt: Safariland!

And as usual, Caleb’s wardrobe by Woolrich Elite Tactical, which have so far survived being covered in mud, rained on for five straight hours, set on fire, rolled in the Arizona desert, and generally abused.

Ultimate zombie combo

Last week, Ruger announced the launch of the new Ruger 77/357, which is a bolt action rifle chambered in .357 Magnum.  I got to thinking about this gun, and despite the fact that it only has a 5 round magazine, when paired with a revolver also chambered in .357 Magnum such as the Smith & Wesson 686 you have yourself an almost perfect “zombie combo”, or more accurately you’ve got a great rifle/pistol combination for the woods.

BVAC .357 Magnum 158 grain JHP

The Ruger 77/357 has all the desirable aspects of a great “bug out rifle” – it’s light, coming in at only 5.5 pounds, can readily accept modern optics (and would probably be a pretty sweet pairing with an Aimpoint), and it’s chambered in what is one of the most versatile handgun cartridges in existence.  .357 Magnum is available in pressures from mild cowboy action loads at 1000 FPS with all lead bullets all the way up to 200 grain bear-killing hardcast bullets at ungodly velocities.  However, for a good “general use” round it’s hard to beat a 158 grain JHP, like this one from BVAC.  The BVAC .357 Magnum 158 grain JHP is cruising at around 1200 FPS from a pistol, which means from a rifle you should see a velocity increase of around 100-200 FPS at the muzzle.  That’s plenty of bullet to deal with many of the 4 legged dangers you might encounter during a rural bug out situation, and of course the .357 is well proven as a fight stopping projectile for two-legged danger.

I honestly think that pairing a .357 bolt gun with a revolver makes more sense as a bug out gun combo for 99% of the popular than an AR15 pattern rifle and a hi-cap 9mm.  I like that you only have to carry one kind of ammo, the revolver isn’t dependent on magazines to keep it in action, and while the bolt gun does feed from magazines in an emergency it can be used as a single shot rifle if you lose the magazines.  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have an AR and a Glock with 400 mags for each gun, but if you’re on a limited budget, it makes more sense to me to drop $650 on the new Ruger 77/357 and another $460 on a Ruger SP101 in .357 Magnum than it does to go out and spend the money on an AR and whatever other pistol you need.  .357 ammo is relatively cheap, with lead practice ammo running about the same as .40 S&W and less than 5.56 ammo.  A bolt gun in .357 and a good revolver in the same chambering will solve 99% of the situations I can imagine getting myself into during a short term survival emergency!

USPSA Classifier breakdown: CM99-42 Fast’n Furious

Unlike IDPA, which uses a fixed 90 round course of fire as the classifier, USPSA uses a rotating array of classifier stages.  Usually one classifier stage will be inserted in every club match, and a shooter needs to shoot a minimum of four classifiers in one division to achieve a USPSA classification.  From time to time, clubs will hold special “classifier matches” where the bulk of the stages will be classifiers, which allows shooters who are unclassified to quickly get classified.

Classifier stages themselves are broken down into “skill tests”, and while shooting a classifier well doesn’t mean that you can shoot a 32 round field course well, it does mean that your shooting fundamentals (such as sight picture, trigger control, etc) are generally solid.  Most classifiers will also test your ability to reload, which is imperative for pretty much every division except Open and Limited.  To help with that, we’re going to break down CM99-42 Fast’n Furious.


Fast’n Furious is a very simple classifier stage that can cause a lot of problems for shooters.  Right off the bat, the shooter is faced with a choice – start on the weak hand side of the barricade, or the strong hand side?  I personally choose to start on the weak hand side of the barricade.  While this slows down my draw slightly, it speeds up the reload as it’s much faster for me to reload as I move back to my strong side.  So for decision number 1, I recommend starting on the weak-hand side.

