Sometimes the shape of the grip is everything. READ MORE
When choosing a double action revolver the shape of the handle makes a great deal of difference. The primary difference is between round butt and square butt grip frames. Smith and Wesson offers only one grip frame, the round butt, in modern revolvers while conversion grips allow the use of either round butt or square butt grips. Understanding the how and why of grip design will allow you to make the best choice for different chores. Let’s look at a little history and the pros and cons of round butt and square butt design. The first revolver grips were well designed and survive with little modification. The Colt Navy grip fits most hands well and the plow handled Single Action Army is similar. When double action trigger cocking revolvers were introduced there was a need to stabilize the grip as the trigger finger swings down and back rather than straight back as with the single action revolver. Recoil and abrupt edges began to be a concern with the grip design.
A grip frame that properly stabilized the firing hand was essential and slippage was a concern. Some revolvers had bird’s head type grips. This is an odd shape that while round in cross section in double action revolvers offers a stabilizing wedge. The square butt and round butt had made their appearance by 1870. Smith and Wesson’s first revolver, the No. 1, was introduced with a square butt but later models were manufactured with a round butt grip frame. Concealed carry and the ability to cup the small grip in the hand were advantages of the round butt.
When Smith and Wesson introduced the successful Military and Police double action revolver it was manufactured with a round butt grip frame. Eventually the square butt frame became more popular and the majority of Military and Police .38s were square butt revolvers. I frame revolvers were mostly round butt designs but the Regulation Police was a square butt design. The original .22 Kit Guns had special grips that fit over the I frame’s round butt. The J frame was much the same but today is offered in round configuration only. Target sighted revolvers were delivered with square butt frames and when the N frame .44 frame was introduced it was a square butt. When Smith and Wesson introduced the Model 19 Combat Magnum with 2.5 inch barrel it was designed as a round butt revolver. Among my prized revolvers is a Smith and Wesson Model 66 four inch barrel with round butt. It is relatively uncommon. This revolver and its good traits spurred this article forward. While Smith and Wesson revolvers are the ones I use most often Colt also had different frame designs. The Colt New Police and the first Police Positive revolvers had one of the most uncomfortable grip frames ever designed for a double action revolver in my opinion. The Colt Police Positive Special and the treatment given the Detective Special were great improvements. In the small calibers used in the Police Positive the grip frame didn’t matter as much. With the .38 Special things were getting uncomfortable.
With this background in mind we have a basis on which to choose our best hand fit. When Smith and Wesson went to the modern transfer bar actions they also went to the round butt grip frame. Both K and N frame revolvers have the same frame dimensions. (The Classic line differs.) This is fine for manufacturing process but not always the best for the consumer. The revolvers supplied with square butt grips are fitted with conversion grips that give the round butt grip a square butt profile. The worst kicking .44 Special I have ever fired was a Smith and Wesson Model 21 with the modern round butt and small pre Magna grips. I fitted a set of Culina round butt grips with plenty of wood as soon as possible and had a tractable and controllable revolver. The round butt is a good choice for fast handling defense revolvers. The square butt is best for target revolvers. The single action press must be controlled and the larger square butt grip allows that. As an example even the 2 inch barrel Combat Masterpiece with square butt grips is a very accurate revolver. As a field gun for accurate shooting well past fifty yards I will choose my proven Model 19 Combat Magnum with square butt grip. The hand remains in place when the thumb is used to cock the hammer for single action fire. On the other hand the Smith and Wesson Model 66 with four inch barrel and round butt handles quickly in double action fire. The round butt is less likely to print on covering garments when the 66 is worn concealed. The round butt is smaller and has less area but also invites a very fast grip acquisition. When firing heavy loads the smaller grip frame of the round butt may transfer more energy to the palm but that is a trade off — the trigger is more quickly manipulated, in my opinion, with the round butt grip. Another concern is heeling, sometimes called combat heeling. This is the effect when the handgun is gripped improperly too high on the grip. With this grip the shooter will often fire for the heart and hit the head unless the bullet simply flies over the head of the target. This is a product of hurried training and not taking time to affirm the grip. For what it is worth I believe that this type of problem is less likely with the round butt grip frame.
After firing revolvers for many years I have learned that how a grip feels may not necessarily mean it will give the best performance on the range. Smaller grips may actually make for more encirclement with the fingers and a stronger hold. Trigger reach may be slightly shorter with the round butt for most hand sizes. This is important when dealing with a double action revolver. Carefully consider your needs. Smith and Wesson began manufacturing their most successful double action revolvers with a round butt and today the round butt may be the best choice for most of us. I use both Hogue and Pachmayr grips with good results.
