Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Revolvers Only Recap

A New Type of Post

Welcome to the first Revolvers Only Recap! Today's post is going to be a bit different but hopefully everyone will enjoy.  Recaps include summaries, my thoughts, or shameless promotion of the most recent blogs. Recaps will occur every eighth post and serve two purposes. First, they provide a concise overview of previous entries for those who might have missed them. Second, they give me a bit of a break while I organize future posts.

Although I don't plan to post next week, there will be a new post in two weeks. Until then, please take a gander at any articles you might have missed or might want to reread!


This was the first post on the Revolvers Only blog! While not the most exciting, it covered the basics of who, what, where, and, why this page exists. Bay 10 is still the normal venue for most shooting and the supply of Remington 130gr FMJ .38 Special has not been depleted so there will be more content coming. 

This was the first review of a wheel gun that I attempted. The format for reviews includes the following: specifications, features, upgrades, and shooting impressions. I think this is the one to own if you can only own one. As this was the first revolver to enter my collection, selecting the 686 as the first review was a fitting decision.

I know. Reloading is not a particularly thrilling topic, but it is an essential skill to learn if you plan to shoot revolvers. I also didn't want to wait too long to cover this topic in case any other lefties were reading. At this point, my technique hasn't changed and I feel more comfortable after every reload.

The Chiappa Rhino is the most unique revolver I have reviewed up to this point. The placement of the barrel is an innovative design that actually works to reduce muzzle flip. The review includes specifications, loading, kydex, and shooting impressions. I still stand by my recommendation of this wheel gun particularly for shooters who have difficulty managing recoil. I'm on the hunt for a model chambered in 9mm or maybe even .40 S&W if there is a deal to be had.

This was the first of many match reviews on Revolvers Only! Steel Challenge is incredibly fun and I am disappointed that I waited this long to try it out. In addition to the S&W 617 revolver, I have  also run the Ruger 10/22 with a red dot optic. Now that was a blast. I managed to get some very quick strings with both rimfire guns and hope to pick up an eight shot wheel gun for a centerfire option.

Thus far this has been the most popular post. I honestly didn't think this would be more popular than the Chiappa Rhino, but I was wrong. The review includes specifications, accessories, upgrades, and an accuracy test. I will continue to shoot this in steel matches and it will be visiting the gunsmith for a bit of work in the next few weeks. Keep an eye out for another post on any improvements made!

I wasn't sure how well this type of post would perform, but based on views gathered thus far it is toward the top. I enjoy working with shooters who are unfamiliar with revolvers. I am one of those folks who believes that a duty sized revolver might be the best option for someone what wants a gun but doesn't plan to practice all that much. Maybe I'll even post on that topic down the road.

The Future

So after several posts, I guess the next question is what is the future of this blog will be. There are definitely more revolvers out there that must be shot. Between friends, family, and future purchases, there will be plenty of models to test. There are also several matches in my area each month including IDPA, Steel Challenge, and even USPSA will start this fall. Reviews may be a bit less frequent as I start competing more, but that doesn't mean they will stop. I hope you have enjoy the content thus far and will continue to come back for more.

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, July 12, 2017

Infrequent Shooters Reviewing Revolvers

Not everyone reading this blog visits the range as frequently as they desire. For a change of pace, my significant other and I took another couple to the range. I figured you would enjoy hearing other shooters' thoughts on the revolvers discussed in previous entries after several weeks of my opinions. My significant other, BK, doesn't like to shoot revolvers. Surprising, right? For a long time, she preferred plastic fantastics but has recently moved to steel frame 1911s. Maybe I'll be able to sway her down the line...but I doubt it. 

Mr. and Mrs. B Go to the Range

A bit further down the page, you will get the chance to read Mr. and Mrs. B's perspectives on shooting three revolvers: the Smith & Wesson 686, the Chiappa Rhino 200DS, and the Smith & Wesson 617. I think it is important to note that just because Mr. and Mrs. B are infrequent shooters that does not mean they are unskilled shooters. Both were raised around firearms and both are licensed to carry. Based upon their current careers, they each selected pistols chambered in .380 ACP. She carries a Ruger LC380 (with longer trigger pull than a double action revolver!), while he carries a Sig P238.  

Mr. B did not shoot this at the range.

In addition to taking our friends out for a fun trip to the local range, I was excited for the chance to work with shooters who prefer auto-loading pistols over revolvers. (I also thought it would be a great idea for a post.) Not long ago, I was the shooter who chose to ignore revolvers in favor of autos. At this point, I regret my initial choice and wanted to see if a good experience at the range with revolvers would increase interest in the revolver from either one of our friends. Spoiler alert: it did not. 

