Choosing a concealed carry handgun is serious business. There are a host of factors to consider, including reliability, caliber, capacity, practical accuracy, and the ever elusive “carryability”. There’s also a bunch more, but you get the idea. I don’t make such decisions lightly and I’ve recently made a pretty big one about my daily carry revolver. I’ve agonized about it, I’d driven Mike half mad endlessly reciting pro-and-con lists, and I spent hours at the range seeking some ballistic therapy…
Ditching The Daily Carry Revolver
And I have finally decided to retire my 640 Pro and carry a semi-automatic handgun as my everyday sidearm. Since writing my Revolver Math Problem article a while back I’ve developed an affinity for the M&P line of handguns. Though Smith & Wesson disappoints me on a weekly basis with their revolvers, their autoloaders have thoroughly impressed me.
In the hopes that you guys won’t totally disown me, I’m going to spend this post explaining my decision. This article has been a tough one to get onto the page. It has undergone two complete, ground-up rewrites and a whole bunch of revisions. I tried to find some clever way to frame this topic, but came up short. Instead, I’m just going to present this as some straightforward list of observations I’ve encountered since making that decision, and the reasons I made it.
There are definitely some things I won’t miss about packing the old 640. Among them:
Won’t Miss: J Frame-Class Accuracy
I’m no Wayne Dobbs, but I consider myself a pretty fair hand at working the double-action revolver. The 640 Pro Series I carry is arguably one of the best compact revolvers in current production, but one thing prevents it from being perfect. Namely, that I cannot get the level of accuracy from it that I expect in handgun. I don’t think the gun is inherently incapable of it, but there are some organic factors that make it practically difficult.
Human/Hardware Interface: The small grip is one such factor. Even with my small hands, this forces a LOT of finger up toward the trigger. This causes either too much finger to wrap around the trigger, or too much finger protruding out the right side of the trigger guard, resulting in an extra hinge point. Either condition makes it even harder to get a straight press to the rear. This is exacerbated by the exceptionally long press required by the double action revolver. I like to think I’ve mastered it but my targets usually indicate otherwise.
Sight Regulation: Even though I have filed the front sight about as low as I can comfortably go, the gun still prints low. Quite a bit low. I’ve tried all manner of ammunition, from .38 wadcutters to full-on .357 powerhouse stuff, and to some degree it all hits low. This means I always have to guesstimate elevation, which often precludes me from choosing a precise aiming point, which in turn precludes a precise group. On the flip side, I’ve shot a ton of semi-autos in the last three years (some rented, but most owned by friends). Most don’t suffer this problem, at least not to this extreme. And if they do, guess what? There are a host of aftermarket options to choose from, which leads me to my next point…
Won’t Miss: (Non)Support
Thanks to the hard work of Mike and Steve at SHOT 2018, we have quite a few new revolvers up for review this year. I’m not going to let the cat out of the bag just yet, but they run the gamut from “just-released” to “household name”, and from top-end of the price range to the bargain-basement. I expect a couple of them to knock my socks off. But there’s still that one tiny detail…
One of these guns is inbound to my FFL as we speak. When I got the email from the manufacturer’s PR rep I was beside myself. I immediately started shopping for holsters and speedloaders and immediately hit a familiar snag. You’ve probably guess where I’m going with this: if I’m going to carry this gun I’m going to have to search high and low for a suitable holster, from a greatly truncated list of options. If I want to carry a speedloader (and I do), it’s not going to be one that I really like. Speaking of speedloaders, they also usually need a pouch. The make and model of pouch depends on the make and model of speedloader being carried, so outfitting the daily carry revolver gets complicated fast.
Support also extends to ammunition. It’s a cruel fact that the major self-defense manufacturers are putting most of their efforts into short, rimless cartridges. Some of this technology like the Speer G2 hasn’t been released in a revolver cartridge, and might not ever be. Even my beloved 135-grain Gold Dot was treated as an afterthought; while virtually every other Gold Dot loading could be found in 50-round law enforcement packaging, rimmed rounds were relegated to expensive 20-packs. Practice ammo isn’t much better. A case of .38 (or .357, there isn’t a huge price difference) will cost you almost twice the price of an equivalent-quality case of 9mm ball.
I hate to blame the gun for my aftermarket woes. However, finding an effective holster, reloading devices, and pouches to carry them in is an important component of carrying a firearm. As the red-headed stepchild of the concealed carry market, revolvers get overlook by a lot of manufacturers. Could I make a new revolver (that hits point of aim) work if I really wanted to? I’m sure I could. But as I concluded in my revolver math problem, making a daily carry revolver work flat-out is a lot of work.
The Things I will Miss
Paradoxically, carrying a striker-fired gun for a few days actually taught me quite a bit more about the daily carry revolver. It has certainly underscored some things I love about them. Here is what I will miss about my daily carry revolver:
Will Miss: Double-Action Trigger
That long, heavy DA trigger that I have taken for granted so long is a thing to be appreciated! I didn’t think I’d be this guy, but the first time I holstered that flat little 9mm in the appendix position, I was super cautious. With hips thrust forward I gingerly pushed the muzzle into the holster. I pushed my hips forward a little more and tried to get my eyeballs into the trigger area. And I finally overcame the resistance on the holster…and let out a sigh of relief.
A couple of weeks on, that fear hasn’t subsided, not even a little. It never really should, I just didn’t realize I’d be this nervous about it. With my 640 I’m not cavalier about reholstering. I always “look” the gun into the holster. I always roll my hips forward. And I’m always aware of any resistance that shouldn’t be there. But with this thing I’m almost paranoid. This anxiety has already helped me understand why we’re seeing DA/SA guns make a bit of a comeback of late, and made me sorely miss the carefree days of J Frame carry!
