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Forgotten revolver tips and tricks.

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Thaddeus Jones, Mar 15, 2013.

  1. Thaddeus Jones

    Thaddeus Jones Member

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    Having read through another thread on this board, I see that there are some young revolver afficianados present here. In that thread I became aware that certain things I was taught as a young LEO, pertaining to fighting and prevailing with a six shot revolver, are evidently lost to the dustbin of history.

    While I regarded these revolver "tips and tricks" as common knowledge by those carrying a revolver, they are evidently no longer taught or are unknown to young revolver users. I will attempt in this thread, to share with those who might be interested, the tips and tricks that I still recall.

    I would like to request two things for this thread. One, I am no expert. I'm simply trying to pass on what little I recall (due to the onset of oldtimers) if you are an old revolver mossback like me, please relate to us any training tips or revolver techniques you may still recall or use. Two, if you are one of the many who find it impossible to feel "well armed" without seventeen rounds in your handgun and a belt festooned with spare magazines, please refrain from posting in my thread. This thread is not for rehashing the age old "revolver vs semi auto" or six rounds vs abizzilion rounds arguments. That is currently being done a few doors down. Please hit your back button now or go and start your own thread. Thanks! :)

    Well, let us start at the beginning. Loading your revolver. When is your revolver "loaded"? An old range SGT pounded into my head, sometimes literally, that your revolver is loaded when there is one round in it. Think about it.

    He would march back and forth behind the line, frothing at the mouth, screaming "WHEN IS YOUR GUN LOADED??!! WHEN THERE IS ONE ROUND IN IT!!" This was a reminder that, in extremis, it was well to remember that you could simply drop one round into the cylinder and possibly save your life. You might not always need to try, or more likely under the extreme duress of close combat, fumble trying to load six. We had speedloaders then, but in the not to distant past, at that point in time, dump pouches had been used. In fact some of the older and less dexterous officers still used them at the time. One NYPD officer had been killed while using those dump pouches and trying to reload six rounds in his revolver.

    We were also taught to use a 2X2X2 pouch. Much better than a dump pouch. This 2X2X2 pouch held six rounds close together in pairs. You carried it on your belt (it wrapped around) and learned to pull the rounds out in pairs and drop/feed them into the charge holes. With some extensive practice at this it becomes a rather fast way to get back in the fight, in the unlikely event you should ever need to reload during a "gunfight".

    A word about "gunfighting" here as I see the term, and opinions of same, cast about rather willy nilly with many opinions presented as facts. The only "fact" I know about "gunfights" is that no two are ever exactly the same.

    We were always taught that there were two LIKELY constants in any armed conflict we might engage in as law enforcement officers. One, we would likely be the second person to know we were in a gunfight. Two, we would likely be out of time well before we were out of ammunition. These adages still prove true today as well and may have some value for those armed citizens using a revolver to protect themselves. BUT - one should always train for the worst and hope for the best.

    When using a revolver for fighting, be aware that you need not dump unfired rounds in order to reload your sixgun to full capacity. I you fire two or three shots and obtain cover (COVER not concealment, there is a difference! ;)) open your revolvers cylinder and slightly tap up on the ejector rod. Your fired casings will remain up and your remaining unfired cartridges will fall back down into their charge holes. Pick out the emptys and drop in your fresh rounds from your 2X2X2 or loose cartridges carried in a pocket. I always carried two speedloaders, and a 2X2X2 pouch, plus the six I started out with in the gun. 24 rounds. I was proficient and fast with all the reload methods due to endless repititions. Muscle memory is real and you WILL fight like you train.

    Well, I'm tired now and hungry so I will stop for now and if there is any interest I will try to return as I'm able and relate what little I still know. :) Best, TJ
     
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  2. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

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    Tactical reloads are good. Make sure that under your star, it's bone dry and turn your gat vertical and dump with vigor/gusto. and learn to count
     
  3. Iggy

    Iggy Member

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    TJ.
    Very good post, brings back some old memories.
     
  4. osteodoc08

    osteodoc08 Member

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    Unfortunately, those tactics you refer to were out of the investigation into the Newhall incident. Several good men died that day. Good advise nonetheless. Also, don't bother picking up empties.
     
