Category Archives: revolvers

9mm in Revolvers

#wheelgunwednesday

Reposted from the Snub Noir https://snubnoir.com/ Facebook page.

One of the issues with 9mm in a revolver is that the very characteristic that makes it reliable in autoloaders, its taper, works against it in revolvers. The 9mm cartridge tapers 10/1000ths of an inch over a case length of .500. Its taper gives it a high probability of extracting cleanly from the chamber of an autoloader immediately after firing. However, we don’t want revolver cartridges to extract immediately from the chamber. In fact, we want the exact opposite to happen. If the cases self-extract (move backward) far enough, they bind against the recoil shield. When binding occurs, the friction interferes with cylinder rotation. This is a problem.

The .38 Special, like most 19th Century revolver cartridges is cylindrical (.379) down its entire case length. The taper of the 9mm cartridge allows it to move backward in the chambers much more easily than a cylindrical case will.

Not mine but I like guns with some character and honest wear.

Using moon clips mitigates this to a certain extent because the friction of all the chambers is exerted on the one cartridge that fires. It’s not a guarantee though, it’s ammunition dependent.

Moon clip .45s work pretty well because the .45 ACP has very little taper to it. Its taper is only .003 over the .650 case length, so it’s almost cylindrical like the .38 Special.

Taurus 856 – First Impressions

#wheelgunwednesday

FTC Notice: I purchased the gun and ammo with my own money.

Curious to see if the Quality Control at Taurus has gotten better, I purchased a Taurus 856 recently. I specifically did not buy the Executive Grade because I wanted a two inch snub.

My initial impression is favorable. Its trigger is good; smooth and not excessively heavy. Definitely comparable to my old S&W Model 36 no dash. The machining is good and the sights are much better than the ones on my old Model 36, although that’s not saying much.

The first live fire range session wasn’t extensive but it was good. It shot to the point of aim and grouped as well as could be expected given the lighting conditions at the indoor range I went to.

The first thing I did was to shoot the LAPD Retired Officer Qual as a warmup. Then I shot the same course with the Model 36 as a comparison. They performed comparably.

Next, I shot the 856 at 5, 7, and 15 yards to compare Point of Aim with Point of Impact. The 15 yard Point of Impact was fine. The flyer is from the shot that I fired just as the shooter next to me touched off a round from his Glock 27. Indoor range operators prefer to put two shooters next to each other even when there are only two shooters on a 12 position range. Why this is I have never been able to figure out but it’s a consistent pattern.

Taurus has apparently changed the stainless steel they use. The 856 didn’t get too hot to handle after 25 rounds the way the last stainless Taurus snub I bought 20 years ago did. It was no warmer than the Model 36 at the end of the session.

The rubber stocks were noticeably more comfortable than the splinter grips of the S&W. I’ll be putting a different set of stocks on the 36 for future range work.

HKS speedloaders for the Colt Detective Special (DS-A) fit the 856 fine. So do my Safariland speedloaders but those are quite hard to find now.

The orange safety ring included with the revolver has held up to several hundred snaps in dry practice. This is also an improvement. I destroyed the last one within a few dozen snaps.

There’s a back story on the purchase. During the bioweapon plague, some friends gifted me the funds for a pistol as a birthday present. Originally, the plan was to get a red dot equipped pistol, probably a SCCY. However, I’ve decided to return to my roots so I bought the snub instead since there are plenty of red dot instructors but not many snub instructors actively teaching. I’ll be using the Taurus for the four month Snub Nose Revolvers – Hands-on Shooting Tier of my Patreon page. Link to Patreon page That should be a good test of its durability, accuracy, and handling qualities. Many thanks to my friends for the gun, I’m really enjoying it so far.

So far so good. Next live fire session will be at my gun club so I won’t have anyone touching off rounds next to me and I can test the gun more extensively.

Teaching the Snub Nose Revolver

After a decade long hiatus, I’m back to teaching the snub nose revolver. This time it will be in a virtual format on Patreon. https://www.patreon.com/TacticalProfessor/membership

The Snub Nose Revolvers – Hands-on Shooting Tier is a four month project to develop shooting and gunhandling skills for snub nosed revolvers. It will be based on the principles and techniques of the Snub Nose classes I taught for decades and the two DVDs I made about snubs. Also included will be examples of what went right and wrong in several real life incidents involving snubs.

Each Monday an overview of activities and necessary preparations for the week will be published. Three additional more detailed posts will follow each week. There will be one live fire session each month of no more than 50 rounds. The live fire will be compatible with either indoor or outdoor ranges.

