Tag Archives: REVOLVERS

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.

SKILLS: Holsterless Handguns — Viable?

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A true packing pistol should be viable if simply shoved in the waistband… READ MORE

no holster carry
Carrying the piece crossdraw in the waistband works well for many shooters.

Bob Campbell

For years most of us have counseled concealed carry handgun carriers to choose a proper holster. A holster keeps the handgun stable and angled for the proper draw. Just the same, who am I to go against two hundred years or more of tradition? Wild Bill Hickock kept his revolvers in a tightly woven sash. Few early holsters were suitable for concealed carry. Even today many folks like pocket carry. I will leave that for another time. Many of us like to shove a handgun in the belt for a quick run to the store or for more casual carry. Among my friends that are retired cops the trend seems to be toward such carry. That’s fine as long as they know what they are doing. The handgun must be tightly sandwiched in between the belt and the body and reasonably secure, not likely to be dislodged. I am not recommending concealed carry with no holster, far from it, but I am also a realist and feel that this common practice should be discussed.

no holster carry
If there were ever a better packing revolver than the Colt SAA the author has never seen it.

Sam Colt designed pocket, belt and holster guns. Each was a different size, for different needs. They generally ran .31, .36 and .44 caliber. Today we have sub-compact, compact and service size pistols. Some are less suited for concealed carry than others. As an example, I usually carry a Commander .45. I may carry a Government Model .45. I have learned after much experimentation that rail guns can be tricky on the draw. The Springfield Operator seems the best of the bunch when coupled with the Galco N3 holster, and a sharp draw isn’t difficult. Sometimes this isn’t true with other designs. If you are going to carry the 1911 in the waistband then the casual outlook probably doesn’t include a rail for mounting a combat light. The rail may snag on clothing. It is important to practice the draw. It is obvious that carrying the pistol cocked and locked isn’t the best idea if the handgun isn’t carried in a holster. The 1911 may reasonably be carried hammer down in relative safety if the pistol features a firing pin block or extra strength firing pin spring as most all modern 1911s do.

no holster carry
A cocked and locked 1911 rail gun, upper, may not be the best choice for waistband carry. The P210 9mm, lower, is long but slim and rides well without a holster. It is also easy to cock the hammer quickly.
no holster carry
This rail may snag the undergarments — practice a few draws to be certain.

The problem is cocking the hammer on the draw. It isn’t that difficult with the modern Government Model with a spur hammer. Some practice needs to go into this draw and making the pistol ready. It is slower than cocked and locked carry. But it is faster than carrying with an empty chamber. If you are carrying a self loading handgun with an empty chamber you really need to be carrying a revolver! When it comes to other single action hammered self loaders we have a mixed bunch. I am not exactly a snowflake, but I find the hammer of the Browning High Power 9mm very difficult to cock on the draw. The hammer is powered by a very heavy spring. The High Power will certainly crack most any primer, which is the design intent, but that hammer renders the High Power much less desirable for holsterless carry. I have to use two hands to rack the High Power. The CZ 75 is another matter. This piece is snug against the body, nearly perfect for carrying in the waistband. While the CZ is a double action first shot pistol it is pretty easy to cock the hammer on the draw. I am very much enjoying the SIG P210A. This is a wonderfully accurate and very well made single action handgun. I find cocking the hammer on the draw quite easy. I don’t feel comfortable carrying any striker fired handgun thrust in the waistband. Neither should you. Some self loaders dont work well based on design. Among my favorite light handguns is the Bond Arms Bullpup 9. The Bullpup 9 is a great shooter and its double action only trigger makes it a safe enough pistol to pack without a holster. The problem is the super compact geometry. The piece just doesn’t fit and balance well in the waistband.

no holster carry
The Model 69 .44 Magnum, top, is a good waistband gun — the Ladysmith, center, is pretty good but the snub .38, bottom, may squirm too much.

For the most part revolvers do not work nearly as well in the waistband without a holster. The snubnose .38, among the most trusted defensive handguns, is too short and squirms in the waistband. A three inch barrel version is a bit better. I sometimes carry the Model 69 2.75 inch barrel Combat Magnum .44 in the front, to the right of the belt buckle, and it is okay for a casual walk. The absolute best balanced revolvers for casual in the waistband carry are the plow handled Single Action Army types. This is among the reasons so many lawmen kept the SAA long past its prime, it is simply well balanced and fast handling. A 4 ¾ inch barrel SAA is about as compact as most double action .357 revolvers and balances well if worn in the front and tucked into the waistband. If you are worried about the revolver slipping into the pants then open the loading gate (crossdraw in the waistband also works as well) as you draw close the loading gate.

no holster carry
Striker fired pistols such as the SIG, top, are not the best choice for carry without a holster. The DAO Bond Bullpup, lower, is a good handgun but the geometry demands a holster. Just not enough real estate to keep the piece steady in the belt.