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  5. Thaddeus Jones

    Thaddeus Jones Member

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    Thank you gentlemen. As I don't yet see any objections, I'll drone on for a bit today.

    Yes, I recall the Newhall Incident as it was referred to. Very sad day. Prayers sent for the brave officers who lost their lives that day. Better training did come from it

    I won't go into speed loading techniques very much here. One reason is that I'm left handed and to watch me speedload befuddled my instructors. ;)

    Suffice it to say, there are plenty of videos on the net and many good books/articles instructing on speedloading your revolver. I will say that you cannot practice it enough. Back in the day I practiced it several times a week until it was second nature and I could literally do it in the dark with my eyes closed. And quickly too! Very basic revolver skill to have. Especially if you carry a revolver as your primary self defense piece. We can debate the odds of ever needing to do a speed reload in a fight, BUT - should you have the need, you had better have the skill to do so rapidly and efficiently. Nuff said on that topic.

    On the topic of equipment and ammunition I have little to share or opine. I will say that you should inspect your revolver daily, before holstering, for basic things like loose sideplate screws, unscrewed ejector rod, loose thumblatch, dirt/debris/unburned powder under the ejector star AND - if so equipped - the trigger stop. When S&W was selling model 19's and 66's they had a little trigger stop in the slot behind the trigger.

    These had a bad habit of working themselves loose and tying up the gun. S&W, to their credit, issued a bulletin advising LE agencies to remove these from the guns. Remove them if yours is so equipped and used for serious purpose. Hold onto the screw though as it is the same as the screw in your sight leaf and makes a handy replacement to have. I will also say that I only use pre lock revolvers for serious purpose. Nuff said on that.

    As to ammunition, we used Winchester Silver Tip, Federals Treasury load and a few others I no longer recall back in the day. I advise you to use only factory ammunition is your self defense revolver. Not for the "legal arguments" against handloads, but for reliability and consistancy. Factory ammunition is sealed against moisture.

    I know of an officer who was killed in a fight because of old unsealed ammunition. This officer was not much on cleaning his revolver, other than for mandatory inspection. He never changed out his ammunition either. (change it out every quater, its cheap insurance!) Anyways, he evidently used too much oil on his gun and it seeped past into his cartridges primers. His revolver didn't go bang when he needed it to. With tragic results. He was also the second person to know he was in a fight. :(

    I use Speer Gold Dot 135 grain 38+P these days in all my revolvers. Snubs and 4 inch service size. I've seen the good results large agencies have had with this load, also known as "The NYPD load". Works for me. Low flash and easy on recoil. VERY accurate out of my revolvers. Use whatever ammunition is most accurate for you and enables you a quick follow up shot. As our instructors stressed to us; "anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice!"

    Well, I'm tired of typing again, so I'm going to stop again. I've got an IDPA match and a gunshow this weekend, so I'll stop by again Monday if anyone is still interested by then. :) Best, TJ
     
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  6. Iggy

    Iggy Member

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    Back in those "good old days" I drew and dry fired my duty gun 10 times every day before I went on duty and drew and fired a minimum of 12 rounds on my days off.
    Newhall was a wake up call for many of us.

    I also practiced reloading with one hand. Stick the gun in your waistband with the cylinder on the outside of your belt and load with one hand.

    I spent an afternoon with Bill Jordan. I thought I was pretty fast until then. I did learn some things and got a wee mite faster.

    The practice paid off a couple of times. When the stuff hit the fan, instinct took over and I was able to walk away and go home at the end of the shift.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2013
  7. Clippers

    Clippers Member

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    Great information! Keep it coming and I'll soak up as much as I can.
     
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  8. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Or simply put the screw back after you remove the stop. The screw itself isn't a problem, and when the sideplate is assembled the screw can't back out. Later if you need it you won't have to remember where you put it.

    An alternative is to fit a pin, carefully trimmed to length, inside the rebound slide spring. It can also be set up to block the trigger's travel so that the hammer can't be cocked in the single-action mode. This gives you an effective double-action only trigger pull without making any alterations to the hammer or trigger. Remove the pin (or shorten it) and you have the single-action option back again.
     
