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Old 07-04-2018, 10:51 PM
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codenamedave codenamedave is offline
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Default The $255 Highway Patrolman

The long promised write up: Meet Rockatansky.

I always thought it was silly when people would name inanimate objects, but this one just struck me that way.

Before I get into it, I want to say that I really shouldn't have been buying anything when I got this. I have bills to pay and need to start saving, and there are other firearms-related things needing funding, like contributing to the forum or getting a history letter for ye olde M&P V765425. Like a lot of posters, I blame you guys!

"The 4" N-Frame is the most ruggedly beautiful revolver in existence."
"N-Frames are the ultimate .357s, and will stand up to Magnum loads forever."
"Any N-Frame is worth at least $400."
"The Highway Patrolman is the classic, and classy, working man's Magnum."

So yeah it was rusty and the seller said the timing seemed to be okay and it was sold as is. The Buy Now! was something like $325 and nobody hit it! What can I say, I'm a sucker for a cheap project. When I first saw the listing, my thought was to install one a them fixed sight conversions and an aftermarket lanyard loop, give it a park job and some magnas or even service stocks, and come up with a moniker like Cold War Victory Model, or Nuclear Victory model.

hm, that grip screw looks like a counter-sunk Phillips. Is that what I think it is?

Yes. Yes it is.

At least Mr. Bubba broke off the tip so it wouldn't lay open your hand when you fired it. The worst part is that the threaded escutcheon is still there, somebody just thought it was better to use a wood screw than try to find a regular grip screw.

Aye, air's a wee bit o frosting, oota buff up nicely. Ever notice how a gun will look okay in natural light, but then a flash makes any rust jump out at ya? My favorite part was the burr on the muzzle, apparently from being dropped, that bent over enough metal to form a hook. When laid on that side on the poncho liner, when you picked it up the burr would snag the cloth and pull it up. That and a dent on the front sight blade were smoothed down with the file on my Leatherman.

The timing is not "okay". Did the finger drag single action thing, no lock-up. Tried it with empties in the chambers, much better, only barely happened on a couple chambers. Normal cocking speed w/o dragging the cylinder let it lock up every time. The cylinder would always have complete travel in trigger-cocking mode, no matter how slow I pulled the trigger, and the action has that buttery smooth Smith feel that a few thousand rounds can produce. Some searching for the carry up problem turned up a few folks, none from here, that said the solution was to bob the hammer and make it DAO! Well, I guess that's one way. One strange thing that happened after a rust removal bath & general cleaning was that the single action problem got worse. Now when I pull the trigger easy with the hammer cocked, when it breaks the hammer pushes the trigger forward as it lowers, it doesn't "fall" per se. It's like the trigger becomes a hammer-dropper. Pressed quick, the SA trigger trips the hammer normally.

After looking around for parts, I found out that the fixed sight thingies were for later frames, and this one would need to be drilled & tapped. Also the only bolt-on lanyard loops were the ones specifically for Hogue grips, and wouldn't work for factory type stocks. As my mind wandered, I thought about a midnight Ceracoat job for that Big Black Nasty Mutha look, maybe with some Altamont Bateleur Silverblack grips, then I thought about doing something weird, like making it white or red or some such. Eventually I started to dig on the Mad Max vibe, and I had to give it a name.

I hate thumb-rest grips, and the ones that came with the gun have filler behind the back strap, not good for my medium sized hands. The seller didn't know who made the grips, he even thought they were made of wood. Didn't notice the writin' on the port side panel until I looked at the pics; Police evidence case number? I figured whittling them down would jibe with the post-apocalyptic esthetic, but I would need to remove a ton of material, there was no guarantee they wouldn't be loose and shifty, and I'd still have to buy a proper grip screw.

Handwritten numbers on grip:

Did some shopping around for grips, found some from the online auction guy who has T-Grips in stock. They're supposed to be Herretts, they have a S&W medallion, fill in a bit behind the trigger guard but not the back strap, came with a screw and were only $33. I dismissed any Altamont grips, including their magna style "Classic Panel" grips, because despite being very affordable they just looked too good! I'd have to do the Hollywood prop department age/distress thing so they'd blend.

Here it is after an Evapo-Rust treatment with bronze brushing, could use another such treatment (or two). I need to un-stick the elevation screw, it would move a couple clicks before the cleanup but now it's like the Evapo-Rust stuff welded it in place. I've soaked it with Kroil, vibrated it, let it rest and came back at it again, without being able to budge it. The windage screw works despite the battering but it prints low, like 5" low at 7 yards with the only .357s in the LGS, PPU 158gr semi-jacketed HPs.

"From butter-pecan to blackberry molass' "

The new shoes feel pretty good, I was surprised to find that my thumb and social finger overlap all the way to the first knuckle. I could do without the last bit of trumpet-flare on the bottom, but they work.

About that forever diet of Magnum loads:

Forever is a long time.

As to comments about why anybody would want an N-Frame when there are so many .357s out there that are more compact, efficient, easy to carry, etc, here's my take.

I never even fired one before I got this 'un. My first handgun was a 6" 66, I'd shot rented/borrowed 629s, and I've burned a few pounds of powder in a 4" 625 that was my PPC and sometime 3-Gun competition gun for years. I took the rust-bucket 28-2 along just for SNG, before doing any work on it, when I was going to wring out my chosen ultimate CCW gun, which turned out to be a Jam-o-matic even with FMJs. (XD-S if anybody's wondering.)

Feeling rather frustrated, I pulled out the big old crusty rusty fella with the handles I couldn't stand, loaded it up and wondered what new horrors might await me. Had ten odd leftover .38s, 110 gr JHP +Ps, got rid of them first. The cliché "mouse fart" loads came to mind. Then I sent off a box of Magnum rounds like butter, with the expected blast and flame, but in that package they hardly bounced the gun at all, felt completely comfortable. Whereas full loads in the 66 felt like my old 440 Dodge Charger, and +P .38s in a lightweight J-Frame felt like an evil-handling V-8 Vega, with the N-Frame .357s I got the image of sweeping up an on-ramp in a 500 inch Caddy. No pain, just a smooth rush of power producing a relaxed "ahhhhhh".

Yeah it's the old easy to carry vs. easy to shoot balance we all have to find for ourselves. If'n I was a revolver-totin' lawman back in the day who spent almost all his time in a cruiser, as opposed to walking a beat or being a concealed carrier, then I think the 28 would be my choice over a K-Frame. Kinda sounds like the job of a Highway Patrolman, doncha think?
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