Tag Archives: 38 Special

SKILLS: Choices — Just The Right Size Handgun

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The middle ground is pretty good… READ MORE

bob campbell choices
The CZ 75 9mm, top, is among the finest service pistols of all time. The CZ P10C, bottom, is a great concealed carry handgun.

Bob Campbell

When choosing a handgun the analogy to a vehicle, something most of us use every day, is useful. We all know what dead weight is. That is the weight of the bed of the truck (or the support structure in architecture — that’s not what we are looking at today) when unloaded. Live weight is the truck loaded. The handgun, its ammo, holster and spare gun load add up quickly in live weight. Sticks of copy and reams of paper have been slugged during this discussion and now bytes by the millions. The thing is while there must be room for personal choice there is a bottom line for performance and quality. If you like a small car you can easily drive in the city — that’s fine. But you cannot go out and pick up a dining room set with it. If in the worst case scenario, a truck runs a stop sign and hits the Smart Car, well, you may have wished you had something a tad big larger. By the same token any gun is good for a threat but if you really need the pistol you may wish you had something larger and more appropriate for the task at hand. There are really small guns that people find attractive and make all kinds of excuses for wearing them. Some are high quality, others are actually dangerous in my opinion. I think that the middle of road and a handgun that fires a credible cartridge with a good chance of being effective is ideal. The pistol should be a mid size so to speak.

bob campbell choices
Top to bottom— Nighthawk Falcon Government Model, five inch barrel, Devil Dog Commander, 4 and one quarter inch barrel, and the Guncrafter CCO with a shorter grip and Commander length slide. For most of us the CCO is an excellent compromise.

A good number want the security — and it is false security — of carrying a gun but they don’t want to invest in proper training and carry gear. They just want a gun, no matter if it is potentially ineffective. If the gun is so light it is unnoticed it may be misplaced or lost. Don’t laugh. I have seen plenty of this in my career. Guns have been left in lavatories, bedrooms on the dresser, and dropped between car seats. The gun should not be comfortable, it should be comforting. You don’t want to give up your CWP because of a dumb move, so always be aware of exactly where the carry piece is. A number of years ago the FBI did a study on duty guns. FBI agents are better trained and in better shape than many of us, but just the same the results were interesting. A handgun over thirty five ounces becomes a burden on the belt, the study concluded, and the rank and file will complain or even leave the gun in the car. In other words a three inch barrel .38 on the belt is better than a .357 Magnum you don’t carry. So is an Officers Model 9mm better than a Government Model .45 you don’t carry. But then modern polymer framed Glock handguns are light and they are reliable. A Glock 43 9mm is just one example. Of course, you will shoot the Glock 19 even better…

bob campbell choices
Snub nose .38 Special revolvers are generally delivered with a 2 inch barrel. A slightly longer barrel as found on the S & W Model 60, top, is a beneficial to most shooters. That is a Blackhawk! holster, an excellent choice for concealed carry.

Then there is the fellow who tells you that most, if not all personal defense shootings occur at very short range. That is true but you do not get hits by instinctive shooting any more than you can drive a car with your eyes closed. You must aim somehow, even if using the meat and paper type aiming as all you have. The junk guns are not very accurate past bad breath range. There are so many scenarios that could happen, from an adversary behind cover to a mass shooter in a public place, that it is pretty important the handgun be reasonably accurate. Even a quality snub nose .38 Special will place all its shots in the cranium at 7 yards, but the shooter behind the trigger must do their job. Medium sized handguns such as a three inch barrel revolver or a compact self loader are much easier to shoot well. I think that a handgun with the potential to place all five shots into 5 inches at 25 yards is a realistic minimum.

bob campbell choices
If you are able to carry and conceal the CZ 75, upper, or SIG P210, lower, you have a wonderfully accurate low recoil handgun. Most of us must compromise to an extent.

Then there are those who feel that the .32 and .380 are just fine, as long as they put the bullet in the right place. This usually comes from someone who has only fired their handgun during the CWP class and doesn’t actually shoot very well. Despite feel good ballistic preaching and revisionist history, no, the little gun doesn’t perform like the big gun. Don’t use small calibers to attempt to solve a big caliber problem. The baseline should be a .38 Special or 9mm Luger caliber handgun. I guarantee you that with proper training you will fire and use a compact 9mm or three inch barrel revolver better than the smaller guns. The grips fit most hands better, the controls are easier to manipulate, and the sight radius allows better accuracy. Actually fire the guns and you will understand the difference in hit probability. Hitting more accurately with a more powerful round seems attractive to a thinking person. Remember that there are three factors in the application of force in this light. They are direction, strength, and point of application. The first and second properties are combined in a mathematical calculation called vector. The point of application, well, that is the point of the arrow and the spot on the target where the force does the most good and the most meaningful damage. This means accurate delivery.

bob campbell choices
Whichever gun you choose — you must practice often. The comfort level is dictated by grip length and width and the pistol’s weight.

