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What to look for in Service Revolver—CA Compliant

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BE Mike
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Post by MkFiji Sun 14 Jan - 23:39

Hi guys

Looking for a Service Revolver for EIC and I’m located in California

I’m clueless on what’s considered a service revolver as I can’t find a list to go off of.  I’ve read the rule book but aesthetics aren’t mentioned.  

1) Can I just buy any revolver as long as the barrel is 6.5” or shorter and within 9mm-45ACP?

2) The guy at the LGS said 9mm revolver isn’t very reliable and will have failure to fire due to it being rimless—what’re your thoughts on 9mm?

3) What characteristics should I be looking for when choosing a service revolver?  I only know of adjustable sight and a grip that fits well

4) There’s a thread on Service Revolver from two years ago but it looks like the S&W 14 isn’t available in CA. What Service Revolver do you recommend?


• Bullet caliber doesn’t matter to me much
• I reload
• I also don’t mind price


Thank you!

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Post by chiz1180 Sun 14 Jan - 23:55

1) More or less, yes. It will need factory sights
2) I do not have much experience with 9mm wheel guns. 
3) You want to make sure it fits your hand for how you want to shoot sustained fire. Do you want to shoot single or double action?
4) Not sure what exactly is CA compliant but after a quick google search on my end Smith 586/686 or Ruger GP100  would be a starting point. Though probably some other good options too.
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Post by RoyDean Mon 15 Jan - 0:59

Chiz makes good points.

38 special is the most popular cartridge (folks often use guns chambered 357 magnum with 38 ammo). The S&W 14 is probably the most popular model used by DR & CMP SR competitors, whilst they may not be available new in CA, I suggest that you look for used guns. But there are many other brands/models to choose from - Manurhin at the high end, to Taurus and Ruger at the lower end.

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Post by troystaten Mon 15 Jan - 4:01

You can also take a look at the current Colt Pythons as well.

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Post by RoyDean Mon 15 Jan - 4:11

BTW - your LGS guy is right/wrong! Most 9mm (and 45ACP) revolvers use "moon clips" for the rimless ammo, so, in my experience, there is no significant problem with reliability. BUT, 9mm is not favored for DR/SR, as far as I know.

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Post by MkFiji Mon 15 Jan - 4:12

troystaten wrote:You can also take a look at the current Colt Pythons as well.

That looks cool! If I find one in stock or if I can order it online I'll consider that! Do you have any other similar brand/models?


For trigger I think I want a DA/SA based off what I've read.  SA would be nice as I'm used to that but I'm not familiar with many SA revolvers

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Post by RoyDean Mon 15 Jan - 4:21

Search this forum for threads mentioning the Python - there have been mixed reviews for the new production models.

If cost is not an issue, search for a Manurhin MR38 DA/SA. The sights are way superior to almost all other revolvers on the market. BUT, at least one Forum member had a badly finished one of those. I have not come across that problem myself and the DA actions on mine are excellent. 

Not seeing significant difference in accuracy between any of the good brands, but they all tend to be very ammo sensitive - especially at 50 yards.

I bought a couple of used S&W 14's off GunBroker last year for modest cost and they all turned out to be excellent. That would be my first choice.

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Post by Cmysix Mon 15 Jan - 14:40

MkFiji wrote:
troystaten wrote:You can also take a look at the current Colt Pythons as well.

That looks cool! If I find one in stock or if I can order it online I'll consider that! Do you have any other similar brand/models?


For trigger I think I want a DA/SA based off what I've read.  SA would be nice as I'm used to that but I'm not familiar with many SA revolvers


just my two cents, but if you want to shoot bullseye you should be looking into pistols that have know bullseye quality and not buy something because it "looks cool".
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Post by Cmysix Mon 15 Jan - 14:42

Cmysix wrote:
MkFiji wrote:
troystaten wrote:You can also take a look at the current Colt Pythons as well.

That looks cool! If I find one in stock or if I can order it online I'll consider that! Do you have any other similar brand/models?


