Category Archives: revolvers

Discussion about snub caliber choices

#wheelgunwednesday

Someone contacted me on my Tactical Professor Facebook page regarding selection criteria for a snub revolver. It was a good discussion and well worth reproducing. For clarity, my answers and comments are in italics.

Where can I find info on 22 mag (probably the Hornady round) in comparison to 38 special (target wadcutters) out of a sub-2 inch barrel revolver?

In terms of what criteria? Penetration, recoil, terminal effectiveness?

I guess the concern would be for ballistic performance. The 22 mag has the higher capacity.

Ballistic performance has a lot of variables. I’m not trying to be pedantic but in the gun community we frequently don’t do a good job of defining our goals.

In general, both of the rounds will achieve the desired penetration. The .22 Magnum will have much more concussion than the .38. The .38 will have more recoil. Our human performance factors are a much more important consideration than ballistic performance of any handgun. Given the opportunity, the best move would be to shoot 5^5 with both and see which one you can shoot it better with. That drill, as originally developed by Gila Hayes and extended by me, was designed as the entry level criterion for choosing a handgun.

Start Shooting Better Episode 2: 5×5 Drill – Lucky Gunner Lounge https://www.luckygunner.com/lounge/start-shooting-better-5×5-drill/

Although it carries two more rounds [in a Smith & Wesson], you should assume the .22 Magnum will be much more difficult to reload than the .38. There will also likely be issues with ignition reliability of the .22. You should assume that you will never be able to achieve a trigger pull on a .22 Magnum that you can with a .38, precisely because of ignition issues.

I agree with that. I’m looking to pick up a Ruger LCR has a back up gun. It’ll spend almost the entire life in an ankle glove or in a pocket.

The 22 mag has 3 more rounds in it but they are smaller rounds and rimfire.

I believe there is one thing incorrect in your assumptions. The LCR in .22 Magnum holds 6 rounds. The .22 LR holds 8.

I’ve read several write ups that the 38 out of those smaller barrels tends to fall short in terms of penetration.

Does the 22 mag follow that trend as well or is it worse? I may be gaining extra rounds but if the 22 mag performs less than the 38 in general then I’m not much better off than with 5 38 wad cutters.

The reliability issues you pointed out makes a lot of sense. That might be the answer I needed.

What you read is untrue. My colleague Chuck Haggard has done more ballistic gel testing for snubs than most people in the industry. His results were that .38 wadcutters penetrate more than adequately.

So you’re only gaining one round. Before I would go that route, I would personally go with a .327 Federal and load it with .32 H&R Magnum.

https://ruger.com/products/lcr/models.html

Ruger® LCR® * Double-Action Revolver Models

Big difference. I wouldn’t go that route for just one extra round. This was the conversation I needed. Again, thank you very much Claude for helping a dude out.

Summary of the discussion

After certain minimum criteria are met, caliber discussion is a relatively low level priority. Massad Ayoob’s Priorities of Survival; Mental Preparation, Tactics, Skill, and finally Equipment, are a good example of this hierarchy. Priorities of Survival is the critical tool used for this week’s Patreon Incident Analysis.

Patreon topics update

  • H&K VP9SK evaluation
  • Shooting test protocol for carry guns
  • Store robbery with hostage taking – an in-depth analysis of the incident
    • Situation – convenience store robbery. One of the employees was taken hostage immediately. Eventually, a satisfactory resolution was achieved when the cashier shot the robber. The shooting was a downrange incident, i.e., the shot had to be taken with a friendly/non-threat downrange of the shooter and in proximity to the shootee.
    • Cast of character development along with 28 point play by play incident timeline.
    • 17 different Personal Protection tasks identified in the incident.
    • Discussion about possible improvements of the actions immediately after the shooting but before the POlice arrive.

I’m able to cover topics more in depth on my Patreon account than I can in my blog. If you’re interested, you can subscribe for $5 a month here. https://www.patreon.com/TacticalProfessor

FTC Notice: I have no relationship with Ruger nor do I receive any compensation for mentioning their product. The LCR was specifically asked about so I responded.

What snubs can do

#Smith&WessonSunday

I shot the I’m With Roscoe 2019 Internet Match Friday at a local indoor range. The Match is modeled on the Pocket Revolver Championship of the US Revolver Association, as described in the 1915 edition of the book Pistol and Revolver Shooting by A.L.A. Himmelwright. This Match is an Internet enabled version of Postal Matches that were commonly shot in the 20th Century. The Course of Fire is five strings of five shots each at 50 feet. The time limit for each string is 30 seconds and the shooting is done Primary (Strong) Hand Only.

To time it, I used the Dry Fire Par Timer app, available on Google Play, on my phone with ear buds underneath my muffs. That’s a very workable setup for indoor range work.

