Tag Archives: double action revolvers

Joe Friday’s Gun

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This old .38 is a formidable handgun. READ MORE

joe friday
This is a useful revolver with value beyond the fascination with Dragnet.

Heyward Williams

Among the first police procedural dramas was Dragnet. Dragnet was down to earth and presented the facts well. As a child I enjoyed the series very much. Dragnet still has much to recommend. Professionalism and results are valued. Later many of the prima donnas and flawed characters in TV shows were less interesting. Few would have lasted a minute in any agency I worked for. Some of the shows were basically good trash versus bad trash and the good trash wins. Then we had the original Criminal Minds. While they compressed a six month investigation into an hour show the original was very good. Then the show devolved into ridiculous plots and became basically a show case for personalities. The tired old plot of cop gets framed or cop gets divorce and a lack of originality seems to dog many shows after the first season. Kind of a soap opera. The point of my dialogue is Dragnet was a very good show and it set the pace for some of the better dramas such as Law and Order. As long as there are criminals and cases there will be fertile ground for police dramas. If you can read a file and get the facts then you can write a dramatization of it. And it doesn’t take a show of force akin to an Israeli police action against terror to get the job done. Joe Friday, like all LAPD detectives of the day, carried a .38 Special revolver.

joe friday
A four inch barrel Military and Police .38, above, compared to the two inch barrel revolver.

I began my reading and research in the firearms world with well written books by C B Colby. His work whetted my interest in firearms and most were written in simple prose that a nine year old could understand. As I progressed to reading Gun Digest I learned a great deal about handguns. By age eleven I had a Crossman air pistol and had fired several of my grandfather’s revolvers. I knew that Joe Friday carried a Military and Police .38 Special with a two inch barrel. This was one of the first short barrel .38 Special revolvers, introduced just before Colt’s Detective Special. The Military and Police revolver is a K frame revolver. It is considerably larger than the J frame five shot revolver. The Military and Police revolver features a full size grip that makes control good for experienced shooters. The sights are excellent for a fixed sight revolver. The action is smooth. While the smaller frame Detective Special has much merit the Military and Police snub nose is a fast handling and effective revolver.

joe friday
The Smith’s fixed sights are precise when properly aligned and fast to pick up.

I had wanted one of these revolvers after seeing Joe Friday draw and use his on Dragnet. Very seldom was the big Smith used but when it was Friday fired a single shot and got the job done. The lumbering old 200 grain Super Police load was standard for the LAPD in those days. While Friday’s gun fired blanks the LAPD fired many Super Police loads in the line of duty. I have owned a good number of J frame revolvers, primarily for use as a backup, and somehow I hadn’t added a full size Military and Police .38 Special revolver with two inch barrel to my collection. I kept my eye open for an example and actually ran across one about three years ago at a fair price. This was the first and last time I entered this shop. (It is now out of business.) I saw an older Smith and Wesson two inch barrel Model Ten with the desirable diamond grips. The revolver had a bit of wear, just like I like. A nice looking lady of perhaps forty years age handed me the revolver and we were within a few dollars of making the deal. A crusty overweight sourpuss (the owner) came to stand beside his daughter. I held the gun up to the light looking it over and remarked, ‘Hey this is Joe Friday’s gun.’ Sourpuss said, ‘I don’t care who in the hell pawned it it’s mine now.’ Seldom have I met such a solid combination of ignorance, disdain for a customer, and a lack of personality. I smiled at his lovely daughter and said ‘Let me think about it.’ I never graced the place again.

joe friday
A snubby barrel makes for fast handling.
joe friday
The revolver came with a chip out of the stock at no extra charge.

A few weeks ago I saw another of the now hard to find revolvers. The piece was in one of my favorite shops and it was marked at a fair price. I managed to whittle a few dollars off the price and took the piece home, cracked grip, worn muzzle and all. I didn’t want a new in the box example at all and that wasn’t in the budget. The action is tight and a check of the serial number showed the revolver left the factory in 1972. The bluing was decent and the chip off the bottom of the grip didn’t affect firing. Who knows — perhaps someone had used the gun butt as a kosh and buffaloed some deserving SOB. The Smith and Wesson Military and Police is a trouble free revolver. You could by pass every new revolver in the gun case at a well stocked gun shop and pick up a new Military and Police revolver and have a handgun that will last you for many years with heavy use.

joe friday
Several Remington .38 Special loads gave good results in the Model Ten.

