Switching to Revolvers for 2019

I've carried (and competed with) all kinds of guns over the years. Glocks, 1911s, CZs, Sigs, etc. Heck, my first carry gun when I didn't shoot much or know much was a Taurus.

For 2019, I'm doing something a little different. My firearms goal for this year is to only carry and compete with revolvers.

Why? Lots of reasons.

Competition has been great for learning how to handle stress, moving with and shooting a firearm while under pressure, and making shoot/no shoot decisions rapidly. It has also made me a little more careless with my shot placement, since a fast A and C zone hit are sometimes better than two slow As when it comes to competition scoring. I also have developed a tendency to "quit early" and start looking for the next target before I finish a trigger pull right now, leading to more Cs and Ds than I want, and outright misses in steel matches.

Long, DA revolver triggers should help force me to finish a shot and get both sight pictures before moving on to the next target. USPSA arrays are also limited to requiring no more than 8 shots from any single position (thanks 1911 guys). I'll be shooting an 8 shot revolver in USPSA, so any miss forces a flat footed, long reload...which is death to a good run time. That stage design is really going to force me to realign my focus away from speed and towards accuracy.

When I'm not competing, I teach intro/newbie classes to folks just starting out in the firearms world. As an instructor, it's rare that anyone is only interested in learning how to shoot a revolver these days, but it would be nice if I had a little more experience with revolvers than "yeah, I'll throw this J frame in my pocket occasionally and shoot maybe 200 rounds a year through it" to share on that front if someone was only interested in learning how to shoot and carry a wheel gun.

So, lots of good reasons to spend a year getting to know the wheel gun a little better.

These five guns are what I'll be spending the year with:

S&W 627: 8 shot .357 N Frame, 4" barrel. It takes moon clips, which is what I'll be using in competition for it. For competition I'll be using a Speed Beez OWB kydex holster and 8 post moon clip carrier. For carry I've got a Galco leather OWB holster and a speed beez speedloader. I could have gone with a 5" version for a more "competition ready" gun, but I want to carry it as well at 4" guns are just easier to carry for me.

S&W Model 10: 6 shot .38 K frame, 4" barrel. Not cut for moon clips. The 627 is not IDPA legal, so this will be my primary IDPA gun, using Safariland Comp 3s to reload it. This one is used and has an unknown number of rounds through it already. I'll use a comp tac kydex OWB holster for it in competition, and have a JM Kydex AIWB holster for when I carry it. Comp 3s will be used for concealed carry reload as well as in competition.

S&W 637: 5 shot .38 J frame, 1.8" barrel. Also not cut for moons. I'll be carrying this when I can't manage to conceal anything else, but I also want to compete with it some, so I'll bust it out for both some IDPA Back Up Gun stuff and some steel challenge. I'll probably use Speed Beez speed loaders for it during both competition and carry. Don't have a competition holster for it yet, but do have both IWB and pocket holsters for it from Desantis for carry that both work really well.

S&W 586 L Comp: 7 shot .357 L frame, 3" comp'd barrel. Cut for moons, have a Galco IWB holster for it and a speed beez speedloader on the way as well. Honestly, this one just seemed to fill the gap between traditional/modern 4" 6 and 8 shot revolvers and the typical J frame, so I wanted to add it to the mix.

Ruger LCRx: 5 shot. 38, 3" barrel. I wanted at least one Ruger in the mix, and this one was the most interesting to me. I wish it was a 6 shot, but a 3" barrel and adjustable sights are both huge pluses. I plan on using this in the same Steel challenge matches I shoot the 637 in, because I'd love to compare and contrast the 3" barrel gun and the "true" snub nose S&W in both accuracy and speed. Other than that, I'm curious to see what niche I find for it.

I hope at the end of the year to have a better appreciation for and understanding of the double action trigger, the difficulties of revolver reloading, a better eye for stage planning, and to be a more accurate and deliberate shooter.
In addition to carrying and competing with these guns, I have some drills I'd like to try to shoot as "benchmarks". I'll be shooting them pretty raw this month (very minimal dry fire, reload or live fire practice with any of these guns), so hopefully as I dry fire, practice and compete I'll be able to see progress in my ability to shoot the wheel guns over the year.

Lots of them are inspired (read: taken straight from) a PatMac class I took in December. If you ever get the chance to take a class from him, highly, highly recommend.

This is what I've decided to use:

5 second standards. Target: IPSC Silhouette. Start at 7 yards. Fire two shots from low ready with 5 second par time. Fire 2 shots from the holster, then 2 shots from the holster strong hand only. 5 second par time for each. Only A zone hits count. Anything else=failed drill. If you pass at 7 yards, move back to 10 and repeat. Then 15, 20, 25, etc until failure.

