Townsend Whelen once said, “Only accurate rifles are interesting.” I would agree, but I would add that in my view, ONLY accurate firearms are interesting. I’ve had some well renowned guns that were duds, and even with a variety of ammunition, they were just not accurate. I recently had a well-known lever action rifle manufacturer service a gun that had a non-concentric bore. While it would print a group, at 25 yards, that group was about 4 feet HIGH, and three feet LEFT. They replaced the barrel and they zeroed the rifle with the ammunition that I was using, and returned the rifle to me with the rear Skinner Peep sight scooted ALL OF THE WAY to the right! I lost interest and ended up trading the gun for something else. I’ve had a few other guns in the past that were also just dogs, and they wouldn’t shoot to the sights or zero with an optic. The ability to deliver rounds accurately and have 100% accountability for every shot fired is essential to my requirements for a firearm and especially for a firearm that is used for self-defense. Thus, only accurate guns are interesting to me.
I’ve heard several well-known firearms instructors that specialize in the shotgun that each shotgun barrel is a unique individual and will have an ammunition preference. For some, this is cheap RIO brand or WOLF 00 buckshot, and for others, Federal Flite Control (or one of the big brand licensed copies that use the Flite Control wad). I’d go so far to say that this, “ammunition preference individuality,” applies to all guns, and not just shotguns! I have a number of revolvers of similar configuration, barrel length, frame size and some will shoot a particular loading to the sights, while others do not. You really have to check the loading with each gun you use, and make sure that there is coincidence between the sights and the point of impact of the projectiles. It CAN make a difference even in identical guns! I have two S&W M&P 2.0 METAL pistols that luckily, shoot and digest the same ammo, so I can use both with the same ammo, and use one for practice and training, and one for carry.
I recently entered a weekly pistol league at my local gun range. I decided to enter the revolver division, since I enjoy revolvers, and also because the competition is good, but the pool isn’t necessarily as deep as the more-common semi-automatic pistol division. I also believe that if you are a competent revolver shooter, you are probably competent with most any self-loading pistol, whether it is striker-fired, double action-single action or double action only of course. I shot the first week’s completion with a police surplus S&W M14 with a 6” barrel. In Southern California, up until the 1980’s, six inch duty guns in .38 Special and .357 Magnum were still on the streets. I’m sure there were probably a few holdout diehards that continued to use the 6” guns into the 1990’s as well. The guns had a fantastic reputation for accuracy, and many used them in PPC events with great effect. I will continue to use the Model 14 for the rest of the league this season. But the weirdo in me started to wonder how my other service size revolvers compared in terms of rapid fire accuracy (one shot per second) at ranges from 5-20 yards. So I set out to do a little testing to evaluate where I was with various service revolvers I have.
THE COURSE OF FIRE
In the semi-spirit of Claude Werner’s, “Baseline Evaluation,” I shot a variation of that drill, consisting of six rounds at each distance, for 24 rounds at 5 yards, 10 yards, 15 yards and 20 yards. I fired one round per second, starting at the ready, and then advanced the target out to the next distance. Throughout the evaluation of these seven revolvers, I experienced no malfunctions or stoppages of any kind. I used Federal 130 grain round nose ball for the entirety of the test. I scored the target that ANY round outside the 9 ring was regarded as a miss.
I’ve been a fan of VZ revolver grips for a few years. I am now a TRUE BELIEVER in them on all the wheelguns they make them for! The hard material and aggressive texture makes controlling brisk recoil easy. They’re also rugged and withstand abuse well, and they’re relieved for speedloaders. They also don’t hang up empties on ejection like some grip panels do.
Shooting on poorly lit indoor ranges really highlights the need for high visibility front sights. Smith and Wesson adjustable sight revolvers have talk front sights that are easy to see…if you paint them with a bright contrasting color! I use a white fingernail Polish as a base layer (two coats) and then several (3-5 coats) of an obnoxious red/orange color. I bought the fingernail polishes at Walgreens. We’ve all gotten spoiled with the plethora of highly visible semi-automatic sights from places like XS, Night Fission, Trijicon and Ameriglo, but DIY is largely necessary for wheelguns! It’s ok…it adds to the fun!
Good gear is helpful. But squeezing performance out of anything requires practice. I dry-practice almost daily, and I live-fire practice once a week or more when time allows. Lately, time has allowed for more live fire! Which is good. I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about topics to write about here, that I think will be interesting and useful to my readers.
We are in a revolver renaissance right now…many people are discovering how fun and rewarding revolver use can be. Revolvers aren’t dead! Any skilled revolver shooter will see the revolvers strengths, and appreciate them for what they are. They’re not a panacea of course, but in their niche (guns staged for long term storage, guns used in grappling situations, guns used for fighting in confined spaces, carrying in deep cover/NPE’s, large caliber animal protection or for 50 state legal requirements) they excel. And if you’re an instructor, someone is going to show up to learn how to use a wheelgun. You better know how to use one, so you can teach them!
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