My guns don't have names.
That said, yesterday, Kim DuToit posted a request of his readers to write a bit about The .357 I Couldn't Do Without.
Like I said; my guns don't have names. But, there is one which holds the title of Utterly, Absolutely and Completely Irreplaceable.
My Smith & Wesson Model 28-2, Highway Patrolman. It is a .357 Magnum six-shot, with a four inch barrel.
The Highway Patrolman....no; my Highway Patrolman, is the anchor of my battery of arms. It is the gun which knows not failure or alibi. It simply works, each time and every time the finger asks it to work.
That it does so with the utmost in accuracy and tightness of action which is nothing short of astonishing, is testament to the workmanship executed in Massachussetts well over forty years ago. That the action cycles with the smoothness of oiled glass is testament to several hours of careful, painstaking work on my part one bright afternoon, almost exactly thirty years ago.
Blued in the dull polish which is the hallmark of this model, my Highway Patrolman is fitted with a set of Pachmyer Gripper Professional neoprene grips which seem to have been custom made just for me. The Model 28 used to be the issue arm of the Texas Department of Public Safety, and of many other State's Highway Patrols and countless municipal P.D.s nationwide. Based on the timeless "N" series frame, it features a S&W's superb double or single action mechanism, a traditional tapered barrel, an ejector-rod shroud and the excellent S&W adjustable sights.
Being an older "dash two" one finds not only a barrel pinned into place in the frame, but the counterbored chambers which were the hallmark many pre-1980s Smith & Wessons. The "N" frame's heritage goes clear back to the .45 ACP revolver of 1917. The Highway Patrolman draws not only on that fine point of origin, but is itself a less expensively produced version of what many consider THE pinnacle of Smith & Wesson excellence; the .357 Registered Magnum, which later became the exsquisite Model 27.
When I take hold of my .357, it becomes an extension of myself, balanced beyond perfection and aligning to with the eye and to the target as naturally as the act of looking itself.
In my hands, this .357 Magnum has won a dozen or so trophies, as well as the trophy of a Texas Hill Country whitetail doe, felled with one clean shot to the heart at forty-two measured yards. And, under more benign conditions, this .357 has felled an average of 4 out of 6 bowling pins, when fired over sandbags on a solid bench.
Twenty-five rounds, .38 spl, 148gr hollowbase wadcutter. One second per shot, double action, range; seven yards.
In my hands, this large revolver has twice been instrumental in prevailing in the very circumstances for which it was manufactured. And thankfully, the mere threat which was conveyed from the dark cyclops of the this Model 28's muzzle sufficed to resolve the matter, without need for the giant to have spoken aloud.
The first instance occured in days of yore, when I bore the badge for a small 'burb near San Antonio. That the second of these instances required disarming my older, and sadly felonious brother, does not lessen my appreciation for the effect that the dark muzzle and six bright 145 gr. Silvertips effects on the subjects thereof.
And it is with this .357 Magnum, that I am working even to this day to increase my skills in the area of speed, accuracy and repeatablity. Though I practice the same with my .45 Colt Commander, I know that if it should come that the chips are well and truly down, and when the shooting is for real.
It will be then, that I pray that I shall again have in my hand, my Smith and Wesson .357 Highway Patrolman.
Surely, my Smith & Wesson Model 28, Highway Patrolman, is The .357 I Couldn't Do Without.