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Making my own "fighting revolver"

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by vanilla_gorilla, Jan 25, 2007.

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  1. vanilla_gorilla

    vanilla_gorilla Member

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    Taking the phrase that I first heard mentioned by Clint Smith, my alcohol-laden and sleep-deprived mind came up with the idea that I needed a "fighting revolver."

    Members input would be welcome here, as I'm just getting these things down to see so I can refer to them later.

    The gun, I have decided, will likely be a Smith & Wesson. The triggers, particularly the double action triggers, are simply unbeatable by the most commonly available DA revolvers. My GP-100 is hell for stout, but the trigger simply cannot compare with my 629-6, even with the cursed (dare I say the word?) lock.

    Now, moving on. I am yet undecided as to the choice of actual weapon. I can continue with the 629-6 that I have here before me, or look to another 629, most likely scouring the earth to find a pre-lock 4 inch 629 Classic. That oughta hold just right in the hands. I have debated back and forth about purchasing a more concealable 686 for this project instead, but I feel much more comfortable with bigger, heavier bullets.

    The finish is a given. Blued guns are simply not pleasing to me in a utility view, and stainless rules the day. The gun will wear wood finger groove grips, with round butt grips if at all possible, those being slightly more compact and concealable, much in the sense that Hulk Hogan is more compact and concealable than Andre the Giant.

    The gun should have it's cylinder machined for moon clips, which is no big deal. I believe there's even an outfit in Florida that performs this service. The sights, I honestly have no idea about. Something that is durable, easy to pick up, and ideally something with a tritium dot. Hmmm, that will indeed require more research...

    This beast will likely be fed a diet of Speer Gold Dot .44 Magnum ammunition, in the 200 grain Short Barrel flavor. This round seems to hold promise for .44 Magnum owners, bearing the 200 grain Gold Dot bullet at about 1100fps from a 4 inch revolver barrel, or about equivalent to a 200 grain .45 ACP defensive round.

    That's enough for tonight. How about some suggestions? Let's see where this goes. ;)
     
  2. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    I like .44s too.

    But why such a mild load? I had a 625 revolver that I sold because it's weight inefficient. In the same frame size and weight, you can get a .44 Magnum. While it's slower to reload from HKS loaders, it's a lot more versatile.

    If your load of choice duplicates .45ACP ballistics and you want moonclip feeding, why not get a 4" 625 and build from there?

    Personally, I think the combat .44 round is an illusive goal. Most loads are too powerful for most defensive work, in that they simply have too much recoil for fast shooting. If you download to .44 Special levels, you might as well be using a .45ACP gun.

    The trick is how much recoil you can handle while still shooting with reasonable speed and accuracy. For me, 240 grains at about 1100 FPS would be ideal. That particular load is actually hard to find in factory .44 Mag, though. You do see quite a bit that's loaded a bit faster, and most is in the 1300+ FPS category, which I think is too much for me.

    Cor-Bon loads a 165 grain .44 Magnum SD load at around 1,300fps. Why they went with such a light bullet is beyond me. Their .45 Colt SD round uses a 200 grain bullet (at 1100fps).

    Another load I'd like to see is a 200 grain JHP doing just under 1,300 FPS. That's almost down into the 10mm evenlope, and in a beefy N-Frame I don't think the recoil would be bad. If you wanted, you could lower to to 1,200. That's the upper end of the 10mm envelope but still packs quite a wallop.

    Basically, I think if you're only going to have six shots, make 'em as powerful as you can without losing controlability.
     
  3. mes228

    mes228 Member

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    Revolver

    The perfect fighting revolver was once made by Smith & Wesson. The Model 19 with a 2 1/2" or possibly 3" barrel round butt. Replace the grips with Ahrends finger groove. They shoot like a rifle, are concealable, incredibly balanced, and are relatively inexpensive. For stainless the Model 66 is the same gun. The .357 is hard to beat in a combat round. If I could have only one gun thats the one it would be. I believe them to be the finest revolvers ever made considering size, weight, quality, concealability, comfort, accuracy, trigger etc.etc. The package was complete. It's pretty much a myth they shoot loose. Just my opinion but it is based on owning and shooting many revolvers.
     
  4. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    I'm going to get called a blasphemer for saying this, but the K-Frame Smiths are far from perfect.

