|10-03-2004, 07:15 PM||#1|
Join Date: Mar 2001
Range Report: S&W Model 28 w/6 " Barrel...
Hello. Normally I shoot primarily automatics but continue to have a fondness for revolvers and some revolvers in particular; such is the case for me with N-frame Smith & Wesson's.
Realizing that surely and steadily S&W revolvers are "evolving" from their traditional S&W "look", I've been eager to add to my meager collection of S&W revolvers in general and N-frames in particular. I much prefer no locks and the older look.
At a recent gun show, I was able to do this. A trade here and there and a most reasonable amount of cash resulted in my getting a like new Model 64 with 3" barrel and a 6" Model 28. The latter is the topic of this review.
The Revolver: The gun has an "S-Prefix" serial number and is not as old as my 4", which has the screw in front of the trigger guard. I'd estimate this one to be about 96 to 98% though it did have a very slight ding here and there. Also present was a minor amount of holster wear. The screws were not buggered up and the yoke/crane fit was great and has no play. Timing was fine with the cylinder positively locking before the
hammer falls in DA and before full-cock position is complete in SA. There is no push-off with the hammer from full-cock. There is minimal movement in the cylinder when locked. The previous owner had painted the front sight blade red. I personally prefer plain black-on-black but have not removed the paint yet.
This Model 28 has the "classic" S&W "look", one that I find appealing. More importantly, these revolvers normally shoot extremely well in my experience.
This revolver came with a pair of the smooth S&W "coke bottles" that were very clean and certainly useable, but I replaced them with a pair of the now-discontinued Fitz "Gunfighter" grips. I find these exceptionally comfortable.
Ammunition: One handload and four factory loads were fired through the revolver:
Federal SP primer
New Starline Cases
Remington 125-gr. Golden Saber
Federal 125-gr. JHP
Winchester 145-gr. Silvertip
Speer 158-gr. Gold Dot Hollow Point
Additionally, 12 rounds of each load were fired 10' from my chronograph screens to provide the following average velocities, extreme spreads, and standard deviations:
Average Velocity: 1215 ft/sec
Extreme Spread: 45
Std. Deviation: 17
Remington 125-gr. Golden Saber:
Average Velocity: 1282
Extreme Spread: 55
Std. Deviation: 19
Federal 125-gr. JHP:
Average Velocity: 1358
Extreme Spread: 75
Std. Deviation: 29
Winchester 145-gr. Silvertip:
Average Velocity: 1270
Extreme Spread: 54
Std. Deviation: 19
Speer 158-gr. Gold Dot Hollow Point:
Average Velocity: 1117
Extreme Spread: 76
Std. Deviation: 27
Shooting: This was done seated and I used a rest. My goal was to see just how tightly the gun might shoot with a few loads and I'm just not good enough to see otherwise.
Once the gun was sighted in, shooting for groups was done at 25 and 50 yards. The only shots at closer ranges were to adjust the sights.
I think I've found an inexpensive cast bullet load that works plenty good enough in this particular revolver. These 12 shots were fired at 25 yards. It is accurate and has enough punch to handle anything I might encounter here in Texas. Mainly, it will "encounter" paper, but I might try for a deer with this gun soon.
Winchester's 145-gr. STHP was no slouch on paper, either. At 25 yards it grouped more than adequately for me. One nice thing about revolvers is that if they're in good shape, a shooter can get very fine accuracy.
At 50 yards, Speer's 158-gr. GDHP hit just a bit too the left and high. At closer ranges, its groups overlapped with the others.
Bullet Expansion: Two rounds were fired into water in an informal expansion test. I do not have the coin for ballistic gelatin nor do I have a means of shooting it at a constant temperature each time a test is to be performed. Most of us have seen the full-power 125-gr. JHP's that are often suggested as effective "manstoppers" but I decided to try the attenuated Remington 125-gr. Golden Saber and the Winchester Silvertip today.
As can be seen, the Winchester 145-gr. STHP fragmented at an average velocity of 1270 ft/sec when impacting water while the 125-gr. Golden Saber did not at 1282 ft/sec. Normally there is some jacket slippage in the Golden Sabers when fired into water, but I've seen very little of it in actual tissue from javelina to deer in calibers 9mm and .45 ACP. Water exaggerates the "fragmentation potential" as it more easily gets between the jacket and the lead core of the bullet. When shooting super-saturated newsprint I see much less tendency toward fragmentation or jacket separation. Be that as it may, the Silvertip still penetrated approximately 3" deeper than the Golden Saber. In my opinion, either would make a capable defense load, but the Golden Saber has noticeably less felt recoil than the other loads fired for this report. The STHP expanded bullet measured 0.52 x 0.43 x 0.29" tall and the recovered weight was 105.8 grains. The GS measured 0.61 x 0.59 x 0.36" tall and weighed 124.4 grains.
Observations: There was not much felt recoil with any of the ammo shot today. The N-frame S&W revolvers may be called "boat anchors" by those preferring lighter weight, but at the firing line I find their
generous size and heft an advantage.
I do not know if Speer envisions their 158-gr. Gold Dot as a defense load and has it more lightly loaded for recoil management, but I was genuinely surprised at its barely breaking 1100 ft/sec. The Federal 125-gr. JHP and Winchester 145-gr. STHP had the sharpest "kick" though neither were "bad" in my estimation.
The groups shown were the best ones I shot and are not representative of my typical abilities. Exceptionally pleasing is that they do indicate that this particular revolver can group plenty well and is not "picky", showing a distinct preference of one load over another, at least not in today's somewhat limited ammunition menu.
It didn't take long for the Model 28 to get dirty...especially with the cast bullet loads. (This thing is death on falling plates....)
I don't foresee this as a defensive handgun at all, but I would not be hesitant to use it for such if push came to very hard shove. Having spent the best years of my life in police service, I went in harm's way more than a few times and practiced firearm skills accordingly. I still do the "practical" type shooting, but my deadly force concerns now have shrunk to simply include protecting me and mine from unlawful deadly aggression.
Fun is waaaaaaaaaaaay on the top of my list and with each passing year I appreciate not having to pick up empty cases slung here and yon by whatever automatic I was using.
That does not mean that this revolver will not draw blood. I hope to shoot a deer with it in the near future...as well as others with yet other handguns, but I doubt that I'll be toting this revolver for anything more "serious."
With the AWB gone, at least for now, we see folks picking up standard capacity magazines and handguns so equipped. (They SHOULD have been able to legally do this all along.) There is nothing "wrong" with this at all and I own more than a few, but this might be a good time to pick up a clean, used S&W revolver. The old timers are getting harder to find with each passing year.
Just a thought...
|10-04-2004, 07:39 AM||#2|
Join Date: May 2001
Thank you for yet another stellar review. The N-frame .357 is one of my favorite handguns. I already own a 3.5" 27 and just purchased a 4" 27. I intend to pick up at least another five inch and maybe an 8 3/8" version. My last 28 was a 4" version that had an absolutely superb action. I sold it to a good friend as a starter revolver for his son. While your review was as thorough as usual, you did leave out one vital piece of info: Where can I find a couple sets of the Fitz grips for a Smith N-frame?!?
|10-04-2004, 07:42 AM||#3|
Join Date: Mar 2001
Hello. Thanks. You might contact Paul Jones over at the handloading section of THR. He might have a pair or two left.
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