Noted author and former CIA paramilitary operative Ed Lovette, who wrote the original book about the snubby, opined that information about running revolvers in general and snubs in particular is getting harder and harder to come by. I’ve shot snubs in a wide variety of formats, including winning more than two dozen IDPA Championships shooting one. Hopefully, I’ll be able to add a little to the literature and practicum by creating this Tier. I hope that those who own snubs will join my Patreon Tier and grow your skills.

I’m also pleased to announce that I will writing a short skill development shooting exercise for each issue of the Detective Gatzette, the magazine of Snub Noir, the snub aficionados’ organization. https://snubnoir.com/ Snub Noir is a unique group and those who like snubs will find membership useful and enjoyable.

Revolver History – Merwin & Hulbert

#wheelgunwednesday

The Merwin & Hulbert revolvers of the Old West period aren’t very well known today. Forgotten Weapons has an excellent video about them.

The innovative engraving style and extensive use of nickel plating were unique features of their revolvers. Being able to eject the empty cases while keeping unfired rounds to do a tactical reload made them an excellent choice for gunfighting.

The Baldwin Killing (Part I)

Since I’ve been asked several times my opinion about the Baldwin Killing, I’ll address those questions from the perspective of firearms safety only. The incident is a high profile example of a Serious Mistake leading to a Negative Outcome. Such a tragic event bears analysis to see what are the lessons that can be learned to prevent other such incidents, either on a movie set or in our personal lives, in the future.

For those who haven’t read the news lately, actor Alec Baldwin unintentionally discharged a revolver on a movie set last week. https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/alec-baldwin-shooting-halyna-hutchins-latest-b1945263.html The film’s Cinematographer was killed by a single bullet that struck her in the torso and the Director was injured. RIP Ms. Hutchins.

Those who are interested in a legal aspects of the case can find my colleague Andrew Branca’s initial legal analysis on YouTube. https://youtu.be/upDuj8Ec Such an analysis is out of my league, so I will stay in my own lane and confine my comments to safety.

What occurred points out a very simple fact of life:

Firearms, like electricity, are relentlessly unforgiving of the slightest lapse in attention

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One of the slides in the NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting Course states that Ignorance and Carelessness are the causes of firearms accidents.

NRA Training Department

The concept of ‘tolerance stackup’ often applies when an Unintentional Discharge occurs. By this we mean that when Ignorance and Carelessness overlap each other, the possibility of a Negative Outcome dramatically increases. Sadly for Ms. Hutchins, she was downrange when that overlap occurred.

A comment was made on an earlier version of Andrew’s video about the probability that the gun being used was a single action revolver. The commentator noted that the manual of arms of a single action is more complicated than a modern autoloading pistol. The extra steps involved in clearing a single action may have contributed to the discharge. For once, a comment was worth reading. Extra caution needs to be taken when handing firearms that have an unfamiliar and perhaps difficult manual of arms. That’s definitely a lesson that can be taken away from the incident.

There is no standard manual of arms that can be applied across all firearms, even modern ones. For instance, the Ruger LCP has a manual device for locking open the action but it does not lock open automatically. Conversely, the KelTec P-32 and P3AT do not have an external device to lock open the slide and require an empty magazine to do so. Despite the fact that the guns look very similar, they operate differently and require the operator to understand how to work them.

Another comment on the earlier Branca video came from a POlice firearms instructor who said there were at least 11 different firearms safety rules that have to be observed on any firearms range. While a case can be made for that argument, 11 or more rules constitutes a checklist that has to be written down. The need for long lists to be written down, i.e., a checklist, was learned in aviation somewhere around a century ago. While appropriate for range operators, and perhaps the film’s armorer, it’s not compatible with the way the human mind works. A memory aid has to be short, e.g., the Four Rules, or organized as an acronym, e.g., SALUTE.

The Four Rules of Safe Gunhandling are a good memory aid. However, we need to keep in mind that a memory aid is not a full explanation of the concepts being remembered, it is merely a way to jog our memories about what the base concepts are so we can apply them fully. The distinction between checklists, memory aids, and the concepts either are based on is another lesson we can take away from The Baldwin Killing.

“That could never happen to me” thinking is one reason I developed the underlying concepts contained in Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make http://seriousgunownermistakes.com years ago. I didn’t intend it for Hollywood actors but in retrospect, I wish the entire crew of the movie had read it. I’m not trying to be facetious or unkind to Ms. Hutchins’ memory by saying that.

More thoughts about The Baldwin Killing tomorrow.

