View Full Version : Single action for self-defense

January 15, 2011, 02:52 PM
After shooting, collecting, buying, trying and trading for 20-odd years I've found, what is for me, the perfect carry gun! I've toted a USFA Rodeo .45 in a belly holster for over three years and I have never had a gun that was easier to carry, shoot or conceal in comfort.
I wanted to hear from you, my peers in the interweb, whether any of you carry single action for defense. If so, what and how do you carry? What do you load? Personally, I like Remington's 225gr. LSWC. No wrong answers here. Let's hear from you, fellow thumb-busters!:D

January 15, 2011, 03:29 PM
I carry mine as my CCW gun, on left side up high, loaded with Buffalow Bore
255 SWC 1,000 fps.


January 15, 2011, 03:29 PM
I like my Ruger Motando 3 1/2" with a 255 grain hard cast SWC and 9.2 grains of Unique. For those of us who shoot a lot with a single action revolver there is no better choice as that is what we practice with. I use the two handed grip and cock with off-hand. A dedicated SASS shooter will smoke most anyone with the single action because practice makes perfect and the dummy with the new glock who shoots it up "gangster style" and does not practice on a regular basis will be dead meat against the "cowboy."

January 15, 2011, 03:46 PM
I have a lot of experience in the field of combat tactics from years past, and I still teach classes on demand.
I am not an equipment junkie.
The 1st rule of every gun fight it "HAVE A GUN"!
A single action is just as good for ending a fight today as it was 100 years ago.
It is not my 1st choice because a 1911 or a Springfield XD carries flatter and smaller.
But that is not something that all men would have a problem with.
ANY hit is better then ANY miss.

Comparing guns with a US Force-RECON Marine, or Marine Hunter Killer Team member is interesting, but there are major differences here.

I would NOT choose a single action "cowboy gun" to go into a combat zone with, as my primary weapon.

Do you go there?

If you don't and if you are not in an area where having to fire a lot of rounds is probable I doubt a 1911A1 with all the bells and whistles is really going to be "better" than a SAA colt (or clone thereof.)
Only hits count!

In most confrontations outside of police work and outside war zones, you are not going to fire more then 5 or 6 shots.

Is it possible to get in a protracted gunfight?

If that is a real probability, please go directly to a shotgun or an AR-15 in 6.8 SPC, a 308 battle rifle, or an AK47.

If you have any time to prepare for a fight ALWAYS go to a long arm.

To stop a rape, robbery or mugging, I believe a SAA is going to be just as "good" as any other weapon in similar caliber.

Is a Winchester M-94 in 30-30 as “good” for hunting deer as an FN-FAL?
Ask the deer.

It depends 98% on the hunter. A bad shot and bad hunter is not going to be NEAR as successful armed with an FAL as a good hunter is with the 30-30.

In fact, I bet you can give a scoped FAL with a match barrel and match trigger to a poor hunter, and a flintlock to a good hunter, and the results will still not change much.

Look at how well some men do with only a bow and arrow, compared to some who never get their game armed with the “best” rifles to be had.
It’s always 98% the man and 2% what he’s using.

I know this idea is not the standard teaching of the day. But that doesn’t make me wrong.
Facts will show I am right in most cases. (There are always exceptions where “luck” comes into play.)

I would always choose luck over skill, but I can’t make luck. I can make skill.

If we look at the real world, and if you are not a cop or a military man, you are likely to solve your problem or loose your life within 1-2 or at the most 3 shots.

NO weapon gives you any advantage if you miss, or if you get blindsided and killed before you can shoot.

If you have the right mindset and the training, you are going to have some advantage over the untrained regardless of the weapons used.
If you are not up to the task, no weapon matters.

I used a 1911A1 in years past
I still carry it, or a springfield XD 45.
I would not feel a bit disadvantaged with my old Ruger Super Black hawk in walking around day to day.
If I were to go back to "injun country" I would take my 45 autos and they would be used only AFTER my rifle or shotgun were out of action.

