Friday, January 07, 2005

Do I NEED a New Revolver?

The recent release of the Ruger New Vaquero initiated several topics on many forums. The gun personally interests me because it is usable by my, I feel, small hands. The release of this new gun thus instigated a new round of introspective analysis concerning the use of a large bore revolver.

Currently I own a Smith & Wesson M629 4" as my large bore revolver. Chambered for the .44 Magnum, I have to admit that I've only fired some 500 full .44 Magnum loads through it most of the rest of some 2000 rounds being a load of 8 gr. Unique under the Hornady .429" swaged 240 gr. SWCHP. This load produces about 8-900 fps from my revolver and works ok. I also load 9 gr. of Unique under the BullX (now defunct) 240 gr. SWC. For some reason, these two loads produce almost identical ballistics despite the difference of 1 gr. in the powder charge.

I bought the revolver in 1985 from an officer serving in my Brigade. He needed the money and I "needed" the revolver. It came with the Pachmayr Presentation grips and there were no factory grips, box or papers. It is a 629-1 and so I think it was produced before S&W released the computer engineered guns that were supposed to have increased durability under the strain of the .44 Magnum. That's one reason that I've not used .44 Magnum loads exclusively.

The other reason is that it hasn't been that comfortable a gun to shoot, at least double action. I've used it mostly by cocking for each shot. I've never felt that my trigger finger could reach the trigger. I tried different grips. I tried different grip styles. I just never felt comfortable. Even my scoped .44 Mag Contender 10" felt more comfortable than the 629! This kept me looking for a replacement, constantly looking.

Among the guns considered were the Ruger Redhawk, Super Redhawk, Blackhawk, Bisley, Vaquero and Bisley-Vaquero. I wasn't limiting myself to the .44 Magnum cartridge either. The .45 Colt is fully as capable and just as exciting. Even the .41 Magnum was in the running. However, each had their shortcomings. Barrels too long, gun too heavy, grip uncomfortable, etc. Even the Colt Anaconda was considered but dismissed as being unnecessarily expensive. Every time I walked into a gun shop I would peruse the pistol case. The worst part (perhaps the most telling thing) is that this has gone on for nearly 20 years!

Now that's pitiful. I can't make up my mind after 20 years! Well, then here comes the New Vaquero, whoo-hoooo and boy am I excited. BUT, it will require that I sell the 629... uh, oh... can't bring myself to do that! So, last night, I get the 629 out again, pull the Pachmayr Presentation grips and install Pachmayr's open back version of the Gripper. I figured this would get my trigger finger as close as possible to the trigger. Of course I had to dry fire with the Presentation grips installed. Guess what...

Come on, guess what happened next...

Yeah, that's right, I've got plenty of reach to the trigger. So, why does this moron now find that he can shoot the gun double action? Well, I think that I rejected these grips because they expose the backstrap and are very narrow. Thus, they are punishing to shoot with full power loads. I like shooting but I'm not particularly into pain.

Now, I think this will be my large bore revolver for the forseeable future and I'll just stick with the load of 8 or 9 gr. of unique under a 240-250 gr. SWC. I have a feeling this will do me just fine, for at least the next month or so...

My S&W M629 4" .44 Remington Magnum

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