Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Jimmy's Collection: Smith & Wesson 43c

This will be the first entry into a new series called Jimmy's Collection. A chance meeting with a fellow revolver enthusiast at a local shop has led to an invitation to review a full of wheel guns that he has collected. One of his favorite small framed revolvers is the Smith & Wesson 43c. Here is a little more about this nifty little J-frame!

Smith & Wesson has produced small five shot revolvers chambered in .38 Special for decades. Historically, pocket sized J-frames have been carried for protection by law enforcement and private citizens alike, but few have been chambered in .22 Long Rifle. Luckily, Smith & Wesson is producing a small handful of small framed rimfire revolvers and one of them is the 43c!

Weighing less than 12 ounces unloaded, this aluminum alloy revolver sports an eight shot cylinder. XS Sights has supplied a pinned white dot front sight to mate with the U-notch  rear which provides a great sight picture. The ejector rod is protected by a barrel shroud and matte black finish is a nice touch. There is also small groove cut into the back strap with a post at the bottom of the frame that appears to be for a lanyard. Not sure how I feel about that, but the milling saves a tiny bit of weight. This I like. All of these upgrades help justify the slightly higher MSRP of the 43c! 

Speed Loader

Finding speed loaders for the S&W 43c was easy as Speed Beez produces the model 317-08 which is compatible with eight shot J-frames. While they are a little pricey, they are extremely high quality and worth the price. Speed Beez also offers several Loading Blocks so you can get away with only one speed loader while practicing on the range and/or a shooting match like Steel Challenge. I also encountered the 5 Star Firearms J2-22 online, but the description indicated it fit the Ruger LCR and & SP101.


The 43c is incredibly light, even for a J-frame. I've pocket carried several revolvers, but after becoming spoiled to slightly longer stocks, pocket carry has become a bit more challenging. I felt like the short rubber stocks would make it an ideal candidate for pocket carry. On the range, the 43c was riding comfortably in this pocket holster, a Safariland Model 25. There isn't a ton of retention outside, but the pressure put on the holster in the pocket keeps everything in place. The holster keeps the revolver oriented correctly and it draws quickly from a pocket.


Due to it's rimfire design, the .22 long rifle cartridge is not always the most reliable. As revolvers have relatively heavy double action triggers, there is a slightly better chance for ignition. I was curious to see what kind of issues the 43c might have with commonly available rimfire ammunition. 

To test reliability, the revolver was loaded with eight rounds of each type of ammunition and a first attempt to fire each round was made. For rounds that did not fire the first time, a second attempt was taken with varying results. Unfortunately, the 43c has some reliability issues. The following loads were tested with the following results:

Needless to say, there were several reliability issues. The Federal HV Match and Remington Automatch both functioned incredibly well, but there were some issues with other loads. 

Shooting Impressions

I've always found light weight double action revolvers to be a bit challenging to shoot well. This particular model is lighter than most which made it particularly challenging to fire! The trigger was a bit heavy and for with good reason, increased reliability. Unfortunately, the trigger of this particular sample pulled between eleven and twelve pounds! This made shooting at distance difficult, which may be why my target was only five yards away. Even at shorter distances I found myself pulling low right, but this helped me work on my trigger control as recoil is incredibly light. The sights were very visible and I prefer pinned sights to milled slides any day. In all, I fired  300 rounds in one range session and it didn't cost me an arm and a leg!


The Smith & Wesson 43c is a really neat J-frame chambered in .22LR! Not only is this light weight revolver a fun range gun, but it is a fantastic training aid for those that carry small framed wheel guns. Accessories are plentiful and relatively inexpensive. I think the reliability might be the one factor that keeps me from adding this one to my list. While two of the six loads did manage to fire all eight rounds, this only happened after a second strike. Shooting this revolver was challenging because of the heavier trigger weight. I really like the visible front sight and the lack of recoil. 

If you are looking for a really neat .22 revolver, you might want to give this one a try! Jimmy, thank you again for letting me shoot this revolver from your great collection!