If you can get a more suitable gun for defense, please do so and learn to use it WELL. But if you have a single action, and you can use it WELL, you are “good to go” now.

What carries groceries home from the store better--- a 1968 Ford Mavric, or a 2010 Mercedes Benz sports car?

We may be asking the wrong question…….

One is probably a better car, but both do the job at hand just as well as the other one.

One will be worth more money afterword, but during the drive home to feed the family, would that matter to you?

If you were to need to drive fast over a mountain pass to get to an airport before you missed a fight, and you are now 20 minutes behind schedule I am sure the M.B. would be BETTER.
But if you only drive to the grocery store, it won’t ever matter to you.

If you are not a swat cop and not a military man, I would not feel bad about your SAA as a carry weapon.

January 15, 2011, 03:53 PM

January 15, 2011, 04:08 PM
worked for dennis weaver as mcloud. i wouldn't feel under gunned either.

January 15, 2011, 04:20 PM
Just like I told em brfore, It's not me you have to worry about, it's the dingy
blonde over there with her 1911 on you as we speak.

January 15, 2011, 04:50 PM
See what I mean. I never go anywhere without her.


Jim Watson
January 15, 2011, 05:39 PM
There were a couple of guys here who carried single actions.
One was a reserve deputy and special ordered a basketweave uniform holster for his nickel plated Colt .44 Special. Ammo was to about Skeeter Skelton specs, a 240 at 900, not a Keith 250 at 1200.

The other was partial to a Ruger Blackhawk .45 on his own time. He didn't mind the weight and dressed to conceal it, often in a shoulder holster. He carried a 1911 on duty, though.

Local sheriff was pretty easy going on guns as long as you could qualify.

Both were plenty fast and accurate, giving up little to anybody with DA or auto.

January 15, 2011, 06:19 PM
Three times in my life I have been in situations where use of a gun for personal defense was a high possibility.
On all three occasions I was carrying a Ruger Single Six .22 rimmer. I carried it because that is what I owned.
On all three occasions the mere presence of the firearm and my obvious intention to use it if necessary turned the assailant away.
Answer is yes, but it would be, isn't my suggestion as to the best carry firearm for self defense.

January 15, 2011, 06:22 PM
I carry a 1911 in a shoulder holster when it's chilly, but I wouldn't feel at all uncomfortable with an SAA like yours, kwhi. And I think that Wyosmith is right on.

January 16, 2011, 05:25 PM
Thanks for all the replies so far, keep them coming. The prevalence of the 1911 as the official "better gun to carry" brings up a point, while not sore, starts to itch a little. What's the deal with this new "Wild Bunch" category of competition? Every gunzine out there seems to compete with each other in featuring yet another incarnation of John Browning's classic. I always figured Guns of the Old West would be a safe refuge. No longer! Will this 1911 mania sweep all gundom like Invasion of the Body Snatchers? Say it ain't so!:D

January 17, 2011, 01:03 AM

I carry mine in a Mernickel also, pretty covert with the right shirt or vest.

Magnum Wheel Man
January 17, 2011, 09:24 AM
I have a pair of Ruger Montados... & love the guns... I live a pretty low risk lifestyle, & have been carrying a couple antiques the most lately a S&W # 1.5 spur trigger top break single action in 32 S&W that was shortened to a snubbie long long before I got it, & my "everyday" gun of late a S&W #2 snubbie spur trigger single action top break in 38 S&W

my newest project is a brand new Montado... fitted to a new birdshead stainless grip frame, extractor removed, & barrel is going to be shortened to 2 - 2.5" & the ejector rod "hump" machined off the frame... in essence, a modern, stainless single action CCW 45...

