Random Thoughts From CCW Qualification

I attended a state-mandated refresher class to renew my CCW permit last week, and had the opportunity to see about sixty “regular folks” (versus hardcore gun enthusiasts, like us) complete a basic qualification test with their chosen gear.


We’ve already covered some of my concerns about the greater shooting public in the past, so I won’t belabor them now, but I did want to comment about a few revolver-related things that might be interesting to the crowd, here.

Minority Status

We know that revolver shooters are the minority these days, but just in case I had any doubts, it didn’t take long at the class to confirm it, and to see the autopistol bias that exists in today’s popular gun culture.

I got my first whiff of it early on. After the attendance and registration chores were complete, the friendly, colorful, and humorous gent who would serve as the Rangemaster for the day’s shooting activities polled the group to see if anyone would be shooting a revolver.  Actually, that makes it sound a little too businesslike. What actually happened, was he teasingly asked (with a big, dramatic eye roll, and matching “why?” hand motions), “is there anyone here who just had to bring one of those revolvers with them, today?” When four of us (out of about sixty shooters) raised our hands, he playfully said, in a mocking tone, that we’d have to go last, after everyone was done shooting all the “normal” guns, which drew some chuckles from the crowd (and me too, honestly, because I appreciate good snark).

Since my state requires citizens to qualify with each weapon that is listed on their permit (yeah, they actually restrict you to the listed guns, otherwise it’s a crime—don’t get me started), the auto-revolver disparity was actually a little worse than the headcount would suggest. Most everyone there had the state-permitted maximum of three guns on their permit, so revolvers only accounted for about 4 of the 160-ish guns present, or about 2.5% of the total.

A distinct minority, indeed.

Are you choking?

I had an autopistol to shoot in addition to my revolver, so I shot that one first, and spent the rest of my time helping other shooters load their mags, policing brass, and observing the festivities, as I waited my turn to shoot my revolver, at the end.

Boy, did I get an eyeful.

Now, in case you’re new to the blog, and haven’t become accustomed yet to my smart-alecky sense of humor, I need to explain that while I occasionally enjoy ribbing the guys who shoot the “bottom feeders,” and sometimes take a jab at the “square guns,” in the spirit of writing a revolver-centric blog, I’m a legitimate fan of the autopistol.  I own them, I train with them, I teach them, I carry them frequently, I recommend them, I enjoy them, and I appreciate them.  So, don’t dismiss the following as the prejudiced rantings of a revolverphile.

This qualification event was quite remarkable, as I’ve never seen so many failures to fire in one setting.  It was honestly, breathtakingly, shocking!  I must have seen three dozen failures to fire across the 60 shooters and 160+/- guns that attempted the course, and I probably didn’t even catch all of them. I’ve never seen so many malfunctions in a group of shooters before.

The course of fire required shooters to load five rounds in their magazine for each of the ten strings of fire, and I saw several shooters who were lucky to fire one or two of those five successfully, on some strings, with the other three or four winding up on the ground.

It was hard, from my vantage point, to determine the reason for all of these failures.  Most of them appeared to be shooter-induced failures. I saw a large number of slides that did not go into battery, and while some of these stoppages may have resulted from equipment or maintenance issues, I’d be willing to bet most of them were caused by a weak grip/platform, or by riding the slide when the first round was chambered. I also suspect that errant thumbs and fingers interfered with the free travel of the slide in many cases, especially on the smaller guns. A couple rounds looked like they were jacked out when typically-ignored safety levers inadvertently worked their way into the ON position, and deactivated the trigger, prompting the confused shooter to cycle the slide in an attempt to remedy the problem.

That little doo-hickey, there, on the slide? Yeah, you can’t ignore that. Better train with it.

I was actively policing the brass between strings, and got the opportunity to inspect a lot of the unfired rounds that had been manually ejected by the shooters as they attempted to fix their pistols.  There were a few duds in the mix, that didn’t go off with a solid primer strike, and I actually witnessed a handful of these as they happened, but they didn’t account for more than about 10% of the unfired rounds.

A majority of the unfired rounds had clean primers. It’s possible some of these rounds were out-of-spec (an increasingly common problem during ammunition shortages, like the present one, as quality control standards slip), but they all looked good to me (no reversed primers, no case or bullet deformities, proper length and sizing, etc.), and I suspect almost all of them worked properly on a second try, after I returned them to their owners. These rounds were probably on the ground as a result of operator error.

It could be the ammo, but primers like these usually point the finger at the gun, instead.

About a third of the rounds had light primer strikes, and these were probably the most concerning of all. These light strikes hinted at a mechanical problem with the gun, such as a broken firing pin/striker, or a firing pin/striker that was “glued” in place by a buildup of excess solvents, lubricants, and debris—a condition which is entirely avoidable, given proper maintenance practices, but appears to be distressingly common, particularly in law enforcement circles, where firearms maintenance doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. It’s also possible that the ammo could have been a problem (improper dimensions, resulting in too much headspace, or a particularly robust primer), but again, my brief visual inspection of these recovered rounds didn’t suggest it. The ammo looked good, outside of the light primer strikes.

