Friday, May 2, 2008

A Little Old School - Dan Wesson .357 Magnum

My background in guns is fairly recent - adding up to only a handful of years. I've always seen myself as a semi-auto kind of guy. I like the quick action, large capacity and slim design. The kid in me always screams 'NEAT' when I handle one. Most of my collection of handguns have been semi's with the only revolvers being my wife's guns. I've always liked the look of her Ruger SP101, though it never 'spoke' to me the way my semi's have. Her little & light Charter Arms .38 is so convenient to tuck into pants. It's hard not to ignore their place in the gun world. Easy to load (read - no pinching fingers loading a magazine), simple to maintain (worn springs are much less an issue), quick pointing & intuitive in shooting (no flying brass to bounce off your head or drop into your shirt). All these things I've appreciated, but they never really captured my interest. To be honest we probably would never owned a revolver if my wife hadn't picked one for herself.

Now why would I go out and buy a revolver for myself? Well, all the above came into the decision plus I felt we had a need for one. I'm constantly reviewing our home protection needs and though I know that the weapon of choice for HD is a shotgun I decided (at least for now) to hold off on that purchase. Here are my reasons for doing that. A shotgun is truly an intimidating weapon. Do I think I can handle one, of course. Do I think my wife can handle one, sure. But, neither of us have ever shot one. I'm of the mindset that if you're going to use a weapon you'd better practice with it. I don't make it to the range nearly as often as I'd like and living in the burbs like we do we're limited with the number of ranges available to us. None of those ranges (all indoor) allow shotguns so our chances of being able to practice with a shotgun would be very infrequent.

So long story short, I decided a medium/large frame revolver would fit the role as a trusty HD weapon. Since my wife's Ruger is a 357mag, I figured to keep ammo simple and stick with the same caliber. It's a known man stopper and in a larger heavier revolver would be much easier to shoot. So once that decision was made I switched into my research mode to find one that met the requirements, was fairly inexpensive (we're not wealthy) and that caught my fancy.
That's how I came across Dan Wesson revolvers. These are innovatively designed and largely under appreciated in the gun world. They are overly built strong revolvers of modular design that allow fast switching of barrels to larger or shorter lengths. You can see that their cylinder latch is located in front of the cylinder on the crane instead of behind the cylinder which was done partly for strength and partly to keep the trigger mechanism simple. About that trigger, it's different than any revolver I've ever felt. It has both a lighter & shorter (much shorter) stroke than my wife's SP101 which aids in it's outstanding accuracy.

Dan Wesson has changed hands several times over the course of time, most recently being acquired by CZ-USA so though parts aren't nearly as bountiful as they are for S&W's or Ruger's they can be found. I contacted CZ and they even have new barrels that can be purchased in all kinds of sizes from 2.5" - 10". I don't know how well I'd be able to hold it with a 10" barrel, but it's cool you can get them new from them. If you really search, I've heard you can even find 15" barrels that had been made in decades past.

So anyway, I found this revolver for sale locally and jumped on it. It's a Model 14 with a 4" barrel sporting large rubber target grips. I just found this out recently, but the difference between a Model 14 & 15 is that the 14 doesn't have adjustable sights. It didn't include the barrel wrench which is used to swap out barrels and adjust cylinder gap, but it did include this Bianchi holster. The holster originally had a snap on it, but I cut it off and refinished it so it would have an open top. The gun has it's share of wear on it (I might try re-bluing it for kicks), but it works like a dream and even though it doesn't have adjustable rear sights it hits point of aim for me.

I know this blog is called Hidden Defense and most likely I won't be trying to CCW this revolver, but I have thought about it and in the future may work on a couple holster designs to see how they work. I am looking into replacing the over large grips with smaller ones and maybe I'll splurge and get the 2.5" barrel to turn it into a snubby.

This in one revolver that makes that kid in me scream 'NEAT'!


david said...

I have been a fan of the Dan Wesson revolvers for over 20 years. For all of that time, until 3 months ago, I enjoyed an 8in stainless model 15 with heavy vent rib barrel. I now carry mine as a 4in HV. I am trying to find a good CC holster for it. I currently us an inexpensive nylon (about $15) I'd like to find some thing more concealable.

Oh, if you are still interested in 2in barrel, I have one (blued) that I picked up years ago. Let me know.


Eric said...

Thank you Dave,
I might be interested in that 2in barrel. I've got an IWB Don Hume holster for a 4" that works for it and is a lot more concealable than the one in this post. It stays at home so I never carry it. If your interested in the holster drop me an email -