How about a 9mm, .38 and .357 in one package? READ MORE
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is among the best go anywhere solve any problem rifles. READ MORE
For most of my life I have kept a lever action rifle handy for all around use. I have taken more game with the lever action than with any other type. During my time as a peace officer I kept a Winchester Model 94 .30-30 WCF lever action rifle in the trunk on more than one occasion. Such a rifle is capable of solving most of the problems encountered. I have the greatest respect for the AR 15 rifle and enjoy firing and using my .223 rifles. Few rifles are as versatile, accurate, and reliable as a good AR 15. Few rifles may be used for varmints and deer by simply changing loads- and then fired in a competitive match that weekend! I simply like the lever action and value its simplicity and ruggedness. I have seen lever actions in the hands of outdoorsmen, scouts and working cowboys that were beaten, battered, and even muddy. These things happen after a decade or two of use. But the rifles always work. When the likely profile is that you may need only a shot or two but that the rifle needs to hit hard, a powerful lever action rifle is a viable choice.
Recently I was in the market for a short handy lever action rifle. I did not seriously consider a Trapper model in .30-30 but sought out a pistol caliber carbine. There are many reasons for this choice. First, it is easier to find a range that allows pistol caliber carbines and this is a real consideration in many areas. Second, I am an enthusiastic handloader. As long as the brass holds out and I am able to obtain lead, primers and powder I will be shooting. I don’t hoard ammunition; I simply keep a reasonable supply. Ammunition is for practice, training, hunting and personal defense. My retirement portfolio contains other choices! While I like the pistol caliber carbine I am not sold on the carbine and handgun combination. When carrying the Rossi lever action rifle I am as likely to be carrying a .357 Magnum revolver as a .45, and more likely to carry my everyday 1911 .45 automatic. A long gun and a handgun are for different duties and compromise is evident.
The lever action carbine slips behind the seat of a truck easily. It is flat, light, and may be made ready by quickly working the lever action. Once ready it may be made safe by simply lowering the hammer. Accuracy isn’t the long suit of the short pistol caliber carbine but it is accurate enough for most chores to 100 yards. Versatility is the long suit. It is a bonus that a good example isn’t expensive. I somehow found myself in the possession of Winchester 95 and Savage 99 high power rifles and a good Henry .22 rifle but no short powerful carbine. I addressed this deficit in the battery by purchasing a Rossi 92 carbine. These rifles are available in .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .45 Colt and .454 Casull, and I have seen examples in .44-40 as well. The .357 is economical and the best choice for Cowboy Action. With Magnum loads it is a fine defense caliber and will do for deer. The .44 Magnum is a great caliber. I have used it to drop large boar hogs and it hits like Thor’s hammer. The .44-40 is a handloading proposition for real power. I happened along a .45 Colt example. The rifle looked good, with nice Brazilian wood and the popular large ring lever. Since I had plenty of .45 Colt brass the choice wasn’t difficult. I have reached that pleasant stage in life when every firearm doesn’t have to have a well defined mission to earn its keep, and where a specialized firearm that does a few things well is good to have. The Rossi was destined to serve as a go anywhere do anything rifle. For short range hunting, probably an opportunity rather than a planned hunt, to dispatch predators, pests and dangerous animals, and for personal defense on the road, the Rossi seemed a good fit.
Despite my Scot blood I am not the cheapest guy in the world but the rifle set me back less than four hundred dollars and I like that. This is the first example I have owned in .45 Colt, but the particulars of the rifle are familiar to me. The sights are pretty basic. There is a front post with a small brass bead and an open sight in the rear. The front post is adjustable for windage — with the proper punch — and the rear sight may be adjusted for elevation by use of the sight ladder. You have to know how to use these sights. I have heard more than a little grumbling concerning the difficulty of sighting in similar rifles. The front post must be set in the bottom of the rear notch for the proper point of aim. You do not hold it in the upper part of the rear leaf or you will shoot impossibly high. A tubular under the barrel magazine holds eight rounds. The lever action rifle was once referred to as a bolt gun — period literature is hard to read sometimes but interesting. The bolt is locked by rear locking wedges. The rifle is unlocked by working the lever. As the lever travels downward, the bolt moves to the rear and the extractor pulls the spent case from the chamber. The fresh round is fed from the magazine into a shell carrier. As the lever is closed the carrier feeds a fresh round into the chamber. Rearward travel of the bolt cocks the hammer.
This is a generally reliable and trouble free system. However, be certain you learn to properly use the lever action. The lever is pressed forward, not down, and a certain cadence of fire comes with practice. I have witnessed the occasional malfunction in which a cartridge jumps from the magazine and under the carrier. This is devilishly hard to clear. A pistol caliber carbine such as the Rossi 92 has more leverage than a .30-30 rifle and the action may be manipulated more quickly. If need be you may put out a lot of lead with the Rossi 92. If you keep extra rounds on the belt the Rossi may be topped off one round at a time. The rifle weighs about five pounds loaded. It is only about 34 inches long — that’s compact. With the 16 inch barrel this rifle handles quickly and tracks between targets well. It is no trick to keep steel gongs moving at 50 yards. To test the rifle, firing at the 50 yard line, I set up an Innovative Targets steel target. This target is a great training aid. Using the steel insert rated for pistol calibers I was able to ring the target on demand.
