A Nurse with a Gun

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Three Inch Wheelgun

It is rare that I find myself coveting another man's gun. The three inch Smith & Wesson revolver is one such handgun though. I have yet to find a used one, pinned and recessed, in the wild.

Marko, who owns the blued wheelgun pictured here has written extensively about the three inch S&W revolver. The three inch barrel is the perfect compromise between a revolver short enough for concealment, yet still possessing an ejector rod long enough for full ejection of the empty cartridges. The heavy barrel makes up for the weight differential between the same revolver with a four inch tapered barrel.


Perhaps I am being too persnickety in my search. A couple of years ago, I purchased a Smith & Wesson Model 65-5 Ladysmith for three hundred bucks. I shot it a bit, and ended up selling it to Peter to pass on to one of his students. It was a lucky find, in great condition, but the lack of a pinned barrel, the stainless steel, MIM action and the Ladysmith inscription turned me off. That was a mistake. I'm glad the student got a great gun at a fair price, but I sometimes wish I had kept that one. I have not seen another three inch Smith & Wesson revolver since.

I suppose there is a reason for that....... People who own three inch revolvers know shooting. They seem to be people who have settled on the wheelgun whether for reliability, simplicity or both. They then set about finding the best compromise between concealability and the potential problems inherent in using a wheelgun for self defense, such as a reload slowed by partially ejected brass. Through the process of elimination, they arrive at the three inch revolver, and when they find one, they buy it and keep it for life.

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33 Comments:

Blogger Sean said...

Funny I've been coveting the same gun since he showed it - someday I will be in a position to start hunting again for one.

8:44 AM  
Blogger Tam said...

I only part with 3" fixed-sight K-frames to... well... I don't actually.

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a 3 inch M 13. I shoot it well and as a bonus so does my wife. It's a keeper for sure

9:12 AM  
Blogger red said...

I keeping looking for a 3" revolver but no luck. It was between that and a 1911 at the last gun show.

9:16 AM  
Blogger Tam said...

By-the-by, you realize that the Model 65LS is the only way to get the shrouded ejector rod on a 3" HB RB FS K-frame without buying a Performance Center Model 13, right?

Any 65LS is a keeper, even one with *shudder* MIM.

9:22 AM  
Blogger Less said...

Are shrouded ejectors that important? Sure there is more mass up front, but there is also the chance of binding...

I've actually heard of some folks having 3 inch barrels put on Model 10's.

I'll see if I can't find that guy and take a few pictures - he shoots PPC with us using that particular gun for "Off-Duty" course of fire (requires a barrel less than 3")

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you're not too stuck on S&W, try the Ruger SP101 (3.06", but who's counting?)

I love mine. And my son is just as attached to his 3" Taurus 85.

Goatroper

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Harp1034 said...

I have a 60-7 LS with a 3" barrel. It is a .38SP. I have owned it for 16 years and I am saving it for my granddaughter

11:19 AM  
OpenID westofthewest said...

Sigh...the one that got away a 3" Model 64. It wasn't pinned and recessed but a fine shooter nonetheless. The round butt Pachmayr Compac grips were perfect for my hand.

Oh well I'm not a collector and I really like my 1911.

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's mine:

http://www.ffmmov.com/60-4.jpg

It's a 60-4, found it on Auction Arms. Got the grips on ebay.

It came with a flat, grooved target trigger that, oddly enough, seemed to improve my double-action shooting. This one is a .38, they make a .357 that's very similar. You have to be careful about the cylinder latch biting your thumb, but other than that it's just about perfect. No pins or recesses, though.

2:17 PM  
Blogger midnight rider said...

I just picked one up yesterday. Model 36-1 (J frame) .38 Special at the Valley Forge gun show. Just under $300. Spotty blueing worn off it doesn't look quite as nice as the one here or Tam's at the Arms Room but doesn't look bad, either. But has the original small wooden grips in good shape, feels good in the hand & all parts seem to move good. Wanted to get to the range today but life got in the way.

Saw many snubs, including a model-36 with Stag grips (alas way out of my budget) but no other 3 inch.

The show was PACKED. The event staff and dealers said they had never seen it like that, especially just days before Christmas.

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Steve said...

I have a nickel 3" M-13 that flat rocks (IIRC, Tam has seen it).

Stumbled upon an unfired in the box 3" M-66, too. It is no longer unfired :-)

I'm a 1911 guy through and through, but I wouldn't think twice about carrying that M-13.

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Homer said...

Now if we could get the holster wizards to make leather for 3" revolvers that's not a custom order....

Yeah, I know some outfits make a few (very few, it seems) but it appears in most styles you have a choice between 2.5 and 4.

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Got a near-mint 3-inch S&W 13-4 about 6 months ago for $400.00.

It is a tack driver.

Of course, it has no "ILS."

At 25 feet, it puts .38 Special Silvertips in a space the size of a cigarette pack as fast as I can pull the trigger.

And it has a SWEET trigger pull.

I put ebony grips on it, and it looks hot!

Awesome gun.

Find one and buy it ASAP.

5:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Got a near-mint 3-inch S&W 13-4 about 6 months ago for $400.00.

(Of course, it has no "ILS.")

It is a tack driver.

At 25 feet, it puts .38 Special Silvertips in a space the size of a cigarette pack as fast as I can pull the trigger.

And it has a SWEET trigger pull.

