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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Striking a blow: empty-hand defensive techniques are important too!

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An area of defensive preparations where I’ve been quite deficient is in empty-hand techniques. I’ve been trained to shoot (obviously), to use a knife, and to use a Kubotan – but have learned precious little about using no tools other than what nature has provided.

The gun is an appropriate tool for encounters that happen beyond, say, two arm’s reach. Inside that space, however, the handgun is probably not the correct first choice. (It may come into play at some point, ...

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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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FRIDAY SURPRISE: Ghost of the future.

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One of my favorite PBS shows was “Connections“, the ten-part series from British science writer/historian James Burke. In it, Burke looked at the often surprising interrelationships of disparate discoveries and inventions that invariably culminated in something no one involved in the process could have imagined. From those connections (get it?) we see that even small changes in the past would have made huge impacts in the present. It’s a concrete, approachable ...

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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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Another independent thinker looks at traditional safety rules and agrees with me.

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Alan over at Snarkybytes wants to do away with Traditional Safety Rule #1, “all guns are always loaded” (or variants thereof.) His charts about the possible permutations of safety violations are really superb.

Welcome to the club, Alan – I’ve been saying the same thing for over three years now, and caught the same flak that you’re now getting.

The comments over at his place are very similar to the comments that I got ...

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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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FRIDAY SURPRISE: The Wright stuff. Wright Tools, that is.

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Whenever I buy a durable good, I make some hard decisions about what and where I buy. I start, as I’ve often mentioned, with quality; I buy not necessarily the most expensive, but not the cheapest either. I’m looking for value, that ill-defined but instantly recognizable point at which price and quality are optimized.

Of course there are other variables to consider. I’m growing more aware, with every passing day, of the social impact in the ways which I spend my ...

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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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Monday pot-stirring: how to tell when you’re being fed a line of bull.

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I’ve mentioned that my father was on a bomber crew during World War II. I didn’t mention that a few years before he died he trolled the gun shows looking for a decent M1 Garand (I eventually found one for him, which my brother and I gave to him as a birthday gift.) I asked him why he wanted one, and he animatedly exclaimed “I carried one during the War, and it was the best weapon ever made!”

“Ummm, Dad?” I ...

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Recoil and reflexes: unintended discharges with heavy-recoiling guns.

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A video of a petite woman shooting a S&W .500 Magnum made the rounds last week. At issue was an uncontrolled (negligent) discharge, occurring as a rapid “double tap.”

Watch the video, and you’ll see that as the gun recoils from the first round, a second round is ignited. The barrel is nearly vertical when the second shot fires, raising all sorts of concerns about its eventual landing place. It’s definitely an unsafe situation!

The various comments made (not ...

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Friday Surprise: Rooting around.

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It occurs to me that I’ve yet to write about one of my favorite things: root beer. I don’t drink much of it anymore, as I dislike what it does to teeth and waistlines, but on occasion I’ll treat myself to a single bottle.

By now you should know that I’m a little on the anal retentive side about everything, more so with things I’m passionate about. Root beer is one of those things.

My all-time favorite root beer is

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You need to read this. Seriously: what exactly is a good shoot, and who decides?

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One consistent theme amongst the less informed is that all you need worry about in a defensive encounter is that it’s a “good shoot.” Nothing else, according to these keyboard commandoes, matters – you can do anything, as long as the shoot is “clean.”

The trouble is that neither you, nor they, get to decide what’s “clean” and what’s not. In my state, a Grand Jury makes the first decision, and if they say it isn’t “clean” it then goes to ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: Musical chairs – the music of Stan Kenton.

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When I was in high school my dream was to play trumpet in the Stan Kenton band. Kenton’s organization was for years the most progressive, innovative big band in all of jazz. Their sound was decidedly different than any other big band, and that alone attracted fans (of which I was one) and detractors (of which there were many.)

Narrow-minded jazz listeners complained that Kenton didn’t “swing”, that you couldn’t dance to his music. Musicians, though, understood what ...

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Becoming a gunsmith: my recommendations on joining this profession.

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Over the years I’ve gotten a number of inquiries about becoming a gunsmith. I’ve dashed off short answers to some, but was forced to ignore many others simply due to the amount of information that the answer demands. Here in full (or as full as I’m going to get) is my advice on becoming a gunsmith.

