This is a guest post from my friend Marcus Wynne. Marcus is an accomplished trainer and author who was once the lead firearms instructor for the Federal Air Marshals. He sent this report out to a firearms instructor email list I’m on. I thought a lot of you might find value in his observations, so I contacted Marcus to ask him if I could post it here. He generously agreed.
Marcus lives in chilly Minnesota. He has some rather unique physical limitations after a near life-ending battle with cancer and a stroke. He’s exploring pocket guns to carry in an outside coat pocket because clearing a heavy coat to get to his primary gun is difficult in the severe cold. He is also challenged by the fact that because of his stroke, his left hand and arm only have approximately half the strength he once had. Not only must he find a gun that he can conceal in a coat pocket, he also has to be able to shoot it with his weakened left hand.
I think his observations will be useful for many of you, especially if you have any physical limitations.
I did a lengthy range session with my 38+P version of the Ruger’s LCR today. Modifications to the gun include the Rogers Enhanced LCR grip (no longer made according to HolsterOps) and a Novak Tritium Front Sight (sharp edged, not rounded).
Goals of the testing were to assess subjectively the recoil, accuracy, and controllability of the rounds for my personal needs as a secondary back up gun, and eventually, one of a matched pair for primary carry in less permissive states and/or hot weather.
My metrics for that was to gauge how well I was able to control the weapon with two hands in rapid strings of fire, and then to assess how well I was able to control the weapon in the worst case scenario, which is to engage with my left hand (diminishment of about 30-40% grip strength due to stroke related nerve damage) only. I weighted that slightly above the right hand (dominant) one-hand shooting as the loss of strength and fine control in the left is what I’m most concerned with.
I’m mostly concerned with my ability to control the weapon in rapid fire at close range, and to apply discrimination shots at close range, with both hands and then single — consistently. The penetration/expansion performance I rely on other peoples with skill and experience in those, specifically I refer to the Lucky Gunner ballistic gel tests, and the FBI tests.
I looked for rounds that performed well as to penetration and reasonable expansion, and then apply my metric for it to be controllable at speed in my hands in my revolver. I tested all of the following ammunition types:
Corbon 110gr DPX (all copper hollowpoint) +P
Federal 158gr +P LHP (Treasury/FBI load of the 80s/90s)
Training/soft carry ammo:
Fiocchi 148gr wadcutter (650-700 FPS)
Black Hills Match Wadcutter 148 gr (700fps)
Precision Delta 148gr match wadcutter (reloads) (FPS not on website)
All of the above have hollow based full wadcutter bullets
I shot initial targets at five yards, then seven, then backed out to 25 yards.
The Corbon performed well — sharp recoil, but easily managed with the Rogers grip as opposed to the stock Hogue grip, all in a three to five inch group for the first cylinder and by the second and third, in one hole about two inches across. Controllable (easily) with right hand, flung a few out of the nine ring with the left. I ran it out to 25 yards and buckled down and still kept everything within a 8″ x 11″ target (with both hands).
I had a previous bad experience with the 158gr +P load. The last time I shot the LCR, Three out of every five rounds fired ended up being pulled from the case because of the heavy recoil. I now attribute that to my inability to obtain a full two handed grip on the revolver.
After replacing the factory Hogue with the Rogers grip, I had NO BACKOUT at all (I stopped every two rounds to check, and then shot a number of wheels at a fast Bill Drill type cadence) with the round, which restored my confidence in it significantly. I ran that round in an old Lightweight Colt Agent with an aftermarket Pachymer grip and a hammer shroud and never had any problems with it, so I’m glad I identified my problem with the grip.
That round was as I expected, accurate in my hands with no issues keeping it in a three to five inch group at speed at five to seven yards. I started flinging sharply up and to the left out at 25 yards. I was still on the 25 yard target but outside the scoring ring, unlike the DPX, which stayed within the scoring rings at all distances.
WINNER for a fighting load was the Corbon DPX in terms of control with both hands, including a very weak off hand at close range, and excellent penetration and expansion according to the Lucky Gunner gel tests duplicating the FBI protocols. I ran Corbon a lot in the ’80s and ’90s, in my High Power, my Smith 469, and Sig 220. Even ran (gasp) Glaser Safety Slugs (the deeper penetrating LE Only Grey rounds) in my Colt Agent for awhile. These new rounds live up to the Corbon rep though Peter Pi has sold it to someone else…still making good ammo as far as I can see.
