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Heard this comment about the S&W M36/J frame...?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by trikster, Sep 30, 2011.

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  1. trikster

    trikster Member

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    I have heard now more than once that the M36/J frame is an "experts" gun, not one to be used by a novice. Is there any credence to this? I am a new owner of a M36-2 1 7/8" barrel, only gun I currently own (and have not shot as of yet, my first gun that I intend to shoot, bought as a HD/SD piece) and am curious. I hope to get some range time within the next two weeks...with some of the comments I have heard about the gun, I am hopeful I will even hit the target.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Racinbob

    Racinbob Member

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    I'm thinking you'll get a lot of replies about this. My opinion (and that only) is that you didn't pick the best first and only gun. I love the J's but you need range time and they are a bit more difficult to control. Not all J's though. My 60-4 with a 3" barrel and adjustable sights is a great range gun. My 442, not really a range gun but I have fun and it's my main carry piece. I'd just sit back and enjoy what the folks here have to say and take it all in. Great bunch here.
     
  3. BYJO4

    BYJO4 Member

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    Absolutely no reason why you cannot shoot your model 36. I had my model 60since the 70s and never a problem. I don't shoot it a great deal as it is a defense gun and not a target gun. Also if its an older model, it is not rated for plus P ammo.
     
  4. trikster

    trikster Member

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    My wrists cannot handle +P anyway, so that isn't a problem (as far as ammo goes, standard pressure .38 is probably the max I can handle in a pistol).

    I look forward for more opinions. :)
     
  5. Rollis R. Karvellis

    Rollis R. Karvellis Member

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    Well it sounds to me that if it is an experts gun, you need to become an expert with it. That means practice, and lots of it. Both dry fireing, and live fire. Make sure you do it right to start with, then you won't have any bad habits to brake. A N.R.A., certified instructor is a great help.
     
  6. ROCK6

    ROCK6 Member

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    Most J-Frames are a little tough to get proficient if you just shoot a few rounds down range every once in a while. I would think that the part of "expert" is that they are close-in pieces and often indexed vice using the sights. Yes, they can be accurate, but I do most of my “pocket gun” shooting from arms-length to about seven yards out…all very close range and as fast as safely possible from my carry position. I'm going off a close friend who has done several courses with just a J-Frame and most his shooting is indexed from his hip and he's quite accurate and very fast. I wouldn't say it's only for "experts", but getting proficient with any carry piece is needed.

    ROCK6
     
  7. Missionary

    Missionary Member

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    Greetings
    I would not consider myself as an Expert. But a Model 36 was one of the first revolvers I bought when I ETSéd in 74. So I have been at it awhile. Have not shot any wrong targets or caused any problems. I would say if you want to hit clay pigeons at 50 yards you better plan on starting at 15 yards first. That short little barrel just does not tolerate any wobble. Mike in Peru
     
  8. Maple_City_Woodsman

    Maple_City_Woodsman Member

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    The sights on a 36 are pretty crappy, but that just comes with the territory for old snubbies.

    I had a 36 as one of my first handguns. It wasn't a tack driver, but it sure as heck wasn't worthless. It was the first gun I carried after I got my permit.
     
  9. duns

    duns Member

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    I think "expert's gun" is misleading. Whatever your skill level, a heavier revolver with a longer barrel would be easier and more comfortable to shoot accurately. Calling it an expert's gun implies that there are other guns that the beginner can shoot with ease and total accuracy from the outset - however, there are no such guns. Some are easier and some are harder but all require the same amount of practice to get out of the gun the ultimate performance of which it is capable.

    Any gun is a compromise between many factors. What's important is whether YOU love it after you've shot it and carried it for a year or two in YOUR life style.

