I was very happy to attend the Pat Rogers Memorial Revolver Roundup for the first time this November. I’ve been wanting to go to this conference since I first heard of it, years ago, and was thrilled to finally get there!
Relax, you’re home
The Roundup is the perfect place for a RevolverGuy. Everyone there has a strong interest in revolvers, and understands their strengths, weaknesses, and applications. You won’t have to spend any time justifying your interest in the revolving pistol, because everyone “gets it” already. The instructors know how to run them and how to teach them, and the training programs are all built with the revolver in mind, so you won’t have to struggle to keep up with courses of fire built around the bottom-feeders, either. How refreshing!
The Roundup crowd is welcoming and friendly, and I felt right at home, right away. There was definitely a shared camaraderie among the participants, and I didn’t see a single person navigating the weekend solo. Even if you didn’t know anybody when you showed up, you left with a bunch of new friends by the time the weekend was over. All the attendees were eager to show off their gear and talk about our common interest in the round gun.
The Roundup’s instructor staff is strong, with many talented trainers and industry professionals leading the participants through the course of learning. You’ll recognize many of the names by virtue of their other work and accomplishments, but there’s a few “sleepers” in the mix too, who don’t normally teach open enrollment classes for the public, except at the Roundup.
The RevolverGuy Family
I was exceptionally pleased to meet so many RevolverGuy readers at the Roundup! It’s always wonderful to meet them in person and to hear their feedback about what we’re doing here. I’m always proud of our work, but it was especially gratifying to hear from so many people that appreciated what we were doing at RG. It seems we’re doing something right, because I didn’t hear any complaints (and I don’t think it’s because I was armed–Ha!).
I had several readers tell me that they made a purchase, modified their equipment, changed their training, adopted a new method, or changed a habit in accordance with our recommendations. That was great to hear, but it was also a reminder of the serious responsibility we bear as writers. Our readers are relying on us for important information and guidance—potentially life-saving information and guidance–and we cannot let them down. We will always endeavor to be worthy of the faith, trust, and confidence you folks place in us.
A note about the Roundup’s host is in order. When I first heard of the Roundup, it was being hosted in the Dallas, TX area, but for the last several years it’s been hosted at Gunsite Academy, in Arizona. Gunsite is the perfect place to host the Roundup, as it has the facilities, resources, and expert staff to make it a success. It’s hard to host a group of this size, but Gunsite has the classrooms, ranges, bathrooms, dining area, pro-shop, and on-site gunsmithy necessary to support the training.
I was super excited to attend my first Roundup because it would also be my first time to shoot at Gunsite. It’s a safe bet that most of you understand how important Gunsite is to our shooting culture and heritage, but for those who are new to the gun, Gunsite is considered to be the Alpha of shooting schools. Before the American Pistol Institute (later, Gunsite), there was really no formal shooting school that an armed citizen could attend to learn defensive handgunning. For that matter, there were very few places in military or law enforcement circles where a student could learn the pistol to such a depth. Gunsite is really where it all began, and it will always be a special place because of the role it’s played in our industry and the development of our martial art, so I was especially excited to shoot on its ranges as part of the Roundup.
The Gunsite ranges include not only traditional, “square ranges,” but also unique simulators like the “Funhouse” and “Donga” ranges, which teach students how to safely navigate indoor and outdoor environments, and deal with threats they encounter, therein. There are few gun schools with facilities like these, and a suitably-trained staff to lead you through them. You’ll find both at Gunsite, though, which is part of what makes it so special.
I should mention that Gunsite’s curriculum includes a revolver version of their famous 250 class. The next 250 Defensive Revolver Class is scheduled for August 2024, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more comprehensive, revolver-specific training program.
There was a wide mix of guns and gear present at the Roundup, ranging from the historical to the cutting edge. There’s not many places where you can see a RevolverGuy shooting Kimber’s new K6xs (standby for a RevolverGuy writeup on that one, soon) right next to another shooting a King Super Target, but the Roundup is one of them. On the heels of seeing my first Nighthawk Korth in the wild at my Defensive Revolver Class in October, I was surprised to see another one at the Roundup (wielded by a very good shooter, by the way), but I guess I shouldn’t have been. This is where all the Revolver Nuts hang out, you see. You’ll be in good company.
I’d say 95% of the participants were shooting something that chambered .38 Special ammo, but there were a few .22s, .32s, .44s and .45s in the mix. I even saw one gent shooting a .41 Magnum Model 58, and it took all the restraint I had to not park myself behind him and stare like a kid in a candy store window. How cool is that?
Leather had a slight edge over plastic for holsters, and I saw plenty of rigs from RevolverGuy friend, and Roundup sponsor, Simply Rugged Holsters, including my own 240 holster for my Combat Magnum, and my Pocket Protector for my S&W 640 Centennial, which worked nicely for Dave Dolan’s Weapon Transitions/Back-Up Snub Deployment class.
I was excited to meet the owner of Harry’s Holsters at the Roundup and see his excellent holsters in action. Those of you who read Kevin’s article can appreciate the great work they’re doing with Kydex, and I was impressed with what I saw in my brief exposure to them. My own Dale Fricke Archangel Kydex holster for the Centennial worked very well for one of the classes, and also served me well on the 1,600 mile round-trip drive to Gunsite. If you can wear a holster for 11 hours while seated in a car and not even notice it’s there, you’ve got a good rig.
The stalwart HKS speedloader was probably the most common round-body loader that I saw, but there were a number of 5-Star loaders as well. Curiously, I think I only saw one or two Safariland Comps outside of my own, but I’m sure they were present in good number, too. I saw a couple of the SpeedBeez loaders, but they didn’t seem quite as popular with the Roundup crowd. A large number of the round-body loaders were being carried in Simply Rugged Sidewinder pouches, and I had several readers tell me they purchased theirs after reading our review of the design. I really like mine.
