Some people should stick to Glocks: a review of a bad review.

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In the September issue of SWAT Magazine is a review of the Wiley Clapp special edition Ruger GP100. I’ve mentioned this gun previously; it’s a mix of some good things, some mediocre things, and a surprising omission or two. Overall it’s a nice treatment of the old warhorse, and I’m glad to see attention being paid to something other than hunting revolvers at Ruger.

It’s this article that I find a little odd. Written by Todd Burgreen, it’s your typical gun review: fawning and laden with both hyperbole and misinformation. It’s the latter which is most concerning, because Mr. Burgreen (who, from statements in the review, doesn’t seem to be all that familiar with revolvers and even appears to hold them in some contempt) perpetuates a circa-1960 dictum: don’t shoot a revolver in double action, because you can’t shoot accurately that way!

According to Mr. Burgreen, double action should be reserved for “CQB encounters and ranges measured in feet.” He doesn’t stop there; according to him, “single action fire should be the primary mode used with double action revolvers.” No, really, he said that. In print. In 2013.

Let’s make this perfectly clear: he’s wrong. Cocking a revolver to single action in the midst of a defensive encounter is foolish. You’re asking trembling hands to perform a very complex set of movements and then presenting them with a very light and easily manipulated trigger, neither being conducive to proper control under those conditions.

Cocking the hammer requires one hand, either shooting or support, to break full and firm contact with the gun; you’re given the choice to either take the time to regain a proper grasp, or shoot with a compromised position to save time. It’s simply more efficient to stroke the trigger properly in double action, and you don’t have to give up any practical accuracy to do so.

It takes very little practice for anyone to hit small targets at extended distances with a double action revolver, and I’ve proven it with students again and again. It’s simply a matter of trigger control, which I covered in my book “Gun Digest Book Of The Revolver“. What’s more, as just about any trainer worth his or her salt will tell you (even if they don’t really know why), learning how to shoot a double action revolver will improve your shooting with the lighter, shorter triggers in your autoloaders.

Take, for instance, this group: fired specifically for the Book Of The Revolver, it shows six (yes, all six are there) rounds of 158gn +P ammo that I fired double action from a Ruger GP100, standing at 25 feet. Not bad for an old guy who can’t see his sights!

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The notion that a double action revolver can’t be fired accurately in double action is easily dispelled by going to just about any shooting match where speed and precision are co-components. It’s not like this information is a state secret, either!

Want to know how to shoot a double action revolver well? Seek out a good instructor with extensive revolver knowledge — someone like the incomparable Claude Werner (or, if I may be so bold, yours truly.) Learn how to manipulate the double action trigger properly and you’ll probably find, as I did some time ago, that you rarely (if ever) need to use the single action capability of your gun.

Mr. Burgreen may be incapable of shooting a double action revolver past a few feet, but that doesn’t mean everyone is. Don’t limit yourself to cold-war-era notions of what a revolver can and can’t do.

-=[ Grant ]=-

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About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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