500 point standard. Target: 2 NRA B8 targets. At 15 yards, fire 10 rounds with both hands, 10 strong hand only, 10 weak hand only. No time limit. Add up points out of 300. Next string on second target: From a holster at 15 yards, 10 rounds in 30 seconds. Then, 10 rounds in 15 seconds. Add up points out of 200, combine two targets for total points, max is 500.

Modifying the 500 point standard a bit for a revolver. I'm testing reloads in other drills and this one is all about accuracy at speed. So I'm going to fire the timed strings like this: Fire until empty on a timer. Subtract time taken from 30 or 15 second limits to set a new max par time, reload, finish course of fire. That way I still have 15 seconds to complete my 10 round course of fire, without using 2-3 seconds of it for a reload. I'll be timing reloads on other drills.

Reloads. Target: IPSC Silhouette. 7 yards. On timer, draw and shoot until empty. Reload, and repeat. Any hit outside A zone=failure. Record total time. (added a reload to a Bill Drill, and changed from 6 rounds to whatever capacity is for that revolver)

Wilson 5x5. Target; IPSC Silhouette. 10 yards. 4 strings. 1st string: draw, 5 to body. 2nd: draw, 5 to body strong hand only. 3rd: Draw, 5 to body, reload, 5 more to body. 4th: Draw, fire 4 to body 1 to head. Add all strings for total time. C is +1 second, D or head is +2, miss is +5.

Modified Close Speed Drill: Langdon's 9 shot close speed drill modified for revolver. 3 IPSC targets shoulder to shoulder. 2 yards. Engage single shot left to right, then right to left, then head left to right again until out of ammo. Record time. Only A zone hits count.

These should give me a good idea of what I'm improving on, what I need to focus harder on, and the difference between what I can do with a 4" revolver and good sights and a J frame and crap sights, for example.
I've been traveling this month and 3 out of my 5 guns are currently unavailable (627 and 637 went to a smith for trigger work/apex springs, LCRx shipped without its rear sight so I'm waiting on parts from Ruger). Didn't have a ton of time, but managed to at least shoot 5 second standards with the M10 and 586 this weekend. Failed at 10 yards on strong hand only with the M10, failed at 15 yards strong hand only with the 586.

As a comparison point, I can typically clear this drill out to 15 on demand with any of my CZs. I have a lot of work to do mastering the double action trigger pull, but that's part of why I'm doing this....to push myself outside of my comfort zone, develop better trigger control, and learn some things.

That sounds like a great way to sharpen your skills. Allot of competition shooters won’t consider switching to wheel guns butt I think it is a great way improve not only the physical but the mental skills needed to shoot well. Try to avoid the urge to go full gamer with your gear. I like that you are including an old model 10. The model 10 was what the Glock 17 in today.
Shooting steel challenge with a 5 shooter kind of makes the match like one big no fail drill. I want to try that.
Last year I shot my local 10 week shooting league with a model 10 made in the 60’s and hks, comp 2 and comp3 speed loaders just to see how I would do with prehistoric equipment. I didn’t realize how sloppy my shooting was until I put up the glocks and carbines and everything I did wrong got magnified by the revolver on the clock. It made me a better shooter especially my mental game.
Even when my reloads started to hang up because of the cold weather warm cylinder tolerance changes I stuck with the old gear and fought through it instead of switching out to better gear sitting in the safe.
Have fun. I am pulling for you.

Try to avoid the urge to go full gamer with your gear. I like that you are including an old model 10. The model 10 was what the Glock 17 in today.
Shooting steel challenge with a 5 shooter kind of makes the match like one big no fail drill. I want to try that.
Absolutely trying to keep this carry focused (while still competing as much as possible). That's why I went with the 4" 627 instead of the 5". Same with going with the Model 10 for IDPA instead of a 625...wanted to keep everything in .38/.357 for simplicities sake.

With Comp3s, the M10 can be reloaded pretty quickly. It should be as competitive as I can make it in IDPA.

My local club only runs Steel Challenge during the summers, but I'm absolutely looking forward to running it with the 5 shot guns. Talk about forcing accuracy under pressure over speed!
Still waiting on my 627 and 637 to get back from the smith.

Round 2 of parts needed to finish the Ruger rear sight are supposedly inbound (first shipment didn't have two pieces needed to finish the rear sight still).

Because I've been stuck with only two out of the planned five guns I was hoping to work with this year and it's looking like February before everything is back in my hands, I'm pushing this experiment one more month and I'll carry revolvers through January of 2020 as well.

