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Having fun with a Revolver
I always like to start off an interview with a question that may be a bit different than my guests may have been asked before. I’m not sure I can actually accomplish that with a well seasoned guest like Massad Ayoob, yet, I try. So I asked Mas about the most fun he has ever had with a revolver.
Recreational shooting is a great time regardless of what you you are shooting and what you are shooting at but I love Mas’ answer.
The Pin Match a revitalization of the match formerly known as Second Chance.
You can read a bit about some former Second Chance Shooters thoughts about the Pin Match here.
The Wheel Gun Waltz
As Mas tells his story about his extra ordinary performance at the Second Chance Match with his N frame revolver, it is hard not to look for lessons. Revolvers aren’t the perfect gun for competition, but the fact is that sometimes when we place constraints on ourselves we can force an increase in performance in some areas.
In competition shooting it is common to hear the phrase that you can’t miss fast enough to win. When you are shooting a wheel gun, because of the limited capacity, it might make sense to simply say, you can’t miss.
When you are running a wheel gun the capacity forces you to get your hits and this simple psychological shift can be an important one. Getting your hits is an important part of winning in competition or in a fight.
Revolvers offer some serious advantages when it comes to getting your hits. The long heavy trigger press forces a level of concentration on your work that you can skate by without on other platforms. When it comes to precision shots the long trigger press adds the bonus of the potential to have a surprise break which can be a serious aid on small and/or distant targets.
Mas shares a quote that paints a great picture. Shooting a Semi-Auto is like marching a goose step while shooting a revolver is like dancing a waltz. I think this is a great description.
Jerry Miculek is pretty clearly a pretty fast dancer!
Shooting a revolver to improve your shooting as a whole.
For a long time I have bene of the opinion that the way to get better at shooting any gun is to increase the difficulty of the shooting problems you are trying to solve. In general I think most folks would agree that revolvers, especially small revolvers like J-frames are more difficult to shoot than their semi-auto counterparts.
There are several issues that make small wheel guns tough to shoot:
- Relatively long and relatively heavy revolver triggers
- Small size
- Significant recoil
Shooters that learn how to solve shooting problems with a revolver almost universally can solve the same problems with less difficulty with a semi-auto. So, if you are working to break through a plateau, maybe spending some time shooting a revolver, maybe a small wheel gun like a J-frame would be a good option for you.
As versitile as a J-frame can be for carry, they offer some disadvantages when it comes to actually shooting.
The long heavy trigger press of a revolver can be a difficult obstacle. When you place that heavy, long trigger in a gun that weighs in at less than a pound, the difficulty is magnified significantly.
Improving your trigger press really comes down to a couple of steps that are easy to understand and with effort effective when implemented
To Shoot your J-Frame Better: Increase your grip pressure.
This is a step that really works well regardless of what gun you are shooting. Making precision hits really comes down to aligning and placing the sights and then ensuring that the gun doesn’t move significantly while th trigger is being pressed and the shot leaves the barrel. If you really wanted to increase your precision to the maximum a particular gun allowed you would simply clamp it in a vice. You probably don’t carry a vice with you in your pocket, so the next best alternative is to turn your hands into the best approximation of a vide that you can.
The harder you grip, the less the gun moves while you press the trigger and throughout recoil. It is that simple to understand and with time, becomes second nature.
Every time you pick up your revolver or any other gun, do so with a crush grip with all the strength you can muster.
To Shoot your J-Frame Better: Increase your leverage on the trigger.
Leverage is all about mechanical advantage and more leverage equates to more power and more control of the trigger. When shooting a revolver, consider driving your finger deeper into the trigger guard and seating the face of the trigger in the power crease of your finger on the finger tip side of your first joint. This position will allow you to press the trigger more smoothly with less effort. The less effort you need to invest in the trigger press, the more likely you will be able to press the trigger without disturbing your sights.
Revolvers are still viable defensive tools.
When I asked Mas about common misconceptions related to revolvers he talked specifically about the idea that even though some folks feel differently, the revolver can still serve as a perfectly viable defensive tool.
Revolvers work particularly well for folks that tend to fit into one of two groups:
Group one are dedicated shooters with niche needs and the second group are those that aren’t particularly dedicated to learning the ins and outs of shooting. Mas refers to group 2 as non dedicated.
Let’s start out with group 1 as I feel like that is where I fall.
Dedicated Shooters with a Specific Revolver Need
I carry my S&W Model 442 in my front left pocket. I am a right handed and my j-frame 442 serves as my secondary gun. I’m not convinced that most folks, especially armed citizens need to carry a secondary gun, but I feel that it is an important tool for me. You see, I spend a significant chunk of time at rural shooting ranges where I encounter lots of folks. Many of those folks are potential clients for instruction and as a result, it makes sense that I greet them in a polite, respectful and appropriate manner. That typically means a handshake.
The issue I have is with the fact that any one I meet on a large rural range probably know why I am there. Primarily to teach guns. That means I have guns. Guns that they could take…
When I politely shake hands I surrender easy access to my primary defensive handgun. As a result, I typically place my left hand in my left front pocket and grasp my 442 when I greet an individual that I don’t know.
It’s these type of scenarios that make so much sense for the J-frame:
- Pocket carry
- Ankle carry
- Bellyband carry
In these situations revolvers shine due to their reliability in dirty conditions and the fact that the smooth shape of the Centenial J-frames helps to ensure their relatively easy and quick draw. Getting the gun out and getting quick shots on the threat is an important aspect of defensive shooting and avoiding snags on the draw can be critical.
As Mas puts it, “5 shots right now beats 7 shots later on.”
Centennial J-Frame Comparison: Model 442 vs. Model 340 M&P
My daily carry revolver is a Smith & Wesson Model 442. This gun is well used and loved and it shows. I carry it every day as a secondary handgun and every once in a while it serves as my primary.
While chatting with Massad, I started to wonder if maybe, just maybe the 340 M&P might be a better choice. Here are some pro 340 points that Mas expressed in his comparison between the S&W 442 and the S&W 340 M&P
◦Longer .357 cylinder of the 340 M&P helps to significantly reduce lock-up from bullet pull when using .38 Special ammunition.
◦The dual caliber nature of the .357 adds to versatility in an ammo drought
◦The sights of the 340 M&P are significantly larger than the typical J-Frame like the 442.
J-Frame Ammunition Selection.
Let’s face it, the very attributes that make a j-frame great for carry make it less than optimal when it comes to ballistic performance. With a barrel that is just 1 and 7/8” in length there isn’t a whole lot of room for powder to burn and propel the slug.
When it comes to selecting defensive ammunition, Mas and I make the same choice, 135 Grain Speer Gold Dot +P. It isn’t super pleasant to shoot, but it is a relatively proven load. In a 4” gun Mas recommends Speer Law Man 158 Grain +P LSWC – in a 4” gun
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