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Firearm of the Week #1.

Posted by Trik Toral, 22 December 2013 · 4,301 views

Alright, here we go with my new blog series. Note : This may not be weekly. I'll try, but no promises. 
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Manufacturer: Smith and Wesson
Registered Magnum
Caliber(s): .357 Magnum/ .38 Special
Action type: Swing out cylinder revolver, double action/single action
Capacity: 6 round cylinder
History: In 1934 bullet proof vests were starting to emerge and criminals would frequently use car doors as cover. At the time there was only one handgun round(Colts .38 Super) that could reliably penetrate either, however it was not in wide use. Meanwhile, Idaho hunter Elmer Keith was handloading .38 Special far above factory loads, developing fast and powerful rounds which later became the .357 Magnum. This devastating cartridge could easily penetrate 1930s car doors and bulletproof vests. It also creates large wound cavities, putting down a threat much faster than other contemporary cartridges. Because of this performance and the fact that a .357 gun can fire the less powerful but widely used .38 Special, it took off, becoming incredibly popular with police forces and private citizens. In 1935 Smith and Wesson collaborated with Elmer Keith and began manufacture of the first commercially available .357 revolver, known as the Registered Magnum. Each Registered Magnum was custom ordered, with a variety of hammers, barrel lengths, triggers, sights and stocks available. They were beautiful guns, inside and out. The internal parts were hand stoned and fitted to provide a tight lockup and flawless performance. The gun was polished, then blued, creating an almost mirror like finish and then fitted with checkered walnut stocks, creating the perfect combination of wood and steel. As proof of the premium quality of this gun, each one came with a letter of authenticity and your gun was "registered" with the company. Because the .357 operates at 105% higher pressures than .38 Special, a larger stronger frame was required than a normal .38 Special revolver and the first .357s were built on a .44 Special frame.  Demand for the Registered Magnum far outweighed supply and although it was extremely expensive for the time (each gun cost $1000 and the average salary for 1935 was $1350), S&W was backlogged for the 4 years they produced the Registered Magnum. Executives at S&W realized that having the only .357 on the market out of the reach of many people wasn't the best business plan and in 1939 made some changes. The Registered Magnum was renamed to the .357 Magnum (yes, the name of the gun was the name of the cartridge, quite silly) and modifications (mostly cosmetic) were made to hasten production while still providing a superb revolver firing a powerful but versatile cartridge. When S&W changed model names to model numbers, the .357 Magnum became the Model 27 which is still made by Smith and Wesson today.
Variants:  Model 28 Highway Patrolman. In 1954 the Model 27 was again cosmetically toned down. By removing the decorative topstrap checkering, polished blueing and hand fitted internals, S&W created the Model 28, a budget version of the 27. It was widely used and praised by police, finally a more affordable (about $782 in 2013 US dollars) yet powerful duty gun.
Date of manufacture: 1935-Present
Users : Private citizens and various US police forces including the Idaho State Police. US Border Patrol. Italian Special Intervention Group. Norwegian police. General George Patton of the US Army carried a 3 ½" Registered Magnum and called it his killing gun
What makes this gun unique: The first .357 magnum revolver.
My experiences: I own and have frequently shot a Model 28-2 with a 6" barrel. It was the first ever centerfire handgun I ever shot and I'm very attached to it as it was/is my fathers. He bought it at a pawnshop the year after the Idaho State Police stopped issuing them and the serial number proves it was made within 5 years of that, so there's the possibility it was a police issue gun. Really no way to confirm that though, but I like to imagine it was. While it is heavier than most .357s, I really don't have an issue carrying it for long periods of time (carried it for about 5-6 hours while hunting, maybe I would feel differently if I carried it daily). Because of its weight, shooting .38 Specials feel like shooting a .22 and I could shoot hot .357s all day, I've never shot a round in it that was uncomfortable in any way. The grip fits my hand very well, the balance of the longer barrel is perfect and I really have nothing bad to say about this gun. The single action trigger pull is very nice and the double action, while a bit heavy is still enjoyable.
I highly recommend this revolver to anyone.
Why you should own one: They are incredibly strong and durable, and can handle the hottest magnum loads. They are great guns for range use, home defense and even hunting. They have a well deserved reputation and legacy as a combat revolver. And some aren't too pricey, a used Model 28 goes for about $500-650, which is about $100 less than a 686, S&Ws most popular revolver currently.
(There is 1 single caveat about the Model 27/28 I will mention. Because they are built on a .44 frame with a .44 sized cylinder, when fired rapidly (like speed shooting) all the mass of that big cylinder slams against the locking lugs. Doing this frequently over a long period of time will wear these lugs down making your revolver not lock as tight as it should. This can lead to timing issues, where the cylinder doesn't line up with the barrel perfectly and can be dangerous to the shooter and the gun. My Model 28 is currently out of commission for this exact reason until I can find a gunsmith to tighten up the action and make it safer to shoot. It has recently developed this problem because I was not aware of the dangers of rapid firing. In a pinch I could use it and I feel fairly confident, but its not good for it and could lead to bad things.)
Pictures: My Model 28-2
In its holster with a speedloader 
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Right side 
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Left side with distinctive S&W cylinder latch
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Recessed cylinder so the rounds lay flat
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Full cylinder. "Six shotsMore than enough to kill anything that moves
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Close up of the forcing cone. As you can see, its much thicker than most others, which is one of the main reasons it can take such a beating from hot loads.
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Let me know what you think! Please comment, criticize, ask questions, etc.
Also, the amazing banner at the top was made by my awesome friend TurtleTux.

Awesome gun to start with, man. I heard if you shoot these wrong, they'll get ya. Or maybe that was .44... Anyways, what type of handle is that?

Looking forward to more reviews...


Awesome gun to start with, man. I heard if you shoot these wrong, they'll get ya. Or maybe that was .44... Anyways, what type of handle is that?

Thanks! Not sure what you mean by "they'll get ya"? Get ya in what way? To answer your question, my Model 28 has magna stocks(grips).

Looking forward to more reviews...

Good to hear. Would you rather there be more review/personal experience or more history? In this blog the history portion was about twice as long as the personal experience, but next time I could do more or less of either.

I'm a history nut, so the history length was just fine...I think you got a good formula here with this review...

I figure I'll go ahead and give some feedback before I nod off. To start, although it is a great gun with tons of pros, I would like to see some more cons. Even minor stuff that isn't really that big of a deal is nice to hear about just to get a better feel for the firearm. Granted there may not be more cons to it than what is listed, I don't have as much experience with this firearm so I'm not certain. Just a suggestion. Also it would be nice to see how it compares to other manufacturer's firearms i.e. The Colt Python. Other than that the article is great. It has enough information to get your point across, but you don't just ramble on. The personal experience section was my second favorite, right next to history. I like reading about someone who has actually used, maintained and owned a firearm rather than someone who just got a bunch of facts online. Keep it up man :)

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