Help! S&W Model 28...developing bad habits.


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Big B
July 5, 2008, 05:54 AM
I am not new to guns, but I have little experience with handguns. I've spent a lot of time with, and am proficient with .22 rifles, and sks's, but have only fired a pistol once (ten years ago) until now. That gun was a small colt .45 semi-auto, which I was not a good shot with.
I chose the Highway Patrolman for my first handgun, primarily because this one fit my hand better than any gun I've previously held. I also like the wide range of ammo to suite different needs.
I took her out to the range for the first time today. (What could be more American than taking your first bought gun to the range on the 4th?)
I brought with me some Rem. 357 Mag 125 grain jsp, Winn. 38+p 125 grain jhp, and Federal 38 spl 130 grain full jacket round nose. To avoid problems with powder build-up in the cylinder, I loaded the 357's first. WOW!:eek: I expected the 41 ounce N-frame to absorb the recoil better than it did. 18 rounds and I noticed that I was actually flinching before I fired, which caused me to shoot high.:cuss:
Next I loaded the +p's, and halfway through 24 rounds I noticed my flinch lighten up. Finally I ran through all 50 38 spl, and realized that I was anticipating the recoil, which caused me to push the muzzle down more and shoot low.:banghead:
In D.A. the trigger pull is long and heavy, and I feel myself pushing on the gun just to pull the trigger. In S.A. the trigger is quick and buttery, and the recoil is more felt. That causes me to fire high. I feel like I'm on the verge of developing some seriously bad habits, and am looking for some advice on how to make my next range day more successfull. Next time I will probably limit myself to the +p ammo only, as that is the type I'll actually use in an emergency. The attached photos will show that at close range, I still had a hard time placing on the targets.(A far cry from my .22's 4 inch cluster's at 100 yards.)
I hear high praises of the 28's accuracy and ease of use, but I feel like I didn't experience that. What do so many of you know that I don't, and how do you reccomend I hone my marksmanship with a hangun?
Thanks B.
http://i313.photobucket.com/albums/ll375/BigB01/100_0825.jpg
http://i313.photobucket.com/albums/ll375/BigB01/100_0828.jpg

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C-grunt
July 5, 2008, 06:19 AM
Id say stick to the 38s for practice until you get used to the gun. Handguns are very different than rifles but do share the same fundimentals.

Try a lot of dry firing to build up the muscle memory.

C-grunt
July 5, 2008, 06:21 AM
Also what is "close range"?

Thats not to bad for a handgun beginner I think.

gizamo
July 5, 2008, 07:01 AM
Find some 158 grain lead bullet ~ 38 special. Make sure it is not even Plus P ammo. These are fairly mild loads and your N-frame will feel like a new animal to you:) Winchester White box 100 pack Target loads in .38 special are also pretty mild....

One other thing. The small bullet weight magnum loads are notorious for flame cutting the bottom of the top strap, just above the forcing cone, on K and N-frames...

Giz

gun44
July 5, 2008, 07:36 AM
I have a model 28 like yours, it shoots fine! You may try loading a couple of rounds at a time, and then spinning the cylinder so you won't know when it is going to fire, and practice controlling the flinch, that way! Take a good two handed grip on the gun, and then slowly SQUEEZE the trigger. You will get used to the configuration, and your aim, and control, will improve. In the Army we were taught the BRAS method of firing. Breath, relax, aim, and fire. You may try that. My 2cents worth.

easyrider6042004@yahoo.ca
July 5, 2008, 08:14 AM
First of all, that's a pretty 28.

Secondly, good advice above, on how to improve your shooting, in summary,
1. Lots of dry fire. To make sure you do not flinch, only your trigger finger must move when you squeeze. The sights must remain on target as the hammer falls, and for another second after that, call it "follow through". Do this everyday, 100 shots each, in DA and SA, until you become comfortable and proficient with your gun.

2. Lots of "partially loaded cylinder" exercises, concentrate on trigger finger control and make sure you do not flinch and keep your eyes open before, during and after the shot. Any flinch on the empty chambers will be obvious. This technique will guarantee flinch correction. Keep this up until your flinch is totally eliminated. Do not load full cylinders as long as you flinch...it's just a waste of ammo. Then,

3. Lots of mild .38 special loads.

4. Breathe, relax (exhale halfway), aim, fire. This technique works well for most if not all people.

Have fun!

farscott
July 5, 2008, 12:04 PM
One other recommendation in addition to the excellent ones above: Buy a good S&W .22 LR revolver and practice with it. In addition to the low recoil and low report, it is much less expensive to shoot as a brick of .22s is about as much as a box of .357 Magnums. It is also much easier to diagnose issues with a .22 revolver.

