December 2015 (Part One)

After five years of experimenting with various types of pistols in various calibers, curiosity won and I took the opportunity to test intensively a bunch of revolvers.

As it happens I had the chance to test two gorgeous six inch revolvers of two of the best know revolver makers and eternal rivals: a Performance Center 686 Competitor from Smith & Wesson and a the first snake Colt put on the market – a Python.

The beasts are quite different, being obviously products of two different ages:

a. the S&W is a brand new piece, a child of the machine-production age. While the in-house tuning department, Performance Center, did a very good job, one can still feel the base is an off-the-shelf product: there is a cylinder play to the side, even if a very small one. The cylinder split (i.e. distance from the front of the cylinder to the barrel) is around 0.25 mm. While the existing split is still acceptable, a smaller one would have certainly helped with the precision.

On the positive side:

– timing/action of the cylinder is perfect;
– the trigger stop does a very good job: the trigger does not fall through after the shot brakes, not even 0.2 mm;
– The rear sight is good;
– The barrel has a sleeve (almost a full lug) that adds weight to the front of the gun. In addition the Performance Center drilled the lower front side of the lug, so that it holds up to five weights – see below. The specialists have obviously thought about precision shooting as well as PPC shooting. The added weights improve control over the gun during the shot and allow faster front sight re-acquisition.
– The barrel sleeve has a Piccatinny rail on top that allows optical aiming devices to be mounted.

b. The Python is a product of the good old days, when much of the fine-tune work was done manually.

The pre-1968 gun I have shot was done manually to a fairly large extent. There are almost no MIM parts on it.

One can “feel” the quality of the action: there is no play in the hammer and in the trigger. The cylinder moves very precisely.

There is almost no play to the side in the cylinder. There is no vertical play.

The split at the front of the cylinder is smaller than the one of the S&W – around 0.20 mm.

One can compare the clicks with the ones of a Swiss Watch – every click is just perfect.

While having a full lug, the Python still feels like a light weight in comparison with the 1,500 grams of the S&W.

First impressions:

1. Weight and Balance: a six inch revolver is at least four to five centimeters longer than a pistol with a six inch barrel. It goes without saying that balance and center of gravity are different and require the shooter to adapt.

While most pistol producers try their outmost to place the bore axis as low as possible, revolvers sing a very different song here: their bore axis is at least three to four centimeters higher than the one of a pistol. This of course makes the revolver much more difficult to control during the shot.

Revolvers can be quite heavy: the 1,500 grams of the S&W require the shooter to be in a good shape if he wants to shoot longer series without trembling hands.

2. Aiming: the front sight is slightly more to the front compared to a pistol.

Re-acquiring the front sight for the next shot is quite a challenge in two ways: the front sight is farther away and you have to search it through a comparatively smaller whole (= rear sight). Conclusion: you have to practice fast target acquisition.

3. Ammunition: apart of being significantly more expensive than 9×19, the revolver ammo is very different in other ways as well.

Being set for .357 Magnum, both revolvers shoot .38 Special as well.

There are worlds apart between the two twin calibers: while .38 Special is very controllable, .357 Special is a beast. The guys shooting .44 Magnum (not mentioning the ones shooting even larger bores or stronger calibers) have just earned a lot of respect from me.

While the good weather in December allowed some intensive shooting, I have the impression that I have just starter immersing myself in this interesting world of revolver shooting. Thus, there is a good chance that we will share further impressions with you.



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