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American Handgunner Nov/Dec 2010 - Page 28
TAFFINTESTS John Taffin THE SIXGUNNER HIMSELF: GUNS, GEAR AND MORE Cobras from top right counterclockwise include 5-shot .38 Shadow, 10+1 shot 9mm Patriot and 6+1 shot .45 Patriot. FROM COBRA T he first pocket-sized, 5-shot .38 Special arrived in 1950 when it was unveiled as the Smith & Wesson Chief’s Special at a national gathering of chiefs of police from around the United States. Prior to this time if one wanted a Smith & Wesson pocket revolver it had to be the I-frame chambered in the less powerful .38 S&W. Today the J-frame concept continues not only from Smith & Wesson but in versions from several other manufacturers as well. As a firearms writer for nearly 45 years now (how’d that happen?) I’ve shot and continue to shoot just about every handgun imaginable. I have favorites for hunting, for everyday use, for target shooting, for long-range shooting and for concealment. Possibly the most valuable firearms Diamond Dot and I have are our 5-shot .38 Specials; in fact the first gun I ever bought for her was a 5-shot .38 Special in 1960. She keeps one in her purse, one by the bed and another at her desk. I have one in my The Shadow was tested with a variety of factory .38 Special ammunition. This shows the versatility of a .38 Special revolver. POCKET SNAKES winter jacket pocket, one in my vest pocket and one in my denim jacket pocket. So no matter which piece of clothing I select it’s already “loaded.” Then there is my always, ever-present J-frame in the front pocket of my jeans. I just can’t imagine functioning without 5-shot .38 Specials. Cobras T he latest version of the little 5-shot .38 Special is from Cobra Enterprises of Utah. It’s a leightweight, double action only, hammerless, or more correctly concealed hammer, 15 ounce .38 Special rated for +P loads, with an MSRP of $425. The frame is aluminum, while barrel and cylinder are stainless steel. The front sight is a serrated ramp style while the rear sight is a typical fixed channel cut into the top of the frame. For my eyes I could use a deeper rear notch. Grips are checkered, fingergroove rubber and appear to be made by Uncle Mike’s. They go a long way to help in controlling felt recoil. Although rated for +P loads shooters who do not have a lot of experience, A pair of Cobra Shadows with 10 rounds of hollowpoint .38 Specials. Who says you couldn’t carry two? The .38 Special Shadow showed decent accuracy at 10 yards. The doubleaction .45 Patriot proved to be an excellent shooter at selfdefense distance. especially those who are purchasing their first firearm for concealed carry, would do well to stay with standard loads. There are virtually dozens of .38 Special loads available, and one of the best for minimum recoil with excellent accuracy is the 148-grain Target Wadcutter load from Winchester. This round clocks out at 825 fps from the 17/8" barrel of the Shadow and puts four shots in 1" at 10 yards, shooting double action of course. Moving up the defensive ladder from the Cobra Shadow we have the double action only semiauto Patriot 9mm. Features include a black polymer frame with integral molded checkered grip panels and a stainless steel slide and barrel. Sights on this example are also fixed, however they are much easier for my eyes to see even though they are both integral parts of the stainless steel slide. They do give a large square sight picture. With its 3.3" barrel, double-stack magazine capacity of 10 rounds, and shortened grip frame accommodating two fingers while the third is under the bottom of the magazine, the Patriot 9mm is small Continued on page 78 28 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER2010