Defensive Carry banner

1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,213 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I have serious plans later this year or early next year to get my mitts on a dedicated full size (or closer to full size) carry gun. I've already learned that I like the choice I've made for a BUG/"always" gun and it's really warmed me up to the whole idea of carrying it everywhere and keeping it concealed.

I've looked at making my existing guns work as CCW options, and they just won't. The 686 isn't as bad as I had thought. I find it tolerable in the cross draw position. It's something I can use in the meantime if I perceive a greater level of threat.

I've already got it narrowed down to two possible choices if I went with a semiautomatic, which I have to admit I'm seriously considering for this. They are a heck of a lot easier to carry because the holsters, accessories, and the like on the market might as well put up a sign saying "Revolvers need not apply".

Really it's the form factor that's winning out here. Automatics are thin, revolvers are fat. Or so I thought, until I started comparing my P89 and 686. There's not a lot of difference really. It's enough to matter but not as much as I had thought.

I began to think about what am I really hoping to accomplish with a bigger gun, and that is greater accuracy. I can shoot a bigger gun better than a smaller one. I'm sorry I just can.

I was thinking about it, and realized I can use a better caliber if I go with a revolver. .357 is more confidence inspiring than 9mm not to mention more familiar.

So I figure, hey I've narrowed down my choices if I went with the semiautomatic, why not just for the heck of it consider a full size revolver?

I drew up some criteria for "The Combat Carry Revolver":

Caliber: .357 Magnum - Most effective caliber I already stock

Sights: I'd prefer fixed sights on this gun but I am flexible. The adjustable sights on most revolvers are still pretty rugged and I do shoot better with them.

Capacity: 6 rounds. I want to gain something on my little J Frame, and 7 and 8 capacity cylinders are either really thick or the walls are too thin, plus they're just weird... revolvers are meant to hold 6 rounds. I feel weird owning one that holds 5.

Barrel : 3". Four is just too long. I'd prefer a half length underlug but once again I am still flexible.

Hammer: A real hammer. Not a bobbed hammer, not a so called hammerless model, not a shrouded hammer, not a ball peen hammer.

Weight: I'm fairly sure I'd be better off going with a steel gun on this. 125 grain loads are all pretty hot and the tougher the gun is the easier it will be on me. I've always found heavy guns are easier to shoot. But I have to admit it might actually be better to go lightweight on this as these are easier to carry. So I'm divided.

Finish: Stainless, it's just easier to put up.

Here's what I've found on the market:

Smith and Wesson 386

http://www.firearms.smith-wesson.com/store/index.php3?cat=293600&item=831383&sw_activeTab=1

Pros: Super light

Cons: Weird 7 round cylinder, not sure how it would hold up, pricey

Smith and Wesson 65LS

http://www.firearms.smith-wesson.com/store/index.php3?cat=293600&item=831400&sw_activeTab=1

Pros: Actually a good no bulls#t gun that meets all my criteria

Cons: Am I ever going to get made fun of... But seriously I'd rather just have a regular model 65 with a 3" barrel because it already comes with the grips I'd want. I feel stupid paying extra because it is from the "LadySmith" line.

Ruger GP100

http://ruger.com/Firearms/FAProdView?model=1719&return=Y

Pros: Always wanted a Ruger wheelgun

Cons: None really...

Anything else out there that might be worth looking into? Anyone have any experiences with any of these? Anything out of production I should watch for? Anyone have a good donut lately?

I have a feeling I probably won't go with a revolver just because the market doesn't support them as well as full size carry guns, but like I said these sure would hit a lot harder than any 9mm I ever bought with comparable accuracy and control.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17,352 Posts
untill this year all of my wheelies were ruger sure ive had a few smiths but never kept um long just didnt fit me i guess ..

if you dont mind a used look for a police service six fixed sights littl smaller than a gp-100 ruger will hold up to a pounding to
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,213 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
I don't mind used at all, depending on the individual piece and its price. My local merchant of death has a habit of undervaluing wheelguns too; probably because they don't sell. He gets it right sometimes but when he doesn't I'm sorely tempted to scoop them up.

Matter of fact I've only ever bought 1 brand new gun...
 

·
1952 - 2006
Joined
·
1,371 Posts
Why not consider a 44 special?
The S&W model 396.
Or if you want to spend some money a model 21?

The 396 is a 3" bbl but is only a 5 shot and weighs 18 ounces. With SWC bullets it would deliver all the punch you'd need without the blast of the 357. It also wouldn't tend to over-penetrate.

The Model 21 is the new Thunder Ranch Special. 44 Special. Clint just loves this gun. I spoke to him about it at the SHOT Show and he thinks this is THE wheelgun for CCW

Just a thought.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,213 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Actually I really have thought about .44 Special. I've always been tempted by it. It's such a cool caliber. .44 Magnum just strikes me as impractical except for range shooting or handgun hunting.