Think I might keep a log of what revolver I carry each day for the year when I have all the options available. Might be interesting to see what gun got carried the most/least.
Good on you. Kinda like Defoor spending a year with only Iron sights. It will be interesting to see if there are any unexpected results on the backside good or bad
Well I'm certainly no Defoor and I'm not sure I'll discover any universal truths or new information others don't already know from doing this. But if it can help me correct a few deficiencies in my shooting before I go back to carrying my P-09 or Roland Special, it will have been a valuable year.

The more I think about it, the more excited I am to shoot Steel Challenge with the 637 and LCRx. I don't think anything else I'll do this year will challenge my speed/accuracy balance quite like having no opportunities to make up a shot without a reload.

Video quality should be much improved next time around too. Sent in the Session 4 I've been using for GoPro's $100 off deal on their new Hero 7.
Finally finding time this weekend to shoot a match. IDPA, so I'll be using the M10 and Comp3s.

Six total stages, two of which require 18 rounds, and another two that require 17.

This is exactly the sort of challenge I was looking for by switching to revolver this year. A single miss on two stages means an extra reload, while another two stages allow for only one make up shot before I'm forced into an extra reload. Should be a good under stress no fail drill.

I'm also excited to shoot this one because my new GoPro got here this week, so I should have some higher quality video of whatever happens.

I was the only revolver shooter today.

Finished 14th out of 16 shooters, so I beat a couple of bottom feeders.

Even finished 5th overall on one stage, but taking 10+ seconds to clear a case that slipped under the star on another stage will eat up some time, as will a few hits to hard cover instead of the target.

I finished stronger than I started though (my 5th overall stage run was the last stage of the day for me), so I'm happy with improvements throughout, and I got better each stage. First match in a few months, first match ever with a revolver. It'll be a good benchmark to compare to in a year and see what I've improved on.

I'll edit/upload video tomorrow.
Funny story from the match: I had a nice, ~13ish second reload on the first stage of the match yesterday. It was on my SECOND reshoot of that stage. First time through, the swinging no shoot target fell off. Second time, the activator steel popper for the swinger took a solid hit and failed to fall, so we stopped and had to reset. Every case extracted perfectly on both of those runs. But on the third run, when the stage equipment was all finally working right, one case got stuck under the star. And of course, I cut my fingernails yesterday. So I've got next to no nail to get under the damn rim and I'm sitting there for 10 or more seconds trying to first get the case out of the cylinder, then get it past the star before I can reload.

It couldn't have happened on either of the runs that didn't count, naturally. This is the kind of luck I tend to have.

Video time, so we can all analyze my failures together.

Some things I noticed:

1) On the very first cylinder through the gun, I short stroked the trigger and rotated the cylinder without moving the hammer. Trying to "ride the reset" on a revolver is a really bad idea. Thankfully, it's the only time I did that all day.
2) You need more "space" to reload revolvers than semis. On stage 5, I bonked the barrel wall when moving the gun from muzzle up to eject cases to muzzle down to reload it. This is not something I've had to worry about before shooting semis. It also showed up again on stage 6 when I got too close to a wall and had to bring the gun into my chest to get around it. I need to give myself more distance around barriers, mostly for reloads but also just to eliminate unnecessary movement when transitioning around them like on stage 6.
3) There were a couple of times I missed the ejector rod with my index finger during the reload and had to try again. Since I'd like to stick with the weak hand reload for now, I think I'm going to practice hitting the rod with two fingers on my weak hand instead of just one to give me a little more room for error. Inexperienced revolver shooter problems.
4) Round counts, round counts, round counts. How hard is it to count to 6? Pretty hard, apparently. Multiple times I pulled the trigger a 7th time for a click instead of a bang, wasting time. I need to continue working on my stage planning and my awareness of what I've already shot so I'm not surprised as often by an empty gun.
5) on a camera note, I like the new GoPro but I need to angle it down a bit more so I can hopefully get my reloads on film in the future as well. They're a big part of the revolver shooting game and if I can't see them I don't know what I need to improve on with them.

To give myself a few kudos as well so this isn't just a self stomp fest: Despite two reshoots and a 13 second reload when a case got stuck under the star on stage 1, I actually improved steadily throughout the rest of the match. Usually I shoot on a bit of a bell curve, with my first stage being slightly suboptimum, 2-3 or 4 being decent, and 5-6 and beyond going down hill as I become mentally fatigued. I've been working not just on dry fires and reloads but my mental game as well, and I think it is starting to show. My best stage of the day was the very last stage I shot. That's new, and I like it.

I'm also throwing up a quick comparison video of my first cylinder on stage 1 and my first cylinder on stage 6. I think there's a noticeable difference in my confidence with the DA trigger in matches in just a few stages. First cylinder had a lot of hesitation and trigger staging that was gone by the end of the match. Hoping to see that improvement continue.