I'll be making my own custom holster... I made one for my 32 S&W with a cylinder "window" which how I built it acts to help hold the revolver in the holster without a retaining strap... I'm going to do the same with my new 45, but I'm putting cylinder window in also to make the package thinner, thinking about doing the same window on the inside, to make the holster as thin as possible... the holsters I make are higher riding, & canted for strong side carry... with the barrel that short, almost none of the holster will stick below my belt, & the birds head grip pulls almost 3/4" off the part of the grip that sticks out...

stainless snubbie in 45 Colt, "relaxed" hammer of the Montado, transfer bar for safe 6 rounds of carry... seems like the perfect carry single action...

January 17, 2011, 08:08 PM
One of my Jacket Carry Guns
AWA 45 Colt Sheriff's Model Holliday Rig

http://i1022.photobucket.com/albums/af341/HAGEN442/th_091.jpg (http://s1022.photobucket.com/albums/af341/HAGEN442/?action=view&current=091.jpg)

January 18, 2011, 10:51 AM
I have no problem carrying a SA revolver as a primary self defense arm. With a bit of training, you can get 6 AIMED shots off pretty well compared to 6 "Oh crap!" shots from a DA.

Because variety is the spice of life, I sometimes rotate a 6.5" Ruger Blackhawk in .357 in a shoulder holster as my daily carry piece. I'm currently designing a 45 degree carry high and tight holster to keep it at around 7-8 o'clock on my belt. I just need to go buy the leather and get on it.

Is it my primary first choice? Not really. It's a big ol' chunk of steel to keep on me for a relatively low risk lifestyle. Most days I carry a strap it on and forget it Ruger LCR at 10-11 o'clock. I'm also one of those new fangled Glock guys that might carry a single stack .45 G36 over the coveted 1911.

That said, I have never felt under gunned carrying just the Blackhawk. My shoulder holster has a dump pouch of ammo on the opposite side. I doubt I would ever need to or be able to reload it quickly enough, but it's not bad to have another 6 shots on me. While situational awareness and training are a huge bulk of the battle, I can't imagine anyone who did not expect a 3lb piece of stainless steel to be drawn would have much more fight left in them if I did my part.

Actually, at the end of the day, if you MADE me pick just one handgun to carry for the rest of my days, a good old .357 with a longish barrel would be my gun of choice. The Blackhawk may not get to go on a ride MOST days, but the days it comes brings a certain warm n' fuzziness to me.

January 19, 2011, 11:07 AM
Thanks for the posts and please send more! It does me good to hear from my fellow thumb busters. We do not follow gunzine trends and choose our arms according to our own dictates. As for carrying a break-top S&W .32, more power to you Magnum Wheel Man! I'd lay better odds on you with your .32 shorts than most of the Walter Mitty types I see at the range.
I was looking to get another .45 Colt SAA as a backup to my Rodeo. As USFA prices are going higher and availability is going lower I'm throwing the floor open to nominations. Any suggestions? Thanks again.

January 19, 2011, 11:16 AM
I've got a couple of Colt New Frontiers. One in 357 magnum with a 5 1/2" bbl and a 7 1/2" bbl 44 spl. Both are great guns and I certainly could carry the shorter tube but my preference is a semi in a Bandara Gun Leather "Beltster" with a spare magazine in my trouser pocket. You may not need to reload but if you do and you've got a single action IME you'll be at a disadvantage. Fun to shoot them though.

Magnum Wheel Man
January 19, 2011, 11:34 AM

the 32... ( the original grips have since been replaced for regular use with a early set of Jay Scott laminate grips, that I had a set of S&W silver medallions installed on ) & a Ostrich leg leather overlay holster I made to fit the custom gun... & yes, it shoots pretty good ;)


my everyday gun... a bit uglier 38 ( a solid gun, is going to get refinished ) in the new "blue denim" holster... BTW... now that it's been sanded down & broken in, it blends perfectly with the jeans I wear...


early in the Montado birdshead snubbie build...