As always, if you have any suggestions for future posts or would like to share your experience on the current topic please post below!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Revolvers Only 2019 Updates

After a few months off, I am happy to announce that regular posts are resuming on Revolvers Only! This includes reviews of wheel guns, new parts and accessories, match breakdowns, and more. Below you will find a few brief updates on the regular topics covered in the bimonthly articles, as well as the announcement of a new segment that will be starting soon. Thank you all for reading!

Revolver Reviews

Revolver reviews remain the most popular posts on the site and I really enjoy writing them. Unfortunately, I have posted write ups on the majority of my personal collection so I needed to find a new source for wheel guns. While visiting my local gun store, I met a local gunsmith named Jimmy who has a very large collection of revolvers that he has agreed to let me shoot and review on the blog. I have already borrowed half a dozen of these fine weapons for testing and will begin releasing these reviews soon!

Red Dot Sight Testing

The Red Dot Sight Revolver Project is nearing completion! At this point only one review has been posted, but testing has continued during the break. I am excited to say that majority of the shooting is finished and the reviews of the Trijicon RMR, C-More RTS2, Vortex Viper, and Vortex Venom will start appearing soon! 

Additionally, as more optics arrive on the market, I will do my best to review as many as I can access. After watching SHOT Show and NRAAM footage, I've discovered several new optics have entered the market. I am particularly interested in the new Trijicon SRO and might let a few of my current optics go to finance this purchase!

Building the Best J-Frame

It has been my understanding that the small framed revolver is a very popular selection for concealed carry. After a bit more research, I've found examples of more than one major manufacturer are reporting sales that suggest that the market is still purchasing pocket sized revolvers at a steady rate. In fact, a Ruger LCR is a regular companion when I am out and about, but I've wanted to try a Smith & Wesson J-frame for a long time. 

While perusing the shelves of a local gun store, I encountered a model that may be the perfect S&W J-frame for everyday carry: the model 360J. This model features a scandium alloy frame, shrouded ejector rod, and a replaceable front sight. I didn't end up purchasing it, but Jimmy did and we have been tuning it up. This series will detail the changes made to the 360J in an attempt to build the best J-frame!

Match Reviews

For the past few years I have largely been the only revolver shooter in East Texas. Recently, a few shooters have picked up wheel guns and started giving me a run for my money. In fact, there was enough interest in revolver specific competition that we have started a new ICORE club called Rose City ICORE! 

The club's home range is Rose City Flying Clays in Tyler, Texas, and there is an afternoon match on the second Sunday of each month. The matches are listed on Practiscore for those of you nearby! If you can't make it, I'll be posting match videos and stage breakdowns regularly.


This covers the updates for Revolvers Only. I apologize for being away so long, but I am ready to return to writing about wheel guns, gear, and matches! Thank you all for reading!

As always, if you have any suggestions for future posts or would like to share your experience on the current topic please post below!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Guest Post: My Time with a True Detective

C.S. is back with another Guest Post for Revolvers Only! Last April, he sent me a write up which became Competing with the Smith & Wesson Model 66-8. That post was very well received, so I asked him to start working on another!  This review details his experiences with a Colt Detective Special. I am more than happy to share his work with everyone here on Revolvers Only. Enjoy!


My Time with a True Detective

The full name of course is the Colt Detective Special if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.
This model came off the line in 1957 and sports aftermarket grips to preserve the older originals.
The most desired features in a carry gun (light weight, easily concealed, comfortable to carry) are the features that make it a pain to shoot. Practicing with a carry gun, especially a sub nosed revolver, is a chore — and I’m not afraid to admit it.

However, there is an exception: My Colt Detective. While it’s easily categorized as a carry gun or a “BUG”, it is still a blast to shoot. No one chooses a carry gun because it’s cool but this gun makes me nostalgic for a time that only existed in Hollywood movies. The Colt Detective is the gun you see pulled on good guy and scum alike for “talking wise” or staring at your favorite girl's gams. You expect to see the Colt Detective held by a fedora wearing Humphrey Bogart or flopping around in the shoulder holster of some overweight police captain yelling at a cop who plays by his own rules.

