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Old December 9, 2019, 06:58 PM   #1
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What is your testing process for a carry gun?

I searched the forum and surprisingly couldn't find a thread on this, probably my bad search-fu.

So you buy a cool new (or new to you) revolver for concealed carry. What is your process for testing the gun and what does it need to accomplish for you trust it enough to bet your life on it?
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Old December 9, 2019, 07:38 PM   #2
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I just run mine through several drills repeatedly for about 3 or 4 sessions, First Shot, Bill Drill, el prez, etc.... all from concealment. I don't put a specific number on how many rounds as a number, but it's probably in between 500-700 range ammo and about 200 SD rounds. I have my own land so I'm able to do drills at night in pitch black so changing mags in the dark is a must and doing it with the non dominant hand is a must in case my dominant hand is injured. The last session I do before I give it the stamp of approval is done with all SD ammo.

Even with a revolver it is the same thing with a bunch of speed loaders... not as many rounds as a semi. It has to function with all the drills and has to be able to be fired one handed... even the 460. I always wonder how many people shoot heavy rounds one handed... it is quite miserable. lol

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Old December 9, 2019, 11:55 PM   #3
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If it performs as expected through about 48 hours (6 days) of training classes, that would be a good start. I might tweak some things like grips, holster, cartridge details, sights as I'm getting familiar with it. After another 48 hours in classes, I would consider it well-proven. I would also practice between classes. I won't characterize practice by hours because I don't go at the same pace that is expected from classes.

One would not ordinary expect a revolver to fail, but I have had one revolver fail during practice. That one is completely out of consideration for carry. "Testing" during classes and practice has mostly refined my choices or simply proven them worthy of confidence. For example, in one class, I found the grips I had chosen blistered my fingers. The finger grooves didn't fit. It's not the kind of failure that I would regret having on my carry gun, but I switched grips when I got home. The replacements seemed better in practice, but they were really put to the test at the next class. In another case, I tried a new sight. It did well in one class, but I didn't fully appreciate it until I took it off and went back to factory sight. Again, the factory sight probably wasn't going to get me killed, but having been through a class with it and with another cemented my preference, and it was later confirmed in subsequent practice and another class.

I've used various holsters. Some of them can certainly be expected to perform well, but do not conceal so well. The holster I use for carry conceals well, but I didn't initially have a lot of confidence in it. My confidence has been built up in the course of actually carrying with it, practicing with it, and taking a multi-day class with it where I drew from concealment hundreds of times. I don't have any practical doubts about it anymore. It could have some shortcoming when rolling around on the ground in a fight or something. I do not have a good opportunity to test that kind of thing. Retention is fine, but could I access it? It is a good idea to test your holster, as it is just as important in use and probably more likely to fail than the revolver. How far you go in testing is up to you.

As far as testing ammo, I depend on manufacturers to test things like terminal ballistics. I only test reliable function in my gun, which is quite simple with revolvers that don't need to feed, and I test that I'm getting the velocity that is needed to obtain the results that were intended by the manufacturer. This is primarily a concern when shooting a very short barrel which I've gone away from.

After practice, several days of classes and more practice, I have a pretty good idea of what I can expect from a gun and what might be missing. I recommend at least one revolver-specific class because you will both get instruction specific to the unique demands of revolvers and also see classmates using different revolvers. You will almost certainly see either something that is working better than what you're doing or someone making a mistake in their equipment that you'll learn to avoid.
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Old December 10, 2019, 08:55 AM   #4
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Thank you for the insightful comments gentlemen. You make some interesting points to consider.
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Old December 10, 2019, 09:40 AM   #5
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DMK, For a revolver, I'll:

1st pick my SD ammo and buy several boxes of same the lot and measure the case length and diameter at pressure rings.

Next I'll check the double action trigger for a couple of cylinder loads to "feel" timing.
Then single action trigger for a couple of cylinder loads to "feel" lock-up and timing.
and try to short pull it single action to see if I can get it to jam or fire short.
I'll do this on a target that I can get a good sight plane to check to see if it shoots to POA.

If it passes, I'll measure the fired cases both length and diameter again looking of an odd cylinder size. I'll inspect the forcing cone for out of time shots.

If all still good, I'll clean it and do a little double and single action plinking fun, but keeping 2+ boxes of that SD ammo.

After that, I'll get a set of dies, if I don't already have a set, and begin reloading for a practice and target reload that will shoot to same POI as SD ammo. I'll do this on the same targets I tested the SD ammo.
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Old December 10, 2019, 09:45 AM   #6
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A revolver doesn't really require much. Unlike a semi-auto that has a more complicated operation.
Take it to the range, run a box of ammo through it, see if you can shoot it with reasonable accuracy. That you can usually determine with less than a box of ammo.
With a semi-auto I generally run a hundred rounds of "shake down" with range ammo. Then, after 100 trouble free frouns, I put another 50 of my chosen defensive ammo.
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Old December 10, 2019, 01:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
So you buy a cool new (or new to you) revolver for concealed carry. What is your process for testing the gun and what does it need to accomplish for you trust it enough to bet your life on it?
I shoot it, with the ammo I intend to use, enough to determine where it hits and that it is close enough to point of aim to satisfy me.

