My Personal Model 10 “Carry Gun”
Over the years, I’ve tried several semiautomatics and revolvers as “carry guns” but found myself repeatedly coming back to a small cadre of core handguns for this purpose. One is the 4” Model 10 HB. Many consider these more appropriate for open-carry duty guns but I have found that they conceal nearly as easily as their snubnose versions. The four-inch K’s lend themselves to concealed carry better might be initially expected.
A few years ago, I bought a used square-butt Model 10-6 HB. It appeared nothing special but was mechanically sound and the black “Z Coat” finish appeared nicely applied. Stocks were Uncle Mike’s rubber boot grip design and the hammer spur had been removed, a practice I routinely do myself. The double-action was alright and timing was fine. The bore was clean and the muzzle showed no nicks or dings. Best of all, the price was lower than expected.
Shooting revealed that POI matched POA with both 158-gr. CSWC handloads and Remington 158-gr. LHP +P with positive case extraction. In short, the Model 10 delivered typically fine accuracy and 100% reliability, but this should never be taken for granted. Always test any new firearm for reliability, including revolvers.
For several months, I used the gun as I got it but eventually replaced the rubber stocks with S&W checkered magnas, which have always fit me just fine. Though the gun was actually satisfactory, I found this one’s grooved trigger a little sharp and at the end of a couple of hundred rounds, my trigger finger was a little “tender”.
As mentioned, the hammer spur had been removed by the previous owner, and the job appeared professionally done. Though I shot the Model 10 exclusively in double-action, the hammer still had single-action capability; in other words it could be manually cocked. I believe too much is made of the “dangers” of lowering a cocked hammer but this assumes a hammer spur being present. Without one, the odds for unintentionally firing the revolver while attempting to lower the hammer increase beyond what I care to risk.
I purchased a new S&W smooth trigger assembly and factory-bobbed hammer capable of only double-action function. The combination nearly worked as they were but there was a tiny bit of binding as the trigger was released after cycling the gun in double-action. After a short review via Mr. Kuhnhausen’s excellent shop manual, a very few strokes of a fine stone set the double-action sear angle just right and no more problems reared their heads. I got lucky too; the new hand’s function was perfect. I could have rendered the hammer that came on the revolver incapable of being cocked, but its Z coat finish would not match the non-grooved trigger. In this case, a new hammer was not a necessity, just a preference.
Soon after reassembly and a couple of hundred uneventful dry-firings, I tested the Model 10 for reliability with the new parts installed. (I do not change any part without testing the firearm soon after. Even if it has been a trusted carry gun for years, I will not depend on it until I know reliability has not been compromised. A quality revolver in proper working order can literally personify reliability but it must demonstrate that it is.)
Here are the smooth (0.312” wide) smooth trigger and the factory-bobbed hammer on my Model 10. The black Z Coat finish was on the gun when I bought it and is proving durable and resists corrosion well.
A small amount of holster wear is visible near the muzzle end of the barrel represents about the only current imperfection in my Model 10’s Z-Coat finish. The stocks are S&W magnas that I refinished. This carry gun’s “custom changes” are minor. Others are just not needed to meet my requirements. This “plain” revolver is quite capable. The question is if I am? I think that too often we mistakenly try to buy skill rather than develop it through proper practice.
At the range, I fired a couple of hundred rounds of Georgia-Arms’ 158-gr. plated flat points. These fly in the 800 ft/sec range and strike very nearly the same impact points as my carry load, Remington 158-gr. LHP +P. Here is what I did to “retest” this altered Model 10 HB:
I have yet to find a load that this Model 10 HB doesn’t shoot well. It possesses much more mechanical accuracy than is necessary for self-defense; I’ll still take all I can get as long as reliability is not threatened.
On the left is a silhouette target used for several “Mozambique Drills” while the target on the right shows results of two attempts at Jim Higginbotham’s “Standard Handgun Controllability” test. In it 5 shots must be fired in no more than two seconds from a distance of five yards from a low-ready and using a two-hand hold. Normal target size is 81/2 x 5 ½”. The circle shown has a six-inch diameter. Average time barely made Mr. Higginbotham’s time-requirement.
I fired a few more slow-fire groups at 10 and 15 yards as well as shooting several falling plates until I had fired 200 rounds; there were no problems whatsoever. The revolver can be trusted.
From my Hi Power to my Model 10, I prefer what I call “adequate simplicity” in carry guns intended for self-protection. Assuming a reliable handgun of adequate caliber and sufficient accuracy for its task, the defensive handgun requires a good trigger-pull and useable sights according the late gun guru, Jeff Cooper. Other than caliber, I think he might approve of this one.