SELECTION OF PISTOLS
There is no single arm that can be used advantageously for all classes of shooting. It is therefore necessary in the first place to decide for what purpose the arm is to be used. A careful perusal of the text under " Arms " and 11 Ammunition," will be of assistance in reaching a decision. The next step is the selection of the arm. As already stated, the cheap, unreliable, and unsafe arms are to be carefully avoided. It is preferable to buy a secondhand arm of a reputable manufacturer, if in good condition, than a new one of inferior make. Second-hand arms frequently have defects that cannot be detected by the novice, and, if obliged to buy a second-hand arm, it is advisable to ask some expert shot to assist in making the selection. The price of the best grades of pistols and revolvers is, fortunately, within the reach of almost every one, and, if at all possible, new arms should be purchased.
In any case, whether a new or a second-hand arm is to be chosen, it is well to examine and handle all the different models of the best makers. The fit and feel of the arm are very important. Select an arm that feels comfortable, and which, when properly held, fits the hand so that the first joint of the trigger finger just touches the trigger when that part of the finger is bent at right angles to the barrel.
The correct manner of holding the pistol or revolver is shown in Fig. 84 and illustrates how the hand should fit the arm. Note particularly the position of the trigger finger and the thumb. The trigger finger in this position acts directly backward in pressing the trigger, and the thumb assists materially in steadying the piece. If the piece is too large for the hand, the trigger finger will be more or less extended, and will pull side-wise to a greater or less degree, and thus increase the difficulty of fine shooting. Fig 843 illustrates the approved position of the thumb when the locking catch interferes with the extended thumb. The fit of the arm is much more important, and has a vastly greater effect upon the results than finedistinctions between the merits of the different arms. Any of those named are excellent and are capable of shooting much more accurately than they can possibly be held by the most expert shots. A man with a large hand will probably find the Remington pistol or the Colt New Service revolver best suited for him, another with a hand of medium size will find the S. & W. pistol or the S. & W. Russian Model revolver most desirable, while another still, with a small hand, may prefer the Stevens pistol or the .38-caliber military revolver, either the S. & W. or the Colt.
If an arm is wanted for steady use, select the plain blue finish, and wood handles; elaborate engraving and gold, silver, copper, or nickel finished arms are handsome and pleasing, but, if much used, become burnt and discolored where the powder gases escape, and soon become unsightly. A blued finish is also to be preferred when shooting in the sunlight. Most arms as offered on the market have hard rubber handles. These become smooth and slippery when the hand perspires, and are not as desirable as wood handles. A few expert shots prefer pearl handles.
The trigger pull should have the smallest possible travel and be smooth and positive.
The smaller the travel of the hammer and the more rapid its action, the quicker will be the discharge after pulling the trigger. If the trigger does not pull smooth and " sweet," or becomes " creepy" from wear, it should be corrected by a skilled gunsmith. While the rules allow a trigger pull of 2 pounds for the pistol and 2 pounds for the target revolver, many expert shots prefer to have their arm pull from 1/2 to 1 pound more. The rules also allow 7 and 8 inch barrels for the revolver. Many of the experienced shots prefer to have their revolvers balance near the trigger, and are of the opinion that the extra length of barrel above 6 l/2 inches does not offset the disadvantage of poorer balance. In the pistol, however, the length of the barrel is invariably 10 inches. Accuracy in aiming is lost very rapidly as the distance between the sights is reduced below 7 inches.
For target shooting, the .22-caliber pistols will be found admirably suited for beginners. The charge being light, there is less liability to "flinch," a fault easily and most invariably acquired when the novice begins shooting with a .heavy charge. The practice in aiming and pulling the trigger with these arms is excellent training and a first-rate and valuable preliminary to the more difficult and practical work with the revolver.
The double-action feature in a revolver is of very little practical value. Owing to the varying amount of resistance to the trigger in operating the mechanism, the aim is disturbed more than if the hammer is cocked with the thumb. Even in rapid-fire shooting better results are obtained with a double-action arm if used as a single action. It is also more difficult to make the trigger pull smooth and short in double-action mechanisms.
Himmelwright, A.L.A.. Pistol and Revolver Shooting. New York: MacMillan, 1922.
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