I think that there are times when holsterless carry works well. It isn’t ideal but then all types of concealed carry are a compromise.

SKILLS: The Real Deal

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The real deal may not be flashy or exciting but it will save your life. READ MORE

bob campbell
Whatever firearm you choose, practice often and master the pistol to the bet of your ability.

Bob Campbell

In a profession that should be conservative by nature we see a lot of flash, bling, and pie in the sky in the personal defense field. A healthy dose of self respect is sometimes alloyed with ego, but the real deal in training means that the trainer must train for likely scenarios.

bob campbell
Marksmanship is a critical skill.

Personal defense isn’t a tactical operation by any means. It is small scale and most important only to the ones involved. I have trained many individuals. Most were civilians but a number were police and a few were military. Some wanted the paper and the permit and a few genuinely wanted to be proficient. Many showed up for class without enough ammunition, an improper holster, and without a spare magazine. Some had the gear but they left it at home. Quite a few showed up with the cheapest handgun they could find and there were problems with these choices. On the other end of the scale some showed up with tactical gear including tactical vests, a thigh holster and a chest full of magazines. A few showed up with practical gear well suited to concealed carry. None of those showing up with the tactical vests, knee pads and long slide Glock pistols were police or military. There is a big difference between public safety, which I was originally trained in, and private safety, which should concern each of us the most. We may use good tactics but the term “tactical” is sometimes confusing when applied to personal defense.

bob campbell
While a fast reload may not be needed often, it behooves us to practice such skills.

Most of the concerns in personal defense are mental. If your everyday gear is a tactical vest and eight magazines then your agency is most likely providing good training. There is little I can add to that. If it is all a game then get involved in IPSC and shoot against some of the best marksmen in the world. Personal defense is another discipline. Many shooters attend tactical courses, even carbine courses, and may do well but they do not really understand the application of skill. It is good to be all you can be but another to understand which skills are applicable to your likely scenario. If you are serious concerning personal defense you will learn and practice the applicable skills. An observation I have made often among shooters is that many simply cannot recognize quality gear. They come to glass with junk ammo and cheap plastic holsters. I have had to move shooters from the line because their floppy fabric holster demanded both hands to return the handgun to the holster! The handgun should be a quality piece, not necessarily expensive. The Glock 19 or the CZ P01 are good examples of very reliable but affordable handguns. They are not too small or too large. They are just right. The holster should be rigid and supported by a quality gun belt. Carry ammunition isn’t difficult. Hornady Critical Defense is affordable and reliable and offers good wound ballistics. You need a couple of speed loaders for the revolver and at least three magazines for the handgun. You probably won’t need a reload but best to err on the side of caution and carry a spare gunload. High round count battles occur when the police are chasing armed felons. If the threat retreats don’t chase him or the situation becomes mutual combat.

bob campbell
Firing quickly and getting a good hit is important.

The National Rifle Association has stated many times that the presence of a firearm deters crime more often than it needed to be fired. Many battles are over before they begin when the attacker realizes you are armed. The first thought is to get the handgun into action but it is also important to move off the X and get out of the line of fire. Felons motivated by profit don’t wish to be shot. But then some threats are psychopaths bent on causing human pain and suffering or even death. They may be formidable both physically and mentally and they may have been shot or stabbed before. All attackers may not be shaky junkies and you must be prepared to deal with the threat. If no shots are fired you are ahead of the game. The real goal is to escape unharmed without being shot stabbed or assaulted. That is winning the fight. Presenting the firearm quickly from concealed carry and getting a fast and accurate hit is what counts. The most important shot is the first one.

bob campbell
But just because you can get a lot of lead in the air doesn’t mean you should unless they are all on the target.

In a home defense situation you may have a shotgun at the ready for quickly access. You may have a handgun or a rifle. The goal is much the same with a shift in focus to convincing the intruder to leave and break off any conflict. If there are children or other family in the house we have different concerns and will engage room clearing or a search. You must quickly insure the family’s safety. This means moving carefully, taking cover, and making certain you have identified the threat. There are worse things than getting shot and shooting the wrong person is one of these. This is simply common sense. Have illumination handy. The final consideration comes when the situation demands you fire. While a double tap is acceptable, a volley of fire or hosing down the target isn’t. Only accurate fire is effective. You fire to the center of mass of the exposed target. You fire to stop. What the adversary is doing must be so terrible it must not matter morally or legally if they die as a result of being shot — but we never shoot to kill. We shoot to stop.