For trigger I think I want a DA/SA based off what I've read.  SA would be nice as I'm used to that but I'm not familiar with many SA revolvers


just my two cents, but if you want to shoot bullseye you should be looking into pistols that have know bullseye quality and not buy something because it "looks cool".Do you have any other similar brand/models



Do you have any other similar brand/models"  yes! there are all kinds of older models of S&W revolvers that fit the bill of Bullseye pistol, time to do some research.
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Post by chiz1180 Mon 15 Jan - 14:48

One other note on Manurhin (I know very little about these fyi) some models are SA only. Not necessarily a bad thing, but if you want to shoot DA not gonna work. Some Smiths are also SA only. FWIW I shoot sustained fire DA and Slow SA and have mostly shot a 586. The newer colts I have seen had a single action trigger that was somewhat heavy.
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Post by toddcfii Mon 15 Jan - 14:59

Make sure to not get a gun with a compensator on it as that is not allowed in the rules.
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Post by Rush223 Mon 15 Jan - 15:02

I have a new model Python. It’s a great gun but the SA trigger pull is well over 5 pounds. This pistol works very well for me to shoot SA during sustained fire, except for the trigger weight. I’m in line to get action work. Then it should be a great pistol. 

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Post by BE Mike Mon 15 Jan - 15:08

It's interesting to me that no one has mentioned accuracy.
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Post by Steve B Mon 15 Jan - 15:53

BE Mike wrote:It's interesting to me that no one has mentioned accuracy.

With that in mind, if you've got the money, you can't beat the Manurhin MR38.  Mine is an absolute tack driver, the factory test target was a 5/8" CTC group at 25 meters.

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Post by Allgoodhits Mon 15 Jan - 16:14

A S&W .38 or .357 with a 6 inch barrel in K or L frame configuration would be the most likely acquisition at a reasonable price. Somewhere in the range of $700-1000. Models may include 14, 19, 586 and 686. There are others, but these are probably the best, all things considered in the <$1,000 range. Honestly, they are hard to beat at any price range, if they are checked and tuned by a truly competent revo smith. Said costs could be anywhere between $100 - 600 depending on what is needed to make it right. After all, how many PPC or Bullseye Championships have been won with a Korth or Manurhin?

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Post by MkFiji Mon 15 Jan - 19:35

Allgoodhits wrote:A S&W .38 or .357 with a 6 inch barrel in K or L frame configuration would be the most likely acquisition at a reasonable price. Somewhere in the range of $700-1000. Models may include 14, 19, 586 and 686. There are others, but these are probably the best, all things considered in the <$1,000 range. Honestly, they are hard to beat at any price range, if they are checked and tuned by a truly competent revo smith. Said costs could be anywhere between $100 - 600 depending on what is needed to make it right. After all, how many PPC or Bullseye Championships have been won with a Korth or Manurhin?


Perfect, thanks!

I see the 686 has a performance center competitor model. It has a vented barrel.  Is this still SR legal since it’s from the manufacturer?

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Post by Allgoodhits Mon 15 Jan - 20:07

MkFiji wrote:
Allgoodhits wrote:A S&W .38 or .357 with a 6 inch barrel in K or L frame configuration would be the most likely acquisition at a reasonable price. Somewhere in the range of $700-1000. Models may include 14, 19, 586 and 686. There are others, but these are probably the best, all things considered in the <$1,000 range. Honestly, they are hard to beat at any price range, if they are checked and tuned by a truly competent revo smith. Said costs could be anywhere between $100 - 600 depending on what is needed to make it right. After all, how many PPC or Bullseye Championships have been won with a Korth or Manurhin?


Perfect, thanks!

I see the 686 has a performance center competitor model. It has a vented barrel.  Is this still SR legal since it’s from the manufacturer?

I do not know for sure, but I would guess that if the "Competitor" Model that you mention is the one that I recall, I would dare say that it would not be permitted. I cannot recite why it may not be, but would say it is not. Having said that, I would say that the added weight, while shooting with one hand, may not prove to be any advantage.

If I could find, at a reasonable price, a 6" Model 14 with "full underlug" that is what I would get. Other than that, a 586 or 686 followed by Model 19 or 66 or a normal Model 14 would be my choices in that order. I would add, stick with a 6 shot version. I know 686 offered a 7 shot, not sure if a 7 shot was ever offered in 586. 14, 19, 586 = blue. 66, 686 = SS . Last, if you have very large hands then a Model 27 or 28 may be worth considering.
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Post by chiz1180 Mon 15 Jan - 21:05

MkFiji wrote:
Allgoodhits wrote:A S&W .38 or .357 with a 6 inch barrel in K or L frame configuration would be the most likely acquisition at a reasonable price. Somewhere in the range of $700-1000. Models may include 14, 19, 586 and 686. There are others, but these are probably the best, all things considered in the <$1,000 range. Honestly, they are hard to beat at any price range, if they are checked and tuned by a truly competent revo smith. Said costs could be anywhere between $100 - 600 depending on what is needed to make it right. After all, how many PPC or Bullseye Championships have been won with a Korth or Manurhin?


