Revolver revelations

Caleb has me shooting revolvers.  That’s what I get for convincing him to run a classifier with my Kimber

When I was first assigned the task of carrying the Model 60 I was not overly pleased.  I had it in my head that I was not going to enjoy this little venture, and was out to prove there were reasons I didn‘t carry a j-frame.

Well, that’s out the window.

Saturday I put 6 rounds through the gun; I went home that night fairly unimpressed.  After expressing my frustration and receiving some instruction from Caleb I saw some potential and decided to give the little j-frame another  chance.

Model 60

I spent as much time as I could Monday and Tuesday morning dry firing and doing reload drills. (Not as much time as I would have liked, given that work thing where they expect me to help customers and, you know, do stuff.)  By Tuesday afternoon I was feeling a lot better, and that day I made a brash decision and decided to shoot the Model 60 in our Tuesday Night Pistol League.  I shocked myself.  I won’t pretend that I went fast, but forcing myself to slow down, focus on my trigger pull and get out of my own head presented two of  my most accurate runs ever.  I didn‘t do it quickly, but I hit what I was aiming at.

The next day I ran a classifier with Caleb’s Smith & Wesson 686.  Again, I went slow, but, again, I hit what I was aiming at.  This was huge for me, as I’ve spent the past few months fighting a nasty trigger slap and a high level of recoil anticipation, admittedly developed from spending too much inexperienced time behind my beloved alloy frame 1911.

That evening, we headed to West Coast Armory and met a couple friends for an impromptu evening training session in the open movement bay.  We set up a few IPSC targets and ran through some drills, designed to help each of us improve our IDPA skills.  About halfway through this session I realized what I need to work on: my press out.  Go figure.  Now that the bullet is going where I am pointing the gun I need to work on getting it there faster.  It’s nice to have something to work on besides “Why do I keep flinching and putting the bullet there?!”

All I’m really trying to say is that this double action revolver thing is pretty cool.  I never thought that using a revolver would help my shooting like it has.  The double action trigger has forced me to slow down, and eliminating my own expectations of myself has really helped me improve my mental game.


      1. How about muffins? I make killer blueberry muffins. I’m working on a pumpkin cookie recipe though so who knows how that will turn out.

  1. I love revolvers but I just can’t get behind the idea of a revolver as a true self defense gun. Even when I wasn’t a terribly good shot with a semi-auto the ability to 17 rounds of 9mm readily available with the ability to reload more rounds quickly is hard for me to look past.

    1. I look at it this way.

      There are some situations where scaring someone with a .22 will do the job.
      There are some where it’s a few quick shots at close range with a snub revolver.
      Others are going to require multiple reloads and a bunch of rounds downrange, and love a high capacity autoloader.
      And some shouldn’t be attempted with anything less than an AR, a bullet-proof vest, and a backpack full of extra mags (some grenades would be nice, too).

      As you go down the line, each event becomes progressively rarer. Self defense preparedness, to me, is finding the line between well-prepared and paranoid. Very few of us go about our daily chores decked out for that last situation (with all due respect to any commenters from Iraq or Afghanistan).

      So really, the viability of the revolver comes from an estimation of how likely you are to be in scenario three (prolonged fight vs multiple attackers) versus scenario two. I think most statistics show that two is much more likely.

      Of course, it’s even more likely you’ll never use the gun in the first place… which is why I really wish I could find some better hard data on this sort of thing.

      The difficulty is that you need to sort your risk factors by location, because the chances that a young gentleman working the corner in Chicago is going to need to defend himself is, I would guess, significantly higher than average.

      1. I have actually used the Model 60 in the picture above as my carry gun for an extended period of time. Never once did I feel under armed with a 5 shot .38 Special, and similarly no one volunteered to stand downrange from me and let me shoot them 5 times.

      2. I’m going to have another post regarding my opinion on carrying revolvers (especially in regards to the notion that a lightweight revolver is an ideal first carry gun for women). As far as my normal carry gun, right now, I figure my 1911 and two extra mags will suffice in most possible circumstances arising between work and home.

      3. Very interesting things happen while in a gun fight and even with the best preparation it’s very hard to predict how you are going to react to a given situation. We all want to think we are going to perform these perfect double taps that incapaticate the goblins immediately but hopefully we all are very much aware of just how unlikely that event actually is. So given the chance to have more rounds at your disposal without a increase in weight or size sounds like a good idea to me.

