Monday, December 27, 2004

The Fighting Revolver

The brouhaha over on the Gun Zone, I thought I might weigh in on the idea of a "fighting revolver."

No, that's doesn't mean a revolver that gets involved in those "Robo-Warrior" fights or even the name of an LA rock band. Rather, the phrase "fighting revolver" is apparently intended to designate a revolver that is suitable to be used in a firefight of some sort. I suppose by that definition the ultimate fighting revolver would be some sort of early Colt percussion gun, since it was probably used in more firefights (a.k.a., the Civil War, or War of Northern Aggression if you happened to be raised in Tennessee) than any other revolving handgun. Or maybe the 1873 Colt Peacemaker in .45 Colt, useful for whoomping up on Native Americans, Spaniards, Mexicans and assorted neer-do-wells. It'd be a toss-up.

But that's not what we really mean, is it? Instead, the concept of "fighting revolver" is one of those quirky phrases popular in the gun culture, like "bug-out bags," those pre-packed carry-alls that you'll snatch on your way out the door on the day of the Apocalypse. Mine is full of Snickers bars, BTW, on the the theory that having a weight problem will probably be a moot point on Zero Day. I was thinking about adding some silk stockings just in case I run into any French women with really really short hair as I sprint through the smouldering wreckage of Denver.

Anyhow, a fighting revolver is the ideal weapons to have in one's hands when hordes of sword-wielding fanatics pour over the dune...whoops, that's an Indiana Jones movie! Okay, substitute "Al-Quaeda" for "sword-wielding" and "into your town" for "over the dunes," and we're pretty much there. Still, in both cases, I might opt for a British Webley, calibre .455, backed up by 10,000 Ghurkas and a cruise missile.

Let's be a bit real about this, shall we? We are, for the most part, civilians. That is, we are unlikely to be on the verge of facing marauding hordes of anything, much less anyones. Rather, we are faced with the issues of carrying a concealed weapon day-in and day-out, which means balancing caliber and weight. We also have to accept that no handgun caliber or bullet is the legendary one-shot-stopper-Sword of Doom-nuclear-explosion-blow-'em-the-hell-up-one-stop-shopping solution for personal defense.

As I've said before, I love revolvers. I've got a lot of 'em, and I occasionally carry them as a primary gun. I like revolvers in big calibers, like .44 Mag, .44 Special, .45 ACp or .45 Colt, because they throw big chunks of lead and are cool. If, on the other hand, I was forced to live my life with only a good .357 revolver, I probably wouldn't lather up that much. One's as good as the other!

I realize that's heresy these days. I know that as an Official Gunwriter and Shooting Show Television Host, I'm supposed to pick a gun and a caliber (and a load and a holster and a favorite cola, etc.) and then proudly and loudly proclaim to the all the world that I have discovered the Revealed Truth, the bestest of the bestest, and if you don't agree, well, you can just kiss my fuzzy behind because you are going to be killed and eaten by a whole generation of miscreants who are on the way to your house right now!

Yeah, well...anyhow, here's a short list of my favorite revolvers (with links to samples at, so you can get some Real World pricing).

5. Smith & Wesson 625 4-inch .45 ACP...this is a workhorse of a gun. I've had a bunch of 'em, and I wish I had 'em all back. They use full moon clips, making them the fastest revolver on earth to load. Being in .45 ACP, you can get ammo at the WallyWorld at the End of the Universe. Load it up hot and shoot dinosaurs with it. Good for IDPA competition or things that go bump in the night. If you're light on cash, look at the Taurus Tracker — only five shots, but at least you've got moon clips.

4. S&W 296 .44 Special...pix-wise, as close as I could find was this 396, with adjustable sights. I've written about the 296 looks like a mule taking a dump, carries light as a feather and is my first choice backcountry gun, as long as the backcountry is near my house. A neat alternative is the now-out-of-production Taurus 445; at this price, everybody should have one! Okay, okay...there's also the Charter Arms Bulldog, the best 200-round gun in the world! S&W also offered a liteweight .45 ACP revolver through the Performance Center, which I'd have right now if it wasn't so damned expensive!

3. 1917 Colt New Service...I love these old warhorses. This one is in .45 ACP, but I once had a pristine New Service in .38/40 (just like this, except in better condition) that I was a complete fool for trading off. Also, I'd like to ask forgiveness from the Lord of Guns for the 1917 Colts and S&Ws I had carved up into ersatz Fitz Specials! And, yes, I'd go to war with one of these!

2. S&W M-19 (blue)/M-66 (ss) 2 1/2-inch .357 Magum...yes indeedy, little Hobbits, a real rip-snorter! With 125-grain screamers, you know you had fired a manly gun! But I carried mine continually for two or three years and shot the hell out of it. I'm always on the lookout for another one.

1. (drum roll!) S&W M-29 .44 Magnum...the most versatile handgun every made. Period. Take it to war; take it hunting; keep it beside the bed stoked with .44 Special Silver Tips. I've had several since the early 1970s, and it is the one revolver I would never be without. My original blue 6-inch has had thousands of rounds through it — some real bone-shakers — and it is still a better gun than I am a shooter.


Anonymous said...

I looked them over at SHOT, and if I could submit one wish list item for 2009, it would be the addition of a light rail ala the Thunder Ranch 325.

Other than that, and possibly adding the .41 Special/Magnum to the line-up, S & W still stands as the premier wheel gun manufacturer.

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