Others claim they cannot conceal an effective handgun. I feel the pain. You may be the envy of everyone around you as the rest of us attempt to cut weight. But a thin person may have to wear looser fitting clothing, and perhaps take a longer look at holsters. Wear a quality IWB — supple leather works best for me — over the right rear pocket. The draw is compromised but you simply cannot wear a handgun on the point of the hip and conceal it. You will look like a water moccasin that has swallowed a muskrat. It isn’t pretty. The draw is compromised just a little but concealment is excellent. Buy a quality rig, not a ten dollar fabric holster at a chain store! Galco is a good name, Blackhawk! has interesting designs. If you go the custom route then you will find a number of very interesting designs, well made, crafted one at a time just for you. At the minimum you will be able to conceal a Glock 43 X or an Officer’s Model Citadel.

Think hard about the concept of concealed carry. What are you carrying for? What is the likely scenario? What is the worst case scenario? Don’t be the person in the unenviable situation of being armed with a deadly weapon but unable to defense themselves well.

bob campbell choices
The SIG P229 is perhaps the best balanced and sought after of the SIG P series double action pistols.

The Best Choices?

Citadel 9mm Officers Model — reliable, accurate well past 25 yards, and fast to a first shot hit there is a lot of love about the Citadel.

Smith and Wesson Model 60 Three Inch Barrel — compared to the two inch barrel snubnose that little bit of extra sight radius and dampening weight makes a difference.

CZ P10C — just enough larger than the Glock 26 to make a difference the CZ P10c is among the finest of the striker fired compact handguns.

There are others — choose the one that suited you best.

REVIEW: Taurus 692 Multi-Caliber Revolver

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How about a 9mm, .38 and .357 in one package? READ MORE

taurus 692
The 692 is nicely finished and offers a relatively compact package.

Heyward Williams

The newest Taurus revolver is among the most interesting and innovative the company has manufactured. The 692 is a double action revolver with a swing out cylinder. There is a single action option, useful in a field and trail revolver. This handgun features a 7-shot cylinder, giving the relatively compact Taurus .357 Magnum an advantage over traditional 6-shot revolvers. While there are other 7-shot revolvers, the Taurus Tracker is among the most compact. There are longer barrel versions available suitable for hunting and competition. My example is a matte blue finished revolver with a three inch ported barrel and non fluted cylinder. The grips are the famous Taurus Ribber grips. These are rubber and give a bit during recoil. The grips also keep the hand separated from the steel frame. The result is plenty of adhesion and abrasion and great comfort.

taurus 692
The revolver features Ribber grips, fully adjustable sights, and a smooth action.

While the 692 is a credible choice for personal defense and field use as a conventional revolver a major advantage is a second cylinder chambered in 9mm Luger. This gives the use the option of using .38 Special and .357 Magnum cartridges in one cylinder and 9mm Luger in the other. (We could include the .38 Colt and .38 Long Colt but leave it at that.) Previously most dual caliber revolvers have been single action .22 Magnum/.22 Long Rifle types. The 9mm cylinder may be fired with 9mm cartridges but since the 9mm doesn’t have a cartridge case rim that extends to the ejector star spent cases must be picked out one at a time. Taurus supplies moon clips for easy loading and unloading. Many shooters will prefer to use the revolver as a 9mm as this is the most popular handgun caliber in America. There is no denying the power advantage of the .357 Magnum and for those willing to master the caliber it offers decisive wound potential.

taurus 692
The dual cylinders allow use of 9mm Luger, .38 Special and .357 Magnum ammunition.

In the past dual cylinder double action revolvers were not feasible for many reasons. Fitting each crane and cylinder to the revolver and preserving the barrel cylinder gap and timing seemed unworkable. Taurus got it right in a unique manner. Previously a revolver cylinder was removed by removing a screw in the frame. The Taurus features a plunger on the right side of the frame that is pressed to release the cylinder, allowing an easy change. Remarkably, each cylinder is properly timed and the barrel cylinder gap remains tight after each cylinder change.

