My brother – Duane Weingarten – recounted an interesting incident with gear that had been hanging in a closet for 30 years:

Back in the late 70’s Revolvers and leather duty gear was the norm. When I took my first LEO job it was with a rural department with six road deputies. I brought Bianchi leather duty gear, which I wore until I left that department and moved onward and upwards to a 500 man state LE agency. The state agency supplied all the necessary gear that they thought an officer needed. I went from revolver to a semi auto. In the last few months I have been moving from a house I lived in for 34 plus years to another. I was packing one of closets up when I found my old duty belt . . .

Back in those days, there was less concern about liability, and one carried what one wanted. In the speed holder pouches were three Safariland comp two speed loaders. I carried HKS before that, the HKS are good tough and reliable loaders. I found them to be a bit slower than the comp twos. During my first police recruit school where I took top shot, one of the older instructors took exception to my use of speed loaders, saying it was cheating. He didn’t want to give me credit for the perfect 300 of 300 score.

The leather and ammo had been hanging around for around 30 years. The leather looked really good and still functions as it should. The nickel plated 357 magnum handloads are 125 grain jacketed hollow points that I shot and carried with the small Department. They were a little tarnished but other wise looked just fine.

I buckled on the old leather after letting it out a couple of notches.   I am not a 150lb 20-something any more. I dropped my stainless security six into its old holster and walked out the door to my range 100 feet away.

I drew the revolver, grabbed a speed loader, and proceeded to shoot all 18 rounds into the target. My speed loader skills have diminished some after decades of carrying an auto. I don’t do 1 second reloads any more. But the leather, ammo, speed loaders and revolver all functioned as they should. The group on the paper was shot with 30 year old ammo, double action.

Some of the best values in gear can be found on the used market. Do not ignore it just because it is older. It can be an excellent value for those on a tight budget.

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Duane Weingarten  (pdsolutions@hotmail.com) has retired and now teaches advanced self defense and shooting skills by appointment. Facilities include a 600-yard private range and over a mile of private trails for vehicle and “jungle lane” scenarios.

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included. Link to Gun Watch

28 Responses to In Praise of Old Gunleather and Ammo

  1. My dad was a LEO for almost 30 years, he recently gave me all the left over duty gear he accumulated over that time. In the bottom of the box I found a full up Bianchi duty rig including speed loader punches that were loaded with some of his nickle .357 handloads. I also found about 100 rounds of mixed .38s and more .357 in an old reload box. Long story short I convinced him to get his old 2″ 686 out for the first time since he retired in 2004 and put some rounds through it. Even after 11 years of not touching a handgun I have to say the old man still has it.

  2. Will and Dean illustrate perfectly why I claim that the revolver is the perfect go to gun for people who aren’t gun people.

    Will and Dean are gun people, no doubt. But for a gun that will sit unused until it’s life or death, even for decades, the revolver simply can’t be beat.

    Butt simple manual of arms and at rest with no stress on springs until needed.

    • I have to make one small footnote to your comment. While the spring in a box magazine does sit compressed until it is emptied, the spring does not lose strength while at rest. Whether the spring is sitting fully compressed or slightly compressed, or completely extended, it will remain the same. Springs lose strength with use. Case in point: The hammer spring in a revolver is constantly compressed, even when the hammer is down, yet revolvers are known for their reliability.

      I agree with your ideas about revolvers for non gun people, but springs don’t really factor into it.

  3. Funny, I just made the opposite transition. I went from an 800 man city department serving 500k to a 10 deputy office serving a county of 7k.

  4. I still have my 1976 Bicentennial Security six that I bought when I was 18. I gave to Dad after college and inherited it back in 2002. Last year, I polished it up an did a trigger job on it. in spite of dropping in the creek over 30 years ago and blasting snakes with shot shells, it functions now better than it did when I was a kid and looks better too.
    I still have the original box and manual.
    It is very sentimental and I’m not a sentimental guy. I’ll sell it for 1 kazillion dollars if anyone is interested.

  5. What I love is qualification time, all the rookies can’t understand how the job was done with a revolver.
    They also can’t understand why I still carry a backup. Everyone knows semi-autos are flaw proof especially Glocks. Yes at the end I carried a G22 for company rest of the time SIG or gen 3 S&W.

  6. That looks a lot like my S&W M66-2. I haven’t carried it for years, but I bet I could still give you a run for your money at 15 yds.

  7. There’s no denying that revolvers can be completely awesome. Leather gear still works like a champ. For police work, I still prefer the semi auto.

    • I think a lot of people make the mistake of overlooking the revolver for self defense. Odds of a civilian needing more than 6 rounds is pretty low compared to the advantages a revolver has in reliability, accuracy and (in magnum loads) power.

      • I think the next time I go shooting with my mother, I’ll have her rent a revolver. She had trouble racking the slide and even putting the bullets in the magazine last time. Plus limp-wristed a couple of times.

    • If I was to go soldiering again or get hired as a cop(not likely) I would want the latest and greatest tech available.

      But as a citizen without .gov connections I prefer my revolvers. I seriously doubt there’s an issue in the world of dgu’s that I can’t sort out with the old standard of a pump shotgun and a revolver.

  8. I went to the local outfitter when I got hired and actually found a Safariland SSIII for an N-frame Smith. Wonder if I could even special order one now.

    • I hit a similar jackpot at the LGS a couple years ago. 10 safariland comp 1 speeloaders for my model 27. Got em all for $20 and haven’t really seen many since.

  9. Like many here, the years and resulting physical problems are catching up with me. Often I get a weakness in my hands that makes it nearly impossible to rack the slide of my autos. Thinking about it, I returned to using my 40 year old Police and speed loaders. Despite its age, it still shoots (maybe even better since it’s had 40 years education) and the speed loaders still function well. My times don’t vary much from semi-auto to revolver despite having to reload more often.

    Side note: my club has a growing number of revolvers popping up at shoots and now offers a separate category for steel revolvers, though we shoot at the same time as the autos.

  10. Like the author, I started LE 35 yrs ago, and through the years transitioned to the “wonder nines” and now carrying the “do all” .40…Still have my model 65 and leather, and like a previous commenter mentioned, the youngsters can’t believe how fast a revolver can be reloaded with and without speed loaders when practiced.

  11. Hunting for my first .357 I scored a good deal on a 6″ Security Six, and I dig this thing. Now perhaps I shoot kit up with a used duty set-up…

  12. I agree completely with the recommendation of revolvers for non gun people.
    Several of our nurses have asked me to help choose a home defense gun. None were experienced shooters. None planned to carry.
    We go to the range and shoot a variety of guns in different calibers.
    All the nurses except one, eventually bought a revolver.

  13. I foolishly bought the HKS Speedloaders. They’re okay but I’d love the Safarilands.

    What blows my mind is that it seems as if more than a few officers carried their own reloads on duty. Definitely an era that doesn’t exist any more.

  14. I still relish the fact that the gentleman that sold me my newest (but still oldest) wheel gun included a Dade Screw Machine speed-loader as a gimme. Not the most secure, but certainly the fastest I’ve ever used.

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