Will MIss: Round Gun Roundness
The second thing I immediately missed is the “roundness” of the revolver. Grant Cunningham talked about this quite a bit in Protect Yourself, and I didn’t pay a ton of attention until it was gone. Generally when I hear someone refer to a revolver as “round” I am prone to thinking about the cylinder. But there are a lot of other round surfaces on the older rotator, as well. The grips themselves are rounded rather than flat. The backstrap is rounded, and the butt of my carry revolver is rounded. This is in extreme contrast to the lines of the autoloader where some surfaces might be dehorned, but everything is ultimately flat and angular. The rounded nature of the revolver does two things.
Printing: First, it pretty much eliminates printing. I know there’s a lot of fuss about whether printing does or does not matter. I’ll leave the arguing to those guys, but in my case it does. To an extent I fall into the category of people Grant mentions in this article where he hits the nail on the head. I work in an environment where guns are permitted, but where they absolutely cannot be seen, especially by our clientele. This means that printing in my office attire presents a serious occupational hazard to me. With the rounded handle of the J-Frame, I haven’t even thought about this concept in a long while. But with the flat butt of the M&P magazine I’m remembering what the fuss is all about.
Comfort: Second, the smoothly flowing surfaces of the revolver make it comfortable to carry. The portion poking you in the ribs is that nice, curved grip instead of the twin sharp points of the beavertail and butt of the grip. I have a German Shepherd who loves playing Frisbee, and until she learns to throw it for herself I’ll be doing a lot of bending over to pick it up. This can be downright painful with those sharp points poking me in the ribs.
Grip Acquisition: Finally, the revolver’s wide cylinder that everyone complains about is a blessing in disguise. I bet you didn’t see that one coming, and neither did I! It presses the frame of the gun away from the body, or at least keeps it from being tightly pressed against the body. In turn, this prevents the grip from being tightly pressed against the body. This facilitates a good, full-hand firing grip by letting the thumb get in on the inboard side of the grip. The gun isn’t flopping around out in thin air, but there is enough standoff to easily come up with a good firing grip.
So, I admit that I haven’t been as overwhelmed with joy in carrying this new gun as I thought I would be (it’s not a Nighthawk 1911, after all!). But, I console myself with the benefits I am getting. They aren’t inconsiderable.
First, I’m upgrading to a gun I can shoot better. The little Shield is as controllable as the 640 stoked with my preferred Gold Dots, and maybe a bit more so. It is also far more practically accurate, at least in my hands. I can create groups with it that I just can’t duplicate with the J Frame. Part of this has to do with the short trigger movement, and some with the extra inch and three eighths of sight radius, and the fact that the sights are regulated correctly. Whatever the reason I feel far more confident in the Shield. With this little 9mm I can actually shoot what I’m hittin’ at (so to speak), on demand. In fact I’d say switching to this gun has doubled my effective engagement range.
Even though it’s not one of my top considerations, I do get a big boost in capacity. With the 7-round stick installed in the M&P Shield I get 8 rounds on board. Those three rounds might not seem like a lot, but that is a 60% increase over the 640’s five. And I get all of this in a package that is about the same size, and a little bit lighter than my stainless steel pride ‘n joy.
Finally, I get amazing aftermarket support that was unimaginable to me a few months ago. This topic is always skipped in the traditional revolvers vs semi-autos articles, but it shouldn’t be. Support gear is important. With the M&P Shield, one of the most popular carry guns on the market, I can count on excellent support. In this instance I purchased everything in reverse. Before I even had the gun I already had sights (Heinie Straight-8s), a holster (Dark Star Gear), and a slew of magazines. And if I decide there’s some other accessory I can’t live without? I can probably find it in half a dozen styles and eight colors. Oh, and I also decided to buy the Shield’s big sister: the full-sized M&P. It was easy to find the exact same sights, appropriate holsters, and even a weapon-mounted light.
Since I mentioned magazines, I should probably address feeding devices. I thought revolvers would simplify this aspect of my life. After all, I wouldn’t need dozens of magazines to keep things running smoothly…right? What I learned is that choosing a revolver often involves deciding which speedloader models you can and can’t live without. Though I do have to buy magazines to support these bottom-feeding beasts, the process is simple. Google “M&P magazine”, pay $25 per unit, and open the box when it shows up on the porch. Picking a revolver speedloader involved me testing at least half a dozen different models and weighing the merits and disadvantages of each.
The Bottom Line
Though at times it might have seemed like it, this wasn’t really a revolvers vs semi-autos debate. This was more of a personal examination of a few of the things I am discovering in my re-transition period from cylinder-fed guns to magazine-fed ones. Why am I writing about it here on RevolverGuy? Well, you guys probably get where I’m coming from, as most of you have a foot in both camps. I was singing the praises of my M&Ps to one of my (let’s say, “less enlightened”) non-RevolverGuy shooting brethren the other day. His response? “Yeah, bro, semi-autos are awesome. Where ya been?”
And what does all this semi-auto nonsense mean going forward? For me personally, it means I have a new carry gun and a couple new range toys. But, the old 640 isn’t going away. She might be in retirement, but that doesn’t mean she won’t get called out here and there on an as-needed basis. As The Standard by which all others are judged, she’ll also make some cameos in coming months here, too. It also doesn’t mean that I’m giving up on revolvers. I’m still as excited about them as anyone, and the only thing being replaced here is my daily carry revolver.
And what does all this mean for RevolverGuy.com? Well, I can promise you this: we aren’t changing the masthead to “SemiAutoGuy” anytime soon! We won’t start littering the feed with reviews of a bunch of ugly bottom-feeding guns (unless you really want us to). As I mentioned earlier, we have some really exciting new revolvers inbound that span the gamuts of caliber, price, and manufacturer. You can expect reviews on those in the coming months. I’m working on a couple of bigger revolver-related projects, and I am still signed up for Chuck Haggard’s revolver class in August (who’s coming with me?!). You can count on reading about all of that stuff soon. So don’t go anywhere – we aren’t!
