When I was a young warthog, I had a coffee table book about “The Modern Handgun”, or “The Fighting Handgun”; I’m honestly not too sure of the title – but the title isn’t what’s important. What is important are the contents of the book; namely the author’s obvious bias towards wheelguns. Although the book was written post WWII, it was clearly written during the heyday of the revolver, when every cop in America carried a 4 inch .38 Special and the Air Force was issuing the Combat Masterpiece as a service sidearm.
And that brings be back to the revolver that I have in the title of this piece – you see, the book that I must have read 200 times as a child had a wonderful picture of a vintage Model 15 Combat Masterpiece in it accompanied by a couple of pages singing the praises of the .38 Special cartridge. For whatever reason, both that image and that revolver have stuck with me. Maybe it’s the name: “Combat Masterpiece” makes the gun sound like a handcrafted Jedi lightsaber (whatanerd), some kind of precision engineered machine ideal for the rigors of mortal combat. Or maybe it was the looks of the gun that have kept my fancy all these years. There’s something about the gun that just says “this is what a revolver looks like”.
I have mentioned that I’m building a 1911 – however in addition to that project, I also really want to start competing with a wheelgun. As I was perusing the internets searching for a suitable competition revolver. I was messing around with a lot of ideas, some of which involved maiming perfectly good revolvers, when I suddenly rolled back around to the Combat Masterpiece. It’s a 4 inch, six shot .38 Special; there are about a jillion smiths who can tune up a Smith & Wesson trigger, and you can get the excellent Safariland Comp III speedloaders for it, which are a lot faster than the HKS speedloaders.
My only concern would be durability. Sure, Jerry Miculek fires about a gazillion rounds per year through his Smith & Wesson revolvers, but if he breaks one than the Performance Center fixes him up a new guns most rickey-tick. Right now, I shoot about 1k rounds a month through my main match gun, my Para 16-40. I tack on about 500 more rounds through various other guns. Assuming I picked this revolver thing, I would be shooting around 1000 rounds of standard pressure .38 Special through this gun every month. Not knowing a lot about Smith revolvers, I’m concerned as to whether or not it’s going to hold up to that kind of shooting.
I know that some of you guys are seriously experts on the whole Smith and Wesson thing, so should I just get a different revolver, or should I look for something special with this gun, etc? Inquiring minds want to know.