Who's Still Using Revolvers

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Who's Still Using Revolvers

Post by chiltech500 on Thu Jul 31, 2014 5:30 pm

Hello,

I'm a novice Bullseye shooter and have practiced quite a bit at 25 yards with 1911's for 45 and 9mm as well as a Nelson conversion for 22. A liitle background:

I have yet to shoot in the 70's with the 45 I use, (Dan Wesson stock hardball gun with iron sights) usually  because of a flyer out of the scoring rings . I have shot in the low 80's with my 22 conversion. Currently waiting on a Baer wadcutter sent to Baer a couple months ago because of a mishap. When I say practice, I mean I have practiced frequently for about a year.


Meanwhile, a fella offers to let me shoot his scoped Colt 45 acp. It was very easy to shoot and the grip felt natural in my smallish hands. He says try a BlackHawk, Ruger has fixed some issues the Colt has and they're cheaper.


Having purchased a used Blackhawk for $400 I happily discover it is as easy to shoot as the Colt. With a bit of practice I can shoot it better than my Dan Wesson. Probably better than the Baer which bought used was only in my hands a couple months before I furcocked it.


I love guns so with little excuse needed a used S&W 14-4 and a 25-2 are on their way to me. Fellas say these are really good target revolvers and I believe them.


What can anyone share about their experiences, what I should look for, practice tips etc.


Thanks in advance.

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Re: Who's Still Using Revolvers

Post by rvlvrlvr on Thu Jul 31, 2014 11:36 pm

I used revolvers when I started shooting 2700 matches as an Outdoor Marksman in 2009 (and in .22 league matches before that), and continued until I made Outdoor Master in 2011. I used a S&W Model 617-4 for .22, a S&W Model 686-5 for Centerfire, and a S&W Model 625-6 for .45 for the first year; for 2010 and 2011 I used just the 617-4 and the 625-6.

I found that with my preferred .22 ammo (Federal bulk #750, which was readily available from Walmart in the 550-round bricks...sadly not anymore) and the 6" barrel of the 617, I didn't need to make any sight adjustments between the long-line and short line.

With the 148gr .38 Special hollow-base wadcutters I was shooting out of my 6" 686, I believe I needed 2 or 4 clicks down-adjustment on the UltraDot I had mounted for the short line. 

I was initially using the same load for .45 -- 185gr cast LSWC over 4.0gr W231 -- in the 5"-barreled 625, which required 4 clicks down-adjustment for the short line. I switched to using separate a long-line load (200gr cast LSWC over 4.5gr W231) and short-line load (185gr cast LSWC over 4.5gr W231) and found I didn't need to make any sight adjustments.

All guns had 1"/4MOA Ultradots, mounted to the frames via Weigand Combat scope bases, and wore Ahrends "Tactical" fingergroove round-to-square grips.

Since I shot single-action for sustained fire (timed and rapid), I found that when I gripped slightly lower I could quickly and easily re-cock the hammer without needing to completely 'break down' my grip.



Since getting both my Outdoor and Indoor Master cards with revolvers, I've switched to shooting semi-automatics -- I always knew I shot better with semi-automatic pistols, but I wanted the added challenge of making Master with wheelguns.

Sometimes I get nostalgic and think that I'd like to compete again using the wheelguns, to prove again that (with practice and dedication), the wheelgunners can hold their own against the semi-auto shooters that dominate this sport. I have a Ruger Single Six in .22LR and a Ruger Blackhawk in .45 Colt that I've mounted Ultradots to, and I'd like to shoot them in matches someday. I've also got a S&W Model 17 no-dash, a Model 14-4, and a Model 25-2 (all wearing S&W target grips, and all with iron sights) that I'd also like to compete with.

Oh that's another thing: I gained quite a reputation, being "The Wheelgunner" at local matches. I kinda miss that, too =) (also: my forum handle is derived from my preference for using revolvers at matches)
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Re: Who's Still Using Revolvers

Post by desben on Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:55 am

rvlvrlvr, other than the obvious external modifications, did you need to have any gunsmitting done to the guns to make them more competitive? Trigger job, barrel or forcing cone, etc. ?
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Re: Who's Still Using Revolvers

Post by rvlvrlvr on Fri Aug 01, 2014 8:25 am

desben wrote:rvlvrlvr, other than the obvious external modifications, did you need to have any gunsmitting done to the guns to make them more competitive? Trigger job, barrel or forcing cone, etc. ?