After less than 20 boxes of ammo, the new revolver will have paid for itself. Another plus is you will have another great gun.

SaxonPig
July 5, 2008, 12:57 PM
I think that I am a tad on the wimpy side when it comes to recoil. I do not enjoy shooting the 44 Magnum at all. The 41 is tolerable but not what I call fun. An N frame 357 is a pussycat. Same ammo in the 2.5" K frame starts to become bothersome, again.

The only cure for recoil sensitivity that I know of is experience. The more you shoot, the less the recoil is noticed. I think the average man, with some practice, should be able to handle a 357 N frame Smith without flinching.

.38 Special
July 5, 2008, 01:17 PM
Good advice given here so far. I'd suggest, though, that even most of the lighter loads suggested are still too much. I would use nothing but target wadcutter loads while learning -- and the advice about buying a good .22 is even better.

I am a bit surprised that no one has yet mentioned the front sight. It is the habit of nearly all novice handgunners to look at the target rather than the gun. Accurate handgunning requires that the last thing seen before recoil begins is a sharp, perfect image of the front sight nestled into the somewhat fuzzy-looking rear notch. If your eyes are good enough, you should be able to see the serrations on the front sight blade. The target is seen as nothing more than an-out-of focus blob.

Have fun!

Deanimator
July 5, 2008, 02:00 PM
I am a bit surprised that no one has yet mentioned the front sight.
+1. You will get wildly inconsistent results if you don't focus on the front sight.

The bottom line is that if you're used to shooting rifles or semi-auto pistols, you will have an initially steep learning curve when trying a double action revolver. It takes LOTS of practice to shoot well in double action. However, if you stick with it, you will see results. Safe dry firing is an ESSENTIAL element of D/A revolver shooting. My problem is that my range ONLY allows firing at 50ft. and I really need to start off closer. My only other alternatives are either considerable distances away, or the [in my opinion] dangerously unsupervised range where people come to rent guns and commit suicide.

Last year, I prepared several thousand .38 Special cases for D/A practice. Some health issues kept me from doing much, but having recovered, I'm ready to start again. I bought a copy of McGivern's "Fast and Fancy Revolver Shooting". Once you get past the damned near Shakespearean intricacy of his prose, there's a lot of good information there.

Iggy
July 5, 2008, 02:47 PM
You didn't mention at what distance you were shooting. As a beginning shooter you may be handicapping yourself by shooting too far for starting out.

The advice given above is very good. I might add one other factor.

Shoot a 7-10 yards to help determine what is going on and to establish confidence in your gun and yourself.

Then move things out and do it again.

I can tell you a 28 will do all you want it to when you do it right.

Snapping Twig
July 5, 2008, 03:18 PM
2 points:

1.) It's all about the front sight.

2.) Proper fit of grips.

Most people don't fit those stock target grips. I like smooth wood finger Hogues, but YMMV. Ahrends and others are nice, try some.

Keep your focus on the front sight once you've aligned the target and float the rear sight to bracket the front with your peripheral vision.

I'd add a third thought, don't use too much finger. Use just the pad of the trigger finger.

Work up with mild loads until you have the basics covered and a pattern emerges on your target. Only after you've mastered the basics should you hit the magnums. Of course this is only a suggestion as plenty people started with magnums and did well, but converseley, many people were ruined by starting with them too.

N frames are legendary for their handling, but like a fast car, you don't start out racing it until you get familiar.

dispatch
July 5, 2008, 03:38 PM
Shooting a hangun is a "two eyes wide open" proposition if you are going to use it as a defense weapon. You need to watch the target, probably moving, and the background. If you shoot 4" groups at 7 yards, you aren't going to win a bullseye match, but you are going to seriously deter an assailant.
Probably the best practice advice I ever received is to always watch for your muzzle flash (or cylinder flash in a revolver). If you don't see it you are blinking and jerking.

.38 Special
July 5, 2008, 03:59 PM
I bought a copy of McGivern's "Fast and Fancy Revolver Shooting". Once you get past the damned near Shakespearean intricacy of his prose, there's a lot of good information there.
Never use a hundred words when a thousand will suffice! I've had my copy for over twenty years and still haven't read every word of it. They could substitute it for Anna Karenina in high school "torture the students" class.