Decision number 2 is “Steel or paper first?”  Once you’ve picked which side to start and finish on, you have to decide whether or not you’re going to shoot the poppers or the paper targets first.  For Revolver and Single Stack shooters, the choice is clear cut: steel first.  If you’re running a revolver, you cannot afford a miss here, but in the off chance that you do it’s better to engage the steel first so that you’ve got enough rounds to get them down.  In a perfect world though, you don’t miss the steel and shoot exactly six rounds on each side.  Production/L10 shooters (and of course Limited and Open) could shoot either first – if I was running L10 I’d draw and shoot the paper first, because I can get a faster presentation on a paper target than I can on the steel popper.  So decision number 2: which targets first is steel for SS/Revo, and paper first for everyone else.

Once you make your decisions on how to shoot it, all that’s left is execution.  The critical parts of this classifier are 1) not missing the steel, 2) sticking your reload, and 3) getting good first shots on your draw and after your reload.  If you can do all that, you’ll post a great score!

J-frame carry gear part 3: lasers

In part 1 and part 2 of the j-frame carry gear, we looked at holsters and ammo for you compact carry revolver.  Today we’ll look at a piece of gear that, while optional, is something I believe every compact revolver should have on it – a laser sighting system. There are a lot of options out there for laser sights for you carry gun, but the clear winner is the Crimson Trace LaserGrip for J-Frames or the Ruger LCR.  I do believe that your carry gun should have night sights, but in an actual self-defense situation at low light, there is no guarantee that you’ll be able to see the front sight, or that you’ll be in a position to use that sight.  The laser grip from Crimson Trace takes that uncertainty out of the situation.  Even if you’re in an unorthodox firing position, you’re still able to make aimed hits on the target, simply by indexing the red dot from the laser on the threat and firing.  Again, it’s an optional item for your gun, and you’ll probably never need to actually use it – but then again, I don’t carry a firearm for self-defense because I’m an optimist.  Having a good holster and powerful defensive ammo doesn’t do you a whole lot of good if when the threat appears you’re not able to get reliable hits on the target.  Having a laser on your defensive firearm allows you to get those hits while keeping your eyes focused on the threat.  This eliminates having to shift between two focal planes (the sights and the threat) and allows you to better asses a defensive encounter in real-time.

I also believe your carry gun should have good night sights on them.  Recently, I came around on XS Sights for carry guns – while I don’t believe they’re the right fit for every gun, for a compact revolver they are a significant upgrade over the usual gutter/front post arrangement that you’ll find.  My personal j-frame wears a Trijicon front night sight and S&W adjustable rear sight.  The goal is to be able to see the sights in any lighting condition, and have the laser as a backup sighting system should the sights be unavailable for any reason.

The compact revolver, be it a S&W J-Frame or a Ruger LCR is a great carry option.  Yes, it takes practice and discipline to master the double action trigger pull, and they hold less rounds than some semi-automatics.  But they’re far more reliable than other pocket .380s on the market, and offer the option of considerably more puissance in a .357 Magnum chambering than a comparably sized or smaller .380.  With a good holster, good ammo, and most importantly good sights and a laser, the compact revolver is one of the best and most reliable carry guns out there.

Colt Army Model 1860 Revolver

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for sleek black powder revolvers. Old blued steel with an aged patina and smooth worn wooden grips just call out to me. They have history, and stories to tell. Samuel Colt’s 19th century, single-barrel 5- and 6-shot revolvers revolutionized warfare and ended the “Wild” in the Wild West. If any inanimate object could be said to have a soul, it is these beauties.

In the hands of frontier law men, his pistols served justice-dead or alive. In the hands of outlaws, Colt pistols made legends of bushwhackers and bad guys.

And after much use before, during and after the Civil War, it was said of Colt’s rotating cylinder invention and Samuel Colt, “Abe Lincoln may have freed all men, but Sam Colt made them equal.”

Colt pistols, beginning with the Paterson of 1836, a collaborative effort between Samuel Colt and Texas Ranger Samuel Hamilton Walker, lead to the Colt Walker 1847 and the 1848 Colt Dragoon. And each revolver, in some small or great way, helped change the course of American history.

