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1962 Colt .38 - range report (Very long, pics)

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Cousin Mike, Jul 23, 2006.

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  1. Cousin Mike

    Cousin Mike Member

    Nov 27, 2005
    Columbus, Ohio
    I posted a thread not too long ago about this nice Colt revolver I found in a pawn shop for $100.00 – Well, it’s been a LONG week to say the least. Let’s just say that now I can speak from 1st hand experience what it’s like to fire a gun indoors (no, it doesn't make you deaf), and I also know a little something about wall penetration. Yep, I had a ND with the Colt. Shot a hole in my wall. Although I did just make somewhat of a small joke about it, believe me, the whole experience changed my life.

    I thought about getting rid of all my guns. Once I calmed down, and had a chance to rethink things, I realized that it was all my fault. I was being stupid, and I broke one of the 4 rules. I had my finger on the trigger. Had I not, this wouldn’t have happened. Letting that sink in, I decided to keep my guns, and simply live with the fact that I had to learn safety the hard way – and now I have a much more healthy respect for firearms of any and every type, and the 4 rules. I’ve never had an accident in years of owning autos, so I guess I had a false sense of security about owning a revolver. It would be easy to, but I refuse to blame the revolver for my own stupidity.

    I keep all my guns loaded. I forgot what was in my hand. I was in a hurry to get to work and wanted to show a friend my new pistol. Bad mix of events. That’s how it happened.

    So after dealing with having had a ND, etc. - the damn thing broke on me - the cylinders refused to cycle. I knew nothing about revolvers. And, in full accordance with my usual luck, there isn’t a gunsmith anywhere in this city of 1.2 million people that I could find who would/could work on it within the next 2 weeks. Typical…

    Well, I still don’t know enough to tell you what the problem was, but let’s just say that working with tools all day doesn’t necessarily make me hesitant to crack things open, and see what I can see. I found out how to clean it and strip it, and I found a spring in the cylinder release lever that was out of whack, and fixing it's position fixed the problem… I learned a lot about this gun and the way it works. The only bad thing was that it took me 2 days (and taking it apart about a million times) to find the damned spring, diagnose and fix the problem, and put it back together correctly.

    This morning I knew that I needed to get this Colt to the range if I was going to keep it. This week has been crazy. Very frustrating, among other things. I had to replace a mirror and fix a wall. I had to fix the gun itself, with no previous knowledge of how to do so. My confidence, well… that won’t be so easy to fix. I know that after all this, I had to have some familiarization time with this gun. I ask the girlfriend if she’d like to go along, and as always she replies with an emphatic “Yes!”

    That made me feel good for the first time in a few days.

    So we’re off to Wal-Mart. :barf: I hate Wal-Mart. Unfortunately for me, and anyone else who hates that wicked place of doom, the ammo that they DO carry (which ain’t much) is a tad cheaper than you can find it anywhere else. Wal-Mart is always a zoo. Today is no different. We hurry out and leave the city behind us to head out to our shooting place. It might have been 2 weeks since we’ve gone. It felt like forever.

    We get there, one 50-box of Remington 130gr. FMJ, and one 50-box of Winchester 125gr. JHP to shoot, ear & eye protection ready. They’re out of my usual 25 yard silhouette targets. I pick another target, get 10 of them, and we find our lane. We won’t be here long, that’s not the point of today’s trip. This is homework. This is also therapy. This gun still makes me nervous. I need to get over that. It’s overdue, and I feel negligent. I need to know if this thing shoots straight, and if it's working properly.

    I load her up, send my target downrange about 10 yards, pull back my hammer, and let one fly. I like it. She’s got a nice little flash and bang to her with the Remington loads, but she’s not any louder than the .45 going off 2 lanes over. Recoil is extremely mild compared to any of my auto’s. I like her. I pull my hammer back again, and get another single-action shot off. The next 4 shots I rapid fire, and pull back my target, staring at a 5” group, all high. This is not good.