CW IWR 2019 snub

The outer 4 Ring of the target measures 7 5/16 inches in diameter. Only two shots went outside the 4 ring, so that’s 23 hits in the largest circle out of 25 shots. I think Inspector Erskine would be satisfied with that.

There’s a common misconception that snubs are “arm’s length guns.” As I periodically remind people, that’s only true for the incompetent. Dry practice can go a long way toward improving our skills.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make http://seriousgunownermistakes.com

Indoor Range Practice Sessions http://indoorrangepracticesessions.com

Concealed Carry Skills and Drills http://concealedcarryskillsanddrills.com

Advanced Pistol Practice http://bit.ly/advancedpistolpractice

Shooting Your Black Rifle http://shootingyourblackrifle.com

S&W Revolver Frame Sizes (part II)

#Smith&WessonSunday

Broadly speaking, Smith & Wesson swing out cylinder (Hand Ejector) revolvers come in nine frame sizes. In order of increasing size, they are: M, I, Improved I, J, J Magnum, K, L, N, and X frame.

Perceiving a market for a more powerful pocket sized revolver, S&W introduced the J Magnum frame in 1995. It was created to accommodate the length of the .357 Magnum cartridge in a J frame revolver, having a longer cylinder and larger frame opening. This frame was first introduced as the Model 640-1 in 1995. Since then, other J frames, even .38 Specials, have been offered in this frame size. In 1996, the Model 60 (60-9) and 642 (642-1) were changed to the J Magnum sized frame.

The K frame was the original .38 caliber Hand Ejector frame introduced in 1899 as the Military & Police 1st Model. It served as the service revolver for the US Army in .38 Long Colt caliber until the adoption of the Colt 1911 autoloading pistol. The K frame was the most widely used and issued POlice revolver for nearly a century. The US Air Force continued to issue K frame revolvers to its Security POlice until almost the end of the 20th Century. It has been produced in a wide variety of calibers from .22 Long Rifle up to .357 Magnum but .38 S&W Special was the most popular.

Model 10 on Langrish

Model 10-5 (K frame) on reduced Langrish Limbless target from the 1930s

 

Bill Jordan, of the US Border Patrol, convinced S&W to make the K frame size revolver in the .357 Magnum cartridge for POlice service. The .357 had only been produced in N frame revolvers until 1955. His original idea was to practice with .38 Special and only occasionally use .357s. As people started shooting .357 Magnums in quantity, they found that it was hard on a K frame. This led to the introduction of the L frame, which along with the other larger frame sizes will be covered in the next installment.

Tactical Professor books

Indoor Range Practice Sessions http://indoorrangepracticesessions.com

Concealed Carry Skills and Drills http://concealedcarryskillsanddrills.com

Advanced Pistol Practice http://bit.ly/advancedpistolpractice

Shooting Your Black Rifle http://shootingyourblackrifle.com

Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make http://seriousgunownermistakes.com

Part I of the series

https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2019/09/08/sw-revolver-frame-sizes-part-i/

DRY PRACTICE WITH REVOLVERS

#Fridayfundamentals

I am really enjoying getting back into the habit of structured dry practice. Revolvers are great tools for dry practice, in some ways better than autoloading pistols.

This month, I am serving as the Match Director for the I’m With Roscoe http://imwithroscoe.com 2019 Internet Match. It’s based on the Pocket Revolver Championship of the US Revolver Association. The Championship, along with the other USRA Championships, is described in A.L.A. Himmelwright’s 1915 book Pistol and Revolver Shooting. https://www.amazon.com/Pistol-Revolver-Shooting-L-Himmelwright-ebook/dp/B00AQM9SK0

The course of fire is quite demanding. Originally, it consisted of five strings of five shots in 30 seconds at 50 yards on the original NRA B-6 bullseye target. It is shot one-handed. Since not many people have access to a 50 yard range, I changed it to using an NRA B-2 target at 50 feet. The B-2 is the 50 foot reduction of the B-6 so this was an easy change. Official Rules are available on the IWR Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/groups/370742620287566/

Since it is a demanding course of fire, I’ve been doing dry practice for when I have the opportunity to shoot it live. My preparation is to work on the fundamentals. I practice with two revolvers each day, my pencil barrel Model 10 and my Model 38-2 J frame.

IWR Match guns

I created a reduced size target for dry practice, scaled for use at 10 feet. It is printed on a 5×8 index card. The target is stored behind a plaque for safety reasons. I take it out and position it when I start the session. Immediately after finishing the session, I conceal the target back behind the plaque prior to reloading my gun.