You are preparing a strong defense against attack. There is nothing wrong with going on the initiative and clearing the house and being proactive in training but never lose sight of the ultimate goal. That is to survive without firing a shot. And if you do fire, that you survive within the law. Concentrate on marksmanship. This doesn’t mean getting a group centered on target but getting a hit quickly and following with other hits. A group of fifty shots with the occasional shot outside the scoring rings isn’t ideal. The important shots are those that that you are firing now, and which hit the target. Fire accurately and if the shot doesn’t take effect fire again. Practice moving. Drawing the handgun and moving may conflict but the balance may be found in practice. Draw as you move off target. Train hard and practice relentlessly. Be aware that you may need your handgun to protect yourself and your family. Be certain that you are willing to use the handgun. The use of the firearm must be justified morally and legally. This is a very narrow range of circumstances.

 

 

 

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

SKILLS: The Truth About Snub Nose Ballistics

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Which round is the best for you? READ MORE

snubnose revolver

Jason Hanson

Jay L., of Greenbrae, CA was a car collector who had amassed an array of 1970s-era cars in the past, but being 90, Jay had been selling off most of his collection. He dwindled down his cars to owning a 1996 Mitsubishi and a 2005 Ford.

One morning, around 10:45 a.m., a criminal entered Jay’s home, detained him at gunpoint, and searched the residence for valuables.

During this time, the burglar told Jay there was a contract out on him. Jay asked, “How could there be a contract out on me?”

To which the burglar replied, “I understand you’re the guy with all the expensive cars.”

At one point, the burglar led Jay at gunpoint to the bedroom, which he ransacked for valuables while 90 year old Jay sat on the bed concocting a plan.

Next, Jay told the burglar he needed to use the bathroom, which is where his five guns were hidden.

When the burglar refused, Jay pulled his pants down and said he would defecate on the spot.

The burglar let him go into the bathroom but would not let him close the door. Jay then asked the burglar, “Do you like to watch people?”

Then the burglar let him close the door and Jay went for his Smith & Wesson .38 snubnose.

As Jay exited the bathroom, the two men exchanged gunshots, resulting in Jay being shot once in the jaw and the burglar being shot three times in the abdomen.

Both men emptied their firearms and the burglar ran from the home.

The burglary suspect drove away from the scene before calling 911 and claiming he had accidentally shot himself.

He spent nine days in the hospital before he was taken to jail and charged with attempted murder, burglary, robbery and firearms offenses by a felon.

Clearly, Jay did exactly what he had to do that day to make sure he made it out alive.

There is no question the criminal was targeting Jay since he believed there was large sums of money in the home because Jay collected cars.

The thing is, many people who may be similar in age to Jay prefer to own revolvers since they are so simple to use and you don’t need the hand strength to rack the slide like you do on a semi-auto.

With that in mind, I often hear the debate about which handgun caliber is the best between .38, .38+P, or .357.

For that reason, here is a breakdown on the different calibers and what may be best for you and your situation.

.38 Special. The .38 Special is a classic revolver caliber and it’s impossible to go into any gun store and not find a selection of revolvers chambered in this round.

It has a history as a workhorse and gained popularity among law enforcement in the 70’s and 80’s.

Today, .38 special rounds are still carried by some law enforcement as a back up weapon, and are used by citizens who want a small revolver that can still deliver effective rounds. .38 Special rounds are great for new shooters and can be a very effective self-defense round in close quarters.

From a ballistics perspective, the .38 operates at a maximum average pressure of 17,000 PSI, with typical penetration being around 12 inches depending on all the variables.

Of course, the .38 special round is going to create less recoil compared to the other two rounds below.

While the .38 is still effective, it wouldn’t be my first choice for home defense since I would rather have a bit more power in my home defense round.

.38 Special+P. Prior to the development of the .38+P round, there was the .38 Special High-Speed round, which was intended for use only in large frame revolvers.

Nowadays, the .38 Special+P round is suitable for most medium frame revolvers and delivers a maximum average pressure of 20,000 PSI, and typical penetration of 13-14 inches, which is a significant, but not massive increase over the .38 special.

The .38 special+P is a moderately powerful round that is easy to shoot for reasonably experienced shooters.

In addition, the .38 special+P muzzle blast is louder than standard pressure .38 loads, but far less than .357 Magnum loads.

For many years, the standard FBI service load was the .38 Special +P cartridge. Their lower recoil and muzzle blast make them faster for repeat shots than full power .357 loads.

They are also less blinding and deafening when fired indoors at night. This is the round that I recommend for most people who want to carry a revolver.

.357 Magnum. The .357 was the first magnum handgun cartridge. The .357 rounds are loaded to a maximum average pressure of 35,000 psi, and typical penetration is well over 16 inches.

The recoil from full power loads is sharp and the muzzle blast definitely gets your attention. Fire a full power magnum load at night and the flash looks like the gun exploded.

Experienced shooters can generally learn to control the .357 size revolvers and with practice, very fast and accurate shooting can be accomplished with .357 loads.

