THE REVOLVER AS A
How many of you carry wheelguns?
Jeff Cooper once told me that, in the old days of training, half of a typical pistol class would be comprised of auto-loading handguns - Typically Browning/Colt types. The other half, usually police officers, would be armed with revolvers. He said that this trend slowly began to change in the early eighties. By the time I attended his courses in the late eighties, it was rare to see a revolver-armed student.
This trend was also seen in law enforcement. I went through my original Police Academy pistol training, back in the old days, with a revolver (S&W Model 67). The most common sidearm for many officers, at that time, was some sort of Smith & Wesson or Colt revolver, usually .38 Special or .357 Magnum. Today, however, you rarely see revolvers in the field, and then only in the holsters of older officers, usually just months from retirement. Most of the newer breed sport Glocks, Berettas, and other ultra-modern handguns. The feeling among many officers is that the "wheelgun" is obsolete. For many, its only true role is that of last-ditch backup in the form of a 2" Barreled .38 snubbie. Is the revolver obsolete? Let's think about this....
Removed dead link and a duplicate link under The Smith & Wesson Model 60-15 3” .357 Magnum “Stretch” Snubby is a Solid Performer below
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XS Sight Systems Big Dot Tritium Night Sight
aurus’ Titanium Tracker Model 617TT .357 Magnum seven-shot revolver is the first total-titanium, target-sighted sport and field revolver ever! Coming quickly after the introduction of Taurus’ Total Titanium personal-defense revolvers in small and medium frame sizes and six chamberings (Models 731T, 85T, 617T, 415T, 445T, 450T in .32 H&R Magnum, .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .41 Magnum, .44 Special, and .45 Colt), all with barrels ranging in length from 2.0 to 2.5 inches, the new Titanium Tracker is a medium-frame, four-inch revolver that weighs a surprisingly light 24 ounces.
“Total” titanium, in Taurus’ own words, means “every component that can and should be made of titanium, is made of titanium.” And that includes the frame, the cylinder, the yoke, the barrel, and all studs and pins. For those who don’t already know it, titanium is stronger and more elastic than steel but weighs about one-third less than steel, and it is essentially impervious to corrosion. Titanium is definitely the material of the ’90s when it comes to firearms design and construction, but titanium alloy can only be hardened to about 42 to 44 on the Rockwell hardness scale before becoming brittle. A revolver action’s operating parts need to be hardened to at least 52 to 54 on the Rockwell scale. So the hammer, sear, trigger, cylinder latch, ejector rod, and some other small parts like springs and sideplate screws on all of Taurus’ new titanium series revolvers are made from case-hardened, high-tensile-strength chrome-moly steel.
Features Of The Titanium
The distinguishing features of the Model 617TT are its full-profile, ported, four-inch titanium barrel (more about that in a moment), its fully adjustable white-outline rear sight and red-insert ramped front sight, and its Stealth Gray finish (it’s available in the smoky Matte Spectrum Blue finish too). Model 617TT
.357 Magnum DA Revolver
.......Taurus International Mfg.
16175 NW. 49 Ave.
Miami, FL 33041
Model ..................................Model 617TT (Titanium Tracker)
Operation ............Double-action revolver
Caliber .............................. .357 Magnum
Barrel length ................4 inches (ported)
Overall length ....................8.625 inches
Weight, empty ..................24.00 ounces
Safety ...........Transfer bar ignition; Taurus Security System hammerblock
Sights ........Adjustable, white-outline rear; red-ramp blade front
Sight radius .........................3.25 inches
Rifling ............6 grooves; 1:18.75 RH twist
Stocks ........................Taurus Ribber Grip
Cylinder capacity ....................7 rounds
Finish .............Stealth Gray; also available in Matte Spectrum Blue
The Tracker’s red-insert front and white-outline rear sights are quick to align and easy to see against both light- and dark-colored targets in both high and low light conditions. And I really like the matte Stealth Gray finish, which resembles the matte Target Gray finish of some of Ruger’s stainless-steel bolt-action rifles and its new .454 Super Redhawk.
The Titanium Tracker incorporates other notable Taurus design elements like the key-activated Security System hammer lock; the Yoke Detent system, which is a spring-loaded latch in the top of the yoke that ensures that the cylinder remains tightly closed within the frame at the moment of firing and eliminates any latch point at the tip of the ejector rod; and the innovative Ribber Grip, which uses small, flexible, soft elastomer “ribs” that deform and squeeze together to shape themselves to specifically fit the hand of the shooter. The ribs spring back to their normal shape after the hand lets go so that they can reconform to another shooter’s hand each and every time the gun is picked up.
The most defining characteristic of the Titanium Tracker is its four-inch barrel, which has a contoured, full-profile underlug and four compensator ports on both sides of the barrel just below the front sight base. The barrel is constructed of forged titanium with a high-tensile-strength stainless-steel bore liner. Titanium is much more elastic than steel, making it durable, but it stretches flat with the bullet’s pressure impact and will not hold rifling. The stainless-steel bore liner solves that problem. The integral ports, of course, help counteract the lightweight gun’s abrupt magnum recoil. In combination with the Ribber Grip, the .357 Magnum Model 617TT is quite pleasant to shoot even with the stoutest of magnum factory loads.
