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Old June 22, 2015, 05:03 PM   #1
Mike38
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S&W J Frame limitations?

I’m not a revolver guy, semi’s are the thing for me. Now, with that out of the way….
I finally got around to shooting my late Mother’s S&W J frame M-60-7 in .38 Special. 1.5 inch barrel, I think. At 5 yards I was some what impressed. Shot in single action. Nice tight group, all 5 rounds in the 10 ring, but slightly to the left. So I shot the next 5 in double action, same results. Moved out to 7 yards, same results, but maybe a couple rounds out in the 9 ring. Moved out to 10 yards, holy cow, it looked like a shotgun blast not a group. Is it me, or is 7 yards pretty much the limit for a snub nose revolver? I put the S&W away and took out my Berretta 92FS, and at 10 yards all shots in the 10 ring. Maybe it’s not me, must be the short barrel?
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Old June 22, 2015, 05:23 PM   #2
jad0110
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7 yards is probably roughly the practical limit for self defense. Much beyond that and you'll have a hard time convincing a jury your life was in immediate danger.

That said, snub nose revolvers are mechanically capable of excellent accuracy (on average, probably more so than a typical locked breech semi auto). If I do my part I can put every shot into the same hole a 7 yards with my 642. IF I do my part .

I'm guessing you may have lost focus a bit when you moved out to 10 yards, as the groups shouldn't have opened up too much from 7 to 10.
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Old June 22, 2015, 05:48 PM   #3
bedbugbilly
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I usually CCW a Smith Model 36 snub and sometimes a Smith Model 36 3". Both excellent revolvers. Like any handgun - revolver or semi - you need to practice and do it regularly. I have no qualms about hitting anything with my Model 36 at SD ranges - which to me - is 7 yards or less. jad011 said it well as far as distances further than that.

I feel my 3" 36 shoots a little better than my snub - due to the longer barrel. But I'm not going to win any national matches with either at longer distances.

Think about it - you probably feel you can shoot better with you semi as that is the gun you use and practice with. I have a feeling that if you did the same with your 60-7 you'd see an improvement - not only at the shorter distance but at the longer distance as well.

I only own one 9mm - a SR9. I don't shoot it a lot so each time I pull it out (which isn't often) it's a new process of "re-learning it". Because I've always shot revolvers, I do better with them.

I'm going to pick up a S 7 W 9mm Shield sometime soon to play with and hopefully, be able to use it as a trade off once in a while with my Model 36s. Like you switching to a revolver to try . . . I have a feeling that I will be pretty discouraged at my initial results. But, I reload so ammo will not be a problem and I realize that I will need a lot of practice to feel as confident with that one as I do with my Smith 36.

Keep playing with it as I think you'll see improvement as you go along. Revolver versus semi - different feel, different triggers, etc.
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Old June 22, 2015, 06:29 PM   #4
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Mike, I've seen several shooters do amazing things with a 2" J frame, sadly I'm not one of them. Your experiences are about right for most shooters, much past 20 -25 feet accuracy goes away. J frames and their ilk have a very real place in a self-defense situation, "up close and personal" , but not long range shooting.
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Old June 22, 2015, 06:45 PM   #5
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Take your best 5yd or 7yd group, do a little math and figure how much it would have expanded if the bullets traveled a few more yards. That's what your 10yd group should look like. If the gun can produce a 1" group at 5yds that will expand to a 2" group at 10yds. If your not producing a 2" group at 10yds the problem is the shooter, not the gun.

I've owned numerous J frames over the years, always qual'd with them on the duty pistol course of fire (3-25yds). The guns will do it, you just have to be able to squeeze it out of them.
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Old June 22, 2015, 06:48 PM   #6
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Mike,


A snub will hurt the feelings of most shooters. They think that they are accurate and good but a snub will uncover pretty much anything you are doing wrong and amplify it.

Get some snap caps. Load the cylinder with them. Put a penny on top of the gun and practice dry firing it double action. When you can do a cylinder full w/o the penny falling off you will see your accuracy improve significantly.