In a survival situation, the .357 could be effective for hunting game for food.

There is no question that revolvers are still effective for self-defense situations.

While semi-automatics are highly reliable, they still have to deal with stovepipes, jams, and failure to feed issues on occasion. Some semi-autos are also prone to the pickiness of ammunition.

Revolvers don’t care about that. This is why revolvers are and will always be a solid choice for defensive purposes.

Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and New York Times bestselling author of Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life. To get a free copy of his book, visit www.SpyEscape.com.

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.

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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: Ruger’s Magnum Times Seven

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The Ruger GP 100 Seven-Shooter may be the best combat revolver of the century. Read why HERE

GP 100 7
Ruger’s GP 100 7-shooter is a well balanced and nicely finished handgun.

Bob Campbell

The buying public is voting for revolvers and buying them in great numbers. Fueling the new trend, Ruger introduced a 7-shot version of its popular GP100. While there has been a previous 7-shooter in .327 Magnum, this new model fires the .357 Magnum cartridge.
Ruger offers longer barrel versions, but the 2.5-inch version is, in my opinion, among the finest combat revolvers ever manufactured. There are many who appreciate tradition, and others, who simply trust revolvers.

While modern self-loading handguns are as reliable as a machine can be, the revolver is more likely to fire after long term storage while loaded. You may leave the revolver at home, ready, and it will come up shooting. The revolver may also be placed against an adversary’s body and fired. On the other hand, a self-loader may jam after the first shot in this scenario.

In its best versions, the revolver is accurate and powerful, making it well suited to outdoors use. This latest from Ruger, the GP100 7-shot, is an exciting handgun. It is accurate, well-balanced, and fast-handling.

GP100 accuracy
The GP100 provides real accuracy off hand.

OVERVIEW
The GP100 was introduced in 1986. Police service handguns in .357 Magnum had not always held up well to constant firing and frequent qualifications with the Magnum cartridge. The larger and more robust GP100 solved a lot of those problems. For many years, the majority of qualifications were done with the .38 Special 148-grain target wadcutter. Problems with this oversight led to court decisions forcing agencies to qualify with the issue load. A hot 125-grain JHP was hard on small parts and sometimes the shooter as well. The 125-grain .357 Magnum hollow point at 1,380 to 1,480 fps was the most powerful cartridge fielded by police agencies — and the most effective. However, it was also difficult to master.

Today, the police carry self-loaders. However, the .357 Magnum cartridge remains relatively unequaled for wound potential. Those who train hard and master the cartridge have a powerful loading that is effective against both two- and four-legged threats, and against light cover.

GP 100 power
The GP 100 cycles very quickly and offers real power.

The GP 100 is capable of absorbing the pounding of a steady diet of .357 Magnum ammunition without going out of time or self-destructing. The shooter will be tired long before the revolver shows any signs of trouble. The GP100 is not only among the most rugged revolvers ever designed, and it is among the most accurate as well.
The GP100 will accept heavy handloads that will literally lock up other handguns. As an example, I worked up a load using H110 powder and Hornady’s 125-grain XTP that develops 1,628 fps from my 4-inch barrel GP100. This load never sticks in the cylinder or exhibits excess pressure signs. When the .357 Magnum was first developed an adventurer wrote, after killing an attacking jaguar — the .357 Magnum was like “having a rifle on your hip.” I agree.

Lobo Gunleather
Lobo Gunleather offers a well-designed IWB holster that provides good concealment.

The GP100 has been manufactured in 4- and 6-inch barrel versions, 3-inch barrel fixed-sight revolvers, and a .44 Special version. The new 7-shot revolver is certain to be popular. As said, mine sports a 2.5-inch barrel. It is surprisingly compact and well balanced. The sights are the Ruger fully-adjustable rear, and a green fiber-insert front sight; this combination makes for a good sight picture.

The compact grips are an aid in concealment, and they offer good control when firing Magnum loads. When working the action, the 7-shot action feels different from the 6-shot’s trigger press. Some of the cocking force is used to move the hand and cylinder while the rest cocks and drops the hammer. The GP100 action has always been smooth, but the action feels a bit shorter than the 6-shot version. This results in faster shooting. The heft is excellent — neither handle heavy nor barrel heavy.

The muzzle blast  is sometimes startling, but with most loads the GP100 isn’t difficult to control. The balance is similar to the Smith & Wesson Model 27 with a 3.5-inch barrel, but the GP100 is lighter. There are other short-barrel revolvers that are difficult to use well. They twist in the hand, and their excessive muzzle flip is uncomfortable. The GP100 is the fastest-handling, and most controllable, short-barrel Magnum I have fired.

hornady 125 critical defense
Hornady’s Critical Defense 125 grain load offers good performance.