January 19, 2011, 11:54 AM
Powdermonkee, RE: 1911 contamination of other shooting sports. Some of us, CAS/SASS shooters are fighting as hard as we can to keep them out of SASS competition. The governing body say that they are to be used in a totally seperate shooting venue. The ones who favor them are still trying to get them into the cowboy shooting. Makes me want to puke.

January 19, 2011, 11:55 AM
Whooeee! Those are sure some nice aces up your sleeve! Bad guy might think they were toys at first, fatal mistake.

January 19, 2011, 11:59 AM
Thanks for the reply, Noz. I do hope the gamesters don't take over with their increasingly modified "stock" 1911's and their increasingly tricked out "authentic" leather. Don't let what happened to IPSC happen to Cowboy shooting! Think it can't happen? Watch out! It's happening right now.

January 19, 2011, 12:24 PM
"I'm throwing the floor open to nominations. Any suggestions?"Cimarron Thunderer and a Lightning both in 3 1/2"
At 26 1/2 ounces the Lightning in .38 Special would be a nice carry piece.

January 19, 2011, 01:35 PM
Well, if you got the Doc Holliday Thunderer, you could be their huckleberry.

I'm a big admirer of Cimarron's Thunderers.

Powdermonkee, I don't know what to make of the "Wild Bunch" shooting discipline. I'm not a CAS/SASS shooter, but I sure have a feel for what a cowboy gun is. I empathize with Jacob McCandles.

Jim March
January 19, 2011, 03:15 PM
Well I guess I'll post pics of my daily carry freakshow Ruger NewVaq357 again :).


This is my sole centerfire gun, and my daily-carry-without-fail piece.

That's with a homebrew clone of the Goshen Enterprises Hexsite grafted on...what I call the "Goshdarn Hacksite". Funky lookin' or not, it's the best handgun sight I've ever used because you focus on the target instead of the front sight blade. More on this critter here:


Other mods: shaved and round-bottomed grip panels, spring kit, SBH hammer I installed myself and some "psychological warfare" on the ejector rod end :eek:.

Once I went that bonkers in the sights department, custom leather was a must. I ended up inventing a leather setup that holds close to the body like a pancake but also unbuckles from the belt without taking the belt off...plus allows near-unlimited alteration of the ride height and tilt angle by making the belt connection system detachable and adjustable:


It's set up now for a high-ride crossdraw, forward of the hip. [email protected]'s rig is the highest setup conventional holster I've seen in some time but my rig is still higher.

I've had some practice with this piece - here's "my view" of the grip frame, with it in an older version of this holster:


Since I'm in Tucson these days and the whole "heavily armed Christian Conservative" theme is seriously overused in AZ, I went and "bucked the trend" some. Watching lefties suffer a paradigm shift without a clutch on seeing it is worth it :D.

Carry load is DoubleTap Ammo's full-house 357 based on a 125gr Gold Dot slug loaded up past 1,600fps. Same round I once blew up a bowling ball with...I have no doubt it will do a serious hurt if placed right and this gun can do it.

This holster design is copyrighted by me under a Creative Commons "non-commercial attribution" license. In short, this means you can make your own for free; if you publish pics of what you've done refer back to my work as an inspiration and if you want to make them commercially, hit me up for modest licensing fees.

January 19, 2011, 03:17 PM
Hardcase said: "I'm a big admirer of Cimarron Thunderers."

As my daughter so succinctly put it, "Even a 13 y/o can hit targets with this." :)

...and she's doing so quite well. (Yeah, I'm a proud Daddy....):p

January 20, 2011, 04:48 PM
I love the feedback generated by this thread! It's great to hear from free-thinking sorts as yourselves. I've heard the Cimarron Thunderers recommended. Without ready or reasonably-priced supplies of USFA product, I'm thinking Uberti is the way to go.
One question though, with these Italian imports do you use the factory springs or swap them out first thing? If I'm using a gun potentially "for keeps," then I want reliability without fail. Are any other modifications you all might recommend for self defense carry?