A Nurse with a Gun

Friday, March 31, 2006

H&R 923 Range Report

A couple of days ago, I became the surprised new owner of a Harrington & Richardson Model 923 revolver. I have often seen these inexpensive wheelguns on pawn shop shelves, and have been intrigued, but not enough to pay the $50-100 price they usually sell for. When one came my way as a gift, I could not turn it down. The nickel H&R 923 is a .22LR caliber nine shot revolver. It has a serrated trigger that delivers a double action pull greater than eight pounds. There is some stacking at the end of the pull as well. The grips are swirly brown plastic, and the hammer is operated via a coil spring. The little H&R has a hammer mounted firing pin, and a safety to prevent a blow to the hammer from discharging the weapon. The gun has fixed sights, and they aren't bad.

To load the little H&R, one must pull out the cylinder rod, allowing the recessed cylinder to drop out one side. The cylinder can then be loaded and reinstalled. The cylinder rod can also be use to expel the spent brass with the ejector star after shooting. The forcing cone of the barrel is totally within the frame. The cylinder gap is .010. The barrel is two and a half inches long. Once loaded, the little H&R would carry nicely in a home made pocket holster. There is no need to be pretentious with this gun, Hell, make a pocket holster out of cardboard and duct tape! Who cares as long as it works?

I took the little shooter to the range with a bulk pack of Federal ammo and my K-22 as a standard of comparison. Now, I know the H&R will not whoop a K-22, but the K-22 will definitely show how well I can shoot on a specified day at a specified distance. Considering that the H&R is not a target gun, but a cheap defensive weapon of last resort, I ran index cards out to ten feet. I shot both revolvers double action. I used a flash sight picture with both revolvers. The K-22 had an apparent advantage due to it's longer sight radius. This advantage was neutralized by the flash sight picture shooting however. The longer sight radius took more time to attain a sight picture. The shorter radiused H&R was quicker to the sights. As expected though, the K-22 out shot the H&R, but again, the only purpose of the K-22 was to determine the extent of my own abilities, and the limitations of the cheaper gun.

I hesitate to say what I was expecting, for fear of appearing to be a gun snob. Suffice to say, I was hoping to just return home with all my fingers and blood volume and perhaps get nine shots on my index card. The H&R could reliably do that at defensive distances. After five cylinders of ammo, and as the barrel began to heat up, this became more difficult, but it was easily attainable with a cold clean barrel. The H&R stayed on the paper. I was half expecting the H&R to cut me as I shot it. It did not. It never failed to fire, even when dirty. It did not spit lead due to poor timing. I was expecting an unpleasant gun to shoot. The H&R is not exactly ergonomic, but it shoots easier than a KelTec P-32 or a Walther PPK. Of course, a lot of that has to do with the caliber.

And finally, caliber is what it boils down to here. Does a person trust .22LR for self defense? I put 216 rounds downrange with this little pistol today. The H&R 923 never failed to fire. It kept all the shots in a 5X9 area, even when hot. It had no damage after doing so, and only required a general cleaning. It's not pretty, but it works. Unlike a semi-automatic, a revolver is what cajuns call a "guaronteed gonna shoot" gun. This gun costs around $100 new, around $50 used. A person could carry two for under $100, perform New York reloads and have 18 rounds of ammo on tap. That's something to think about. The question is, do you trust the stopping power of .22 Long Rifle, and how much accuracy do you need? These are difficult questions to answer. For some people though, the little H&R might give that answer.

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Blogger Mr. Completely said...

Good post! I've been told that at point blank range a .22 LR, even from a short-barreled handgun, whould stop a bad guy pretty effectively, provided you hit them in the face. Not only the bullet, but the flash and the powder burns would usually put a bad guy down. Any one have any first hand experience on that?
.....Mr. C.