That penny will expose every jerk, yank, tug, flaw in your trigger pull.

Edit to add.. the short sight radius also adds to the amplify anything you are doing wrong aspect of shooting.
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Old June 22, 2015, 06:55 PM   #7
Arizona Fusilier
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I've always thought of my J-frame (Bodyguard Airweight) as a 5 yard or less gun, and in that respect I have not been disappointed.

Maybe I need to move that silhouette back some, just to see what happens.
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Old June 22, 2015, 10:04 PM   #8
James K
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Hi, Mike38,

I used to routinely keep all my shots on a body silhouette at 100 yards with a 3" Model 36, shooting DA. I had to hold the base of the front sight above the rear sight notch, but I had little doubt that I could make a BG very uncomfortable with that gun at that range. So I can't buy the idea that hitting with a J-frame is not possible over 7 yards.

Your description fits into a common situation. You fired at 5 and 7 yards (at least 15 shots) and then moved to 10 yards. Depending on the ammo, even 10 rounds can have enough recoil in a small gun to cause flinching and loss of fine accuracy. Might I suggest that the next time you start at 10 yards; I think you will see some improvement.

Jim
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Old June 22, 2015, 10:19 PM   #9
Bill DeShivs
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I agree with James K. One of the most accurate guns I ever shot was a model 60.
The guns are inherently accurate, but most shooters can't shoot them well.
Either they have heard that short barrels aren't accurate and don't expect them to be, or they are just too lazy to practice. Most 2" S&W revolvers should be capable of shooting a 4" group at 25 yards. Can you?
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Old June 22, 2015, 11:29 PM   #10
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My J-frame (642 - DA only - 1-5/8") seems to be capable of roughly 3" groups at 15 yards.

I, however, can't do the same.

In my hands, with aimed slow fire, it'll do about 9 inches at 15 yards (typically 20 rounds).
In rapid fire, just using the 'boat rudder' front sight as a directional guide, I can keep everything inside bad guy center of mass.
At 7 yards, rapid fire is about 9 inches, or so (again, typically 20 rounds).

And that's about all that matters to me - good enough to stay on target at 15 yards or less.

I'm not a marksman with any of my handguns, and the J-frame is only beaten by my derringers for the last things that I care to try to squeeze more accuracy from. They weren't designed for precision target shooting. Rather, they were designed for "up close and personal" use. And, in that regard, the J-frame is more than adequate. (My derringers, on the other hand, have some reliability issues to overcome....)
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Old June 23, 2015, 06:53 AM   #11
Mike38
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Quote:
Might I suggest that the next time you start at 10 yards; I think you will see some improvement.
I will give that a try, thanks.

When I switched to my Beretta I noticed the difference in feel. To me the switch seemed like going to a pellet gun, near zero recoil. I need to shoot the revolver more I guess.
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Old June 23, 2015, 07:23 AM   #12
Steve in PA
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I qualify out to 25 yards with my 642.
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Old June 23, 2015, 07:33 AM   #13
Wishoot
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Snubs are awesome, but humbling to shoot for even the best pistol/auto shooters.

No doubt, snubby's require more practice and patience than other pistols or revolvers.
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Old June 23, 2015, 08:00 AM   #14
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Like any other gun, the J Frame Smiths are limited by the shooter's ability to shoot it and the amount of "good" practice with it.

Granted the shorter barrel, shorter sight radius requires practice.

But long range revolver shooting is not the purpose of the J Frames. Its a self defense revolver. Since a huge majority of self defense situations occur in 5-6 feet its well suited for that purpose.

It's only moving part you have to deal with is the trigger, no safeties to forget to disengage in a stressful panic situation, just pull the trigger.

I've been to tons of pistol matches where one draws his gun, tries to fire and then has to search for the safety to get it to go off.

Easy and light for concealment, and face it, you are going to be carrying it a lot more then shooting it.

The hammer less version can be fired from the coat pocket without hanging up or jamming.

