This Rugged .38 Special Utility
Revolver Is Accurate And Dependable

The Armscor M200 is comparably at home in the glove box of your car
or the bottom of your tackle box. When stoked with shotshells, it will
discourage any inquisitive water moccasins with sufficiently poor judgment
to violate your personal space.

Guns are simply tools not altogether unlike claw hammers, electric drills or iPads. Like guns, each of these examples possesses the capacity for misuse, but the world would be a bleak place without them. In the right applications these tools will build houses, bore holes and bring you a literal world of information. In the wrong ones they will smash your fingers, reliably extract sensitive information, or ruin someone’s reputation. Likewise, firearms are multifunction contrivances used to obtain food, dissuade ne’er-do-wells, and (in my case) rid my rural farm of venomous serpents. For a gun to be effective, however, it must also be handy.

I have a few weapons in my personal collection I don’t like to fondle without an oily cloth diaper between them and me. There are others I might otherwise willingly employ as doorstops. In between these two extremes are the working guns. These are the weapons I use to defend my home, person and family as well as address whatever vile pests I might encounter on my sojourn through life. Among this amalgam there exists a niche for a reliable, reasonably priced utility gun tough enough you don’t cringe when it gets knocked around a bit. The alpha predator among my practical guns is the Armscor M200 .38 Special revolver, and one rated for +P ammo.

Will’s son Wyatt takes aim with his M200 revolver.

Family Tree

Armscor does business as Rock Island Armory on this side of the pond, and they are the world’s most prolific manufacturer of 1911 pistols. Based in the Philippines, Armscor is a family-owned company with a storied history reaching back to well before WWII. While John Moses Browning’s 1911 remains the mainstay of their product line, I have for years been taken with their simple and unadorned wheelguns.

The basic design is more than a century old. The M200 is a no-frills 6-shot .38 Special revolver built along the classic Colt lines. This means the cylinder release must be pulled backwards to free the cylinder for reloading. The hammer operates via a transfer bar for safety, and the 4-inch semi-shrouded barrel is plenty heavy for harsh use. The front sight is fixed as is the rear, but mine shot over the sights right out of the box.

The M200 comes standard with a dark military-style Parkerized finish and nice rubber stocks. The gun runs either single or double action, and the trigger is comparable to the more expensive wheelguns in my collection. The double-action pull hovers around 12 pounds, while the nice, crisp single-action version is about 4-1/2. Fit and finish are not quite up to a classic Colt, but with a retail of $275 you could buy plenty of M200’s for what a used pony pistol might set you back.

I didn’t grow up shooting wheelguns, so the long double-action trigger common to all revolvers of this sort never seemed quite comfortable to me. As a result, I would grade myself as a solid “Decent” when shooting in this mode. The single-action trigger, however, really lends itself to proper marksmanship. The frame-cut rear sight produces a nice usable sight picture, even in a hurry. Lockup is rock solid.

I have owned my M200 for several years now, and this inexpensive imported gun shoots almost unnaturally well. I have high-end autoloading target guns costing many multiples of what the M200 set me back with which I can’t group as well. Reloads are slow, but a speedloader would spunk this up a bit. However, for the places I use the gun, 6 rounds are more than enough.

An Urban War Story

A friend was traversing downtown Memphis, Tennessee, several years ago en route to a doctor’s appointment. While paused at a stoplight a scruffy-looking scoundrel opened his passenger-side door and jumped into his vehicle unannounced. The man carried a bulky sack and announced nonchalantly, “You’re taking me across town.”

My buddy produced the .38 revolver he kept underneath the seat for just such eventualities and uttered the most timeless, manly comeback line in all of human history. He said simply, “I’ll show you six reasons why I won’t.” The miscreant leapt out of the car in the midst of rush hour traffic and was nearly run over making his escape.

No one was hurt. The police were not even notified. But my buddy might very well not have survived the day had he not been armed. It is for such as this the Armscor M200 really shines.

The Armscor M200 .38 Special delivers its shots right over the fixed sights.
This group was fired at 14 yards with Armscor ammunition.

Hard-Use Handgun

The M200 is the gun you can leave in the bottom of your tackle box without feeling guilty. When stoked with shot shells this classic revolver will put “paid” to any errant water moccasins showing the poor grace to try and climb into the boat with you. If this seems an unfamiliar scenario, you clearly didn’t grow up where I did.

Having come of age in the Deep South, I have literally lost count of the number of times I have tripped over these horrible creatures while otherwise minding my own business. I once discovered one the size of my arm lurking underneath the seat of my aluminum johnboat as I prepared for an otherwise pleasant afternoon of drowning crickets. Another arm-sized monster made its presence known only after I inadvertently stepped on the thing leading my three young children on an exploratory outing around our rural farm.

But for the grace of God and my quick reflexes my precious daughter would have stepped on one barefoot at age 7 while out chasing lizards around the lake serving as our backyard. I shot one of these snakes from between my feet one day just as it prepared to strike. A good short-range maneuverable boom stick can be great medicine when you wander about where the wild things roam.

If your kid situation allows it, maintaining an Armscor M200 stoked with antipersonnel loads in the glove box of each of your vehicles means not having to go without a gun otherwise. Such a piece remains easily accessible and represents the classic point-and-click defensive interface. While there are indeed more powerful options, the century-old .38 Special remains the most popular revolver cartridge on the planet. Countless real-world shootings have shown the round to be effective for its intended purposes.

Final Ruminations

There is a certainly a place for the engraved Colt 1851 revolver known to have been carried by Moses himself on his trek out of Egypt. The place is not in my gun collection, but somebody out there keeps dropping the equivalent of a king’s ransom on classic firearms with a verifiable historical provenance. On the other end of the spectrum there resides a spot for an inexpensive reliable working gun you can knock around with impunity, comfortable in the fact it will work every single time you squeeze the trigger.

The Armscor M200 will never occupy the place of honor within the expansive weapons collection at the Smithsonian Institution. However, it does ride around in my glove box and keeps me safe while I am out fishing. At the end of the day, this is what really makes the gun more valuable to me.

Maker: Armscor USA
150 North Smart Way
Pahrump, NV 89060
(775) 537-1444

Action type: Double-action revolver
Caliber: .38 Special +P
Capacity: 6
Barrel length: 4 inches
Overall length: 8.75 inches
Weight: 28.1 ounces
Finish: Parkerized
Sights: Fixed
Grips: Combat-style rubber

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