PERFORMANCE
I began my test program with .38 Special ammunition. I suspect many shooters will engage most of their practice targets with .38 Special loads. That is the proven path to proficiency and marksmanship.

I used three choices from Double Tap ammunition in the first evaluation. These included the 850 fps 148-grain wadcutter, a 110-grain JHP at over 1,000 fps, and the 125-grain JHP at 959 fps. With these, this revolver was actually docile. It wasn’t difficult to make fast hits using double-action pairs. Moving to .357 Magnum loads, I fired a representative number of self-defense loads. First came the Hornady 125-grain Critical Defense. At 1,215 fps, this load hits hard and expands well. Velocity fell from the 1,383 fps exhibited in the 4-inch revolver — par for the course with short barrel Magnums.
The Federal 125-grain JHP broke at 1,221 fps. I also fired a handload I consider my favorite in .357 Magnum. At 1,250 fps from the 4-inch barrel, this load — using Titegroup powder — retained 1,180 fps in the Ruger. A handloader may tailor loads to the handgun, and using faster-burning powder clearly paid off in this application. This load isn’t difficult to control and makes a good all-around choice. The balance of expansion and penetration is on the long side. All threats are not two-legged, so penetration is desirable.

I continue to be impressed with this GP100 the more I work with it. With a smooth double-action trigger press and good sights, the revolver is well suited to use by a trained shooter. With proper load selection, the GP100 makes an excellent all-around defense revolver.

gp 100 accuracy
Despite a short barrel the GP100 posted excellent results in velocity testing.

For protection against the big cats and feral dogs, I cannot imagine a better choice. Against bears, I would load the Buffalo Bore 180-grain loading, or one of my own handloads using a hard cast 175-grain SWC. Ounce for ounce, the GP100 offers plenty of power for the street or trail.

Slow-fire accuracy fired from a solid benchrest firing position at 15 yards, 5-shot group —

.38 Special
Federal 129-grain Hydra Shok +P                                1.25 in.
Double Tap 110-grain JHP                                               1.5 in.
Buffalo Bore 158-grain Outdoorsman                      1.4 in.

.357 Magnum
Buffalo Bore 158-grain Low Flash Low Recoil      1.2 in.
Hornady 125-grain Critical Defense                          1.5 in.
Hornady 125-grain XTP                                                     1.0 in.

MSRP: $899

Check out this gun HERE

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The Unequivocal Instrument: Snubnose Magnum Revolvers

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While the revolver is often looked down on as old technology, few handguns are as reliable and accurate as the short-barrel .357 Magnum revolver. KEEP READING

ruger sp101 357

Wilburn Roberts

With the great and growing abundance of concealed carry permits as Americans exercise their rights and commons sense, and with a present political climate that nurtures such progress, armed citizens are choosing to be responsible for their own safety. Choosing which handgun may be an easy enough choice for seasoned shooters, but quite a few of the new generation of handgunners are newcomers to one handgun in particular…

Many are steered toward a handgun that doesn’t fit their skill level. A semi-auto 9mm or .40 compact isn’t for everyone. However, the novice and very experienced shooter alike often choose a revolver. They are well armed when they do so.

snubnose revolvers
Short barrel revolvers are great personal defense firearms. Be certain to train well!

The snubnose .38 Special is a reasonable choice, however, the snubnose .38 is seen as less powerful than the 9mm pistol. (A “snubnose” is generally defined as having a barrel length 3 inches or less.) This is overcome by the power of the .357 Magnum revolver. When comparing the types, the advantages of the revolver have to be plain to make the short-barrel revolver an attractive choice.

Reliability is one advantage.

A further advantage of the revolver is that the revolver can be fired repeatedly even if it’s contacting an opponent. The semi-auto would jam after the first shot. It may also short cycle due to a less than perfect grip.

taurus 605
This Taurus 605 .357 Magnum revolver is carried in a 3Speed holster. This is a great deep concealment rig.

For a weapon to be used at conversational distance, the revolver’s reliability in this scenario is a big plus. A further advantage would be in a struggle for the gun — and this happens often — the gun grabber has little to hang onto in the case of a short-barreled revolver.

As said, an alternative to the .38 Special is the .357 Magnum. The .357 operates at almost three times the pressure level of the .38 Special. The Magnum operates at some 40,000 copper units of pressure compared to 18,000 for the .38 Special, and 20,000 for the .38 Special +P. This gives the magnum a great advantage in power, and the ability to use heavier bullets. There are .357 Magnum revolvers almost as compact as the snubnose .38, but often the Magnum will have a heavier frame and a heavier barrel which offers a better platform for the more powerful cartridge.

galco holster
Galco’s Carry Lite revolver holster is among the best for concealed carry. This inside the waistband holster is affordable and available.

