Archive for August, 2009

Choosing a 9mm revolver.

August 19, 2009

I recently started thinking about what would be the best firearm for the BOB (aka bug out bag). Many folks recommend a 22 rifle/handgun for the BOB, but I think that a larger caliber small frame handgun will work better. Rifle is not easy to hide, and when SHTF you probably don’t want to attract extra attention to your persona. Unless you plan on hiding in the woods, you probably will be trying to get out from the area with a number of other people. Evacuation might be organized by some authority (government agency, ad hoc evacuation committee, military, etc). If I had to guess, I would say that authorities will prefer not to have armed folks walking around in a crisis cituation. If evacuation is not organized, other folks might try to take the firearm from you, so that they have it instead of you. If you want to have an argument, that’s your call, but I believe that the best way to win an armed confrontation is to avoid it in the first place.

When we consider handguns we are typically faced with choices of revolvers or semi-sutomatic handguns in small, medium, and large frames. Larger frame normally provides for a longer barrel and a higher capacity of rounds. This is done at the expense of extra weight and concealibility. Smaller frames are lighter, easier to hide, but typically have 5 rounds in revolvers and up to 10 in semiautomatics.

Semiauthomatic is a very viable choice for many. However, for some it might not be the best option for a couple reasons. If you don’t practice enough drills to work the safety, clear misfeeds, etc under stress you are probably better off with a lower capacity revolver than a higher capacity handgun. It is just simplier to operate under stress, this is why many still prefer to have a revolver as their bed side firearm for home protection. Second, if there is a chance that a family member will use this firearm and they are not trained in use of firearms, then revolver wins hands down. The most important thing they need to know is to how to aim in a general direction of the threat and how to pull a trigger. No need to know how to work safeties and no worrying about weak grip.

Suppose I convinced you and you decided to pack a revolver in your BOB. What type, frame (size) and caliber? First, make sure to pick a double action revolver. If you don’t the difference between single and double action in a revolver then search for it on the internet. Second, pick a small (J frame) revolver. You will be down to 5 rounds from typically 6 (sometimes 7 or even 8 in S&W M&P revolver), so you won’t loose much in terms of rounds, but will gain a lot in terms of weight and concealibility. Trying to hide a full size L frame Smith and Wesson such as the popular model 686 might not work so well (I presume you will be keeping it on your body as oppose to on a bottom of a bag, so that you can easility get to it). Also carrying 20+ ounces vs 12 for days will make a difference.

Now to the calibers. While .38 makes a lot of sense, I think that 9mm is a better option. Modern 9mm +P rounds are proven to be capable of stopping an attacker. Addtionally, if there a complete EOLAWKT (End Of Life As We Know It), then 9mm should be more common than say .38.

If you think, I am talking gibberish by putting “9mm” in the same sentense as “revolver”, you don’t know your revolvers. There are some 9mm revolvers that are available.

1) There were some 9mm revolvers made by Smith and Wesson (940, 547) and Ruger (SP101 line). They are hard to find and sell for premium prices. Excellent choice if you can afford one. If not, then you might want to consider Taurus 905. While Taurus is not on top of my list of firearm makers, they do have a reasobaly good reputation. Given a price tag of about $350 for new 905 model, it is a good option for someone on a budget. Another option that should come up in late 2009 is CARR, or Charter Arms Rimless Revolver. It should be available in .40, .45 and 9mm/380. That’s right – one model will be able to handle 9mm and 380. They will use a pretty innovative design in a budget priced revolver ($399 MSRP for 9mm/380). Read up on it on the Charter Arms website.

If you are into exotics, the you can go for Medusa revolver. It can handle .38, .357, 9mm, etc. However they are rare and the price tag is high. I just saw one for $1999 on gunbroker.

Fuinally, it is important to go over a couple of misconceptions.
* So much gas escapes in the cylinder gap that the bullet is propelled significantly slower than that from a closed breech semiautomatic.
– From what I read, it is not true for two reasons. First, not that much gas escapes to lower the velocity in the first place. Second, folks forget that semi-automatics use portion of gas to rack the slide. In the end it’s a wash in most cases.

* Barrel length of a snub-nose revolver is vastly inferior that of a pocket semiautomatic, since it offers shorter “tube” to spin the bullet.
– This is not true. While, 2in revolver barrel is shorter than 3in barrel of a semiautomatic, the bullet travels about the same disctance in the barrel. This is because, semiautomatic barrel inclides the breech where the round is inserted. So, the distance traveled is barrel length minus round length. So, we can say that 2-2.5 inch snubnose will provide the same area to spin the bullet as the 3 inch barrel of a semiautomatic.

I almost settled on buying the Taurus 905. Before getting one online I decided to call a number of local dealers to see if they have anything in stock (whenever I can afford it, I prefer to support local dealers). I did not expect to find anything locally, but to my surprise a dealer about one hour drive from my house had a practically unused SP101 in 2 1/4 inch barrel with 10 factory moonclips, original manual, box, and a lock. The price was $480 with the transfer and NICS fees included. Given that SP101 in 9mm in this condition sells online for 650 and up before taxes, NICS, etc. I was very excited to go see the revolver. I suspected that something was not right, but yet agian I was surprised. The revolver was perfect. No cylinder play, gap between the forcing cone and cylinder was tight, cylinder alignment checked out, immaculate barrel, etc. On top of the excellent price I was able to trade in my old .22 semi-automathic made by Smith and Wesson for $150 worth of credit toward the purchase price. I paid under $180 for it back in 2000 and did not shoot it much if at all in past few years. So, the SP101 cost me $335 in cash – what a steal! I plan to post a range report shortly.