I put ebony grips on it, and it looks hot!

Awesome gun.

Find one and buy it ASAP.

5:47 PM  
Blogger Crucis said...

Mine is a 2.5" S&W M13. A Lew Horton special with bobbed hammer. It's my primary carry weapon aside from my S&W 442 in a pocket holster. My Icon is a pic of my M13.

Bought it at a gunshow for $400, a private sale.

5:49 PM  
Blogger Wbdrey said...

Smith has started making them new again, model 60 and 36. The new model 60 pro really catches my eye as well. My 649 I bought at time when my strenth was pretty well sapped. I had it Magnaported, engraved, fitted with Eagle faux ivory combat grips, and Wolff springs. It is indeed a sweet shooter. Granted it is a pricey piece now, but one hell of a shooter. I thouhgt I might even have some Bowen sights put on it.

6:14 PM  
Blogger Crucis said...

Check out DandDGunleather.com.
(http://www.danddgunleather.com/)

Dave Workman is a holster maker, former NRA director and editor of Gun Week. I order all my IWB holster from him (four currently with one on the way.) His usual turn-around is 3-4 weeks.

I carry my M13 in a copy of his T-Bar-two IWB holster.

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I once owned a S&W M13, with a 4" HB. Biggest mistake I ever made was selling it over two decades ago to make rent. I should have lived in a cardboard box on the street instead. The S&W M13 is probably the most underrated K-frame Smith ever made.

6:25 PM  
Blogger Tam said...

Bianchi makes their Pistol Pocket IWB rig for the 3" K/L frame.

"Are shrouded ejectors that important?"

They're mostly just cool points. In the old days, folks thought it would keep your ejector rod from getting bent if you gave someone a carbon-steel shampoo.

8:45 PM  
Blogger lee n. field said...

Buddy of mine has S&W 13-2, and I covet it. Alas, when years back it came to dickering a bit of suddenly acquired trade fodder for it, it turned out to have a sprung crane, and we couldn't reach agreement.

http://www.thehighroad.us/showthread.php?t=104213

It is so perfect. I may yet get it.

8:45 PM  
Anonymous perpster said...

"in great condition, but the lack of a pinned barrel, the stainless steel, MIM action and the Ladysmith inscription turned me off."
Xavier, I'd have to go to the safe to check, but IIRC my 65-5LS is not MIM (& doesn't have the ILS). I could be wrong on the MIM part though.

Homer, I know what you mean, but you can get an open ended holster and then barrel length won't matter.

Tam, you are absolutely correct about the 65LS being "the only way to get the shrouded ejector rod on a 3" HB RB FS K-frame without buying a Performance Center Model 13." That's why I'll NEVER part with mine, and I'm no Lady! ;-)

2:37 AM  
Blogger GeorgeH said...

I picked up a 3: Model 60 in .357 a few years ago with adjustable sights.
Unless you are in grizzly country, it's the ultimate 'mountain gun'.

7:51 AM  
Anonymous cranky said...

Not to start any fights, but Colt snubbies don't need that 3" barrel to reliably extract fired cases : ')

They don't make them any more, of course.

12:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Found a 3 inch Model 10-8 HB round butt a couple of weeks ago. Saw it on Friday, thought about it Saturday, drove up to the store before opening Sunday, such was my concern someone had bought it out from under me.

Whew, still there, and now mine for $300.

Matt
St Paul

2:27 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

You guys are killin' me!

4:22 PM  
Blogger Chaz said...

I've got mine - but I waited long enough to get it!
The little 3-inch K-frames really are just about the best carry revolver around. Now if they could just turn out a .44 special with lines that sleek and an envelope that compact.....

4:03 AM  
Blogger Brandon said...

I also had a 3" M65, although it wasn't a Lady Smith, and I made a mistake the day I sold it at a gun show. Of all the guns I've bought and traded away, it's one of the few I really wish I could have back.

9:18 PM  
Blogger Cossack in a Kilt said...

Yeah it's "just a .38" and not a mighty Smith and Wesson, but as Col. John D. Jeff Cooper used to say, "I've got mine" and it's a Colt Cobra 3" from the late 1960s (I think).

I'm sure it'd love to have a "bigger cousin" in a 3" 13, but the Cobra just flat out works. Good sights that are dead on, nice light alloy frame, six rounds of .38 Special goodness . . . and the trigger time on the 2" Cobra is directly transferrable.

Sigh.

Three inch service sixguns? Loves 'em, we do.

Did I mention the 2 3/4" Speed Six?

5:53 PM  
Blogger Less said...

"Are shrouded ejectors that important?"

They're mostly just cool points. In the old days, folks thought it would keep your ejector rod from getting bent if you gave someone a carbon-steel shampoo.


The dying art of buffaloing...

11:27 PM  
Blogger Spongecount Squarepants said...

I've had a 65LS for quite a while. It's the smoothest shooting gun I've ever used. Ten other guns have come and gone, but I won't be getting rid of the LadySmith. It is old enough not to have the lock. :)

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Eric Shelton said...

I hate to ask a stupid question, but what is "pinned and recessed"? Sorry, I'm an auto-loader kid... I ask because I've been considering a Ruger SP101 with a 3" bbl since this post (no ILS), but I don't know about pinning... Thanks!

8:52 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Eric,
Pinned & Recessed

There are no stupid questions.

6:35 PM  

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