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Old June 23, 2018, 12:06 AM   #1
Departed402
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Semi-auto guy wandering in

I have been considering buying a revolver for a few months now. I feel I should mention that up until now I have been exclusively a semi-automatic owner. For what's it's worth, I'm a Glock armorer, an LE firearms instructor, and a relatively younger guy (almost 30). I say all that to illustrate that I'm not new to firearms, just revolvers. The age of the service revolver was long gone by the time I came around. Heck, even as a kid the first handgun I remember my father carrying to work was a Beretta 92. Despite this, I spend a fair amount of my free time reading about revolvers, and just admiring photos of them. I would like to become proficient with revolvers for my personal enjoyment, and also to widen my knowledge in regard to being a handgun instructor.

Cutting to the chase, I've decided my first revolver(s) will have to be Smith & Wessons. Sorry Ruger fans, but with the exception of their GP100s, Ruger's revolvers are just not as handsome. So Smiths then. I have some family and friends that own various revolvers, and I have some experience shooting them. I've read enough about Smith & Wesson to understand the controversy over new vs old, internal locks, recessed cylinders, pinned barrels, and the importance of thoroughly checking for quality before leaving the gun store. I'm leaning towards eventually buying at least two revolvers, a J Frame in .38 Special (probably an airweight) and either a K or L Frame in .357 Magnum. The intent with the J frame would be occasional concealed carry, and the larger gun for general revolver training, and winter or special event carry.

That's where I'm at in this process, and what I'm looking for is input from experienced revolver owners. I would like to avoid any common pitfalls of new revolver owners, and perhaps glean some knowledge that a person generally only obtains through experience. What should I be aware of, and what surprises have you run to?
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Old June 23, 2018, 12:44 AM   #2
SonOfScubaDiver
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It's a different kind of shooting. I took to the semi-auto fairly quickly. A few trips to the range and I was killin da hell outta that paper with the semis. I got an SP101 and had to learn how to shoot again. The aiming was different. The trigger weight was different. The feel was different. The whole experience was different. Yup, it's a different kind of shooting. I like my revolvers more than my semi-autos, but I still shoot the semi-autos better.
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Old June 23, 2018, 12:57 AM   #3
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Most of my surprises won't be valid for you. Availability of holsters for old revolvers from Charter Arms, well now you have plenty online that will fit. Finding local .38 that isn't +P. Again, not an issue online and anything new can handle +P.

I find that everything else that might have been a surprise has long grown comfortable now.
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Old June 23, 2018, 01:21 AM   #4
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Don't overlook an N-frame 357, I have two 8 shot 627's (an older V-comp and a Pro series) excellent revolvers.
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Old June 23, 2018, 02:56 AM   #5
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Based on your admiration of the platform and interest in history, a six-shot K-frame might not be a bad idea. Getting an older used one would be valuable in that respect and will also let you avoid the dreaded ILS. I see a lot more of these on the market in .38 special but is that a bad thing? Besides just having a nice wheel gun, do a little more to flesh out what you'll want to do with this gun.

That said, looks be darned. For the size and weight class, the LCR is just too good to pass up. Even if the modern J-frames didn't have the lock hole, I'd still choose the LCR for carry, "occasional" or otherwise. They draw smoothly from a pocket holster and they are more comfortable to shoot than their lightweight J-frame counterparts.
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Old June 23, 2018, 07:35 AM   #6
tallball
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A revolver with a really nice trigger, good sights, and a long sight radius is easy to shoot and the adjustment would be NBD.

A short-barreled revolver with tiny sights and a stiff trigger is very challenging to shoot well.

I've owned quite a few snubbies. Hammerless is clearly superior for CC, imho. The best I've owned and shot is the Ruger LCR.

For the range or plinking or hunting or whatever, something with a 6" or longer barrel and the aforementioned good sights and trigger is what you want. The Ruger Blackhawks are my favorites; I like single-action revolvers. I have some very nice S&W DA revolvers as well. IMHO, the particular revolver itself, and the smoothness or non smoothness of its trigger is more important than what particular model you get.
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Old June 23, 2018, 07:36 AM   #7
walnut1704
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A K-frame S&W would be the most popular, and for a good reason. If you want to shoot a lot of Magnums I'd get at least an L frame.

I'd recommend adjustable sights. The .38/.357 has quite a spread of bullet weights. I've used everything from 95 gr to 200 gr. POI changes considerably. Throw in the wide power range and it gets worse. You don't usually have that kind of spread with the 9mm and other semi-auto chamberings. Fixed sight guns are usually regulated for 158 gr loads.

My favorites are 6" K and N frame, but the 6" these days seem to be less popular than the 4".
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Old June 23, 2018, 08:47 AM   #8
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I'd start with the K or L frame .357 and start by shooting a bunch of .38 Specials to get used to it. Shooting single action should be easier than shooting a semi-auto as the trigger is light and the sights should be as good as or better than you're used to. Shooting double action is a little harder since the trigger pull is much longer and usually around 10 to 12 pounds from the factory. Dryfire practice will help with the double action trigger pull tremendously.

