No, the title above does not come from the Department of Redundancy Department.  It comes from the fact that every now and then, the old guy here goes back into the past with old technology.  Each time I do that, I’m reminded that old doesn’t necessarily mean obsolete.

Last year about this time,  I spent four weeks using double action revolvers for teaching classes, even though I knew most of my students would be using semiautomatic pistols.  Reason was explained here.

It worked out reasonably well. The two points I dropped on one Pace-Setter (demonstration of a qualification shoot) was on me and not the six-shooter, as noted here.

August 2017 finished my retro month successfully, as noted here.

In 2017 I had done my “retro month” with a pair of K-frame (medium frame) 4” barrel Smith & Wesson Model 19 .357 Combat Magnums, both blue steel.  This year being even hotter and more humid, I stayed with K-frame S&Ws but went stainless.  One gun was the Model 64, a fixed sight .38 Special with 4” barrel; the other was a Model 66 .357 Magnum in an uncommon and uncatalogued format, 3” barrel with round butt.

I used the Model 64 for the Connecticut class, hosted by my old friend and master instructor Frank Cornwall at Defense Associates, because as I had done the year before I chose to shoot the demo left-handed even though I’m not a natural southpaw. Reasons for that were explained a year ago here.

I chose the 64 because I figured that shooting “weak hand” I’d need all the help I could get, including an extra inch of barrel and sight radius.  Alas, I did not consider my own lack of self-discipline, and pulled a shot high in the chest just outside the center ring, killing what should have been a perfect score.

The subsequent New Hampshire class went better, shooting right-handed with the 3” gun.  Russ Lary and I shot the pace-setter side by side with short barrel S&W 66s, Russ using a 2.5” barrel version he had used in the past to win high Off-Duty Gun shooter at one major match.  We both shot 300s with near identical group sizes.  You don’t necessarily need long barrels to win if you’ve put in your trigger time.

I reported to Russ as my Chief of Police for 19 years of my 43 in LE, and he was always a helluva shot.


I intend to finish the month of August with wheel-guns. I have another S&W K-frame 3” barrel .357 coming in, a Performance Center variation I’ll be testing for On Target magazine.  Yes, they only hold six rounds…but there’s still something comforting about a .357 Magnum ready to hand.


  1. I carried a 66 snubby when Iwe lived in South Dakota always reliable,accurate and easy to carry concealed.

  2. My brother survived two gunfights using his S&W .38 service revolver. He killed his attacker in both incidents using issued .38 ammo. In both cases he emptied his revolver into each of them. Lt. Jerry Palmer, retired Springfield, Illinois Police Dept. You might want to interview him for a future story. I’m 81 and he is 79 and is in poor health.

  3. I love revolvers. Furthermore, I feel that they have real advantages for both concealed carry and home defense. In my experience, finding a semi-auto that is 100% reliable is still somewhat rare.

    I own a number of semi-auto’s. I would say that maybe 25% (1 in 4) qualify as truly reliable with good ammo. I would say that about 50% of them are mostly reliable. On rare occasions, they will generate a FTF or FTE malfunction but one can usually count on them to work OK. The remaining 25% are not reliable enough to count on. They generate malfunctions frequent enough to be worrisome even with good ammo.

    I also own a number of revolvers. I can say that, with good ammo, about 90% of my revolvers are completely reliable while, for the other 10%, I have had the occasional rare problem usually traceable to bad ammo or some mechanical fault that I had to get fixed. At this moment in time, all my revolvers are working a 100% reliability. I can’t say the same thing about all of my semi-auto pistols!

    In other words, if I had to bet my life on a handgun, I would favor a revolver over a semi-auto as a general rule.

    Furthermore, revolvers can be kept loaded for long periods of time without any worries of magazine spring compression, spring weakening, etc. For this reason, it is the revolvers that I keep loaded and constantly ready for both home defense or routine concealed carry. I know that I can just grab my pre-loaded stub-nose revolver, pocket holster, and a pair of loaded speed strips, from their secured location, put them in my pockets and step out the door without spending a lot of time “prepping” a pistol and loading up a bunch of magazines.

    I will sometime go to the trouble of prepping a semi-auto and loading spare magazines if I am going on a long trip and want some extra firepower available. However, for routine carry or home defense, a revolver with good defensive ammo is ideal in my book.

    • A few years ago I picked up four of the old stainless-steel, 6-shot “SPEE-D LOADER No. 1” speed strips for .38/.357. Each fits perfectly in a conventional spill pouch. I believe the SPEE-D’s could last for hundreds of years. Just fantastic.
      I would like to know why “snub-nose” revolvers often come in the barrel length of 1 7/8 inches. Is that possibly too short to supply adequate spin for optimal 7-yard accuracy and keyholing prevention? Might “short barrel” loads supply best accuracy?

      • The 1 7/8″ barrel-length must be a S&W thing. Other makers seem to actually use 2 full inches for their snubbies. For example, I have both a Taurus 38 Special and a Charter Arms Boomer in 44 Special with 2-inch barrels. I just measured their barrels and they both measure a true 2-inches in length.