The strip-style loaders were encountered even more frequently than the round-body loaders, by my measure, with the overwhelming majority being fished out of pockets. Roundup sponsor Tuff Products was selling lots of them to eager buyers.
Speaking of Roundup sponsors, The Wilderness was there, selling lots of their popular Renegade ankle holsters, just prior to the ankle carry class taught by Chuck Haggard. That’s a good rig, and you’ll hear more about it here in 2024 when I finally finish my piece on ankle carry that I’ve been pecking away at.
The schedule was packed full of activity, starting with a welcome barbecue on Friday evening for all the attendees, where I met lots of new friends. Things kicked off in earnest on Saturday morning and ran through Monday afternoon, with multiple morning and afternoon sessions each day:
As part of a process of continuous improvement, the Roundup team will probably adjust the schedule a bit for the 2024 Roundup, and you’ll likely see a smaller number of longer duration sessions, to simplify logistics and allow the instructors more time with the students. I think this potential change would promote even better training, and I’m happy to hear it’s being considered. Standby for more on that from the Roundup’s team.
I couldn’t help but notice that several shooters had their guns go down during the Roundup, as a result of maintenance-related issues. I personally know of three that gassed out, but there were probably several others I didn’t see.
One of the leading culprits was shooting lead ammunition without properly cleaning the gun. I know the .38 Special ammo market is really tough right now, and sometimes all you can find is soft lead ammo (round nose, semiwadcutter, wadcutter, etc.), so I understand why folks are shooting it, but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s dirty stuff, which creates a higher maintenance burden.
I saw a Taurus and a S&W that were both so badly leaded in the gas ring area, that the cylinder would no longer spin. Longtime revolver shooters know how dirty soft lead bullets can be, and are used to scrubbing and wiping the cylinder frequently to prevent these fouling-induced stoppages (look for the toothbrushes and rags sticking out of the pockets of guys with gray hair), but sometimes it can be hard to keep the gun clean enough when you’re doing lots of shooting in a class.1
I was able to get the Taurus running again with a brief cleaning using a brush and some solvent, but the S&W suffered a double whammy when it was inappropriately “cleaned.” Its owner didn’t have access to his normal cleaning supplies, and resorted to using a borrowed, aerosolized bore cleaner that was liberally applied. Unfortunately, too much cleaner was used, and it got into the wrong places. The excess of solvent leaked into the action, bringing lots of lead goop with it. The sludgy combination completely “nuked” the innards, and it took a complete disassembly and cleaning to get the gun running again. It was a good lesson about the importance of having the right tools to keep your gun functioning properly, and one that the owner wanted me to share with you, as a warning.
I cleaned and lubricated my guns each night with the cleaning kit that I packed, and shot jacketed ammo that burned relatively clean, so I didn’t have any problems with mine, but watching some other folks go through these difficulties made me glad that I had a maintenance article already scheduled to run in the new year. You’ll probably see that one in February (it’s done, but we’ve got some other stuff to get to, first).
I saw some really talented shooters at the Roundup, and enjoyed watching them run the gun. I admired their skill and was pleased to have them as a role model, to learn from.
My own shooting was a little inconsistent, with some moments of great personal triumph (like boring out the 10-Ring of a B-8 on one exercise) and some moments where I wanted to crawl under a rock (like blowing some easy shots as Wayne Dobbs watched me crash and burn).
However, the Roundup is one of those places where you can be challenged without undue pressure. All the instructors are interested in helping you to perform your best, and teach you the skills necessary to improve your game, but the learning environment is both relaxed and positive. You won’t get ridiculed for a mistake at the Roundup, and there’s room for shooters of every skill level, so don’t feel like you have to be an “expert” to attend. There are classes specifically tailored for entry-level shooters, and you couldn’t start your shooting journey with better instructors.
There’s plenty of challenging material for advanced shooters, as well, so don’t worry about being bored if you’re a Top Gun. The Roundup caters to every skill level.
Yet, while there’s plenty of good training to be had, I think the Roundup, at its core, is as much of a social event as a training event. You could spend the whole weekend there without firing a shot (not that you’d want to, but you could) and still walk away feeling like it was worth your time.
There’s something about hanging out with “your tribe” that’s really satisfying and invigorating, and if you’re reading this article, then you’re definitely part of the tribe that convenes at the Roundup.2 It took me longer than it should have to go to my first one, but now that I’ve been, I can’t wait to attend the next.
Gunsite CEO Ken Campbell is fond of asking shooters, “so, when are you coming to Gunsite?” Well, I’ve already registered for the 2024 Roundup, and now I’m trying to figure out how I can get to that 250 class I’ve wanted to attend for so many decades. Once you get a little taste of Gunsite, you’ll want to go back. Soon.
If you think you’d like to attend the Roundup, I’d encourage you to register early. The seats fill up fast, so don’t delay too long–it’s not too early to start making your plans.
I’ll see you there. Don’t forget to pack your cleaning kit!
- When the feds were still issuing revolvers, agents were trained to scrub and wipe their guns during training and qualification shoots, lest the guns stop working midstream—especially in those outfits that shot soft lead ammo like wadcutters and the 158 +P LSWCHP. You can often get away with less cleaning if you’re shooting jacketed ammunition, but the pure lead stuff is pure murder on a gun, and will gum it up quick. Those of you who shoot lots of rimfire ammo through revolvers know what I mean—is there any gun that gets filthy as quickly as a .22 revolver? Those outside-lubricated, soft lead bullets are really messy. Keep a rag and toothbrush handy when you’re shooting those;
- Another place for tribe members to hang out is Daryl and Bryan’s new Patreon page, American Fighting Revolver, which launched just before the Roundup.