Handgun Radio 116 - Modifying Your Revolver For Competition

Hello and welcome to Handgun Radio! I’m your host Ryan Michad from the wild woods of Central Maine, and this is your home for all the news, information and discussion in the handgunning world.This week, I’m joined by Matt Hoffman to discuss the internal and external modifications that you can do yourself or have done by a gunsmith to tailor your wheelgun for competition shooting!

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Week in Review:

Ryan: - Got the chance to check out a Detonics Pocket 9 today. A Family friend said he had a 9mm but didn’t know what it was. Really neat pistol! Pictures and video up on the Handgun Radio Facebook.

Matt:  Its been busy few months. We have been getting our Icore matches going again and shot a few matches big matches. Picked up a couple of Smiths, a 617 full target and 21 Thunder Ranch Special new in box. The new in box part will not last long though.

Main Topic: Modifying your Revolver for Competition

The competition world is generally dominated by autoloading pistols these days. The ease of reloading the autoloader with a magazine filled with cartridges makes it a good stepping stone for those wanting to get into competition shooting. However, the revolver still has its place in competition. The use of moonclips, speedloaders and the 7 and 8 shot guns have brought the revolvers almost even with some people shooting autoloaders. The extra challenge and skill needed to run a wheelgun in competition can be fun and exciting for people who may have grown a bit bored with standard competition and want to diversify their activities, or with people like me and Matt who just love tricked out, cool looking revolvers. Matt has been shooting competition with wheelguns for quite some time now, and we have discussed what gear you would want for competition in previous episodes; but we never really discussed how you might modify your revolver for competition. I thought it would be a good discussion to talk about what modifications you would make both internally and externally to your revolver in order to get it competition ready.

I’ve been exploring this topic for about 3 years now. I’m getting closer to figuring it now

Truth be told, you can go to the safe and pull out that old model 10 or 686 of your grandpa owned and with a few accessories shoot an idpa match. Most people will probably get more enjoyment with a few mods though.

 It's probably better to break it up into some different categories depending on what you intend to do. Most all of them are applicable to later mods.

 We will start off with the basic smooth and tune. I recommend this for most any revolver competition or not. It consists of polishing the rebound block, double action sear and trigger. Most smiths will get the DA pull to about 9-9.5lbs and smooth as silk. With a smooth action the often feel lighter than that.

  You might also consider chamfering the cylinder. A tool is used to put a bevel on the cylinder where your cartridges enter. Makes it like a funnel to guide the rounds in.

  Bobbing the hammer is another mod that could be a plus here. Lightens the hammer and if it's still a self defense gun will smooth the draw and maybe keep a gungho lawyer from saying you went SA.

   On the newer Smiths with the frame mounted firing pins I always check the length of the firing pin. Older guns had .495 length pin but the newer guns have .485 or shorter. I guess the 14lb+ pulls and short pins make them lawyer proof. I replace every short pin with an Apex Tactical firing pin. Longer pins are available from Power Custom and Cylinder and Slide as well.

  These mods are all fairly affordable, possibly user installed, easier to shoot but most importantly reliable with any quality ammo. Perfect for competition like IDPA but still can be used for self defense.

  The next level things get a bit more labor intensive and expensive.

 You can have your forcing cone trued up. This will make it completely flat and polishes the throat so every round leaves the cylinder into the rifling perfect and repeatable. Once that is done you may choose to recrown the barrel so every bullet leaves the exact same way. Somewhat pricey but may squeeze out the last bit of accuracy to raise four x count.

  These next mods are competition only. Here you will see the smooth actions but also much lower DA/SA pull weight. These guns will most likely be purpose built for a particular sport. You may see different barrels,optics and odd calibers.

  The action job will build on the smooth and tune and go beyond by polishing the inside of the frame to remove tooling marks,etc. The trigger and hammer will be shimmed so the pull is straight back with no loading. The trigger face is often polished and contoured. The hammers are bobbed and skeletonised or replaced with an apex hammer. This speeds up the hammer to aid in ignition with the lower pull weights.

  Speaking of pull weights, here you will see 4.5-6 lbs of da pull. No more off the shelf ammo. Deep set Federal primers are a must at these reduced weights. Some people actually crush them a bit.

  Titanium cylinders show here alot. The lower weight reduces the rotational mass to lower the pull and make an easier stop.

   Swapped barrels are pretty common. Lightened for speed and heavy bull for staying on target and accuracy. Ports and comps are common.

  Sights are more specialised often here too. Red dots, fiber optic and the large Aristocate sights with the large range are used alot.

SHOPS: Mojo Custom Guns www.mojocustomguns.com

               Paul Francis at BossHoss Revolver Works on Facebook

               Apex Tactical www.apextactical.com

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