    Any gun that can't handle a steady diet of the cartridge it's chambered for is a flawed design, in my opinion. What'd they used to say? Fire one .357 for every six .38 rounds out of a Model 19? Something like that? I'm not talking about hot hunting loads, either. By many accounts (that, admittedly, are on the internet and are thusly of dubious accuracy), steady diets of mid-range (standard defensive stuff) .357 loads beat up a K-Frame too much.

    Besides, .357 is a lot of things, but it's not big bore.
     
  5. dbarale

    dbarale Member

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    From what you describe it sounds to me that you need a 3 or 4" 625.
    Or maybe a M22 TR and get it hard chromed...
     
  6. Stainz

    Stainz Member

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    The Achille's heel of the 19/66 .357M's was the forcing cone - and it's purported erosion from shooting lighter mass/hyper velocity .357M's. Normal SAAMI spec'd heavier .357M's would yield a standard (long) life from the K frames. It's replacement, the 620, has a .040" wider front frame, a la the L-frames, to permit a larger (.025") forcing cone. The taller opening also permits the 7-shot cylinder.

    Still, I like more bore... I've been told I am more of a big bore, but that's another story. I would look at the .45 ACP/AR platform - maybe even the .45 Colt - a S&W 625 - maybe even a 625MG. My choice for a perfect 'packing' pistol is the .45 Colt 625MG, loaded with a mix of 255gr LSWC and Speer thin walled (#4484) 250gr GDJHP. At just over 800 fps, they will nearly triple their frontal area in ballistic gelatin, if you fear an attack by marauding blobs of such goo. The 255gr LSWC has a good penetration record - even at 800 fps - and both will be easy recoils, even with wood stocks.

    The choice of a full-lug 4" 625 adds 3.5oz, but it is the only means by which you can add a SS 4" .45 ACP revolver, those MG variants being few and far between. My 625JM, purchased nearly two years ago, remains a super deal. For a few bucks more than a standard 4" 625, you get a great fast-grab Miculek stock, eased ejector star for faster reloads, spring-loaded (easily changed) gold bead Patridge front sight, and hard-chromed hammer & trigger. I prefer my 625JM's birthday present (which it insisted on trying early last week...), a f.o. HiViz front sight, for quick target acquisition. Ammo choices are wide open - including some slightly hotter .45 Colt-ish loads. Oddly, I load my 255gr LSWC's warmer in .45 AR cases for this gun (885fps - some folks go to 950+ fps!) than I do the .45 Colt 625MG. Still, with .45 ACP's and moonclips, reloads are very fast.

    I also like .44 Magnums - but mine are more like sub-Keith level Specials. My 4" 629, bought new 4/06 to replace my 629MG, has a nice 300gr LSWC 885 fps round for 'emphasis'. It should suffice for many envisioned uses, should the .45's be 'elsewhere'. Lots of good choices... hopefully, it will give you a great excuse to 'add' another caliber...

    Stainz
     
  7. mes228

    mes228 Member

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    Model 19

    I've heard on the internet of Model 19's shooting loose, forcing cone weakness, top strap etc.etc. If you shot thousands of full power rounds ie at metal targets (which was becoming the "thing" at the time of these guns, and that was the "potential" problem) it "might" be possible. I've never seen it. I've never seen one shoot "loose'. I don't think it's a problem for anything but the 125 grain "hot" loads - no matter how many thousand rounds you shoot. Most people could not afford to shoot enough to have a problems. Who would practice with thousands of full house 125 grainers? When 38 specials are less costly and less punishing on the hand and ears? The guns that replaced the K frames, the N frames - are such a large step down in a "using" weapon that it's incredible. I've had several of each (K-frames and N-frames) in various barrel lengths. Also, at the same time I've read on the internet of top strap erosion, I've read that a simple lead pencil "marking" the strap leaves enough "carbon" behind to prevent any erosion at all. The triggers on the 19's are so good that you'll spend the purchase price of a used 19 trying to duplicate it through custom work on todays triggers. This is just my opinion but it does come from actual using and firing many pistols. It's very hard to beat the Model 19's.
     