These handguns also willingly chamber the .38 Special, providing a power level option in the same gun (that’s not available in a semi-auto). A .38 Special +P load is a good choice for the beginner for use in his or her .357 Magnum revolver. The shooter may move to the Magnum loadings after sufficient practice.

The obvious mechanical advantages of the revolver as related to reliability, the ability to use the weapon with a less-than-perfect grip and at point-blank range, are compelling sales features. However, in the end, the ballistics might be the best selling point. There has been a myth circulated for some time that the snubnose .357 Magnum is no more powerful than a .38 Special, as the Magnum loses velocity when fired in a short barrel. This is far from true. The Magnum does lose velocity when fired in a 2- to 3-inch barreled compact revolver, but it remains far more powerful than the snubnose .38 Special as the accompanying table shows. The .357 Magnum considerably outperforms the .38 Special by any measure.

With these revolvers, recoil could be grim to the uninitiated. Recoil energy approaches 12 pounds in some .357 Magnum revolvers, compared to 6 to 8 pounds in the 9mm and .40 caliber handguns, and a slight 4 pounds with .38 +P ammunition in a snubnose. This is a sharp jolt not to be underestimated. The person deploying this revolver must engage in practice and use the proper techniques to master this revolver.

sp101
The Ruger SP101 in .357 Magnum is among the strongest handguns — ounce for ounce — ever built.

Modern .357 Magnum revolvers such as the 5-shot Ruger SP 101 are designed with every advantage toward making the gun controllable. The factory grips on these revolvers are among the best ever designed. If you are able to find a Smith & Wesson K-frame revolver at a fair price, the 6-shot Smith & Wesson is even more controllable, albeit a bit larger.

Use a proper holster such as one of the Galco inside the waistband holsters and you will find the snubnose revolver very concealable. The revolver is simple to use — simply draw and fire. The Ruger and Smith & Wesson each have smooth double-action triggers that promote accuracy.

Another advantage of the revolver is superb accuracy. The Smith & Wesson Model 19 I often carry has been in service for four decades. A combination of excellent high-visibility sights and a smooth trigger make for fine accuracy. As just one example with the .38 Special Fiocchi 125-grain Extrema, this revolver has cut a 1.5-inch 25-yard group for 5 shots.

The .357 Magnum revolver isn’t for everyone, but for those who practice, one offers excellent accuracy, reliability, and proven power.

magnum specs

Check out Midsouth AMMO here.

A First Look at 2018’s New Guns

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With the SHOT Show at hand, here are a few brand new for 2018 firearms. Keep going…

SOURCE: NRA Publications, by B. Gil Horman

With national firearm sales leveling off, thanks to a gun-friendly administration taking office this year, manufacturers are dusting off some new and interesting models that have been tucked away for a time such as this. Here is a quick look at just some of the new guns for 2018:

BERSA PISTOLS

Bersa TPR Pistols
Eagle Imports is introducing the double action/single action Bersa TPR line of pistols to the U.S. market this next year. These pistols represent the next evolution of the Thunder Pro HC series originally developed for law enforcement and military applications. Available in Standard 4.25″ barrel and Compact 3.25″ barrel configurations, these semi-automatic pistols feature interchangeable SIG Sauer-type sights, an improved Browning Petter locking system, lightweight aluminum alloy frames, Picatinny accessory rails and loaded chamber indicators. The elegantly designed ambidextrous slide catch and thumb safety, along with a reversible magazine release, makes the pistol accessible to right and left handed shooters. Caliber options will include 9 mm (TPR9), .40 S&W (TPR40) and .45 ACP (TPR45). MSRP: $508-$528

caracal

Caracal USA Enhanced F Pistols
When the 4″ barrel striker-fired Caracal F 9 mm pistol first arrived on the U.S. market from the United Emirates in 2012, I was glad to be one of the writers who had an opportunity to review it. The pistol’s design seemed ahead of its time with its sleek reduced mass slide, lowered bore axis for reduced felt recoil and comfortable grip that fit a wide range of hand sizes. Just as Caracal was poised to give Glock, Springfield and Smith & Wesson a run for their money, the company enacted a voluntary safety recall that caused the pistol, much like its namesake, to slip quietly out of sight and off the market until now.

A new American-made series of Caracal USA Enhanced F pistols, with the safety issues resolved, will be shipping soon. These pistols maintain the positive qualities of the original models with three different sight system options, including the company’s proprietary Quick Sight System, 3-Dot and night sights. Customers will have a selection of new polymer frame colors to choose from including black, tan and OD green (shown). MSRP: $599-$699

Charter Arms XL

Charter Arms Bulldog XL
Charter Arms flagship five-shot Bulldog .44 Spl. series will be joined by the new Bulldog XL. The XL’s frame has been enlarged to handle bigger and more powerful cartridges. The Bulldog XL chambered in the popular .45 Colt offers customers a broad ammunition selection ranging from soft shooting cowboy loads to high-quality defensive hollow points. The real surprise of the show was the Bulldog XL chambered in .41 Rem. Mag. (shown). Considering what a handful the Bulldog can be when loaded with .44 Spl., it will be interesting to see how the XL handles when stocked full of magnum cartridges. MSRP: TBA

FIGHTLITE RAIDER

FightLite Industries SRC Raider Pistols
This year’s enthusiasm for Mossberg’s pump-action Shockwave 12-ga. has encouraged other manufacturers (like Remington) to look for ways to install a Shockwave-type grip on its guns. But who would have guessed that FightLite Industries would find a way to use this grip configuration on an AR pistol?

