As an individual trying to learn a new platform, I’ve done quite a bit of reading on revolvers. Some of this has been historical, some has been quite technical, and some has been good, old fashioned how-to. One of the best books I’ve read on the topic of running a defensive revolver is Grant Cunningham’s excellent Protect Yourself With Your Snubnose Revolver.
If you’re not familiar with Grant Cunningham, you should be. Grant comes about as close as anyone to the being “The” Revolver Guy these days. Though now lamentably retired, he is known as one of the best revolver gunsmiths around. He is also a nationally-known (and thankfully un-retired) trainer, and has written a number of books on revolvers specifically and handguns generally. So it was no accident that I picked up his most recent work concerning revolvers. I wanted to know what Grant Cunningham knows. Having just missed his last few live training dates due to scheduling conflicts (though you can bet I’ll try to be in his November class!), this seemed like the next-best thing.
Protect Yourself With Your Snubnose Revolver
Protect Yourself With Your Snubnose Revolver is a fairly definitive tome. It begins with some snubnose basics: advantages and disadvantages, manual of arms, and revolver and ammunition selection. The next big section of the book covers “Defensive Shooting Concepts.” I feel that this portion of Protect Yourself addresses a lot of the “intangibles” of defensive shooting: mindset, decision-making, and understanding the difference between possible, plausible, and likely scenarios†.
The book continues with technique. Grant covers how to draw and reholster, grasp the revolver, work the trigger, aim, and reload. All of the basics of using a revolver for defensive purposes are covered, making this an excellent beginner volume. He also includes a number of excellent shooting drills, many of which I’ve incorporated into my practice routine.
Grant Cunningham speaks my language. He is a non-nonsense writer, and every sentence is crafted with precision. As an example, Grant chooses to call the way you hold a revolver your “grasp” rather than “grip.” This is to avoid confusion when discussing the easily-confused topics of technique (grip or grasp) and hardware (grips or stocks), and this is a terminology that I am going to try to adopt here. In addition to a precise writing style, the information presented is no-nonsense and thoughtful.
This book doesn’t contain everything – there are a few things that are notable for their absence. For example, you won’t find hyperbole. You won’t find bravado. You won’t find a bunch of hollow mantras or any “advanced” techniques. You won’t find the writings of a man who doesn’t acknowledge the limitations of the snubnose revolver. Instead all you will find is solid, time-tested advice from a man who knows what he’s talking about.
This book is loaded with actionable information. I’m not going to steal the Protect Yourself‘s thunder by giving the whole thing away. I will, however, point to one major thing Grant changed my mind about in this book. As many of you have doubtlessly noticed, my 686 has worn Hogue finger-groove grips for a long time. I was even at the range a while back with Chris Baker who remarked, “you’re the only guy I know who actually shoots his revolvers AND uses those grips!”
Not any more. Grant definitely convinced me of the importance of non-grooved (or at most, lightly-grooved) stocks on my revolvers. As Protect Yourself With Your Snubnose Revolver patiently explains, finger grooves don’t help your
grip grasp, and can actually hurt it. To provide any advantage at all, they would have to fit your hand perfectly. Obviously, the likelihood of this is pretty low. Even if they do fit your fingers perfectly, you may not get a perfect grasp when you draw the revolver, which would again make them counterproductive. Because of this I recently installed a suitable set of non-grooved revolver stocks on my 686, and you can expect a review of those very soon.
The Bottom Line
If you are a revolver guy you need to read this book. A while back I picked up a saying I really like: “I never met a man I couldn’t learn something from or teach something to,” and Grant definitely taught me something. Even if you are a much more experienced revolver shooter you probably have something to learn from Protect Yourself With Your Snubnose Revolver. If you are a new revolver shooter every page of this work may well be an epiphany. It will definitely start you down the right path.
†This was one of my bar-none favorite portions of this work.