692
The ports seem to lessen recoil effect. The revolver functioned well.

The revolver is quite attractive with its all black finish and unfluted cylinder. Each cylinder is marked for the caliber, no mix ups there. The revolver features good quality fully adjustable rear sights and a bold post front. The trigger action is smooth in the double action mode. The single action trigger press is clean and crisp. I began firing the revolver with a number of .38 Special loads. These included handloads with modest charges of WW 231 powder. I also fired a good quantity of Black Hills Ammunition 158 grain lead ‘cowboy load,’ a pleasant, accurate, and affordable choice. The revolver is easily controlled. Firing double action, I hit man sized targets at 7, 10, and 15 yards. The grips, trigger action, and sights provided good results. Moving up the scale I also fired a number of Black Hills Ammunition .38 Special 125 grain JHP +P loads in .38 Special. This revolver is easily controlled with .38 Special loads and more accurate than most.

692 specs

Moving to the .357 Magnum things became interesting. I had on hand two loads from Black Hills Ammunition. One is the fast stepping 125 grain JHP and the other, the deeper penetrating 158 grain JHP. The 125 grain JHP retained 1340 fps velocity in the short barrel 592, a good number for personal defense. Recoil was increased but the revolver was not unpleasant to fire. The grips have a lot to do with this. Concentration on handling recoil and the trigger action is demanded. The .357 Magnum generates enough muzzle blast to startle shooters and this is what causes flinch, more so than recoil, in most shooters. The Taurus 692 Tracker is as controllable a revolver as I have fired in .357 Magnum. Results were good, giving a trained shooter a high degree of confidence in this handgun. Notably, the muzzle ports seemed to reduce recoil but did not add offensive blast.

692
The ports seem to lessen recoil effect. The revolver functioned well.

At this point the revolver gets a clean bill of health as a handy, fast handling, reliable and accurate .357 Magnum. But what about the 9mm cylinder? I depressed the plunger in the receiver and quickly snapped in the 9mm cylinder to explore the possibilities. I began with the Black Hills Ammunition 115 grain FMJ. There was little recoil and mild report. Accuracy was similar to the .38 Special. I can see the 9mm cylinder as a good option for economy. Picking the cartridge cases out one at a time isn’t that time consuming for the casual shooter. The cartridge cases in 7-shot moon clips were much more interesting. A conventional revolver must be tilted muzzle up for cartridge case extraction. Otherwise spent cases may hang under the ejector start. Likewise in loading the muzzle must be as straight down as possible to facilitate loading. With the moon clips all cartridge cases are ejected smartly even if the muzzle isn’t straight up. Loading is less fumble prone than loading one at a time and with practice is sharper than loading with a speeloader — the clips are loaded with the cartridges in the cylinder rather than the cartridges inserted and the speedloader dropped. This system has much merit in a revolver intended for personal defense. I fired a number of the powerful Black Hills Ammunition 124 grain +P JHP with good results. While the loading clocked nearly 1200 fps, recoil is modest.

taurus 692
With the 9mm Taurus star/moon clips spent cases may be ejected even though the 9mm doesn’t have a revolver type case rim.

During the test I deployed the revolver in a Jeffrey Custom Leather belt holster. This is a well made, attractive, and well designed holster. Retention is good. This is a among a few holsters that rides high and offers good security, and will double as a concealed carry and field holster. Draws were sharp, getting on target quickly.

I find the Taurus 692 an exceptional revolver. The combination of loads makes for great versatility, from powder puff practice and small game loads to +P loads suitable for personal defense and finally full power Magnum loads for field use and defense against larger animals. This is the ultimate Tracker and my favorite Taurus revolver. A price check shows the revolver generally retails for just shy of $500.

taurus 692
The Taurus 692 is supplied with two cylinders, one for .38 Special/.357 Magnum cartridges and the other for the 9mm Luger.

VISIT TAURUS TO SEE FULL SPECS

REVIEW: Colt’s Cobra — A Great All Around Revolver

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The new Cobra is an outstanding personal defense and outdoors revolver well suited to most chores. READ MORE

colt cobra
The Colt Cobra .38 Special is an excellent revolver in every way.

colt cobra

Bob Campbell

Colt once ruled the revolver market. But that was a long time ago when the goose hung high in Hartford. Today Colt’s Official Police and Police Positive are things of the past. But Colt has jumped back into the revolver market with a double action revolver. I have added the Colt Cobra to my Colt 1911s, AR 15s and .357 Magnums as a front line personal defense gun and outdoors revolver. The Colt Cobra is a stainless steel double action six shot .38 Special revolver. The Cobra is a modern revolver in every way, and while it bears a legendary name, the new Cobra bears only a passing resemblance to the original Cobra. The Colt Detective Special was the original .38 Special snub nose revolver. Based on the Police Positive Special frame, the Detective Special was the lightest .38 Special revolver of the day and remained the lightest six shot .38 for many years. The Cobra was the aluminum frame version. It is even lighter. Each shared the same action and configuration.

colt cobra
Note fiber optic front sight and heavy barrel.

