REVOLVERS ALL YEAR
HERE ARE FOUR TIPS TO MAKE ANY WHEELGUN ROCK IN ALL SEASONS
Here are four tips to make any wheelgun rock in all seasons.
By Dave Workman
Whether it’s a five-, six-, seven- or eight-shooter, the revolver is a handgun for all occasions, all conditions and all four seasons.
Millions of revolvers are available, both new and used. They cover all the bases in a variety of calibers, they are relatively easy to master, and I have yet to be let down by one. Single- or double-action, the revolver is the “old dependable.” There are no magazines to lose or damage. Revolvers don’t suffer stovepipe jams.
While the revolver is a multi-purpose tool, you still need to ensure that it is going to work when you need it. Here are steps you can take to maximize its effectiveness and minimize potential headaches, whether buying a brand new wheelgun or adopting a sidearm that has already been seasoned by someone else.
01 CLEAN IT
The very first thing one does with any good handgun, new or used, is remove the grips and give it a bath in Hoppe’s No. 9 or Outer’s Nitro Solvent.
If the revolver is new, this process will remove any shipping oils. On a used model, you clean out dust, old oil, and grit and possible rust that might interfere with its operation. Use very fine steel wool and gently scrub the
surface until the rust is gone.
Scrub the bore, pull the cylinder and wipe it down through the center, in all chambers and anywhere that dust might have settled.
Touch up blemishes with gun blue, and remember to buff and oil the finish, according to instructions.
Modern aerosols are handy, and that includes WD-40 because it displaces moisture and lubricates at the same
“...PROBABLY THE MOST VERSATILE REVOLVER CALIBER IS THE .357 MAGNUM, A CALIBER THAT LITERALLY DOES IT ALL...”
time. You can opt for Birchwood Casey Sheath, Ballistol or a similar product.
With the grips removed, you can access the mainspring. Make sure to add a drop or two of oil to the mainspring, whether it’s a coil or leaf type. Spring steel can rust just as easily as the bore, cylinder chambers or crane if neglected.
02 SWAP THOSE GRIPS
A second consideration is swapping out the grips as the seasons change, or at least taking a little precaution. If your grips are synthetic or some kind of rubber, they’ll be good to go any time of year.
For wood grips, I suggest pulling them and rubbing the inside surface with a bit of neutral shoe wax. It won’t soften the wood, but it will fill tiny cracks that may not be visible to the naked eye, preventing condensation from damaging the wood from the inside. It also provides a bit of a seal between the grip surface and the frame.
If you don’t have Pachmayr or Hogue grips to fit your revolver for winter use, you might want to acquire them. They’re impervious to wet, cold weather, and if you drop a handgun, the grip is not going to crack or scratch. In my experience, they don’t feel cold when you grab them, either, even in sub-freezing temperatures.
03 TRAIN SERIOUSLY
Item No. 3 is practice and training. The first step here is to obtain various brands of ammunition and different bullet weights and styles, and head for the range.
“WHILE THE REVOLVER IS A MULTI-PURPOSE TOOL, YOU STILL NEED TO ENSURE THAT IT IS GOING TO WORK WHEN YOU NEED IT.”
Set targets first at 10 yards and then at 25 yards. Sight your revolver using a rest, first on the closer target and then at the longer distance. If your wheelgun has an adjustable rear sight—like my 2 ½-inch vintage Model 19 Smith & Wesson—you will find that different loads will shoot differently and you can adjust the sights accordingly.
With fixed sights, you must determine whether the revolver shoots to point of aim and at what range, with which specific load. Match the gun to the cartridge and to the primary intended use. That’s the formula for success… and survival.
A good defensive handgun course may involve firing anywhere from 300 to 500 rounds, maybe more, and by the time you’re finished, that revolver will essentially be married to your hand.
04 CONSIDER SIZE
Fourth, size matters, and it is difficult to beat a good five- or six-shot snub gun with a 2- or 2 ½-inch barrel for general concealed carry. Those who prefer a longer barrel should find a 3or 4-incher adequate. Anything bigger requires a larger holster and a more robust cover garment, unless you are deliberately trying to show the world you’re carrying a handgun.
Through the spring and again in the autumn months, a compact or even full-size revolver with magna-size grips should vanish under a light or medium-weight cover garment such as a sweater, light jacket or windbreaker.
In the summer months, a snubby carried in a pocket holster, a deep
cover inside-the-waistband rig over which a loose shirt can be tucked or in an ankle holster is tactically sound.
For those headed to the outdoors, even if you pack a full-size revolver, covering it up with a loose shirt, vest or windbreaker is good manners. Remember, you can carry in a national park except inside buildings such as visitor centers or ranger stations, as long as you are also complying with state and local laws.
In the winter, it’s possible to carry a large wheelgun under a heavy parka, ski jacket or overcoat.
WHAT’S THE BEST CHOICE?
There is no such thing as the “ideal” or “best” revolver. The one you prefer is the one for you, regardless of make, model or caliber.
This is where individuals make their own choice. Thanks to the growing availability of indoor shooting ranges, it is possible to rent handguns and try them out. Find one that meets your needs, suits your preferences and, most important, fits your hand and body.
In addition to new revolvers, plenty of previously owned models are on the market today. Whether blue or stainless, one can find some bargains on reliable handguns through which very little ammunition has passed.
Pick the one you want, follow the maintenance tips outlined here, practice, seek competent training, then carry with confidence and do it discreetly. Whatever your choice, the revolver may be retro, but it continues to rock in the 21st century.
Around the clock, around the calendar, the revolver is a dependable defensive tool.
Above: Whether new or used, the first order of business for any new revolver is a good cleaning inside and out. Take out the cylinder, clean the yoke, pull the grips and clean the mainspring and grip frame. Make it run like new.
Top: Workman suggests adding oil or a rust preventative to the mainspring.
Bottom: Here’s a trick few people think about: Waterproof the inside of your wood grips with neutral shoe wax.
Above: Revolvers come in stainless, like this Charter Arms double-action specimen, blue or nickel-plated. Notice this one has fixed sights and a factory-installed rubber grip.
Below: Many revolver fans carry spare ammunition in a belt slide.
Above: Reloading is slower from looped cartridge carriers, but you’ve got spare ammunition always within easy reach.
Above: Ruger last year introduced the LCRx in .357 Magnum, and Workman put it through its paces. This five-shooter is a lightweight, rugged handgun well designed for concealed carry. Naturally, one pairs it with speedloaders.
Below: Of popular revolver caliber choices, the .357 Magnum stands out front, while the .38 Special (left), .41 Magnum and .44 Magnum are a bit in the background.