I took the revolver to the range and loaded up the classic 158 grain RNL in the Remington Wheelgunner line. The revolver lines up on target quickly. Accuracy is good. The K frame really soaks up recoil. At 10 yards it was no mean feat to put six rounds into the X ring firing double action. Of course we don’t carry RNL loads. The Remington lead semi wadcutter hollow point is soft enough to plump up to .60 even at 820 fps, the clocked velocity from the Smith’s short barrel. There was more recoil with this 158 grain load but the big Smith and Wesson remained controllable. After firing a number of double action pairs I appreciated Sgt. Friday’s choice. This is a good handling revolver. The two inch barrel allows good concealment even when worn on the belt as a relatively short covering garment will conceal this handgun. I even tried a few shots at a long 20 yards. Bracing against a barricade and firing five rounds single action all five went into less than two inches- with three in 1.5 inches. These were among the most accurate revolvers to leave Smith and Wesson. Since the initial outing I have also fired a number of handloads using heavy cast bullets from Matt’s Bullets. A hard cast 200 grain bullet at 800 fps thumps the steel plates hard. Not recommended for J frame revolvers.

Joe Friday carried his Smith in a crossdraw holster. My research indicates this was a Lewis holster, a well made scabbard long out of production. I have on hand a spring loaded G Man crossdraw from the 1940s or so. The Smith and Wesson fit well and the draw was excellent. The holster has become loose with the years and that wont do. A modern Wright Leather Works crossdraw is superior to most anything Joe Friday would have owned. The Smith and Wesson Military and Police is a good fit for this holster, originally intended for a Smith and Wesson Combat Magnum with 2.5 inch barrel. The Wright Leather Works holster holds the gun butt in the perfect position for a rapid presentation.

In the end I like this combination very much. I am certain I will be using the Smith and Wesson .38 when hiking or other low stress activity and probably carrying it concealed from time to time. I would rather have this vintage Smith and Wesson than perhaps half of the guns I see in shooting classes. And that’s the facts — just the facts.

38
Wright Leatherworks offers first class concealment leather.

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: Charter Arms Professional

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This is a great all-around revolver for personal defense and field use — and also a fun gun to spend a day at the range with! READ MORE

Charter Arms Professional
The Charter Arms Professional is a clean design with much to recommend.

Bob Campbell

I have used Charter Arms revolvers for more than 40 years. Charter was introduced in the 1960s and armed many Americans at a time when truly good affordable guns were scarce. The Charter Arms design features a transfer bar ignition for safety, among the first revolvers to do so. The frame is steel also it is enclosed by aluminum to save weight. The revolvers have always been available with well designed grips. The sights are wide and easily picked up quickly. Quite simply you get your money’s worth with the Charter Arms, and perhaps then some. The Charter Arms .44 Special Bulldog is the most famous product but revolvers in .22 Long Rifle, .22 Magnum, .32 Smith and Wesson Long, .38 Special, .357 Magnum and perhaps a few others have been offered. The revolver illustrated is among the most interesting.

Charter Arms Professional
While light the Charter Arms Professional proved easy to use well.

The Charter Arms Professional is a small frame revolver with a 3-inch barrel, hand filling grips, a double action/single action mechanism, good sights, and a nice finish. Open the cylinder by pushing the cylinder release forward and you will see a 7-shot cylinder chambered in .32 H&R Magnum. The pistol uses the classic Charter Arms steel frame but the finish is a modern black nitride. I cannot see any problem with the durability of this finish. The rear sight is wide and broad like all Charter Arms revolvers while the front sight is a fiber optic insert. This green insert is high visibility and easily acquired for speed shooting. Despite the light twenty two ounce weight the Charter Arms Professional has proven a light kicker with standard loads. The action is as smooth as any modern production double action revolver. In single action mode the trigger breaks at 4.5 pounds. I like the revolver a lot and after firing more than four hundred cartridges I have formed a good opinion of the revolver.