    The guys next to me with the .45 leave, and 2 new guys show up, and take the lane directly next to us. One’s wearing camo pants and a tight black T-shirt, and steel-toed boots. He’s a white guy in his late 30’s-early 40's with somewhat long hair. He’s cocky, and doesn’t return my nod. He's got 2 huge boxes of equipment. Great… Just what the hell I need. Commando the Tacti-coolguy is at my range with an apprentice he intends to ruin on the subjects of pistolcraft and marksmanship. His partner, a young latino looking kid with a sort of hard look about him, is polite, but looks nervous. This is interesting. They set up a huge target, and the kid sets it out to maybe 7-8 yards. Commando asks him, “You going all the way out to 75 feet?”

    Isn't this just friggin great. The kid isn't even halfway to max distance. Why me? I want to scream, “This is a 50’ pistol range, you jackass!” This is gonna be one hell of a day.

    I try not to laugh. Then, as if on cue, a laser pops up on this target and starts going haywire. My girlfriend mouths the words “Oh my @#%&*!? God…” and puts her face in her hands. She’s shaking violently, hiding in the booth, trying not to laugh out loud. I sigh in disbelief. Commando is barking off all sorts of advice on how to point with the laser, how to aim, etc. I have to put my hand over my mouth to keep from laughing. The kid starts plowing away with his 9mm. At this point, the .38 is down on the table and we’re just watching our new neighbors. :D

    I’m being pelted with casings. It’s so funny I don’t even care.

    The laser is bouncing everywhere – it’s obvious to me just watching that this kid couldn’t have possibly fired a gun before today… and of course, Commando thought it would be a good idea to train him on a laser. I look over and he’s got this kid shooting one handed in some weird stance. Commando is encouraging him. I feel bad for this kid, it’s obvious he thinks this guy knows what he’s doing. They’re shooting at a target literally 10x the size of ours, and even with a laser, the kid cant put a shot thru the middle of it. From 7-8 yards no less. He pulls his target back, and he’s excited. I notice his shots are about 2 feet low and to the right. I feel kind of bad for him. I find myself hoping that this kid gets a real instructor sometime soon, or even teaches himself how to shoot. Anything would be better than listening to this guy.

    Then he hands Commando the gun. The moment I’ve been waiting for. First shot, laser sight equipped and all, Commando hits the clamp on the top of the target and sends the target swinging back and forth wildly, and the target falls out of the clamp and onto the floor. I look over, and give him a crooked smile. He has a stupid look on his face. People are quietly snickering. I’ve seen enough… The disgust I feel is indescribeable. Back to my shooting.

    I take my speedloader, drop in another 6, and plow away at the target with double-action pulls. My shots are all over the place. I’m pissed. That stupid laser bouncing around is distracting me. I give the gun to my girlfriend, and reassure her that there’s nothing to be scared of. She seems to appreciate that. It’s actually a kitten compared to her pistols (she likes compact 9’s, which kick a little harder to me). If you read my first thread, you know my girlfriend had never fired a six-shooter (or any other revolver for that matter), and was intimidated by the idea of them. She said she “imagines the recoil would be somewhat like holding a small cannon,” given that there’s no moving parts to soak up recoil. She takes ahold of the gun, points downrange, and takes her time… pulling the hammer back, waiting for her shot… all single-action pulls. Somehow, she’s able to ignore the light show next to us. She pulls back a nice tight group, and has a big grin on her face. I think she likes it. :D

    Okay, it’s not the gun. We put up a new target, and I load up the cylinder and speedloader, and try again. I take aim, and notice just before I shoot that for whatever reason, I’m aligning the sights with my LEFT eye. Why? I have no idea. I’m right handed. I re align the sight picture with my right eye, pull the hammer back, take a breath and hold it. I find my sight picture. I squeeze. BANG! I see a little paper fall from the target. Nice. I let the other 5 go rather quickly, and caught myself still wanting to use my left eye to align the sights. This is something that I’ve never experienced with my autos. Also, I found it hard to keep track of how many rounds I fired. I almost always went to fire it a 7th time. I figure these things will work themselves out as I get more and more used to shooting wheelguns.

    I pull back this target. Not too impressed, but it’s better than before. Center to center, this group measures 2 ¼”. Not my best ever, but not the worst I've ever done with a pistol I've never fired before either.


    Through all 100 rounds, she hiccupped once. One FTFire, with a primer strike that was very off center. This was with the Remington ammo. All my Winchester ammo shot fine, regardless of off-center primer strikes. It was a tad louder, and had less flash than the Remington. When I put the failed round back in the cylinder, it fired the 2nd time. Other than that, nothing significant to speak of, other than how much we both loved shooting this gun. I was more accurate with the Remington 130gr. than I was with the Winchester JHP's, but not enough to be concerned.