78 thoughts on “Things I’ll Miss About My Daily Carry Revolver”
Well, I look forward to reviews of those “other revolvers”
in the future. I’m assuming one is the Kimber, maybe the
Colt Cobra and, heck. how about Ruger’s LCRs.
Those are some good guesses; it looks like we’re not doing a great job keeping our intentions under wraps! But…there are still a couple revolvers on that list that might surprise you!
Outstanding article.! Went through similar process till I “settled” for that logic called S&W M&P 2.0 Compact. But I still LOVE my Ruger SP 101?? and the wheel gun catches my eye every time. Looking forward to more great articles. Keep up the great work.
You’ll be back….lol
Probably so. My attention span seems to be getting shorter and shorter with some of these new revolvers that are coming out!
I’ve been having the exact same dilemma since purchasing a Shield 2.0 a few months ago. It is a damn good gun, with excellent ergonomics and a joy to shoot for such a small gun. The oft-touted “reliability advantage of revolvers” is really becoming a moot point as far as I’m concerned- I put 500 rounds through my M&P right out of the box, without a cleaning and without any feeding/malfunction issues at all, despite a variety of ammo. And to top it off, the Shield is not much larger than my LCRx, only a little heavier, and still easily concealable even with an 8-round mag (+1) that gives me almost twice the capacity in a round that is undeniably ballistically superior to .38+P.
Another point worth considering is the cost of practice. I firmly believe that if you are going to carry, you should be practicing as often as you possibly can. And the fact is that this cost adds up. I can get target grade 9mm for half the cost of .38+P or .357. That means I can practice a lot more.
As you say, “choosing a concealed handgun is serious business.” It’s not the time for nostalgia or personal bias to dictate the choice, imo. I still love revolvers and enjoy shooting them, but I believe that when it comes to defense, you should carry the most gun you possibly can, period. Which is all to say that I completely understand your choices, Justin.
Thanks, Hammer. I agree with every point you made there.
I’m not quite up to the 500-round mark yet, and I’ll keep carrying the J until I get there. However, I agree with you that modern semi-autos just run and I seriously doubt I’ll have any issues getting it there without a malfunction. We’re also in complete agreement that the 9mm is quite a bit more potent than the .38, and getting a few more of them on board doesn’t hurt, either.
Finally, you’re absolutely right that this gun is a joy to shoot. I’ve only done two range sessions so far. I only ended both of those sessions because of time; I could have easily kept right on going with the soft-shooting Shield. It’s a little gun that shoots like a big one!
I am not giving up any of my wheelguns. I still love them, and I’ll probably carry the 640 on occasion. There are some things that revolvers just do really, really well. If I’m in very light clothing (summer is right around the corner) and concealment is paramount, the 640 will get the nod. Likewise if I have to pocket-carry a gun for some reason. But for day-to-day use I’ll steal a quote from you: “…carry the most gun you possibly can.”
In the meantime, prayer vigils need
to be organized.
And forthwith, Grant Cunningham
needs to be notified!
Ed, you need to pray the devil out of Grant Cunningham, too! I have it on good authority he frequently carries a Steyr!
Haha! Great one, Ed!
Funny thing. I recently gave up my Shield .40 because I prefer my J Frame.
We passed each other in flight! Though to be honest I doubt the sub-compact .40 is quite as pleasant to shoot, or as easily shot well.
I for one would be interested in seeing this topic revisited on occasion. In particular, I am curious to see how often you switch back to the 640. You mentioned Summer and pocket carry, but I am curious to see how often those crop up or if there are other scenarios that have you reaching for the round gun. I’m also curious to see if your semi-auto preference changes as you continue to contrast it with revolver carry (I know the only striker-fired gun I would consider is a Glock with a Striker Control Device — even though I despise Glock ergonomics — for precisely the re-holstering concerns you expressed).
If your foray into the flat gun world does cause you to try out different options, I would also be interested in hearing your thoughts on “semi-autos for RevolverGuys.” I am in the opposite scenario you are. I am fine with a revolver for daily carry, but might be interested in finding a semi-auto for special circumstances. Since you understand what RevolverGuys appreciate about wheel guns, I think you are in a good position to give some insight into finding a semi-auto that complements a revolver.
As Jim mentioned above, you’ll be back. In the mean time, UncleEd and I will continue to pray for both you and Grant (and Clint Smith, and Mas Ayoob, and, Caleb Giddings, and Chris Baker, and anyone else I can think of who knows better but still carries a semi-auto — especially a plastic one).
I would expect to be given a pass for rocking a sweet 1911, but you’re right – plastic is unforgivable!
I was expecting to hear from you; I know you like an exposed-hammer SP because of the ability to check the hammer when reholstering. Like you, I’ve worked with the Glocks including the 17 and 19 (professionally) and the 26 and 43 (personally). I can make the 17-sized frame work for me but I have a really hard time maintaining a solid grip with the 19 and 26. Perhaps the newer versions with interchangeable backstraps could help solve that issue, but the M&P ergonomics are extremely compelling. Still, that striker control device seems like it would be mighty useful right about now…
In the meantime I continue to reholster EXTREMELY cautiously. This is another thing to recommend the 1911: between the grip and thumb safety you have some good controls against a beltline ND.
I don’t want to turn this into a “regular” gun blog, but like your idea a lot! Chris Baker touched on that concept a while back with the DAO S&W 3953. He calls it his “9-shot revolver”. I’ve shot it and think that would be a pretty good place for a RevolverGuy to start…if only they were still made! I’ll keep my eyes open and if something comes up that fits the bill I’ll let it be known.
