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PPC Gun Of Yesteryear

PPC Gun Of Yesteryear

If you read the archived copies of this magazine from 30 years ago (www.americanhandgunner.com) you’ll see in both ads and articles that a staple of the day was the PPC gun. It was a revolver, usually a K-frame S&W firing .38 Special, with a 6″ stovepipe barrel, precision adjustable sight rib, and mandatory swe-e-et, light trigger pull. Their purpose: to hit a roughly 3″ by 2″ X-ring at 50 yards, 2-handed from various support positions. The fastest you’d fire — in PPC, anyway — was 12 shots in 25 seconds, later to be tightened to 20 seconds. The standard load was the mouse-fart 148-gr. midrange wadcutter.

As near as I can determine, the first such gun was built by Austin Behlert in New Jersey for NYPD gunfighting legend Jim Cirillo, who had already won numerous PPC championships before his first shootout, and credited his match experience somewhat for his survival. The Douglas custom barrels of the time may have been slightly more accurate than a factory K-38 barrel, but their main advantage was their added weight at the front held the gun steady against the DA trigger stroke. A jerk of the trigger finger that might have pulled a shot into the eight-ring or even the seven with a service revolver, would merely turn a 10-X into a plain 10, or at worst, a 9-point hit.

PPC guns found their way into other games. In 1979, the first shot fired at the first Bianchi Cup was a 125-gr. Federal +P out of a Ron Power Custom S&W PPC gun, drawn from an early plastic holster, a Bill Rogers PPC breakfront. I know that because I fired it. Over the years, John Pride won the Cup several times in a row with PPC guns. Brian Enos used one, built by Frank Glenn if memory serves, under a first generation Aimpoint to win the Cup early in the ’80s; that feat, along with contemporary Aimpoint wins in IPSC by Jerry Barnhart, laid the groundwork for the popularity which red-dot optic sights enjoy today.


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  1. Terry Kelly says:

    Between ye olde editor’s trip down memeory lane, and Br’er Mas Cop Talk on PPC guns, I feel realy old! I shot competition in the USAF in ’79 and ’80. It was a modified PPC. We used our duty S&W M-15′s with 4 inch barrels and Federal Match wadcutters. Course of fire started at the 50 yrd line and ended up at the 7 yard line firing from the hip. A 1,000 point course of fire, and you had to shoot at least 900 to be competitive. I always wanted to try one of those (to me) beautiful Ron Power PPC revolvers, but never had the chance. They were way above the financial reach of a young E-4/E-5 with three kids. I’d still love to own one, but haven’t seen one on the local market. I’m gonna keep looking. And Mas, you and Handgunner keep reminding me how old I am. Those are pretty good memories!

  2. boyce cureton says:

    Clint Smith’s article on his Ron Power custom PPC and Massad Ayoob’s article on the PPC gun were extremely enjoyable! But, the articles left me wondering if any of the 6 inch rib sights, like Bo-mar, and the bull barrels were still available for purchase anywhere. I’d greatly appreciate any info, links or sources that might be available. My sincere thanks!

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