The new Cobra is a beefier revolver with a robust frame and action. It fills the same niche as the original. As a long time Colt fan and Colt shooter I have to say the Cobra does things better in the newer version. The short barrel Detective Special – along with a number of full size .45 caliber Fitz Special revolvers- was conceptualized by Fitz Fitzsimmons, a long time Colt employee and trainer. Fitz wrote that long barrel holster guns were fine for western use and for uniformed officers in some instances, but the modern mechanized means of transportation demanded shorter fast handling revolvers. The shortened barrel was easier to draw inside a vehicle and less likely to be interfered with by steering wheels and gear shifters. He was correct. There are many reasons Colt lost its place in the market. Some feel that Colt did not reinvest its war time profits after World War Two and did not introduce sufficiently interesting new models, other feel that Colt simply priced themselves out of the business. Whatever the reason Smith and Wesson at one time held more than seventy five per cent of the police revolver market. Eventually Colt dropped all revolvers from production.

colt cobra
The original aluminum frame Cobra, top, is shown with a Colt Detective Special, bottom.

While many obtain self loading handguns for personal defense and home defense Fitz Fitzsimmons ideas concerning simplicity of design, fast handling, and reliability hold true today. The revolver may even be pressed into an adversary’s body and fired time after time. A self loader would jam after the first shot. The revolver may be left at ready with no springs at tension and the smooth double action trigger is easily managed by those that practice. The Colt Cobra features a smooth action that offers excellent speed and reset. An advantage of the Colt Cobra is the wide rear sight groove and a bright fiber optic front sight. The .38 Special is a good choice for the average to experienced home defense shooter. The Colt Cobra is also a good choice for concealed carry. The .38 Special is the most powerful cartridge that the occasional shooter can handle well. In this size handgun the .357 Magnum is simply too much.

colt cobra
In most ways the Cobra handles much like a four inch barrel .38 caliber revolver.

Compared to the common five shot .38 Special snub nose the Cobra offers six shots but is only slightly wider- about .11 inch. The Colt grip is an ideal size for most hands. The Hogue monogrip is a recoil absorbing design that isolates the hand from the metal of the revolver. The geometry of the grips compliments the design of the Colt Cobra. While the Colt Cobra resembles the original the trigger isn’t in the same location and the action is tight and smooth with no loose motion. The revolver doesn’t feel like the original Colt but represents an improvement. It should prove more durable in the long term and smoother as well.

My initial shooting was done with Fiocchi’s affordable and accurate .38 Special loads. I used both the 130 grain FMJ and the 158 grain RNL loading. These loads are clean burning. I enjoyed firing the Colt Cobra very much, going through 100 rounds at man sized targets at 5, 7 and 10 yards. Centering the front sight on the target resulted in a hit as long as the trigger was pressed smoothly. During recoil I allowed the trigger to reset. Groups were excellent. Moving to personal defense loads the Fiocchi 124 grain XTP provided good control. This premium ammunition exhibits the highest level of accuracy. I also carry revolvers when hiking and comping. Unlike the small frame five shot revolvers, the Colt Cobra is controllable and useful with heavy load. The Buffalo Bore .38 Special Outdoorsman, using a hard cast SWC, or the lead SWC hollowpoint are well suited to defense against feral dogs or the big cats. Members of our protein-fed ex-con criminal class would be another threat in the wild, and the Colt/Buffalo Bore combination is a good one. Recoil is stout but accuracy is good. As for absolute accuracy on several occasions I have fired a two inch five shot group at 15 yards. The Colt Cobra is plenty accurate. Like the original the Cobra is as easy to use well and as accurate as most four inch barrel revolvers.

colt cobra
Fiocchi ammunition exhibited a clean powder burn and provided excellent accuracy.

The Colt Cobra gets a clean bill of health. There really isn’t anything like it in the market. I think that you will find it well suited to modern problems.

LEARN MORE HERE

 

RETROSPECT: Smith and Wesson Versus Colt — What Happened?

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A lifelong fan looks at the two greats of the revolver world. READ MORE

colt vs smith and wesson
The Colt Cobra, top, and the Smith and Wesson Model 13, bottom are each fine all around defensive revolvers.