Big B
July 5, 2008, 04:07 PM
This is all great advice. Thank you.
My target was at 10 to 12 yards, closest position on pistol side. The plan is to work my way towards the 25 and 50 yard positions. That's further than I'll probably ever need to save my hide, but I'm also interested in the sport and challenge of learning a new way of shooting.
I have been looking for a 22 revo since I paid for the 28, and started pricing ammo. And I thought gas prices sucked...:eek: I'm leaning heavily towards the S&W 617 in 4", a .22 sp101 is a close second, but hard to find. I would take a smaller S&W, but would prefer a larger one that closer resembles the 28.
I will definatly spend some time dry firing, while concentrating on my front sight placement and follow through. I was focused on the target, not the front sight, and follow through was non-existant. I really like the idea of partially loading the cylinder, and plan on trying this from now on (until I'm cured). I'll also stick with a good 38 spl round. As much fun as the magnum rounds were they're not helping my skill level.

One other question. The front sight has two ramps. A low wide ramp on the barrel, and a skinny taller ramp on the top of that. Properly adjusted, The top of which ramp should line up with the top notch the rear sight? In the manual it appears that the top of the lower ramp should be level with the top of the rear sight, with the upper ramp fully visible and on the target. Is that correct? A picture might help. Thanks again.
http://i313.photobucket.com/albums/ll375/BigB01/100_0833.jpg

.38 Special
July 5, 2008, 04:13 PM
Top of the top ramp. The sight picture in the photograph will result in a very high shot -- if the sights are adjusted correctly to begin with. This is what you're looking for:

http://i10.photobucket.com/albums/a101/Noel3006/Fuzzy_sight_picture.png

<edit> I was focused on the target, not the front sight...

That's 99% of the trouble, mate. I'm not much for absolutes, but I will say that you cannot shoot accurately beyond about seven yards maximum if you are looking at the target. As Jerry Miculek (hero of any hardcore revolver enthusiast) says, "It's natural to want to look at the target because that's where all the excitement is happening. The front sight is pretty boring in comparison, but if you want to hit, you have no choice but to use it."

Virginian
July 5, 2008, 04:13 PM
It is not all you. 357s and 38s will normally go to different impact points with the same point of aim.
You need to stick to plain old 38 specials for a while until you get used to the gun. Just concentrate on shrinking the groups, don't worry about where they are, that's what the screws on the sights are for.
My first centerfire was a Ruger Blackhawk in 1973, and I thought it was a real handfull with heavy magnums. Many handguns, and quite a few 44 magnums later, I think regular 44 magnums are fun, I find the old Ruger is a joy with anything it'll shoot, and 125 gr. 357 Magnums aren't bad from a Taurus 605. It just takes some getting used to. There's nothing wrong with you, that top group isn't bad.

MrBorland
July 5, 2008, 04:13 PM
I bought a copy of McGivern's "Fast and Fancy Revolver Shooting". Once you get past the damned near Shakespearean intricacy of his prose, there's a lot of good information there.

Another +1. It's 478 pages long, but if written in todays style, it'd likely be more like 100.

Another thing that made my eyes pop in Mr. McGivern's book, and something that'd certainly get edited out in a current re-write, is a figure (p461) showing the right and wrong way to hold a target disc when it's held in the fingers while someone shoots at it. :eek: I didn't realize there was a right way :confused:

Oh, yeah. All good advice to the OP. Front sight, lots of dryfire and low power .38s and maybe even a .22. I might also add to not peek at the target in between shots to see how you're doing. That's a real killer.

Big B
July 5, 2008, 04:23 PM
I think you explained half of my problems right there. I was firing like the picture shows, and most of my shots were high(over the target...especially the magnums). I think the only thing that brought them down was pushing into my shots, another bad habit. almost a hundered rounds and only about half hit the paper.

.38 Special
July 5, 2008, 04:31 PM
Yeah, the sight picture in your photo is the one I use when shooting at the 300 yard targets. So don't feel too bad; it wasn't that your aim was off, it was just that your target was about 290 yards too close!

jbird714
July 5, 2008, 04:46 PM
Big B,

Try this link. It is the pro tips section at Shooting USA. It has several tips on video by Jerry Miculek, everything from grip to target aquisition and trigger control. Might help seeing it done by the master. Very good advice given by previous posters, nothing beats trigger time and some good instruction.