His and Hers Reviews

Smith & Wesson 617


Mr. B's reaction to this one was surprising. He only said one word, "Fun." Notice the choice in punctuation. While he seemed to enjoy shooting the 617, it certainly didn't wow him. He thinks the barrel is too long and makes the revolver feel front heavy. I thought it might just be the caliber; however, when he drew his favorite .22 pistol, a Browning Buck Mark 5.5 Field, he was very excited to be shooting .22lr. To be fair, that little .22 is pretty nice. I told him it needs a dot because it has a rail. 

Her trigger control was on point.


This was Mrs. B's first real experience with revolvers other than a couple shots through her dad's duty weapon. She had a hard time opening the cylinder at first but quickly found a technique that worked for her. Mrs. B did not like the balance of the revolver, even with the larger grips,  and thought that the barrel was too long. There were no issues with the trigger, as it is around nine pounds. Although the shooting went well, she was ready to put it down because it was "so heavy."

Chiappa Rhino 200DS


When I pointed out the 6 o'clock barrel position, he looked mildly interested. Mr. B was pleasantly surprised by the Rhino, even saying "Fun!" after shooting it. He noticed that the .38s recoiled differently, so I loaded up some .357 Magnums. Mr. B was actually impressed! I've only seen this happen a few times. Compared to the .357 Magnum revolvers he has fired before, this was entirely different. He determined that if you need to shoot several quickly, especially magnums, then the position of the barrel would allow for quick follow up shots. I think he genuinely enjoyed shooting this one!


I really expected Mrs. B to enjoy the Rhino. It is light with comfortable grips. Unfortunately, she encountered the same problem other small frame shooters have shooting the Rhino: many cannot fire the weapon in double action. Mrs. B was able to cock this wheel gun to single action, but it required some effort. After a few shots in single action, she also remarked on the felt recoil as compared to other revolvers. The heavy DA pull was a deal breaker. If Chiappa's trigger kit wasn't $250 installed, she would be taking one home. As is, it was her least favorite.

Smith & Wesson 686

I forgot to take a picture of him shooting it.


Mr. B does have a bit of shooting experience with revolvers. I'm pretty sure he has owned a duty sized revolver at some point in his life or at least fired one. After shooting the 686, he said that this one is definitely the best. He thinks the heft helps with the recoil. He isn't about to carry something like this all day but might get one down the road. If you can't already tell, this was Mr. B's favorite.


When she picked up this revolver, Mrs. B said something like, "Why is this so heavy?" She handled the 686 very well and was shooting good groups at 10 yards. She only fired .38 specials, but I'm sure she could handle .38 +Ps just fine. After comparing the three revolvers shot on this trip, this was definitely Mrs. B's favorite. A 686 or 686+ with a three inch barrel might be the perfect revolver for her...well, maybe after a trigger job resulting in an eight pound pull.


Overall, it was a great trip to the range. Everyone shot a good amount of lead through a variety of firearms. In addition to the revolvers, there was also an assortment of autos in both 9mm and .380 ACP. Mr. and Mrs. B are more comfortable with magazine-fed pistols, but I think they enjoyed the features of the wheel gun at the very least.

After firing almost everything present, Mrs. B wanted to update her carry. Unfortunately, she did not want to switch to a revolver but instead has decided the Glock 42 is a better choice than her Ruger LC380. I can't blame her, as that is a reasonable choice. I apologized to Mr. B since he must purchase a new gun. (I think he'll survive.)

I would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. B for coming out to the range with us. I really appreciate their willingness to participate in my experiment and for making this post possible. 

Have you taken shooters to the range recently? Please comment below with your tales of range trips with friends. 

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, July 5, 2017

Smith & Wesson 617: The Perfect Target Revolver!


The Smith & Wesson 617 is a stainless steel ten shot K frame modeled on the venerable Smith & Wesson 17. The S&W Model 17, previously known as the K22 Target Masterpiece, has a blued finish and six shot cylinder. These models are designed specifically for target shooting but also make a budget friendly trainer. This line of .22 revolvers feature identical controls and very similar weights and practicing with rim-fire is significantly cheaper than center-fire. 

The Smith & Wesson 617 is a neat revolver. With an overall length of nearly twelve inches and a weight of approximately 44 ounces, this model is large! In all honesty, the balance feels a bit off with the lightweight factory grips; it feels front heavy. This is one of the reasons I switched the stocks for the Steel Challenge match. Smith uses a Patridge front sight on this model, and I have not found any replacement sights low enough to replace it. A bit of model paint works just fine. The trigger is standard Smith & Wesson: about a twelve pound double action pull and a four pound single action. A trigger job really helps to make this a performing target revolver. 