As far as ammunition, the Rossi was fired for the most part with my personal handloads using a 255 grain cast SWC. With the .44 Magnum carbine I have had to crimp over the bullet shoulder in order to assure feed reliability- loads intended for use in a revolver sometimes did not feed correctly in the carbine. This wasn’t the case with the .45 Colt carbine. Most of these loads generate about 800 fps from a revolver. At 25 yards the handloads struck a bit right and low but this was easily adjusted. In factory ammunition there are several distinct classes of ammunition. These include cowboy action loads that are lighter than standard, standard pressure lead loads, and standard pressure personal defense loads. There are heavy hunting loads such as the ones offered by Buffalo Bore. I fired a representative sample of each class of load. I fired a quantity of the Winchester 225 gr. PDX JHP defense load and also the Speer 250 gr. Gold Dot JHP load. Each was mild to fire and accurate. The bonded bullets should be excellent for personal defense. I also fired a quantity of the Hornady Critical Defense. This 185 grain bullet struck below the point of aim but gave good feed reliability. It would have easy to adjust the sights if I wished to deploy this loading. I also fired a small quantity of the Buffalo Bore 225 grain all copper bullet. What struck me is that these loads are practically indistinguishable as far as recoil. Each was mild, with no more recoil than a .410 bore shotgun. Only the Buffalo Bore load was noticeably hotter. But you are getting serious horsepower.
Here are a few velocity figures — Winchester 225 grain PDX, 1090 fps Hornady FTX 185 grain Critical Defense, 1180 fps Buffalo Bore 225 grain Barnes, 1310 fps
The .45 Colt was designed for black powder way back in 1873. As such it is sometimes smoky and not as efficient as more modern calibers when loaded with smokeless powder. However a good quantity of the Black Hills cowboy action load gave both good accuracy and a full powder burn. A tight chamber and 16 inch barrel increases ballistic efficiency. As an example the Black Hills cowboy action loading breaks about 780 fps from a 4 ¾ inch barrel revolver, but over 1,000 fps from the Rossi carbine. While the bullet doesn’t expand it will do whatever the .45 Colt has ever done. The cartridge enjoys an excellent reputation as a manstopper. As for the gain in velocity over a handgun when ammunition is fired in the carbine, the average is a 100 fps gain with standard loads while heavier loads may gain 140-160 fps. This is a useful increase in power over the revolver but the real advantage is in accuracy. It is much easier to quickly get a hit with a carbine than with the handgun.
The action of the Rossi is easily the smoothest lever action I have used including original Winchester carbines. Pistol caliber carbines have plenty of leverage. The action is both smooth and reliable. The wood to metal fit is good, if not flawless. A point of contention is the L shaped safety found on the bolt. I simply ignore it. I would not remove it, some may wish to use it. Another source of some discussion was the large loop lever. This large loop is a great addition for use with gloved hands, but otherwise it isn’t more efficient than the standard loop. It may be slower to use than a standard loop. Still, it is the same large loop that Lucas McCain and Josh Randall used in the cinema and some like the looks. It is fast enough but in the final analysis serves no useful purpose and makes the light and flat carbine more difficult to store. I would not have sought out a big ring carbine, it was simply what was on the shelf. I did not feel strongly enough about the large ring to let it interfere with my decision to purchase the rifle. The same goes for caliber. Much could be said for the .44 Magnum version. However, the .45 Colt is a proven defense loading. At moderate range it will take deer sized game cleanly. I had the ammo. As for the buckskin tong around the saddle ring, ditch it. It sometimes interferes with handling.
Another option with the Rossi 92 is the availability of shot loads. I used a handful of Speer/CCI shot loads in the carbine with good results. I did not cycle the rounds in the action more than one at a time. I would load a single shot cartridge in the magazine, feed it into the chamber, then load another. You feel the cartridge crunch a little as it chambers. I have the impression that the shot capsule might crack and crumble in the magazine from the force of a metal cartridge head under spring pressure butting into the plastic shot carrier. You would have a mess! The shot pattern is useful to 5 yards or so in dealing with vermin and reptiles. I like the option in a go anywhere carbine.
When the Rossi is taken as a whole it is a capable carbine for many situations. It isn’t particularly accurate but it is accurate enough. It is inexpensive and fires a proven cartridge, with a good reserve of ammunition. If saddle rings and the big lever appeal to you the Rossi has much to recommend. But it is also a good performer and this is an attractive combination. When you look past the cinema depiction of the rifleman you realize that Lucas McCain was pretty smart to deploy a rifle and it gave him an advantage.
