What is the modern fighting revolver? It’s a topic I’ve visited in the past, but until now lacked the time, resources, and ambition to bring to fruition. In short, it’s a revolver updated and designed with the features that a shooter in 2020 would want on their gun.
The plan for the modern fighting revolver was simple: find a full size revolver that carries more than six rounds, fix the trigger, mount a red dot. The first step is finding the gun, and there aren’t a lot of choices. Keeping the gun to a realistic carry size meant eliminating guns like Ruger’s 8-shot Redhawk or the similarly large Smith & Wesson N-frames, such as the 8-shot Performance Center 327. While those guns are awesome, they’re not the right size for concealed carry. That leaves the seven shot Ruger GP100 and the various 7 shot L-frame S&Ws. While it’s a known fact that I personally am a fan of Ruger revolvers, one of the weaknesses that they have for this project is a lack of suitable mounts for red dots without machining. The final choice was the Smith & Wesson 686+ with a three inch barrel. This balances the gun well between shootability and concealability.
Next up were the grips. The factory stocks on the 686+ are fine if you’re doing range work, but for a full day class they lack surface contact area and friction. That was fixed with an order from VZ Grips, which landed the marvelous round to square butt conversion grips in my lap. These grips change the profile of the grip so it widens at the base, giving the shooter more gun to hang on to, which is ideal for extended shooting sessions.
Fixing the trigger would prove more difficult, but wasn’t impossible after the judicious application of a bucket full of Apex parts. Apex conveniently sells an all in one kit: the Evolution hammer. This hammer converts the gun to DAO, is machined steel instead of MIM, and pre-polished to reduce friction. The kit also has an extended firing pin and two new rebound springs. The lighter spring is the “competition” spring, which is the spring we installed. After dropping the new hammer, firing pin, and rebound spring in, the new trigger is a smooth 12lbs with a fast reset. A little tuning to find out what cracks primers and we might be able to get that under 10lbs in the future.
The last install was the red dot, and again our solution starts with Apex. There aren’t a lot of great revolver red dot mounts on the market. Apex offers a mount for the Aimpoint ACRO, which uses all three of the revolver’s pre-drilled screw holes to secure the mount. That makes it the sturdiest revolver mount that doesn’t require milling, and of course the ACRO mounts up perfectly to it.
I’ll be using this revolver as my primary gun for shooting classes for hopefully the next year, and providing period reports about its durability, accuracy, and any other issues. Oh, and for those wondering how much all this awesome stuff costs? The gun, parts, and dot all together: 1619.88. But no one ever said it was cheap to be this awesome!