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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Smith and Wesson Model 36 .38 Special Range Session at 5 Star Firearms in Zion, Illinois

Yep, I went into full retro mode and left the original splinter-grips on this 1988 vintage Chief's Special.  I have had it for three-years and just now got around to taking it for a test run.

Yes, the small grips (stocks) do make the revolver more of a challenge to shoot accurately.  These factory original grips are more uncomfortable for shooting than are any copy of Craig Spegel's boot grips that I have ever used (even the ultra bad copies).  This comes as no surprise; I've fired this model many times over the years.  Silly old me bought this one out of a sense nostalgia; S&W still sells this classic model but it now comes with that insufferable lock ...  

Yes, this 20-ounce steel frame revolver should be more recoil friendly than my 15-ounce airweight revolvers ... but it isn't; modern grips on the airweights do attenuate matters.






Yes, with any of my J-frame holsters I could carry this revolver as it is but I probably won't ... I cleaned it up after the range session and put it back in the safe for now.  I'm not looking for another concealed carry option at the moment.

Yes, the single-action trigger on this piece is darn nice, but I didn't use it for any of this session. 

Yes, the long and strong double-action trigger is close to being just as sucky on this lightly used older model as the triggers are on all of the modern J-frames.   It should get a wee-bit lighter and a whole lot smoother with a few years of use (dry and live fire); for now, it is what it is ... I'm not into having lighter springs installed and such ... you might choose otherwise.

Yes, the rudimentary sights (gutter and blade ... sounds very "Chicago" doesn't it?) on this gun are pretty much as shitworthy as those on most of the newer factory no-frills J-Frames ... except these seemed even WORSE.  I was losing sight of the front-sight on some of my Target #2  speed-drills.  I didn't get out the calipers to confirm, but I suspect that the front blade on this gun is 0.1'' wide instead of the 0.13'' wide blade that I believe to be common on modern no frills J-Frames.  





Technical Information
Caliber: 38 Special
Bullet Weight: 125 Grains
Bullet Style: Nyclad Hollow Point
Case Type: Brass

Ballistics Information: 
Muzzle Velocity: 830 fps

Muzzle Energy: 191 ft. lbs.
CLICK HERE FOR A PROFESSIONAL-QUALITY FULL REVIEW OF THIS LOAD

Yes, in the world of the .38 Special non+P carry loads, this load is kinda middlin' ... not on the hot end and most assuredly it is not mild enough to be called a puffpuff.  With the right grips, I have always found this load to be just wonderful.  It has a decent record of performance in police use.  During the days of old it was nicknamed The Chief's Special load ... allegedly for having a recoil that was manageable in the S&W Chief's Special.  (NOTE:  Just for the record, I have never been in law enforcement.)





Target #1
30-rounds total as follows (typical of an Illinois Concealed Carry qualification drill):
10-rounds @ 15-feet (5-yards)
10-rounds @ 21-feet (7-yards)
10-rounds @ 30-feet (10-yards)
21-rounds of the 30-rounds fired during a qualification must land in the numbered scoring area.
Head shots don't count in Illinois qualifications, only body shots landing inside the numbers.
For Target #1 I used a two-handed hold and staged the trigger (slow fire) for each shot.  After each string of live-fire I dry-fired five to ten times on the empties (good practice for me and long-term it may help smooth the action of the revolver).





Target #2
22-Rounds @ 30-feet (10-yards)
Rarely will I have a good day when my durable zone of snubnose suckiness moves out to 40-feet.
Target#1 declared this to be NOT one of those days so I limited my fundamental drills to 30-feet.
(sometimes my durable zone of suckiness can be 21-feet, 15-feet, or near powder burn distance)  
No trigger staging on this target; I went for as much speed as I could safely muster.
Some of the rounds were fired unsupported weak side (left hand only ... no support grip)
Some of the rounds were fired unsupported strong side (right hand only ... no support grip)
I'm glad I didn't bring more ammo; this little gun beat the hell out of my hands.  





For hearing protection at the range, some folks wear muffs and some wear plugs;  I wear both at the same time.  It helps minimize flinching from the noise of whatever I am shooting as well as from the noise of whatever my range-neighbors are shooting (yeah, I'm talking about you, Missus .454 Casull).  Further, this particular shooting range has much better acoustic design / engineering than does the range closer to my domicile.

The only downside to double ear protection is that whenever someone on the range tries to speak to me I need to lift one side of my muffs away from my ear to hear them and then the range safety officer (not knowing that I am also protected with plugs) gets concerned.  I've taken to informing the S.O. beforehand ...





Frequent Flyer Miles!
Not only is this range nice enough to have discount days for those of us on tight budgets, they also offer a premium via punch-cards.  The bottom card is all punched out and I get a free hour of range time ... on any day ... i.e. it does not have to be on Senior Discount Day.


ADDENDUM 01/14/2019
I failed to mention that I have been using range sessions to practice reloading techniques and I also failed to mention that the grips on this Model 36 were very speed-loader / speed-strip friendly.