AR-15 Ammunition And Barrel Twist Rate

Herschel Smith · 19 Feb 2017 · 7 Comments

There are a lot of articles and discussion forum threads on barrel twist rate for AR-15s.  So why am I writing one?  Well, some of the information on the web is very wrong.  Additionally, this closes out comment threads we've had here touching on this topic, EMail exchanges I've had with readers, and personal conversations I've had with shooters and friends about this subject.  It's natural to put this down in case anyone else can benefit from the information.  Or you may not benefit at…… [read more]

The Ultimate Guide To Revolver Disassembly And Cleaning

BY Herschel Smith
1 week, 5 days ago

Shooting Illustrated has a very informative article on revolver disassembly and cleaning.  It’s worth reading in full, and it’s also worth sending this link to yourself and referring to it later with an email search (which is what I do).

It has very good pictures (I learn visually) and also recommendations for revolver tools.  I’ll be using this advice in the future.  If anyone has additional counsel for revolver disassembly, maintenance or cleaning, please fill in the details in comments.

Why A Revolver Is Still A Smart Choice For Personal Defense

BY Herschel Smith
4 months, 2 weeks ago

Outdoor Life:

In today’s world of high-capacity, polymer-frame, semi-auto pistols, we often forget about the original repeating handgun. While the roots of the revolver go back to the revolving arquebus, produced by Hans Stopler of Nuremberg in 1597, it wasn’t until 1836 that Sam Colt figured out how to make it work reliably. Once Colt started making revolvers, the world of repeating handguns changed forever.

Whether you’re in the field hunting, hiking, or exploring, or in any wilderness setting, the revolver is the top choice in a handgun. For personal defense, the double-action revolver may be a bit less popular nowadays, but it’s every bit as good a choice as it ever was.

I agree.  I have one concealed carry revolver, and two that are too big to conceal, requiring open carry.  I carry my small wheel gun regularly.  And while we’re on the subject of revolvers again, Lucky Gunner has a nice article on testing the Ruger GP100.  I love mine.  But that’s not what caught my eye.  While reading the Outdoor Life piece on carry revolvers, I noticed one I missed from two years ago that has some remarkable anecdotal data.

Even here in Alaska, where you’d think we would have the “bear sidearm” thing figured out, all you have to do is mention bear protection in a crowded place or online forum, and you will no doubt hear from numerous people who swear on their mother’s grave that their .44 mag, .454, .500, or other monster caliber is the ideal bear protection. I have however, only heard one claim myself of someone stopping a grizzly with one shot from a .460. The bigger-is-better idea is rapidly going the way of the buffalo, and here’s why.

I’ll say this very clearly. No handgun has the energy to drop a bear in its tracks (barring a perfect, or extremely lucky shot). Even the .500 S&W has little more energy than a .30-30. If you read John Snow’s blog last week, you saw a scientific comparison of several autoloading cartridges and the conclusions that the FBI drew from it. Yes, the bigger cartridges do slightly more damage than a .45 ACP, but we are talking about animals that can sometimes soak up .375 H&H rounds like they are BB’s. I’ve personally witnessed a brown bear take 13 solid shots from less than 20 yards with a .375 Ackley before it expired. I have seen black bears shot at under 15 yards with .338’s and 7mm Mag’s and not even lose their footing. The handgun is a last resort, slightly better than nothing. Never, EVER rely on a handgun as your primary defense if you know you are going to be in a risky situation. Take a large rifle you are comfortable with, or a shotgun.

[ … ]

I think that with a heavy wheelgun, you will get one shot off if you are lucky. If you’re wondering how you would do, next time you are at the range, see how many hits you can get on a 15” x 20” target at 15 feet in 3 seconds (including drawing from your carry holster). You probably won’t have much more time than that in the field, and possibly less.

Select your backcountry sidearm wisely, and be safe out there!

Okay, I hear you loud and clear.  But it’s still the case that soon after firearms were declared legal in national parks a man defended his life from a grizzly in Denali National Par using a .45 ACP handgun.  I always want more rather than less, but I’ll take what I’ve got and try to aim well if this situation ever presents itself.  I’m not sure that anyone can ever be truly prepared for an attack like this save doing it all of the time.