I agree that the 3953 would be a decent choice. For me the second major draw-back (after the fact that they aren’t made anymore) is that the barrel is a bit shorter than I want. I like a 3″ revolver, so an equivalent semi-auto would have about a 4 inch barrel (I’d accept 3.75″ to 4.25″). The second runner-up in my mind would be the SIG p250 since it is DAO, can be had with a 3.9″ barrel, and the magazines and polymer frames (What? You’ve never seen a hypocrite before?) are the same as the P320 which is still made, so there is at least some support.
In the end, I can’t find anything that is compelling enough to switch from the 1911 in the safe (it’s not “sweet”, it’s just a slightly modified Rock Island GI Mid-Size, but at least it is a 1911), despite the trigger being the exact opposite of my revolver and it requiring me to think about the manual safety. As a result though, the 1911 has been carried one day in the last year (specifically to test a holster modification).
Your comment on the SIG P-250 is interesting to me because I’ve carried the subcompact version with a compact magazine & grip extension (for better purchase) for years. Jokingly, I tell people it’s a “DA revolver” that sports more rounds but no cylinder and no external ‘safeties’ except that long DA trigger travel to prevent an accidental discharge. But that is exactly the reason I bought the SIG, viz. safe concealed carry, the consideration that brings me to my point.
Justin mentions what I believe is a justified fear of striker-fired handguns, that they will catch on part of a holster or a piece of clothing, discharge, and seriously injure or kill either their owner or bystanders. Just recently a security camera video circulated on the Internet of just such an incident. A fellow in an office of some kind holsters his pistol [it’s a Glock], walks across the room, bends over to pick up something…..and the gun goes off, seriously injuring him. (Video at: http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2018/06/kat-ainsworth/video-holstered-pistol-discharges-negligent-or-accident/) It’s a sobering 50 second video that substantiates what Justin says. It’s inconceivable to me that someone could place with reasonable care, say, a Kimber K6s, a S&W 642 [I own both], or even my SIG P-250 in a holster, and then have the weapon discharge as the Glock in this video does; the DA trigger travel of the first three weapons listed is simply too long and stout for that to happen.
These are precisely the thoughts that persuaded me to recently look at revolvers. Let’s face it, almost all of the time we carry a gun it’s in a holster. It seems to me that the sensible thing to do is think of safety first, and then to train to overcome the admitted difficulties we may have with the DAO trigger. As for the higher price of rimmed ammunition generally, there is no arguing about that fact; it’s double and at times triple the price of, say, 9mm. But, regardless of how much we spend on .38 or .357 ammunition for regular sessions at the range, it will always be a whole lot less than a lawyer’s fees for defending us after an AD or hospital bills for surgical repair of our leg, foot, hand, etc. Or for expenses associated with our funeral.
Speaking of Caleb Giddings, he posted this recently: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEHtRkyTe-0&feature=youtu.be&app=desktop It is one of the most intelligent discussions I’ve ever heard about the use cases for revolvers.
Ok, now that is funny. Greg Ellifritz posted that video on his weekend knowledge dump, so I posted here, and then went to watch that video. I’m currently at the 3 minute mark but had to pause, and figured I would check in over here.
“Hello everyone. My name is Justin, and I . . . I . . . um . . . (gulp) . . . I carry a bottom feeder.”
It’s OK buddy. We all do it. The siren song of the self chucker is powerful, and since we’re all gun nuts . . . um . . . enthusiasts, here, well it’s just natural for you to appreciate and enjoy their finer qualities. Having choices is good–imagine how boring life would be if all women were blondes (insert your own joke here)?
Honestly, they do some things better, some things worse. As you noted, the revolver is still the best choice for some jobs, and as Jim said, “you’ll be back,” even if only for occasional visits. The plastic autos work, but there’s no soul in ’em, and sooner or later your heart will just cry out for wood, steel, and curves.
You don’t have to swear off of self chuckers to be a RevolverGuy. You can still keep your membership card . . . but we’ll be watching you closer, now.
; ^ )
What the heck do blondes do better??
Ha! I don’t know, buddy. I married a brunette . . . or at least, she used to be! ; ^ )
Nothing !! Which is why I picked up a blue eyed brunette Brit ‘bird’ who loves guns, and the usual other stuff.
You lucked out my friend…. I went with an awesome redhead, but she ain’t exactly thrilled at my expenditures… Or my “stupid hobby” .
All joking aside, this is a great blog. I hope you continue it. Always enjoy reading whats here, and it never gets boring.
No worries about that, buddy. You should see the list of topics we plan to write on, and the list of guns that are inbound to review! We’ve got enough material lined up for the next ten years, so we’re not going anywhere. Heck, I’ve got almost a half dozen articles loaded up into the website and ready to go, just one click away from publishing. (Teaser: S&W lock, anyone?)
Besides, if we didn’t do RG, where would we go to find the revolver coverage we want to read? I enjoy reading the articles from Justin and Steve as much as I enjoy writing my own. Stay tuned for more good stuff.
I have this debate a lot with myself. I have more or less decided, as you have, on the shield/full size m&p combo. Both guns are great for shooting and carrying. One question: you seemed to select the shield 1.0 rather than the 2.0. May I ask why? I don’t think I will ever upgrade my shield 1.0 because I hate that sandpaper grip on the 2.0.
Sorry if I wasn’t clear – I’m 2.0 all the way.
Good article. Why are you disappointed in S&W revolvers? FWIW revolvers without adjustable sights are contact guns….
Fit, finish, the 15# triggers, MIM parts, the lock, the new and “improved” shallow rear sight blade, THIS ugly thing…
That’s pretty much a list of why I only have older S&Ws…love my 19s, 66s, 28 and 29s….
I done the same as you five yrs. ago. But I gave up bottom feeders and went back to revolvers and haven’t looked back. LCR every day 12-14 hrs a day pocket carry. Got to do what works best for you, but You’ll be back.