  9. Rexster

    Rexster Member

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    Regarding partial reloads:

    I was attending an excellent two-hour mini-class taught by Michael de Bethancourt at the Snubby Summit in 2005. On the range, during a stage that called for using Speed Strips, as he was talking us through the scenario, in which the attacker was advancing while we were reloading, I was the only one to load two, close the cylinder, and immediately fire those two rounds, while everyone else took much longer to completely reload their cylinders.

    To be clear, Michael does, indeed, recommend carrying speedloaders; the object of the above-described exercise was to teach us to engage an opponent, even if one's cylinder is not full. Having used 2x2x2 carriers and Speed Strips for years beforehand, I was already quite familiar with the concept of tactical reloads and partial reloads.

    I patrol one of the USA's largest cities, at night, and while I went modern in 1997 by carrying autos on duty, I would not lose any sleep over it, if I had to carry a revolver on the mean streets again. The practicality of an auto is that it is more efficent use of available real estate on the duty belt; my duty belt size setting has not increased since my skinny self graduated from the police academy in March 1984. (I have put on a few pounds above and below the belt line.) When not having to tote handcuffs, Taser, baton, and radio, there is plenty of room on the belt for revolvers and reloads.

    Some say that gunfights have become worse, necessitating autos and multiple double-column magazines. While I am not against the concept of having more ammo available, I am just not seeing this. Of course, while wearing a duty sixgun on the hip, I would be wearing a back-up weapon, and in the patrol car, a shotgun, and, usually, another revolver were available. Using revolvers does not mean foregoing ammo availability. Off the clock, these days, I am likely to tote two revolvers, or a revolver and an auto.
     
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  10. rvn67n20

    rvn67n20 Member

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    T. Jones, please do continue. Although of your age cohort, I still have much to learn. Thank you sir!
     
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  11. rvn67n20

    rvn67n20 Member

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    More! Please!

    T. Jones, please do continue. Although of your age cohort, I still have much to learn. Thank you sir!
     
  12. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

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    Having read through another thread on this board, I see that there are some young revolver afficianados present here. In that thread I became aware that certain things I was taught as a young LEO, pertaining to fighting and prevailing with a six shot revolver, are evidently lost to the dustbin of history.

    Well, let us start at the beginning. Loading your revolver..

    .We were also taught to use a 2X2X2 pouch. Much better than a dump pouch. This 2X2X2 pouch held six rounds close together in pairs. You carried it on your belt (it wrapped around) and learned to pull the rounds out in pairs and drop/feed them into the charge holes. With some extensive practice at this it becomes a rather fast way to get back in the fight, in the unlikely event you should ever need to reload during a "gunfight".


    Not necessarily true. I carried dump pouches that where steel lined to hold rubber speed strips with six rounds. Lot less fumbling.

    Loops can be fast if you bring the empty cylinder of the gun close to the loops at waist level but as you put it required extensive practice to do it fast and fumble free.

    Speedloaders are the fastest and most foolproof way to reload the revolver. I carried Safariland which only required a strong push to release rather than turning the knob on HKS.

    When using a revolver for fighting, be aware that you need not dump unfired rounds in order to reload your sixgun to full capacity. I you fire two or three shots and obtain cover (COVER not concealment, there is a difference! ) open your revolvers cylinder and slightly tap up on the ejector rod. Your fired casings will remain up and your remaining unfired cartridges will fall back down into their charge holes. Pick out the emptys and drop in your fresh rounds from your 2X2X2 or loose cartridges carried in a pocket. I was proficient and fast with all the reload methods due to endless repititions.

    This was outdated from the minute it was introduced. It has been proven over and over that fine motor skills go out the window under extreme stress. As you admit this technique required endless practice.

    The Onion Field incident created a lot of controversy about whether to surrender your gun if someone such as your partner is been held hostage. It taught the value of a backup gun.

    Newhall taught us to how range practice habits that can get you killed in real life. Dumping empty brass into your hand and putting the brass into your pant pocket so you don’t have to sweep up brass after done qualifying. And not practicing bringing a partially reloaded revolver back into action. It taught us the value of the “New York Reload” i.e. carrying a second handgun (again).

    How many remember that the speedloader for a S&W K-Frame duty gun also fit a Colt Detective Special carried for back up?

    Poor results in actual shootings showed us the value of using actual duty ammo for qualification.

