Revolver malfunctions, Part One: ammunition issues.

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I received an email last week, a sort of complaint that I don’t write much about revolvers any longer. Well, I wrote an entire book – isn’t that enough?? OK, OK, you win – let’s talk about revolver malfunctions.

I’ve mentioned before, in more than one venue, that the revolver typically will have a longer mean time between failure than an autoloader (we’re talking unique failures, which automatically discounts those due to ammunition problems – which can affect either platform equally.)

The ...

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Apparently they’re looking at the pictures. Of revolvers, of course!

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One of the most common compliments I get about my Gun Digest Book Of The Revolver regards the pictures. People tell me that they appreciate the photography, and I’m happy that they noticed – I went to a lot of effort to make sure that the photos supported the text, that the reader could look at them and get the point easily. Apparently, the goal was met!

My publisher, Gun Digest Books, was so taken with them that ...

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The bullet jump controversy: Specials in Magnum chambers.

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I got an email recently from a reader who asked about .38 Special accuracy when fired in a .357-length chamber. There is, as he noted, a lot of speculation on the topic: some saying they’re less accurate, some saying it doesn’t matter, and others saying that there is no way we’ll ever know for sure.

I’m not at all convinced about that last one, but the first two opinions are both correct – under some circumstances. Some years ago I experimented ...

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Book reports: two reviews of my Gun Digest Book Of The Revolver!

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I got two very nice compliments on my book (the Gun Digest Book Of The Revolver, in case you’re just tuning in) this week.

The first was from a lady who chose a revolver for her own personal defense needs, and was pleasantly surprised to find that my book helped her learn how to handle her gun when her auto-shooting CHL instructors fell short. She said some very kind things in her email, and I’m glad that the ...

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Moore’s Patent Revolver.

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Not sure how I found this civil war blog (Uncle? Tam? Someone else?), but it has a great article on Moore’s Patent Revolver – the first revolver with a swing-out cylinder (though not quite of the kind we’re used to.)

It’s also interesting in that it was one of the many guns which violated Rollin White’s bored-through cylinder patent. History buffs may recall that White was a Colt employee who first presented his idea to allow a revolver ...

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Monday Meanderings: hi-cap revolvers, Rhode’s life, and I’m no anglophile.

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– Not sure where I got this, but it’s pretty interesting: a three-barrel revolver. What will people think of next?!? (<–that’s humor, people.)

– Seems that Kim Rhode, ace Olympic shotgunner and ambassador for the shooting sports, has a blog. Hope she finds time to post more often. (Who knew she was a fan of bacon-wrapped meatloaf?)

– Speaking of Kim: I’m still a little miffed that they removed her original event – women’s double trap ...

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Ed Harris Friday: Blackpowder Revolvers

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(Editor’s Note: I’ll admit to knowing nothing about blackpowder arms, so this article from Ed was quite enlightening! If you’ve thought about getting a cap-and-ball revolver but weren’t sure about how to use it, Ed’s article will tell you everything you need to know!)

Handling Cap & Ball Revolvers
By C.E. “Ed” Harris

Learning to shoot a cap & ball revolver requires common sense and attention to detail, but these guns are effective and satisfying. Safety, reliability and accuracy of a black ...

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A Gallic Wednesday: French ordnance revolvers.

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The Forgotten Weapons Blog has a great video about the two most common French Ordnance revolvers: the Models 1873 and 1892. I know, I know, they’re French – but you have to remember that at one time France was a major military power and arms innovator in their own right.

(Never heard of the Model 1897 75mm cannon, an artillery piece so advanced that they justifiably considered it to be a state secret? Or the ...

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I still think a .410 revolver is silly.

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I think I’ve made my feelings clear regarding the concept (if not the execution) of the Taurus Judge/S&W Governor revolvers. As self defense guns, which is how they’re marketed, they make no sense for a wide variety of valid reasons. What’s amazing to me is that people will say “that’s all true, but I think they still have a place for snakes and carjackers.”

I’ve talked about the former already. A large portion of my family lives and ...

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Finishing an experiment with pocket carry. Maybe.

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Early last year I embarked on something of an experiment: carrying my gun not on my belt, as I’ve done for more years than I can remember, but in my front pocket. Exclusively.

I’ve carried in a pocket holster from time to time, usually when wearing a suit, so I’m not at all unfamiliar with the concept. I’ve never done so as my default method, and I wanted to see what it was like. What kinds of problems would I encounter?