America’s hunters are increasingly under fire by political extremists. Here’s one NRA Member who won’t take that sitting down. READ MORE
Hunter and philanthropic consultant Britt Longoria has been at the center of an online hate campaign by animal rights extremists who don’t understand where their food comes from, and who show little understanding of what it’s like to actually hunt. The experience caused Longoria, who had previously kept her passion for hunting private, to open up and share her story.
Q: On your blog, you say you’ve been the butt of insults and threats by people who think of hunting as “murder.” Why do you think there are so many misconceptions about hunting? Where do you think that comes from?
Hollywood glamorizes death — and that’s just not reality. There’s a disconnect between what we see in the movies and what actually happens on the ground. Harvesting a life is a very humbling and emotional experience. Today, many people have no idea where the meat in the deli aisle at the super market comes from. They don’t necessarily make that connection that a living creature had to die for that ham sandwich. In order to live, we cause death. Our very survival impacts the world around us. Nothing is impact-free.
Q: What can we, as NRA members, do to change these misconceptions? Is it worth it to engage with the haters? What’s your advice on how best to do that?
Unfortunately, some of those misconceptions are actually our own fault. With social media, it’s all about how we present ourselves and the images we put out there. If we are only presenting what I call “grip-and-grin” trophy photos of our hunts, that doesn’t capture the full experience. We need to present the whole story of the hunt. That means showing what led up to that moment, and what happened next. We need to share how we feel on a hunt. Instead of trying to win over the haters with facts and figures about wildlife conservation and our economic impact, we really need to engage the haters on an emotional level. Non-hunters may not necessarily want to go hunting, but it helps them understand us as individuals. No one can argue with you when you are sharing your emotions with them. And if they’re not arguing, they are listening. And if they’re listening, perhaps they will learn something.
Q: Not long ago, you took a group of young boys out for their first bird hunt. You said it was interesting to hear them talk casually about the death and violence they saw on their favorite TV shows, and then to see their reaction when they saw it in real life and hunted their first bird. Can you tell us about that experience?
As I drove the vehicle, I listened to the boys, ages 9-11, behind me talking about one of their favorite TV shows, “The Walking Dead.” I was shocked by the level of violence they were describing in the show and how casually they were talking about it. But as soon as one of the boys shot a bird and the dog retrieved it, the boys were suddenly grossed out by the sight of the dog saliva and blood on the bird. None of them wanted to touch it. I quickly gutted the bird and pulled out the breast and showed them the meat. In that moment they realized, perhaps for the first time, where their chicken nuggets come from. It was a real eye-opening process for them to see how quickly something can go from being alive to a food source. They learned it wasn’t gross or icky, but natural. By the end of the afternoon, they were handling the birds and understanding the anatomy and different feathers.
Q: You’ve been blasted online for posting pictures of you smiling after a successful hunt. What’s happening in those pictures? What kind of emotions are you feeling that the snapshot doesn’t convey?
Snapshots do not convey the depth of the hunting experience, and the full range of emotions behind the intentional harvesting of a life in the wild. As hunters, we need to do a better job of telling our stories on social media. Behind every trophy picture is a roller coaster of emotions: we feel humbled, relieved, sad, and thankful. And above all, there is deep gratitude for the animal who gave its life.
Bob Campbell is the author of Gun Digest ‘The Accurate Handgun.’ Here are his thoughts on this topic. READ MORE
Over the decades I have researched handguns and used the terms practical accuracy, intrinsic accuracy, and absolute accuracy. Firing from the benchrest is important and always interesting. But absolute accuracy isnt as important as the practical accuracy we may coax from a handgun. I think handgunners don’t take accuracy as serious as riflemen. Perhaps most cannot shoot well enough to take advantage of the accuracy in a superbly accurate handgun and don’t bother. Competition seems to place a premium on speed rather than accuracy. In personal defense the balance of speed and accuracy is important. If you don’t think accuracy isnt important in personal defense we have been to a different church. Shot placement is accuracy. The standard of measuring accuracy has come to be a five shot group at 25 yards, This is fired from a solid braced position from a bench. I use the Bullshooters pistol rest to remove as many human factors as possible. There is some compromise with shorter barrel or lightweight handguns and they are tested at 15 yards.
The quality of the handgun, the fitting of the slide, the quality of the rifling, the sights, whether fine for target shooting or broad for fast results at combat range, are very important. The quality of the trigger press is important. The shooter is the most important part of the equation. There are those that may state that such testing of handguns is irrelevant as personal defense use almost always demands firing at less than ten yards. There is much validity to this argument. Not that combat shooting, drawing and firing and making a center hit, are not difficult. It may be reasonable to test an 8 3/8 inch barreled Magnum at even one hundred yards but a personal defense handgun with few exceptions will never be used past ten yards. Just the same those of us that test handguns like to take them to the Nth degree and test firearms accuracy. It is an interesting pursuit that is rewarding although there is some frustration in the beginning.