Alright, you get it. I think it’s cool. But does that make it a pleasure to shoot? Well, no. All coolness aside it is still a fun gun to shoot. Here’s why: a grown man can fully grip the Colt Detective and its full steel frame tames the recoil of even the hottest 38 special loads. Despite the 2 inch barrel groupings of 6 will easily shoot “minute of soup can lid” at 12 yards for those familiar with snub noses. The gun’s action, worn in after over 60 years of use, makes for a smooth double action pull and a single action pull similar to the click of a mouse. I don’t want to oversell it but I’ve never had the desire or ability to shoot 500 rounds in a single session with a snub nose until I shot this Colt Detective.

Despite my glowing endorsement this was not an easy horse to tame (pun intended). When first shooting this revolver it had a nasty habit of putting the group in the left shoulder of a silhouette when aiming for center mass. For an embarrassingly long time my father and I could not understand why this was; it wasn’t until I was taking a brass brush to the crown that I noticed that this revolver had a terrible cant! It was nearly imperceptible when looking down the sights but when looking down the unloaded business end the problem was as plain as day.

Unless I’m fighting pirates, specifically the parrots that sit on the left shoulder of a pirate,
 I need a better gun.
My father called up Colt to see if it could be repaired and he learned that apparently when a gun gets to a certain age, Colt will not readily accept the gun to repair. They will however allow you to mail a letter requesting an estimate, then wait for a letter from Colt for permission to mail the gun, mail the gun, then wait for an estimate by mail. Even as a retired man my father didn’t have that time to waste. There was talk of “just selling the damn thing” as we couldn’t take it to the gunsmith down the road. Unfortunately, my father passed before he got an opportunity to either repair or sell the Detective. I made it a priority to see that my father’s last project gun would reach its logical conclusion.
The severe cant in the barrel couldn’t be seen when aiming but from these angles it’s clear as day.
I reached out to Frank Glen who, if you’re reading this blog, know is one of the best Colt revolver ‘smiths in the world. I sent it off to his workshop. Once it arrived, he also noticed the timing was a bit off as well. The total repair was $245 (including return shipping) which isn’t terrible for two extensive repairs on an antique that no one else wanted to take a look at.

Once I had the gun back, I was eager to see if those tight groups the revolver is capable of would land in the bull when I actually aimed at the bull. I packed my bag with some 130 grain American Eagle FMJ and some Atlanta Arms 148 grain plated wadcutters. 

These plated wadcutters leave a very satisfying hole in paper targets.
The mild recoil, even in a snub nose, make these go down smooth

I put the target out to 12 yards and shot two cylinder’s worth of the 148 wadcutters in double action. 11/12 of the shots stayed in the 9 ring, with the flyer being the fault of the shooter, it was quite clear that the revolver was back into fighting shape.

That’s a lot better.
After boring out the 9 ring of my target with a box of 50 rounds, I brought out my timer to see how well I could shoot it under the stress of time. I brought the target into a more realistic 7 yards and ran what I’ll euphemistically refer to as a “‘Prepared’ Bill Drill”. The drill is like a normal bill drill but you begin with sights on target and the first shot on single action. I put 6 aimed shots in a 3.75 inch group in 7.75 seconds. Quite embarrassing when you consider I can draw and shoot six rounds from my ICORE gun in less than half that time. 

I ran a second Bill Drill, still at 7 yards, but at a low ready, double action only. Running this drill I was able to put the six rounds in a ~4 inch group in 4.78 seconds. Again, not perfection but much more acceptable. (As a side note, if you’re running a IDPA/USPSA/ICORE type Bill Drill and you’re reacquiring the sights in between shots like I just described, you’re not performing the drill correctly).

The mirror finish on the bluing certainly gives weight to the belief that
“they don’t make ‘em like that anyone.”

As much as I enjoy shooting the Colt Detective, it’s not going find itself in my carry gun rotation. Ignoring the fact that it’s an antique, it’s much too heavy to carry in the muggy South. Additionally, while it still has 20% more capacity than most snub nose revolvers, I can carry a whole lot more with modern carry guns. Now, if I were to start up my own detective agency...


I hope everyone appreciated this quick review of the Colt Detective Special! In addition to running local ICORE matches, C.S. is in the midst of his own wedding planning. If this post gets as many likes as the last one, I'll try to talk him into another one later this year. Thanks for reading!