The only reason I stick with the .38/.357/9mm setup is that it's economical and easy to live with. One Bore Snake cleans all my handguns. All your bore brushes, ammo boxes, and other accessories are all the same size.

There's a lot of calibers I've considered but I get tired of every new gun eating something different, and I remain unconvinced I'm at a terrible disadvantage because I go with this combination even though I admit it is not perfect.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17,352 Posts
Come on different calibers is the spice of life ya need to spread out a little... ive got 38's 357's 44mag 45 colt 454 casull 45 acp ... plus bunch of rifle rounds ya got to live a little :firedevil
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
940 Posts
The titanium guns generally hold up - they do require a different maintenance regimen than regular guns, though. No brushes etc anywhere near the cylinder. As a matter of course, I don't put a brush anywhere the gun period and do it all with patches.

.44 special isn't cheap, but it's a bullet that's flat out mean. The 396 mentioned above meets your qualifications, and on the .44 specials, Smith has the cylinder thing down without problems since it's relatively low pressure. I've put a lot of rounds through my 296 now and the nice thing is that the cases rarely expand and drop free of the cylinder easily, something that many titanium guns don't do well. One caveat, though - the 396 will probably have the same 200gr bullet weight max limitation in .44 because of recoil-induced de-crimping that the 296 does. It limits your lead options, but I've found my little beast shoots best with 200gr (both in terms of accuracy and perceived abuse) JHP. I've stuck with PMC 180s and 200s for carry purposes for consistency, and a basic minimum load in the Lee manual produces something equivalent for reloading/practice.

Most of the guns that are the best for concealed purposes seem to be 5 shot in the revolver category, though - and I'm willing to lose one shot in the low-cap realm.

There are still a lot of old Charter Arms Bulldogs out there that meet your criteria - hammer, cheap, lightweight, generally decent. Some are .38 as well as .44.

Out of the smaller revolvers if it's a 357 game, though, I'll load with .38 99% of the time. I doubt I'll lose much in practical terms and get better follow up shots.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,050 Posts
A 686 was my first revolver. It has served me well. Even with the 4" barrel I have carried it a fair bit. You can find them with 3" barrels or have a smith modify what you have or get a 3" and have it fitted. Just a thought. Mine has gotten so smooth from all the firing and dry firing, it is a joy to shoot. I still shoot it better than any other handgun I have shot. Although my M624 is getting there.

The GP100 is a tank and should hold up to anything you run through it. Also new it is not as much $$$ as the S&Ws are new. I personally don't like the triggers on the Rugers. I know someone who loves them. So that's a matter of opinion.

The 65(LS) is a good choice also. They should be readily available used so also not a lot of $$$. The advantage of going with an S&W is that is what you have been shooting, so everything will feel about the same. The disadvantage is you won't get to try anything new or different. You may find that you love the Ruger trigger.

I like the 44 special suggestion, but understand why you want to stay with a certain caliber. I do carry the 44 special and agree with Clint Smith that it is a great S-D cartridge. As for the M21 being the best CCW gun in 44 special, that we will differ on for now. :tongue:

From your list I would choose between the GP100 and the Model 65(LS). Do you know anyone who has these guns or a place to rent them? If not I assume you have tried them on at a local gun shop so you know that they fit and the controls on them. I would get the S&W, but I have an admitted bias towards S&W revolvers. :biggrin:

-Scott-
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,213 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
I will beg one question of you guys: if you wanted to go the 44 Special route, what do you gain by going with a revolver specifically chambered for 44 Special?

The reason I ask is that there's a heck of a lot more choices in .44 Magnum, and I know I sure was tempted to go with a .357 caliber BUG and load it with .38 Specials. The only two outfits I know of making a piece in .44 S are Smith and Wesson and Charter 2000. S&W I know well by now and even people that don't like them don't consider them bad guns, but I've heard lots of mixed reactions to the Charters.

I've seen this debated but no one has ever convinced me one way or the other that a slightly longer cylinder hurts or doesn't effect the performance of the non magnum catridges. I've seen some people claim that you somehow gain a bit of muzzle velocity firing .38 Special out of a revolver chambered for .38 and not .357, but I don't know if that's fact or folklore.
 