Revolver Velocity Versus Barrel Length

BY Herschel Smith
5 months, 3 weeks ago

Lucky Gunner recently had a great article on Revolver Velocity Versus Barrel Length that I missed, and I recommend that you spend a couple of minutes studying their results.

Their results might surprise you.  First of all, barrel length doesn’t matter as much as you might have thought, perhaps as much as 100 FPS for barrel lengths in the range we normally carry or shoot.  You have to get really long barrels (such as for hunting) for the length to make any substantial difference.

Second, the +P loads do actually give you noticeably better performance (as much as 100 FPS or more) compared to the regular loads.

Third, as good as the +P loads do compared to .39 Special, they don’t compare to the difference you get with the .357 Magnum, which is as much as several hundred FPS depending upon bullet weight.

Lucky Gunner recommend that you test your own loads, guns and bullet weights if you want an accurate assessment.  They also link this article where a table is included that has good data for your consideration.

Did The Single Stack Nine Kill The Carry Revolver?

BY Herschel Smith
6 months ago

Shooting Illustrated:

A miniature 9 mm also offers you the advantages of the same manual of arms your larger gun. If you’re used to a striker-fired gun, the operation of the Ruger LC9s or Glock G43 will seem like second nature to you, just like the operation of snub-nosed revolvers mimic the operation of their larger cousins. My fingers goes naturally to the magazine release on my 9 mm Smith & Wesson Shield because that’s where it is on the large semi-automatic pistols that I occasionally carry, and the methods I use to clear malfunctions are pretty much the same between those guns as well.

The reasons to carry a subcompact, single-stack 9 mm over a larger pistol are also essentially the same as reasons to carry a small revolver instead of full-sized gun. With the right holster and appropriate cover garment, it’s fairly easy to discretely carry a full-size 9 mm on a daily basis and without tipping people off that you’re carrying a pistol with you. However, it’s even easier to conceal a smaller gun, and a smaller gun also opens other options like pocket carry that are even more discreet.

When it comes to defensive applications, the subcompact single stack 9 mm has several advantages over snub-nosed revolvers. The thinner, slimmer design of the semi-automatic means it can slide into locations for concealed carry that aren’t available to thicker, bulkier revolvers, although, counter-intuitively, I’ve found that unless you pay attention to holster choice, a small .38 Spl. revolver forms an indistinct lump in a front pocket that’s easily mistaken for a wallet and keys, while the flatter, more angular form of a mini 9 mm sticks out and says “gun” more readily.

Another advantage of a mini 9 mm over small revolver is ammunition capacity. Subcompact single stacks typically have at least six rounds of ammunition in the magazine and one more in the chamber, and extended magazine that pack in eight rounds or more are not uncommon, By comparison, six rounds is maximum amount of ammo in most pocket revolvers, with five rounds being the most-common option available.

I’ll grant the point about capacity, as well as the ability quickly to reload.  But for those of us whose hands don’t readily shoot the small subcompact with accuracy, and who simply do not run the gun well, it makes no difference.  Sometimes these arguments are semantic and pale in comparison to whether you can operate the system and hit what you’re aiming at.  As to whether I can conceal a smallish .38 Special revolver, I have no problem at all keeping my air weight S&W wheel gun on my ankle or anywhere else.

And I never worry about whether a round is chambered, or whether it will work when it’s supposed to.  A round is ready, and it will work.  I know that without a doubt.  The wheel gun will never go out of style.  It may be that I carry it as a backup gun to a 1911 on my hip, or sometimes I have to carry only it depending upon circumstances.  But I will always carry a wheel gun, regardless of what LEOs choose to do.

Revolvers In The News

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 2 months ago

My goodness.  I do love me a good wheel gun.  I do indeed.  There’s just a feel of the machinery and a tactile connection with the revolver that I don’t get with the plastic guns, and perhaps even the 1911, which is probably my favorite platform.

Advocating concealed carry of small revolvers for self defense.  He’s got a good point about all of the lint.