Shooting The Model 617TT
That brings me to my shooting test of the Titanium Tracker. The single-action trigger pull of my shooting sample Tracker measured just under four pounds on my RCBS Trigger Pull Scale, and it broke cleanly. The double-action trigger pull was smooth and crisp but broke well beyond what the scale could measure—my RCBS scale only measures up to eight pounds.
But the Tracker’s most impressive aspect to me was its superb accuracy. I fired the Tracker with five different .357 Magnum factory loads and one of my all-time favorite .38 Special loads for accuracy and velocity at 25 yards. The specific loads and their results are listed in the chart. Briefly, however, I must point out that the overall average accuracy at 25 yards for all .357 Magnum loads fired from this open-sighted four-inch gun was an extremely tight 1.95 inches. In fact, several individual groups essentially cut one ragged hole. The .38 Special load averaged 1.50 inches, again with groups putting all rounds into a single hole. All in all, the Tracker produced the best 25-yard .357 Magnum groups I’ve fired since I worked with a semicustom S&W Performance Center Model 627 N-Frame revolver that weighed over twice as much and cost several hundred dollars more!
I really like the Titanium Tracker Model 617TT .357 Magnum. Overall fit, finish, and feel are excellent. The gun is sure to be a winner with sportsmen who want a lightweight, accurate, four-inch revolver chambered for a cartridge powerful enough to do double duty as a self-defense and a close-quarters small- to medium-game hunting tool. It really is a sportsman’s dream come true.
TRACKER MODEL 627 .357 Mag. REVOLVER in TOTAL TITANIUM
Legal in California
Model Gun Type /Barrel Length/ Caliber/ Exp Date
617 Titanium/Shadow Gray / Titanium Revolver 2"/ .357 Magnum 01/13/2006
Roster of Taurus .347 Magnum Titanium Handguns Certified for Sale
This list is valid for Thursday September 15, 2005
Model Gun Type Barrel Length Caliber Exp Date
617 Shadow Gray 2" .357 Magnum 01/13/2006
Factory load Velocity (fps) Standard Deviation (fps) 25-Yard Accuracy (Inches) .
Cor-Bon 125-gr. JHP 1407 23 2.25
Remington 125-gr. Golden Saber 1206 17 1.50
Federal 158-gr. Hydra-Shok 1185 36 2.00
]PMC 158-gr. JSP 1137 44 2.50
.38 Special +P
130-gr. SXT 986 29 1.50
NOTES: Accuracy is the average of two seven-shot groups fired from a sandbag benchrest at 25 yards. Velocity is the average of seven rounds measured 15 feet from the gun’s muzzle.
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Guns > Range Report: Smith & Wesson 686 .357 Magnum
If I could only have one handgun to last a lifetime, it would be a .357 revolver with a four inch barrel, adjustable sights, in stainless steel. Lo and behold, that's the gun I shot tonight in the form of Smith & Wesson's 686.
Why would I prefer a revolver as my one and only gun? Simplicity, for one. With even minimal maintenance, such a gun will last a lifetime. Revolvers are easy to clean, and there are relatively few parts. Unlike an automatic, a revolver has only a few springs, and none of the springs are compressed when the gun is stored, so they last a long time.
Revolvers are also much less picky than automatics about the ammo they shoot. A .357 can shoot light-kicking .38 Specials, higher-velocity .38 +P rounds, and full-on .357 Magnums, depending on how you want to balance recoil and velocity. They also shoot a wide variety of projectiles - snakeshot, hollowpoints, Glaser safety slugs, ball ammo, or flat, target-punching wadcutters.
The 686 uses S&W's L frame (their "large" medium frame), which is sturdy enough to cycle tens of thousands of rounds of .357 and soak up the recoil, though .38 Special loads will be more comfortable for the shooter. With a four inch barrel it balances and points well. Besides which, it just feels good. "Comfortable heft" isn't a cliche with this gun.
The S&W lockwork is smooth and predictable. Once I got used to the two-staged trigger, I could squeeze through the first stage to rotate the cylinder and cock the hammer, then squeeze gently through the short, final stage to drop the hammer. Shooting one handed with my offhand in my back pocket also produced high-scoring targets. Sight picture is excellent. For best accuracy, you can always cock the hammer and shoot single action.
Minor nitpick: the S&W stock rubber grips felt great, but about half the time the top of the grip blocked one of the empty hulls from ejecting just right. I'd probably replace them with slimmer boot grips.
Smith & Wesson has a wide variety of .357s in different metals, barrel lengths, sights, and capacity (from five rounds to eight). At the lower end of the weight scale is the 340 at 12 ounces and five shots with a shrouded hammer. The weight savings are due to the smaller J frame and the use of Scandium and titanium instead of steel. I'll test one of the S&W titanium Airlites soon.
One of the most radical S&W .357s is the 386PD, a K frame, Scandium/Titanium model with light-gathering sights that fires seven rounds and weighs just 18.5 ounces. There's also the Performance Center 627, which holds eight rounds. It's an all-steel N frame with a five inch barrel. Weight is 44 ounces.