Who ever thought of the huge Ruger Redhawk as an 8-shot .357 snub? Well, Ruger did. Properly stocked, this has the potential to be a great field/home defense gun. Photo from Ruger.
The pressure for infringement of civil rights advanced by Beltway banditos and the complicit media had the effect of making gun control less tenable over the past eight years. We've seen each criminal and terrorist outrage followed by the same old "more regulation will help" rhetoric – and in each case, sales of firearms and ammunition skyrocketed.
Likewise fueled by social media and people actually shooting guns they'd purchased, the spread of the Gun Culture has continued. Manufacturers, seeing comparatively huge sales, have put effort into refining product lines and starting new product development.
So what's the effect of this?
"What?" – Yes, I can hear you.
"But the (internet) experts know that revolvers are only good for games and hunting."
For those who demand a premium revolver, S&W's Performance Center again offers the Model 586 L-Comp. S&W photo.
They're not moving into revolvers because revolvers won't sell, I can tell you that. Along with a bit of nostalgia pushed by the soon-to-be-extinct, like yours truly, people quite simply like to shoot revolvers. And revolvers fit a niche that no auto pistol does.
One thing at a time. Revolvers are selling. People who've been driving up the cost of the most common double action revolver in history – the Military & Police/Model 10 – have been driving the interest of new shooters via social media, including Full30.com and Youtube. New shooters buy the guns and they shoot them. Many don't shoot them well and, of that number, some settle in on making the guns work for them. This creates a demand for new revolvers.
In terms of innovation, revolvers have fallen into the capacity craze. Smith & Wesson "L" and "N" frames with seven and eight rounds of .357 Magnum have spawned Ruger's Redhawk .357 with an eight-round capacity – a snub.
Another outreach for the chronologically-challenged is the five-shot .44 Special Ruger GP100 with a three-inch barrel. This is a gun that would have caused a global collapse – or something – in the early 1980s. In the years since, it may have been greeted with a collective yawn. In the era of out-of-control oppressive states' initiatives to minimize gun rights, this gun can push Ruger higher in sales figures. Age-numbed fingers can better handle the .44 rounds than smaller cartridges while the new .44 Special defense loads, like the Hornady Critical Defense 165 grain FTX, tend to be mild enough not to cause discomfort in arthritic hands.
For users, the S&W "3-5-7" version of the Model 686+ should have a fluted cylinder. They do have a 686+ with the same barrel length and a fluted cylinder. S&W photo.
Revolvers are terrific for a range of uses. Smaller versions are better pocket guns due to shape and form allowing easily acquired grip on the gun in pocket holsters. Smaller calibers, while featuring necessarily stiffer hammer springs, are light in recoil and – with proper technique – can quickly bring misery on an attacker with no misses.
Something to look for on a defense revolver – whether it's field defense or carry on the street – is a fluted cylinder. The flutes between chambers are handy as a tactile reference used when loading the gun in adverse light conditions or when your eyes are otherwise occupied.
The new Smith & Wesson Model 686+ 2 ¾" revolver comes in the fancy "3-5-7" version with a smooth cylinder. They also show the same gun with different stocks and a fluted cylinder.
One of the more interesting new revolvers is the Ruger GP100 3" .44 Special. When coupled with new ammunition choices, like Hornady's Critical Defense load, this could be a great seller. Ruger photo.
Aren't large frame snubs a silly idea? That depends on the application and your holster maker. The shorter barrels fit into the needs of the visually myopic and are harder for an attacker to seize while being no less mechanically accurate than longer barrels. In close engagements, say inside your home, the shorter barrel can minimize the chance you'll "lead with the muzzle" around a corner, giving yourself away. Having the larger grip frame gives the user more to hold than the short barrel gives the attacker: a weapon retention feature.
If so large a snub bothers you, there's always the S&W 640 or their re-issued K-frame Model 66 2 ½" barrel snub – or Ruger's LCR in .357 Magnum or .38 Special.
It looks like it'll be a banner year for the new revolver. I'm glad to see it. Learning to shoot that double-action hammer-fired revolver gets you a great skill that actually translates into better shooting skill with service autos and patrol rifles. And revolvers are less encumbered by sticky fingered politicians than autos are – no magazine ban can touch them.
-- Rich Grassi