“Can you really conceal a revolver?”

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Sorry to be late today, but my cable internet connection has been experiencing spotty outages lately. For the money I pay, you’d think they’d give me better uptime than this!

GRRRRRR! But I digress…

Anyhow, today’s topic once again comes from that fountain of firearms misinformation, the local gun store. A fellow is looking at several guns, and asks to see a Ruger SP101. The clerk tells him that for concealed carry (ostensibly the prospect’s use), a revolver is “just no good. ...

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Triggers are three-dimensional.

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It’s surprising how little attention is given to the back of a revolver’s trigger. I recently came across a gun that had been worked on by another gunsmith (more on this in a future blog post), and one aspect of the gun illustrated the limited understanding of revolver shooting by many ‘smiths.

The face of the trigger had been polished smooth, but done in such a way that the sides tapered to meet the back, leaving an untouched knife edge. For ...

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Battle of the “J” frames?

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The internet forums sporadically ignite with a common debate: what “J” frame is the best?

The disagreement seems to center around the fans of the exposed hammer models (who hold out the dream of needing to make a “precise, long range” single action shot) and those of the enclosed hammer Centennial models (who opine that the lack of entry points for dirt outweighs ever needing single action capability.)

I’m not going to talk about tactics, but there is one salient point that ...

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“What revolver should I buy?”

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If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been asked that question…!

On every forum, in my daily email, and in the phone calls I receive is a common query: “of the revolvers available at a dealer, which one should I buy?” These folks are looking for some guidance beyond the simple choice of caliber and barrel length – this is more along the lines of “who makes the ‘best’ revolver?”

The answer I give? Ruger. This, from an admitted revolver snob ...

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A primer about primers.

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When doing action work, I ask my clients how they’ll be using the gun. For instance, a competition shooter who handloads their own ammunition can utilize a lighter action than someone who needs the gun to work with a variety of factory ammunition.

Why is this? Well, primers are not created equal – the brands vary in terms of their sensitivity. Some of this is due to the type and thickness of the metal that the cup is made from, but ...

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What is it with the reloading press fanatics?

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Funny thing…the other day, Tamara posted this rant about brand fanaticism over at her blog. The subject popped up again this week in a different context.

I’d popped in to a couple of the reloading forums to ask a question about dies (I’m considering new ones.) Reading through some of the past posts on the boards would lead one to believe that there is a Reloading Press Jihad going on! Take a look for yourself sometime…the subject is ...

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Are we shooting more than we used to?

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People routinely ask about the lifespan of a particular gun, while at the same time suggesting that somehow the guns of yesteryear would last longer under use than today’s offerings. I’m not sure that this is the case.

Let’s jump back to, say, 1935 or so. Someone has just bought a new .38 Special revolver (take your pick of quality makers) and a box of ammunition. If they were an average shooter, that box that might last them for a decade ...

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A bit of opinion about MIM parts.

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Heard about “MIM” parts? MIM is an injection molding process for metal parts, and it has been revolutionizing many industries. In the revolver business, both Smith & Wesson and Taurus have made use of MIM parts. Like any new process, however, there are those who decry the new technology; some gunsmiths spread the misinformation that MIM parts can’t be worked on, and refuse to take in guns using MIM parts. Adding fuel to the fire are a few well-publicized parts ...

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What does “reliability” really mean?

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A recent rifle class in which I assisted brought to mind a topic which is just not understood amongst gun owners: “reliability.”

What is “reliable”? You’ll hear all kinds of definitions, all kinds of criteria. My definition is deceptively simple: the next time you pull the trigger, the gun will function perfectly. That means zero, zilch, nada, nyet failures. Every single time, regardless of how many rounds you’ve just shot. Not just “bang”, but feed, fire, eject, and feed again.

Sounds like I’m ...

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Let’s talk about triggers.

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I had an interesting email recently. The writer said that he’d contacted a number of gunsmiths to inquire about action work. In every case, he said, all he could get out of them was “we can make it lighter.” Occasionally I’ll get an inquiry from the other side of this phenomenon – someone whose only question is “how light can you make it?” Why this fixation on pull weight? I believe it’s because people just haven’t been properly educated!

If you’ve ...

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She “gets it”.

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Tamara K., over at her blog The View From The Porch, says this:

“For what it’s worth, I don’t carry a gun to protect me from muggers at the mall. I don’t even carry a gun to protect me, period. I carry a gun every day despite living in an area where I’m more likely to be hit by an asteroid than attacked by a mugger as a symbol of my refusal to buy into this culture of ...

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Fake Pythons?

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Well, the guns are certainly real, in the sense that they were made by Colt. What’s not real, though, is they way they came from the factory!

With the prices of collectible Colts going well north of a grand (editor’s note: when this was written in 2006; they’re much higher now!) some unscrupulous sellers have taken to faking the rarer, and more valuable, variations. The most commonly faked is certainly the 3″ Python.

A number of years ago, Colt sold off their ...

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Revolver grips: finger grooves or plain?

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Many people ask me where to get finger grooved grips for various guns (often for the Colt Python, but the Ruger GP-100 seems to be a common request as well.) Personally, I usually try to talk them out of that style grip, and I’d like to share my reasoning.