Speedloader/Loading Block 

Loader and filled loading block.
Speed Beez is an innovative company that manufactures speedloaders for a wide variety of models. The aluminum handle for the 617 even comes in three different colors: red, pink, and their signature gold. Speed Beez also produces matching loading blocks for their speedloaders. This allows you to purchase one loader and a block rather than several loaders. This is great if you are shooting a discipline that does not require reloads on the clock. Perfect for something like Steel Challenge! Here is the link to their page dedicated to this revolver and loading accessories: 617 S&W 10 Shot 22LR Speedloaders. If you can't find the a loader for your revolver, it's possible that they make one.

The Speed Beez 617 Speedloader is a very interesting design. From what I understand, this design is similar to an older loader produced by Dade Machine Screw Products for a short time. These loaders were constructed using a plastic base with plastic button-like release. A small spring around the outside of the base secured the cartridges by the rims. The rear button was pressed to release the ammunition.

In my opinion, Speed Beez has improved this design by using stronger materials. Similar to the Dade, a small spring runs around the outside of the loader which holds the rounds in place by the rim. The anodized aluminum handle has been milled with ten posts that match the holes cut in the speedloader base. The base is machined in the ten round pattern of the cylinder. These posts contact the center of the rimfire round, rather than the rim, which prevents ignition during swift reloads. After the rounds have been pushed into the cylinder by the posts, a spring beneath the handle returns the handle to its normal position. The handle is just big enough to comfortably manipulate. 


Reloading the 617 is actually kind of tricky. Lining up ten little cartridges with ten holes doesn't always happen on the first try. The exterior spring does not always hold the rounds tightly enough to perfectly match the cylinder pattern. Luckily, it is close enough and the rounds go in with a bit of fidgeting. I am still using my left handed reload; however, a support hand reload should work just fine. The lefty and the support are essentially the same except for where the right hand is holding the revolver (frame versus grip). I have not attempted the Universal or FBI reload with this loader, but I assume it also works just fine.


Testing accuracy with a handgun is largely based on the shooter's ability. I've only been shooting revolvers with regularity for about two years now but I consider myself, an average shooter. Rather than attempting the Hardwired Tactical Shooting Revolver Super Test, I decided that a target gun needs a more traditional accuracy test. I hate the idea of shooting from a bag on a bench. Instead, all shots were taken while standing using two hands. I came up with something simple: ten rounds from ten yards in six seconds. 

Here are the results:

Nine out of ten in the ten ring and all in the black.


K/L frame finger-less stocks and
blued (more like a flat black) extended cylinder release.

For the purpose of this review, I returned the 617 to its stock configuration with the exception of the trigger return spring. I prefer a lighter trigger, so the 13lb Wolff trigger return spring was left in place. Although I shot my first Steel Challenge with the upgrades pictured above, the revolver is a fine shooter as it comes from the factory. So why bother with the aftermarket parts? Well, these parts actually improve the handling of this long barreled wheel gun. They also make the revolver look kinda cool, so there's that.

The upgrades definitely serve a purpose other than looking cool. The Hogue Big Butt stock is beneficial for two reasons. First, the rubber grips at a bit more comfort (and I hate finger grooves) and second, the wood butt provides a bit more weight than the OEM grips which helps to balance out the heavy barrel. The other upgrade, a Hogue Extended Cylinder release, makes opening the cylinder with my left thumb (remember the left handed reload?) significantly easier. Since I am not reloading on the clock in Steel Challenge, it might be a little unnecessary. As a trainer for the center-fire revolvers that I will load on the clock, it helps to have consistency. 


Shooting the 617 is a wonderful experience. The heft of the revolver soaks up most of the recoil the the .22lr generates. Aside from a great competition gun, this ten shooter can serve as a great all around trainer. Especially in the case of youth and elderly shooters, this revolver is a great way to build/keep up skills while reducing the number of center-fire rounds sent down range. Should I have any children, my step father's K22 will be used to teach proper marksmanship. Once they have become familiar with the double action revolver, they can move on to other pistols. I definitely recommend it. 

I have another Steel Challenge match this weekend, so I will shoot the 617 as it is currently equipped. I am not particularly thrilled with the shape of the trigger and would like to remove the hammer spur. The match director is a very competent gunsmith who is currently working on another of K frame, so I will try to leave it with him to work his magic. These changes are by no means necessary, and the stock 617 is a great revolver in it's own right. If you are in the market for a higher end .22lr revolver, this is the way to go.

As always, please comment below if you have an suggestions for future posts or would like to share your experience on the current topic.