My ...

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Another great review of my book: the Gun Digest Book Of The Revolver!

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Gila Hayes over at the Armed Citizen Legal Defense Network (ACLDN) just posted a very nice review of The Gun Digest Book Of The Revolver in their monthly journal. (In the interest of full disclosure, Gila is both a friend and the person who introduced me to my publisher. She is also known for her scrupulously ethical writing, which makes me doubly proud of her review.)

For those waiting for my book to come to the iPad, the ...

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Multi-caliber revolvers: why you don’t see them on gun store shelves.

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Every so often I get an email asking about the feasibility of building a multi-caliber revolver along the lines of the short-lived Phillips & Rogers Medusa. There have been several attempts to build and market such a revolver over the years, and none of them succeeded. The Medusa was probably the most successful of the efforts, and even it didn’t last long.

Aside from the general silliness of the concept (you can’t get .38 Special during the Zombie Apocalypse, but you can ...

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A revolver chambered in .40 S&W? Why?

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Someone emailed and asked about the new Charter Arms Pit Bull revolver chambering .40S&W without the need for moonclips. My reply: “Ummm, OK. Why?”

As I see it, the only compelling reason to use autoloading cartridges in revolvers is because they require moonclips, making for blazing fast reloads. I suppose there might be some argument for the fellow who owns a .40 autoloader and wants a revolver to play with without the bother of stocking two kinds of ...

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Big news. REALLY BIG news! I’ve written my first book!

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Mark your calendars: in late October, Gun Digest Books will release a brand new title: The Gun Digest Book of the Revolverwritten by yours truly!

That’s right, I’ve finally written my first book, and it’s a doozy. With 240 pages and over 200 illustrations (all mine, except for the cover photo) it’s a general guide to the world of the double action revolver. It covers all kinds of things a revolver shooter needs to know: how ...

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How fast can a revolver be reloaded?

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An email came in last week asking just that question. The answer is a little more involved than you might think, because there are some variables involved that simply don’t exist with the same action in an autoloader.

There are at least a half-dozen different ways that I’ve used to reload a revolver, and I’ve seen variations which exceed that number. Each technique has strong and weak points, and it’s up to the shooter to decide of they fit his/her situation. ...

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Light primer hits with factory guns? The S&W Model 686 problem.

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Over the last few months I’ve gotten several emails about light primer strikes — and attendant misfires — with the S&W 686SSR revolver.

The 686SSR is from Smith & Wesson’s “Pro” line, which sits between the semi-customs of the Performance Center and the run-of-the-mill production items. The 686SSR has, among other features, a ‘bossed’ mainspring (which looks suspiciously like a Wolff ‘Power Rib’ spring.) The idea behind the spring design is twofold: first, reduce the spring force at the beginning of ...

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Competition: it’s what’s for breakfast. Too bad I don’t eat breakfast.

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I’ve been chided just a bit for ignoring the growing field of revolver competition. It’s not that I dislike competition, it’s just that it’s not my focus these days; self defense topics are what I’m most interested in and tend to write about.

Still, I do occasionally like to see what’s up with the standings; when I want to know what’s happening in the world of revolver matches, I read Paul Erhardt over at DownrangeTV. This link will ...

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This is a bad business to be in if you suffer from gun lust: I want this Ruger GP100!

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Every so often I work on a gun that I personally want, and this is one of them.

Three-inch GP100s are a little uncommon in the typical stainless, but the blued versions are downright scarce. The owner of this gun wanted something special, and I think he got it!

We started with a Super Action Job, which took the DA pull down to ...

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Containing my desire: revolvers in .32-20 are calling me. Again.

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I’ve worked on many Colt Police Positives in .32-20, and it’s a cartridge which has always intrigued me. I’m not one to believe that it would make a good defensive tool, but there is more to shooting than just that!

I’ve often thought that I’d like to have one of the long-discontinued Marlin 1894 CB in .32-20; it would make a great farm & varmint cartridge in the hotter loadings, and loaded to moderate velocities would make a dandy squirrel gun.

Tempering ...

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More on ‘new’ Dan Wessons: some background and predictions.

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I received a bunch of emails from last week’s story on the reintroduction of the Dan Wesson Model 715 by CZ-USA.

Some of them centered around the gun’s MSRP, which is reported as being $1200. If the gun is of superb quality, that’s not an unreasonable figure. Think of it this way: Freedom Arms has no trouble selling their high-end single actions, and the S&W Performance Center – despite putting out some embarrassingly bad ...