No mechanical issues, and for me, its good to go. Sometimes, I might even shoot a whole box of ammo, but usually not. Good defense ammo, store bought, is spendy.
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Old December 10, 2019, 05:27 PM   #8
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With a revolver, for me, a box or two of ammo is a priority. Then the REAL test; with snap caps, I'll run it through a couple episodes of Bonanza. I figure if I can beat Little Joe and cap the bad guys before he can, the gun passes the test!


Nick Barkley on the Big Valley is out of my league, way too fast. Marshall Dillion on Gunsmoke? Nope, he is too fast as well. "A man's got to know his limitations"
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Old December 10, 2019, 07:04 PM   #9
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I carry a 686 with a 3" barrel and purchased a model 617 SW as my understudy for my 686. I practice first by shooting a couple of hundred rounds of 22lr with my 617 from 5 to 25 yards and all shooting is done double action. Than I shoot a box of .357 last, of the ammo I use with my carry weapon. For me I find practicing these way by using 22lr keeps me more proficient and cheaper in the wallet by using rimfire ammo accept for the initial cost of the purchase of a new revolver.

The only time I shoot my revolver single action is when I practice shooting long range at 50 and 100 yards supported and unsupported.
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Old December 10, 2019, 08:37 PM   #10
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I think you have received a lot of good information and from your post, I am assuming you are talking about reliability. IMHO, a revolver is going to be much more "reliable" as far as going bang over a semi-auto - based on my experience only. A semi-auto can have issues with failure to feed, eject, etc. if you haven't put it through the paces to see which ammo works best, etc. I own / have owned a good number of wheel guns over the past 55 years of different makes and can honestly say that I have never had any real "reliability" issues with any of them. Follow the suggestions above and you'll be fine. "Learn" your pistil - how it works - how it shoots - and practice practice, practice.

The mechanics of the revolver are one thing - carrying it is another I have never been able to carry andy handgun IWB - just isn't comfortable. I retired so I usually dress casual and I carry OWB - shirt tail or jacket over it normally. I have carried J frame snubs, K frame 4", Rugers, Colts, etc. I mention these things because the "re;oabo;otuy"l is only part of it. Find out what works best for you for your pistol as far as a good holster, how you carry and practice drawing (with the pistol unloaded) until you are comfortable with that was well.

Just make sure you aren[t ike some folks who get a handgun, get certified for carry and then neglect to practice shooting it on a regular basis with your carry ammo. If you don't practice on a regular basis, the handgun may be 150% reliable but you . . . not so much. :-)

Good luck, be safe and enjoy.
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Old December 10, 2019, 09:18 PM   #11
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My "testing process" or "requirements for carry" for any firearm is simple:

1. Reliability
2. Accuracy
3. Penetration

In that order.
I really don't put that much stock in caliber nor high capacity...although having more than one round is a plus.
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Old December 10, 2019, 09:53 PM   #12
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About what 44 Amp does. Shoot a few rounds, make sure it shoots where I want and everything that is supposed to work does.
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Old December 10, 2019, 10:00 PM   #13
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I know my expectations for similar firearms in the given caliber, particularly as it relates to the ballistics.

I test operation with a few hundred rounds for reliability and the ergonomics/aesthetics I prefer/appreciate and if the weapon meets or exceeds my requirements.

If it meets to my standards it gets put into service.
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Old December 11, 2019, 12:49 AM   #14
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You see, there's the "official" policy, the mental stuff, and the good stuff. The official policy is at least see whether it shoots to point of aim with your carry ammo, check group size with your carry ammo and see if it likes the practice ammo / reloads I have on hand.

The mental stuff is I go back and forth and seeing if it was actually "better" than the other pistols I have. I come home frustrated after a few range trips until I learn the ins and outs, and once again surprise surprise it was all about discovering, experimenting, and mindful practice. (AKA the gun was fine in most cases)

The good stuff is what happens in between. Disassembling and cleaning it while watching something on the computer on a peaceful late night, even though it's not really that dirty. Dry firing to learn the trigger while wondering if my wife/kids are asleep or if it will bother them. Finding the most comfortable grip that keeps my sights aligned through a trigger pull. Finding how much trigger finger to use for optimal trigger pull. Comparing physical dimensions to my other pistols. Wiping and re-oiling it again although it doesn't need it. Resisting the urge to polish internals.

Tell me you don't do some of that stuff, I dare you!
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Old December 11, 2019, 12:57 AM   #15
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Well, yes dyl. What I do might be similar as that which you illustrate but what you describe sounds more like outright masturbation, lol.

Put your gear in the locker, take a deep breath, and know that they'll still be there after you've associated with humans for a few hours!
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Old December 11, 2019, 01:36 AM   #16
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Put your gear in the locker, take a deep breath, and know that they'll still be there after you've associated with humans for a few hours!
Why? l like my guns better than I like most humans, and I think they like me, too...

well, the ones that don't jam do,,,

I think...