    Well document incidents in the late ‘70’s taught us the danger of using WD-40 in revolvers. I recall three incidents in Illinois where LEO revolvers failed to fire due to combination of cold weather and gummed up actions from WD-40.

    We learned the tactical advantage of having your hand on a hammerless J-Frame revolver in your outside coat pocket when making a car stop. Instead of trying to draw your duty gun you simply pulled the trigger on the snubby ruining a perfectly good coat and hopefully the perps day.

    We learned the value of the inside thumb break vs. a safety strap that snapped on the outside of the holster for prevention of gun snatchers.

    We learned how rubber grips gave the advantage of not slipping in the hand that was wet from rain or blood.

    I learned the mere presence of a short double barrel shotgun quieted the rowdiest bar.

    I saw first hand how the sound of 12 ga. pump shotgun action being racked could empty a man’s bladder full of beer.
     
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  13. cauldron

    cauldron Member

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    Lets see if I can remember anything...

    Unlike an auto, if you have any part of a revolver, you have all of it.

    Smiths and Colts turn in opposite directions, and that's important for only loading a couple rounds.

    I seem to remember that squib loads are less dangerous because of the gap, and that most of the sound comes out of the gap.

    Another neat trick I read about, was that cops were able to open the gun, and lock one cuff through the frame, and the other cuff to a radiator or a water pipe to secure it at home. I don't know if anyone ever did this however.

    I do know from teaching people to shoot, that having the off hand thumb over the frame, behind the hammer, is not as big a deal as with an auto.

    A cookie sheet, some wax, brass opened up for shotgun primers, and you can shoot in your basement.

    I like that one bad load, does not require a 'Tap rack tilt bang' sort of dance. Just another trigger pull.

    EDIT: I did know the K-frame detective speed loader thing. but did not remember it! :)
     
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  14. L-Frame

    L-Frame Member

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    I always carry a revolver for CCW (Ruger GP-100 3") and always have Safariland Comp II's in my pocket. I've never carried loose rounds, speed strips or any of the like. For tactical reloads I've always found it much quicker and easier to simply fire 2 or 3, open the cylinder, turn it over, let the unfired rounds fall into your hand, put them in your pocket, smack the cylinder rod and load up with a Comp II. With practice it can be done within seconds. I can't imagine trying to tap the cylinder rod to pull out the spent shells and then load while under any kind of stress. I would have things flying everywhere.

    I really like the 2 previous quotes "we would be the 2nd ones to know we were in a gunfight" and "we will run out of time before we run out of ammo". Still very relevant. For the last number of years, I can't remember an officer death by firearm around here that wasn't quick, and up close. Good stuff.
     
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  15. BADUNAME2

    BADUNAME2 Member

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    Lots of info here already, so I'll just add two things.

    It is much easier to make a double action revolver behave itself if you keep the trigger under control while releasing it, as well as while pulling it. Just jumping off the trigger will usually lose your sight alignment for you.

    Check for high primers. A revolver's gotta revolve. A high primer will bind the cylinder up in a hurry. This is not good.

    1911 Magazines make dandy speed loaders for .45 ACP Blackhawk convertibles.

    Learn to count.
     
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  16. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    Great thread, thank you T.J.

    I carry a S&W M640 in .357 Magnum and a S&W M442 in .38 Special. The M640 is loaded with 145gr Winchester Silvertip .357 Magnum ammo and the M442 is loaded with Speer 135gr .38 Special +P ammo. Speedloaders are loaded with .38 Special +P ammo as are the Speed Strips because that ammo will fit in both revolvers. I store additional .357 Magnum ammo in the car.

    I'm a revolver guy for sure and I choose to carry them because I shoot them well. I trust those handguns and IMO that's important. I don't always carry 2 J frames and when it's a single it's the M442 or at times an old beat up Detective Special. (it's extremely accurate and I like the 6th round) Yep, I'm a revolver guy and I got it bad!
     