  8. HiWayMan

    HiWayMan Member

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    Base frame: S&W 629
    Cartridge: .44 special ( the CCI Blazer/Speer Gold Dot 200gr loading makes 950fps out of a 4" Barrel)

    The mods:
    Install pencil barrel with half moon front sight,
    Shorten barrel to 2-1/4" outside of frame,
    Shorten ejector rod,
    Shorten cylinder to just allow clearance of 200gr loadings,
    Chamfer cylinder,
    Set barrel back into frame to compensate for cylinder shortening,
    Shorten grip frame to two finger grip,
    Bob hammer and make DAO,
    Install overtravel stop to trigger,
    Remove lockwork and seal up bug hole in frame,
    Melt sharp edges.


    Behold an N-frame snub that has the weight to remain controllable, unlike the 625-10 I had to get rid of.
     
  9. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    Thing is, too, most factory .357 defensive loads are downloaded to the envelope that .45ACP +P can reach. A typical out-of-the-box 158 grain load clocks what, 1,250 feet per second? .45ACP does that same velocity with a 165 grain bullet that'll make a bigger hole to start with.

    A typical .357 Magnum load is 180 grains at about 1,150, right? .45ACP +P 185 grain does 1150 feet per second.

    .357 Magnum can, of course, be loaded much hotter (like Buffalo Bore), but when dealing with typical factory ammo for self-defensive purposes, it doesn't offer much advantage over .45ACP. (It will have better penetration for any given bullet weight, obviously.)
     
  10. Thaddeus Jones

    Thaddeus Jones Member

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    I don't have one yet, but I think I know what my combat revolver will be. It's a 3 inch barrel, S&W model 686 cs1. It was made for the US customs folks back in 1988. I read that S&W modified them to be more accurate, and last longer, than the regular production 686's. Now I just have to find one.
     
  11. JoeHatley

    JoeHatley Member

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    Your gun is already available in several different variations.

    325PD/625MG/22-4TR/or the new 3" model 25.

    Joe
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2007
  12. earplug

    earplug Member

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    Wheel Guns

    They may be called Wheel guns because we tend to reinvent them.

    If you get a adjustable sight N Frame, there is a firm that makes a drop in fixed rear sight. Cylinder and Slide?
     
  13. vanilla_gorilla

    vanilla_gorilla Member

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    I had not thought of the 625, but my choice of the 629 is based upon my familiarity with this cartridge. I have the option to load up some much hotter ammo than could be used in a .45ACP-chambered 625. The 625 in .45 Colt could very well be an option, but I do prefer factory-loaded defensive rounds. (Let's not get off on that tangent!)

    Regarding the power of the rounds I mentioned, I believe those are about the best defensive rounds that are completely controllable in the gun. I've loaded some loads that fairly closely duplicate this round, and have found that recoil is there, but is not enough to deter quick, multiple shots with accurate placement. Any hollowpoint round that I've been able to find in the 240+ category requires more velocity in order to expand, and more velocity equals more recoil, which takes us back to the aforementioned argument of multiple rounds on target quickly. On a side note, I, too enjoy lobbing a 300 grain round at about 900 fps. Certainly rings the plates with authority.

    While we're talking about it, I'll mention that there's a reason I do not own a single K frame. I don't want a piece that's going to wear itself out just by shooting the rounds it was made for. I'll go to the L frame if it's a .357.

    Keep the ideas coming. This may get good before it's over with.

    Oh yeah, pic of the potential host. I like the heavy barrel, and shy away from the Mountain Guns that were mentioned by somebody.
    [​IMG]


    Edit: and thank you Earplug. I knew SOMEBODY made that fixed sight, but I couldn't find it.
     
  14. Stevel

    Stevel Member

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    Maybe instead of re-hashing caliber debates we could look at energy delivered. I seem to remember about 400 fpe being the level most of the effective handgun cartridges were at, and over 600 fpe always left the target causing a waste of energy. I'm not sure it matters much if that energy is delivered in a .357 sized or .44 sized piece of metal.

    As far as the gun, I think of a 3-4" fixed site at about 35 ounces, with a smooth trigger pull which goes bang every time and outs the bullet where I'm pointing. I would feel fine with a .38 special as long as it met the other requirements. I know this doesn't create 400 fpe, but it has served law enforcement well for most of last century and bullet design is much better now. A flat black or matte blue coating would be a cherry on top.
     