I replaced all of the guns' original MIM triggers with old-school forged "combat" smooth .312"-wide triggers (personal preference) and played with the springs a bit and stoned the triggers to give them all lighter single-action trigger pulls (I think I used factory mainsprings, and Wolff 13- or 14-lb trigger rebound springs; I think they all had single-action trigger pull weights around 2.75lbs). The 625 needed a new hand to get it to carry-up/time correctly (all of the guns were purchased used).

No other work was done; no forcing cones, no barrel-work, no lock-up stuff...just the "easy" stuff, stuff I could do myself as a amateur/kitchen-table "smith".

That was another reason I preferred revolvers: for about the cost of one 1911 wadgun, I could have a pair of accurate-right-out-of-the-box revolvers in .22 and .45, though I'd always need to be working, "crankin' and yankin'" to get the nice, light single-action triggers. I made re-cocking the hammer an automatic part of my rhythm and shot process in sustained-fire.

As someone said to me in my very first 2700 match: "there is always time to cock the hammer". Aiming is what takes the most time (revolver or semi-auto).
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Re: Who's Still Using Revolvers

Post by bogierich on Fri Aug 01, 2014 9:55 am

I agree with rvlvrlvr 100%. I switched to revolvers for both CF and .45 and now that I'm officially shooting better than my Ruger Mark 3, I'm getting myself a S&W 617 to complete the set. I find them to be precise, easy to clean, easy to maintain, NEVER have an alibi because of the gun (the rare alibi is always because of ammo) and the action of cocking the hammer for each shot slows me down nicely in timed fire for a more accurate aim point and keeps me in rhythm for rapid fire.
The weight takes a little getting used to, but after a few practice matches and some free-weight work at home, it's no longer a concern at all.
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Re: Who's Still Using Revolvers

Post by chiltech500 on Fri Aug 01, 2014 3:32 pm

Thanks so much Rvlvr for all the info and pics. May I use you as a reference if I have questions upcoming?

Out of curiosity why didn't you compete with the 14-4 and 25-2?

Thanks bogierich, I find I need to slow down on the timed and rapid fire so this is good news. I have become used to cocking my Blackhawk convertible 45acp/45lc which is single action only. Someone told me that a revolver needs to be doublee action to compete, true?

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Re: Who's Still Using Revolvers

Post by chiltech500 on Fri Aug 01, 2014 3:36 pm

Oh one more question, do you have suggested loads for 38 and 45? I have VV N310, Red Dot and Green dot to use. I have Titegroup but have not liked it with lead bullets.

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Re: Who's Still Using Revolvers

Post by rvlvrlvr on Fri Aug 01, 2014 4:02 pm

chiltech500 wrote:Thanks so much Rvlvr for all the info and pics. May I use you as a reference if I have questions upcoming?

Sure thing.

chiltech500 wrote:Out of curiosity why didn't you compete with the 14-4 and 25-2?

I took a break from competing in 2011 to focus on bicycle racing, which was my new expensive/time-consuming hobby at the time. I raced nearly every weekend on both Saturday and Sunday, which meant I was not able to compete in matches (held at the same time). Thus, I simply never got around to it.

Switching to semi-autos after that year allowed me to continue shooting well with less practice (I went from hitting the range four/five times a week to maybe once or twice with no discernable loss in proficiency...in fact, I continued to improve, making indoor High Master with my S&W Model 41). I shot in maybe a few matches in 2012 (an NRA Open Indoor Sectional, and the indoor Capital 1800 and the Walt Wise Memorial Police-L match at Harrisburg), and a few matches in 2013 (same as 2012, and an outdoor 2700 match with my new-to-me 1911 wadgun). 2014's looking to be about the same, though I did attend Camp Perry for the first time (competing primarily with my semi-autos), and taking 29th overall/4th in my class.

I may re-balance my hobbies and start regularly competing in 2700s again in 2015 (during the summers of 2009, 2010, and half of 2011 I was shooting a 2700 match every two weeks or so; I might start shooting a 2700 match every month in the future) and I may spin up the wheelguns for that.

chiltech500 wrote:Someone told me that a revolver needs to be doublee action to compete, true?

This applies to the Distinguished Revolver - according to Rule 3.1.4, the revolver needs to have both double- and single-action functions (and a whole host of other requirements). For normal 2700 guns, covered under Rules 3.2 (centerfire), 3.3 (.45), and 3.4 (.22), there are no restrictions on the trigger systems of revolvers other than their minimum pull weights.

chiltech500 wrote:Oh one more question, do you have suggested loads for 38 and 45? I have VV N310, Red Dot and Green dot to use. I have Titegroup but have not liked it with lead bullets.