Its not a Bowling pin gun of course, and limited to 5 rounds its not really the best for USPSA matches.

But if one learns to use it, the little J Frames make excellent camp guns. Not really that hard to pick up a rabbit for the pot at 15 or so yards. And being small, its in you pocket and not hanging on the pack when you're setting up camp and get a chance to pop a rabbit for the pot.

Main thing I like about mine is its always with me, I popped a coyote trying to steal my chickens as I stepped out of the shop. Got a few rattlers in the yard (one under my back steps). Even available when I had to put a horse down.

In all the above cases if I carried a full size revolver or pistol I'd had to hunt it up in which case the opportunity would have been lost.

Again its not the best gun for everything, no gun it, but for its purpose its excellent.
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Old June 23, 2015, 08:52 AM   #15
Dave Chuppa
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It took me some time but, with live and dry fire practice I can shoot accurately at self Defence distance. I practice point shooting out to about 10' and using the sights out to 30'. When I get to shoot outside I will try longer shots.
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Old June 23, 2015, 10:50 AM   #16
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It's smith and wesson

The mechanics of the gun are perfection. The small size requires skill and practice to wring the most out of.
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Old June 23, 2015, 11:03 AM   #17
Salmoneye
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You may be experiencing something that you do not see when you shoot your Beretta...

Lots of these wheels out there under a Google search for "shooting chart":



Some are more or less detailed than this one...
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Old June 23, 2015, 04:12 PM   #18
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The J frame will challenge shooters. Grip, sight picture, and above all trigger control become more critical. It's capable of more accuracy than many people are willing to work towards. Most will simply say that it's only good to 3 (or 5, or 7) yards and quit there, never achieving it's full potential, nor theirs.
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Old June 23, 2015, 04:26 PM   #19
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Good grips can make a huge difference.
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Old June 23, 2015, 05:29 PM   #20
wpsdlrg
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I shoot my 1 7/8" barreled j-frame at 10 yards, regularly. I have no trouble in keeping the groups inside a 4" ring (usually a 3" ring, actually). I shoot my 3" barreled K-frames at 10, 15 and even 25 yards. At 10 yards, I can do 2" or smaller groups with breaking a sweat.

It's YOU. j-frame snubbies are hard to shoot well (like any gun with a short sight radius)....but it can be done.
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Old June 23, 2015, 06:18 PM   #21
Mike38
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Quote:
Good grips can make a huge difference.
Those I did change before even taking it to the range. It had some nice, but feminine, pink and purple laminate wood grips, way too small for my hand. I put on a set of Uncle Mike’s grips that increase the width and depth, which helps I’m sure. Now if I can just get over the words “Lady Smith” engraved on the side, it will be all good. But hey, it was my Mom’s. I’m sure she’s happy I have it.
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Old June 23, 2015, 07:00 PM   #22
Super Sneaky Steve
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Bob Munden proved that J-frames are no good past 7 yards.
https://youtu.be/Tied-t1fFsk
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Old June 23, 2015, 07:06 PM   #23
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Quote:
The mechanics of the gun are perfection.
Please feel free to explain what that means to those of us who find your statement ambiguous.
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Old June 23, 2015, 07:36 PM   #24
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Quote:
Please feel free to explain what that means to those of us who find your statement ambiguous.
I think he means that.....
it's the indian, not the bow!
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Old June 23, 2015, 07:46 PM   #25
HighValleyRanch
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Also, many shooters do not understand the difference between a triangular and parallel shot error.
With a short barrel and short sight radius, the triangular error becomes extremely critical. Because of this, the groups may become more opened up as the distance increases.

Explanation:
Triangular error is an error in sight alignment.
Parallel error means that sight alignment is perfect or good, but sight picture is off.

Error in sight picture, but good sight alignment means that the margin of error is smaller as the triangle is not as large as the distance increases.

But a sight alignment error is magnified as distance increases.

That is why sight alignment (the mantra of focus on the front sight) is more critical than sight picture. As explained to me one by the top bullseye shooters in the Country, Bob Chow.
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