Headed to the range this morning with the First World War era Smith & Wesson .32 I-Frame I picked up a few days back to see what it was made of. We've enjoyed some really mild mornings for the past couple of weeks with a noticeable absence of summer heat.
It shot pretty well. I squared off 10 yards from a target and fired some single action groups using Aguila 98 grain lead round nose factory loads. The round butt grip frame is small and the grip panels are thin and slick. I find it a bit of a chore to grasp really small handguns. When shooting it I seem to have a tenancy to throw a shot out of a cylinder-full of ammo similar to when I shoot a round butt J-Frame. It took several cylinders-full of ammo to obtain a group that didn't have a flier "off towards Jones's". Shooting the gun reminds me of a 4-inch Smith & Wesson Model 34 .22 Kit Gun I once had, not seeming to recoil any more than the rim fire revolver. It shot just a smidgen to the left and low for most groups when using the Aguila ammunition. I imagine it'd do for rolling cans out to 25 yards once one got used to where to hold. It'd also do to roll midnight varmints in the back yard or chicken coop when employed with a decent flashlight.
Sights are minuscule as is typical of fixed sighted handguns of the era. A mere "scratch" of a U-notch and a razor thin half-moon front sight represent state of the art for 1918. Since the sunlight was bright and the sights' blue finish was deep I managed pretty well against a bullseye target. Combine a little finish wear down to bright metal with less than perfect light and accurate shooting at any distance will become tricky.
Six shots, single action group at 10 yards
I moved in to 7 yards to shoot the revolver double action. This would be on the outside edge of the distance that I would foresee using the revolver for self-defense; just a little more than a car length. I fired it rhythmically and deliberately. In a self defense situation perhaps one would fire follow up shots more rapidly and enthusiastically than I chose to do. I just wanted to get a feel for the revolver when employed DA. I'm no world class DA revolver shooter and after seeing the group I pronounced it "good enough." Again, it shot a little bit low for me. I only fired a single cylinder-full double action as I don't want to make a habit of subjecting the cylinder notches to battering by the locking bolt with rapid DA shooting. I don't have any intentions of utilizing this revolver for serious self defense and besides, its not really much different than using a J-Frame in double action mode. The lack of recoil makes it very controllable though the grips are small. It'd certainly be capable of tickling the rib cage of an assailant at self defense ranges. One could fire a couple of rapid fire shots, holding the remainder in reserve if one desired.
Six shots, double action group at 7 yards
I shot up a box of 50 of the Aguila and the revolver scrubbed right up with no appreciable leading observed after a basic wet patch swabbing followed by a bronze brush. This may indicate a decent lead alloy and adequate lube on the part of Aguila along with the bonus of a perfect and sparkling bore of a revolver that managed to avoid the ravages of the corrosive priming of the era of its manufacture.
I think the old revolver appeared happier after it was used and cleaned.