        A Ruger SR9c weighs 23oz and holds 10+1 rounds in the gun while a 2.25″ Ruger SP101 weighs 25oz. and only holds 5 rounds. The SR9C is smaller, lighter, and carries more rounds so where’s the loss?

        1. .357 is generally considered the most effective personal defense round.
          You can fire a hammerless SP101 from insider your pocket if you get stuck on the draw.
          Revolvers are more reliable in general than autoloaders (whether that difference is measured in inches or millimeters depends on the specific gun).

          Now, does that actually change your conclusion? I wouldn’t expect it to. They’re probably all less important than five extra rounds and a moderately faster reload.

          I carry a revolver because I like my revolver (and because I haven’t actually bought a semi-auto yet). Not because I actually think it’s better for self defense. I do consider it perfectly adequate for most situations.

          The question was not whether a revolver makes a “better” self defense weapon, but whether it was a viable self defense weapon. And I believe that there is enough evidence to indicate that in a normal legal use of force scenario either one does the job acceptably.

      4. Those are some very good points, Mike. Everybody who carries (or doesn’t carry) makes some kind of risk calculation like that, whether they realize it or not. Even the guy who carries three full size double stacks every day may not wear a vest or get armor plating for his car. I think this discussion is much broader than hi cap auto vs. revolver and goes into issues like holster selection and the decision about how often one carries. As a CCW instructor, I’m constantly trying to figure out how to help new shooters think through this stuff…

  2. Now you know why some of us love revolvers. Spraying around a lot of lead may intimidate someone; hitting your target is something else. Use a revolver and learn the fundamentals. You will be a better shooter for it no matter what gun you choose to use later.

    1. I am looking forward to returning to a striker fired or SA gun, simply because I know after I’m done goofing around with these revolvers shooting something else is going to seem easy. I really appreciate that, though, simply because the experience has been able to diffuse so many of my frustrations regarding the fundamentals. I was ahead of myself, and the revolver made an awesome “reset” button.

      1. Heh. get a Walther PP or P38, and use the safey to shoot it exclusively DA in slowfire practice.

        After that, even a KelTec will feel like a Les Baer 1911! {chuckle}

  3. I know my trigger control improved greatly when I started using a .38 snub. I found I was spoiled by the 1911 trigger and didn’t know how best to improve. Once I got more used to the stiff DA trigger, going back to the 1911 was a dream.

  4. What’s interesting to me is how much I miss the mechanical feel of the trigger on a revolver vs the various other guns I’ve fired.

    My GP100 has a very consistent and metallic, clockwork feel to the trigger. The 1911’s I’ve shot have felt so tricky – like you could accidentally discharge by breathing on them. And the glocks have felt more like a button on a game controller.

    I don’t deny that I actually shot better with both of those guns… but there’s just something intangibly nice about the feel of a revolver trigger that I miss.

  5. I think every shooter, should start out on a heavy nasty DA trigger, if they don’t start out on a .22 like you’re supposed to. It forces you to do everything right (and SLOWLY), or else you completely futz the shot.

    People who treat the DA pull on a DA/SA as a throwaway shot are simply refusing to train. Once you can shoot a DA trigger quickly, everything else is easy as pie.

  6. I actually hated shooting for a while because all I was allowed was a revolver with what felt like an 80lb pull.
    I finally found joy in shooting with a 6lb/4lb DA/SA Beretta.
    I have tried other revolvers since and you would have to pay me highly to even practice with them.

  7. Thanks for the reminder about the value incorporating revolvers into shooting practice. Recoil anticipation is the nagging mosquito that won’t go away in my skill development, but a few range sessions with my S&W 65 always seems to help!

  8. Hehe, I carry a 1911, but hunt with a Ruger Redhawk revolver, and spend several weeks before season dry firing that hellishly heavy DA trigger to get used to it.
    Carry the sidearm for close shots in heavy brush so will probably be firing in DA mode, got the rifle for long shots!
    BTW, Going hunting carrying my 1911 and 25 rds, 44 mag revolver and 50 rds, and a rifle with 60rds, am I going a might too heavily armed?

    1. The newsreaders would call that an arsenal. I would say you have the bare minimum. Where are the indirect fire weapons?

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