Coupla weeks ago, I posted here that August was gonna be a “retro month” for me, and I intended to teach the four August 40-hour classes with a double action revolver. (http://backwoodshome.com/blogs/MassadAyoob/2017/08/01/going-retro/) With two done and the third coming up, here’s where the experiment stands.
Because my teaching gun is also my carry gun on these sojourns, I didn’t want anything humongous, so being a K-frame (medium frame) size guy, I chose the K-frame Smith & Wesson .357 Combat Magnum with four-inch barrel. Introduced in the 1950s at the behest of one of my mentors, Bill Jordan of the US Border Patrol, it’s a target grade revolver famous for beautiful workmanship. The ones I took with me were “P&R” as S&W connoisseurs say: pinned barrel and recessed chambers.
As primary I chose a Model 19-4 worked over by my friend Denny Reichard at Sand Burr Gun Ranch (www.sandburrgunranch.com), complete with recoil-absorbing Pachmayr grips and a front sight painted bright green to show up well for fast shooting. For backup, I took a bone-stock 19-3 in a rare configuration Smith & Wesson made only on special order and never put in their catalog, four-inch barrel and round butt.
At each class just before the qualification, I and the rest of the staff shoot a “pace-setter” to demonstrate the police-style course of fire to the students who will have to shoot the same thing immediately thereafter. At the first class of the month in New Jersey, I used the 19-4, which Denney had tuned for me four or five years ago… and wound up shooting a 298 out of 300. The Evil Princess looked at me piteously, and reminded me that it was the first time I had dropped below 100% on one of these this year.
Aauugghh! Was I losing my revolver mojo? My vision has been problematic for a while: I was diagnosed with cataracts last year, and the doc tells me it won’t be time to carve them out until the end of this year. The green front sight had been awfully hard to align in the notch of the black rear sight against the brown target, and at the farthest distance two bullets had drifted to starboard out of the center ring of the IPSC target. (Maybe I should have blamed the wind…if there had been any wind…)
The second class was in South Dakota, hosted by Paul and Susan Lathrop of the Polite Society Podcast, and with similar brown cardboard targets (IDPA this time, with tougher, smaller center zone than the IPSC), I decided to go with the plain sights on the backup Combat Magnum. It has the usual smooth S&W action of its period, if not as sweet as a Reichard Custom. With both front and rear sight being the same gunmetal color, alignment was easier, and I got back to 300/300. Whew!
I’ve also gone to this round-butt gun for daily carry: less bulge. In a Bianchi #3 inside the waistband holsters from the late ‘70s, it hides like a six-shot snub-nose .38, but is loaded with the Federal 125 grain .357 Magnum hollow point load that proved so effective on the street, Kentucky State Troopers dubbed it “the magic bullet” and Texas State Troopers spoke of its “lightning bolt effect.”
In New England now, and feeling confident with my “old school” gear.