No……not the dark side.
Dude, seriously?!?? And I thought you were a revolver guy! Ok, ok, trash talk done. Admittedly I occasionally carry a G43, and I don’t worry TOO much about the jammatic going TU on me. But I agree with the sentiment that you’ll be back. And I too will pray for you. I still swear by the LCRX, and if you ever head to central Ohio let me know, we can maybe arrange some range time with it for ya’. Good luck with the M&P although I think they are overrated.
I promise you, if I’m out that way I’ll let you know and we’ll get some range time in! I’ll never turn down that offer!
7+1 vs 5, is pretty much the reason I mostly carry my XDS9 now, instead of the 642.
I have a Shield 1.0 in 9mm. It’s a fine gun, though I did opt for one with a safety. Striker-fired guns scare me.
But I find myself drifting back to a Colt Detective Special. It conceals better. Hell, I have a round-butt K-frame that seems to conceal better than a Shield. The edginess of the Shield is an issue. At least for me.
One comment you make about accuracy is that you are better with the Shield than the revolver. The answer to that is a pair of Crimson Trace grips. I have them on my 642 and can shoot it much better than my Ruger LC9. The sights on J-frames are horrible at best, but with the Crimson Trace, I can hold about a 2″ group or less at 20 ft. It makes the 642 shoot like a laser (pun intended).
It seems like if the answer were that simple I’d have the same problem with a Shield that isn’t sporting a laser. That would solve the sight regulation issue, but it wouldn’t solve the difficulty of moving the trigger without moving the rest of the gun.
Hmm. J frames are tough that way. The K frame or larger is definitely easier to shoot well DA, if more difficult to conceal. I do think there is a case to be made for exposed hammers for that reason, I absolutely will cock that if I need a well aimed shot. I’ll worry about lawyers later. Oddly enough however, all else being equal, I tend to score higher with the LCRX (shooting the course DA) than with a semi auto every time. But I think maybe I’m just weird that way.
I love a double action revolver trigger and although the j-frame doesn’t have as good of a DA trigger as a k-framer, the 642 and other internal hammer revolvers seem to have a better DA trigger than the outside hammer models (according to Massad Ayoob) and I agree with him. I am guessing that the LCR is even better wth laser grips.
Having been steeped in revolvers since I was a ‘yout’, Justin does make a valid point with regard to the quality of the current generation of S&W wheelguns: Fit, finish, the 15# triggers, MIM parts, the lock. The post Ed Schultz / Safe-T-Hammer guns leave me totally “unmoved”.
The ONLY intelligent design change to S&W revolvers was the move to the frame mounted firing pin. If you’ve had to replace the hammer nose pins, you’ll understand why. If not, you won’t get it.
Yes, but even the execution of the frame-mounted firing pins has not been without issues. Grant did a good job of addressing it on his blog, but on some models the pins were too short and it caused ignition reliability problems–the so-called “California firing pins.”
A trend that bears watching is the two-piece barrels on the new guns, IMO. It could turn out to be a good move, but I’m reserving judgment for now until we see more of a track record.
That two piece barrel thing . . . regardless of the propaganda S&W tries to spin, I’m somewhat skeptical. I will concede that it does make for a simple barrel-to-cylinder gap easier to set. Yes, you can make precision quality barrels. Yes, it takes the stress off the barrel shroud. But securing it otherwise . . . my gut is telling me something isn’t right (and it wasn’t last night’s pizza).
Yessir, we’re coming from the same perspective on those. I’m not ready to pass judgment on them yet, but I will note that I’ve seen a few S&W revolvers of recent vintage with shrouds that don’t line up properly, leaving the front sights a few degrees off center. Yuck.
Haha, isn’t that ironic! I look at the hammer-mounted firing pins as a sign of a Smith & Wesson “of a certain age” and one that I want to own! Not because of the location of the firing pin, mind you, but because it is indicative of another era of revolver manufacturing. I hope the rest of my 686 holds out long enough for me to have that problem!
You’re right on that account. In real life, I’ve only had to replace two hammer mounted firing pins. Considering all of the times those hammers came back and fell on primers (and snap caps), that’s really somewhat insignificant.
It truly is indicative of an age of hammer forged, case hardened parts that were fitted with care. Double action sears that were actually pinned to the hammer. Now it’s injection molded powdered metal that IMHO isn’t near as good as what Colt did on the Mark III and Mark V Troopers.
This is like… I don’t know…. running into Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson on the street, and then suddenly noticing that *he’s wearing a dress*…
But seriously… notwithstanding where your ‘lifestyle choices’ may take you, or what anyone else says: you’ll always be free to ‘identify’ as Revolver Guy…. and no one can tell you any different!
Sure, it may be awkward at times: noticing, as you introduce yourself to someone— “Hi, I’m Justin, aka Revolver Guy”— that their eyes appear to be fixated on the semi-auto on your belt…. but hey, that’s life! Nobody said it would be easy….
I like my Grayguns-tuned DA/SA ‘classic’ SIGs for precisely the reasons you mention:
Inherently safe to re-holster (with the web of my hand covering the hammer as I shove it in, I can feel if I’ve forgotten to de-cock it, or if a foreign object is forcing the trigger back);
Nice long smooth double-action trigger pull on the first shot;
Nice short crisp SA first shot possible simply by cocking it on the drawstroke;
Lots of rounds in the magazine.
But as you point out, there will always be some things that only a revolver can do well: shooting out of a coat pocket…. jammed up against your assailant at what Evan Marshall calls “bad-breath distance”…. handling the heaviest hunting loads.
Finally, it behooves any true gun nut to stay practiced-up on all types of firearms. This is my excuse— or, as I prefer to think of it, my entirely logical and reasonable *reason*— for having a variety of revolvers and lever guns, alongside my mag-fed semi-autos.