Sloppy maintenance can lead to failures to fire when strikers get “glued” in place by an excess of gunk.

It’s interesting that the “problem guns” were rather diverse. I personally saw a Sig Sauer 938, two different Ruger LC380/LC9-pattern guns, and a 1911-pattern gun of unknown make deliver light strikes, among others. I saw several Glocks (including one I could identify as a Glock 30, and another as a Glock 19), that Sig 938, and a different 1911 (this one, some kind of shortened Kimber) fail to go into battery. The stoppages were pretty well-distributed among the various makes and designs.

For what it’s worth, I didn’t see a single person do their immediate action properly. I saw a lot of “RACKs,” but no “TAP-RACKs.”


Missing Something?

While I was policing all that brass, I found an ejector rod for some kind of revolver.  The darned thing had unscrewed, and was just sitting there on the deck.  Oops. Someone was in for a bad surprise.  Hopefully they figured it out before the gun was placed back into service.

It was a good reminder for all of us to check screws and ejector rods during our normal maintenance and function checks. Screws really do back out under recoil, and every RevolverGuy should have a properly-fitting screwdriver in his cleaning kit.

Our Turn At Bat

When the rest of the crowd cleared out, and it was finally time for the revolver shooters to hit the line, the Rangemaster playfully hassled us for our choice, again. “Why in the world would you choose a revolver, when you could carry a gun like a Glock with more rounds,” he asked?

It was an opportunity I couldn’t miss. “You’re gonna ask me that, after I just watched a collection of various autos choke for the last two hours?”

“Good point,” he said.

Alas, it turns out that all was not well in revolver-land, either. As we loaded our cylinders for the first string of fire, I saw the shooter to my right point his gun at me, as he attempted to load the gun using the most . . . creative, method I’d ever seen.  If you can imagine, this shooter had the gun lying flat on its right side, with the grip pointing towards his belly and the barrel pointing to his left (at me!). He held the gun by pinching the top strap between the thumb and index finger of his left hand, while his right hand tried to feed the chambers by sliding rounds into them from right to left, parallel with the deck.

They ALWAYS apply! Image from https://www.gunnuts.net/2014/03/31/top-5-firearms-training-schools/attachment/15603/

After I pushed the gun away and told him to keep it pointed downrange, he apologized and explained the obvious—that he didn’t have any experience with the gun.  We took a time out and I showed him how to accomplish the task safely and properly, and things went uneventfully after that.

It proved an important point, though.  Revolver shooters are a minority these days, and well-trained revolver shooters are even more scarce. There was a time, in the not-too-distant past, when the revolver was the baseline–the handgun everyone grew up with, the handgun that dominated the shooting sports, the handgun that most institutional training programs were based upon–but that time has passed.  It’s an autopistol world now, and the “institutional knowledge” of the revolver in the greater “gun community” is at a low.

As much as it might shock us, as revolver enthusiasts, there’s a lot of shooters out there who simply have no experience with a revolver, and don’t know how to safely operate one. They grew up with guns like the Glock as their baseline, and, believe it or not, the revolver confuses them.  We joke about the folks who can’t figure out how to open a revolver’s cylinder, but there’s a lot more of them out there than you’d think, these days. Even though the revolver is frequently cited for its “simplicity,” that doesn’t mean its operation is inherently obvious to all those who handle one, even so-called “gun guys” of the modern flavor.

NOT the baseline, anymore! Image from gunsmith Dave Laubert, of Defensive Creations Gunsmithing. https://defensivecreations.com

That has a few implications for us.  The first is, you can never assume. Never assume that the other guy knows what he’s doing with a revolver, just because he’s familiar with other types of firearms.  Second, be prepared to lend a hand, and do some teaching. As knowledgeable RevolverGuys, we’re in the best position to teach a newbie the ropes, and get them off to a good start with the round gun. It’s a little too dramatic to say we’re the last repository of knowledge for a dying art, but there’s no discounting the fact that a lot of what used to be “general knowledge” about the revolver is no longer generally known!


That’s probably enough rambling and ranting, for a Saturday, but I do want to leave you with one thing.

After I was done shooting the qualification course with my 640, the Rangemaster joked that, “I’ve changed my mind—Mike gets to carry a revolver if he wants to, but the rest of you have to carry Glocks.”  We all chuckled about that, but it did illustrate a point that we’ve made repeatedly in these pages, about the shooter being more important than the equipment.

The highest survival priorities are mental awareness and preparedness, decision making, tactics, and your skill at arms, in that order. If these things are the focus of your training efforts, then you’ll be well prepared to defend yourself, even if you’re “just” carrying a revolver.

So, put the first things, first, guys.  Train hard, ignore the noise, and be safe out there.

Author: Mike

Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Mike Wood is a bonafide revolver nut, a certified law enforcement instructor in handgun, shotgun, patrol rifle, less-lethal, and diversionary device disciplines, and the author of Newhall Shooting: A Tactical Analysis, the definitive study of the infamous, 1970 California Highway Patrol shootout in Newhall, California. Mike wrote the "Tactical Analysis" column at Police1.com for 8 years, and enjoys teaching both armed citizens and law enforcement officers.