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Old December 11, 2019, 06:58 AM   #17
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I'm a pretty recent immigrant to Revolver Land, but it seems there are far fewer things to test than with a semi-auto, especially with regard to ammo selection. SAs need to worry about feeding issues due to bullet shape. Some models are prone to jams with certain brands or styles of ammo (like the rubber tips on some Hornady bullets). Seems a revolver cylinder either turns properly or it doesn't.

I've never seen the need for running high ammo volumes through any gun before considering it reliable. A few hundred rounds are fine for me, plus a box of self defense ammo for feeding purposes. Those few hundred rounds are spent just getting familiar with a new gun and having fun with it.
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Old December 11, 2019, 08:23 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMK View Post
I searched the forum and surprisingly couldn't find a thread on this, probably my bad search-fu.

So you buy a cool new (or new to you) revolver for concealed carry. What is your process for testing the gun and what does it need to accomplish for you trust it enough to bet your life on it?
Shoot it a bunch. Did it give you any problem? Can I hit what I shoot at? Are you comfortable with how well it works for you? Then get a proper holster and carry it.
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Old December 11, 2019, 10:42 AM   #19
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Tell me you don't do some of that stuff, I dare you!
Dyl, I'm admitting to nothing, but some of what your post describes does sound very comfortable and familiar. LOL.
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Old December 11, 2019, 11:44 AM   #20
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I'm a pretty recent immigrant to Revolver Land,.... SAs need to worry about feeding issues due to bullet shape.
Welcome, and let me give you a heads up on the "local lingo".. among revolver shooters, "SA" is always taken to mean "Single Action" revolvers, not semi-auto. "SAA" refers to the Colt Single Action Army, (and clones, sometimes) the classic "model P", aka Peacemaker, the one introduced in 1873.

So, to the Revolver guys, "SAs" NEVER need worry about feeding issues, since they are fed, one round at a time, by hand, into the cylinder.

Different crowd, different application of the abbreviation.
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Old December 11, 2019, 01:46 PM   #21
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Shoot with different ammo to test reliability
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Old December 11, 2019, 02:06 PM   #22
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"...your carry ammo..." Needs to be "tested" in that particular firearm. Or you need to work up a load for that particular firearm. Said firearm needs to fit your hand first and foremost. Ammo selection matters with any firearm, not just handguns.
Then you go shoot it and see if you like it. Then think about a holster and if the thing is going to be comfortable lugging around.
However, very few new handguns require any kind of "testing" prior to use. The only thing that you need do is decide how the thing feels in your hand.
The rubber tips(that aren't rubber) on Hornady FTX bullets are there for using the bullet in lever action rifle tube mags. Nothing to do with feeding in pistols as they're not made for handguns.
"...feeding issues due to bullet shape...." Rarely, if ever, does the bullet shape matter with a pistol. Lots of pistols have no problem feeding SWC's. Feeding issues are usually magazine related. A pistol does need to be set up to use 'em though. Chamfering the feed ramp primarily. Most new pistols come from the factory with that done.
"...Some models are prone to jams..." Nope. Any firearm put on the market that doesn't work reliably, would soon be off the market.
"...target reload that will shoot to same POI as SD ammo..." Target loads will not do that due to the differences in velocities.
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Old December 11, 2019, 02:23 PM   #23
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For revolvers, I'll try four or five cylinders of typical range fodder and then a cylinder or two of defensive loads I'm considering. I'm getting used to the gun as much as I'm testing for reliability. So, after a total of about 50 rounds, I'm GTG.
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Old December 11, 2019, 03:35 PM   #24
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Like KyJim, I'm pretty much satisfied after a box of 50, to include my carry loads..... we're talking revolvers here, not bottom feeders!!

But I also get used to speed loader use with the new gun. I have found some that were, if not incompatible, at least contrary. Sometimes it's just a burr on the cylinder mouths, or the cylinder release needs working in, but I have found grips that interfered with the loader...something you'd need to know if you carry a reload.

Beyond that, I give it a good cleaning, then try it with my LSWC practice loads and see if it's going to be a "leader" at forcing cone, or down near the muzzle. A note on this latter: in over 50 years of handgun use, I've yet to own a Smith that continued to lead up after a suitable break-in period with jacketed rounds. A box or two has been all it's ever taken.

If it's role is a carry piece, I strap it on and use only it on my daily chores here on the farm for a month or two...getting used to it...wearing in the trigger, and fiddling with holster position and rechecking the sights. By carrying it daily, and solely, I'm building muscle memory with the gun and its scabard.

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Old December 11, 2019, 03:51 PM   #25
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For me, a minimum of 50 rounds of "range" or "practice" type ammo (LRN, FMJ, SWC, etc.) is first to generally familiarize myself with the gun. If I intend to carry +P ammunition (I do in .38 Special) then another 50 rounds of "value-line" +P ammo like Remington green and white box will be thrown in to familiarize myself with increased recoil impulse and any issues that higher-powered ammo might cause/reveal. If the gun will be carried with magnum ammunition, then the range/practice ammo will be magnums (usually JSP). Finally, one or two cylinders full of my chosen carry ammo to verify POI and, in the case of a lightweight revolver, check for crimp jump.
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