 

IWR dry practice target

Since they’re both older guns, I protect their firing pins (hammer noses). For the K frame, I’m using a piece of plastic that fills in the rear of the cylinder. It was manufactured years ago by a gunsmith in New Jersey, long since out of business. The plastic has proven remarkably durable though. For the 38-2, I’m using ST Action Pro Dummy Rounds that I filled the primer pocket in with hot melt glue.

For a timer, I use the Dry Fire Practice Par Timer, from the Google App store, on my phone. It’s set to give me five strings of 30 seconds each with a six second delay between strings. At the beep, I snap five times single action. My actual times are working out to about 25-26 seconds per string. This allows some leeway to accommodate recoil management when I live fire. I rest briefly between the strings.

What I am concentrating on when snapping is minimizing my wobble zone, pressing the trigger smoothly, and following through. These are especially important when shooting one handed. The follow-through is the aspect I have to personally work hardest on. Of those three fundamentals, follow-through is the hardest to learn in live fire so the dry practice is doing me a great deal of good.

It’s been good getting back into daily dry practice. I include dry practice in my shooting workbooks for a reason; it works. If you would like to try your hand at it, this is the reduced scale target. IWR Internet Match dry practice target 5×8 10 feet

Tactical Professor books

Indoor Range Practice Sessions http://indoorrangepracticesessions.com

Concealed Carry Skills and Drills http://concealedcarryskillsanddrills.com

Advanced Pistol Practice http://bit.ly/advancedpistolpractice

Shooting Your Black Rifle http://shootingyourblackrifle.com/

Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make http://seriousgunownermistakes.com

S&W Revolver Frame Sizes (part I)

target and Bodyguard

#Smith&WessonSunday

First in an ongoing series. This series owes much to the Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson. The book is a valuable resource for anyone interested in S&W products and especially the revolvers.

Broadly speaking, Smith & Wesson swing out cylinder (Hand Ejector) revolvers come in nine frame sizes. In order of increasing size, they are: M, I, Improved I, J, J Magnum, K, L, N, and X frame. The factory uses a separate system for lettering stainless steel frames but they are seldom used outside the factory so will not be used here. The most commonly encountered frame sizes today are the J and J Magnum. In the 20th Century, the K frame in various permutations became the dominant POlice revolver in the USA and many people can recognize it on sight. Prior to 1957, their revolvers were named. In 1957, the firm switched to a numbering system that is still in use today.

In the named models, evolutions of a particular model were referred to as 2nd Model, 3rd Model, etc. or 1st Change, 2nd Change, etc. Numbered models have the model number stamped on the frame inside the yoke. In the numbered models, a dash and numeral following the model number is part of the model designation, e.g., 38-2.

The M frame, the original Ladysmith, is a truly tiny revolver that was in production only until 1921. It was made in .22 Long (not Long Rifle) caliber and weighed 9.5 ounces. There is a rumor that it was discontinued because it was a favorite weapon of Ladies of the evening but this is unlikely. An enterprising manufacturer could probably reproduce this revolver with a dual firing pin of the sort used in the original Henry rimfire rifle and enjoy brisk sales.

The I frame was the original S&W swing out frame sized for the .32 caliber cartridge. The I frame was the first S&W revolver with a swing out cylinder; it was introduced in 1896 and became the first Hand Ejector purchased by a US POlice department, Jersey City, New Jersey. They were referred to as ‘Hand Ejectors’ because previous S&W revolvers were top breaks and ejected the cases automatically. Swing out cylinder revolvers require the user to manually eject the cases by pushing on the ejector rod, hence the name Hand Ejector.

Improved I frames have a very slightly larger frame opening than the I frame. The most noticeable feature of the Improved I frame was an engineering change from using a leaf type mainspring to a coil mainspring. The Improved I can be easily distinguished from the I because the Improved I lacks a screw (strain screw) at the bottom of the grip frame. Both the I and Improved I frame openings are too small for the .38 Special cartridge.

S&W developed the J frame in order to allow the use of the .38 Special in a revolver significantly smaller than the K frame, which had been in service for many years. The J frame continued the use of the coil mainspring of the Improved I frame but has an increased frame opening of 1.645 inches compared to the 1.515 frame opening of the Improved I frame.

The larger frame sizes will be covered in the next installment.

Tactical Professor books available for download.

Indoor Range Practice Sessions downloadable eBook. http://indoorrangepracticesessions.com

Concealed Carry Skills and Drills downloadable eBook. http://concealedcarryskillsanddrills.com

Advanced Pistol Practice http://store.payloadz.com/go?id=2613612

Shooting Your Black Rifle http://shootingyourblackrifle.com/

Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make http://seriousgunownermistakes.com

Note that all Tactical Professor eBooks can easily be automatically converted for your Kindle. https://www.amazon.com/gp/sendtokindle/email

Getting more out of your Snub’s Sights

#wheelgunwednesday

If you can’t see the sights on your snub, you can’t use them. While there are some ways gunsmiths can put better sights on a snub, careful application of paint and perhaps Magic Marker can go a long way to improving your ability to see the sights. Most snubs’ sights are not of a color to contrast against the target. The lack of contrast makes it difficult to pick up a quick visual reference. Fire trucks and school buses aren’t painted blue or silver for a reason. Silver generates glare easily and blue doesn’t contrast against a dark target nor in limited visibility.