53 thoughts on “Random Thoughts From CCW Qualification”

  1. Instead of piling on about bias in favor of the semis (you are nicer than I would have been to that range master), I want to second your point about cleaning.

    I clean every gun any time I fire it, for even a single round of snake shot on the farm.

    With Semis like my fancy new CZ 75B Omega, there is no excuse. It breaks down easily and I find cleaning it (or any gun) relaxing.

    But maybe I am a fluke and other folks do not know how to disassemble their gun, or are too lazy to do a job I enjoy. I was the dishes and clean the countertop while cooking and police up the shop floor as soon as I am finished with the car on our lift.

    Laziness with maintenance can get you killed as fast as lack of training. Ask a pilot.

    1. I’m in the same boat. Always have been. “Never let the sun set on a dirty gun.” I know it’s not necessary to be that fastidious, and many guns receive greater wear from disassembly and cleaning than actual shooting, but it has never set right with me to let a fired gun stay dirty.

      Presumably, all the guns I saw had been on duty for their owners for the past few years, and would be on duty again after they left. It was distressing to see how many of them didn’t work properly (and the number of owners who were unable to work them properly). If my carry gun had experienced a single stoppage, I would have been VERY concerned and would have investigated, corrected, and verified immediately, but I saw a few guys have repeated stoppages, on multiple stages, without much concern. “Huh. Must be bad ammo. Oh well.”

      I can’t understand that kind of attitude.

      1. I second that on cleaning your gear after shooting. I have made only one exception to that rule, and it is with a single Glock 17. I would use it in training classes, with a variety of ammo brands, including a lot of Russian steel case stuff, and under many different conditions. I wanted to see how long it would take to gum the thing up to where it would start to hiccup. After about 3 years I broke down and put it in to soak for a week, and to replace a recoil spring assembly. Between a worn out recoil spring and the gun being so filthy that it had passed ‘disgusting’ eight exits back, it was time to take it all down and run it in the dishwasher (twice).

        Other than ammo defects, the only issue I’ve had with the revolver was . . . . ummm . . . well, there was the rare dud primer, and the occasional ejector rod wanting to back out on S&Ws, and eternal timing issues on the Colt I & E frames.

        1. Would that be the “pots and pans” cycle you used, or just the “normal” cycle? 😁

          If you keep them lubed properly, a lot of guns, like the Glocks and ARs, will just keep on chugging through the buildup of crud. I tortured a Kimber K6s like that in these pages once, but felt guilty about it the whole time!

          1. Pots & Pan cycle, sprayed down with Purple Power cleaner, and on the low heat dry. Smaller parts (totally stripped slide and receiver) soaked in Ed’s Red jar for a few days before getting scrubbed.

            Interesting you mention the AR. IME, it seems Glocks run better when closer to dry while the AR is the exact opposite – it runs better on generous applications of good old LSA, especially while using the less than clean burning Russian ammo.

    2. I’m with you on this one. My father raised me on the “if you take care of your car it will take care of you” philosophy and I apply that to firearms! I always get the friend that says G”locks don’t need to be cleaned after every range trip…it’s the AK of handguns”! Yeah cool however I respect my tools and want them in the best condition when I need them!

  2. Back in the 1980s, in MA, I had finished the classroom requirements of a local Sheriff’s Dept. CCL qualification class, and showed up at a local club range for the shooting qualification. When it was my turn to shoot, I went up to the line with my 2″ S&W Model 19 to receive my 20 rounds of .38 Special from the instructor. He looked at the gun and said, “A snubbie? You can’t qualify with a snubbie!” I explained that it was the only handgun I owned with adjustable sights, and I’d had a vicious sciatic attack the day before and was in agony; I just wanted to get the damned test over with, so I could go to bed for a week. He gave me the ammo, I put all 20 rounds in the black, got my certificate and went home to bed.

    1. Attaboy, Peter! Mind over matter. It was probably a useful experience to see you could still perform like that under physical duress, and it was definitely a good lesson for the instructor about snub accuracy.

      As an aside, getting a permit in MA in the 80s was probably a bit of heavy lifting, in itself. No wonder your back was hurting.

  3. Wow. A lot to think about here, Mike. You make some very important observations in this review! The “average” person with a gun today likely doesn’t know what they don’t know. Your point about training hard is pretty darn important. I have nothing against autos, like you I carry them often. The number of issues you witnessed with self-loaders in your CCW Recert is… Staggering. All these failures happened in a controlled environment where the only stress on the shooters was “qual anxiety” and fear of looking bad in front of peers. What happens to shooter/firearm performance when you add in the adrenaline dump of a violent encounter?
    It would be nice if every one of the folks that experienced trouble in their recert would realize it and immediately seek additional training from a qualified instructor. That likely won’t happen. We can (and should) try to help those that are new to the “culture” if they are willing to listen, like you did there on the range. We may not be able to give them a down and dirty on tactics and mindset, but showing them how their gun works, giving tips on critical maintenance and how to clear stoppages would go a long way. Maybe then they will listen when we strongly encourage them to get more training and even recommend competent instructors to give it. We can even show them why revolvers are still pretty good defensive tools, contrary to popular belief!