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3X3X3 – Level One

Three Shots, Three Seconds, Three Yards has been discussed in the context of gunfights since the 1970s. It is the most commonly cited statistic about gunfights.

Practicing to hit the silhouette every time using the 3X3X3 basis is Level One of learning to shoot the drill well. It is a good baseline for entry level shooters and those who have never measured their performance.

Level One – hit a silhouette consistently

Level Two – hit a sheet of paper consistently

Level Three – hit a half sheet of paper consistently

Level Four – hit a quarter sheet of paper consistently

The dry practice drill was discussed in a previous post.

Here’s the live fire version.

When I wrote Real Shootouts of the LAPD, I wasn’t surprised that NYPD Lt. Frank McGee was pretty much on the mark when he first described it. Almost all of the off-duty shootouts fit into that statistic.

A related note is that I fired about 100 .22 Long Rifle rounds through my 317 snub with a standard (8.5 lb) mainspring. There was not one Failure to Fire during the session. Ammunition for my .38 is precious and hard to come by so I used the .22 for demo purposes. For those who think that was cheating, I also shot with my SCCY CPX-2 9mm.

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Dry Practice on the Road

#safetysunday

When traveling, we can still do our dry practice. In fact, it may be more important when traveling than any other time. We’re more vulnerable and lack the underlying knowledge of our surroundings that we have during our usual activities in our home area.

Since we’re not at home, some of our usual safety protocols may not be available to us. For instance, our usual safe practice area is no longer available to us. Also, if our home practice regimen involves using a target that is generally concealed unless we are practicing, that will not be an option.

These limitations mean we have to use alternate safety protocols for our dry practice. Having an Unintentional Discharge in a motel room or in the home of a friend or relative will certainly lead to a Negative Outcome. Anyone who has run a major firearms training facility has stories of clients who had UDs in their motel rooms and the consequences. At the very least, the POlice will become involved to some extent. At worst, someone is killed and the consequences are grave. Having a UD in a friend or relative’s home may not result in POlice involvement but is unlikely to have a positive effect on the relationship.

Some of our home protocols can be modified but still used to some extent. The most important thing to remember is that safety protocols have the same importance when we are on the road as when we are at home.

In terms of the practice area, we want to choose the least dangerous direction for our practice. Depending on the nature of the building’s construction, a bullet resistant wall simply may not be available. In that case, we must choose the direction that is least likely to result in a casualty if a round is fired. A bullet hole in a door that opens out to a brick wall has less consequences than a bullet hole in a guest in an adjoining room. Consider carefully where an errant bullet might go before choosing your practice direction.

Next, use a target. A sheet of paper with a heart drawn on it is a good target for a ‘3 shots in 3 seconds at 3 yards’ Even more about Skill Development practice regimen. Putting a few small spots on it provides targets for precision aiming and trigger practice work.

A few easily carried training aids are useful for ensuring safe practice with a revolver. The first is inert ammunition. Three different types of inert ammunition are easily carried in an 18 round MTM Ammo case. The Ammo Case is itself a part of the safety protocols.

The first training aid is snap caps. Different varieties are available. If the primer pocket isn’t filled, such as with the ST-Action Pro inert ammo, you can fill the pockets in with a hot melt glue gun and trim the excess off. This will protect the firing pin or hammer nose of your revolver. Good snap caps are easily identifiable by their color. A-Zoom has recently started making their snap caps in orange, which are more identifiable when loaded in a blue steel gun than the darker A-Zoom offering. The spring loaded primer type of snap caps have a limited service life and are not recommended for serious practice.

After unloading the revolver, replace the live ammunition with snap caps. Since two objects cannot fit in the same place at the same time, this precludes leaving one live round in the cylinder, which is not an unknown occurrence, as gunowners sometimes discover. After the snap caps have been loaded into the revolver, put the live ammunition in the Ammo Case and count the number of rounds. If the rounds you place in the case are less in number than the capacity of your revolver, the FBI calls that ‘a clue.’

A second training aid is full weight dummies for reloading practice. Snap caps are a good safety aid and for protecting the revolver, however, they usually lack the weight necessary for effective reloading practice. Dummy ammo should be easily identifiable, which is often a problem with homemade dummies. The dummies in the picture were made from Blazer Aluminum cases scrounged from a local indoor range. The bullet noses and cartridge base are colored blue with a Magic Marker for additional visual identification.

The third training aid is fired cases. Reload practice with revolvers should always include getting the empty cases out in addition to reloading with fresh ammo/dummies. A new speedloader manufacturer that was displaying at the SHOT Show years ago failed to consider this in their demonstration. When asked how the empty cases were to be ejected while holding the revolver in one hand and the speedloader in the other, a blank stare was the only answer.

