Defensive ammunition for the revolver: an update on Speer Gold Dot!

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It’s been several years since Speer introduced their Gold Dot Short Barrel Personal Protection 38 Special +P loading. It looked good on paper, and the Gold Dot line has a superb reputation for performance, but many of us prefer to carry well-tested ammunition. Let someone else be the guinea pig!

Sporadic reports have come in that the Gold Dot load is “working”; Massad Ayoob told me that he’s heard around the country that people are “satisfied” with the performance. Still, I’d ...

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Following the safety rules religiously.

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In last week’s article, I mentioned that there was an ancient religious principle that can help keep you safe from firearms accidents. Allow me to digress for just a moment to give you the necessary background.

As you may know, Orthodox Jews have a rather rigorous set of rules that they follow. According to their tradition, there are 613 commandments in the Torah (their Bible, which consists of the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, ...

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The Safety Rules.

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A reader alerted me to this thread over at GlockTalk, where yet another debate about the first of Jeff Cooper’s “Four Rules of Gun Safety” is raging. Specifically, the argument centers on the allowable “exceptions” to Rule #1: “All guns are always loaded” (or, alternatively, “Treat all guns as if they were loaded.” Cooper himself said “All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.” That comes directly from an ...

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Reloading equipment round-up, 2007 edition.

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This last year I’ve been using a number of new reloading tools and components. I’m generally one to “stick with what works”, but that doesn’t stop me from looking for something better!

Late last year I bought a new Hornady Lock-n-Load progressive press (known as the “LnL AP”.) This is a five-station auto-indexing press with a motorized casefeeder. I bought it after becoming disenchanted with my Dillon and Lee presses – though I can always find something to like about any ...

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Do you need a trigger job?

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It occurs to me that not everyone who stumbles into my little corner of the internet necessarily knows what they really need. I receive quite a number of emails that essentially ask “should I have a trigger job done on my revolver?”

(I am aware that asking someone who became known as a gunsmith that question is tantamount to requesting that the fox guard the henhouse. Still, I’d like to take a crack – hopefully a fairly objective one – at ...

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More on the use of +P in older Colt revolvers.

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The internet “experts” just can’t let this one go!

If you’re new to this discussion, please read this short article on the use of +P ammunition in Colt revolvers. Apparently, the fact that a manufacturer would dare tell a customer what kind of ammunition they should use rubs some people the wrong way!

The latest argument from the “experts” delves into Colt advertising history. Way back when, Colt’s advertisements stated that their small revolvers were suitable for use with the .38-44 ...

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A different (and old) approach to the backup revolver.

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A gentleman wrote in asking about small backup revolvers – that is, a revolver to carry as a backup to a primary revolver.

I know that many people carry their primary gun on their hip, with a lightweight (aluminum, titanium, scandium) wheelgun in an ankle holster, and I know a couple of folks who carry a S&W “J” frame in a front pants pocket as a second gun.

This is not what the writer had in mind, though. He was thinking of ...

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The case for the double action only revolver.

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I endorse the practice of rendering defensive revolvers double action only (DAO.) Many people ask why, and I thought I’d give you my thoughts on the matter.

Let’s start with the usual argument for retaining single action capability, which I call the “Walter Mitty scenario”: the mythical need for making precise long range head shots. Let’s face it, folks – this just never happens in real life!

However, let’s say that you’re having a Jack Bauer kind of day ...

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Getting beyond the hardware: an inspiring little essay.

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I may have mentioned that I spent a period of time in the early 80s as a commercial photographer. Honestly, I didn’t make it all that far; though a good technician, I wasn’t creative enough on demand to sustain a career. I did learn a lot, though, and I took some of those lessons and put them to good use in other areas of my life.

One of those lessons – and one of the most important – came in the ...

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Yes, there are people who still think warning shots are a good idea. Don’t be one of them.

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Xavier Thoughts chronicles the story of an elderly gentleman who, using his gun, confronted a burglar in his home. The outcome was that the perp got sent to jail. Great, right? Well, maybe not. This may get ugly when the inevitable civil suit is filed.

You see, the perp was injured because the homeowner fired an unaimed “warning shot” which fragmented and struck the intruder. As if that wasn’t bad enough in these litigious times, the gentleman couldn’t ...

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How NOT to spend your training dollars.

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What is one thing I advise potential defensive shooting students?