Colored nail polish or paint is an old trick to increase the visibility of the front sight. If you paint the sight first with white paint as an undercoating, the color will stand out much better. Degrease the sight before applying paint to ensure the paint sticks. Let the white paint cure completely and then apply the color paint over the white.

Continue reading →

Revolvers are passé

At least to the general public…

The 2017 BATF production statistics, Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Export Report (AFMER), https://www.atf.gov/file/133476/download have been released. There are some interesting facts about market trends in it. The snub nose .38, which was a long time standard for Personal Protection, has clearly been replaced in popularity by compact .380 ACP autoloaders. This continues a trend that has been building for a decade.

All manufacturers

Total .38 revolver – 177,956

Total .380 autoloader – 848,425

Continue reading →

One and two shot presentations

#wheelgunwednesday

NV CFP 38

Nevada Concealed Firearm Permit Qualification fired with 1 and 2 shot strings

Becoming reasonably skilled with a handgun isn’t always a fun process. A lot of it is simply repetition of basic techniques until we have achieved automaticity, which is frequently and incorrectly referred to as ‘muscle memory.’

The reason most POlice and CCW qualification courses consist of high round count strings is simply to get the testing over with as quickly as possible. The underlying object is to facilitate the evaluation process, not to ‘train’ the shooter. When we’re practicing on our own, ‘getting it over with’ doesn’t have to be our primary concern, nor should it be.

When we’re practicing for skill development, almost all of our time should be spent firing one or two shots at a time. For competitive shooters, using Bill Drills to practice recoil management does have value. For purposes of personal protection, however, the reality is that learning to put the first shot on target every single time has a lot more value.

When learning to shoot at distance, single shot drills are almost mandatory.

Taurus 82 15 yards

15 yards, 1 shot per presentation from Low Ready

As a refresher, here are some links to previous articles about aspects of learning to shoot well.

Press the trigger smoothly

Too quick on the trigger?

Consistency

Comparative Standards

Most of the drills in my eBooks are three shots or less. They’re workbooks, which implies to use them, you have to do some work. Work is not always fun. Sorry, that’s just adult life. It doesn’t mean you can’t have fun shooting but rather that learning to shoot well isn’t always a fun process.

For those who carry a concealed firearm, Concealed Carry Skills and Drills, is appropriate for you. The link to the downloadable eBook is here. http://concealedcarryskillsanddrills.com

For those who don’t carry a concealed firearm but keep a handgun for home defense, Indoor Range Practice Sessions, is appropriate for you. The link to the downloadable eBook is here. http://indoorrangepracticesessions.com

My downloadable recording, Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make,  http://seriousgunownermistakes.com is particularly appropriate when analyzing incidents, not necessarily Defensive Gun Uses, involving firearms.

Revolver practice

Question from a reader:

I bought your ebook/pdf “Concealed skills and Drills”. I like the book a lot and am working my way through it.

I have a couple of questions about the drills which feature a magazine to simulate a dryfire trigger press. I am a revolver user and I am using the cylinder spin method from your PDN dvd. It seems to me that that should work as well or am I missing something?

Answer:

The cylinder spin method is ideal and that’s what I use. I had to come up with a solution for the autoloaders because they can’t do this type of exercise as well as wheelguns. Keep doing what you’re doing.

Repetition and Progression (Part 2)

#fridayfundamentals

The most important Fundamental of all is to be sure your gun works. A recently purchased used revolver seemed okay in most aspects except the cylinder lockup had a hitch. Upon actually shooting it, it worked fine for the first 10 rounds. After that, the trigger could not be pulled with the cylinder closed. As I suspected, something was wrong with the center pin spring and the center pin would not push the bolt into position when the cylinder closed. Moving the bolt into position before it will fire is fundamental to double action revolver design.

Upon examining it later, there was no center pin spring, hence the issue. Someone had obviously messed with it because the extractor rod came free quite easily. Fortunately, the sear/bolt spring for a S&W fit adequately and fixed the problem.

As my colleague, the late Paul Gomez, was fond of saying, “Shoot Yor ….. Guns.”

After repairing it, I used it for another form of progression in practice, increasing distance incrementally. Starting out at a close distance, marking your target after each string, and then increasing the distance gives you an indication of where your strengths and weakness lie. Knowing them gives you an idea of what to practice next.

Continue reading →