Jay

http://www.shootingusa.com/PRO_TIPS/JERRY_MICULEK/jerry_miculek.html

Black Knight
July 5, 2008, 05:31 PM
Like Snapping Twig said you may also want to consider changing grips. Some people find the N-frame target grips too large for their hands to get a good firm grip on. I use Pachmayer Presentation grips on mine for shooting and the target grips for show. I have short fingers and the Pachmayers give me a much better grip.

Old Fuff
July 5, 2008, 06:39 PM
A number of companies offer .357 Magnum "cowboy loads," which amount to a standard .38 Special load assembled in a .357 case. Consequently you don't have to keep cleaning the front of the Magnum chambers. These are ideal for practicing. New cartridges are a bit expensive, but once you have the fired brass commercial reloaders can duplicate the load you were using for less (sometimes much less) money.

Forget .38 Special rounds, Plus-P and otherwise.

Big B
July 5, 2008, 06:51 PM
The target grips were one of the main selling points for me. I have large hands and long fingers. There was another 28 at the dealer that had the service grips. It felt too front heavy, and not enough grip for my paws to grab comfortably. I have been thinking of trying some of the Hogue grips that I see on the new 686 though.

After some looking around, the 38 spl rounds that are the easiest to find, with the most in stock, and affordable enough for good practice seem to be the Winn. white box 130 grain jsp. The 158 grain spl and other rounds that were suggested are harder to find around here. When I do find them there are only a couple small boxes in stock and they are substantially more expensive. Thinking of stocking up on the white box.

Deanimator
July 5, 2008, 07:10 PM
Some people find the N-frame target grips too large for their hands to get a good firm grip on.
I'm one of them. The folks on S&W Forum may hate the looks of Pachmayrs and Hogues, but if you SHOOT a lot, they're the way to go. I have one or the other on ALL of my revolvers that I shoot on a regular basis except my S&W M&P. I have magnas and a Tyler T-Grip on that. That was an experiment mostly in aesthetics, but it the combination does feel pretty good.

machinisttx
July 5, 2008, 11:26 PM
The target grips were one of the main selling points for me. I have large hands and long fingers. There was another 28 at the dealer that had the service grips. It felt too front heavy, and not enough grip for my paws to grab comfortably. I have been thinking of trying some of the Hogue grips that I see on the new 686 though.

After some looking around, the 38 spl rounds that are the easiest to find, with the most in stock, and affordable enough for good practice seem to be the Winn. white box 130 grain jsp. The 158 grain spl and other rounds that were suggested are harder to find around here. When I do find them there are only a couple small boxes in stock and they are substantially more expensive. Thinking of stocking up on the white box.

I suggest getting in touch with the folks at Herrett's. You send them a tracing of your hand, and they custom make a set of stocks for your sixgun. I've got pretty big hands, and I can't say I really care for S&W target stocks. They're shaped wrong, and typically allow the gun to slip/slide/roll during recoil.

The very first thing I suggest is obtaining a better set of stocks/grips.

The second is a ton of dry fire practice.

The third is lots and lots of shooting. BUT!!! If you find yourself flinching, correct it right then or stop shooting and try again another day.

Rugerlvr
July 5, 2008, 11:32 PM
I'll tell you, I love my Hogue monogrip for my 28-2.

http://www.xmission.com/~jdjonsson/images/m28-2tough.jpg

shuvelrider
July 6, 2008, 12:13 AM
Maybe I missed it somewhere, but was the pistol sighted in first from a solid rest? I usually use sandbags on the table when I do mine.Just use a minimal 10 yards so you can see your shot group, fire 3 rounds at a time . Make your adjustments once you see how its shooting and test it some more. Then by all means , use all the good advice given and practice alot, I have an old model HP 28 that is a joy to shoot. Was just wondering if yours was "dialed" in or not.

Big B
July 6, 2008, 12:56 AM
No it was not "dialed in". I will definately get to that soon enough. while I should try a sandbag next time I'm there, I am almost certain that I was off much more than the sights were:(

Virginian
July 6, 2008, 01:26 AM
If the grips feel good to you, then you don't need to do anything different grip wise. I don't like standard S&W target stocks because I think the checkering was devised by the Spanish Inquisition, but it isn't my gun so that doesn't matter a hoot. I have large hands too, and I think the S&W un-checkered target grips are great, and the N frame Combat grips are even greater, but that's me.
I have never met a rubber grip I liked.

.38 Special
July 6, 2008, 05:58 PM
Yeah, I think the subject of grips can be overdone. If the grips physically hurt you then they will interfere with your shooting, but otherwise I've never found that switching grips can cure bad groups.