Bob Campbell

When Samuel Colt invented the revolver as we know it he turned the handgun world on its nose. Most handguns were horse pistols or pocket guns similar in design to rifles — simply shorter. The Colt revolver had to be designed to stabilize the firing hand to allow thumb cocking and to present the sights for proper aiming. The Colt revolver was an offensive firearm and a credible military firearm that hastened the western movement. In short it was an immensely important invention. Smith and Wesson’s original handgun was a lever action design that led to the Winchester repeating rifle, but that is another story. By the time of the Civil War both Smith and Wesson and Colt were manufacturing viable revolver designs.

colt vs smith and wesson
The S & W Perfected Double Action and Safety Hammerless are over 120 years old- and still function well, despite years of use.

After the war both companies manufactured distinctive revolvers. The hinged frame and later break top Smith and Wesson revolvers competed with Colt’s solid frame revolvers. The Colt sold better domestically while Smith and Wesson armed Russia and Japan among other armies. During the 1880s Colt began development of swing out cylinder double action revolvers that would bring the two companies products much closer in design and appearance. Colt’s revolvers such as the New Pocket featured a swing out cylinder, cylinder latch that pulled to the rear, and a smooth double action trigger. Smith and Wesson followed suit with the Hand Ejector, a similar size .32 caliber revolver. The Colt .32 Long is smaller in diameter than the .32 Smith and Wesson Long and will not interchange. At this point in time the companies were producing revolvers that in many ways were more similar than they differed.

colt vs smith and wesson
Once Colt perfected the swing out cylinder revolver the stage was set for revolvers for a hundred years to come.

In a few years there was another strong unifying movement in the handgun world. Preciously there had been proprietary cartridges for each maker. The .32 Colt, .32 Smith and Wesson, .38 Colt and .38 Smith and Wesson were among these. In general the .32 and .38 Colt cartridges were smaller and would chamber in the Smith and Wesson chambers but the cartridge case often split on firing. A big change was the introduction of the Smith and Wesson Military and Police .38 revolver. The .38 Colt was a dismal failure in action in the Philippines and at home as well. The US Army asked for a revolver more robust than the Colt 1892 and a more powerful cartridge. Smith and Wesson lengthened the .38 Long Colt cartridge slightly and improved performance from a 152 grain bullet at 750 fps to a 158 grain bullet at 850 fps. The .38 Special became the most popular revolver cartridge of all time. The older .38s were eclipsed.

colt vs smith and wesson
This Colt Army Special .38 had the barrel shortened many years ago.

While the Colt Single Action Army remained popular past its prime the primary spear point of competition for the two makers was in double action .38 Special revolvers. They traded in the top position in sales for some fifty years. During the 1930s the race was real with Colt having an edge. By the 1970s Smith and Wesson carried three quarters of the police market. Many felt that Smith and Wesson had the edge when they reinvested war time profits in new machinery and models after World War Two. Colt introduced some models such as the Python but Smith and Wesson introduced more models at more attractive prices. Eventually Smith and Wesson enjoyed a considerable price advantage over Colt for similar handguns. When I was growing up during the 1960s and beginning a life long interest in revolvers, my grandfather expressed a common opinion. He told me that he would not flip for the difference between the two. His favorite revolver was a Smith and Wesson Military and Police, but he liked the Colt Detective Special better than the Smith and Wesson Chief’s Special. I have pretty much the same preference.

colt vs smith and wesson
Top to bottom — A Colt Army Special, Colt .357 and a rare Colt Detective Special with 3-inch barrel.

I think that while the revolvers looked similar and handled the same there were differences in the grip and trigger action that had appeal to different shooters. The price point and good performance made Smith and Wesson the leader. There were many excellent revolvers manufactured during the heyday of this competition. The Combat Masterpiece, Shooting Master, Target Masterpiece, Trooper, Highway Patrolman, Python, Detective Special, Chief’s Special, Cobra, Python, and Combat Magnum were among them. Adjustable sights, ramp front sights, shrouded ejector rods, target triggers and hammers, trigger stops and red insert front sights were introduced. But just the same, the revolver manufactured in the greatest numbers was the plain vanilla Military and Police revolver.

colt vs smith and wesson
The Colt Army Special had the barrel cut at some time in the past — it was re-purposed as a snake charmer.