LOL, I too keep a lever gun nearby! It makes perfect sense, I can load it from what is already on my belt! See, totally logical!
Bad Breath distance, or what an associate of mine identifies the J frame as: Nosewaffen.
It’s the last day of April and this morning we had a freeze warning here in Virginia. WTF?!
So, I meander on over to my favorite gun website and… well, shake my head. There it is. Hell is now apparently sporting icicles.
‘tis okay, Justin.
As I sit here writing this, cup of morning joe in hand, wondering if maybe I should move early to whiskey… I have to remind myself that you ain’t alone with your blasphemous new idol.
Three steps and a hard stretch to the top of the bookcase away and my hand grasps the weapon that is my mainstay: a heavy, steel, slab-sided, cocked-and-locked .45. The appendix rig it rides in comes with a nice mag carrier, but I confess I don’t much use it. Those seven Speer Gold Dots will have to do.
Upstairs in the bedroom, ensconced in the little safe next to the bed, is a Glock 21 with a laser and an attached weapon light. When things go bump in the night, it’ll be what gets first call.
And when I head out on the Harley later this summer there’ll be another Glock – a model 30 – riding in the bedroll.
One might be forgiven for thinking those revolver guys – this one, at least – ain’t so much.
But, then, sitting on that bookcase next to the .45 is a beautiful, short-barreled Performance Center L-frame .357, too loaded with Gold Dots. I confess that that revolver isn’t as combat ready as it could be… as it sports a small, round-butt walnut grip that I just love… but which leaves the little finger of my gun hand without a home.
You know how a beautiful woman sometimes has you in her thrall? Well, I put a Crimson Trace laser grip on that gun for a bit, but couldn’t stand the looks. It had to go, wagging little finger or not.
Out in the center console of the truck lives another L-frame .357. A lovely, stainless Lew Horton special from back in the day. That one does sport a nice laser.
Mostly, though, it’s the little J-frame .38 in a Mika pocket holster that gets yeoman duty. That’s in spite of the fact that J-frames are pretty awful guns.
When I was a kid, hunting and fishing and trapping – and reading Outdoor Life and Field & Stream and Sports Afield when I wasn’t – I dearly wanted a Smith & Wesson .22/32 Kit Gun. I figured it would be just about perfect for an avid outdoorsman like myself. Fast forward a few years and finally, as a young man, I got around to scratching that particular itch.
It was probably the most disappointed I’ve ever been in a firearm. Thank God I already owned a couple of K-frame Smiths by then, or I might have foresworn revolvers forever.
J-frames suck. You can do various things to make them suck less. But you can’t make them not suck.
What they bring, though, is the ability to have a gun with you when you probably otherwise wouldn’t. And for that… well, I don’t know that you can put a price on that.
I couldn’t agree more about S&W quality control being the pits. I’m guessing all the old boys who could sit there at their bench in Springfield and hand assemble the lockwork of a modern double-action revolver – and thus produce the ineffable mystery at the heart of those guns – have gone off and joined Elmer and Skeeter and Bill and the rest.
I don’t much worry about the other things. I think too often we game this stuff. We watch the quick-draw antics of our heroes on the screen and imagine that’s how it’ll be for us. How we need to be.
Somehow, I’m doubtful.
I’m thinking five shots… well, perhaps I’m just revealing my own, simple, civilian naiveté… but seems to me you have to hold to your presence of mind on that dark night. Even amidst the chaos, you have to be able to count.
I think having lots of rounds stashed on and around him does something to a man. Something not very good.
And since we’re in a confessing mood, I’ll confess to one more. There’s one other gun I often keep close at hand. An Uberti El Patron in .45 Long Colt… yes, a modern replica of the old 1873 Colt Peacemaker. And as the gales of laughter and hoots of derision slowly die down I’ll just aver that there were an awful lot of men who got to meet their maker because of guns of that ilk. That the Buffalo Bore 255 grain Keith load wrecks some pretty fine havoc. And that a revolver that points like the finger of God shouldn’t be discounted.
All of which is to say… it’s all good, Justin. Your new Shield will do just fine. The weapon doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t.
Worry about the man wielding it.
Which leads me to say that I wouldn’t disregard Mr. Hughes in the slightest with El Patron in his hand.
Sorry to make your choke on your coffee, question your faith, and steal glance toward the Woodford bottle this early in the day! As you say, though, and as is often the case, it’s the man wielding it more so than the tool that dictates what gets done.
You touched on something else there that I’ve been struggling to find the words for. I think you might’ve just helped me out more than you know.
Well, at least you didn’t turn anti gun on us!
Jeff, I’m curious . . . what did you give the Devil in return for the ability to write like that?
We mortals would like to know.
I thoroughly enjoyed that, buddy. You made my morning. Hope you can see the cup I’m raising in salute from the Left Coast.
For you and the rest of the gang, please be assured that the sky is still above, the temperatures are still hot below, and a RevolverGuy still sits at the masthead of this blog . . . backed up by a double New York reload of RevolverGuys.
It’s the question of whether it’s the Indian or the Arrow.
Many years ago (early to mid 1990s) I used to shoot on the weekends at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary gun club. You had to be active or retired LEO to join it then. The standard fare for most of the folks were .38 revolvers (S&W, Colt, Ruger), and occasionally some slide shuckers. They sold club reloaded .38 wadcutters for like $4.00 a box of 50 and you returned the brass. Such a deal.
There was always an elderly gentleman there who carried a very well worn S&W Model 10 in an open top holster, much like some of the old NYPD types. He had retired from the Bureau of Prisons after 30+ years, so he’d seen it all.
From the 7 yard line to the 10 yard line, when the range officer gave the green light, he would draw and fire one shot. No sights, no two hand hold, just standing upright and similar to a Rex Applegate point shoot. One draw, one shot, re-holster – one draw, one shot, re-holster. His shots always tore the center out of the target. You could cover the pattern with your hand.