  15. pwrtool45

    pwrtool45 Member

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    Assuming similar bullet construction, that 158gr .357 JHP will likely poke a hole clean through a whole block of ballistic gel (or whatever you're shooting at) while that 165gr .45 JHP will probably not clear 12" in gel (and also likely not reach the vitals of whatever you're shooting at barring a perfect shot). The 158gr .357 will universally have much, much more penetration than the 165gr .45.

    The 158gr .357 JHP in any flavor is going to have a substantially greater sectional density than a 165gr .45 ACP. A more apt comparison would be a 110gr .357 JHP, which will have a sectional density of .123, and a 185gr .45 JHP which will have a sectional density of .130. A 180gr .357 and a 185gr .45 are almost entirely without intersecting uses and are virtually incomparable.

    I'm not sure I'd call the kind of penetration you get with a 180gr .357 "better." More, to be sure. A lot more. But I'd be quite comfortable to say, however, that comparing two loads of drastically different bore diameter based on bullet weight to be somewhat less than useful.
     
  16. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    Two handgun cartridges throwing projectiles at similar velocities with similar bullet weight.

    Incomparable.

    The only difference is bullet construction. Most 180 grain .357 loads are intended for hunting, whereas there are no hunting loads in .45ACP, for the penetration issues you mentioned.

    However, unless you're going to argue that .45ACP doesn't penetrate enough for defensive work, I don't see the differences in sectional density as being important. Most JHP ammo is designed to severely limit penetration from the outset.

    Yes, you have to throw a much heavier pill in .45ACP to get the same sectional density as a .357, but so what? The average human is less than a foot thick, and in any case I've never heard of the 185 grain loads being poor performers.

    If someone wanted to make a 180 grain .357 bullet that was a JHP for self-defense use, they could. I don't think anyone does, but it's not because there's some special property about .357 magnum where a 180 grain bullet just penetrates too much for defensive use.

    It's just that ammo manufacturers are married to the 125 grain load for .357, and I don't really understand why. You get a lot of flash and bang for what translates into only mid-level ballistic performance. I always liked 158 grain loads more, but most of them were downloaded quite a bit.
     
  17. pwrtool45

    pwrtool45 Member

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    And bore size. If you hold the bullet weight and velocity to be constant as you seem to be doing, increasing the bore size increases the amount of work necessary for the bullet to continue moving through whatever your target medium is. This increases the amount of energy the bullet expends in order to move forward over a given distance. As a result, your 185gr .45 will have limited penetration by way of comparison to your 180gr .357. Therefore, a 185gr .45 and a 180gr .357 are incomparable as they perform very differently. The only thing they have in common is bullet weight and velocity. There are other factors to consider.

    Yes, you can go out of your way to modify the bullet construction on both rounds in very different fashions in order to bring them closer to a converging point. A very lightly constructed 180gr .357 will have reduced penetration and increased expansion. But why bother? If you want to reduce penetration and increase expansion why not use a 158gr (or lighter) bullet? You're expending a lot of effort to do something which could be done more easily.

    If it penetrates fine why use something which penetrates nearly 2-3x as deep?

    They will probably have a similar level of penetration against naked/clothed gel as a comparably constructed 115gr standard pressure 9mm JHP. Meanwhile, the 180gr .357 will have appreciably greater penetration. Again, it will perform in a completely different manner despite having the same weight/velocity.

    Why would they go to 180s when 145-158s already exist and do the same thing your extensively modified 180s will do?

    Additionally, there really aren't that many 125gr .357 loads available. Rem, Win and Fed have standard SJHPs loaded in that cal, but most of the exotics are either exclusively loaded in heavier bullets or are available in both. (e.g., 158 HydraShok, Gold Dots in 125 and 158, The Golden Sabres are medium velocity, so their use of the 125gr weight makes sense in that context, Starfires were also 140gr+ IIRC, the Silvertip is a 145gr, etc)
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2007
  18. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    Not necessarily. The shape of the projectile has a lot to do with it, in the same way the shape of an airplane determines what its thrust to drag ratio is. When you're talking about a JHP bullet that's expanding and becoming less aero(hydro?)dynamic as it continues, I don't think the difference will be enough worry about. This is, of course, assuming identical bullet construction. A 180 grain FMJ .357 will out penetrate a 230 grain FMJ .45 at the same velocity every time, despite the .45 slug's greater momentum.