.38: the classic 3.1gr Winchester 231 under a 148gr hollow-base wadcutter worked pretty well. I also like 3.6gr Accurate Arms No. 2 under a 158gr swaged lead semi-wadcutter, which would also work well for a Distinguished Revolver load (DR ammo must conform to certain requirements - one of them being that a 158gr round-nose or semi-wadcutter bullet must be used).

.45: I like 4.5gr Winchester 231 under either a 200gr or a 185gr cast lead-semiwadcutter (I get my cast .45 bullets from Missouri Bullet Co. -- 185gr and 200gr). The 200gr load cuts a much nicer hole than the 185gr at the long-line, but has more felt-recoil; the 185gr load is a little softer and gives good accuracy at the short line while also allowing a little more shot-recovery time.

For VV N310 powder, which is faster than Bullseye and definitely faster than AA#2, I might try something a little lighter in .38 -- maybe 3.0gr VV N310 under a 158gr LSWC (a classic load with this bullet is 3.5gr of Bullseye)? Under a 148gr HBWC I might start with 2.3-2.4gr (classic Bullseye load with this bullet is 2.7-2.8gr). In .45, I might try 3.7gr. NOTE: THESE ARE PURE S.W.A.G.s ON MY PART AND I HAVEN'T LOOKED UP THESE LOADS NOR TRIED THEM MYSELF. I've only used VV N310 in .32 S&W Long loads (I think I used 1.35gr VV N310 under 98gr cast wadcutters; my current .32 S&W Long load uses 1.9gr W231 and a 98gr cast wadcutter, meant to be fired out of a Hämmerli 280 euro-pistol).

Red Dot is slightly slower than Bullseye, maybe slightly slower than AA#2? Dunno; I have an 8-lb jug of the stuff but I haven't tried using any of it yet. Perhaps I'd go a little heavier than the classic Bullseye loads? 3.0gr Red Dot with 148gr HBWCs, 3.7 or 3.8gr Red Dot with 158gr LSWCs in .38? 4.3gr Red Dot with 185/200gr LSWCs in .45? AGAIN, I'M MAKING S.W.A.G.s HERE; I DON'T REALLY KNOW FOR SURE.

I don't know anything about Green Dot -- is it supposed to be between Red Dot (fast) and Blue Dot (slow) in terms of burn rate? Maybe like Unique?
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Re: Who's Still Using Revolvers

Post by chiltech500 on Fri Aug 01, 2014 5:22 pm

Thanks so much for all the info. I picked up what powders I could get over the last 9 months except for the N310 which when I bought 4 lbs and would have bought a lot more had I known it was going to disappear for a while. Tried it in my 1911's after using Bullseye and liked it better, cleaner, less smokey.

I am excited to get the target pistols because if I notice an improvement in a plain jane Blackhawk, hopefully will enjoy those even more.

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Re: Who's Still Using Revolvers

Post by rvlvrlvr on Fri Aug 01, 2014 5:31 pm

chiltech500 wrote:Thanks so much for all the info. I picked up what powders I could get over the last 9 months except for the N310 which when I bought 4 lbs and would have bought a lot more had I known it was going to disappear for a while. Tried it in my 1911's after using Bullseye and liked it better, cleaner, less smokey.

I am excited to get the target pistols because if I notice an improvement in a plain jane Blackhawk, hopefully will enjoy those even more.

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=99552 - this thread from 2002 has some ideas about what VV N310 loads work with 148gr and 158gr .38-cal bullets (and also 230gr FMJ .45 bullets). Worth taking a look.

http://smith-wessonforum.com/reloading/301430-vihtavuori-powder-experience.html - this thread from 2013 touches on VV N310, but I think it goes a little more in-depth with VV N320 (apparently N320 is a touch faster than Winchester 231; that might be worth looking into if N320 can be found -- I haven't seen W231 on the shelves anywhere for a long time).
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Re: Who's Still Using Revolvers

Post by chiltech500 on Sat Aug 02, 2014 6:00 am

Yes the powders are a problem for sure. Many recipe writers I've seen interchange Bullseye/VV 310 on a 1:1 ratio.

I appreciate your help a lot.

I am exploring a local shop who may be able to get VV320 - he runs an antiquated type gun shop and has powders "in back" and often doesn't know whats's back there. He has to go rummage around to see what he has. An example of how interesting his shop is, he has a lot of different brands of competition 22 rounds, Eleys and others I've not heard of sitting in front of the sales counter. I have never seen any shops around here with competition ammo.

My plan is to give him a short list so when he goes out back I may land something; he is a bit churlish a character so his mood may dictate how hard he looks! If you wish, I will ask him about 231, maybe I could send you some cause god knows if this character would ship it.