That revolver was apparently the only gun he owned. God help anyone who got on the wrong end of him. I wouldn’t matter whether he was shooting wadcutters or some whizz-bang hollowpoint, he’d put a group in the perp that would stop the fight.
It’s the Indian, not the arrow.
Great article and an interesting dilemma. I got my CC license last August (I’m in California but am lucky to be in a county that allows self-defense to be good cause). I grew up on revolvers and then transitioned to a 3d generation Smith (4006) and then to an HK P2000 LEM.
In anticipation of getting my license, I purchased a Shield 9mm. It’s a great gun – the ergonomics are good, low recoil, light, concealable, and damn accurate. I really enjoy shooting it. But after owning it for almost a year, I realized it’s not the right gun for me – I am just much more comfortable carrying my hammer fired P2000 than my striker fired Shield. This is especially true when I reholster, I love that I can ride the hammer when I reholster the P2000 and would feel comfortable carrying it AIWB vs a striker fired pistol. The P2000, with its long but light DAO trigger seems to give me the best of both worlds, the longer trigger pull of a revolver (along with a hammer that I can ride when i reholster), but with a light 5 lb trigger pull once the slack has been taken out of the trigger. Hey, maybe we should be adding reviews of semi autos for revolver guys.
Oh God no!!!!
Ryan, the P2000 LEM is a great pistol. I carry a USP-C LEM on duty, but think the P2000 is even better. The LEM trigger is my favorite of all the HK triggers, for the reasons you described. Have you shot a P2000SK? I think you’d find it to be a nice replacement for the Shield.
Funny enough, I’m about to DROS a P2000SK. Should have done that in the first place, but I fell for the lure of a single stack. Eh, just another gun in the safe, although it probably won’t come out to play much given its competition – I’d much rather take my Security-Six, Model 14, or Detective Special to the range along with my carry gun.
Oh. Now you’re just torturing me. You just listed 3 of my “grail” guns!
Another great read Justin! This one was quite timely for me personally. I have been going through s similar journey.
I came across this web site a while back now and it definitely stirred something within. Maybe it is the simplicity of the manual of arms, the sheer beauty of a fine revolver, or something more undefinable, but ever since, I have tried to become more of a revolverguy.
Every time I go to the range though, I am disappointed by my performance with most of my revolvers. I wonder if it makes sense to keep putting in the time and money. Maybe I just need to face the fact that I may never reach the level with a revolver that I have with semi autos.
I too have a Shield (Performance Center) and find that I shoot it better than any handgun currently in my stable. It points naturally, the recoil is light, the sights are fantastic, and it’s hard to argue with 7+1 or 8+1 in a small lightweight package.
I just wish those darn revolvers didn’t look so amazing and have that certain something that plastic fantastics will never have. 🙂
Keep up the great work and thanks for another insightful read.
Spoken like a true RevolverGuy, Sean! Don’t give up on them yet. I found that learning to shoot DA revolvers first made me a better semiauto shooter when I finally got around to those. You didn’t say what kind of revolvers you’re shooting, but if they’re compacts, then it’s not a wonder that the Shield is easier to run. The tiny guns like the J-frames are compromise guns–you volunteer to give up some things like capacity, range, and practical accuracy in order to get a reliable gun that rides well in places that other guns don’t.
A raised cup right back to ya, Mike. Thanks for the kind words.
And, nah, no worries about RevolverGuy. Kinda like the happily-married neighbor who swears he never looks at other women – and you’re looking at him with a squint in your eye, thinking “that just ain’t natural” – I figure any shootist who doesn’t sometimes look at the other stuff out there… well, he’s probably missing something.
All the really great savants I’ve ever known could run multiple weapons systems.
Justin, that tease has me wondering. Can’t wait to read what you come up with!
You just opened a whole ‘nother can of worms: versatility. As the resident “gun guys” in our neighborhoods, groups of friends, bowling teams, [fill in the blank] we should have some proficiency with just about everything. If anyone in our orbit inherits/purchases/finds a gun they probably aren’t going to think, “Jeff is the revolver guy and this is clearly a traditional DA/SA auto…I need to go find Pete ’cause he’s the Beretta guy.” They’re just going to show up asking you to train them, verify their gun is safe, or whatever else they might need.
About that tease… You might see it this weekend, or you might not. It’s something I’ve had rolling around in my head for a while.
Absolutely agreed! I want to be knowledgeable enough on enough guns that I can verify that pretty much any gun is unloaded, make it safe, load it, and fire a few rounds. There are probably still a few that I am missing that knowledge on (I didn’t know that I didn’t understand the safety on an Ortgies at first — largely because I didn’t even know that the Ortgies existed until I was handed one), but I can at least help somebody with the common guns out there.
Thanks Mike! I haven’t thrown in the towel yet. I actually have a decent little stable of revolvers at the present.
19-5 (2.5” barrel) – nice trigger and I do ok with this one. It is just heavy and not worth carrying without full 357’s on board
10-6 (4” barrel) – decent trigger but again a little heavy for a carry gun especially in 38 spl only
640 – smooth trigger just long and heavy with the ubiquitous hard to see sights
642 Performance Center – nice smooth trigger but not fun to shoot at all even with non +p
Detective Special- just picked this up and I am pretty thrilled. I have wanted one for a long time. Different trigger feel compared to Smiths but the cylinder lock up is amazing (tight as a vault). I love having 6 rounds in a package this size and weight. Maybe it’s psychological but that one extra makes me feel better than with a j. I have high hopes for this one.
Anyhow, thanks for the comments and for contributing to this great blog.
Sean, you’ve got a neat collection there! You had me at Model 19. Ha!