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Here we go again: the Dan Wesson rumors arise from the grave.

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Got an email recently from a fellow who noticed that CZ-USA is once again illustrating new Dan Wesson 715 revolvers on their site. As you may recall, this is an old story; you can read it here.

When CZ-USA acquired Dan Wesson in 2005, the first thing they did was promise that revolvers would be an important part of their business. They even showed a prototype “new 715” at SHOT that season. Time passed and nothing more ...

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The Case Of The Locked-Up Rugers: learning proper trigger reset is the key to avoiding them.

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Over the years I’ve gotten a number of inquiries that sound something like this: “I was reading a forum about Rugers locking the trigger when shooting fast. What’s with that – any truth?”

This is a question that comes up often enough that I’ve actually written a boilerplate answer that I paste into my email replies. I think it’s worth discussing here.

First, the wording of the question (and the complaint that engenders the question) implies that the gun is somehow at ...

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How the Chiappa Rhino works, part VII: the roller bearing system.

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One of the features that Chiappa touts about the Rhino are the roller bearings used in the action. The Rhino has four such bearings, two each on the hammer spring lever and the return lever:

The picture shows the back (underside) of the two parts, because the rollers are not visible when installed in the gun. (Please refer to pictures from previous episodes showing these parts installed in the Rhino.)

Each lever has a captured ...

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How the Chiappa Rhino works, part VI: the hand and cylinder rotation.

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First let’s take a look at the assembled action for some perspective:

The mainspring serves two functions. Through the Hammer Spring Lever, it powers the hammer to fire the rounds, and through the Return Lever it resets the trigger and all the internal mechanisms. This is not different conceptually than the single spring used in a traditional “V”-spring Colt, or the single coil spring used in the Ruger Redhawk – though it is substantially ...

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How the Chiappa Rhino works, part V: double action lockwork.

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As I mentioned last time, the Rhino’s double action is a little more conventional – but not a whole lot!

First, we need to take a look at the left side of the hammer. It sits against the inside of the frame, and without seeing it you won’t be able to grasp what’s happening.


The ‘hammer sear’ is referred to by other makers as a ‘double action strut’. In most revolvers a sear protrusion ...

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How the Chiappa Rhino works, part IV: single action lockwork.

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One of the things that struck me when I first opened the Rhino is that the trigger doesn’t directly do anything. In every other double action revolver the trigger directly contacts the hammer in both single and double action, but not the Rhino!

In a traditional revolver’s single action the sear (which is usually a pointed projection on the trigger) drops into some sort of notch on the hammer. When the trigger is pulled, the sear slips out of the hammer ...

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How the Chiappa Rhino works, part III: the non-hammer.

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Quick: is this Rhino cocked, or not?

As it happens, it is. The “hammer” that you see isn’t a hammer at all. Since the gun fires from the bottom chamber of the cylinder, the hammer is buried deep within the frame. Since the hammer is inaccessible, to cock it for single action requires that something reach down into the works. That something is called the cocking lever, and it’s connected to the thing that ...

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How the Chiappa Rhino works, part II: the extractor.

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By now everyone knows about the Rhino’s unique hexagonal cylinder, but it’s unusual in more ways than the shape. The extractor (star or ratchet, depending on the maker) on the Rhino is quite different in execution than any S&W, Colt, Ruger, Dan Wesson, or Taurus.

The orthodox method of making an extractor is to cut half circles to accept the cartridges, and mill cam surfaces in the center so that the hand can rotate the cylinder. The extractor does double duty, ...

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A Rhino update: how the Chiappa Rhino works, part I.

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Today I’m starting my promised technical evaluation of the new Chiappa Arms Rhino revolver. This will be strictly an analysis of how the gun is constructed and how it functions; my full shooting review, including my evaluation of its suitability for self defense, will appear in an upcoming issue of Concealed Carry Magazine. (The review will be a must-read for anyone interested in the Rhino; I’ll be covering some aspects of the gun that you’re not likely to find anywhere ...

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Smith & Wesson mainsprings: a little-known problem.

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A recent email asked my help with a problem. The writer, who had purchased a new gun to compete in the IDPA revolver class, had taken the strain screw out of his S&W 686 and shortened it to reduce the trigger pull weight. When he put his grips back on, he found that the grip screw wouldn’t go through the frame, and he could see that the mainspring was now blocking the screw’s path.

He asked why this happened, and what ...

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