May 2014

Old-School Praise for 38 Revos

Readers Sellers, Brewer, and Miller think there were better Colts out there to compare to the S&W M10. And Reader Penrod has some “heated” advice for putting on a balky rubber grip sleeve.

Re “Old-School 38s — S&W
M10 And Colt Police Positive
Special,” April 2014

Having something of a sentimental attachment to D-frame Colts, I was tickled to see the Police Positive Special rated in the April 2014 issue of Gun Tests. I was sorry to see that your testers preferred the S&W Model 10, but I’ll settle for the “B” rating.

Your tests compared a 1933 model [Second Issue] Colt with a 1969 model S&W. The Police Positive Special might have been a better match for the Model 10 if they had been of the same vintage.

In particular, my 1962 [Third Issue] PPS has a serrated front ramp sight a full 1⁄8-inch wide, seemingly identical that of the Model 10 that you tested. The rear sight groove is wide enough to show daylight on either side of the front sight, giving a sight picture as good as any other fixed-sighted revolver. Front sight acquisition can be assisted with a spot of brightly colored paint. (Collectors need have no fears. The paint can easily be removed if desired, and in any case is a “period” modification which was popular when these guns were widely carried.)

I agree that the factory grips of the PPS leave something to be desired, at least for people with average-to-large size hands. Note that Pachmayr still sells Presentation grips for 1947-1972 Colt D-frames, quite remarkable considering that these guns haven’t been produced for more than 40 years. I have Presentation grips on my PPS and find them very satisfactory.

Colt shortened the grip frame in Fourth Issue D-frames, made from 1972 to sometime in the ‘90s. A variety of aftermarket grips are available for these guns. In fact, back in the ‘80s my new Detective Special came from the factory with both walnut and Pachmayr Compac grips bearing the Colt logo.

As I see it, the major virtues of the Police Positive Special are its light weight and light, smooth, double-action trigger pull. I don’t have any numbers, but, subjectively, the DA trigger pull of my PPS is as good as that of the Ruger LCR, which is to say, much better than most revolvers. I view the PPS as a good defensive weapon choice for individuals with limited hand strength who may not be able to rack the slide of an automatic or manage the heavy DA trigger pull of most current-production revolvers.

And, finally, one last comment on the use of +P ammunition in the PPS. Several reputable sources (Jerry Kuhnhausen’s Colt Shop Manual to name one) indicate that it is safe to fire +P ammunition in steel D-frames. Firing a lot of +P will result in premature wear, so the best advice is to limit +P to defensive and familiarization use, while practicing with standard-velocity ammunition.
Thanks for putting out a great magazine.
— John Sellers
Spring Valley, Ohio

John: Thank you for taking the time to write. The PPS was a lot of fun to test. — Robert Sadowski

Although I enjoyed your review of the S&W Model 10 vs. the Colt Police Positive Special, the two guns are, in my humble opinion, not comparable. A more equal comparison would be made by testing the S&W Model 10 to the Colt Army Special or Official Police models. Those two Colts and the Model 10 Smith are more in line frame wise, weight wise, and performance wise. I can see why the Smith beat out the Colt. I am suggesting a much closer vote had the appropriate models been compared. Thanks for hearing me out, as I enjoy your magazine.
— Warren Brewer

In the April 2014 edition, you compared the Colt Police Positive Special to the Smith & Wesson Model 10 38 Special. In the article, you stated the Model 10 you tested was manufactured in 1969 and 1970; you also stated it had the hammer-blocking bar for safety. I have a Model 10-5 with 2-inch barrel I bought in 1973, serial number D668xxx, and this does not have the bar. It has the firing pin in the hammer. Maybe you meant the modern versions have the blocking bar, but the article implied it was one you where testing.

Anyway, I loved the article and the testing on two old revolvers that we old timers argued endlessly on which was best. — Ronnie Miller

Ronnie: Sorry if that was unclear. On the gun I tested, the firing pin was in the hammer.
— Robert Sadowski
Re “Firearms Accessory
Quick Hits,” April 2014

I just finished reading the April issue, and it was an excellent issue. I noticed that you all had trouble with a slip-on handgun grip that wasn’t very slip on. I have a similar product on my Glock 21, and I used a hair dryer to get the grip sleeve to expand and then slipped it on the Glock. Worked great. I don’t know if the Limbsaver type that you wrote about is the same material as the one by Hogue that I used, but it may be worth a second look. Another tip might be to separate the slide from the frame on the Glock. Place the lower half of the Glock in the freezer for a while to get it to contract. Use the hair dryer to get the Limbsaver Handgun Grip to swell, and then take the Glock lower out of the freezer and quickly slip the grip on.

Thanks for an awesome magazine!
— Mike Penrod
Vowell’s Mill, Louisiana

Re “More Dangerous-Animal
Ammo: 45 Colt and 45 ACP
Loadings,” March 2014

I just got through reading this article. I want to address the issue of some shooters who are not willing or able to invest in magnum revolvers. The firearms you use in your testing are not exactly cheap in price.