As always, if you have any suggestions for future posts or would like to share your experience on the current topic please post below!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Rogers Enhanced Ruger LCR Grip


Over the course of the last weekend of September, I attended the Pat Rodgers Memorial Revolver Round Up hosted by Hardwired Tactical Shooting in Carrollton, Texas. The 2018 course focused on snub nosed revolvers and I contacted several companies for products designed with the Ruger LCR in mind for test and evaluation. HolsterOps responded to my request for a Rogers Enhanced LCR Grip and quickly shipped one for review!

In addition to the two days of coursework, I was also able to run these grips in a local match. At the beginning of December, one of the local clubs hosted an IDPA BUG (Back Up Gun) Match. This division is restricted to five shot revolvers that are under 22 ounces, and fit into the test box (6 1/2'' X 4 5/8'' X 1 3/8''). Unfortunately, these grips are a bit too large for the box. For range use and concealed carry, these grips are awesome!

An Improved Design

The Rogers Enhanced Ruger LCR Grip was designed to improve on the factory issued model. HolsterOps opted for a material change and constructed the grips out of hard plastic rather than softer rubber. Fabric often clings to rubber, which can be bad for concealed carry as it can reveal the firearm. The smooth material prevents any snags, but the side panels are textured to reduce the revolver from shift in hand under recoil.

Aside from the material change, the most noticeable difference is in length. The dimensions are only slightly larger than the original grips, but do allow for the full grip. Palm swells are also present to fill the hand and provide a more complete grasp of the grips. Enlarging the stocks on a revolver can lead to concealment issues; however, in my experience, the size does not make the LCR any less concealable than the the standard rubber grips.  

Grip Comparison

The Ruger LCR ships from the factory with Hogue Tamer grips. Tamers feature a squishy recoil pad positioned under the web of the shooting hand to soften recoil. Shooters with averaged sized hands can squeeze two fingers on these rubber grips. Out of the box these are very comfortable, but I don't particularly like finger grooves.

I'm not super fond of the factory LCR grips because of the finger grooves, so I purchased a second set for the Ruger LCR. The Hogue Tamer Bantam Boot grips don't have the grooves and are very concealable. The only negative is allow a one and three quarter finger grip...if you have normal sized hands. Folks with larger hands might only get a finger and a half. On the plus side, I think the boot grips would be great on the Ruger LCR .22LR/.22WMR models.

Compared to both the factory and Hogue Bantam grips, the Rogers grips allow for a full three finger grip. A larger gripping area allows most shooters to fire faster and more accurately. The side panel texturing and palm swell also provide more contact with the stock, providing a more stable grip. 


Shooting Impressions

I'll be honest, when I first popped the Rogers Enhanced Ruger LCR Grips out of the box, I was worried they would be very uncomfortable to shoot. The hard material seemed like it would beat up my hands. After two days of coursework and an IDPA match, I can say that this is not the case with .38 Special ammunition. While .38 Special + P ammo is also controllable with a bit more effort, I'm not willing to fire .357 Magnum out of a 17 ounce revolver.

The slight palm swell of the grip fills your hand so recoil translates a bit differently. The added length also allows the third finger to rest on the grips and assist in recoil mitigation. The texture on the side provides additional control without being to rough. In my opinion, the features of the Rogers Enhanced positively improve the shooting experience of the Ruger LCR!

Speed Loader Fitment

Unlike automatics, revolvers have the ability to accept different grip shapes. Not all grips are relieved to fit different loading devices. In the previous two posts, two different LCR speed loaders have been showcased: the 5Star Firearms J2-357/38 and the Speed Beez LCR38-05. Thankfully, the Rogers grips are recessed to allow both loaders function without issue! 



The Rogers Enhanced LCR Grip is a great upgrade for the Ruger LCR. The slightly increased size over the factory option allows for better control without influencing concealability of the  revolver. These are now my preferred grips for the LCR and I don't plan on changing any time soon. I'm glad the match director let me shoot the IDPA BUG match with my these grips, even if they don't quite fit in the box. I guess I'll have to return to the stock grips for future matches, but we'll see.

