Saturday, January 31, 2009

A "New" Old .38 Special Revolver...

Hello. A while back I got the opportunity to buy a Model 64-5 revolver at a very good price. This one sports a 4" heavy barrel and came with the factory smooth trigger and bobbed hammer. It still wore factory checkered service stocks and that was fine with me. The gun is capable only of double-action firing, ie: it cannot be cocked for single-action shooting. Reportedly, this was a revolver being retired from an armored car service that had been toted quite a bit but shot little. A few basic "checks" convinced me that it was sound and worth the tarrif. Though not an NYPD gun, this set up is sometimes referred to as "NY-1" and FWIW, I like it. In fact, I like it a lot.

This Model 64's trigger and hammer are not "flash chromed" to appear stainless nor are they stainless steel. They're "regular" chrome moly and that's fine by me. The revolver had a few dings and scratches, but they were cleaned up a bit with fine wet-to-dry sandpaper and the stocks were refinished with Birchwood Casey's Tru-Oil. The Model 64 is merely a stainless version of the classic Model 10 and is built on the popular K-frame that many found extremely comfortable to use for decade upon decade.

I have been told by those more "tactical" than I that one cannot adequately defend home, hearth and heinie with a wheel gun. While I agree fully that the 6-shot revolver has to be reloaded more often than a comparable size autoloader, I also believe that we "solve our problem" in the first few shots and run out of time before ammunition. In other words, in most deadly force scenarios involving private citizens, I think that the revolver can hold its own if he can get the hits. This is true with any handgun and I've said before that "placement is power". In other words, I still believe that placement remains a primary component in "stopping power" and whether we survive or don't! (Do not make a mistake here and think that I support anything like "high-capacity magazine bans". I am firmly opposed to such anti-Second Amendment tripe and do all that I legally can to oppose it and I always will.)

Taking the revolver to the range, I was pleased but not surprised to find that the fixed sights were perfectly regulated for 158-gr. ammunition.

These six shots were the first I fired out of the revolver. Distance was seven yards from a standing position and using a two-hand hold. Ammunition was Georgia Arms 158-gr. SWC's. These shots were fired in slow-fire with absolutely no effort at speed.

More "practical" defensive-type drills such as the common Failure to Stop drill were tried and a timer revealed them well within accepted standards.

In my opinion, the 4" .38 Special (quality) revolver with defensive ammunition is still a very viable defense gun and one that can be easily understood by shooters having less experience. That said, I definitely do not relegate this as a gun suitable only for a "beginner". I am aware of some very seasoned retired (and current) lawmen and shooters who stick with the DA revolver by choice and I assure you, they can get the hits and in a hurry.

These service-style Smith & Wessons turn up not infrequently for sale at pretty nice prices ($250 to $300, depending upon condition), but I fear that frequency will decrease with each passing year. I submit that these revolvers make a most useful addition to the owner's collection for both fun and more serious aspects of shooting. I think that at these or similar prices one gets more rather than less quality! These wheel guns are capable of extremely accurate grouping and if a person's willing to learn accurate double-action shooting, that person's probably going to be very surprised at what can be accomplished with the time-proven double-action revolver.

I am certainly not about to part with my 13-shot Hi Powers or other semiautomatic pistols but neither do I feel unarmed in the least with this retired old work horse. As this is written, it's loaded with Remington 158-gr. LHP +P less than a foot from my strong shooting hand.

If you get the opportunity, I strongly recommend one (or more) of these for your collection.


Friday, January 16, 2009

My Hi Power Fails to Eject on the Last Shot. Why?

Hello. One of the reasons for the Hi Power's continued popularity must be its very fine reliability. Having said that, I note that a somewhat FAQ concerns the Hi Power not ejecting the last fired case. Prior shots always extract and eject but that last round fires, the slide locks back and sure 'nuff, the empty case is lying atop the magazine.


I have a Hi Power in which this frequently occurs. It has not affected reliability at all but I can see how it could cause some concerns for those considering the pistol in a self-defense setting.

On all but the last shot, there is a cartridge in the magazine beneath the fired case being extracted as the gun fires. This keeps the hull from sliding downward on the breechface if the gun's extractor claw doesn't hold the case quite tightly enough to keep it from doing so. On marginal cases, the Hi Power might fail to eject the last hull with Brand X but never do it with Brand Y. The reason is slightly different rim thicknesses on the different makers' rounds.

The problem can usually be corrected by very lightly stoning the pad that bottoms against the slide in the groove in which the (external) extractor rides. Not much is necessary to eliminate the problem and this frequently takes care of it.

If the gun is failing to extract/eject on all shots, the problem is either a damaged extractor claw, a weak extractor spring, or both.