Solid second place to the venerable FBI load. I’d run that except I found that I was adding about six to eight inches of slop in placement out at 25. (I know, I’m anal retentive, and that 25 is a long way with any pistol especially a snub, but remember I’m not happy with my carry pistol/ammo combo till I can hit people at 100 yards with it…I doubt I’ll do that with this snub…but I intend to give it a shot off the bench when it gets warmer, LOL). At close range, no worries, though it’s noticeable harder to control with the weak hand only.
I shot the Black Hills, then the Fiocchi, and then the Precision Delta reloads. Black Hills is expensive as hell — over $30 a box of 50. Fiocchi is $18-$19 a box of 50. The Precision Delta reloads are $62 for 250 rounds and that includes shipping. So about $12 a box of 50.
Fiocchi is most accurate in my gun, followed by Black Hills and pretty much tied for second place with Precision Delta. The Fiocchi is significantly and noticeably softer, I’d guess it’s probably in the 500-600 FPS range, while the Black Hills is noticeably sharper but still, it’s a wadcutter, and subjectively about the same recoil as the Precision Delta, and just about equally accurate. This is all standing free hand, so any real precision testing should take place from a bench, but I was, today, more concerned on a fast test to determine carry and practice ammo.
The winner, hands down, in terms of value and quality, is the Precision Delta reloads. I order Fiocchi and Black Hills online and so must pay shipping on top of the cost of the ammo. I can’t justify the difference in cost between the Black Hills and the Precision Delta except perhaps as a carry option (see below) and then I’d like to try the Precision Delta new manufacture wadcutter which is identical to the remanufactured except with new brass.
So my choices for a carry load are the Corbon PDX 110gr +P, and for training ammo Precision Delta, and for soft carry Precision Delta/Black Hills.
Implications for carriage:
Right now in the bitter Minnesota winter, I run my revolver in my off hand pocket, my primary gun strong side inside the waistband about 4 o’clock. I run a knife left of center, and another in my strong side pocket. So for engagement at very close range, I can deploy the snub with my (disabled) weak hand shooting through the coat or else getting it out, and deploying it at bad breath range to enable me to break contact and/or get to my primary and/or shift to my strong hand and get both hands on the gun. I anticipate when running two snubs one in AIWB or strong side IWB, and the off hand with a pocket holster or an ankle rig.
For ammo, I’m looking at running a soft recoil/easy to manage wadcutter in the gun available to the left hand (coat pocket or ankle, or pocket when running two) because my worst case is running that gun one handed in a disabled hand. The strong side gun or primary revolver I’ll stoke with the Corbon. I actually could and did run the Corbon well enough at speed at five to seven yards (five shots in a six inch circle, would have been better if I’d worked it harder) where I could with some more practice run the hotter ammo alone. In the speedloader I run the Corbon PDX and the bullet profile makes for very fast and positive reloads using the Five Star Speed Loaders.
That’s it, dudes. Entirely subjective, YMMV, but I’m satisfied enough to run with this combo on the street. I will be doing more precision oriented accuracy shooting including some snub work (standing) at 25-50, and then some bench/prone work at 100 and let you know how this ammo combo works out at distance.
The Rogers grip I was concerned about shooting hotter loads with — complete non-issue. In fact, I shoot that revolver dramatically better with that grip than the stock or the Hogue Tamer Monogrip. I contacted HolsterOps to order another one in anticipation of getting another LCR, but I was told they no longer make them and were out of stock.
Several people have mentioned the “choking or short stroking” the trigger with the Ruger. I’ve induced that deliberately in dry fire to see what it felt like. I had ZERO occurrences of that shooting at no less than a rapid cadence (generally five shots in 3.5 – 4.0 seconds) with any of the ammo.
I like the Novak front sight, though the sharp edges do get caught in pockets. Since the sight picture is identical to the Big Dot (put the big dot in the trough) I’m not getting any traction out of the sharp edges that I thought I might (though it did help out at the 25 being able to see the sharp edges and keep equal light there) and for CQB pistols I like a sharp edge or two in case the pistol becomes a club/impact/raking weapon. I’ll probably put the rounded Big Dot on my second LCR since that will be a primary ankle/pocket gun, and run my current one in a holster.
Check out Marcus’ website here. He posts some very astute observations. All of his books are available on Amazon or through his site. I’m about halfway through his latest book WYLDE and am really enjoying it.
Some of the above links (from Amazon.com) are affiliate links. If you purchase these items, I get a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.