Friday, May 21, 2010

Sexy .44 Special with pretty wood grips almost upsets Nightguard plans

My plans to save up for a Smith & Wesson Nightguard revolver almost jumped the tracks this week. My job at the gunshop where I work is to take photos of new and used guns and list them in auctions on gunbroker and what should I find waiting on me but a S&W 296 AirLite Ti Centennial .44 Special with a beautiful set of wood grips.

I'm a sucker for .44 Specials and nice wood grips and this one has both of those fine qualities. But thankfully I have already experienced the laws of physics in motion with another S&W AirLite Titanium/Scandium alloy .44 Special revolver, the S&W 396 Mountain Lite, at bottom in the second photo which I stole from John Taffin's article on .44 Specials in Gun Digest.
Two S&W .44 Specials that
 command high collector prices now are the five-shot 696 and the 
Mountain Lite.

I got a chance to test-fire a S&W 396 I found in a gun shop in Wagram, NC, and after 15 rounds I understood why one gun writer said it should have been called the "Mountain Bite."

I test-fired it with .44 Specials of 200 grains or less as it says right on the barrel and decided against that purchase. I fired it right-handed and left-handed and either way, she bites.

So the temptation to grab the S&W 296 was one I managed to resist. Yes it's light as a feather and great to carry. But IMHO it's too light for .44 Specials of any more potency than Cowboy loads and I just don't want a carry gun I can't also enjoy shooting regularly.

I believe Tamara has mentioned on her blog that a S&W 296 lives in her purse, but since she also carries a full-size 1911 IWB, she's obviously more man than I am when it comes to both carrying and shooting pistols. 

I've only got one "carry a lot, shoot a little" pistol, my Kel-Tec PF-9 9mm and that's enough. I do enjoy shooting the PF-9 but with hot loads it is a bit snappy, plus Kel-Tec's small pistols are not built to be range guns. I've heard some complaints that after 200+ rounds they start falling apart, but that is not the case with the two I've owned, PF-9 and P-11, both of which have managed 200+ just fine.

Anyway, the plan for my first Nightguard goes forward. They are light, but not too light, with steel barrels and cylinders to go with the alloy frame and from all reviews I've read, they're also eminently shootable.

Now if I could just sell my S&W 469 "Mini" 9mm and Dan Wesson .22LR Revolver to finance the purchase of a Nightguard, whatever the model I decide upon. Anybody who wants to help me out with those sales would be appreciated.

And thanks also to all who have voted thus far in the poll at top left on which Nightguard model I should choose. There's only been one vote thus far for the S&W 396 Nightguard .44 Special and that vote was mine. It also just happens to be the only model in the poll that we actually have or have had in stock at the gun shop where I work, so that may be what I buy, not being terribly long on patience when it comes to waiting for a gun on special order. The jury is still out.

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