With an appearance reminiscent of a Star Wars movie blaster, the new Raider pistols are possible because they are based on the company’s SRC action system which was originally designed as the foundation for a 50-state’s legal AR platform. This configuration eliminates the typical AR buffer tube by attaching a hinged extension to the bolt carrier group, much like those found in some semi-automatic shotguns, that moves down at an angle into the shoulder stock. So, the same system that allows an AR lower to sport a traditional fixed hunting stock also works with an abbreviated Shockwave-style grip.

Raider pistols ship with a 7.25″ barrel chambered in 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem. or .300 BLK with an overall length of 20.25″, an unloaded weight of 3.9 lbs. and the customer’s choice of a Keymod or M-Lok handguard. It will be interesting to see how these guns handle. I’m guessing a single point sling, attached to the grip’s QD sling port for added stability, will make a difference when shooting off the bench. MSRP: $865

HEIZER

Heizer PKO9 Pistol
Although we are still waiting to get our hands on the super slim 0.80″ thick Heizer Defense PK0-.45 semi-automatic pistol chambered in .45 ACP (which was announced last year), the company is preparing to launch a 9 mm version called the PKO-9. Featuring a proprietary aerospace-grade aluminum frame and a stainless steel slide, the recoil assembly is set above the barrel to lower the bore axis for reduced felt recoil. Other features include a single-action trigger, drift adjustable sights and a grip safety. These pistols will ship with a flush-fit seven-round magazine and an extended 10-round magazine. Color options will include all black, two tone and custom Hedy Jane finish options. MSRP: $699

IWI TAVOR

IWI TAVOR 7 Rifle
Israel Weapon Industries (IWI), has launched the newest member of the Tavor bullpup rifle family, the TAVOR 7 chambered in 7.62 NATO/.308 Win. with an overall length of 28.4″ and an unloaded weight of 9 lbs. The rifle’s body is built from high-strength, impact-modified polymer and has a hammer-forged, chrome-lined, free-floating barrel for enhanced accuracy and life cycle. Designed for military and law enforcement markets, this rifle is a fully ambidextrous platform. The ejection side and the charging handle can be switched from one side to the other quickly and easily by the user. Additional ambidextrous features include the safety lever, magazine release, and a bolt catch similar to that of the X95.

Two M-LOK slots are located at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions along with a MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail at the 6 o’clock position for the use of multiple devices and accessories. Other features include a short-stroke gas piston with a four-position variable gas regulator, a rotating bolt system, and an interchangeable pistol grip. The Tavor 7 will be available in four colors: Sniper Gray, OD Green, Black, and Flat Dark Earth, with replaceable barrels available in 17″ and 20″ lengths. This rifle is slated to ship the first quarter of 2018. MSRP: TBA

JRC 9MM

Just Right Carbines JRC 9 mm Pistol
Just Right Carbines is known for its blow-back operated pistol-caliber takedown carbines and rifles designed to accept popular double and single-stack magazines produced for Glocks and 1911s. This year the company is expanding its line-up to include pistol versions of its platform that offer the same modularity and takedown features as the rifles. The Model 1 version of the pistol (shown) features a foam padded Gearheadworks Mod1 Tail Hook buffer assembly and takedown fore-end. Model 2 is dressed up a bit more with a Gearheadworks Mod2 adjustable arm brace and a quad rail fore-end. MSRP: Starting at $699

KEYSTONE CPR W

Keystone Sporting Arms PT Rimfire Rifle
Keystone Sporting Arms has blended the best features of a precision rifle chassis and an enjoyable .22 Long Rifle bolt-action rimfire into the new PT rimfire rifle platform. The Keystone 722 action is paired with the customer’s choice of a 16.5 inch or 20 inch threaded heavy bull barrel. The action is tucked into an American Built Arms (A*B Arms) MOD*X PTTM aluminum chassis. The chassis is made from 6061 T6 aluminum and treated with a Class 3 hard-coat anodized finish. The A*B Arms Urban Sniper shoulder stock provides an adjustable length of pull ranging from 10.5” to 13.75″ while the A*B Arms P*Grip is compact and comfortable to work with. The PT rifle ships with one seven-round Keystone 722 magazine. MSRP: $599.96

mossberg shockwave

Mossberg 20-ga. Shockwave Pump-Action
Released in January 2017, Mossberg’s non-NFA 14″ barrel Shockwave 12-ga. pump-action has been one of the hottest selling guns of the year. So much so, that it garnered the company two NASGW/POMA Caliber Awards at the NASGW Expo this year, including the “Innovator of the Year” and “Best New Overall Product.” So it shouldn’t come as much of a shock (pun intended) that Mossberg is expanding the Shockwave line up for 2018. Along with new finish (Flat Dark Earth) and package (JIC water resistant storage tube) options for the 12-ga. model, the company has developed a new 20-ga. 590 version.