A pistol case is another training aid for practice on the road. The pistol case is for placing the pistol in after the practice session has been finished and the gun reloaded.

The sequence for finishing the session is:

  1. Declare out loud “This session is finished.”
  2. Take the target down.
  3. Remove whatever snap caps/dummies/fired cases are in the gun.
  4. Set the gun down completely empty.
  5. Again, declare out loud “This session is finished.”
  6. Load the pistol with live ammunition.
  7. Place the loaded pistol in the pistol case. The case does not have to be complete zipped but should be at least partially. This is a visual and situational indicator that the gun is loaded and not available for practice.
  8. Do something else to remove dry practice from your thoughts.

Reading something dry and difficult is a good way to remove dry practice from your thoughts.

Keeping an awareness of safety in mind allows us to maintain our proficiency on the road without menacing innocent people around us.

The circumstances of Unintentional Discharges at home are covered as the third Section of Real Shootouts of the LAPD. Off-duty Officer Involved Shootings and Officer Involved Animal Shootings are the first two. If you would like to purchase the book, click on the cover below.

Positive people are a joy to be around

#mindsetmonday

Saturday, I went to a range dedication. Without going into a lot of detail, Corky’s Day, which was the inaugural event for the Hamilton Steel Range in Dahlonega, was a great example to me of how nice it is to be in the company of positive people. In the troubled times that are coming, we all will need to surround ourselves with positive people as much as possible.

The rest is on my Patreon page for Public viewing.

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Helping or hurting your case

The justifiability of this shooting will be determined in the courtroom. However, it’s fairly safe to say that not reporting a shooting/killing to the POlice and subsequently tampering with evidence, i.e., throwing the spent shell casings in the dumpster and concealing the revolver, is unlikely to help your case.

Win, Lose, or Draw; the cost of this killing will be high, both psychologically and financially.

https://www.wiscnews.com/baraboonewsrepublic/news/local/crime-and-courts/woman-accused-of-homicide-tells-sauk-county-investigators-she-acted-in-self-defense-during-sex/article_60167eb2-b368-5cd6-8d0a-93c264bbf957.html

Also, the optics of two shots to the back of the head are not good.

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Dry Practice Safety – Part II

#fridayfundamentals

The LAPD Categorical Use Of Force report about the UD of a snub revolver http://www.lapdonline.org/assets/pdf/040-19%20PR%20(NTUD).pdf generated a fair amount of interest. Here’s a follow-on idea.

These three Lessons To Be Learned From The Incident were mentioned last time.

  • While we sometimes have to perform administrative functions with our guns, those administrative actions should mimic our actual handling and firing procedures, whenever possible. In this case, ejecting the rounds straight down as if getting ready to reload would be a better procedure.
  • Count the rounds when they come out of the revolver. You should be aware how many chambers your revolver has. Five chambers but only four rounds indicates a problem. Note that a nickel plated single round in the cylinder of a stainless or anodized revolver is not necessarily immediately obvious. By counting the rounds and then carefully examining the cylinder, the chances of a round remaining in a chamber is mitigated.
  • Dummy ammunition not only protects the firing pin, hammer nose, or striker of a handgun during dry practice, it also provides an additional layer of safety during the practice session. If a visually identifiable dummy is in the chamber(s), then a live round cannot be. This is also physics. Dummies are available from A-Zoom and ST Action Pro. They can be found on Amazon or better gun stores.

Keeping a speedloader filled with dummy rounds accessible allows you to accomplish all three of these tasks. You could do the same thing with a Speed Strip, pouch, or loops.

J box dummies arrow

  1. Put your speedloader where you might carry it. If you don’t habitually carry a speedloader for your reload, just put it in your pocket.
  2. Eject the live rounds from your revolver on the ground.
  3. Reload with the dummies using the speedloader.
  4. Holster your revolver.
  5. Put the live rounds in the speedloader and secure it with your other live ammunition.
  6. Go to your dry practice area, which is a place where there is no live ammunition.
  7. When you have finished your dry practice, put your revolver away without reloading it.
  8. Do something else to remove dry practice from your thoughts.
  9. When dry practice is distant from your thoughts, reverse the reloading process and reload your revolver with the live ammunition. Replace the dummy rounds in the speedloader. This gives you a reminder that your revolver is now loaded with live ammunition.
  10. Put your revolver away or immediately exit your home to preclude the last repetition that makes a loud noise.

Using this procedure helps protect you, your gun, and gets in two good reloading repetitions.

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