Service pistols, high end pistols and revolvers have different levels of accuracy. A revolver with five, six, seven or eight chambers that rotate to line up with the barrel for each shot is more accurate than it should be. As an example the Colt Official Police .38 and the Smith and Wesson K 38 are each capable of putting five shots into 2.2 to 2.5 inches at 25 yards with Federal Match ammunition. This is excellent target accuracy. When cops qualified with revolvers at 50 yards these handguns were up to the task. The Colt Python is easily the most accurate revolver I have tested and perhaps the most accurate handgun of any type. At a long 25 yards I fired a 15/16 inch group with the Federal 148 grain MATCH in .38 Special. This involved tremendous concentration and frankly it was exhausting. I have fired a similar group with the SIG P220, but this was unusual. The SIG will usually do 1.25 inch with the Federal 230 grain MATCH loading. The Python will group very nearly as well with full power Magnum loads. The Federal 180 grain JHP .357 Magnum is good for an inch at 25 yards, as an example. A much less expensive revolver is superbly accurate and nearly as accurate as the Python. The four inch barrel Ruger GP100 is good for groups about ninety per cent as good as the Python. It is also more rugged. As I have seen with 1911 handguns you pay a lot for the last degree of accuracy.
In self loaders the Les Baer Concept VI is a solid three inch gun at 50 yards. The SIG P220 I mentioned may not run a combat course as quickly as a 1911 handgun but it will prove more accurate than all but the finest custom guns. The Nighthawk Falcon is a well made and reliable handgun worth its price. I am surprised when it fires a group larger than 2.0 inches at 25 yards with quality ammunition. The Guncrafter Commander with No Name is among the most accurate 1911 handguns of any type I have tested. So far the single most accurate loading has been the Fiocchi 200 grain XTP with a 25 yard 1.4 inch group. This takes a great deal of concentration to achieve. However- this pistol is among the most accurate of handguns in offhand fire as well. Firing off hand at known and unknown ranges the pistol is surprisingly accurate.
When it comes to modern handguns it is interesting that there seems to be a race in both directions, to the top and to the bottom. Makers are attempting to manufacture the least expensive handgun possible that works. Someone buys it, and some of the handguns like the Ruger LC9/EDC types are reliable and useful defensive handguns. The same is true of revolvers. Even the inexpensive Taurus 450 .45 caliber revolver I often carry hiking will place five shots into less than two inches at 15 yards, reasonable for a revolver with a ported two inch barrel. I am unimpressed with the accuracy of many of the polymer framed striker fired handguns. I think that they are accurate enough and no more, but the trigger and sights are probably the limiting factory. Almost all fire five shots of service grade ammunition into 2.5 to 3.0 inches at 25 yards. High end handguns such as the Dan Wesson Heritage and Springfield Operator are more accurate than the majority of factory handguns of a generation ago. As an example thirty nine years ago I convinced the lead instructor and range master to allow some of us to carry to the 1911 .45. I barely managed to qualify with the Colt Commander Series 70 as qualification included barricade fire at 50 yards. With factory ammunition of the day the pistol would not group into ten inches at 50 yards, the military standard for 1911 handguns. Using a 200 grain SWC handload the pistol grouped into eight inches at 50 yards and I barely made the cut. The sights were small, the trigger heavy, and the grip tang cut my hand after fifty rounds. But the pistol was reliable, fast into action, and it was a Colt 1911. Later I added a Bar Sto barrel and enjoyed much better accuracy. Today a SIG 1911 Fastback Carry will group five rounds into 2.5 inches on demand at 25 yards and sometimes much less, and it is a factory pistol.
Other handguns are more accurate than most give them credit for. While the SIG P series is regarded as a very accurate handgun the CZ75B will give the SIG a run for the money. The CZ 75B is easily handled in off hand fire and very accurate. The Beretta 92 is also an accurate handgun as I discovered in instructors school when a veteran qualified with the Beretta 92. As a rule .40 caliber versions of the 9mm are not as accurate as the 9mm version but there are exceptions. The SIG P229 in .40 is an accurate and reliable handgun that makes an excellent go anywhere do anything handgun. My example will place five rounds of the Fiocchi 180 grain XTP load into 2.0 inches at 25 yards on demand. Accuracy is interesting. There are other considerations such as how quickly the pistol may be drawn and placed on target, and control in rapid fire is important. Reliability is far more important. But accurate handguns are interesting.
A lifelong fan looks at the two greats of the revolver world. READ MORE
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Seven new anti-gun bills are now law in California. Oh wait… And one more Monday makes eight! READ MORE
Last Friday, Governor Newsom signed seven anti-gun bills into law — continuing the assault on our Second Amendment rights in the Golden State. These new laws pile onto the hundreds of existing laws and, like the others, will be equally ignored by criminals. Your NRA will not back down while we explore further action on these new laws.