The DS occupies a unique niche that’s been unfilled for a very long time. I’m glad you got your hands on one and think you’ll like it very much, even though the Colt triggers have very different characteristics than the rest of the market. The stacking takes some getting used to, but they are smooth.
There was really no other gun which could fill the Detective Special’s shoes . . . until recently. Standby for more!
To quote, There was really no other gun which could fill the Detective Special’s
shoes…until recently. To unquote
Yep, I see a review of the Kimber K6s coming.
Didn’t some guy named Grant have a hand in some of its design?
Indeed, he did, and a RevolverGuy might have talked to him about it at length.
; ^ )
That one’s coming but the next revolver review will be a little more offbeat. Just to keep you guys guessin’!
Good read. I read you guys’ articles regularly. I have bonded with my LCR. They’re stoked with Buffalo Bore +p. I have a Shield in 9mm and carry it occasionally, depending on where I’m going. Keep up the good work. I look forward to reading your articles.
Hopefully there’s nothing wrong in switch-hitting, at least in the carry gun arena. I frequently change from a XD to a GP100 .44, sometimes even a Speed Six or Security Six .357. Heck, it wouldn’t be surprising to find two of any of them on the belt, Two-Gun Pete style. And it all hides, with reloads for each and a little flashlight, under a simple one-size-larger shirt.
To my mind, snub .38’s are, as one here called it, ‘contact guns’. If I have to shoot mine beyond about five yards, and expect to hit the intended, I’d have to aim to the right. At ten yards, putting the front sight on the left nipple would put the bullet center-chest; but I’m aware, and hope I don’t have to remember that in a social situation.
I’m not the type to offer unsolicited advice or suggestions, and would never consider expressing my views on a subject unless asked; but if I were to do such a thing, I’d suggest doing away with that AIWB (aka: Cheap Vasectomy Carry), and revert to the old-fashioned-but-still-effective 3:00-4:00 position (8:00-9:00 for southpaws). Safer, still works, and isn’t significantly any slower that that other Abominable Inside the Waist Band thing.
And, Justin, since no one else has offered, since you’re giving up on the little Smith, I’d offer it a new, loving home–and even be glad to pay for shipping. Wouldn’t charge you a dime for the adoption process. Ace
You made a good choice, based on your needs. S&W makes really fine semis, though for how we use our guns the full size M&P 2.0 really impressed me.
I do not carry, beyond woods-carrying my GP100 in an old-school, full-flap holster. My wife shoots regularly and refuses to even consider owning a new polymer semiautomatic, though she fires our 1911 well.
If I felt the need, my Taurus 85 would suffice until I got the new DAO Cobra. That I could fire from inside a pocket. Let us know how the Shield works for you. I shot their Shield .45 several times and was impressed at how well the pistol handled the round.
Justin, you’ll find the Shield to be a fine firearm for its intended purpose. I too carry my 9mm Shield on occasion. I topped mine with TruGlo night sight/fiber optics, a Crimson Trace laser, and Talon grips (https://talongungrips.com/grips/smith-and-wesson/shield.html). All that required a custom holster, but as you’ve noted, that’s half the fun.
I look forward to “Things I’ll Miss About My Daily Carry Semi-Auto Now That I’ve Switched Back to My Revolver.”
Or “Things I’ll Miss About a Striker-Fired Gun Now that I can Afford That Nighthawk”!!!
I carry a Glock 43 when I conceal carry….appendix. I love wheel guns…..shot my 686 this morning. It’s a recent production gun. I work at a very well known Gunshop and a couple of years ago we had a big S&W event…..big sale on lots of revolvers…and a S&W gunsmith doing trigger jobs onsite…..at the end of the day I cherry picked through what was left and bought my 686….incredible trigger and perfect alignment and timing. My G43 and 19 are two guns I trust my life to but my heart is with wheel guns. Noticed a 629-1 in there this morning…..dang it….
Justin, thank you for your honesty.
Switching guns is one thing, switching fundamental platforms is something else and far more involved.
I’m old school and have trained with and carried a large variety of firearms. Without getting into a lot of details, years ago I landed the plane with the DAO snubnose revolver. That decision involved a lot of thought and it was based more on practical needs than anything else.
As you pointed out, there are many facets to that decision making process and some compromises must be made.
For me, I elected to give up some traits such as capacity and terminal ballistics to gain other traits. The largest factor was the consistency of the platform itself.
BEWARE OF THE MAN WITH ONE GUN, HE PROBABLY KNOWS HOW TO USE IT !
For over 20 years I’ve had some type of DAO snubnose revolver in my pocket. For a large portion of those years, it has been the same DAO snubnose. Prior to that, I trained with and carried .380 Autos, 32 ACP Autos, 45 ACP Lightweight Commanders, various pistols chambered in 9mm and an assortment of other handguns. I don’t mean I just struck a gun in a holster and carried it; I mean I trained with and then carried each of those guns. It wasn’t a good system.
During that time I continued to return to the DA revolver. It finally dawned on me that I was gravitating to the DA revolver for a reason. It was like that one girl that you’ve known forever and you can always count on. It hits you one day that she’s the one and she’s been there the entire time? (you idiot!)
Once I stopped jumping from one gun to another and said, this is what I’m going to train with and carry- things got really clear.
It’s not all perfect and there’s a price to be paid for that type of dedication. For example, 30 years ago there were no compact, lightweight, DA 9mm pistols that fired from a locked breach. About the best you could do in a small semi-auto pistol was .380 Auto with a simple blowback operating system. That has changed.
Glock refused to make a sub-compact, single stack 9mm pistol, they finally made the Glock 43 ! (if that had been available in the mid 1990’s, I would be married to a different handgun now.
Technology changes and you have to be a little willing to let it change some without you.
I’ve already taken this advice to heart. It’s just taking a long time for the gun to be built…
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