The differences in the revolvers were seldom based on quality of manufacture. While each may have had an occasional bad run this was rare. There were high points of production for each company. The Smith and Wesson Combat Magnum was probably the best balanced revolver of all time. Light enough for constant carry, durable in long use, accurate, smooth in operation, and firing the best man stopper we are likely to invent, this .357 Magnum revolver was a prestige revolver. The shrouded ejector rod and high visibility sights were important advantages. The K frame .38 has a skinny frame for use with Magnums but the development of target stocks and rubber recoil absorbing stocks went a long way toward taming Magnum recoil. The Colt action differed, and while smooth enough, the Colt was the more likely to go out of time after hard use. The Colt revolver cylinder rotates right into the frame, the Smith and Wesson to the left, and the rifling is also different. Today those who appreciate old iron are happy to find either revolver at a fair price.

colt vs smith and wesson
The Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum was the first Magnum and a classic handgun with excellent performance.

The heyday of the revolver may be over as far as law enforcement is concerned. But many of us find the revolver suits our needs well. Most are highly accurate and offer plenty of power. When I am hiking or traveling around Appalachia, the Blue Ridge and the Smokies I sometimes find myself in the vicinity of feral dogs and other dangerous wild life. The big cats are sometimes aggressive — I will never forget that my grandmothers’ cousin, a small child, was killed by a panther in the early 1920s. Fifty years later she recounted the story as if it were yesterday. I like something on my hip in the wild. A heavy loaded .38 Special or a .357 Magnum revolver just feels right. Will the revolver be a Colt or a Smith and Wesson? I own and enjoy both, more Colts than Smiths and would hate to part with either. Just the same, the gun on the hip is usually a Colt Python. But sometimes it is a Colt Single Action Army .45 or a beautifully smooth Colt Three-Fifty-Seven. I guess we know who won the battle with me — but lost the war.

colt vs smith and wesson
The author considers this 1917 .45 caliber Smith and Wesson N frame revolver among his front line working handguns.

REVIEW: Colt Cobra Revolver

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One of America’s premiere handgun makers just redesigned one of its premiere handguns: read all about the modernized Colt Cobra. Full REVIEW.

Colt Cobra

SOURCE: NRA/Shooting Illustrated, Dick Williams

From the mid-19th century (including our Civil War) up to World War I, Colt single-action revolvers were almost mandatory issue for the intrepid adventurers who put their shooting skills to work taming the Old West. Moving forward through the first 3/4 of the 20th century, vast numbers of lawmen and civilians alike carried the new Colt double-action revolvers manufactured at the company’s Hartford facility. No change in purpose: the newer revolvers were still used to correct unacceptably rude behavior, or advance unacceptably rude behavior. Despite the massive changeover to semi-auto pistols by law enforcement agencies around the 1970s, Colt continued providing double-action revolvers to private citizens (and backup guns for cops) until the new millennium when the company finally phased out production of the classic wheelgun. Well, they’re back!

Recognizing the strong demand for small revolvers in the self-defense market, Colt redesigned and is now producing a newer (and much better) version of its Cobra. It has a stainless-steel frame rather than lightweight aluminum and a shrouded ejector rod, but it still has a hammer design that allows both single-action and double-action firing, a push-to-the-rear cylinder-release latch, and holds 6 rounds of .38 Special. In keeping with today’s ammo trends, the new Colt Cobra is rated for +P loads.

Colt Cobra
(left) Prominently displaying its serpentine heritage, the Colt Cobra’s barrel sits atop a shrouded ejector. (right) Considering that most single-stack 9 mm semi-autos carry only six or seven rounds on board, the capacity of the Cobra isn’t much of a disadvantage.

The Colt Cobra is larger than the typical S&W J-frame 5-shot revolvers but still quite compact. It will fit in a box 7.2 inches x 4.9 inches x 1.4 inches. You could shrink the height and width a bit by replacing the Hogue grips with a smaller set of panels, but to me that would be a bad trade. While reduced dimensions might allow the gun to fit in a trouser pocket, the revolver’s empty weight of 25 ounces is more than double that of some 5-shot competitors making pocket carry dubious depending on one’s wardrobe and lifestyle.

Colt Cobra
(left) Colt’s signature cylinder release pulls to the rear, like Colt double-action revolvers should. (center & right) Despite “turning the wrong way,” the cylinder mechanism on the Colt Cobra rotates cleanly and offers smooth operation.