New vs old is kind of a personal decision. Used is generally cheaper however trying to find any NIB pinned and recessed S&W is going to run at least hundreds more than a brand new gun. Buying a used shooter will be he best value but you should inspect it in person and make sure it hasn't been abused. The new guns are generally a quality product and you have the benefit of the factory warranty if there is anything wrong. People almost universally hate the lock but you don't see it when shooting. I avoided new guns from them for years but there's a wide variety of guns that are much easier find new vs used.
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Old June 23, 2018, 08:50 AM   #9
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We've owned a pre-lock S&W model 60 .357 for probably 30 years now. Could be 40, as time passes quickly, and I no longer keep count. It's basically been the gun, my wife always takes to the range, in addition to her semi-autos.


But yesterday, after comparing the "airweights", she went with the Ruger LCR .38 Special. I had bought one, and she decided she liked it. However, it was her choice at the gun shop. I think the LCR is an amazing package, for small light snub nose, it is. Mine is the exposed hammer, hers is the shrouded.


As to the longer barrel stuff, we still have a lot of variations around. These Rugers are just something new to us.
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Old June 23, 2018, 09:04 AM   #10
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Sounds like a plan ... I was a revolver guy from back in the day ..... I'm now a Glock guy ...
But I still have and carry revolvers on occasion.. I lean toward Rugers .. But Smiths are great also ..., I owned once upon time a S&W 686 7 shot with a 4 inch barrel .. I liked it...

686 4 inch barrel and a 642 .. Thats my suggestion
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Old June 23, 2018, 10:19 AM   #11
buck460XVR
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Sounds like you've done your homework. Like others, I would suggest sticking with a L-Frame for magnum use. I have them in 4", 5" and 6" and they all have their place. For range use the 6" outshines the others, ease of handling and carrying in a holster, the 4", but I prefer the 5".

In the J-Frames, the steel ones are nicer to shoot, but can get heavy in your pocket. I have a Airweight 637 that I EDC. Never have felt undergunned. The DA trigger in such a snubbie takes practice to become accurate, more so than short barreled bottom feeders. Don't become frustrated if at first your accuracy suffers. Remember, they are meant for SD distance.

Revolvers are a wonderful platform. They, like their semi-auto brothers are not the Holy Grail or the second coming. While many want to make them out as a Art Form, modern revolvers are a tool, and meant to be used as one. The can be exceptionally accurate and pleasant to shoot. Airweights with heavy +p loads can be brutal. Nice thing about 'em is if you reload, you don;t have to chase brass.
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Old June 24, 2018, 11:48 AM   #12
Obambulate
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A K-frame in .38 Special is revolver perfection.
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Old June 24, 2018, 11:52 AM   #13
lee n. field
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Departed402 View Post
I have been considering buying a revolver for a few months now. I feel I should mention that up until now I have been exclusively a semi-automatic owner. For what's it's worth, I'm a Glock armorer, an LE firearms instructor, and a relatively younger guy (almost 30). I say all that to illustrate that I'm not new to firearms, just revolvers. The age of the service revolver was long gone by the time I came around. Heck, even as a kid the first handgun I remember my father carrying to work was a Beretta 92. Despite this, I spend a fair amount of my free time reading about revolvers, and just admiring photos of them. I would like to become proficient with revolvers for my personal enjoyment, and also to widen my knowledge in regard to being a handgun instructor.

Cutting to the chase, I've decided my first revolver(s) will have to be Smith & Wessons. Sorry Ruger fans, but with the exception of their GP100s, Ruger's revolvers are just not as handsome. So Smiths then. I have some family and friends that own various revolvers, and I have some experience shooting them. I've read enough about Smith & Wesson to understand the controversy over new vs old, internal locks, recessed cylinders, pinned barrels, and the importance of thoroughly checking for quality before leaving the gun store. I'm leaning towards eventually buying at least two revolvers, a J Frame in .38 Special (probably an airweight) and either a K or L Frame in .357 Magnum. The intent with the J frame would be occasional concealed carry, and the larger gun for general revolver training, and winter or special event carry.

That's where I'm at in this process, and what I'm looking for is input from experienced revolver owners. I would like to avoid any common pitfalls of new revolver owners, and perhaps glean some knowledge that a person generally only obtains through experience. What should I be aware of, and what surprises have you run to?
I haven't read the rest of the thread yet. If it hasn't been mentioned, read the "Revolver checkout" thread, pinned at the top of the revolver forum.

Quote:
I'm leaning towards eventually buying at least two revolvers, a J Frame in .38 Special (probably an airweight) and either a K or L Frame in .357 Magnum. The intent with the J frame would be occasional concealed carry, and the larger gun for general revolver training, and winter or special event carry.
Hmmm.

Snubby: For lightweight, there's no reason to go with the super light scandium alloy snubs. The inexpensive, "bread and butter" snubby would be the S&W 442 or 642, and isn't much heavier, and is quite carryable.

If I had the money, and nothing else to spend it on, I'd be upgrading to one of these: https://www.smith-wesson.com/firearm...ries-model-640. All steel, slightly longer barrel, better sights, .357 (not that I'd be shooting .357 through it).

