April 2010

Tim J: 9mm Revolvers Aplenty

Several GT Readers share information about 9mm wheelguns, including models from Ruger and Taurus. Reader McKinnon wonders about his M&P9. And why no dings for heavy triggers?

Re "Firing Line," February 2010

Following up on the question from Tim Jarvis in the February 2010 issue, at least one other 9mm revolver is still around:

Ruger’s very nice single-action New Model Blackhawk Convertible is available (MSRP is $636, but some sellers offer new ones for under $500) in a version that can chamber 357 Magnum/38 Special rounds in one 6-round cylinder, and 9mm rounds in a second cylinder. Barrel lengths available are 4.62 inches and 6.5 inches. You can change cylinders quickly and easily without tools. I used to own one of these which, unfortunately, I sold when I needed the cash. It was the most accurate handgun I’ve ever fired. I managed one five-shot group at 25 feet that I can cover with a quarter. There’s another version with cylinders for 45 Long Colt and 45 ACP, with barrel lengths of 4.62 inches and 5.5 inches, also a six-shooter, at the same price.

Come to think of it, now that I’ve read that question and looked this info up, I’m suddenly feeling a strong inclination to buy another Blackhawk Convertible, maybe two, one in each chambering. Two revolvers that between them can use five different kinds of ammo would be nice to have handy for an unpredictable future.

Thanks for publishing Gun Tests—the technical information is useful and is always interesting, even

Ruger lists two Blackhawk Convertibles for 9mm, the BN-34XL (shown) and the BN-36XL.

when the guns being reviewed are ones I will probably never be in the market to buy. Semper Fi.

—Jim Finley
Captain, USMC, Ret’d

Tim Jarvis asked about a 9mm revolver. Well how about the great Ruger 38/357 Convertible? I have one, and for the record, do not use the 9mm cylinder when the 38/357 is so much better. —Al

Check out the Taurus Model 905. Also, Charter is planning to produce a "rimless revolver" line. It will allow rimless cartridges without the use of a moon clip. Apparently they have been busy figuring out how to incorporate a spring mechanism into the extractor.

—Matt July
Peru, Indiana

Taurus made a 9mm revolver, the Model 905; chambers five rounds, stainless-steel frame is S&W "J" size. Taurus has recently discontinued this revolver, but I’m sure Jarvis would be able to find one at an online auction.

—Bill Hesse
Edmond, Oklahoma

A few years ago, a friend of mine acquired a Ruger SP101 in 9mm. I see that is has since been discontinued. I have an excellent Taurus stainless ported Mod. 605 357 Mag. They still offer 9mm Models 90582 and 905SS2 in blue and stainless respectively. Just because it interested me, I converted a New Model Ruger Blackhawk with the gunsmith installation of a Phillips & Rogers, Inc. cylinder that readily accepts any mixture of 38 Spl., 357 Magnum, 9mm Luger, 9mm WinMag and 380 ACP cartridges. In order to be that flexible, it cannot headspace off the cartridge rim. Instead, it uses some spring-loaded balls in detents inside the chambers to grip the groove on the rimless cartridges. It is a real fun gun!

—Julio W. Seibel, Capt. USAF Ret’d
Miami, Florida

Regarding the lack of 9mm revolvers that Tim Jarvis wrote about, my 1993-era 357 Blackhawk came with a 9mm cylinder. No problem with rimless cases in those type of guns. By the way, can one shoot 38 Super (semi-rim) in a 38/357 revolver? I tried a fired case in my S&W 66 to see if it fit, but didn’t dare shoot one until I heard from the experts.

—Gerry Weinstein
New York City

The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute Technical Data Sheet of Unsafe Firearm-Ammunition Combinations doesn’t list the 38 Super as being incompatible with the 38 Special/357 Magnum revolver. But I’m not going to recommend you try it. Moreover, why? Various loadings of +P 38 Special and certainly 357 Magnum will outperform the Super. —tw

Re "Guns of the Year," December 2009

The December 2009 edition of Gun Tests features the S&W M&P #209001 9mm as "Best in Class" (page 22). On page 31, the S&W #209304 9mm is listed as a "2009 Don’t Buy." I own a S&W M&P #209204 in 9mm. Is it different from the models you tested or is it the same or similar to one of the tested guns?

—Scott McKinnon
Wilmington, North Carolina

The 209001 was the full-size M&P9, and the 209304 was the compact version of the gun. The 209304, tested in the February 2009 issue, had some problems: "Our concerns began when we saw our groups trending high and right during our 7-yard controlled press session. At 15 yards, we saw the groups near the edge of the target, 6 inches high, and 3 inches right. They also scattered over a spread of some 4 inches. This warranted a return to the Smith & Wesson’s factory to see if they could correct the problem. Two weeks later our gun arrived back to us, with a note that indicated the gun had received a new front sight, and that it now "met factory specifications." But the gun was still grouping over 4 inches at 15 yards, no matter what ammo we tried. I couldn’t find the 209204 unit on the S&W website, but an online search showed it to be similar to the 304. —tw

Re "Firing Line," March 2010

I just read the letter from Charles Sears on the chamber blowout problem on S&W M&P15-22. I purchased one of these in January and started to notice a change in the sound of random shots after the second clip. During the third clip, one round detonated and blew the side out of the brass. When I pried the empty casing out of the forcing cone, I saw a hole near the primer end and a piece of the extractor was laying on the floor. I returned the gun, damaged brass remains, and the extractor piece to my gun dealer. He said he would contact S&W. No word back yet. I’ll keep you posted on their reply or corrective action.

—Dan Spackman
Red Lion, Pennsylvania

We contacted S&W’s external PR agency last month with an offer for the company to respond to Sears’ letter. Nothing yet. —Todd Woodard

Re "Tactical-Style 22 LR Carbines: Ruger, S&W,

Legacy Duke It Out," February 2010

I note that in this test all three rifles had trigger pulls of 7 pounds or more. I may have missed it, but I did not see any comment about this. In my opinion such heavy triggers are unacceptable and should be criticized. You might also remark upon the crispness of the letoffs: a light, draggy trigger can be as bad as a heavy sharp one.

—Mark K. Benenson
New York City

Match-grade triggers on rimfire semiautos are rarely as light as those found on centerfire models. Even one of our in-house repeaters, a full-house Clark Custom Guns 10/22 built when Jim Senior was alive, comes in at about 4 pounds. But none of the carbines displayed triggers that felt unduly heavy or presented distractions such as grit or creep.

By the way, the people at Legacy Arms inform me that the Puma is now shipped with a polymer drum magazine that performs the way the metal ones were supposed to in the first place. I think if you go to the store, pick up each carbine and hold it, you’ll know which one is right for you.

—Roger Eckstine

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