    My first gun about 2 years ago was a J-frame with a 1-7/8" barrel. I now have more than a dozen handguns to choose from (up to .500 S&W) but my J-frame is the one that is constantly with me because of its lightness and compactness. I shoot my other guns at the range and might carry some of them occasionally but the J-frame has earned a special place in my heart because it is so handy that it has become my go-to gun, my almost constant companion. (If I knew I was going to a gun fight, I'd take one of my other guns but the J-frame fits in so well with MY everyday lifestyle).
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2011
  10. Super Sneaky Steve

    Super Sneaky Steve Member

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    A firm grip and a slow steady squeeze of the trigger is all it takes to be good with these guns (and most others for that matter). If you can find a laser it makes for great dry fire practice as well.

    When you can pull the trigger without your dot bouncing around then you've got it.
     
  11. Loosedhorse

    Loosedhorse member

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    Yes, I agree completely, but it depends on the range.

    At longer range, the short sight radius will amplify any error in sight aligment. And the recoil will be worse than in a gun with a longer barrel.

    Not sure that matters if you can touch your attacker. But I wouldn't want him that close.
     
  12. David E

    David E Member

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    I suppose it depends on what you want to do with it.

    If it's just to have "just in case," then it's fine, no expertise required.

    If you want to actually HIT with it, then it depends on the size of the target and distance.

    Most people cannot shoot them well, but most people embarrass themselves at the range with it, so they put it aside and blame the gun instead of mastering it.

    The gun is fully capable of hitting a mansize target inside 50 yds and beyond, on purpose.

    Aside from practice, you might consider some after market grips like Pachmayers and load it with light kicking 148 grain full wadcutters. Before long, you can hit a basketball on demand at 25 yds.
     
  13. Lawdawg45

    Lawdawg45 Member

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    I've heard people claim that the 1911 is an "experts gun", but never a J frame. Realistically, the J frame is one of the most popular guns out there, but when you consider most people carry this as a pocket gun or a back up, the intended range of use statistically will be under 10 feet. I frequently recommend a .38 revolver to new shooters, not experts!

    BTW, my first handgun over 30 years ago was a 3 inch J frame, and now after a long LEO career where I carried a .357, .44 spl, .45 Colt and a .45 acp, I'm back to carrying a J frame.;)

    LD
     
  14. Revolver218

    Revolver218 Member

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    Someone once said snubbies are a 2-handed gun, one hand to hold the perp, one to hold the gun. If you want to shoot at any distance get a 4 to 6" revolver with adjustable sights. Snubbies are built small for easy concealment and
    light weight, easy to carry. They are a close-in self defense weapon. Practice at those distances, very close (like 2') up to 10 yards, aimed and point shooting. When you've mastered that go for distance if you want but you will have accomplished the goal of become proficient with a SD firearm. And I'd suggest some speed strips for reloading, easy to carry, and some A Zoom practice rounds for dry fire. A lot of dry fire helps, and you can practice reloading at the same time. Good luck.
     
  15. Old Shooter

    Old Shooter Member

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    For the first range session start out with a box of target wadcutters, they are mild in recoil and report so you can get used to how you handle the gun.

    Start with the first target very close, 7 yards maximum. This will let you get shots on target and will be easy to see the hits and make sight and grip corrections.

    Once you get to where you are doing well on the 7 yard target I'd use the standard velocity 158 grain round nose for additional practice and extend the target to 10 or 15 yards.

    When familiar enough with it and you feel ready, load up what you plan to use for HD/SD
    and then practice a bit with that load.

    I use Winchester 158 gr lead semi-wadcutters +P in my model 36 and all works well for me but there are lots of brands and styles out there to choose from.

    Then practice, practice, practice.

    The J frames are not that hard to become proficient with, just takes a bit more concentration in the beginning with that short sight radius.
     
  16. psyshack

    psyshack Member

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    Enjoy your J and practice. It's not a experts hand gun. It's a close in reliable close in weapon.
     
  17. David E

    David E Member

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    Yes, it's that, but it's capable of sooo much more!

    Why needlessly limit yourself with an arbitrary "it's a close-in weapon" label?
     
