Greetings TTAGers. This is the last part of my interview with Male Concubine (see earlier posts here), who has persistently and consistently irritated TTAG readers with his love of guns and shooting. No doubt y’all won’t miss him a bit, but I’m sure he’ll be back for more interviews sometime in the future.
ED: Hey there, MC. I want to ask you about revolvers and why you prefer them for self-defense. What’s your favorite gun? Is it the one you showed me earlier?
MC: This is a Smith & Wesson Model 36 J Frame. It’s a pre-Chief’s Special, before they started giving names to weapons. It was designed in the late 40s and released in the early 50s and re-released in the mid-50s.
The particular weapon that I’m carrying was made in 1956. It’s a five-shot all steel exposed hammer double action .38 Special revolver, the ubiquitous J frame before they started naming the frames.
In this weapon, I’ve smoothed the grooves out of the trigger, radiused the trigger. I’ve taken the exposed spur off the hammer so I can draw it from a concealed position and it won’t snag on clothes. I’ve relieved the rebound block, rebound box, slide surface, trimming the rebound block spring and then putting on a different coiled main spring so that the lock time is marginally faster, but my cylinder stop release times are much quicker. I can fire this weapon much faster and much more accurately.
I was trained as a Smith & Wesson revolver armorer. I like the older non-electronically machined pieces. In the old fitted weapons with their hardened sear surfaces, that hardening is very shallow. So when you relieve that, when you tune that, a little bit is great.
You’re only relieving the sear two to four passes maximum on a square India stone that’s medium grit. Any more than that, you’ll get push-off, and you won’t be able to lock hammer back to single action without the hammer dropping.
You’ll lose the relationship between the pickup on the trigger sear as it grabs the hammer stirrup and then begins to articulate the rebound block, which is the device in the weapon that actually moves the trigger. If those surfaces are not trued properly, if they are relieved too greatly in this asinine quest to lighten trigger pull, that makes an unsafe weapon.
This particular weapon that I have, you could beat on all day long with the hammer locked back. The hammer won’t drop and the weapon is very safe to carry. BUT, it activates very quickly.
ED: And you prefer that to semi-automatic pistols…because? Although, I know you’ve carried those too.
MC: Three reasons why I carry a double action revolver versus a semi-automatic weapon for personal defense in an urban environment:
1. It’s more concealable. I can carry it in my pocket.
2. I don’t feel under-gunned with a revolver because I understand the limitations of the weapon platform. Again, per our earlier talk, the sole purpose of a handgun is to fight your way to a longer range weapon or to stabilize the threat so that you can leave the area and come back later with a bigger weapon to eradicate the threat. This is not a duty weapon that I’m going to patrol the streets with. This is exactly what it’s meant to do.
3. Most notably — and this has borne fruit on several occasions — it doesn’t leave expended brass on the ground. I don’t have to spend time to police it.
ED: Do you think that semi-automatic pistols have any advantages that you like as far as self defense?
MC: Oh, sure. There’s a multitude of statistics out there that prove this: the reason that the average defensive use of a weapon went from five rounds to stop the threat up to, I think it’s 14 rounds now, is because of the adoption by law enforcement agencies of higher capacity semi-automatic weapons.
It was becoming apparent in the early 90s that in the transition from double action revolvers to the wonder-nine years, all they did was endanger the public. Before you had six rounds before a reload; now you had up to 16 or 18.
Before spraying and praying, you knew you had six rounds, so you couldn’t really spray and pray that much before needing to hit your target. Now, the average shot count is 14 with a hit rate of 1 to 2. There is no numerical statistical improvement of hitting the target with a semi-automatic, but through pressing the trigger and firing rounds, they’re able to assuage their fear because they’re putting rounds down range and eventually one is going to hit the target.
ED: So you’re saying that six rounds is enough to take care of a self-defense threat if you master your fundamentals, practice regularly, train in tactics?
MC: Absolutely. I worked some very violent areas in south Florida where Miami PD wouldn’t go and most of the tac teams wouldn’t go. I carried a 4-inch Colt Python on my right hip and, in an upside down shoulder holster underneath my left shoulder, a 2.5-inch Python. Along with that I carried six speed loaders and two dump pouches. The only reason for that was that since I was shooting .357 and everyone else was carrying 9s, I had to carry my ammo with me.
My favorite round is a 158 grain non-jacketed hollow-point wadcutter. Excellent terminal ballistics, excellent expansion capabilities. Even if it deforms going through a chunk of glass or heavy clothes it’s still creating a great hydrostatic wound channel.
Being that it’s a 6-shot revolver, I can fire it close contact, it’s difficult to smother, it’s very robust – this is where Smith has it over Colt revolvers. I won’t bore you with the mechanical differences between the two weapons, but the mainspring orientation in the Colt is a leaf type spring that is very prone to going out of battery if you whack the grip, whereas you can use the Smith as a hammer on someone. If you did that with an O frame Colt, you can’t expect it to go into battery and still fire. It won’t do it.
Smith & Wesson revolvers aren’t necessarily accurate, but they’re accurate enough for my purposes. They go off under water. You can use them to beat someone off of you if you can’t shoot them. If you want to shoot a semi-automatic go ahead, but if your fundamentals are sufficient, you don’t need it.
ED: How often do you think a person needs to train to maintain skills that are already reasonably good? How long do you think it takes for a person to become competent?
MC: That’s highly individual and it depends on that person’s athletic prowess. In my experience, the most successful women shooters I’ve met were athletes in a different discipline, so they already understood movement and the effects of movement on performance.
One of the most skilled female shooters I worked with had been a semi-professional softball player. She had great hand eye coordination because she could hit an underhand pitch coming in at 80 miles an hour. There was an athletic prowess and understanding of eliminating variables that I could tap into, so her progress was very quick and linear.
So there’s that kind of person, and then there’s someone like my last girlfriend. It was hard work getting her to understand that just because a gun recoils in your hand, that doesn’t mean it’s going to hurt you. There was a lack of familiarity, there was a lack of physical capability and situational understanding.
When you have all of those hurdles to overcome, it’s more difficult to relate to the concepts of what you need to do to move from the unskilled to a more capable level. You have to move much more slowly.
ED: In dance, we have a saying that it takes 10 years to make a dancer. How many to make a shooter:
MC: It all depends on attitude and physical capability. If those aren’t a problem, someone can go from never having fired a weapon to performing very well in about six months. Dry fire every day, live fire once every 10 days, about 1 1/2 hours on the range if I’m teaching them.
Once the fundamentals are there, you can lean on them and start to encourage multiple target transitions, multiple reloading points, multiple engagement scenarios, and introduce variables. At the end of that time, you’d look back at the early days and laugh.
The basis of a competent attitude is not about self-aggrandizement or getting people to talk about you. If you have no ego and are methodical, in a year, you can go from novice to competitive ranks and have people genuinely respect your skills.
ED: What role do you think ego plays in making a shooter better or worse?
MC: It’s sunk more people in the shooting world than couldn’t swim away from the Titanic when it bounced off the iceberg. It’s the most debilitating bad habit, because it’s intrinsic, individual, and solely identified with that person. If they don’t have enough self esteem to understand that other people have greater knowledge and capability and that in order for them to meet or surpass that, they have to train intelligently – if they can’t get their own ego out of the way – they are doomed to a life of, at best, mediocrity.
ED: And with that, we’re done for now. Thank you MC. I hope you’ll come back for another round.
MC: Absolutely. See you sometime in the next year or so.