    My girlfriend wants a revolver of her own now. I can’t wait to get my .357 or .44 Magnum, but now I REALLY can’t decide which caliber I want to go with. I'm thinking .44.

    My best target of the day was this one… This group, center to center, measured out to 1 7/8”. This was shot at about 15 yards.


    As you can see I’m still aiming a little high, but I am still getting used to the sight picture of this thing.

    So, I’m keeping it. I wouldn’t hesitate to carry it either. I’m looking for a pair of the original wooden grips, because mine are chipped on the bottom left side - and I think I might refinish the bluing on it. Those grips are proving to be a challenge to find, but someone, somewhere has them. I think in the meantime I’ll look for some aftermarket grips to put on it for range trips, carry, etc. I’m looking forward to purchasing more 6-shooters very soon, and my girlfriend also can’t wait to accumulate her own revolver collection.

    Oh, and by the way, she outshot me with it. Yeah, I know… but I’m being a man and admitting it. :D Honestly, I think it’s cool that she outshoots me sometimes, since I’m the one who taught her to shoot. It boosts her confidence, which is always a good thing. Her first time with a revolver, and she shot it better than I did. I’m proud! :) Her best group of the day measured out to 1 3/8”, center to center @ 10 yards, with 3 in the x-ring. I only accomplished hitting the x-ring in the midst of some pretty bad groups. Women are amazing.

    All in all, I'd have to say the whole experience of buying this pistol has not only been life changing, for obvious reasons - but I am a big fan of revolvers now. I'm starting to get over the ND, and I realize I'm not the only person it's ever happened to. I will always remember how terrible it was to cook off a round in my house, and I will always be more careful with them - but to want another one right after having an accident... Does that make me nuts?

    I have a new toy I like, and although I have to accept that I learned true firearms safety the hard way, I think this thing will always have a spot in my home. It seems to shoot pretty straight. It’s also got one hell of a story attached to it now, and I dunno if I could get rid of it if I wanted to.

    I don't know if I like them as much as auto's yet, simply for capacity. I still feel somewhat safer carrying an auto, but once the initial shock of having an accident wears off I'm sure that will probably change. It will also probably change as I become more familiar with them. I would carry this revolver. I'm getting pretty quick with a speedloader. I love the concealability of these things.

    I'm sorry for the length of this, but it has been somewhat therapeutic to talk about, and the part about the coolguy at the range today was just too funny to leave out. I hope you enjoy the crappy pics I took with my cell phone, and my Sunday range report about my new Colt .38 - Thanks for reading.
  2. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

    Dec 24, 2002
    Home Of The First Capitol Of The Confederate State
    I'm a 'Smith kind'a guy; but its damn hard too beat a good old' Colt~!;)
    Congrat's:cool: and Enjoy~!:D

    ABTOMAT Member

    Feb 23, 2006
    Great report, thanks.

    I have to ask, though. How'd the rest of your lane neighbor Neo's day go? :)
  4. Cousin Mike

    Cousin Mike Member

    Nov 27, 2005
    Columbus, Ohio

    .. was definitely not "The one"... :D

    I feel kind of bad talking about the guy but as soon as I saw dude's outfit, I knew I was in trouble. I've never seen anyone dressed like that to go to a pistol range. This guy was dressed like he needed to be in Iraq.

    I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt when I saw him, and hoped maybe he was just really into his training. Once I saw that laser come out though, I knew it was 'the invasion of the coolguy.'

    I've seen guys at the range with lasers. Never really had a problem with it, but usually it's some guy who's been shooting half the day, and THEN turns on a laser. Usually, the guys who use them shoot very straight with them. I had never seen one come on before someone took their very first shot. Combine all that with this guys attitude, and you have comdey written all over the situation.

    With the way this guy looked I just knew that he was going to put 10 shots through the same hole. Once he hit the target clamp with his first shot, he proceeded to shoot even worse than his apprentice. I honestly did just stop watching. If I had kept looking to see what they were doing, I would have been there all day.