The 20-ga. Shockwave is a more important release than some folks may realize. This is the first time the company has offered a 20-ga. in a tactical 590 configuration. All of the components have been properly scaled down to fit the smaller cartridge while preserving important features like the drilled and tapped receiver and the removable magazine tube cap. This makes the overall package slimmer and lighter than the 12-ga. model while providing a lower level of felt recoil. With all the hard work of resizing the 590 platform already complete, it’s likely that we’ll see long gun versions before too long. As for a .410 Bore Shockwave, we’ll just have to wait and see. MSRP: $455

desert eagle

Magnum Research Desert Eagle L5 .50 AE Pistol
I’m not sure why Magnum Research customers have been chomping at the bit for a Desert Eagle L5 lightweight pistol chambered in .50 AE. Trust me when I say the Standard XIX model, which weighs about a pound more, has a level of felt recoil that will still blow your hair back when chambered in this cartridge. Nevertheless, since the arrival of the .357 Mag. L5 about two years ago and the .44 Mag. version, folks have been asking for a .50-cal. option. This model sports the same reduced-weight aluminum frame, 5″ barrel, integral muzzle brake and accessory rail as the other two calibers. MSRP: TBA

troy slide fire

Troy Industries SideAction Rifle
In order to help shooting enthusiasts keep running their preferred AR-type platforms in as many states as possible, Troy Industries released the 223 National Sporting Pump-Action rifle a couple of years ago. Many of the state regulations that ban certain rifle features on semi-automatic platforms do not apply those same restrictions to pump-actions. This year the company is adding the SideAction rifle to the lineup which employs a bolt action instead of a pump. An A2 flash hider is pinned and welded to the 16″ 1:7 twist RH rifled barrel. The 10.5″ SOCC handguard features M-Lok accessory slots. The side-charging bolt handle is topped with a target knob. The pistol grip, controls and trigger are all mil-spec. The folding shoulder stock is machined from aluminum billet. MSRP: $899

WALTHER PPQ

Walther PPQ M2 Q4 TAC Pistol

Building on the award-winning PPQ platform, Walther Arms has announced the arrival of the new PPQ M2 Q4 TAC which is both optics and suppressor ready from the factory. “The Q5 Match has been very popular and we have had a lot of interest in a 4″ more tactical version. We are excited to combine a suppressor-ready and optics-ready pistol into a best-of-both worlds platform,” said Luke Thorkildsen, vice president of marketing & product development of Fort Smith-based Walther Arms, Inc.

The 9 mm Q4 TAC arrives with a 4.6 inch 1/10 twist polygonal rifled barrel and a muzzle threaded at ½x28 TPI. The gun arrives with a second recoil spring weighted specifically for use with sound suppressors, one 15-round magazine and two 17-round magazines. The optics-ready slide features an LPA sight system with a fiber optic in the front and competition iron sight at the rear. The Q4 TAC shares the same optics mounting plate system as the Q5 Match. The plates are compatible with a variety of popular optics including options from Trijicon, Leupold, and Doctor. The PPQ Quick Defense trigger provides a smooth 5.6-lb. trigger pull and a short 0.1″ reset. The Q4 TAC is backed by Walther’s lifetime warranty. MSRP: $799

winchester

Winchester XPR Sporter Rifle
Winchester Repeating Arms is challenging the modern-day manufacturing practice of producing moderately priced bolt-action hunting rifles with polymer shoulder stocks as the only option. The latest version of the XPR rifle line up, called the Sporter, is fitted with a classically styled checkered close-grain Grade I walnut stock that only costs $50 more than its polymer stocked compatriots. Offered in barrel lengths ranging from 22″ to 26″ (depending on the caliber), this rifle’s Perma-Cote treated milled steel receiver houses a nickel Teflon coated bolt body. The MOA trigger system provides zero creep and no over travel for a crisp, clean trigger pull. The three-round magazines are detachable. The XPR Sporter’s twelve caliber options include .243 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor, 7 mm-08 Rem., .30-06 Sprg., 7 mm Rem. Mag. and 300 Win. Mag. MSRP: $599