        You may have a point about short barrels not always being able to stabilize bullets adequately. I tried the Speer Gold Dot 44 special (Short barrel -200 Gr. load) in my Boomer but was disappointed. It produced “pie plate” size groups at 15 yards. I also own a Charter Arm Target Bulldog which is basically the same gun as the Boomer but with 4-inch barrel, target sights and a conventional single/double action trigger system. The Target Bulldog loved the Gold Dots. Produced groups under 2-inches at 15 yards shooting off-hand. I can only assume that the longer barrel of the Target Bulldog stabilizes this bullet much better.

        The Boomer will stabilize the heavier 240 gr. loads pretty good. But they go too slow out of a 2-inch barrel to be useful for defense. I ended up using the Hornady Critical Defense 44 Special load for carry purposes. They seem to shoot with acceptable accuracy out of the Boomer. Better than the Gold Dot’s anyway (about 4 inch groups at 15 yards).

        Hornady rates this 165 gr. load at 900 fps out of a typical 3-inch barreled bulldog. I ran them out of the Boomer with my Chronograph set at 10′. From the 2-inch barrel of the Boomer, they gave an average velocity of about 870 fps. I expect that they will expand OK so this Hornady ammo is what I carry in the Boomer. BTW, this Boomer is my routine “everyday” carry piece.

        Boomer barrels do not have a front sight. The barrel is ported instead. It is basically a close-range, point-and-shoot gun. However, I have fitted my Boomer with Crimson Trace laser grips. Using the laser dot, I can easily make hits out to 25 yards if need be.

        At the more typical self-defense range of 10 feet or less, it will be just draw, point and shoot. I’ll let the .44 caliber bullet do the rest!

      • I meant “dump pouch,” not “spill pouch.” A dump pouch can become a spill pouch if you are careless and trip the flap open. I have cut a leather double pouch down the middle into single ones and often wear just one at a time OWB. I have yet to lose a SPEE-D LOADER, though, not that they haven’t come out on careless occasions. I love the terrific penetrating power of my Buffalo Bore 180-grain +++P hard-cast rounds for close-up predator emergencies, even from a 2 1/4″ barrel. Just hang on tight, and plug your ears when you can!

  4. Those short barrel 66’s (and 19’s) are outstanding guns. They carry well, shoot well and seem nearly the perfect size when carried OWB with a vest or something similar. I babysat one for my uncle while he was overseas for 2 years, and I’ll tell you I was sad to see him come home.

  5. Modern pistols are great, but I think the Smith K-frame is one of the best hand weapons every created. Wheelgun perfection.

  6. I’ve owned two of those early, 3″ S&W model 66s. (Dumb enough to trade off the first, smart enough to retain the second.) Plus, I’ve handled a half dozen more through the years. All had smoother than normal actions, which I doubt is a coincidence. Plus, they feature the full length extractor rods of their 4″ and 6″ brethren.

  7. Yes, indeed. I have gone back to my S&W K frame round butt 65-6 Lady Smith , 3″ 357 Mag to improve my trigger discipline. It is stainless with a very heavy barrel. Someone usually offers to buy it from me whenever I go to a range after they see the flame throwing and experience the ‘BANG’ factor. It is a pre-lock model. Just don’t make ’em anymore! Btw, I AM taking it with me!

    • Dee, mine is a 65-5 LadySmith (see comment above), but I agree you’ve got one of the best! My wife & I are concealed carry instructors in NC, and the 65LS & M-10 (4″ heavy barrel, round butted) are the two most popular loaner guns. Just like you, we’ve had numerous offers to buy them both.


  8. One of my favorite carry guns is a M-65 3″ LadySmith. The round but fits my square palm and shorter than average fingers perfectly. As noted, the 3″ has the advantage of the full-length ejector rod – and unlike most M-65’s, this one is shrouded, just like the M-66. I bought this after careful consideration; I think it’s the best hard-use K-frame S&W has ever made. It’s generally loaded with +P .38 Spl HydraShoks. As I get older, I find that magnums in a K-frame aren’t as much fun as I remember.

    I once carried 1911’s commonly in IWB holsters, but the old fart here has trouble with arthritis in the thumbs, making the swipe to off the safety less than 100%. So it’s DA revolvers and Kahr autos that work much alike for this geezer.

    The fact that this revolver is marked “LadySmith” doesn’t bother me at all…and might have some advantage in court. Any thoughts, Mas?

  9. If Glock made a .44 Magnum, I’d carry that. As it is, I carry a Ruger Alaskan plated in NP3 in bear country. So equipped, I had a fantastic DA trigger pull and hits where I am it. The gun is boteingly reliable. I will obtain a Glock 29 for backup.