Perfect, thanks!

I see the 686 has a performance center competitor model. It has a vented barrel.  Is this still SR legal since it’s from the manufacturer?
This particular model fails to comply with  Rule 4.1.3. g.)

Prohibitions. Any system of recoil control based on a compensator, barrel venting, barrel porting or other similar recoil reduction system is prohibited.

For what its worth a vented barrel probably is negligible with lighter recoiling target loads.
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Post by toddcfii Tue 16 Jan - 2:29

The Competitor pistol by S&W doesn’t have a vented barrel. I have one. It has a weighted barrel which looks like it is allowed but in my estimation the gun is overall too heavy for single handed use in bullseye.  I believe it would be allowed by rules but is impractical.
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Post by chiz1180 Tue 16 Jan - 3:09

Toddcffii,
How heavy? my 22 was close to 4lbs for a while….
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Post by toddcfii Tue 16 Jan - 13:43

It weighs 55.4 oz.
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Post by Axehandle Thu 18 Jan - 22:30

I laugh at this.  "After all, how many PPC or Bullseye Championships have been won with a Korth or Manurhin?


I like to point to the revolvers of Jim Collins and Phillip Hemphill that hang in the NRA Museum in Fairfax.  K frame S&Ws

Then I'll add, for this shooter, #1 legal in California, #2 shoots good.  I picked up 4 38/357s to play with myself.   Turned out the one I shot the best was the one I owned before I thought about Revolver EIC shooting.  My old 6 inch 586.

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Post by Allgoodhits Fri 19 Jan - 0:40

Axehandle wrote:I laugh at this.  "After all, how many PPC or Bullseye Championships have been won with a Korth or Manurhin?


I like to point to the revolvers of Jim Collins and Phillip Hemphill that hang in the NRA Museum in Fairfax.  K frame S&Ws

Then I'll add, for this shooter, #1 legal in California, #2 shoots good.  I picked up 4 38/357s to play with myself.   Turned out the one I shot the best was the one I owned before I thought about Revolver EIC shooting.  My old 6 inch 586.

I think you missed my point. Preceding the comment was that you can't do better than a S&W revolver. I know of no PPC championships won with either a Korth or Manurhin I knew Jim "Eli" Collins well, beginning in 1978. I spoke to him within a year or so before he died. I also knew Philip. I have actually fired the Collins gun which hangs in the NRA museum, many years ago while in Jackson. I know Philip holds the record in PPC due only to the time limit change in match !. Collin's record was 1500-126X. I think Philip's is 1500-119X. I know Collins once fired a 1499-137X. I know Philip has won 9-10 PPC Championships and I think Robert Vadasz has won 9 or 10. Perhaps, tainted because I knew Collins well, but he is king of PPC to me. All of them exceptional, as is John Pride. Im pretty sure all of their wins were with S&W revolvers.
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Post by toddcfii Fri 19 Jan - 0:48

Phil won 10 times and so did Robert Vadasz. I have met and hung out with Robert. Very humble guy and super helpful to us mere mortals.
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Post by Arthur Fri 19 Jan - 1:11

Allgoodhits wrote:A S&W .38 or .357 with a 6 inch barrel in K or L frame configuration would be the most likely acquisition at a reasonable price. Somewhere in the range of $700-1000. Models may include 14, 19, 586 and 686. There are others, but these are probably the best, all things considered in the <$1,000 range. Honestly, they are hard to beat at any price range, if they are checked and tuned by a truly competent revo smith. Said costs could be anywhere between $100 - 600 depending on what is needed to make it right. After all, how many PPC or Bullseye Championships have been won with a Korth or Manurhin?


This is what I see on the line. I would also include S&W M27 or 28, again 6". This is the next next frame size up and is a heavier gun and it really dampens recoil. Some guys look hard for full lug M14 because of the extra weight the lug adds. But they are not as common and cost more. 
You should really make the effort to handle / shoot before you buy. I own both the 14 and 28, and the 28 fits my hand better, Both guns shoot well at 50 yd. 

Good luck

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