  18. Rexster

    Rexster Member

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    Some weapons have a steeper learning curve than others. All else being equal, a weapon which fits one's hands will have a gentler learning curve. For most people, this is means something like a K-frame revolver. Unless a person has tiny hands, a J-frame is not going to be a best fit. That being said, a beginner can learn to use a J-frame, such as the Model 36.

    All else being equal, a longer sight radius is easier for learning marksmanship principles. While barrel length is independent of frame size, of course, few 4" to 6" barrels are to be found on a Model 36.

    All else being equal, prominent sights are better for learning marksmanship. Except for rare exceptions, Model 36 means very small sights.

    I start new shooters with my K-frame S&W Model 17, which shoots .22LR ammo. Fast learners will progress to a medium-frame with .38 ammo, and be shooting a .45 auto within the same range session. Something small, such as a J-frame, is rarely fun enough to find much favor, until the shooter desires
    something seriously concealable, or wants a bit of a challenge. The rare exception Is the beginner who has small hands, well-suited to a small grip, plus a bit of hand strength.
     
  19. Trebor

    Trebor Member

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    The idea that the J-frame is an "experts gun" comes from the fact that it is more difficult to shoot well then the larger "standard size" K-frame revolvers.

    The J frame is smaller and lighter all around than a K frame. That increases the recoil.

    The J frame grip is smaller, that gives you less to hang onto.

    The short barrel gives a very short sight radius. That makes it more difficult to get precise sight alignment for longer distance shooting.

    And, the trigger geometry of the J frame is different than the K frame. This means the double action trigger is usually heavier than a K frame trigger.

    So, when compared to a 4" barrelled, six shot, K-frame with a full size grip, yes, the smaller, lighter, J frame, with it's shorter barrel and smaller grip, is more difficult to shoot well.

    Can it be done? Sure. Does it take more work to develop a competent level of skill? Yes.

    I don't generally recommend a J frame for a beginner shooter, especially as a "first gun/only gun". Even if they are willing to put the time and effort into practice to get good with a J frame, their abilities as a new shooter would improve quicker with an easier gun to learn on.
     
  20. tubeshooter

    tubeshooter Member

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    I had such a gun as my first and only for years.

    It will probably make you think you're a worse shot than you actually are, especially if you don't have another gun to compare it with.


    Start small, and work your way up. Or else you'll be pretty discouraged. But as others have said, it can be done. It's just harder.
     
  21. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    Use light target loads and you will be fine.
     
  22. motorcycle-charlie

    motorcycle-charlie Member

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    j frames are actually my favorite guns to shoot, so they get the most practice with. that is great because that is what i carry . it is easier to learn how to do something if you really enjoy it. take the time to practice with it if you carry it. i think you are going to like it. it is your first gun, probablly will not be your last.
     
  23. Manco

    Manco Member

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    It's a little harder to be as accurate with than longer guns, but with some practice (and guidance if necessary, and it's recommended in any case) you should become accurate enough with it for HD/SD.

    Another issue is that it will kick more because it's small and light, but it's got a steel frame so it's not quite as light as the "Airweight" and "Airlite" revolvers that so many people complain about, and you're only shooting .38 Special, so it shouldn't be too bad (what really hurts is .357 Magnum in an Airlite). Even if it turns out to be a bit too much for you, then there are light, non-expanding (for adequate penetration) loads you could use.
     
  24. Hondo 60
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    Hondo 60 Member

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    It's a bit more of an adventure to accurately shoot an M36 just because of the short barrel & lack of weight.

    A longer barrel will stabilize the bullet more.
    A heavier gun will retard the "felt recoil" more.

    But all in all the M 36 has been a concealed carry piece since it was introduced as the "Chief's Special" in about 1951.
     
  25. trikster

    trikster Member

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    Thanks for all of the input. I hope to take it out for the first time in two weeks. Will see how I do. I am concerned that the recoil will kill my wrists (couple car accidents have messed them up completely) even with standard pressure. I may need to go with a .22LR.
     
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