    What I did notice was that they seemed to spend an incredible amount of time trying to get the laser steady. I've heard a lot of debate on these boards about lasers, being a tactical advantage and a deterrent, etc. There seems to be a lot of opinions both ways. It seems almost a 50/50 thing.

    People either think they're the greatest thing since sliced bread, or a handicap... a crutch that will get a person killed in a gunfight. Having seen 2 noobs shoot with a laser yesterday, I am definitely of the latter opinion.
  5. BillinNH

    BillinNH Member

    Jan 4, 2006
    New Hampshire
    <Oh, and by the way, she outshot me with it. >

    In my experience, women are on the average better handgun shots than men. Must be their mental attitude or something. But if I shoot with a woman I know I may come in second.

  6. Master Blaster

    Master Blaster Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Delaware home of tax free shopping
    Here is some safety advice which I hope you will take.

    DO NOT store all of your guns loaded. Only keep the gun loaded if you are carrying it or keeping it for self defense, or if you are on the fireing line ready to shoot.

    DO NOT hand a loaded gun to someone else to inspect.

    I'm glad to hear no one was hurt when you had your ND.

    Nice revolver, you got a great deal on it.
  7. Cousin Mike

    Cousin Mike Member

    Nov 27, 2005
    Columbus, Ohio
    :D I always say women are amazing. I swear it's true. I've noticed that when I see other couples like us at the range (couples that are always there, and almost always together), I notice the women frequently outshoot the men. The guys who run my range - very knowledgeable older gentleman - all seem to have the same view. I haven't talked to enough people to know if that's a universally accepted fact, but it makes sense. Women are better in school (on average) probably for the same reasons - they just make better students, IMO - be it calculus or pistolcraft.

    The ONLY thing that tends to burn my ass about it is that it took me 5 years to teach myself to shoot, mainly because no one I knew had any knowledge of firearms. I knew nothing about the NRA or instructors - Until about 2 years ago, all I knew was that it's legal for me to own a pistol because I'm not a criminal. :cool:

    I was able to teach her everything I knew about shooting well within 1 month of the first time she ever fired a gun.

    Master Blaster, first of all, thank you for the advice, and thank you for addressing my ND in a kind manner. I'm also very thankful that nobody was hurt. I've already called myself every name in the book a thousand times, so it's nice not to be scolded - I honestly thought I had shot myself when it happened. I was incredibly relieved to find out that I hadn't, but I'll never forget what that felt like. I was scared to look down.

    I was over on Glocktalk today - it seems like EVERYONE over there has shot themselves at least once. :D

    On a more serious note though, your advice has been taken. I always thought that simply keeping every gun in the house loaded was a way to avoid AD/ND's - but I see a lot of practicality in only loading my SD/HD or carry weapons. For the record, I was not intending to hand my weapon to my friend while it was loaded. This particular friend is not very knowledgeable about pistols, and I would never hand anyone else a loaded pistol - simply because people are stupid and do stupid things for no reason. Even when at the range with my girlfriend, we leave the guns on the table, empty with slides locked back or cylinders out, and let the other person commence shooting.

    ----------------Here's how it happened--------------

    The gun was loaded because it had shared nightstand duty with my .357 the night before. I woke up late, which is why I was in a hurry, and I took the gun with me downstairs while I got my tools ready. When I finished, while I was brushing my teeth, I went to unload it.

    Something, for whatever reason, posessed me to manually cycle a few cylinders before unloading (cock it, thumb down hammer, repeat). This is where things get a little hazy in the memory. I cycled the cylinder a couple of times, and pulled back the cylinder release. I had it cocked, so it wouldnt release, and when I went to thumb down the hammer to unload the gun...


    Ears ringing.
    Thoughts racing.

    "Why is the mirror broken?

    What the f*** is that hole?!

    I smell gunpowder.

    No I didn't... I couldn't have...


    Oh God. I hope I'm not shot.

    Oh God... I'm not shot... Thank you so much.

    Where's my girlfriend?"

    All this maybe took 1.5 seconds, and once I thought about her I ran out of the room to see where she was. I don't remember, but apparently I kept repeating the words "Oh sh*t," and apologizing. She said later when she came downstairs and saw me, that's when she knew the gun went off. She thought that our china cabinet had crashed. I guess since I shot a mirror, the sound of the glass breaking was more of what she heard than the bang. Surprised me, since it was loaded with +P ammo.