First let’s consider what kind of gunsmith we’re talking about. Some “gunsmiths” are really nothing more than parts changers – people who can disassemble a ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: Colored by a point of view.

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In 1935, a fellow by the name of Roy Stryker went to work for the federal government. Specifically, he took over the job of managing the Historical Section of Roosevelt’s Resettlement Administration. Almost immediately the organization morphed into the Farm Security Administration, and his section became the Information Division.

Without putting too fine a point on it, Stryker’s job was propaganda – to give the Administration what they needed to justify spending money that they ...

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Steyr rides again: their striker fired polymer pistols have returned to the U.S. market!

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A few years back Steyr Mannlicher USA imported a batch of their M9 and S9 pistols. They were polymer framed, striker fired guns of the type popularized by their fellow Austrians at Glock, but that’s as far as the similarities went.

The Steyr guns featured a steeper grip angle, more ergonomically sculpted grips, a lower bore axis, and better triggers. Like all Steyr products, they were superbly constructed of quality materials.

Sadly they’ve been unavailable in this country for a few years, ...

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In Oregon, we’re used to rust. That doesn’t mean we put up with it on our guns, and here’s how we avoid it!

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That doesn’t mean that we like it, however!

A recent email from a reader asked about protecting guns from rust in long-term storage. There are many approaches to the problem, most of them involving some type of coating or oil.

My preferred technique has long been wrapping the piece in a Volatile Corrosion Inhibitor (VCI) paper. VCI paper is coated with chemicals that vaporize to provide a protection layer against moisture and rust. Properly used in a sealed container (like a Zip-Loc ...

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Spring forward: does the type of mainspring affect action stacking?

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In the past I’ve mentioned that I don’t spend much time on the various gun forums (‘fora’, to be excruciatingly correct.) My free time is too precious to spend wading through such drivel as “my instructor can beat up your instructor” or “the .45 is so powerful it knocks people off their feet!” The only time, in fact, that I look at a forum is when I’m eating breakfast or lunch and have nothing better to read.

It was at lunch ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: Hoe, Hoe, Hoe!

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My Father was a child of the Great Depression, as well as being a farm boy. He learned early on how to make a penny squeak, which unfortunately meant that he was always looking for the cheapest way to do anything. This trait was passed down to me, but I’ve learned something: there is a big difference between being frugal and being cheap. Frugality means looking for the best value, not the lowest price.

Buying cheap tools, for instance, is actually ...

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The S&W lock issue just won’t go away.

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Several people emailed me about The Firearm Blog’s picture of Jerry Miculek’s 627PC. It would appear that his gun has had the locking mechanism disabled, leading to much renewed discussion about the incidence of accidental lock activation.

When the locks first came out there were a few reported cases of locks self-engaging. The wisdom of the internet held that the locks were just fine, that S&W would never knowingly introduce something that would put people at risk, that ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: I want, I want, I want!

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I mentioned that last weekend I was on the range for a defensive rifle class. The range is not too far from a small airport, and it’s common to see all kinds of interesting aircraft fly overhead.

The students were preparing to shoot another drill when an autogyro passed overhead. I had to stop and watch it disappear behind the hills, because as a kid I was entranced by this movie:

Ever since then ...

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What’s in MY holster? Nothing esoteric – just solid, reliable guns.

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I get many emails asking what I carry on a daily basis. While my choices are mine alone, and aren’t meant to be prescriptive for you, why I choose certain items may be of some help to you.

As most probably already know (or, from the pictures on this site, have managed to guess) I often carry a revolver. Not 100% of the time, mind you; there are many instances when I carry an autoloader, and have done so for many years. ...

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What happens after the shooting? Get this free booklet and learn!

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It’s easy to get preoccupied with in the shooting part of self defense preparations. Let’s face it: shooting is fun!

If you take self defense seriously, however, at some point you have to ask about the “after part” – what happens after you’ve discharged your gun at an assailant. This is an area that is infrequently covered, or simply covered in misinformation.

Marty Hayes wants to change that.

Marty is the President of the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network, which ...

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