The Ruger Vaquero Montado usually runs more than a standard Ruger Blackhawk because it’s a special-edition handgun. The 45 Colt built on the larger Blackhawk frames and not the new smaller ones can handle the heavier 45 Colt loads. I would purchase one of those before buying the Montado, which was designed for cowboy-action shooters.

Another choice of handgun calibers would be the 40 S&W or the 10mm. Being that I live in Alaska, I see these two calibers carried more by people out in the field than the 45 ACP. Being that there is no shortage of quality firearms being made in these two calibers, they make for a wise choice for people who don’t like revolvers. Sometimes I carry my Glock Model 22 in 40 S&W depending on where I’m going in the outdoors.

However, hands down, the 10mm seems to be the most carried round for a semi-auto pistol here in Alaska. I carry a Glock Model 20SF when I’m not carrying a magnum revolver in the outdoors. Buffalo Bore, Cor-Bon and Double Tap all make great ammo for these two cartridges, along with a few locals who are licensed to make ammunition. I can’t think of their names, but I will try and find them for you, and I know one of them makes a standard-pressure 45 Colt load that shoots a 260-grain hard-cast wide flat-point load that is safe in the Ruger Vaquero Montado, because that is what I shoot in mine. I hope this helps a little and thanks for an awesome magazine. — Tony Azbill via Facebook

Yes, based on previous testing, the 10mm would make a fine self-defense choice for country bears or urban bears. — Bob Campbell

Re “Tuning Your Glock: How to
Turn A Good Gun into a Great
One,” April 2014

I’ve subscribed for 26 years (before Todd started wearing ball caps). In your recent article on tuning a Glock 17 through aftermarket parts, you are suggesting over $600 in “improvements” to a $500 gun. Based on your article, I can’t see the value of this.

In California, threaded barrels are banned, so we’d be limited to the Wilson, which was outshot by the Glock factory barrel. If we were able to use the Storm Lake barrel, you claimed the SL was most accurate, but your data show that the Glock barrel was only 0.1 inch behind on overall average and bested the SL in two of the three ammo choices. (Statistically, the third ammo result skews the results of the other two and should be discarded). Regardless, the difference is inconsequential for this duty pistol at 15 yards. The major advantage claimed for the SL barrel then is its ability to mount a suppressor, and which, you note, blocked the use of both standard and new sights.

Regarding trigger replacement, I am a Glock-certified armorer. The trigger replacement is a 15-minute job—I guess that’s also “under an hour.” The Glock warranty states, in part, “The warranty will be void if any of the following occur: (2) Your Glock pistol or any of its parts are altered or modified from their original state. Installation of aftermarket parts is not prohibited, but if the weapon goes to Glock for warranty work, they will remove all of the non-standard parts and install Glock parts. You may not receive the aftermarket parts back.

Glock trigger-mating surfaces, like all triggers, need to wear into each other, leveling and improving the trigger pull over a short time. I have Glock 17’s from Gen1 (1988) and Gen 2 (1989), and you can achieve this result by either hand-polishing internals (prohibited by Glock), spending a bunch of cash on a new trigger, or shooting more ammo (recommended).

Your data on aftermarket sights are inconclusive. You state your original groups were measured at 15 yards (Range Data footnotes for barrel and trigger tests), then you state that with the Meprolights, “We shaved just over a full inch off our average group size at 10 yards….” You cut the distance by one-third and got tighter groups? That’s not the sights. (And, of course, you can’t use sights on your preferred barrel fitted with a suppressor.)

Based on your data and analysis, I think you should tell your readers that the best aftermarket improvement to a Glock pistol is ammunition. The $600 cost of these accessories will allow installation of enough ammo to improve anyone’s shooting with the Glock.

Oh, on the RIA/ATI shoot out, your comments on the DM Bullard Sharkskin holster provided a chuckle. You indicate that the holster will last a lifetime, because sharks live a long time. The one in the holster didn’t.
— John Rice Elk Grove, California

John, thanks for the comments. I appreciate your longtime interest in the magazine.

Austin Miller’s write up wasn’t necessarily additive. Could you do all of the upgrades? Yes. But in our experience, people don’t like something specific about their Glocks, and they’d like to change that aspect. Reader mail from Glock owners have highlighted the major areas of dissatisfaction: the inability to shoot less-expensive lead bullets in the factory barrel, the trigger, and the standard sights (non tritium).
So, based on our findings, will the Glock shooter who wants lead-bullet capability suffer reduced accuracy if he changes barrels? (No.) Does installing the barrel require the services of a Glock armorer? (No.) Does he have to buy a new Glock to shoot a suppressor? (No, the Storm Lake barrel change will do it, with some reservations.) Does he have to buy a match barrel to get better-than-factory accuracy? (No.) And so on with the trigger and the sights.

Austin prefers 1911s, so I asked him what changes he would make if the Glocks were his. He’d change the trigger. But the owner himself likes all of the upgrades. After reading your letter, Glock owners in the readership can decide for themselves what, if any, changes they want to invest in. — Todd Woodard