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Re: Who's Still Using Revolvers

Post by rvlvrlvr on Sat Aug 02, 2014 6:17 am

Thanks; I think I'll wait out this current drought -- I have about 2lbs of W231 left, about four pounds of Bullseye, and three pounds of Accurate Arms No. 2, and I have that 8-lb jug of Red Dot; from what I've heard, it works well enough, just doesn't meter well sometimes. And there's that other thread in the Ammunition Forum that says many powders can be made to work well for Bullseye loads. I ought to be OK for a while Smile
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Re: Who's Still Using Revolvers

Post by chiltech500 on Sat Aug 02, 2014 6:48 pm

Glad you are set. I have used Red Dot and it and Green Dot do not meter poorly, flakes are a bit large compared to most pistol powders. Pretty darn accurate and even chrono's fairly well.

I wonder if you could suggest a powder, OAL and crimp for my 38 sp rounds with 148gr DEWC.

My powder choices are VV N310 3.5 lbs (rather save that for 45 if possible), VV N320 4 lbs, Red and Green Dot - 2 and 3.5 lbs respectively and Titegroup (which I don't like particularly well, using it for 9mm, also not my favorite round).

Thanks so much

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Re: Who's Still Using Revolvers

Post by rvlvrlvr on Sat Aug 02, 2014 7:14 pm

chiltech500 wrote:I wonder if you could suggest a powder, OAL and crimp for my 38 sp rounds with 148gr DEWC.

Although I haven't tried using these bullets myself, from what I understand people have used the same loads with those bullets as HBWCs - the reason being, I guess, is that they're a little shorter than HBWCs and thus have very similar case volumes when loaded to the same OALs.

Of course what works in my guns may not work as well in yours; my 686-5 had the "new" EDM-cut rifling, which shot the Speer bullets (with their hard, dry lube) very poorly. My 686-1M (which traditionally-cut rifling) didn't mind those bullets. Try them and see.
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Re: Who's Still Using Revolvers

Post by chiltech500 on Sun Aug 03, 2014 8:59 am

I have already received my 148 gr full wadcutter double end from Dardas manufact. one of the companies who support The High Road forum which I am a member of, also usually purchase from Missouri Bullet Co. another sponsor of that forum. I have only shot their lead and if shooting a name brand I have used Berrys plated target hollow body for 9mm.

I have generic suggestions of Bullseye powder ranging as low as 2.4gr  to 3.0gr for the 148gr wadcutters I bought.

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Re: Who's Still Using Revolvers

Post by james r chapman on Sun Aug 03, 2014 9:20 pm

Being harder you'll probably find it at the 3.0 range with bullseye
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Re: Who's Still Using Revolvers

Post by knightimac on Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:15 am

Hi

I'm really glad to see you give revolvers a try.  I live near Cabelas in Auburn, PA north of route 78.  They are a great alternative to auto's.

Back in the late 90's and early 2000's I shot a 625 (.45) in most of my 2700s and league matches.

I felt comfortable, confident and shot well with this gun.  I shot my only 90+ slow fire score with the 625 using 185 lead swc.  Our club went to the Allentown Sports Fest in early 2000????.  They were a person short and I filled in with my revolver.  I was the weak link shooting with two masters and and expert on a four person team.  I shot well that day and helped to keep the club streak going for consecutive team wins at Sportsfest.

Never made it above Marksmen with the revolver before taking a break from bullseye due to financial/health isses with my wife for several years.

Now I'm back but shooting autos.  But I WILL be getting a revolver at some point.

Shoot the hell out of them and enjoy not having to pick up brass, shoot good slow fires, slay timed fire and learn to thumb for rapid fire for respectable scores. 

I suggest setting Harry Reeves match as your goal in the next year or two.

Best wishes on your purchases.  Happy thumbing!
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Re: Who's Still Using Revolvers

Post by chiltech500 on Mon Aug 04, 2014 5:48 pm

Hey thanks Knightimac! A good positive bit of feedback. 

I joined the Hellertown "Police Revolver League" supposedly they are one of the country's oldest continuously running Bullseye clubs, since the 1930's I believe. I've only gone a few times and shot "practice" rounds with a 22 conversion on a 1911 frame. 

That was before the purchase of revolvers. I practice shooting big bore guns a lot on my own at their outdoor range and another that I'm a member of. It seems that it's not that much more to shoot my own ammo than to buy half decent 22 ammo (if you can find it). I have 2k Eley rounds saved for matches and practice with whatever I can get my hands on.

If I find that I can shot the revolvers consistently I may have to look at a 22 revolver.

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