Saturday, August 22, 2009

Revolver Day: S&W K-38, Ruger LCR and 2 Charter .327 Magnums

Something new vs. something old. Which one wins? Usually it's the new and improved and supposedly better. But sometimes it ain't.

Case in point is the latest and greatest .38 Special revolver, the Ruger LCR with Crimson Trace Laser Grips, which went to the range with me today along with a pair of Charter Arms .327 Magnums, both equipped with CT Laser Grips. All needed zeroing and it's a dirty job but somebody's got to do it. That would be me.

The pair of Charter .327 Magnums is one owned by me that just got back from some work at the factory and I needed to verify zero hadn't changed. It had not. The other is one owned by a friend of mine who has not zeroed the laser grips yet, so I volunteered to handle that chore.

I really like the .327 Federal Magnum cartridge, the NRA Ammo of the Year. It has ballistics that are almost identical to .357 Magnum, but without the punishing recoil in a lightweight revolver. The Charter .327 is one of the new breed that IMHO is better than a standard .38 snubby. Six shots vs. 5, better ballistics than .38 Special or even .38 +P. What's not to like?

And then there's a new wrinkle in .38 snubbies. The friend with the other Charter also bought a new Ruger LCR, which stands for Lightweight Compact Revolver. The friend, let's call her Annie Oakley, is a great natural shooter who just took my first NRA Basic Pistol Class. She was previously untrained with handguns, but you'd never know it.

So I also volunteered to zero her new Ruger LCR, which she purchased last week at the gun store where I work.

The LCR is the world's first polymer-grip revolver, with an aluminum frame, steel 5-shot cylinder and steel-lined 1.875" barrel. It came from the factory with the Crimson Trace Laser Grips installed, unlike the two Charter magnums, which had their CT grips installed at the gun shop where I work.

So I expected the Ruger lasergrips to be at least close to zero. Wrong.

The first two shots I fired with the LCR laser were almost in the same hole, but several inches and high and a bit left. (First yellow target, two holes high and left.) So I checked the iron sights. Bam, bam, two holes on each side of the bull. (Same yellow target, holes at bull)

Nothing wrong with those iron sights. So I did the zero the easy way, aligning the zero with the iron sights, then firing a group of five. (Orange target.) Not bad. I'm not all that great at firing a double-action trigger, but this one is pretty good. Better than the average Smith & Wesson double-action .38 snubby, which heretofore has been the standard by which other .38 snubbies are measured.

There's a new snubby in town and it has a pretty good trigger, maybe a great one for somebody who actually knows how to shoot a DA snubby, and that ain't me.

I proved that by setting up a 11x17" little redman target at 21 feet and standing on my hind legs the way you're supposed to shoot a snubby. The five holes in the 8 and 9 rings are .38s from the DA snubby Ruger LCR.

That kinda ticked me off, shooting so lousy at Tueller Drill distance.

So I loaded up my S&W 14-3, which back before Smith got stupid and used model numbers to identify their pistols was known as the K-38 Target Masterpiece. Now which says excellence to you, Model 14-3 or K-38 Target Masterpiece? I rest my case.

Anyway, I loaded up the K-38 and fired a dozen double-action rounds or so at the little redman's head. That lovely Target Masterpiece has such a sweet, smooth double-action trigger that even I can shoot it well. Just because something's "new" don't necessarily mean it's improved.

Now I gotta find me an old Smith snubby that ain't "new and improved" and has a great trigger like my K-38.

I also spent a good part of my range time today zeroing the Bomar sight on my K-38. The last set of targets is the K-38 zeroed up at 50 feet, at left, and then a pair of cylinder loads shot at 100 feet, in the target at right.

Lordy, they really don't make 'em like this K-38 Target Masterpiece anymore. It makes an old fart like me look like I can really shoot, double-action or single-action.


Anonymous said...

nice shootin john. tho not really a fair accuracy comparo given the different barrel lengths.
still, your new match grade smith definitely sounds like a keeper.

netfotoj said...

The difference is mainly in the trigger, but the 6" barrel certainly helps the 14-3. But I can shoot snubbies pretty accurately in single-action, it's double-action triggers that separate the fair from the excellent. And that 14-3 has the very best double-action trigger I've ever used and I get to play with a lot of new and used DA triggers at the gun shop. Somebody slicked this one up that knew how to slick a trigger up right.