I am sad to report that the grips are currently unavailable. The direct link to the product page is missing from the website as of this post. If enough people show interest, maybe the company will produce them again. Please visit the HolsterOps website for their other great products and to one of these grips when they are in stock!

As always, if you have any suggestions for future posts or would like to share your experience on the current topic please post below!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Speed Beez Speed Loaders and Carriers

Over the course of the last weekend of September, I attended the Pat Rodgers Memorial Revolver Round Up hosted by Hardwired Tactical Shooting in Carrollton, Texas. The 2018 course focused on snub nosed revolvers. In anticipation of the event, I reached out to several companies for products designed with the Ruger LCR in mind. Speed Beez answered my request and sent both a speed loader and a matching kydex carrier for test and evaluation. 

In addition to my experiences at the course, I was also able to do a bit more testing at a local match. Last weekend, one of the local clubs hosted an IDPA BUG (Back Up Gun) Match. The current rules permit five shot revolvers under 22 ounces. Those requirements fit my Ruger LCR .357 perfectly AND a fellow shooter had a few extra Speed Beez loaders and carriers for me to borrow! After some challenging (but fun) days on the range, here are my thoughts on these two products.

Speed Loader

The Speed Beez Model LCR38-05 is designed for the five shot Ruger LCR. The loaders feature an aluminum construction with large brightly anodized handles. The bases are slightly relieved to mimic the cylinder and use an external spring to retain the loaded rounds. The handle rides on a guide that is under spring tension. The handles are milled with posts that push the rounds into the cylinder. In the case of center-fire ammunition, the posts contact the rim of the case to avoid ignition. The opposite is true in their rimfire speed loaders. Best of all, the loaders are manufactured in the USA!

Speed Loader Function

The Speed Beez speed loader design is intuitive in both the loading and reloading processes. Simply orient the rounds to the chambers and continue to push the handle until the rounds click in place. This requires a firm push to release the cases, but also prevents accidental release of the rounds. This system works well, especially in a competition environment. There is just enough tension in the external spring to hold the rounds securely in place while in a carrier; however, rounds can pop out if thrown into a pocket without protection. If you intend to carry these for self defense, make sure they are riding around in a carrier!

Speed Loader Performance

The range portions of the Revolver Round Up were shot on a concrete range. Over the course of that weekend, this loader was dropped at least a dozen times from waist height. Aside from a few dings and a little finish wear, the Speed Beez loaders continued to function. I also wanted to get the loaders a little dirty and found that opportunity at the BUG match. I dropped them into mud and sand during each  course of fire. I gave them a quick shake and loaded them up for the next stage. No problems over six stages. That's the sign of a good product!
Speed loader fitment can occasionally be an issue with certain models of grips/stock. When I first received the loader, I was a little worried about the speed loader clearance with my selected grip from Holster Ops. Thankfully, this proved to be a non issue with the precision milled base matching the cylinder exactly.

Kydex Speed Loader Carrier

In addition to the large variety of speed loaders in their inventory, Speed Beez also offers three sizes of speed loader pouches. I really appreciate it when companies provide quality accessories for their stuff. These carriers are manufactured by Comp-Tac and are constructed of injection molded plastic. Tension is adjustable and is controlled by the screw at the bottom. The model I received arrived at the perfect setting, no adjustments needed. These are a great design!


I really like Speed Beez products! This is certainly not my first (or last) experience with their gear. My Smith & Wesson 929 competition rig currently sports a Moon Clip Belt Rack and holster. I have also purchased several .22lr loaders and the associated loading blocks, so I expected the center-fire versions to function well.

The all aluminum construction of these speed loaders was a wise decision for Speed Beez, albeit an expensive one. Polymer loaders can be had for half or even a third the price with a hunting. While their loaders are a bit pricey, you are receiving precisely milled parts that are manufactured in the United States. Quality gear is expensive, but a worthwhile investment for the advantages this design offers. If I continue to shoot the LCR in IDPA BUG, I might need a few more loaders and carriers. Speed Beez, any chance you could manufacture a double speed loader carrier for IDPA? 

If you are in need of a speed loader, loading block, or other revolver gear then please visit their website for more information. I know I'll be making another order soon! 

