Home Firearms Two Guns To The Range

Two Guns To The Range


Despite my plan to sell off some of my “Safe Queens” and having no plans to buy more to replace them, two guns I’ve been looking for came up for sale within a month of each other.

The first was a Smith & Wesson Model 36-1 with 3″ barrel. These were made for a number of years, but not in large quantities. Plus, people don’t tend to sell them once they own them. What’s not to like? An all steel, 5 shot J frame revolver in .38 Special. Five shots, heavy barrel, single/double action revolver. Not a target gun, but very accurate for a fixed sight revolver. I’ve been looking for one for a few years now and didn’t hesitate when I saw this offered on a shooting forum.  Mine was made in 1987, but seems to have mostly lived in a safe or sock draw as it appears to have had very few rounds through it.

Here are a couple of pictures.


The grips are by Herrett and I’m not sure if I’m going to keep them or swap them out for stock grips and a Tyler T grip adapter.

I got to the range the other day and put some rounds through it to get a feel for the trigger pull and how it shoots. The double action trigger pull is long, but J frames are known for that. The single action pull is very light and the previous owner had some work done on that by a gunsmith with an excellent reputation.

As I mentioned, the double action trigger pull is long, especially compared to the K frame revolvers. As a result my first couple of cylinders worth of shots were low and scattered around the bottom of the target. I switched to single action to make sure it was me and not the gun. Unsurprisingly it was me and not the gun. Ten rounds of single action showed me what the gun could do. It also showed me that I was anticipating the recoil and pulling down. I switched back to double action, concentrated on the basics, and slowed down my rate of fire. Unsurprisingly, my accuracy improved. I spent a little time getting used to the sights, the grip, and the trigger and by the time I’d finished the box of 50 rounds I was pretty comfortable and putting rounds where they belonged.

I then shot 15 rounds of Speer Lawman 135gr ammunition which is designed for short barrel revolvers. Those are the head shots you see on the target. I did that only because I didn’t feel like calling a cold range to change targets. 14 of the 15 rounds went where I wanted them, and the flyer dropped down to the 9 ring. Once again, a beautifully built gun makes a mediocre shooter look pretty good.


More range time to get really comfortable is in order. I just have to find the time.

Next up is a Smith & Wesson 3953TSW Double Action Only (DAO) semi auto. I love these all metal Smith semi autos. Unfortunately, S&W decided to stop making them about 10 years ago when they introduced the M&P line of polymer framed guns. Those are okay, but these guns are much better. Accurate, reliable, and easy to shoot. At one time in the early 1990s, 3rd Generation semi autos were widely used by police agencies across the country. Alas, those days are gone to be replaced, as someone commented, by injection-molded, CNC-machined firearms that are assembled like so many happy meal toys today. Smith still builds and maintains 3rd Generation guns for agencies that refuse to replace them. Currently, that’s the West Virginia State Police and the California Highway Patrol. Some other CA state agencies use them as well, but they seem to be phasing them out. As do NYPD and LAPD. The RCMP still uses them, but the are nearing the end of their service life.

I get that there is much more profit in the polymer firearms, and for reasons I don’t appreciate, there is a lot of demand for 1911 pattern guns. Still, there is likely to be a market for a gun that is as well built and reliable as any Sig, HK, or other metal semi auto you can think of. What do I know?

But, I digress. My gun was part of a larger collection of guns that is being sold off a bit at a time by the estate of the previous owner. This gun dates to late 1997 or very early 1998. It’s the early version of the TSW line, which was only made for two years. It’s double action only, with an alloy frame and stainless steel slide and barrel. Nice guns, and again, they don’t come up for sale often.

Where the revolver was a bit below market value, the gun shop selling this one on consignment had it listed at what I first thought to be a high price. I checked with some other 3rd Generation aficionados who encouraged me to buy it. I’d say that they are a support group, but the truth is that they are enablers. so, I went back to the gun shop and plunked down my money. One ATF Form 4473 and NICS check later, I was the proud owner of a never been fired 3953TSW.

It’s been fired now and will be in the future. Here are a couple of pictures for you entertainment.


After I was done with the revolver, I put up a fresh target and loaded up. The DAO version has a long trigger pull. Longer than the 3913TSW that I normally carry or any of the Traditional Double Action (TDA) Smith semis. Again, that takes some practice to get used to. Which explains, or at least is my whiny excuse, for the low hits from the first couple of magazines worth of ammunition. In case anyone is interested, I was shooting Winchester 124gr FMJ, which these guns like a lot more than 115gr ammunition. Likes as in the gun hits much closer to point of aim with the heavier round.

Back to the shooting. The long DAO trigger caused me to shoot low at first. Once again, I slowed down, concentrated on the basics, and got used to the trigger pull. By the end of the box, I was able to put rounds in a pretty tight group just to the right side of the X ring. The pulling to the right is something I have to work on. Part of the problem is the kind of “wobbly grip” sensation that the stock grips give me. I’ve corrected that on the other 3rd Generation guns by putting on a Pachmyar rubber grip sleeve. It fits my hand a bit better and because I’m more comfortable with the grip, I shoot more accurately. Not exactly rocket surgery, as the saying goes. Again, a really well made and accurate handgun saves the day for a not so accurate shooter. Once again after I finished the box of 50 rounds, I fired seven rounds of Federal Hyrdo Shock 135 gr JHP “low recoil” ammunition. Still pulling to the right, but not horrible.

More range time will help the accuracy and comfort level. I do that just as soon as I can find the time.


Just another enjoyable day at the range turning money into smoke and noise and punching holes in paper.

Previous article EMS In The 21st Century
Next article And It’s Terrorism. Again.
After a long career as a field EMS provider, I'm now doing all that back office stuff I used to laugh at. Life is full of ironies, isn't it? I still live in the Northeast corner of the United States, although I hope to change that to another part of the country more in tune with my values and beliefs. I still write about EMS, but I'm adding more and more non EMS subject matter. Thanks for visiting.


  1. Nice! I like the 3″ tube. Mine’s a ‘no dash’ 1 7/8″, but still a durn good shooter.
    Finding original grips for it shouldn’t be as tough as the K frame ones- somehow they’ve become collectible!(?)
    Is it a square or a round butt? I’ll keep my eyes open…

    • It came with a set of stock grips, I just haven’t decided if I want to swap them yet. If I can find a good deal on a Tyler T grip adapter, I’ll give them a try. It’s a round butt, which is actually the more rare variation.

    • Thank you. I took another trip the range this week and found that that 3953TSW like 147gr ammunition even better. The revolver likes 158gr, but my hand didn’t. I think that gun is going to use the 130 gr in order to control the recoil a bit more.

      As they say over at “The Box o’ Truth”, shooting stuff is fun.

Comments are closed.