Bigger than snubby: go get yourself a 4" Model 19, and enjoy yourself.

Grips -- be prepared for a search, as you work through what works for you. Which may not be factory, and may not be what anyone else likes.

Ditto holsters. Mika, or Desantis Nemesis for pocket carry. A vast array of belt carry options, which you will need to work out for yourself.
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Last edited by lee n. field; June 24, 2018 at 12:47 PM.
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Old June 24, 2018, 11:54 AM   #14
T. O'Heir
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"...It's a different kind of shooting..." Same basics though. Sight picture, breathing and trigger control are the same. So is the revolver fitting your hand being of paramount importance.
"...Ruger's revolvers are just not as handsome..." Far stronger and will fit hands even a regular 'K' frame will not. Otherwise, it's a Ford vs Chevy comparison. Except Rugers are easier to work on due to there being fewer parts that are SS.
Smiths require one special tool to remove the rebound slide spring housing. $20 at Brownell's or you can easily turn one on a lathe. Basically a turned 3/16" rod with a bent end and a wee hole with a slot cut with a saw.
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Old June 24, 2018, 12:56 PM   #15
SIGSHR
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Revolvers are more reloader-friendly if that's a consideration. Easier to retrieve the brass,
case mouth flare not quite as critical.
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Old June 24, 2018, 01:24 PM   #16
Glenn E. Meyer
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If I were buying from scratch, I would buy a 642 and a Model 60 with a 3 inch barrel.

This because my hands like J frames.

I might also suggest a new Model 66.

I like the smaller Smiths but that is an individual hand choice.
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Old June 24, 2018, 01:51 PM   #17
Areoflyer09
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I just went through this myself for my first revolver. I touched GP100s, SP101s, 686s, 60s, 66s, 627s and who knows what I’ve forgotten that I held. I didn’t warm to the Rugers, just didn’t warm up to them very well.

I was set on a 627 Pro. It fit the best of the ones I held. I started lookin around for the best deal as the one I held was at a shop that is seldom reasonably priced. While walking through a gun show I found a Dan Wesson 15-2 6” from the late 70s. It fit as well as the 627 did but was several hundred cheaper. It’s in great shape with minimal wear and came in under budget.

A 627 is still on the list as my favorite of the large Smiths and the 60 my favorite of the J frames.
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Old June 24, 2018, 09:36 PM   #18
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Get a 4" l frame . Thank me later. Ken
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Old June 24, 2018, 11:10 PM   #19
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Might as well throw my 2 cents in as well.
When you're on the firing lines with them, don't forget the double action. I see quite a few younger revolver shooters these days shoot only from single action. I'm not quite sure of all the 'why's', but I suspect they found it to be the easiest way to edge themselves towards smaller groups. Learn them well in DA, then have fun in the SA.
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Old June 25, 2018, 07:51 AM   #20
pete950
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Young man im a 33 year LE veteran and fireamrs instructor started out with the wheel shot and carried many autos. Now going back to my roots the wheel.

Cant go wrong my current carry guns are the Smith 649 in 357 and the airweight 638 for K frames I carry a 3 inch 64.

I love them used them in a few encounters in my early years and still shoot them better than the autos.

You will not be disapointed!
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Old June 25, 2018, 09:25 AM   #21
stinkeypete
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It’s interesting to compare revolvers and semi-autos.

If one is shooting double action, most everyone agrees that semi-autos are vastly superior.

Shooting any decent revolver single action, compared to even the best tuned Glock trigger will be a revelation in what you have been missing.

Where we are at now, my opinion follows the market- semi autos are best for shooting faster. Shooting competition, the 1911 is the gold standard, but if you want a hunting big-bore... the gold standards are big revolvers. There are niches where revolvers compete. They simply rule when it comes to big bore.

To compare the best at the jobs a Glock presently does, I think a nice old S&W does in .38 will keep you interested and inform your shooting.

To experience something at a job a Glock would struggle to do, consider a quality big bore single action revolver.

I think your choice and the thread are spot on. But for your second revolver... maybe consider going big!
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Old June 25, 2018, 10:26 AM   #22
jmstr
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I say you get 3 revolvers- in .357mag:

2" j-frame

4" Model 686+

6- K38 Target Masterpiece for competition [pre 1958 K frame in .38special].
ok- let's keep it boringly modern: PERFORMANCE CENTER® Model 686 Competitor 6" Weighted Barrel

Oh- and, after you scratch that itch, THEN get a 617 10-shot .22lr [unless you want a classic K22 Target masterpiece!].
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Old June 25, 2018, 11:22 AM   #23
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Go for gold and get a RedHawk....in the caliber of your choice. My first one surprised the hell out of me.
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Old June 25, 2018, 03:09 PM   #24
UncleEd
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(QUOTE) If one is shooting double action, most everyone agrees that semi-autos are vastly superior. (UNQUOTE)

That's the funniest statement I've seen in a long time.

And, no, I'm not thinking of Jerry Miculek when I poke at
that statement.
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Old June 25, 2018, 06:15 PM   #25
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Generally speaking a double action only semi auto is useful for shooting garbage cans!
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