As always, if you have any suggestions for future posts or would like to share your experience on the current topic please post below!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

5 Star Firearms Speed Loaders and Accessories

Over the course of the last weekend of September, I attended the Pat Rodgers Memorial Revolver Round Up hosted by Hardwired Tactical Shooting in Carrollton, Texas. The 2018 course focused on snub nosed revolvers. In anticipation of the event, I reached out to several companies for products designed with the Ruger LCR in mind. 5 Star Firearms responded to my request immediately and graciously sent a care package with several LCR accessories my way. Here are some of my thoughts regarding the speed loaders, kydex speed loader carrier, and two different loading blocks.

Speed Loaders 

Prior to receiving the 5 Star speed loaders, most of my LCR reloads were conducted with HKS Model 36 speed loaders. HKS loaders feature a plastic body and knurled handle that releases the rounds with a clockwise turn. I have encountered two issues using HKS loaders. First, the plastic body of the HKS contacts the stocks and does not allow the loader to completely line up with the cylinder. It often requires a little wiggling for the rounds to fall into place. Second, as a lefty, turning the knob clockwise often resulted in the speed loader rolling towards the gun and cluttering up the reload process.  In my opinion, 5 Star has addressed both of these issues.

No contact with the grip.

5 Star Firearms speed loaders are made entirely of aluminum rather than plastic. Model J2-357/38 are designed to fit the slightly smaller Ruger LCR cylinder. As you can see in the picture above, the loader body does not contact my preferred grips during the loading process. Additionally, these loaders feature a counter clockwise turn to release the rounds.  As a lefty, activating the knob also send the loaders to the left and away from the revolver. I think both of these features are huge improvements to the turn release speed loader design! While I used other loading devices during each block of instruction, the 5 Star speed loaders quickly became my most frequently used device.

Speed Loaders Performance

Range work at the 2018 Revolver Round Up was conducted on a concrete bay rather than dirt or fluffy grass. How did the 5 Star Firearms speed loaders hold up to two days of repeated drops onto hard surface? Pretty well. As you can see in the photos above, The concrete left some dings on the aluminium loaders. Despite this abuse, all four devices continue to function flawlessly. I was a little bummed the concrete marred the red anodizing, but now the loaders have character and I know they can stand up to hard use!


Speed Loader Carrier

5 Star Firearms also offers the Kydex Speed Loader Carrier for the J2-357/38. I was most excited about this product as finding speed loaders for certain models can be challenging, but finding kydex carriers can be next impossible! 5 Star must have recognized this and manufactured a carrier for what I would guess is their most popular device. The clip is  low profile and reversible to make inside the waistband carry comfortable...especially at the center-line position. I really like this carrier and this has been riding around on my belt since the course.

Range Stand and Bedside Block


5 Star Firearms also included a Range Stand and a Bedside Block to make reloading between strings of fire much faster. Simply load the bases with rounds, load the speed loaders, and then top off the bases with additional rounds for future use. Both bases are precisely milled to fit the footprint of the speed loader, so the speed loaders fit over the rounds perfectly.

The Range Stand is designed to hold both your revolver, prepared loaders, and extra rounds. The base is wide and heavy enough to hold the wheel gun at the ready between strings of fire. At the time of this post, the Range Stand is only available in the natural finish, but that finish sure is shiny! The theory behind the bedside block is simple; the block is a great way to have spare ammunition loaded and accessible on your nightstand, should you need it. The bedside block can also be anodized in the same finishes as the speed loaders. 


5 Star Firearms produces some fantastic accessories, particularly for the Ruger LCR. The speed loaders performed well in a semi-stressful environment and after taking a bit of abuse. I plan to continue carrying a red 5 Star J2 in their kydex speed loader carrier. The option to color the aluminum loaders is really neat. If you are like me and would like to color code your gear for different firearms, the anodizing option might be exactly what you are looking for! 

Special thanks to Kim at 5 Star Firearms for sending me all of this gear to test at the 2018 Pat Rogers Revolver Round Up. The company also manufactures loaders and accessories for six, seven, and even eight shot revolver so if you are need of a quality turn release loader, please visit their website!

As always, if you have any suggestions for future posts or would like to share your experience on the current topic please post below!