    1. Amen, brother! It was honestly distressing to see all this going on and not be in a position of authority to do something about it. I really wanted to jump in and do some instruction, but it wasn’t my show, and it wasn’t my place. I had a few asides with the most egregious offenders, and offered some friendly advice, but I don’t know how much that helped. It was frustrating, which is probably why I felt compelled to vent about it, here!

      Yes, these conditions were as favorable as they could be, and the results were still a disaster. This instructor did a great job talking to the crowd about the chaos and confusion of real-world violence, and the necessity for rigorous training, to ensure performance under pressure, but I got the feeling that the people who needed to hear that message the most were the ones who weren’t listening. Good grief. How many times have we been there, ourselves, as instructors? Frustrating.

      Like you, I hope these folks will heed his advice and get additional training, but I suspect a lot of those guns won’t get fired again until the next recert.

      1. Love your observations at the range. I’m retired and enjoying the quasi-LEOSA/state CCW routine myself. You don’t see revolvers much at either. I took my state’s CCL course while I was waiting for my LEOSA creds to arrive. No wheel guns there, but a quite a few who were t overly familiar with the semis they were shooting. In my last LEOSA Qual there were only two of us wheel gun shooters – both of us trained on revolvers before the range staff was born, or at least barely out of diapers. No issues from us wheel gunners. I’d previously qualified with my five shot at a local department’s range and caused a bit of confusion as I had shot both some JHPs and Wadcutters. The FI scoring my target thought someone else had shot my target. And you can’t assume they someone carrying a revolver automatically knows what they’re doing. Had one once when I was the FI for a federal task force. Older guy came on board . I’d already learned that someone claiming to be in the military did not guarantee they know how to handle an AR. First clue on this guy was him deciding speed loaders weren’t needed and left them in the car. Second was arguing with me. I concluded that he only knew enough to be dangerous. He switched to a semi soon after and that’s another story.

        1. Oh Robert, some of the things I’ve seen during agency quals and training . . .

          You’re right, these folks come in all flavors. Some carry a permit, others carry a badge and creds. All of them need to be carefully watched.

          Be safe out there guys and gals, no matter which range you’re on, or who you’re surrounded by.

          I loved the story about the wadcutter confusion. I can see that happening. “Wait, some of these are not like the others!” Haha!

  4. SP101 and GP101 ejector rods don’t screw in. The cross pin seen on the yoke holds the front cylinder lock and ejector rod. That cross pin can only be removed if a detent pin and spring is depressed from the top of the yoke. I really hope the ejector rod you found was a spare because, if it came out of the gun at the range, you should have found 3 or 4 other parts or the gun was reassembled at some point without those 3 or 4 other parts.

    1. Thanks Greyson, my error. I presumed it was a GP/SP part because it didn’t have a locking point on the tip, like S&W, and it wasn’t knurled like the Colt parts. The domed-tip profile looked like what I remembered from the Rugers, but the opposite end was definitely stepped down and threaded. Looking at some images from Midway USA, I can see now that it wasn’t a Ruger part. Any guesses from the crowd about what I actually found? I didn’t keep it, so I don’t have a photo.

      1. The only smooth rounded ejector rods that I am aware of that are not Rugers are Charter Arms (but that is a three-piece affair that doesn’t look like much of anything identifiable if it comes apart) and the Rock Island AL series. I don’t know if the AL’s screw in, but that is the only one I can think of that fits your description. There might have been some smooth Taurus or Rossi ejector rods in the past; if so, that would actually be my first guess.

      2. Any guesses from the crowd about what I actually found? I didn’t keep it, so I don’t have a photo.

        Taurus ejector rods (past some point in the ’90s I think) have a smooth tip, and screw in.

  5. As much as I enjoy shooting (and cleaning) my well-maintained semi-auto pistols, every one of them has at times jammed for the reasons cited above. In over fifty years of shooting I’ve never had one of my revolvers fail to detonate a cartridge, rimfire or centerfire. Even the really cheap stuff.

    Maybe I’ve been very lucky. However, that’s why I only carry a revolver.

    1. I’ve had a few failures to fire in revolvers, but with a single exception, they were all ammo failures (mostly rimfires), and the next chamber fired fine. The exception was an original (late 80s) Colt King Cobra that had excessive headspace, and when the factory warranty station failed to fix it properly, it was traded for a S&W 686 that always went bang when it was supposed to. Those were difficult years for Colt, and I’m glad to see they’ve bounced back.

      I’ve had other stoppages with revolvers, such as primer flow tying up the cylinder, or junk under the star gumming up the works, but they’ve generally been quite reliable. My autos have been too, because I keep them clean and lubed, and feed them good ammo, but I’ve still had more stoppages in my autos than my round guns. It’s just the nature of things, with an auto.

  6. Another common cause for misfires is off-center striker hits. The firing pin indent should not be off-center more than one half the diameter of the striker point. Does not matter if it’s a wheelgun, Glock or M4.