Good shooting. You are here for tips and critiques correct?
Here to share my experiences and get feedback, yes.

I already listed off several things I noticed that I need to work on. I've also already gotten some advice on an improved grip that I've been working on in dry fire. Before about a month ago, my only revolver was a J frame, and with XL gloves fitting snugly, the "crossed thumbs" was about the only way to get a decent grip on the gun, which is why I used it on everything. Changing over to a thumbs forward grip to see how that goes.
I use that grip you were using for j frames as well. It works great on the little guys. When I shoot k/l or larger frames I put my support hand thumb on top of my strong hand thumb to keep it back from the cylinder gap.
I used to gently stroke the ejector rod and found that it worked well when useing full moon clips but would leave an empty case under the extractor on standard revolvers 1 out of every 10–15 times. Now I Point the barrel up and gently strike the ejector rod. This has fixed this issue for me. Also larger stocks can cause that problem. I like the larger grips but the issues with ejection has regulated them to the box of parts that aren’t used anymore. Hope this helps.
Are you open to changing the method you use to reload?
Are you open to changing the method you use to reload?
I'm aware of the different ways to reload a revolver, and tried them all in December when I was getting ready to spend the year with the wheel guns. I chose the reload method I did for certain reasons, so I'm going to stick with my weak hand reload for now and see what I can do to improve it.
Moon clips, my dude. I mean that's not really a thing you can change at the drop of a hat, but they remedy that little problem nicely.
Two of the guns I'm using this year are cut for moons (627, 586). I want to work with both moons and speedloaders, so I'll keep the M10 as is and use speedloaders in it for now....but I'm a pretty big fan of moons over speedloaders so far.
Shot a falling steel match this weekend with the 627. It was below freezing and raining, so not a lot of folks came out. We had 18 shooters. I finished 13th, and was the only revolver shooter.

First match with this gun. Like my first match with the M10 from earlier, everything got smoother on later stages than it was on early stages. Less misses, less clicks on an empty cylinder, etc.

Match was 3 stages, with each stage being run twice. The first time, you have a 30 second par time. Every piece of steel left up at the end of 30 seconds adds 2 seconds to your time. Then you repeat all 3 stages with no par time, but every piece of steel left up at the end adds 5 seconds to your time.

There were also several 9 shot arrays at this match, which is fun with an 8 shot wheel gun. That forced some different stage planning. For the 30 second par time stages, there were several times it was beneficial to shoot 8, reload while moving to the next position, and keep shooting rather than waste time on a static reload to clear one more target that was only adding two seconds. However, since standing steel added 5 seconds in the no par time stages, that wasn't worth it and forced some reloads at awkward times and positions. That's really obvious on the 2nd and 5th stages (blue targets had to be engaged in blue box, yellow in yellow, both 9 shot arrays). The par time run, I shot 8 in each box, reloaded on the move and left targets standing once one cylinder was done. It forced weird reloads in the no par time stage though, because shooting 8 and moving would have added 10 seconds minimum to my stage time for those two standing targets (and that's being optimistic about shooting the other 8

I still had a few times where I couldn't count to 8, but they were more often at the beginning of the match than the end, which I'll take as a positive. One interesting thing to note was that I missed my count several times on the moving targets, even at the end. Humans are poor multitaskers, and when I was concentrating on the moving targets, I lost track of rounds fired.

Moonclips are easier than speed loaders, but my reloads still need some work.

Honestly, I was under prepared for this match. I had been doing some dryfire/reload work at home, but I haven't been to the range since I shot an IDPA match two weeks ago. I've got lots of excuses (7 month old at home so limited free time, and what free time I do have I'm mostly using to run because I'm signed up for a half marathon in April and my fat ass isn't in shape for it, etc), but the lack of range time is evident in the video. Nothing is as smooth as it should be, because I haven't invested the practice time.

I'm making some plans/arrangements to free up a little more time to at least get to the range once a week in addition to upping my dry fire time. It's not ideal, but unfortunately getting better at shooting isn't my only responsibility right now. Still happy to have this as a benchmark to compare match video from late this year/early next year to and see what progress I've made.

I've got a 15-month-old at home and I can't imagine training for a half marathon and the rest of this. That alone gets a thumbs-up from me.
Thanks. I had to choose between the range and a six mile run today. Picked the run. But I am going to make it to the range on Wednesday to do some drills.

This is rapidly becoming the year of “how much can I improve with a revolver with very limited practice time?”.

I’m started practicing a palm hit on the ejector rod instead of using my finger during reloads. The finger was less motion, but I had a few too many misses in the two matches I shot with that method, so I’m switching to the more reliable option.