3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fortunately, I have never experienced this myself, but I don't think they make revolver cylinder like that anymore for safety reasons. That thingy is rimfire, so you never are suppose to want to drop the loaded cylinder at your feet, especially on concrete. That's nine little .22 LR barrels pointed straight back up at you.

6:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Splitting lead... One of the more, um, interesting pieces in the armory is a Spanish knock-off of a S&W .32. It's a 6-shot, 6" barrel, cheap nickel finish that's mostly worn off.

Well, I decided to see how it shot. Went to the range, one of the guys just happened to have a box of .32 S&W reloads that he *gave* me with the caveat that he'd like to try the little .32 out.

After two cylinders' worth of ammo, it was readily apparent that the timing stunk - almost as much lead was flying out of the sides of the gun as out of the barrel. I returned 38 of the 50 reloads and the gun now sits in the top shelf of one of the rifle safes as a "last ditch" gun...

9:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think I posted this before, but... My wife asked if her new Ruger 22/45 with the 4" brl could be used as a "defensive" weapon. Told her the first 2 or 3 shots would get the bad guy's attention. For the other 7 or 8 shots, she wouldn't need her glasses - go for the face. Only problem is that the safety is a very small, hard to move button.
Seem to remember.22s as the gun of choice for a few hits back East - and elsewhere. OldeForce

1:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Xavier: on another topic. My arthritis makes it almost impossible to work the action on my Kimber. I've taken to carrying a S&W 325PD in .45. Do you know of any .40 or .45s where the action is a bit more "friendly" to someone who might have arthritis or just weak hands? (The S&W actually isn't that hard to carry concealed. The moon clips are, however, a pain in the butt! If you need to use them, look for the tool that's available to pop out the spent shells. Which also helps when you're arthritic!)And I do know all the "secrets" for racking the slide on a 1911. OldeForce

2:02 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Two semi-autos that come to mind are the XD and the steel kahrs. For some reason, people with arthritic hands seem to do well with these two.

Other than that, no round out there matches a .357 magnum.......

6:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Xavier - Thanks. Usually carry a Centennial in .38 when I'm limited by what I'm wearing; otherwise, it's the 325PD (.45). Traded my Kimber to the dog trainer/minder who takes our Golden when we travel. I'm still looking for an alloy S&W .44 Special, but they're few and far between - and usually too damned expensive. My back-pack gun is a S&W 696 in .44 Special. I've always thought of a short-brld .357 as a flame-thrower: if you miss, you'll set him on fire, anyway. OldeForce

2:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have the 923 with a 4 inch barrel. A real tack driver at 15 feet when shot single action. A good teaching pistol for the kids, its easier loading than my brothers 22 ruger.

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Dating said...

Well, I decided to see how it shot. Went to the range, one of the guys just happened to have a box of .32 S&W reloads that he *gave* me with the caveat that he'd like to try the little .32 out.

2:55 PM  
Anonymous Dating said...

Well, I decided to see how it shot. Went to the range, one of the guys just happened to have a box of .32 S&W reloads that he *gave* me with the caveat that he'd like to try the little .32 out.

3:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Handgun catridges are poor manstoppers even though they very often prove fatal to the individuals that were shot. Handguns are carried mainly because they are lighter/more concealable/more convenient than a rifle, shotgun, carbine, sub-machine gun --- although many foreign police/security forces carry larger weapons as a matter of SOP (no doubt freaking out liberal tourists from the U.S.A when seeing heavily armed police officers).

The proof is in the pudding as the old saying goes and this link provides an excellent example of how mindset, training, bullet placement, tactics, etc. matters more than the caliber of the round.


The .22 quite rightly would not be most people's first choice in a self-defense caliber but properly employed, it can be effective. ---TC

5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just finally got the wifes grandfathers 923 its a gorgeous gun first gen. Hardly ever fired. And oiled it upand put it in the safe that is where it will stay.

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My h&r 22 923 has the letter n in front of the serial # ,does that indicate the yr. Of production? If so what yr.?

10:04 AM  

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