Wheelgunner:
August 2019

Wheelgun Wednesday Recapped
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Simply by happenstance, Smith & Wesson revolvers made three cameos in this month’s newsletters. From the massive 460XVR to the classic Model 12, and even a celebrity Registered Magnum, catch up on what you may have missed from August 2019 Wheelgun Wednesday.

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Smith & Wesson Model 460XVR

There’s no doubt Americans like things big — really big. We like big trucks with big tires and big motors. Big boats, big homes, big farms — you name it and we like it big. And we have big appetites, “Give me a number four and super-size it!” It’s a good thing they don’t offer mega-size or we’d order it. Well, if big is better then biggest is surely best. So if you’re in that category, you’ll definitely like the Smith & Wesson Model 460XVR.

That XVR stands for “X-Treme Velocity Revolver.” This is a large revolver tipping the scales at 77.8 oz., and that’s unloaded before mounting any optics. We’re talking almost 5 lbs. of power here. Yes, this 5-shooter is a serious hunting handgun for big game pursuits. If you’re looking for a conceal-and-carry rig, you’d best move along now.

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Rifle-Caliber Ruger Blackhawk

About a month ago I found something on Gary Reeder’s forum. Gary is a well-known custom gunsmith offering all kinds of exotic cartridges as well as other custom work. A sporterized M1 Carbine with a Mannlicher stock showed up for sale. It appeared I was the first one to see it and I immediately called Gary and told him I wanted the .30 Carbine. “Which one?” he asked. I had been in such a hurry I didn’t even look at the whole posting, and he told me there was another .30 Carbine there — a like-new in the box Ruger .30 Carbine Blackhawk. I didn’t hesitate. I didn’t go back and look. I simply told him I would take both of them. I was not about to miss out.

The .30 Carbine cartridge itself was a product of World War II. It was chambered in a lightweight semi-automatic rifle and designed to be used by support troops mainly to replace the .45 Government Model which many found hard to control and shoot accurately. While gun companies had tried in the 1950s to build .30 Carbine pistols — Smith & Wesson built at least one prototype .30 Carbine double-action sixgun — it remained for Bill Ruger to bring out the first successful .30 Carbine sixgun.

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Smith & Wesson Model 12

I’ve always been enamored with the Model 12. If you’re not up to speed, it’s a K-Frame Smith & Wesson with an aluminum alloy frame weighing about 18 oz. in the 2″ version. Early guns were made for the Airforce and even had aluminum cylinders, but it was soon found they just didn’t hold up. Introduced to the commercial market around 1953, the same gun with aluminum cylinder suffered from the same ills — go figure — so the aluminum cylinder got tossed for a steel one. Problem solved. From then until about 1986 the Model 12 (in four “generations”) remained in the S&W catalog in blue or nickel. I’m blessed with one of each flavor thanks to me talking Tiger McKee out of his nickel model.

When I was a new cop, I stumbled onto a blued police trade-in Model 12 with a 4″ barrel from, of all places, the Hong Kong police department. It even had a lanyard loop. It was just an old cop gun in those days and I think I paid something like $125 for it. It was actually minty inside with little sign of being fired, just carried a lot. While I loved J-Frames and D-Frame Colts — and still do — the K-Frame sized Model 12 simply handles better. Being a “full-sized” K-Frame, the bigger grip, better sights and longer/smoother action make it much easier to handle and shoot accurately.

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Sterling Hayden's Registered Magnum

Sterling Hayden, aka Lt. John Hamilton, was a leading-man who made over 50 movies in the course of his storied career. There were highly memorable roles in such films as “The Killing,” “Dr. Strangelove” and “The Godfather.” He was indeed an American original who led a life as colorful and daring as any.

When WWII broke out, the upcoming star abandoned his lucrative Hollywood contract to fight the Axis. He enlisted in the Marines, was eventually commissioned as an officer and assigned to the OSS. Hayden’s personal sidearm of choice was the relatively new Smith & Wesson .357 Registered Magnum, a gift from his uncle before his deployment. According to Hayden, that uncle was also a part-time firearms instructor for the New York State Police.

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More Wheelguns

Read August 2019 Wednesday Wheelgun features from GUNS Magazine and subscribe to receive revolver-related content, including editorial, videos and news, delivered to your inbox every Wednesday.

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