  7. I get the same reaction from just about everyone, range officers, range check in clerks, my wife’s fellow LEO friends and even a few of my friends, when they find out I’m carrying a revolver! I had one friend laugh at me after he realized I was carrying a revolver, a 4″ 686+ full of Remington 125gr SJHP 357mag is my EDC, and said “what are you going to do with that thing…while laughing of course! My only response was to laugh in return at his utter ignorance! I have also noticed there seems to be a race to the bottom attitude in the “gun community” today with too many folks looking for the cheapest: ammo, firearm, magazines, equipment and training and then act surprised when any of those fail I find it amazing that these people would rather buy the cheapest stuff they can find rather than better quality products for the protection of their own lives ! . Every time I’m on the range I do get people walking behind me while shooting, I absolutely hate that, just to see what I’m shooting because my 357mag is “alot louder” than the run of the mill 9mm so I will use this opportunity to introduce the revolver to people….I had one young very pretty lady come over and stand behind me waiting until I was done shooting because she was very curious, however her range date wasn’t , so I let her take a few single shots at a time and she loved it… a true beauty and the hairy old beast moment! So there’s some hope for revolvers to, hopefully, gain traction with the younger shooters!

    1. Attaboy, Bob! Great job sharing the revolver with those who are unfamiliar! They really don’t know what they’re missing until someone like you shows them the ropes.

      I get a chuckle out of envisioning that range scene, when you light off the first of those Magnums indoors. A dozen shooters put down their 9mms and turn to see what in blazes just happened down at the far end. “Was that a gas main exploding? A thunderclap? The Hammer of Thor?”

      Nah, just Bob doing a little target practice. 😁

      About that “race to the bottom,” it is interesting what people do with their money, isn’t it? They think nothing of spending $10 for some hot water filtered through ground up beans, but balk at spending the same amount to buy better quality ammo for the gun they stake their life on. It’s actually pretty amazing what $300 can get you when you’re pistol shopping these days (thinking about some of the sale prices I’ve seen on S&W Shields, Walther Creeds, Ruger Security Nines), but there’s a lot of junk in that price range, too. Caveat Emptor!

  8. Outstanding article, as always.

    And kudos to the readers. RevolverGuy has the most consistently clean/polite, informative, and worthwhile comments section of the dozen or so gun sites I visit.

  9. Attention: I accidentally deleted someone’s comment while I was clearing out all the Spam. If that was you, please try again. I get about 50 Spam comments for every legitimate one, and have to sort them all, and manually approve each of the good ones. I slipped up and deleted yours by accident, and realized it as it was happening. If you made a comment and don’t see it, please try again. My apologies!

    By the way, that also explains why you don’t see your comments show up immediately after you submit them. It may be a few hours before I check and approve the comments after you submit. I try to do it every few hours for the days after a new post comes out, then several times a day after that. Thanks for your patience.

    If I didn’t do this, the comments would be flooded with all kinds of terrible stuff (pornography, scams, advertisements), and would be worthless. There would also be a huge security risk for the site. Thanks for understanding.

  10. When I was an instructor at a major multi-agency LE academy back in the mid-aughts, we included a two-hour familiarization class on revolvers in every class, so the trainees would know what to do with a revolver if they found one in the course of their duties. Ninety-some percent of them had never fired one. When I went through the academy in [redacted for national security purposes], we had a familiarization class on autos, using 1911s.
    I shoot both a revolver and an auto on my annual LEOSA qual. I’ve shot LEOSA quals for (mumble-mumble) years now, in two different states, and I only remember one other shooter who shot a revolver. He was a retired FBI agent who shot a personally-owned 3-inch K-frame (either a 10 or a 13) using the brown Bucheimer-Clark holster the FBI issued him, probably a few years either side of 1980. He shot it from concealment, wearing a suit (once a Feeb, always a Feeb). I got a look at his target and decided to make it a point to stay on his good side. Some of those old revolver guys can shoot.

    1. Dont worry, “O,” your secrets are safe here. We don’t count the candles on the cake! We’re just glad to have you aboard and contributing.

      I’m probably a bit younger, but we were still issuing Model 15s in the Air Force when I entered, and that’s what I shot in Basic. There were a few 1911s in the armory then, but we weren’t allowed to play with them, as they were reserved for pistol team members. The M9 came a little later, and we had to do transition training before we could be issued one—I remember most of the guys were overjoyed to dump the revolvers, but I missed them. I hope they were put into storage, and not destroyed. I’d like to see the CMP surplus those, someday.

      That retired Feeb sounds like he knew how to work that sixgun, God bless him. Sounds like he was well armed, indeed. He came from a rich culture of gunfighters in suits, like Walsh, Campbell, and Bryce. I don’t think there’s any room for men like that in the Bureau, today, sadly.

  11. When I took my CCW class (technically, it’s CDW in Kentucky), it was me and two older guys; and all of us had revolvers. That said, they had Heritage .22s for some reason I can’t remember, while I had a Ruger GP100 (which was my only revolver at the time, no longer have it, sadly). So even though everyone was shooting revolvers that day, I was the only one with a double-action wheelgun.