First, the grooves rarely fit any given person perfectly; for my hands, for instance, every grooved grip I’ve ever tried required me to spread my fingers to an uncomfortable degree. If I ...

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Measuring chamber throats – calipers vs pin gages.

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There is a huge amount of misinformation regarding revolver accuracy. Folks, assuming that you have a gun in proper repair – timing, lockup, chamber-to-bore alignment – the most important factor in accuracy is the chamber throat dimension.

What is the chamber throat? It is the slightly constricted opening in the chamber, just in front of the cartridge mouth, that the bullet passes through on its way into the forcing cone. The throat gives the bullet its first stabilizing guidance, and many ...

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More about the FN Barracuda revolver.

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As previously mentioned, I acquired one of the recently imported FN “Barracuda” revolvers, and am in the midst of determining what to do to improve the action. I have to make a living, too, so this isn’t on the top of my priority list….be patient!

In the meantime, I have managed to develop some information about the lineage of this gun. Some less-informed sellers have been insisting that the Barracuda was made in Belgium, and that the very similar Astra was ...

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Why I don’t work on Taurus revolvers.

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Occasionally someone will call or email: “I’m looking for a good gunsmith – do you work on Taurus revolvers?” When I politely inform the person that I do not, the result is often indignance, as if to say “how dare you decline to work on my fine possession! You have insulted me, suh!” (Delivered in the best antebellum manner, of course.)

Taurus revolvers possess many positive traits: they’re available in a wide variety of calibers and configurations, they are usually fairly ...

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Muckraking, Chapter 2: what’s with Dan Wesson?

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Poor Dan Wesson. The marque, famed for their switch-barrel revolvers, has suffered through more inept management regimes than your average banana republic (no, not the clothing chain!) Today you can ask ten random shooters about the company, and almost none will know that Dan Wesson is still in business. Their innovative revolvers – the work of the incomparable Karl Lewis – are no longer found on dealer’s shelves.

How did we get to this sad state of affairs? To understand, we ...

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The FN Barracuda revolver – initial impressions

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A new toy just arrived at the shop: an FN ‘Barracuda’ revolver in .357!

The Barracuda was FN’s only foray into the revolver market; they were produced for a few years during the 80’s. Various “authorities” say the gun was made by Astra and marketed by FN, others hold that it was made by FN and later licensed to Astra. Frankly, from my examination of the construction techniques and general build quality, I’d venture to say that it was made by ...

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What “generation” is my Colt Detective Special? Depends on who you ask!

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Many people talk about the Colt Detective Special using the term “generation.” I get emails asking which “generation” is best or which should be purchased. I recently got a nasty email from a potential client who asked if I could work on a certain “generation”; when I replied that I wasn’t sure what he meant by ‘third generation’, he decided that I wasn’t qualified to work on his guns because I “obviously don’t know anything about Colts!”

Folks, here’s Fact #1: ...

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“Can My Colt Use +P Ammunition? “

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This is one of the first questions a new Colt “D” frame owner asks. The answer depends on the model and the vintage of the individual gun.

What Colt says
Post-1972 (shrouded ejector rod) models: The owner’s manual says that these guns are rated for +P ammunition. The manual calls for a factory (gunsmith) inspection every 1,000 rounds for the alloy models (Cobra and Agent), and every 3,000 rounds for the steel-framed guns (Detective Special, Police Positive Special, Diamondback.)

Pre-1972 (unshrouded ejector ...

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Lubrication 101: Gun oil, snake oil, and how to tell the difference.

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Introduction

Firearms enthusiasts are the targets (pardon the pun) of some of the most misleading advertisements regarding the proper lubrication of their guns. The purpose of this article is to give a background on basic lubrication concepts, the technology behind them, and some guidelines for selecting lubricants based on facts, not hype.

Before going further, let’s make something perfectly clear: with a very few obvious exceptions, firearms lubrication isn’t terribly difficult. Compared to many more common objects, guns just don’t make big ...

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Is the Colt Python revolver delicate?

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There is an assertion that comes up with surprising frequency, particularly in the internet age where everyone is an expert: the Colt Python (and all other Colt revolvers) are “delicate”, “go out of time easily”, or “not as strong/durable as a S&W.”

Let’s start with the construction: a Colt revolver, for any given frame size, is as strong as any gun with that frame size. Their metallurgy is absolutely the best, and their forged construction is of superior quality. They are ...

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Which brand of revolver speedloader is the best?

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Lots of people ask me about speedloaders – as in “what speedloader should I buy?”

Well, there are really only a couple of choices these days: the push-type (typified by Safariland) and the turn-the-knob style (like the common HKS.) There have been others; the superb SL Variant models are no longer imported, the Maxfires don’t – at least in my mind – qualify for the “speed” part of the name. The “Jet” speedloaders come in and out of popularity, but for ...

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What is a “good” trigger?

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I recently met a fellow who was shooting a Colt Detective Special. We talked about his gun a while, and I asked him if he’d had any action work done to it. He said he hadn’t; sure enough, on trying his gun, I felt the typical Colt factory trigger – heavy and ugly. Since I happened to be carrying my own Colt that day, I offered to let him try it’s trigger.

Surprise! He handed back with thanks, but opined that ...

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