Thursday, March 11, 2010

Revolver or autoloader?

Round gun or bottom feeder? Six-shooter or self-loader?
Might as well ask "Blonde or brunette? or "Fun party boy or serious adult man?"
Heck if I know.
One thing that shows up is that interest in the action pistol sanctioning group ICORE- the International Confederation of Revolver Enthusiasts- is growing. So are the sales totals for Smith & Wesson and their ever-expanding line of wheelguns. It seems like they have a new model or two every month and other makers are hot on their heels with stuff goofy and good.
One concrete number I can cite is the participation in ICORE's Central States Regional match, the Wheelgunner's Revenge at the lovely Bend of the River Conservation Club in Niles, Michigan (near South Bend, IN). The 2009 version racked up an astounding total of 103 shooters. This, for a regional match costing more than the ten or fifteen bucks of a plain ol' club match and going a whole weekend.
That's up from about 78 the year before and registration will close sooner than later.
The WGR hits close to home since Your Correspondent works that one as staff, building and officiating.
For folks unfamiliar with ICORE, you can pretty much short-tell it by calling it USPSA with six-shot-neutral stages and accuracy-critical NRA D-1 "Tombstone" targets. In fact, the only problem USPSAers will have with the transistion will be the much higher necessity for hitting the central zones.
You need alphas and can survive with bravos, but ring up some charlies, and you're toast.
The scoring system is greatly simplified and more closely resembles IDPA's, especially in that you can tot up stage scores in your head while refilling moonclips. It's all time-based, and bravos cost a second while charlies cost two. Four charlies on a 24-round stage is eight seconds right there. Pretty drastic.
It so happens that a club yours truly just joined wants to get an ICORE program off the ground. It also so happened that YT is thought to be somewhat capable of staging "cardboard" matches.
As an aside, I call the various discipines that shoot primarily at cardboard silhouette-ish targets as fast as they can as the "cardboard" sports, and these mainly include IPSC, USPSA (not the same thing!), IDPA, and ICORE, and International Multigun and related outlaws. Saves time.
I will have to confess a bit of surprise at the level of response this proposed program has already elicited three months out from the inaugural match. I'm being assured I can expect to see at least 25 if not more shooters when the first buzzer goes off.
Given the hard times abroad in the land and clubs finding themselves looking at slipping attendance numbers in many places, along with thinning volunteer showups as gas and ammunition prices climb past the fun-curve happy line, that's pretty darn good.
Learning to be fast and consistent with speedloaders is a trick and a half, but that's why you're competing in the first place- to be challenged. Okay, dumping a cylinderful of empties without fail and then finding, manipulating, and discarding a speedloader puts a strain on the eye-hand-brain skills. Moonclips are a bit less stressful, but there's still an awful lot of things to do, and you have to do them pretty darn often.
At least you've got something to do if you're bored listening to your muzzle music.
A few short years ago, say, in the mid-Aughts, you could expect some chuckles if you unlimbered a six-shooter at a USPSA match and some strained indulgence doing the same at an IDPA match. Yeah, it's still sort of like that, but at least your tormentors are a little more curious than they were a couple years back. It's a retro thing, at heart, I believe.
Here comes the big metaphor analogy moment...
Autoloaders are like diesel locomotives and revolvers are like steam locomotives.
You see a diesel-powered train go by, it's cool and all, but it's a diesel. All wrapped up so efficiently, the guts and moving parts and naughty bits all behind panels and covers, as if it's embarrassed to be a machine of such complexity.
Put a great, black, roaring, smoke-bellowing Hudson on the point and thousands gather with jaws agape, watching spellbound as all that giant hardware goes flailing around like hell's own nunchuks amid belching and sizzling and panting unlike anything you'd see from a trim, tidy, and good-neighbor EMD.
Revolvers, I respectfully submit, are along the same lines as steam locomotives. The guts are mostly all hanging out there in the open. You can see things whirling and clacking just plain doing stuff, so unlike the tupperware's chilly, contained efficiency.
People like to watch all that mechanical stuff. They like the movement and spitting and labor-intensive manipulation.
(That metaphor works, too- it takes something like four or five times as much labor to get a ton-mile out of a steamer as it does out of a diesel-electric.)
And labor-intensive the sixgun is: at USPSA matches when Your Correspondent is competing with a revolver, I'm wont to go about describing the difference of my smoky old Webley Mk VI from that plastic .40 I was shooting last week in Limited:
On a USPSA course, the revolver is the one that's almost always empty.
So you've got to put in all kinds of labor keeping it hot and steaming, punching out empties and fishing up new ones to throw into the firebox's maw. Er, cylinder's.
A good revolver run is a thing to watch, fine motor skills in the midst of the running and gunning, yet, well, it's a bit of a snooze to sit behind, too.
But at least you get to see the naughty bits working.


  1. Autos are for those who just don't care much about shot placement. A revolver will make you a more accurate and consistent shooter, a auto just makes you sloppy...............

  2. Shot revolver for the first time in USPSA this weekend. Wow. It was so challenging.

    Accuracy was plenty fine - it was time that killed me. I'm going to have to get better with speedloaders or just pony up and get moonclips! Either way though, I had a lot of fun.

    I admit - there isn't anything quite like a double-action revolver trigger pull. It makes me think of a well engineered Swiss watch.

    Meanwhile, my Glock trigger pull reminds me of the "striker" on a pinball machine. Sproing!