    1. Heritage .22s? Now there’s an interesting pick. I presume your state doesn’t require you to identify the handguns you will be carrying, and you can qualify with anything you wish?

      1. No, nothing like that. CDW class, at least the one I took, didn’t specify what handgun to bring. You can bring whatever you want to the class. When my mother took the women’s CDW class, she had a Taurus 82 revolver I lent her, while some other ladies had revolvers and some had autoloaders.

        And no one has ever asked me to identify what I’m carrying, or mandated what I’m allowed to carry. I’ve carried multiple revolvers since I started carrying back in 2018, only settling on my current two since a few years ago.

        1. Thanks. That explains how they could get away with the Heritage .22s. You could certainly use one if you had to, but it wouldn’t be a primary choice in most circumstances, would it?

  12. I have a neighbor who is a real dear.

    She’s kind, considerate but absolutely
    believes in gun ownership and self
    protection. Her husband got her a
    Model 60 S&W. She carries it
    daily in her purse.

    Just one catch: She’s never fired it.
    No quals in my state and I suspect she
    is not an exception.

    Yes, she has fired a revolver at a
    range but not her carry firearm.

  13. (I’m “O;” I hit the “post” button before I remembered to hit the box with my full moniker on it. Things like that happen when you get, um, seasoned.)
    When I went through the academy, the guns we used were 4-inch Model 15s (in my opinion, the best duty-grade .38 Specials there are), but when we all got back to our offices and were issued weapons, there were no adjustable-sight revolvers at all. I was issued a pre-Model 10 M&P that was older than I was. I immediately bought a Model 66 for duty.
    I doubt if your USAF Model 15s are still around, sadly. Local PDs can sell their old guns, but in the Federal Government, they’re destroyed and not sold. Many of us would have liked to buy our old revolvers (by then we were issued stainless Speed-Sixes) when we switched to autos, but it was illegal. That was, of course, civilian LE, but my guess is that the military has the same policy. (Interestingly, when the Postal Inspectors went from revolvers to autos, they could buy their revolvers, because they weren’t owned by the G, but by the USPS, which is a private company. The G is a fascinating place.)

    1. Haha! Well, welcome back, Ooooold 1811!

      Yep, I’m sadly familiar with the Fed LE policy, but we’re fortunate the military works a little differently, which is why the CMP was finally able to start selling all those G.I. 1911s a couple years ago. Neat, historical guns, but definitely a little pricey!

      I’m hoping the Model 15s are in storage somewhere, like those 1911s were, and will eventually be released, but I suppose it’s possible they were scrapped by some pogue. The USAF officially retired the last of those guns within the past couple years—they were using some samples for military working dog training—so maybe there’s still some left in storage.

  14. As somebody whose first and current firearm is a Colt 3-5-7, i’ve accepted the reality that I would be facing a wheelgun bias any time someone sees me with it at the range. I think the tribalism and polarization within the gun community is ridiculous and don’t truly comprehend the mindset that someone else’s firearm is better/superior because it “has a higher capacity” or whatever other argument people have against a revolver. I can brush off digs and jabs and jokes no problem and let it roll off my back, but there’s a certain breed of range patrons who seem to get legitimately offended and hostile when they see anything that isn’t a semi auto pistol. They’re the same type of person who feel personally slighted when they see anyone else wearing a mask in public and just have to vocally announce their displeasure as though it were a direct attack against their delicate sensibilities. There’s plenty enough to dislike about gun culture without having to justify owning and using a revolver to people who seem entitled to decide their approval on our behalf. Can’t we all just get along?

  15. Adding to my post about unfired
    self defense guns, of late through
    an internet dealer I’ve come across
    a number of Smith revolvers,
    like new in the box and from the
    1970s. A few seem to have been
    fired perhaps once.

    I call them “Sock Drawer Guns” and
    they have existed for decades. Folks
    buy them for home protection or what
    not, maybe test them and then put them
    in a drawer, ready for action for 40 or
    50 years.

    1. You can usually get away with that if you own a revolver. An auto would be less likely to work properly. It’s that whole thing we’ve discussed about neglect, versus abuse. Revolvers tolerate neglect better than autos, and autos tolerate abuse better than revolvers.

    2. I recently bought one of those. It was a SIG P290 rather than a revolver, but I was amazed at how much the trigger smoothed out with 20 minutes of dry fire. There is no way that gun was shot more than a handful of times given the improvement in the trigger with that little work. When I took it to the range, I found it very pleasant to shoot (even my wife wasn’t bothered by the recoil), so I kind of suspect it was the DAO trigger (which isn’t terrible, but isn’t great either) and not the recoil that caused it to be resold.

      1. Interesting gun. It was replaced with an “RS” version almost immediately (within a year, I think?) that had a different trigger system, with restrike capability. Is yours the earlier P290 or later P290RS?

        1. Mine is the P290RS. It makes a decent pocket-gun compliment to my P250, but the triggers are nowhere near comparable.

  16. Mike, what’s the best way to learn how to draw from a holster? My local indoor range won’t let you do it (for understandable reasons, but still a limitation). Just practice at home with an unloaded gun? I believe in training, but self-practice is the best way to get reps in between. What do you recommend for someone who is new to holsters, but wants to get it right? Thank you.