The new Colt Cobra has an attractive matte, satin finish, and while looks may be irrelevant in a self-defense handgun, the finish looked about the same after five days and perhaps 400-500 rounds fired without any cleaning. The Hogue rubber grips fit me perfectly, which helped absorb recoil and made the little six-shooter almost as easy to shoot well as a service/duty-sized gun. The plastic Cobra box contained an interesting trigger profile graph, which I didn’t find particularly interesting because I didn’t understand all of it. Doesn’t matter, because just dry firing the Cobra double-action convinced me it had a superb trigger. After a couple days on the square range, I took another look at the graph. It says that within the first 0.05-inch of travel, trigger pressure rises to just under 7 pounds and then smoothly increases another pound or so before the hammer falls after a total of 0.50 inches of travel. While the chart presents the facts, it doesn’t prepare you for just how great the Cobra’s trigger is. The trigger guard is enlarged behind the trigger to allow for the use of gloves.

Colt Cobra
(left) Carved into the topstrap, the rear sight’s simple notch is snag-free and intuitive. (center) Slightly too large for pocket carry, the Cobra is right at home in a Galco leather holster on the belt. (right) Hogue’s overmolded rubber grip makes for excellent purchase, but may catch on cover garments and outer layers.

The rear sight is simply a 1⁄8-inch-wide notch in the topstrap. It will not be readjusted either by you or by any hard object it might crash into. The front sight is a replaceable blade, and the test gun was in current vogue featuring a black blade with a red fiber-optic insert. The whole sight is replaceable because Colt anticipates offering other options up front such as a night sight or a plain-black post. Throughout my close-range drills, the front sight was superb. With any reasonable level of ambient light, the red optic almost forces the shooter to focus on it, and with the Cobra’s excellent ergonomics, the gun seemed to emerge from the holster with the red fiber pipe properly located in the rear notch and centered on the target. For my eyes, the rear sight could be a bit wider. Even in relatively bright daylight I could not see any light around the sides of the front sight blade, so I had no ability to judge windage. Such was not a problem inside 20 to 25 yards; if the red fiber is visible and on target, simply press that incredibly smooth double-action trigger for consistent hits.

Colt Cobra
(left) With the exposed hammer on the Colt Cobra, precise shots can be taken single-action. (right) While a red ramp or black blade might be more traditional, the red fiber-optic pipe is easily acquired in most settings.

As mentioned, the ejector rod is protected by a shroud that is integral to the barrel. Good thing, since a bent rod can really ruin your day in an armed confrontation. As on other “pocket revolvers,” the ejector rod is, by necessity, quite short with less than one inch of full travel.

When fully pressed, the .38 Spl. cases are still partially enclosed in the cylinder’s chambers. There’s good news and bad news here. Good news is that for a tactical or partial reload, a full-length stroke on the rod with the muzzle pointed downward leaves the fired cases sticking out of the chamber almost an inch while the unfired cases drop back into their chambers. It’s considerably easier plucking those empties from the Colt Cobra with that much case exposed. The bad news is that you really need to practice your speed loads, i.e. keeping the muzzle elevated when stroking the ejector rod, allowing gravity to help the empties drop clear of the weapon and ensure an empty case doesn’t drop back into its chamber beneath the extractor.

Colt Cobra
The Colt Cobra revolver, along with a Safariland Comp II speedloader, Al Mar SERE 2000 folding knife, LA Police Gear Operator Mini EDC flashlight, Galco Gunleather holster, and an NRA Carry Guard insurance card. It’s the centerpiece art of a complete defensive kit.

I don’t usually look forward to range visits with a pocket pistol when the objective is to perform the protocol tests. Firing through a chronograph or from a rest to test groups can be enlightening, but it is also usually boring and sometimes painful. It was not until after a five-day class at Gunsite that I took the still-uncleaned Colt Cobra to my home range for the basic data gathering. I set the distance at 15 yards. At Gunsite, I used Cor-Bon’s 147-grain FMJ .38 Spl. ammo. It has a small meplat (flat nose), which in my opinion, means it could be used for both training and defensive purposes. As it turned out, I had enough left to take some velocity measurements but not for the full-protocol accuracy tests. At 783 fps, the Cor-Bon’s velocity was exactly in the middle of all ammo tested through the Colt Cobra. Selection of other ammo was based on including as many “known” .38 Spl. preferences as possible.

Both the Remington wadcutters and lead round nose bullets demanded a seat at the table based upon historical usage. I’ve used the lighter-weight Hornady .38 Spl. loads before and been pleased with them, particularly in small revolvers. They are designed specifically for defensive use in short-barreled, light guns and are very manageable. In addition, they are “friendly” enough in popular, lightweight revolvers to encourage practice sessions, the elemental ingredient for competence.

