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Custom S&W .38 Double Action Safety Hammerless (4th Model)

Lately my pistol shooting has largely been focused on shooting rapidly at 7 yards. OK, fair enough; most of the pistols I shoot are oriented towards self-defense and that’s a quite reasonable range. Pretty often I am testing a new gun or a gun I have modified, and I can be pretty sure of at least putting rounds on the paper at seven yards, no matter how badly I have messed the gun up.

I’ve picked up a couple of hunting revolvers since last fall, and naturally I tried them at 25 yards.   Results were not tragically bad, but not as good as I would want them either. I pretty much shrugged it off; after all, there’s plenty of time before next fall, right?

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25 yards single-action- not bad, or unexpected with a 6″ barrel and adjustable sights

Maybe I mis-remember how I shot decades ago but I had a general feeling that I had slipped with age. Happens to the best of us, right? The fact is that my skills have not deteriorated; I’ve just gotten sloppy… and lazy.

The other night I was at the range, and the gun that I was testing- the .38 S&W cartridge conversion- had ejected it’s firing-pin relatively early in the proceedings. Since I still had a bunch of ammo I started shooting the S&W top-break. I shot rapid-fire groups, strong-hand and weak hand and I was getting bored. I ran the target out to ten yards, then fifteen and was still getting good hits.

Of course the idea of shooting a century-old, double-action only gun with a 1-1/2″ barrel at twenty-five yards was ludicrous, so naturally I had to do that. I fired a string of five shots rather casually and reeled it in to look- three hits on the paper… interesting. I ran it back out and tried it again. Four more hits. Now I was wondering just exactly what I could do if I really tried… I ran out a fresh target and this time I really focused- front-sight, breathing, staging the double-action trigger… the results were surprising. Standing unsupported at twenty-five yards I shot a 4-3/8″ group, with a score of 45 out of fifty possible!

S&W38SH-25yards

What this shows me is that I need to stop underestimating myself, stop being lazy and start pushing the limits; I already know what I can do shooting rapid-fire at seven yards. I’d pretty much forgotten what I could do at a distance. Time to see what I can do at longer range- and there’s no reason not to go beyond 25 yards, either.

OK, maybe I’ll use a more suitable gun…

Michael Tinker Pearce, 30 March 2018

 

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