    1. Mark, that’s a really super question, and you just gave me an idea for an article. Thanks!

      Until then, I’d recommend doing the dry practice of your draw at home. You really don’t need to work the draw in live fire very much—you can get 90+% of the value with dry practice.

      Let me see if I can describe a two-handed draw from the strong side hip for you. It helps if you can imagine it as four distinct steps that blend into a single fluid motion:

      1. Primary hand goes to the holstered gun and establishes master grip while gun is in the holster (obviously, cover garments, if worn, must be moved with either primary or secondary hand, before going to grip). Retention devices (thumb breaks, straps, levers, hoods, buttons, etc.) are released as part of this motion. Support hand, if available and unoccupied, is simultaneously placed flat on chest to keep it out of the way (some alternative methods place it elsewhere, such as in a blocking position alongside the head, but we’ll go with the chest, for now. That’s also where it will wind up with a fist full of lifted cover garment—high chest or armpit);

      2. Gun is lifted free from the holster and the barrel is pointed downrange, parallel to the deck. The height where the gun is held can vary. I prefer a very high position, up near the pectoral muscle (a so-called “retention” position), while some prefer to hold the gun closer to waist level, with the gun’s muzzle just barely clearing the top of the holster, before the gun is rotated and pointed downrange. Your injuries, flexibility, and preferences will dictate the height, as will environmental obstacles, like tables or steering wheels;

      3. Gun is moved to a position in the center of the high chest area, right under your chin, that is often called “the workspace” or “compressed high ready.” It’s here that your support hand will leave it’s position on your high chest and join from behind the gun (emphasize from behind, to avoid pointing your gun at your support hand, as it approaches from the front—very bad!) to form your two-handed grip. Mechanical safeties on the gun may be turned off, and your trigger finger may now be placed on the trigger, after you’ve formed your grip;

      4. Gun is extended toward the target and fired, as necessary. Getting it into your eye line early will allow you to steer it and pick up the sights as the gun is still being extended. The trigger can be prepped as the gun is being extended, with the intention of firing the gun as it reaches the stopping point.

      Now, having established this method, I’d want you to dry practice the whole thing at home as much as possible, paying attention to getting the details right, first, then letting the speed build later on. Run steps 1-4 until you can do the whole process in a fluid and coordinated motion.

      At the range, I want you to practice the latter part of your drawstroke, consistent with range rules. This means putting your gun at #3 to start, and practicing #4–extension, alignment, and firing. I have not been to a range that would not let me practice in this fashion—even the most restrictive ranges will allow this.

      In this fashion, your range practice will dovetail with your dry practice. Mission accomplished, until you can locate a range that will let you do the whole sequence at once.

      Be just as particular with your holstering. Be disciplined, and do it by the numbers:

      4. Trigger finger goes straight and is placed on the frame of the gun, away from the trigger/guard, and mechanical safeties are placed on, as the gun leaves the target and is retracted back to the workspace;

      3. Once at the workspace, the support hand leaves the gun, and, if necessary, clears the path to the holster, moving any straps or clothing, so the holster mouth is free of obstacles. The support hand goes back to high chest, to stay out of the way, or, if necessary, it grabs a fist of clothing, and holds it up near high chest/armpit, to keep a clear path and stay out of the way. The gun remains parallel to the deck, throughout this, muzzle pointed downrange;

      2. The gun is moved from the workspace to the mouth of the holster, and inserted into the holster. Do not point the gun at yourself (particularly your support hand/arm) as it moves to the holster. Keep the trigger finger straight, in register on the frame. The thumb may go to the hammer or back of the slide to “thumb check” the gun as it approaches the holster—verifying the weapon is not cocked, if it shouldn’t be, the slide remains in battery, and the hammer/striker is not rising (a cue that something is pulling the trigger—an errant finger, a strap, clothing, etc.);

      1. The gun is fully seated in the holster, and retention devices are secured.

      Please note that if your holster doesn’t keep the mouth open when the gun is out of it, you need a new holster. The “hybrid” holsters (leather back panel, kydex shell) are particularly bad about this, and will collapse when the gun is drawn. This encourages people to use the muzzle to wedge/pry the holster mouth open again, during holstering steps #2 and #1, which is very dangerous, as you wind up pointing the gun at yourself.

      Hopefully that helps. I’ll try to do an article on this, with photos. Let me know if anything isn’t clear.