The Colt Army Model 1860, another blackpowder pistol, perhaps Colt’s most stylish handgun, replaced the Dragoon and became a commercial success, selling nearly a quarter of a million units, mostly to the U.S. Army through the mid-1870s. The Model 1860 was produced from 1860 to 1873.

The Colt Army is a cap and ball, .44 caliber front-loading revolver common to the Civil War. Whereas the LeMat Grapeshot Revolver was used by Confederate forces, the Colt Army Model 1860 was the handgun of choice for Union troops. The Colt Army is chambered in .44 caliber, but its siblings, the Colt Navy, Model 1851 and 1861-virtually the same gun-are chambered in .36 caliber. The Navy-Army titles were handy monikers used for marketing effect by Colt-nothing more.

The Colt Army was favored by Union infantry, cavalry, artillery and even some naval personnel. Using a rear sight notch on the gun’s hammer, most visible when the Colt Army Model 1860 was cocked and a front blade sight, skilled marksmen might expect accuracy out to 200 feet or more.

The Colt Army used lead ball or cone-shaped bullets measuring 0.454 inches in diameter. Colt Army revolvers used 30-plus grains of black powder, a lead bullet and a percussion cap, seated on the nipple, for each of its six chambers. A loading lever ram beneath the gun’s barrel was used to seat the ball. The loading process-as with other blackpowder front-end loaders-was lengthy and not easily performed on horseback at a full trot. Thus, most cavalry carried several loaded pistols into the fray.

The Colt Army weighs about 2 1/2 pounds, unloaded, fully 2 pounds lighter than the Colt Walker. It measures 14 inches overall with an 8-inch barrel (some had a 7 1/2-inch barrel). Depending on the powder charge, the 138-grain lead round has a muzzle velocity of approximately 750 feet per second.

In Civil War enactments and Hollywood films depicting that period, the Colt Army Model 1860 is the most common stage prop handgun. In the film The Outlaw Josey Wales, Wales carries a Colt Army in his waistband, and the Model 1860 was variously used by others characters in that film.

J-Frame carry gear Part 1

Last Tuesday, we talked about some of the accessories you’ll need if you choose to carry a pocket sized .380 ACP pistol. But what if you’re one of the old school guys that carries one of the jillions of S&W J-Frames out there? I still carry a Model 60 when I need to conceal my firearm, and have never felt under armed with 5 shots of .38 Special +P in the chambers. There is plenty of gear that you are going to need though if you do make the decision to tie on a wheelgun as your defensive firearm. The first decision of course being “what kind of holster should I get?” On the blog yesterday we had a great look at inside the waistband holsters, which are probably the best option for concealed carry for a compact revolver. Another option of course are pocket holsters; however these will only work if you have large pockets and choose to carry one of the superlight aluminum framed guns or the polymer framed Ruger LCR.

The J-Frame and Ruger LCR are best carried in an inside the waistband holster like this Bianchi Holster pictured.  The small size and weight of the gun can be concealed even on the hottest of summer days under an untucked t-shirt, and unlike the equivalently sized .380 ACP pistols, the DA revolver offers the option of .38 Special rounds or hot .357 Magnum rounds for personal defense.  Admittedly, a small revolver isn’t the best choice for everyone, as the DA trigger is difficult to master.  They require practice and training to be used to their full potential, but once you do reach that level you’ll find that your little J-frame is an incredibly accurate and powerful defensive firearm.

Next Tuesday, we’ll continuing looking at essential J-Frame gear, with the focus being on methods for getting your little gun back in the fight after you’ve depleted your five rounds.  This is one of the most critical skills to work on if you carry a roundgun, so make sure you check back next week for more!

Western lawman Jeff Davis Milton's, Colt SAA Sheriff's Model

Shopping for and Inspecting Used Revolvers

So, I’m heading out to the local gun show Sunday, and I’m looking for some bargains on revolvers. I’m pretty picky when it comes to purchasing used handguns, and revolvers are no exception. Many people attend local gun shows looking to find a bargain. But how do you know that Smith & Wesson Model 60 laying on the table there is a great deal and not someone else’s problem they’re trying to unload on an unsuspecting buyer?