From having never shot a revolver until just a few months ago to putting 400 rounds through my Model 66 Combat Magnum® leading up to this article, it’s been an interesting ride. I’m not too proud to admit that the “learning curve,” or in my case the “accuracy curve,” took longer than I expected. On this journey, I’ve made sure to bring my Model 66 to every range trip since I’ve had it, so it’s gotten some significant time on the range. While I have plenty of improvements to make and much more to learn, I started feeling more confident in my abilities around the 200-round mark.
Watching videos online and handling a few revolvers at my local gun store helped me pass the time and prepare as I waited for my revolver to arrive. However, there proved to be nothing like actually getting my hands on my own revolver and taking it to the range.
Dry-Fire & Live-Fire
After the shock wore off from how poorly I shot double-action for the first time, I knew I had to dry-fire until the sun came up. I ordered some A-ZOOM® Snap Caps and set time aside each day to familiarize myself with that long trigger pull. Even though you’re using inert snap caps, it’s always best to dry-fire in a safe direction. Once I dry-fired for about a week, I went back to the range and found my shot groups were already tightening up.
Looking back at my first couple of range trips with the Model 66, I was alternating between single and double-action quite a bit. In an effort to try to acquaint myself with the revolver, I believe now that I was actually confusing my muscle memory; creating a disservice to both my single-action and double-action shooting. I decided I would need to focus on one or the other each range trip and it drastically helped. Most range trips were spent working on double-action, where I saw I needed the most improvement. Other days, I had a ton of fun shooting single-action, but for my carry style, double is more realistic.
Your Grip Matters
A revolver requires a different type of grip and hand placement than your typical semi-auto handgun. This was something I had to not only do a bit of research on, but also quickly realized what grip I most prefer on the range. Some tuck their thumbs, others wrap their thumbs and then people like me, use a hybrid grip with their thumbs stacked (but placed lower). Regardless of which you decide to go with, the most important thing is to ensure you stay clear of the cylinder gap (e.g., the space between the front of the cylinder and the forcing cone of the barrel) to avoid potential injury. Coming from semi-auto handguns, I still find it most comfortable and natural to stack my thumbs, but simply place them lower and almost out to the side a bit. I found that dry firing with the various grip styles and then testing them at the range really helped me to determine my favorite.
Since the Model 66 is chambered in .357 Magnum/.38 Special, I took my time and experimented with both. Luckily, the .38 Special was readily available near me and somewhat affordable compared to .357 Magnum. So, I wound up shooting it more due to the availability, but I also realized that I would have anyways, because of the reduced recoil compared to .357 Magnum. Since I’m not yet carrying this revolver and using it more so to broaden my firearm knowledge, I’m less worried about stopping power and more on learning the fundamentals. The .38 Special was able to help me do just that.
As much as I love my semi-auto pistols, I’m glad to have had the opportunity to dive head-first into wheelguns, especially with the Model 66. If you’re a firearms enthusiast, a classic revolver has a well-deserved place in your collection. They are fun to shoot, reliable, and inherently safe. Even if they are not as appealing to you as the new M&P®9 M2.0® Metal may be, I suggest you give these metal frame guns a go… you may be surprised!
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