Inner Circle (7)

SESSION 7: Wednesday, Mar 18, 2020

BROUGHT: Taurus 851 (CIA), KelTec P3AT

RENTED: none

RSO: unknown

With Coronavirus hysteria reaching its feverish pitch, I suddenly had more free time as today marked the first day of furloughs from both by day & night job. Oh well. That’s what savings & paid time off are for, I guess. Back to business.

I purchased the S&W 642 strategically. The Taurus 851 is an all steel clone of the Smith & Wesson from its completely enclosed hammer to the long, heavy trigger pull. My intention was to practice frequently with the all steel Taurus & then fire just a few cylinders from the Smith to ensure that lessons from the former translated to proficiency with the latter. As such, I started the day’s session with four consecutive cylinders from the Taurus while my Smith remained freshly wiped down, tucked away in the 1791 Holster on my hip. I’ve posted the results below.

I’ve captured the results from my first cylinder in the above picture, left. I fired these shots from 7 yards away. I fired the five additional shots captured in the photo on the right from 10 yards away.

For cylinder three (above, left), I pushed the target out to fifteen yards. Now, I have a confession to make. On my first few shots, I take my time to acquire my sight picture & then slowly squeeze the trigger. I don’t like to get off to a bad start; for one thing, the way I start a session often dictates the tone for the entire session. For another, the RSO’s at this site watch every shooter like a hawk. If they don’t know you & you look the least bit awkward, they descend on you for a fierce coaching. It’s a great service for new shooters, but I typically like to be left alone. In addition, I tend to rest my stomach against the bench in order to stabilize myself. I was utilizing each of these advantages through the first three cylinders. On the fourth one, however, I stood a few inches back from the bench & just point & shot as I would in a true self defense scenario.  I was happy with the results, especially considering that I was using a revolver with less than a 2″ barrel at 15 yards.

On a sad note, I experienced a catastrophic failure on the 6th round of my KelTec P3AT. The round shot off but failed to eject, leaving the case completely stuck in the barrel. In addition, the recoil spring had worked its way through the front of the barrel.

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end–Closing Time.”

This day would mark the 3rd time I had observed such a failure in this same pistol over the last twelve months. I figured it was time to retire it and, given that it was a sub $300 pistol that I had owned since 2007, I consider the little .380 ACP a worthwhile purchase. The KelTec had done it’s job; now it was time for others to do the same. One of the more memorable songs from my late adolescence declared: “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”


Inner Circle (6)

SESSION 6: Mon, March 16, 2020

CORONAVIRUS STRIKES! I worked my day job just as I ordinarily would, fielding numerous questions as to when we would close over the outbreak. To everyone’s knowledge at this point, we would be full speed ahead business as usual. Just minutes before I would be leaving for my night job, the boss calls me & offers me the day off over an anticipated slow business projection for the night. I accepted & took the opportunity to get some more trigger time with my new revolver.

This was my first cylinder of the day through my new S&W 642 from 5 yards out. The last shot of the group represented the 40th bullet fired through my revolver , lifetime.


Here are the results after my 2nd cylinder. If memory serves, I had backed the target out to 7 yards.

I had owned the S&W 642 for about two weeks now & had run 35 rounds through it the day I bought it, even before I brought it home. Since I had picked up a new box of self defense ammo earlier in the day, I wanted to run the final remaining rounds from my original box. So on this day, I ran fifteen rounds of Hornady Critical Defense 110 gr FTX. I like to shoot what I carry for at least 1-3 cylinder a session to ensure proper function.

Here I used my KelTEC P3AT from 7 yds out. Sadly, the pistol experienced a major malfunction on its sixth & final shot.

I closed out my half hour session with a magazine or two of .380 ACP from my KelTec P3AT from the standard 7 yard mark. I performed reasonably well as I usually do with the KelTec given that I like long, heavy trigger pulls. I don’t like surprises when it comes to my self defense firearms.


Inner Circle (5)

SESSION 5: Tuesday, March 3, 2020

BROUGHT: New S&W 642

RENTED: none

RSO: unknown

Cylinder 1

Hornady Criticial Defense Lite (Loose; purchased within last 4 months

Here is the very first cylinder out of my new S&W 642 revolver. I fired shots from 5 yards away barely an hour after having cleared the background check at my local FFL.

Cylider 2

Speer Gold Dot 135 grain (Loose rounds; probably purchased late 2019)

Here are the results of my first two cylinders fired at a distance of five yards out.

Cylder 3

Sportman’s Warehouse cheap LSWC; Grizzly brand perhaps


Cylider 4

Hornady Critical Defense FTX/Standard Pressure (NIB; just purchased)

Cylinder 5

Hornady Critical Defense FTX/Standard Pressure (NIB; just purchased)

Cylinder 6

Hornady Critical Defense FTX/Standard Pressure (NIB; just purchased) I ran 15 of the 25 rounds from the new box of Self-Defense hollow points. If I plan to carry them in my new revolver, I wanted to confirm consistent function. Experienced zero issues.

After the first two cylinders, I increased the distance of the target. I fired all other shots from a distance of either 7 or 10 yards exactly. Here is a sample of the results.

Cylinder 7

Remington UMC 130 grain FMJ/Standard Pressure

Wanted to run a cylinder of standard target/general purpose rounds through the new revolver. As expected, no issues. I expended 5 rounds from the 50 round box purchased today along with the revolver & the Self-Defense Hornady rounds.



See Results from .380 ACP


Inner Circle (4)

Session 4: Sat, Feb. 22, 2020

Brought: Taurus 851 (CIA)

Rented: S&W 642, S&W Bodyguard .38

RSO: unknown


Taurus: I started the day with the revolver with which I was most familiar: my own Taurus snubnose .38 Special. Great Group. Shot for left column/center circle. Scored a diagnol line of 5 inches or less. Distance was from 5 yards out.


S&W 642
: Not bad but I shot this revolver the worst of the three. I aimed for the right column/center circle. I then aimed for the right column/top & bottom circles. I shot a big high & initial sight acquisition was slower with this gun. It’s still a viable choice as a CCW; my only concern with it is the screw in the cylinder latch, a design identical to my Taurus. The screw worked itself loose on my Taurus.


S&W Bodyguard .38: This revolver was a bit lighter than the 642. (Statistics show the Bodyguard weight at just over 13 oz unloaded whereas the same stats list the 642 at just over 15 oz. The 2 oz difference was noticeable but not overwhelming.) This revolver came equipped with a laser sight. I shot more consistently without the laser but my best shot of the day, straight through the center of the bulls-eye, came about with the help of the laser. Nice cylinder release! CONCERN: Web Forums posts from current & former owners frequently cite cylinder & trigger problems. It’s a shame because I really liked the feel, performance, & the look of this space-aged revolver.



TAKEAWAY: If I’m buying a new CCW, I should decide between the Glock 43 & the S&W 642. It’s time to throw everything else.