    Apparently it didn't sound like a gunshot, even in the same house. This explains why nobody in my neighborhood called the police. My neighbors obviously didn't hear anything - they're still friendly, and no one has asked "what in the hell was that huge bang I heard on such-and-such morning?" Funny, because when I calmed down that was the first thing I did - look outside to see who was home.. And EVERYBODY was.

    I never even heard it go off, as crazy as that sounds. I SAW it happen because I was standing in the mirror. I've heard others say that you don't actually hear it when you have a ND, and that seems to be the truth. I never heard a shot, my ears just started ringing. Seeing the flash in the mirror, the glass shattering, the hole, the pistol heating up in my hand, and the smell of gunpowder all had to come together in my head before I knew what had happened.


    I've thought about this a lot since then. It took me 1.5 - 2 seconds to even realize that I had a ND. If I had shot myself, say fatally... I would have never even known what happened.

    I notice that on other forums ND's are discussed a lot. Not here, they aren't. I think most people are afraid to speak about them. They seem to be a lot more common that most people would think. Some people even have cute sayings - my favorite being:

    There are 2 kinds of gunowners...

    1.) Those who have already had a ND
    2.) Those who will have a ND in the future

    I think that's BS to an extent, I know not everyone has them. But, if I do say so myself, the people I've known who have had ND's were not new to guns in any way. They were all very experienced, safe people who had been around guns for a very long time. I guess if you have one for so long, and nothing happens, you start to get complacent. That's when trouble comes, and that was my problem. Because I had never had an accident, I was comfortable doing something that I shouldn't have been - and it angers me that hindsight was the only way to see that.

    However, if my posts about my ND reminds someone else that complacency kills - mistakes DO happen, we are all human beings, and all human beings are capable of mistakes - If my posts keep someone else from having a ND, then it's worth it to swallow my pride and share my experience. It also helps me to get over it... Once again, thanks to all for listening, thanks for the advice, and the compliments on my gun.

    I hope I can find another deal like this Colt again in my lifetime.
  8. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

    Dec 24, 2002

    Your Colt Official Police revolver has an internal hammer block. If the hammer falls from full-cock it will not fire, unless you are holding the trigger back. In the future when lowering the hammer, hold the hammer spur, pull the trigger, lower the hammer a short distance (1/8" or so) and then let go of the trigger and lower the hammer while letting the trigger follow down too. The hammer will stop before it goes far enough to let the firing pin hit a primer. You can practice this while the (unloaded) cylinder is swung out, and if watching the breechface see what is happening.

    Do practice... ;)
  9. BluesBear

    BluesBear member

    Jul 25, 2003
    The Great Pacific NorthWet
    In my house... WMMV (bwgaf)

    Personally I keep all of my "working" guns loaded at all times. EXCEPT when handling them.

    I find the physical act of unloading and placing the ammunition in the little tray kept purposely for it reinforces my "Yes it's unloaded and okay to dryfire" routine.

    There is no picking up a gun and cycling the hammer routine in my house. And there never will be. However manual cocking and decocking is stlll practiced a lot.
    In my house Rule One is the usual "All guns are Loaded" because they ARE loaded.
    They are treated as loaded until specifically, individually UNLOADED and then verified.

    When I remove my carry gun I place it, still loaded, in a certain location where it resides when it's "off duty". When I pick it up again at a later time to carry again there is no doubt whether it is loaded or not. Of course it is. I don't need no "press check" or "open the cylinder like Cagney (Jimmie, not '& Lacey')" routine.

    When I go to the range or "The Pit" I unload the guns I'm taking, put them inside a range case and then load them with range ammo after I'm on the firing line.
    Once home the working guns get cleaned and reloaded. Other guns get cleaned and stored in the safe.

    There are a couple of working long guns in my house also. Working long guns are stored muzzle down. A gun is never stored muzzle up unless it has been unloaded and verified. Even then whenever it is handled it is re-verified.
    Long guns are stored chamber empty, handguns are stored chamber loaded.

    Hey that's just the way I do it. Flame away I ain't gonna change.
    Y'all do whatever works for you. I ain't gonna say you're wrong even if you are.
    But whatever you do just pick a routine and stick with it.

    Practic Safe!
    Practice Hard!
    Practice OFTEN!
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