Avoid “checklist” shooting classes. What do I mean by “checklist” classes? Those where the instructor provides a long list of the things that you will (ostensibly) learn in his/her class, implicitly (or explicitly) inviting you to compare how many things he teaches versus how many things another instructor does. It’s a variation of the “mine is bigger than yours” game played by adolescents of all ages.

This topic came to mind recently ...

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Are ammo prices keeping you from learning?

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Lately I’ve been hearing from people who’ve decided against attending training courses because of the cost of ammunition. If I may, I think that this is a shortsighted attitude!

Yes, ammo prices are the highest they’ve ever been. Yes, the number of rounds necessary to complete a decent shooting class is a significantly higher expense than it used to be. It’s still worth it, and it’s a bargain that you should take advantage of.

If you plan to carry a handgun, or ...

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What causes stacking?

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Stacking is defined as an increase in trigger pull weight toward the end of the trigger’s rearward travel. Some people like it, some don’t, and different guns have varying amounts of it. What causes it?

Some people come up with odd explanations. I recently got an email asking about stacking; the writer had read “on the internet” that stacking was caused by the type of spring – coil or leaf – used in the action. It’s a simplistic answer, and it’s ...

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Sight options for the defensive handgun.

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Much as it pains me to admit this, my eyesight is degrading with distressing rapidity. No, it’s nothing out of the ordinary, nor is it anything serious – it’s just that I’m getting older!

I’m close enough to the big “five-oh” to count the years left on one hand (with fingers left over), and the closer it gets the further out I need to hold the restaurant menu. Oh, yes, my prescription is current – but after wearing bifocals for the ...

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Another day in the life of a famous gun-person. (That would be me.)

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I spent part of last Tuesday at the range, schmoozing with A Famous Gun Writer Who Wishes To Remain Anonymous (hereafter referred to as “AFGWWWTRA”.) We tested a few guns, talked about revolvers – the kinds of things you’d expect two industry gadabouts to do on a range.

AFGWWWTRA happened to have a Ruger Alaskan model in .454 Casull that was being evaluated. Since I hadn’t yet gotten the chance to shoot one, I really wanted to see what it was ...

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My favorite powders for handgun reloading.

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Every reloader has his or her favorite powders. When I first started reloading handgun cartridges, I used what everyone around me used — which I found wasn’t always the best choice for my needs. After experimenting with lots of powders, I settled on a few favorites.

As a general rule I prefer flaked powders over ball (spherical) powders. I’ve found that they meter more consistently in a wide variety of measures, and they seem to burn a bit cleaner than their ball ...

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Allow me to elaborate on the Ruger Mini-14 magazine issue.

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In a recent post I mentioned that the Ruger Mini-14 demands factory magazines to work reliably. That statement may have given a bit of a wrong impression.

The point I was trying to make, and apparently didn’t, is that the only reliable Minis I have seen were using factory magazines. I have actually encountered many examples which wouldn’t run and a change to factory mags got them to working properly.

All is not perfect in Ruger-land, though – in my experience, there is still ...

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“Bullshit Tenths.”

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Pardon my French!

This is a term used by tool & die makers to indicate unobtainable levels of (perceived) precision. Why do I bring this up?

Last week, I was advising a reader on selecting pin gages for use in measuring chamber throats. The discussion revolved around which gages to buy, and whether or not he needed both plus- and minus-tolerance gages (no, in case you’re wondering.) He was concerned about their variance of .0002″ (that’s 2/10,000th of an inch, or 1/20th ...

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On the Virginia Tech massacre.

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At first, I wasn’t going to comment on the sad crime perpetrated on the campus of Virginia Tech this week. I figured that everyone, everywhere, was going to do so (with varying degrees of erudition and insight.) I decided there wasn’t anything I could add. Until…

Listening to the news on the radio, I heard an interview with two students who said that they were in “the room where he was shooting.” According to these people, students and faculty were hiding ...

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“It’s perfect for the little lady” – NOT!

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If you’re here, it’s probably because you like (or at least appreciate) our friend the revolver. My feelings, of course, are well known: I believe the revolver to be the single greatest firearm that one could ever hope to own. I believe that people who shoot revolvers demonstrate themselves to be of above average intelligence, more refined sensibilities, and generally better looking than those who do not. (I exaggerate, of course. Except in my own case, where these things are ...

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More on the Dan Wesson .22 revolver.

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In response to Monday’s blog post about .22 accuracy, a couple of readers asked about the loads that had proven to be accurate in the Dan Wesson .22LR Model 15-2.