    With the .45 slug you get a larger wound channel. You get the same projectile weights, velocities, and associated kinetic energy levels of standard factory .357 loads, but with bullets that are better designed for self-defense use.

    The point I was trying to make is that before everyone started arguing for a .357 K-Frame, someone should point out that .357 Magnum isn't really the be-all-end-all of handgun catridges that it's sometimes purported to be. With most factory self-defense ammo, it offers no ballistic advantage over .45ACP +P, and the .45 round always has the potential to create a larger wound channel. Since most .357 loads are downloaded to moderate velocities for recoil control, you'e not giving up terminal performance by going to .45. What you're gaining is the faster reload associated with moonclips.

    I don't know. Why have 145s and 158s? They do the same thing, right? Why have 200 and 230 grain .45s? Why bother with 115 grain 9mm when 124 grain works better? *shrug* I'd just like to see a little creativity on the part of ammo makers. They're getting better with their short-barrel loads, for instance, and this is good.

    Anyways, we're hijacking the thread, especially since the original poster has expressed interest in neither a .357 nor a .45ACP revolver. ;)
     
  19. Bart Noir

    Bart Noir Member

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    I think the 686 Plus is a fine combat revolver. It is stainless, can handle lots of hot .357 loads, would be a light recoiling shooter with only .38 +P+ loads, and carries 7 rounds on board. To me, the fact that the cylinder doesn’t have to turn as far makes the double-action trigger pull seem lighter than any N-frame I have.

    I would be thrilled to be able to buy a used 3-inch 686, so that I could have the cylinder replaced with a 7-shot version. But the 4-incher is still a handy pistol. Not as light and balanced as a 4-inch K-frame, but the recoil is controlled more with the 686 than it is with the K-frame.

    And with the 686 round butt (the L- and K-frame frames being the same in the grip area), you have a choice of probably more aftermarket grips than for any other revolver, to include using the round–to-square butt conversion grips.

    Bart Noir
     
  20. Tylden

    Tylden Member

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    I don't have one yet, but I think I know what my combat revolver will be. It's a 3 inch barrel, S&W model 686 cs1. It was made for the US customs folks back in 1988. I read that S&W modified them to be more accurate, and last longer, than the regular production 686's. Now I just have to find one.
     
  21. Tylden

    Tylden Member

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    Thaddeus Jones....sorry about the last post...I tried to insert a quote. Anyway, PM sent
     
  22. Barr

    Barr Member

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    For a true "fighting combat revolver" the .44 Magnum has just a little too much punch and penetration. Recover from recoil takes longer as well depending on load. For hunting there is not many peers to the .44 Magnum for price, effectiveness, etc. I am a big fan of this round.

    A true combat revolver is usually a medium frame revolver or a "smaller" big frame gun. Something in a .357 Magnum or .45 ACP would be ideal. S&W 686 or 625 would be near perfection for what you are looking for. They offer plenty of punch and knockdown power in a package that is easier to carry and conceal.
     
  23. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    If you are looking for 45 ACP preformance, rather than cut the cylinder for moonclip and 44 mag, why not just get a 45ACP revolver and shorten the barrel?

    SW is making the 1950 version of the 1917 Army again.
     
  24. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    If .357 will work, the Security Six stainless is about as ideal as you can get. It's beefier than the K frame magnums but not overly so. Field stripping is incredibly easy and it has no more moving parts than a combat pistol.
     
  25. lawboy

    lawboy Member

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    I do get that you are looking for a large bore fighting revolver. However, my vote fora fighting wheelgun has been cast for the k frame m19 and m66. I carry a snubnose m19 and am fervently looking for the elusive 3-inch m66. An L frame CS1 would also be bought on sight!

    If I were to go the large bore route, I would get myself a 3-inch m624 and have the action worked. I would call it good at that. 44special is preferable to 44magnum for social purposes and I am a huge fan of the 44magnum. However, I have fired snubnose 44magnums and I do not find them controllable enough for defensive useage. I am not particularly recoil sensitive, but when you consider the manner in which you must be able to fire the gun quickly and accurately under extreme stress, recoil management become very important. Yes, you may not feel the recoil in a real fight, but not feeling it does not mean you will be in control of it and does not mean it will not negatively impact your shooting. Consider this issue very carefully when moving forward with your project and picking your carry ammunition. Regards to all.
     
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