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  17. pezo

    pezo Member

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    Fairly young revolver shooter and carrier here (37) discovered them when in my mid twenties. I don't own a semi auto handgun ( I like a lot of semi auto long guns though milsurp kind). I grew up on auto loaders oddly. I carry an Lcr or sp101 and keep a 3" gp100 at the night stand ( a 6" variant is also frequently used with the heavy loads) I practice loading via hks speed loaders and speed strips like its second nature. Faster when I don't think about it just dump and reload. If you practice I don't see a problem. When you don't practice any platform will be rough when the " " hits the fan. Thank you all for you tips.
     
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  18. westy39

    westy39 Member

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    I joined the PD in 85 and the range officer ( LT. C) was a gruff old boy that hated anything that wasn't a S&W. He kept pounding into us front sight, trigger pull, and reload while watching the target. He would get so pissed if you looked down at your holster when you holstered your gun. The other things he would yell at us for was if someone tried to dump their brass in a pile or worse yet in their hand. (we had to pick up our brass after every course of fire) To this day after almost 30 years later I still dump my brass all over hell and creation, then go back later and pick it up.
     
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  19. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

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    Good post!

    I've been carrying wheel guns since I first started carrying many years ago. I will always carry a revolver as my first choice side arm. I am proficient with them, I practice with them, I reload for them, I don't have to fumble with a safety, I don't have to be concerned about unintentionally dropping the magazine out of it, and I know it is never going to fail to feed, or suddenly jam up when I need it the most, just to name a few of the issues I have with AL's.


    I honestly can't count the number of people I've personally seen experience feeding problems with their AL's. Most of the time it is either the ammunition they are using, or the manner in which they are holding the weapon. I like the fact that no matter how I'm holding it, or what brand of ammunition I'm using (I reload), my revolver is going to fire.

    I have a number of AL's, they just don't get to go as many places with me, unless I'm carrying them as a conceal back up.

    GS
     
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  20. Iggy

    Iggy Member

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    That old boy harping on "front sight, FRONT SIGHT!!" had it close to right. When the stuff hits the fan, you may not have time to aim. If you see that front sight between you, you're about out of time.

    The most impressive thing I ever saw was Bill Jordan positioning his hand palm down with a quarter on on the back of his hand above his holstered gun. He would then draw his gun and fire, and the quarter would fall in the empty holster.

    Then to prove he could shoot, he would put a poker chip on the back of his hand, extend it out in front of him. He would jerk his hand out from under the chip, draw his gun and fire from the hip and hit the chip before it hit the floor.

    This is a guy who had to file down the side of the trigger guard of his Model 19 to enable him to git his gorilla size hand on the gun and his finger in the trigger guard.

    I did some of that hip shooting stuff, but I never came anywhere near Ol Bill's skills or speed.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2013
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  21. dscampbell

    dscampbell Member

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    Yes, I was taught that as well back in 1973. And I still dump my brass. :)


    Scott Campbell
    Remember wheel guns are real guns too
    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
     
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  22. Thaddeus Jones

    Thaddeus Jones Member

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    Iggy I am green with envy at your meeting Bill Jordan! One of the premier revolver shooters, lawmen and creator of the model 19. I'd have loved to meet him and shake his hand. I still have my copy of "No second place winner." It should be required reading at every police academy, IMO.

    I'm grateful that many of you who carried revolvers for serious have been kind enough to share your experiences and pass on some revolver "tips and tricks" for the younger, or less experienced, revolver carriers here. Much appreciated.

    I don't think we can avoid having a heavy LE perspective to this thread, as LE was really the only place that taught using revolvers to fight and prevail. But I would like to try and pass on some more handling/shooting tips picked up over the years, for those who are not LE but depend on a revolver to insure their safety. I do sure hope one of you starts a thread on your experiences over the years carrying a sixgun and a star. I'd love to read it! And I bet I'm not the only one! :)

    As far as LE firearms training goes, it has generally varied from agency to agency, state to state and on a whole, especially during the revolver years, was and IMO to a large degree still is - woefully inadequate.

    When I last qualified, 70% was a passing agency score with the agency I qualify with. I have seen a young officer struggling to make a 70. It is still done on a square range at varying distances with no movement other than going prone on the day qual.

    Some agencies have better training available. The US Marshal Service use to hold firearms training at various places around the country and opened it to almost anyone interested in attending. There would always be at least one VERY experienced instructor there who had been there done that too.