Before I answer, you need to keep in mind that your individual DW may not like the same ammunition mine does. With that understanding, my DW likes the Remington Match Target (subsonic, LRN bullet) and the Remington “Golden Bullet” bulk pack. Of the 23 ...

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Wringing accuracy from your .22 rimfire: yes, it can seem frustrating at times!

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I’ve been shooting a lot of .22LR on a recreational basis lately, and am reminded how fickle this round can be.

Many people seem to be unaware that you can’t put just any old .22 round into a gun – be it rifle, pistol, or revolver – and expect it to function correctly, let alone hit where it is aimed!

It is not unusual to find that any given .22 firearm will not function with certain ammunition. I’ve seen guns that didn’t ...

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Maintaining your gun’s fine finish.

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Those who have highly polished guns – polished nickel plate, bright stainless, or Colt’s justly famous Royal Blue – often ask about the best way to keep these fine finishes looking good.

My recommendation: Selvyt. It’s not a paste or a wax, it’s a cloth – a pure cotton, non-impregnated cloth that jewelers have been using for many decades to give the finishing touches to highly polished gold, silver, and platinum.

The Selvyt cloth is simply a specially woven cotton that has ...

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Measuring chamber throats: apparently, I have critics!

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This is an expansion on an email I replied to recently. A loyal reader noted that my name had been brought up on one of the forums (sadly, he couldn’t remember which one) regarding my blog article on measuring chamber throats.

Apparently, the gist of the discussion was that the forum’s “expert” (every forum has one) opined that I was full of it for suggesting that throats couldn’t be measured ...

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On pairing women with guns (or, how to maintain a relationship while learning to shoot.)

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You’ve probably seen news articling exploring the “phenomenon” of women who choose to carry a gun for their own protection. They’re interesting to read, and when I saw one recently I was reminded of my own wife’s journey to self-empowerment (in the ballistic sense.)

I’m of the belief that women should always be proactive with regards to their own safety. Sadly, our current society has inculcated a fear of weapons into the collective conscious of the female half of the population. It ...

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A gunsmith I admire: John Linebaugh.

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John Linebaugh is a custom revolver maker who specializes in caliber conversions on Ruger single actions. Not just any conversions, mind you – he is the originator of the fire-breathing .475 Linebaugh and .500 Linebaugh cartridges.

John first became famous for his modified revolvers that would should heavy .45 Colt loads (250 grain bullets at 1,700 fps.) His work with those heavy loads lead him to develop the .475 Linebaugh and the mighty .500 Linebaugh: 435 grains traveling at 1,300 fps!

Now ...

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The Smith & Wesson Model 625 dilemma.

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So, you’re in the market for a S&W 625, and you’re torn between the “standard” 625 and the Jerry Miculek edition 625. Which to choose?

Well, you have to decide whether the “niceties” – such as the Miculek grips, interchangeable front sights, and the serrated trigger – are worth the extra money. There are some internal differences, though, which you may want to consider.

The Miculek edition is a little unusual, in that it uses a mix of MIM (metal injection molding) ...

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Bent ejector rods.

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A common complaint about the old-style Colt Detective Special is the unshrouded ejector rod. Many people believe that the exposed ejector rod is a liability; should it get bent during a struggle, the theory goes, it will tie up the gun and make it inoperable.

Not quite.

Many folks have experienced this problem with a Smith & Wesson. Since their ejector rods are locked at the front and rotate about the front latch pin, any small amount of runout (deviation from true) ...

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“Stainless” doesn’t mean “won’t rust”.

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I hear the advice all the time: “buy a stainless gun, because they won’t rust.” This kind of comment is what prompted General Norman Schwarzkopf to say “bovine scatology!”

Yes, stainless will in fact rust under the right conditions. What are those conditions? Generally, if you get moisture trapped in a place where it doesn’t evaporate normally (say, under a grip panel or inside the action), you have a situation that is ideal for corrosion. The situation is worse in very ...

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A gunsmith I admire: Hamilton Bowen.

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Someone recently asked me what gunsmith(s) I admired or respected, or that I would allow to work on my own guns. I gave him a few names, and thought you might be interested as well!

My first entry in this occasional series is Hamilton Bowen. Bowen is perhaps the gunsmith that the rest of us aspire to be; he combines technical ability, commitment to quality, and a definite style that is hard to define but easy to recognize. Bowen does it ...

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