As for ammo, I would took a hard look at this (http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=767925) stuff. Still seems frightfully expensive to me, but I guess that's what ammunition goes for these days. I personally could not afford to learn how to shoot with factory ammo. I would think that in order to learn how to shoot using a centerfire, the average Joe would have to A) learn to handload, B) buy a .22, or C) hit the lotto

nitesite
July 6, 2008, 10:33 PM
That's a damned fine revolver you have there, without a doubt one of the very best .357s ever made. Nice photos, too. Good Job!

One question that hasn't been asked yet...

Are you wearing good hearing protection?

That may seem like a silly thing to ask, but handguns (especially revolvers) have a very sharp frequency compared to the weapons you've been shooting. That could cause you to flinch if you aren't protecting your hearing.

Those R357M1s (the Remington Express .357 Magnum 125-gr JHP load) is an absolute screaming hot load from the old days and the noise and blast are incredible from a 4-inch revolver! Shoot one of the R357M1s without good ear protection and you'll feel horrible!

BTW, I have a 4" Highway Patrolman myself. I changed the grips and like shooting it much better.

http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y141/nitesite9/Model28-2_Hogue.jpg

Big B
July 6, 2008, 11:16 PM
I bought 2 good sets of over the ear protection just for this gun(one for my wife). Winchester brand with a db rating of 26. I also use wrap around style glasses, which is a good thing because I did feel a little powder hit my face from time to time when I fired.
The magnum rounds were loud in general and the 125 +p's had a loud crack to them. It didn't bother me, but my wife who was 7 feet behind me had to wear ear plugs too (for the magnum's only). Our outdoor range is covered and it can get loud.
The more I think about it it was probably firing the 357 mag's first, and the powder in the face that started the flinching to begin with. The gun didn't actually scare me, it was more surprise and awe. I know that a couple grains of powder here and there won't get through my glasses, and with all of the good advice I'm getting, I can't wait to get back out there and fix my bad habits.
Cool grips. A little more colorful than I would go with, but they look comfortable. Are they hogue? and are they real wood?

Big B
July 6, 2008, 11:23 PM
One other thing, I know that I didn't flinch or blink at least one time with the mag rounds, because with one shot I was able to see the muzzle blast. Outside and in the daytime, it looked about six inches long, It;s hard to tell from behind the sights though. It was enough to make me smile in a humble sort of way.

machinisttx
July 7, 2008, 12:47 AM
Those R357M1s (the Remington Express .357 Magnum 125-gr JHP load) is an absolute screaming hot load from the old days and the noise and blast are incredible from a 4-inch revolver! Shoot one of the R357M1s without good ear protection and you'll feel horrible!

That's my carry load in my .357's. I've fired a few of them from my 2.25" SP101 without hearing protection. My ears rang for a little while, but they weren't that bad.

nitesite
July 7, 2008, 01:10 AM
Please pardon me for saying so, but if someone fires R357M1s from a short barrelled revolver sans hearing protection well that's just nutz. Were you outside without an overhead canopy? That can help to minimize the high frequency damage to one's hearing. But even if it makes your ears ring for only a little while it would be a great idea to upgrade to some good hearing protection.

And BTW, I have three fresh boxes of that stuff and I treasure it.

Oh, the OP asked if the grips are real wood.

Yep, they are Hogue and the pattern name is Lamo Camo.

They may be a bit colorful and non-traditional but I like them because they are comfortable and also attention getting.

nitesite
July 7, 2008, 01:16 AM
Originally posted by Big B

I also use wrap around style glasses, which is a good thing because I did feel a little powder hit my face from time to time when I fired.
The more I think about it it was probably firing the 357 mag's first, and the powder in the face that started the flinching to begin with. I know that a couple grains of powder here and there won't get through my glasses


May I ask you to provide us some more details about your experience with being hit in the face with burnt powder?

Big B
July 7, 2008, 09:51 PM
Within the first few rounds I fired, I noticed that it felt like I got hit in the cheek with a couple of grains of sand, after I fired a shot. In all honesty, I can't remember how many times this happened over the course of the day. It didn't happen very often, and I really didn't think much of it at the time.
Is this uncommon with revolvers?
For the record, the gun seems to be in great mechanical shape. It locks up tight, and in the right spot. I haven't measured the cylinder gap yet, but after about 90 rounds the action became gritty and hard to move. After I cleaned and oiled it, everything about it felt better and more smooth than when I bought it. (including the trigger pull, opening the cylinder, and ejecting the empties)

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