But it was the Super Vel ammo that sparked a real romance and swept the little Colt Cobra across the dance floor. With an average muzzle velocity of 1,260 fps, it smoked the competition. Perhaps even more importantly, it was totally comfortable and controllable to shoot, something I attribute to the Hogue grips and the 25-ounce weight of the stainless steel gun. The Super Vel didn’t produce the single smallest group of the day (that was a string of Remington wadcutters, which somehow seems fitting after a decades-long reputation as the accuracy load for .38 Spl.), but it did produce the smallest average 5-shot groups for five strings. The new Super Vel .38 Spl. loads are absolutely my first choice of ammunition for the Cobra. It’s like an upgrade to .357 Mag. power without the pain.

There was not one malfunction during the five days at Gunsite or later when I shot the Colt Cobra at my home range.

So what is the niche that Colt’s new Cobra could fulfill in today’s self-defense market? Its 6-shot frame equipped with the oversize Hogue grips appears large for a trouser pocket pistol, clearly too big for all the jeans and most of the casual trousers I have, but it should carry well in a coat jacket pocket or ankle holster. I carried it for a week in a Galco belt holster and felt both physically and psychologically comfortable. Perhaps a purse or pouch carry technique might be best: manageable weight with no tell-tale bulge.

But to me, new shooters — especially those who are a bit intimidated or confused by the required manual-of-arms that must be mastered by the user of semi-automatic pistols — may benefit most from Colt’s return to wheelguns. There are two members of my family who much prefer the simplicity of revolvers, and the new Cobra is a superior choice to other the revolvers previously selected by my family crew. Think about the Cobra’s “not too heavy, not too light” 25 ounces, the excellent ergonomics and grips that mitigate recoil, and the gun’s incredibly consistent trigger. This is a revolver that can easily serve as a house gun, car gun, or carry gun. So please don’t tell me there’s no room for a new, compact revolver!

Colt Cobra specifications

Colt Cobra

Check out the factory site HERE 

CCI Adds Quartet of New ‘Big 4’ Loads

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CCI Ammunition, the only American manufacturer of handgun shotshells, has introduced four all-new handgun shotshells, featuring larger shot. They are available in four popular handgun calibers, as listed below:

Description / MSRP
Big 4 9mm Luger / $17.95
Big 4 .38 Special – .357 Magnum / $14.95
Big 4 .44 Special – .44 Magnum / $19.95
Big 4 .45 Colt / $19.95

Shipments of this new product are being delivered to dealers.

Centerfire handgun shotshells have long proven themselves as highly practical options for close-range pests, and the new CCI Big 4 loads get their names from a payload of No. 4 lead shot, which provides extended range and better energy and patterns to take down larger pests at longer distances.

The No. 4 lead handgun shotshells are packed in reusable boxes of 10 shotshells.
The No. 4 lead handgun shotshells are packed in reusable boxes of 10 shotshells.

 

 

SIG Sauer Introduces Elite Revolver Loads in 38 Special, 44 S&W Special and 45 Colt

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SIG Sauer Elite Performance Ammunition 125-grain 38 Special
SIG Sauer Elite Performance Ammunition 125-grain 38 Special

 

SIG Sauer Elite Performance Ammunition 230-grain 45 Colt
SIG Sauer Elite Performance Ammunition 230-grain 45 Colt

SIG Sauer Ammunition has introduced its first personal defense revolver cartridges, with loads in 38 Special, 44 S&W Special, and 45 Colt.

“With the recent proliferation of small-frame revolvers for personal defense, the demand for ammunition in these calibers is growing significantly,” said Dan Powers, president of the SIG Sauer Ammunition Division.  “SIG Sauer continues to expand caliber offerings for handgun shooters, which now includes the revolver market, and there will be introductions of additional revolver calibers in the coming weeks.”

All three cartridges are available in the SIG V-Crown jacketed hollow point (JHP) round of Elite Performance Ammunition in the following bullet weights:

— 125-grain 38 Special with a muzzle of velocity of 900 fps;

— 240-grain 44 S&W Special with a muzzle velocity of 800 fps; and

— 230-grain 45 Colt with a muzzle velocity of 950 fps.

Bullets are SIG Sauer’s proprietary V-Crown stacked hollow point. Ducta–Bright 7A coated brass cases provide enhanced lubricity and corrosion resistance.

The 38 Special is also available in SIG FMJ full-metal-jacket loads. Designed specifically for practice and competition shooting, these premium target rounds feature solid brass cases and copper-jacketed bullets that remain intact on impact. Clean-burning powders are used to reduce barrel fouling.

Click here to see ballistics for the SIG Sauer Ammunition line.

Click here to see our selection of SIG V-Crown bullets.