·
1952 - 2006
Joined
·
1,371 Posts
The one problem I have experienced in shooting special loads in a magnun gun are that after a number of rounds fired you will find a residue build-up in the cylinder at the mouth of the special case. This residue build-up will cause magnum loads to be nearly impossible to extract.
I experienced this with a Ruger Blackhawk I had for a number of years, I had to use a great deal of force to extract magnum brass after firing. I had fired hundreds of 38 special loads in the gun for practice and plinking, then on a hunting trip I had fired at a bear (all 6 six rounds to stop all 350 lbs of him) and had to use a tree stump to get the brass out of the gun to reload.
Also the magnum frames tend to be heavier than the guns designed to shoot specials. This goes for both 357 and 44 mags.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,213 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
That makes a lot of sense. My 686-2 when I first got it was very "sticky" until I cleaned the devil out of it. The problem you describe was what it suffered from. It looked like hell when I bought it but I knew it just needed to be scrubbed for about an hour.

Other than some residue on the face of the cylinder I can't completely get rid of, and I have that problem on any revolver, it looks, functions, and shoots great.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17,352 Posts
To clean out the cylinder on a 357 after shooting 38's i use a nylon brsh check in in a cordless drill run it up and down a few times each chamber ... perfectly clean some people use chore boy the same way kind of a copper pan scrubber
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,213 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Just checked in case anyone else is considering .44 Special: I need to check my ballistic charts but it looks like there's a load for it that's really not ridiculously expensive at all. In fact it's comparable in price to the 125 grain JHP .357 magnum loads I normally grudgingly shell out $$$ for.

http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/ctd/product.asp?dept_id=201020&sku=65252&imgid=&mscssid=8QPTDW0C3A9H8LEAPUFQTU7J75353EGC

The problem is finding a gun to fire it with. There's not a lot of choices and they are not at all cheap.

S&W 21 - Forget about it. You can get in line with everyone else. You might get your mitts on one by the time they go out of production.

The only somewhat feasible model available is the 396. There's not a lot of them around but they can be ordered. Be ready to wait.

I looked at S&W 386 which is very similar to the 396, except chambered in .357 Magnum. It was sweeeeeet. It weighs nothing and feels perfect. I am very tempted to save up for one, even if it would mean waiting months longer.

The short version: does it take a pricey gun to use .44 Special? Yes.

The only other option is from Charter 2000, and results are mixed on that. If I could find an 80's vintage Charter Arms Bulldog in .44 Special I'd buy it.

There is this however

http://www.firearms.smith-wesson.com/store/index.php3?cat=293607&item=838766&sw_activeTab=1

But that is a big, heavy gun to conceal. You'd have to have one heck of a gunbelt/holster setup. The deluxe edition seems to be the way to go on that deal; I just posted a link to one version. The 396 would be superior as it is over an inch shorter and much, much lighter.

Basically, your only other recourse is to find a .44 Magnum and have the barrel cut down and fire Specials out of it. What a pain in the butt, and where are you going to find a shop willing to do that? It also can't be cheap.

The real question is now, am I willing to shell out $750 for a handgun? On a rifle I could see it. Then again, I would use this gun every day if I bought it. I've been thinking about selling my P89 anyway.

It would be cool, but the XD I'm considering is $500 give or take, and the GP-100 I was considering, although heavier, would use ammunition I already stock and would allow for the use of speed loaders and speed strips. That's one thing .357 can do that .44 can't.

Another thing I can do with two revolvers chambered in .357/.38 is carry a single caliber for reloads. Not sure if that's worth any kind of consideration except in case one gun fails completely and utterly.

It comes down to do I want to be a responsible adult who goes with the more sensible caliber in a more sensible gun or do I want an expensive toy...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17,352 Posts
Get rid of the gaudy logo and it would be a good looking gun ... I wonder if i paid a extra 50 or 100 if they would make me one with out it ...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,213 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
I've seen Smiths with the laser engravings removed before (no logos or stamps or etchings of any kind like you normally expect).

I'd assume the obnoxious logo can be removed by some means by some body...

Personally I'd just leave it there. I know what Thunder Ranch is but 98% of all people don't. They'd probably think it was the name of the gun.

"What kind of gun did he have?"

"It was a Thunder Ranch gun."

At any rate I have a long time to think about it all. It's basically down to these 4 guns: the Service (4") size XD9 or XD 40, the GP100, or the Model 396 (maybe the 21 if I can find one).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17,352 Posts
the xd9 and gp-100 are both great guns I have a ton of rounds though each.. Cant say much for the smith though ... Though of a Colt Wheelie ? :driver:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,213 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
The good thing about Colt is that you can indiscriminantly buy a Colt and know what you are getting is of at least very good quality and has high resale value.

The bad thing about Colt is that they don't really seem to work any better than other products that cost less but seem to be of comparable quality with regard to function.

Now I do admit Colt seems to beat other brands in terms of finish, fit, and overall polish, but I've never been able to justify the expense. Plus they've quit making what I am looking for. And for the price of a used Colt I could buy a brand new Smith... which would you rather have? It's a hard call but I tend to veer on the side of taking the new gun.

I'd like a Colt Python, but I won't languish over it.
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top