Assembly Bill 12, sponsored by Assembly Member Jacqui Irwin (D-44), would extend the duration of California’s “gun violence restraining order” law from one year to a period of up to five years. Meaning a person could be prohibited from owning and possessing firearms for five years at a time without ever being adjudicated as dangerously mentally ill or convicted of a crime.
Assembly Bill 61, sponsored by Assembly Member Philip Ting (D-19), would expand the list of those eligible to file “gun violence restraining orders” beyond the currently authorized petitioners, which include immediate family and law enforcement. The new list is expanded to employers, coworkers and employees of a secondary or postsecondary school that the person has attended in the last 6 months. GVRO’s can remove a person’s Second Amendment rights, not based on criminal convictions or mental health adjudications, but based on third party allegations, often without due process until weeks after a person’s rights have been suspended.
Assembly Bill 879, sponsored by Assembly Member Mike Gipson (D-64), would require precursor firearms parts to be sold/transferred through a licensed precursor parts dealer in a similar process to the new laws regarding ammunition purchases. It would further create a registry of these parts and a new crime for transfer of precursor parts without the involvement of a licensed precursor parts dealer to anyone under 21 years of age or prohibited from owning firearms. Precursor parts include items such as unfinished frames and receivers.
Assembly Bill 893, sponsored by Assembly Member Todd Gloria (D-78), would prohibit the sale of firearms and ammunition at the Del Mar fairgrounds located in the 22nd District Agricultural Association on and after January 1, 2021.
Assembly Bill 1297, sponsored by Assembly Member Kevin McCarty (D-7), would remove the maximum fee a local authority can charge on the concealed carry permit application.
Assembly Bill 1669, sponsored by Assembly Member Rob Bonta (D-18), would raise the fees paid by consumers when purchasing firearms. The DROS account has generated a massive surplus at times, so much so that tens of millions of dollars that have been utilized to fund other DOJ programs, including a $24 million dollar loan to the Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS) just a few years ago. This legislation appears nothing more than an effort to put more cost constraints on gun owners to foot the bill for the massive cost pressures the legislature has put on DOJ in recent years including ammunition background checks and long gun registration.
Senate Bill 61, sponsored by Senator Anthony Portantino (D-25), as amended would expand California’s existing one handgun a month law to also apply to handguns or centerfire semi-automatic rifles, with limited exceptions. Further the bill expands the prohibition on acquisition of firearms by a person under 21 years of age by eliminating the existing exception for 18-20 year-olds with a valid hunting license.
But that’s not all folks!
California: Anti-Gun and Anti-Hunting Bill Signed into Law
Prior to the October 13 deadline, Governor Newsom signed the final anti-gun and anti-hunting bills, AB 1254 and SB 172 into law. These two bills, combined with the seven anti-gun bills just shown and signed into law on Friday, made it a tough year for gun owners and sportsmen in the Golden State as our Second Amendment Rights and Hunting Heritage were under an all out assault. Your NRA will not back down and will continue to explore further action on these new laws.
Assembly Bill 1254, sponsored by Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-54) would prohibit the ability to hunt, trap or otherwise take a bobcat except in specified circumstances including depredation permits.
Senate Bill 172, sponsored by Senator Anthony Portantino (D-25), would expand California’s existing storage laws and includes harsh penalties, such as a 10 year ban on firearm ownership.
“This isn’t a two thousand dollar gun but it shoots like one!” Attention hard-hitting 1911 fans, here’s a 10mm Commander to check out. READ WHY
Some time ago the 10mm cartridge hit the ground running and enjoyed a flash of popularity. Soon after the 10mm was eclipsed by the .40 Smith & Wesson cartridge. The 10mm was kept going by a small but loyal base. But the 10mm is enjoying a credible comeback. I think that a learned appraisal of the cartridge is part of the reason. The 10mm isn’t a .41 Magnum but with modern loads it nips at the heels of the .357 Magnum with certain offerings. There are 10mm loads with modest recoil that are easily handled and others that breathe fire and recoil like a drum roll. We have rapidly expanding frangible loads, jacketed hollow point bullets with an excellent balance of expansion and penetration, and hard cast bullets that feature deep penetration for game hunting.
I recently tested a very expensive handgun called “The Gun With No Name.” That three thousand dollar 1911 was stylish with no scroll work to distract from the beautifully machined slide. It inspired the handgun reviewed here, the Rock Island Commander 10mm — yep, a Commander-length 10mm — has had the slide “wiped” of the markings some of us find distracting (although this pistol still has ‘RIA’ in the serial number). It’s the Tac Ultra MS.