Charter Arms Professional
A heavy underlugged barrel provides good balance.
Charter Arms Professional
The fiber optic front post is a good option for all of us but especially aging eyes.
Charter Arms Professional
The rear sight is broad and easily acquired for fast shooting.

My primarily loading has been the Black Hills Ammunition cowboy load, a lead bullet with modest recoil and good accuracy. I have also used the 85 grain JHP at 1055 fps. The revolver is very easy to use well and to fire quickly. A trained shooter will find a neat group of cartridges on the target, well centered at 7 yards. The revolver tended to fire slightly low. I accommodated this by holding the front optic sight slightly higher than the rear sight, resulting in the bullets homing in on target. The revolver is more than accurate enough for filed and camp use, exhibiting five shot groups of 2-2.5 inches on paper at 15 yards when carefully bench-rested. Frankly I went overboard on both time and ammunition budget goals with this revolver. It is simply a fun gun to shoot. As for a comparison to .38 Special recoil, the .32 Magnum kicks much less than the .38 Special. I can place seven .32 Magnums into a man sized target in the same time, approximately, I can place five .38s into the target. The .32 H and R Magnum isnt as powerful as the .38 Special but then accuracy can often make up for power. The reverse is seldom true. The .32 H and R Magnum offers reasonable power for the light recoil. As an example the Hornady Critical defense at 1040 fps penetrated well past twelve inches in testing and expanded well.

Charter Arms Professional
The Professional proved reliable and accurate in extensive testing.

It is difficult to separate the cartridge from the handgun and a look at the .32 Magnum is wise. The .32 Magnum it seems was originally intended as a crackerjack field round. For small game the .32 is a hand loaders dream- economical, accurate, and effective on small game. For personal defense it is more problematical. As we grow older we are more sensitive to recoil, the skin is thinner, and the joints ache. A .38 Special revolver, particularly a lightweight version, stings and may just be too much for many shooters. The .32 Magnum is a reasonable alternative. Most 85 grain jacketed hollow point loads will clock 1000 to 1100 fps from the Charter Arms Professional’s three inch barrel. This is approximately .380 ACP class, perhaps a bit more energy, but less expanded diameter. The .32 revolver with standard loads offers light recoil. It is a trade off but a reasonable one. The .32 Smith & Wesson Long, as an example, pushes a 98 grain RNL bullet to a miserable 690 fps!

Charter Arms Professional
The .32 H and R Magnum, left, compared to the .38 Special, right.
Charter Arms Professional
A 5- and a 6-shot .38 Special compared to the 7 shot Charter Arms Professional .32 H and R Magnum, on right.

I liked the revolver enough to experiment with a couple of loads from Buffalo Bore. We are introducing extra recoil into a package that was designed to offer lighter recoil, but we are also increasing wound potential substantially. If carrying the revolver for defense against feral dogs or the big cats the Buffalo Bore loads change the equation. The 100 grain JHP is surprisingly fast — 1220 fps. The point of impact is raised and the revolver is dead on the money at 15 yards. This load is closer to the .38 Special in recoil but offers excellent penetration and expansion. The 130 grain flat point hard cast load breaks 1190 fps. This is a stout load that sometimes offers sticky extraction and should be used sparingly. Recoil is there with this load. Buffalo Bore designed this loading to penetrate the skull of a bear in a last ditch effort to save your life. It will penetrate forty inches of gelatin or more. These loads offer another option in the field for those wanting a lightweight but credible protection handgun.

Charter Arms Professional
With both lead and jacketed hollow point loads available the .32 H and R Magnum is relatively affordable.
Charter Arms Professional
The author fired a Critical Defense bullet into soft mud, left, into water jugs, center, and that is a 100 grain Hornady XTP fired into water, a Buffalo Bore loading.

Loaded with standard loads seniors or inexperienced shooters have a revolver they can use well. Accuracy can make up for power, the reverse is seldom true, and the Charter Arms Professional .32 H&R Magnum has plenty of power and accuracy.

Charter Arms Professional
Compared to the Colt Cobra, top, the Charter Arms Professional is lighter but has a longer barrel.

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