In today’s scandium, titanium and polymer auto-loading world, the retro interest in carbon steel guns may seem to be archaic thinking. But after careful consideration, you might realize there are many old things that work well and even I sort of still work pretty well. Some other examples might be the four firearm safety rules, M1 Garands and even revolvers come to my mind right off the bat. Although they’re old, these things are not necessarily antiquated. To the chagrin of the X- and Y-Generations today, it appears to be just more old crap used by old guys. They may be surprised to find out differently. Perhaps very surprised, depending upon which side of the law they were standing on at the time they found out.

When I started carrying a handgun as a cop, my first partner was a 4″ Model 19 S&W revolver. It was — and is today — a magnificent example of a medium-sized revolver. After a little time in grade I stepped up to a 4″ Model 29 .44 Magnum loaded with 240 grain Remington midrange loads. Give or take a busted rear sight blade, the Smiths worked well for me. Even though I carry and teach with auto loaders on a regular basis today, I’ll admit you should never be surprised to find me carrying a revolver. Why? Because I don’t in any way feel under-armed with one. Revolvers are mechanically-simple, and I grew up shooting them during much of my time spent slogging a beat. I shot in competition, cleared open doors, parked cars and was prepared to defend myself as required with this wondrous revolving mechanical device. I was, in fact, quite at home with a revolver.

J-Frame Joy

As a small revolver I used a then-innovative state-of-the-art concept — a stainless steel Model 60. It was a swell pocket gun and of course required no cleaning. As we all know now, this was not actually true but at that time it appealed to a lot of folks. The small guns, like the S&W Chief Specials and Colt Detective Specials, were great personal defense guns and they wore many a hole though trouser pockets. They are, I believe, an expert’s gun, and practice with them is not to be taken lightly. Many new models abound made of spiffy metals, and with proper practice the modern versions are light enough you may consider carrying two revolvers in place of a speed loader. Besides, with guns, as with most things in life except wives, “One is none and two is one.”

K-Frame Kool

As medium revolvers go, the Model 19 was one of the best ever made and I have Bill Jordan to back me up. They’re one of the smoothest and slickest actions of any revolver, and to this day the inherent accuracy of them will stun any exposed body part of an opponent foolish enough to leave any body parts hanging out. The Model 19 is the gold standard of the medium-sized family of revolvers.

N-Frame Niceties

The large frame revolvers of the N-frame class are big guns. They require a carrier who is willing to go the extra mile to carry the load. The gun also backs up its half of the deal when it becomes to hammer-time. The small bore versions shot .357 Magnums before the era of political correctness. They were “jar your fillings, rock your world” magnums. The Blue Flame Specials called Remington 125 gr. JHPs singed the cylinders bright blue and attempted to cut the top straps of even the heavy N-frames. The .40 and larger caliber N-frames simply ruled everything that stood in front of the muzzle.

One of the kings of fighting handguns, the big N-frame S&Ws are my personal favorite fighting revolvers. Maybe a good old-fashioned fixed-sight blue steel 4” with a stoked .44 Special is in order? Sadly no such revolver has been made for more than 20 years. But then again, all may not be lost in that category, so consider the hint of what’s to come duly hinted-at.

Why a revolver? Because we can. And, they are still viable tools for personal defense. They continue to serve a role, especially in the hands of competent users. If you haven’t shot one in awhile or, shudder the thought, have never shot one, take a step into the past — or into the future? It really wasn’t that long ago revolvers were the norm, in place and working well, long before the marketers brought us green polymer and high capacity sticks. How’s that again?

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