The Philippine produced Armscor pistols are affordable but workmanlike handguns that enjoy a deserved good reputation. The company produces bare-bone bones GI guns and also target pistols. The ‘Rock’ is offered in 9mm, .38 Super, 10mm, .45 ACP, and .22 Magnum, as well as the .22 TCM caliber. The pistol illustrated is a Commander type with 4.25 inch barrel. The kicker is this is a 10mm Commander, a relative rarity in the 1911 world.
While the slide treatment and refinish are aftermarket and custom grade, the best things about the handgun were already in place. The pistol features a bushingless bull barrel. This means that the barrel dispenses with the typical 1911 barrel bushing but uses a belled barrel to lock up with the slide. This makes the full-length guide rod necessary. The pistol features a bold front post sight with fiber optic insert. The rear sight is a compact but fully adjustable version. The ejection port is nicely scalloped with a unique and attractive treatment. The beavertail grip safety is an aid in insuring the grip safety is properly pressed to release its hold on the trigger. Those that use the thumbs forward grip sometimes form a hollow in the palm and fail to properly depress the grip safety. The RIA beavertail eliminates this concern. The extended slide lock safety is an ambidextrous design. The indent is clean and sharp. Trigger compression is a tight 5.2 pounds on my Lyman Electronic Trigger Gauge. The grips are checkered G10. The pistol is supplied with two magazines, and I added several additional MecGar magazines into the mix for testing.
For the test fire the magazines were loaded with SIG Sauer Elite FMJ 10mm. This load is clean burning, affordable, and accurate enough for meaningful practice. The pistol comes on target quickly and handles like a 1911. The low bore axis, straight to the rear trigger compression and hand fitting grip make for excellent handling. The pistol proved capable of center punching the target time and again at 7, 10, and 15 yards. The pistol is controllable but this isn’t a 9mm that you may punch holes in the target with at will. The much higher recoiling 10mm demands a firm grip and focused concentration. The mantra here isn’t a nicely centered group on target but a few solid hits with plenty of horsepower. Be certain you understand this before trying the 10mm. It isn’t something to be taken lightly. If you choose the 10mm you have a cartridge with excellent penetration, good wound potential, and, if need be, the ability to protect the owner against dangerous animals.
I also fired a number of first-rate defense loads. These included the SIG Sauer V Crown hollow point, the Buffalo Bore 155 grain Barnes X bullet, Hornady 180 grain XTP, and the Federal 200 grain HST. I fired a magazine full of each. No failures to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. Even firing these loads the pistol remained controllable. I fired, allowed the trigger to reset in recoil, and fired again as the sights were returned to target. To test absolute accuracy I fired the pistol from a solid bench rest position at 20 yards. I used the Hornady 180 grain XTP and the SIG Sauer 180 grain FMJ loading. The results were good, with the average group at 2.5 inches. The Rock Island 10mm pistol is clearly accurate enough for personal defense and perhaps even hunting thin-skinned game or wild boar out to 35 yards or so.
The author says the Colt’s is still the AR-style rifle by which all others are judged. READ WHY
There are several variations on the Colt’s AR 15 rifle. While I have my favorites any of the Colt’s will give long service in the harshest environments. It is like the old question of do you know the difference between an elephant and an ant? An ant can ride an elephant — many companies have done the AR 15 and some have done it well but the Colt’s is still the one that all others are judged by. On that subject the same may be said in spades concerning the Colt 1911. The pistol has been first with the most since 1911. While there are high grade handguns that are good examples of the maker’s art, those that cost less than the Colt are, well, cheaper guns.
I elected to go a field test of these guns. You have to get down and dirty sometimes. I appreciate my firearms but they are workers. I also love my shiny near new Jeep, but I took it across the Jeep Beach at the Outer Banks. That is what it is made for.
The Colt’s LE6940 was good enough to cause me to retire my long serving Colt’s HBAR. The LE6940 carbine is about as accurate in practical terms as the longer rifle and carries much easier. I like it better. With a flat top, a CNC machined 7075-T6 Aluminum forging, and Colt’s quality, this is a winning combination. A chrome lined bore, four position collapsible stock and the classic flash hider are all hallmarks of the carbine. It uses .0154 inch hammer and trigger pins so be certain to specify Colt when ordering an aftermarket trigger or parts. The chamber is a 5.56mm NATO, and the barrel twist is 1-7. The barrel is .750 inch diameter at the meeting of the gas block, slightly less the rest of its length. The trigger and safety are crisp in operation. One example is fitted with the XS sights rear aperture that allows using the conventional sight picture at longer range while using the sight notch at 7 yards. The Paul Howe designed CSAT makes for great utility for home defense use. The other sports a Redfield Battlezone optic.
I fired 80 rounds in each rifle, firing from 25 to 100 yards, firing at quickly as I could regain the sight picture. The iron sighted rifle was by no means hopeless at the longer range but very fast at close combat range. The scoped rifle is a joy to fire and use at longer range. Both rifles, using PMag magazines, were completely reliable. The rifles have been fired extensively but this was the first outing with SIG Elite ammunition. The combination proved a happy one. I used the SIG 55 grain FMJ loading with good results. There were no function problems of any type.