    I understand that there are several rather expensive public shooting schools now that may teach revolver courses. Although a kind fellow in another thread on this board, informed me that nobody teaches the revolver fundementals of trigger control while shooting a revolver.

    So, if y'all ain't bored to tears yet, lets talk about trigger control and a few tricks and tips that may have assisted us over the years. It takes a bit of practice to learn a double action trigger pull. IMO, it is well worth learning and if you can master shooting a revolver in double action you can shoot pretty much any type action well.

    One fundamental is a smooth steady ROLL of the trigger. Not so much PULL as it is SQUEEZE. So, we use to practice it, alot. One way we did was to put a piece of dark electric tape up on the wall to serve as the "target".

    Now, y'all are all grown up folks who are here because you have an interest and are fond of firearms. So to satisfy folks who have legal concerns or are easily distracted by things I will say; CHECK YOUR REVOLVER AND CONFIRM IT IS UNLOADED BEFORE TRYING ANYTHING YOU MAY HEAR SOMEONE TELL YOU OR THAT YOU READ ON THE INTERNET!! IN FACT, CHECK IT THREE TIMES!! There, got that out of the way. Now, hopefully, nobody will be telling their half deaf, fully angry wife, that Thaddeus Jones told me to kill the TV. :uhoh:

    Now, with your "target" placed on the wall, get your snap caps out and a couple of speedloaders and prepare to set a spell. Or you could stand and do it. Suit yourself. Bring a .25 cent US Quarter too. I'm fixin to tell you why. ;)

    So, now we are ready to practice rolling the trigger without disturbing our sight picture. We might as well practice as much as we can when we have the time to do so, so we will also practice reloading using speedloaders while we are at it. Two birds, one stone and all that.

    Take your speedloader and practice loading your revolver using your INERT SNAP CAPS. Now make your sight picture and using the part of your trigger finger just past the last crease, but just right before the pad in the center, smoothly roll the trigger back in one fluid motion till your revolver clicks indicating it would have fired. Did your sights move? Did you wiggle the barrel a little left or right off the piece of tape on the wall? Thats probably because you might have too much finger on the trigger and you need more practice. See where this is going? Practice alot.

    Now, after you are doing a three second reload and your sights are just about steady as a rock while you are rolling that trigger back ;) lay the quater across your barrel. Right in front of where the barrel meets the frame. Now show us that smooth rolling trigger squeeze again. So smooth and slick that that quarter didn't even move. Not even when the hammer fell. yours fell off the barrel? Well thats why you have to keep practicing. Till that quarter don't move.

    OK I'm tired of typing and hungry again so I'll let folks who can help you revolver carriers with the trigger basics add some good info. See y'all later! TJ
     
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  23. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

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    Good thread. Thanks, folks.

    Here are a few "tips and tricks" I can offer than seem useful, whether one's interest is SD or competition:

    1. Become proficient with that DA trigger. DA is faster, and can be very accurate to boot. And in a high stress situation, cocking a revolver's hammer out of habit is bad ju ju.

    2. Learn to count to 6. Time spent "clicking" is valuable time that's better spent shooting, or reloading.

    3. Multi-task when reloading. Time spent reloading is valuable time that's better spent shooting (or re-evaulating), so reload fast. Practice is key, but beyond that, learn to put both hands to work so they're doing 2 tasks simultaneously, not sequentially. Grab a speedloader with one hand while ejecting with the other. Close the cylinder as the gun's being raised, not before.
     
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  24. Baldman

    Baldman Member

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    SE PA
    Good Stuff, new to handgunds as I inherited a colt cobra and will start to train with it in the next few weeks. Any tip is greatly appreciated and welcome.
     
    Merle1 likes this.
  25. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2011
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    5,033
    Location:
    West of the Big Muddy, East of the Rockies and Nor
    2. Learn to count to 6. Time spent "clicking" is valuable time that's better spent shooting, or reloading.

    Real street experience has shown and still does that when under stress shooters do not count the number of shots they fire. In fact they consistently either under estimate the rounds they fired or only stop pulling the trigger when the gun no longer goes bang.

    Another big benefit of not counting your rounds when on the range is the surprise click on the empty chamber will tell you how well you are practicing the basics and doing bad things like anticipating the shot.
     
    1976B.L.Johns. and Merle1 like this.

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