This is interesting.  Rob Leatham wins the USPSA revolver championship.  I’ve always thought of him as a pistol guy.  Congratulations to Rob.  I wish I was as good as he is.  But I do have a question.  Look at this grip he’s using.

2016 USPSA Revolver Nationals

It looks like he’s using a grip customary for pistols rather than revolvers, where he is putting the thumb of his left hand near the forcing cone where it could get injured.  I don’t suspect for a minute that Rob Leatham visits the pages of this blog, but could someone explain what he’s doing and why it’s okay?

Well, I guess I didn’t see this one coming.  Kydex holsters for a number of different revolver designs.

When revolvers had safeties.  Hmm … don’t think I like the idea.  No, not at all.

Ruger SP101 review.  Ruger is making very nice revolvers these days, and I would carry this gun for personal defense in a heartbeat.  It doesn’t look nearly as pretty as the Ruger GP100 Match Champion, but then again, you can’t conceal a GP100 Match Champion.  I do think they should have made the entire grip that nice looking wood rather than embedding it in the rubber grips.

I still want someone – anyone – with personal knowledge to give me a story of someone in OIF or OEF (Iraq or Afghanistan theaters) carrying a revolver rather than a pistol.

Revolver “Went Off” As Man Was Cleaning It And Pulled The Trigger

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 5 months ago

Stamford Advocate:

A city man cleaning his revolver Thursday night was charged with reckless endangerment after the gun accidentally went off and blew a hole through his apartment wall, police said.

Capt. Richard Conklin said Hadrian Gardner, 24, was in his Tresser Boulevard apartment cleaning the revolver when he pulled the trigger, thinking there were no bullets in the chamber, about 8 p.m. Thursday

The bullet went through the wall and entered the adjacent apartment where his neighbor dove to the floor for cover, Conklin said.

Gardner checked on his neighbor and found him unharmed and then reported the shot to police.

Gardner was charged with illegal discharge of a weapon within city limits and two counts of reckless endangerment.

Conklin said Gardner’s pistol permit was seized and will be sent to state police, who will hold a hearing to consider revoking his license to carry the gun. Two other handguns were also seized from Gardner.

It “went off.”  Because he pulled the trigger.  Good grief.  Listen man, this isn’t even a semiautomatic where you have to cycle and lock the slide to observe the chamber.  This is a revolver, smart guy.  Open the cylinder, look for empty spaces in each of the chambers.  It’s that simple.

There is no excuse.

Army Delays Handgun Solicitation

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 8 months ago

Army Times:

The Army on Wednesday formally pushed back release of a final solicitation to produce its new handgun.

Originally projected for a Jan. 2 release, the Army decided to delay the Request for Proposals beyond January “to allow for improvements to the RFP as a result of feedback received from Industry,” according to a notice posted on the government solicitation website FedBizOpps.

No date for future action was proposed, other than to say it would not occur in January. Despite the delay, the notice also reiterated commitment to the pending competition to produce the Modular Handgun System, which will include ammo and a holster as well as a pistol.

“The Army remains committed to the MHS program and ensuring that it is executed using full and open competition,” the notice said.

Uh oh.  What political machinations underlie this delay?  Is Smith & Wesson not the frontrunner as they thought?  To all firearms manufacturers – the military is a fickle mistress.  She will break your heart.

As for polymer frame pistols, I won’t buy any more.  I like the balance and slender (single stack) profile of the 1911 too much (here we all pause in respect to John Moses Browning).  Furthermore, when I think about my plastic pistols I think about machines, utilitarian pieces of equipment that rattle too much and have that crappy, cheap feel but usually perform their intended function.

When I think about 1911s I think about works of art.  Even more than 1911s, revolvers (finely made) are works of art, pieces of craftsmanship, something I would be proud to turn over to my children as a heritage.  I’ve searched in vain, but I cannot find a picture of anyone actually carrying a wheel gun in either the Iraq or Afghanistan theaters.  Kudos to anyone who can find such a treasure.  Please send it our way.

And if you carried a revolver in any theater of war, you are a man among men.  I want to know you.


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