  17. Mike –
    Thanks for sharing this experience. As always, I really appreciate Your insights. I enjoyed reading the thoughtful responses from the gang here also.
    Almost without exception, my experiences at the range with groups are similar to what You described. Any group I’ve been a part of has been much smaller than the one You were in, but with similar issues. More than once, I’ve been the only ‘wheel gun guy’ on the line during CCW qualifying, and at other times, shooters were handling a borrowed gun that they’d never shot, and know little about. Loading issues, and a lack of understanding of revolver triggers (SA vs DA) reveal a troubling lack of experience or understanding. In some good-natured ribbing, I was once called a ‘fud’ because I was shooting a 3 inch 69 Combat in 44spl, and a 1911 Champion Operator while re-certifying. One jokingly admired my ‘antiques’ and asked where my ‘real gun’ was. Ok…I’m old…but ‘fud’?
    Where I live, one must qualify with either, or both types (revolver/semi-auto) of a caliber that meets or exceeds the carry weapon in order to complete their concealed carry permit. Because of that, people have sometimes showed up with a borrowed a gun they’re not familiar with when qualifying. Add to that the issue of dirty, poorly maintained guns (I’m the gun-cleaning type too), ammo of suspect origins, and it feels like a convergence of circumstances leading to a ‘perfect storm’. I have found myself being aware of, and very careful around other shooters in these circumstances. It concerns me that these same people are now ‘qualified’ to carry concealed.
    As has already been mentioned…and I’ll add that I agree – that many lack the commitment it takes to carry a firearm responsibly…as witnessed by poor gun handling, dirty, neglected weapons, and a lack of the knowledge needed to be a responsibly armed citizen. On the plus side – we all have the opportunity to learn, grow, and become more proficient as we develop the skills needed. The question is – will a person choose that?…and if so, where do they go? To commit to do that really is required if we’re to be the kind of examples needed in a paranoid ‘gun fearing’ society. Youtube videos may be entertaining, but are often filled with complete nonsense, and usually are not a substitute for sound training in person. I see a real need around here for good training that’s foundational, builds on the basics, and leads to proficiency. As pressure mounts all around us to see the 2nd Amendment gutted and gun owners disarmed, we must be good examples…not bad.
    An instructor in one of my first classes spoke a word of truth to live by, and it’s stayed with me as I continue to try to learn and improve. He was a well worn, wise retired police officer.
    He told us – “It’s our right to be armed and defend ourselves, but it’s also our responsibility to be the kind of citizens that are above reproach. Obey the law, do right, be proficient.”
    Thanks again, Mike. Keep ’em coming…

    1. Kevin, I think you did a better job capturing the spirit of it than I did! Thank you!

      Friend Mas Ayoob teaches that, “with rights, come responsibilities,” and he’s 110% right, just like your instructor was. That’s really what it boils down to, isn’t it? From the standpoint of liberty, I think most of us have a real problem with government adding requirements, administering tests, collecting fees, and throwing hurdles in the way of people who simply want to practice their God-given rights, but we’re equally uncomfortable with the people who don’t make the necessary efforts to be safe and responsible citizens. None of us wants the foolish and dangerous to be armed.

      In a perfect world, the perfunctory and discriminatory tests, fees and permits would disappear, and get replaced by easy access to quality instruction. We’re obviously not there, but it’s something to work towards, and all of us have a role to play in educating those who need the help. That’s part of our responsibility as RevolverGuys!

      The issue of criminality is separate, of course. Those who break the law need to be held fully accountable. There’s no law that will keep a bad man honest. The only thing that dissuades bad actors is the threat of swift punishment, so eliminating all the bureaucratic red tape that good guys have to go through to exercise their 2A rights is no invitation to increased crime.

  18. I think I mentioned before, a couple years ago I put a four inch Smith model 13 through our qual course (my agency uses the same course now for off duty/backup weapons as for duty guns) and got comments about bringing “grandpa’s gun”… until I shot a perfect score with ease. The same instructors were singing praises as I left. I guess I could call it my “attitude adjuster”?

  19. Frequenting an indoor range near my home that is convenient for pistol practice, I have seen a lot of bizarre and at times downright dangerous gun handling, but at least these people are trying.

    I prefer revolvers for most of my needs but do have plenty of autos.

    I do take a different view of maintenance however. Despite the Army’s best efforts, I am anti white glove inspection clean. When I do clean ( roughly every 500 rounds or so) it takes me perhaps 5 minutes and I call it good. White glove inspection clean to me is in no way superior to clean enough to function. In 40+ years this has served me well ( except when the armorer insisted I turn in a spotless bone dry rifle or pistol to the arms room)
    Another way I look at it- if your gun needs to be spotlessly clean to be trusted, it should not be trusted. You should have confidence in your gun being able to run dirty.

    In all my decades of running a revolver, I only ever had one issue – strangely had my cylinder not want to fully close, couldn’t see anything wrong, and after unloading, and inspection ( not finding an explanation) it fully closed and didn’t happen again.

  20. When my state (all open carry) went to a CCW system I had to take a course and qualify at the range. This is after almost 40 years as a certified NRA Handgun and Handgun Self-Defense instructor. I was appalled at the range. We were shooting at the standard big bowling pin targets and 1/3 of the class had trouble keeping their rounds on the paper, much less the pin. Particularly scary after the instructor had told the class that in a self-defense scenario you should empty the weapon “as fast as you can” while ignoring the sights. I qualified with a S&W 686CS and he belittled me to the group for firing “too slowly” since my group was small. What an experience. But it sure was eye-opening. I’m a 2A absolutist but willing to admit that I get scared sometimes about Constitutional Carry.

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