The next step was firing for accuracy. I used the Sig Sauer Elite Match .223 Remington Open Tip Match (OTM) 77 grain E223M1-20 loading. This load has proven accurate in a number of rifles and I thought now was a good time to qualify its performance in the Colt rifle. I fired twenty cartridges in the open sighted Colt first. While I am not quite as sharp as I was once with iron sights I did well enough at a long 100 yards, placing three shots into groups of 1.7 to 3.0 inches. I suppose that is good enough for government work. The other Colt, with its optical sight, made things much easier. This time I realize the full accuracy potential of the loading. At 100 yards the Colt/SIG Ammo combination posted an average group of .88 inch, measuring the group from the center of each of the most widely spaced holes in the target. That is good enough to ride with.
Neither rifle was cleaned during this test.
Following an incredibly successful effort last year, an elk tag for the 2019 Tennessee elk hunt will be available again this year through a raffle to be held by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation (TWRF). Last year the effort raised more than $220,000 for the Tennessee elk management program. Previously, when the tag was sold at auction, the most ever raised was $17,000.
This year a single ticket costs $20. Three tickets are available for $50, and 10 can be purchased for $100 and are on sale now until August 2. There is no limit to the number of raffle tickets that can be purchased.
The grand prize winner will have the opportunity to participate in the October 2019 rifle elk hunt in the premier Elk Hunting Zone within North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area. In addition to the elk tag, the grand prize winner will also receive a Best of the West Mountain Scout Rifle, with a Huskermaw Blue Diamond long range scope, and the option to have it filmed for an episode of The Best of the West Outdoor television series.
In addition to the grand prize, the TWRF has secured four other prize packages. A complete list of the prizes can be found at www.twrf.net.
Since the elk hunt was implemented in 2009, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has donated a permit to a Non-Governmental Organization to join other participants who will be chosen from a computer drawing.
“The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission’s decision to offer an additional conservation tag is an innovative way to raise additional funding for habitat management and restoration,” said Joey Woodard, TWRF executive director. “We are proud to support the TWRA in this effort, and we have partnered with leaders in the outdoors industry to help us grow this initiative.”
Raffle tickets may be purchased online directly from the TWRF website.
A Chance to Hunt Elk in Tennessee and Win Great Prizes.
The Grand Prize winner will have the opportunity to participate in the fall 2019 rifle elk hunt on North Cumberland WMA in the premier Elk Hunting Zone 1. The Grand Prize winner will also receive The Best of the West Mountain Scout Rifle in 6.5 PRC topped with a Huskemaw 4-16×42 Blue Diamond long range scope. (Valued at $8,900) But that’s not all, the winner can have their elk hunt filmed for an episode of The Best of the West outdoor television series.
A 2019 Polaris Ranger 570 in Pursuit Camo. The RANGER® 570 delivers the best-in-class 2-person utility side-by-side performance with 44 HP and True On-Demand All Wheel Drive. This workhorse is equipped with the features you need to get the job done, and the comfort you want for a day on the trails or around the property. (Valued at $10,200)
$2,500.00 Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s Gift Card. Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s offers the most comprehensive selection of Fishing, Hunting, Camping, Boating, and Outdoor Gear, that you will find anywhere. The Gift Card can be redeemed for online purchases, catalog orders, and purchases made at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s retail stores.
Knight .50 Caliber Mountaineer Muzzleloader. The Mountaineer features a 27” fluted solid 416 stainless steel match grade Green Mountain barrel with a laminated straight stock finished in nutmeg. This beautiful muzzleloader is claimed by many to be the most reliable and accurate muzzle loader on the market today, guaranteed MOA to 200 yards. (Valued at $1,125)
Hunters Gear Package.
• Grizzly 40 Quart Cooler.
• Pack Rabbit E.T.H. Chest Vest.
• Pack Rabbit BCH60 Versatile Pack System.
• ESEE JG5 Fixed Blade Knife.
• LaCrosse Footwear Gift Certificate for any pair of LaCrosse boots.
(Package valued at $1,100)
The deadline for purchasing tickets is Friday, August 2 at 11:59 p.m. (CDT). The electronic drawing will be held Aug. 5 and the winners will be announced at the commission’s Aug. 16 meeting.
“The results from last year’s raffle generated $224,840 in revenue and there was only one lucky winner,” said Woodard. “Although there’s still only one elk tag up for grabs, participants will have five chances to win valuable prizes this year and that should generate even more ticket sales to support conservation.”
TWRF is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting habitat conservation, responsible land stewardship, and Tennessee’s hunting and fishing heritage for the benefit of TWRA and Tennessee’s outdoor enthusiasts.