281/300 on my first competition with a revolver, in years. Lots of room to improve! The target presented by turning for a specific time (about 5-8 seconds) depending on the ranges, that varied from 5-20 yards.

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.


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.

Test ammo…the ubiquitous 130 grain ball. I would prefer to use flat point ball, but the pro shop had this loading in abundance, so this will do. I have a stash of 130 grain flat point ball that I will use for the duration of the league.
Even Federal turns out a turd sometimes. This projectile was loaded backwards. The crimp still held it.
SCORE 24/24. The Colt Python .357 Magnum (NOT the new version). After the group that cast to the left at 15 and 20 yards, I adjusted the sight a bit and reshot a group at each distance (on another target) to make sure it was shooting straight. This gun is dear to me because it was a gift to me from my late friend, James Yeager. It shoots very straight and I love it. The double action is buttery smooth and the single action is crisp. The jeweled trigger and hammer are so 1980’s action hero. If I had someone around that worked on Pythons, I would probably use this for the league, and I MIGHT next season. We will see. Now that I live close to Grant Cunningham, worst case scenario, I could take it to him if it broke down.
SCORE 20/24. This is a 2” Smith Model 15. I like this gun, but it much prefers 148 grain wadcutters, especially the Georgia Arms Self-Defense wadcutter. I also didn’t fiddle with the sights at all, and if I was going to use this gun for anything, I’d be sure to zero it with whatever load I was going to use. I like the feel of the Uncle Mike’s boot grips, but they are NOT as comfortable nor as solid as a grip style that I can get my entire hand onto. With this style of grip, my pinkies curl underneath the gun, which results in much less leverage. I have a case of the GA wadcutters coming, and I will get this Model 15 dialed in perfectly with that load.
SCORE 24/24. The mighty S&W N-frame, in the guide of the service grade Model 28 HIGHWAY PATROLMAN. This is a big, heavy gun and the 130 grain ball in .38 Special is VERY easy to shoot quickly and accurately from this gun. The front sight is tall, and very visible. The action is smooth, and it practically shoots itself. If I wasn’t using my Model 14, this would be my next choice.
SCORE 24/24. The ORIGINAL Model 19, the favorite of Bill Jordan, and the Cadillac of service revolvers. Easy to shoot, very smooth and well balanced, I get why Bill loved this gun, as did many other gunmen from his time. I wouldn’t mind dialing the sights in a bit on this and get that 15 and 20 yard better accuracy centered.
SCORE 24/24. This is a Smith M64 4” with a pencil barrel. It has a BIG very visible front sight, and a decent action. This is one of two fixed-sight guns I used in this evaluation. I noticed that with this fixed sight gun, the groups at 15 and 20 yards were actually quite different from the closer points of impact at 5 and 10 yards. This is a surplus M64 that was carried a lot and shot very little. I bought it for $90 on a Saturday and used it in a defensive gun use the following Monday. No shot was fired, and although I failed the victim selection process of a desperate would-be carjacker, he immediately changed cardinal directions when he saw the stainless revolver and ran away quickly. I like this gun and it also shoots wadcutters very well and is controllable.
SCORE 23/24. Smith 681 4”. This was the service revolver I bought in the 90’s and used for years as my sidearm in the armored truck industry. I carried it on the job initially with Federal 125 grain semi-jacketed hollow points in .357 and practiced with 158 grain lead semi-wadcutters, which the company supplied to me in nearly unlimited quantities, as long as I returned the empties. After a horrible qualification where I shot a 300/300 with this gun, and a 300/300 with my Smith 649 ankle gun, using the same 125 grain SJHP’s and spent the ride home from the range picking metal and powder out of my left hand. The problem was that the blast was so terrible out of the J frame, I got unburnt powder and some shards of lead into my fingers. After that, I changed my carry load to 158 grain lead semi-wadcutters. If I was carrying the same two revolvers today, I would carry 148 grain wadcutters and worry about something else! The fliers that are lateral to the centered cluster of holes I think were due to fatigue on my part. Also, while I love the esthetics of the Ahrends grips, they do slip even with a crush grip on them. I would much rather have a set of textured VZ grips that give some traction.
SCORE 24/24. This is the league gun…the Smith Model 14 6”. I don’t know where this gun came from, or what department it was issued to. I will inquire to S&W and find out though! It is a smooth gun, and it shoots like a laser beam. It is a classic K frame, and like all classic guns, it earned its reputation. If I had to carry a six inch service revolver, I’d need a long IWB holster or some kind of shoulder holster (tall guy problems). I have painted the Patridge front sight of this gun with red/orange nail polish, and I noticed today that it has a slight gouge in it. I could fill it in, and touch it up, but it caught my eye so well I could draw you a picture of it from memory. I recall Jim Cirillo saying that he could describe the serrations on his front sight during his first gunfight on the stakeout squad. Front sight detail…who’d of thunk it?!?


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!

THANK YOU FOR READING! Like, subscribe to my feed and please share on social media! The internet is doing a fine job of suppressing pro-freedom content, but they can’t stop you from reading or sharing! Thanks again-Dr. House


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