  10. Living in rural East Texas (retired LEO from Houston area) there are many firearms around the place due to the possibility of unwelcome guests (two and four legged kind). Even though my “night stand” piece is a 1911 .45, the piece I keep up front for me or the wife to get at quick is a “Couger” made my Bill Davis in LA Cal. about 25 years ago. It is a stainless Ruger Security Six in .357 with a 3″ Python barrel in brushed satin nickel. It’s been round-butted, trigger face smoothed and action tuned. The first three rounds up are 158 gr. .38 Nyclads, the next three 125 gr. Federal magnums. Two HKS speedloaders carrying the same 125 gr. Federals round out the package. As Col. Jeff said “just because something is old doesn’t mean it’s not useful.”

  11. I always loved having my SW Model 15. Accurate as can be. Sold it to John S. Wonder if he still has it.

    Loved the Retro musings.

  12. He re’s the latest on the Florida “Shooter”!

    Police have identified the suspect in a mass shooting at an online gaming tournament in Florida that was partially captured on a horrifying livestream.

    David Katz, 24, killed himself and two others, and left 11 people injured in the chaotic shooting at the Jacksonville Landing complex in Jacksonville at around 1.34pm on Sunday, police said.

    Nine of the non-fatal injuries were gunshot wounds and two were sustained while fleeing the chaos, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said.

    Williams said that Katz is from Baltimore and had traveled to Jacksonville for the video gaming tournament. His car was seized by police near the scene.

    Katz is known to have gone by the gamer monikers ‘Ravenschamp’ and ‘Bread’.

    An official close to the investigation said that the gunman killed himself with the semi-auto handgun used in the shooting, which had a laser sight.

    Witnesses have said the shooter was a player who had just lost in the tournament.

    On Sunday night, FBI and ATF agents raided a home linked to the shooter in the upscale Federal Hill neighborhood of South Baltimore.

    The shooting broke out during the Madden 19 tournament at the Good Luck Have Fun video game room inside Chicago Pizza, a restaurant inside the shopping complex that sits on the north bank of the St John’s River.

    In a livestream of the tournament, one of the players is seen with a dot that appears to be a laser pointer dancing on his chest and neck seconds before shots and screams are heard, and the feed cuts out.

    Police arrived on the scene within two minutes of receiving the first 911 calls at 1.34pm, Sheriff Williams said.


    • Here are some medical comments I found while reading a CNN article.

      “Mass shooting suspect David Katz underwent treatment for psychological and emotional issues, according to his parents’ divorce records obtained Monday by CNN.”

      “Katz, 24, was at one time placed on an antipsychotic medicine used to treat schizophrenia, to which his father, Richard Katz objected,…”

      “Katz was also placed on two antidepressants,…”

      • Wonder Whether he, and his family, will will turned out to be Registered Democratic Voters, as well as Being Medicated, Psychotic-Killers too?


      • Paul Edwards,

        What I am about to type will sound trite because of this tragedy. But I can’t help wondering if there just may be a tiny kernal of truth in my theory. What follows is speculation.

        It was reported that Katz began firing because he was losing. Was he given participation trophies growing up? Was he praised for everything he did? Did he ever learn how to be graceful in defeat? Are his criminal actions the result of his being the very model of a modern “sore loser?”

        Maybe the mixture of psychotic medication, plus a young man’s strong desire to be viewed as a “winner” plus the presence of a firearm, led to this tragedy.

        I am no expert, and will probably never know exactly what went wrong.

  13. > You don’t necessarily need long barrels to win if you’ve put in your trigger time.

    The barrel length is only important for stability and sight radius; the bullet doesn’t care.

    With my eyes and shaky hands, I do much better with my longslide 1911 than with a standard Government Model, even though it’s only 6″ vs. 5″. And now those old 7″ AMT Longslides don’t look nearly as ridiculous as they did thirty-odd years ago…

  14. I was just at a gun class given by a local guy this weekend.. He runs the MMA gym, a gun ship and teaches CCW, combat handgun classes. He talked alot of crap about revolvers and DA/SA pistols and being of the polymer generation myself, I didn’t bother to disagree with him. I think as the older generations die out, there won’t be many people left who can accurately run a revolver or DA pistol in combat scenarios. Mas, do you see any young folk shooting revolvers in your classes?

    • We do, actually. They appreciate that learning to distribute trigger pressure with a double action pull will give them better control on their more modern designs.

  15. Also, I just wanted to inquire as to the age of the readers here. I’m 27 years old and have been following this blog for the past 7 years. Any other younger shooters following?

    • Hey Justin. Not a younger reader, but close. 29-year-old here. I’ve also been following Mas’s writings for around 7 years.

  16. I don’t believe revolvers will ever disappear from the pockets, holsters, night stands, etc. of people who carry/keep a firearm for defense. Reliability. Simplicity. Power. Price. And I base some of this on the observation that leading firearms manufacturers are still producing new revolver designs, not just recycling 19th and early 20th century designs. Young, high-speed, low-drag, “operators” and their disciplies aren’t the only firearms demographic. John and Jane Q Public are a much larger buying segment, and they’re looking for reliable, cost efficient protection. Don’t send the revolver to the Smithsonian just yet!

Comments are closed.