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Old 05-02-2018, 12:32 PM
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New project gun-Model 396 Mountain Lite New project gun-Model 396 Mountain Lite New project gun-Model 396 Mountain Lite New project gun-Model 396 Mountain Lite New project gun-Model 396 Mountain Lite  
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Default New project gun-Model 396 Mountain Lite

About 6 weeks ago, I bought an essentially NIB Model 396-1 from Geronimo Jim. At first, I considered keeping the gun for its collector value as it was only made from 2000-2004, but after test firing it, I decided to make it into a better carry gun (at least for me).

The original rubber ďbantamĒ grips had been on for so long that when I tried to take them off, one of the extensions broke off; so that demanded a new set of grips. I had a couple of different sets of K/L RB grips in my grip drawer to choose from when I saw a set of Altamont boot grips for sale in the Classifieds section from zephyr.

Since I was going to make this my carry gun, I decided to remove the lock and replace it with a plug from JDinAZ (Original Precision). I had done this on two other L frames I own and liked the way it looked, and while I have read all of the articles/posts on the reliability of the lock, I enjoy the peace of mind that comes with its replacement. Since I had the side plate off, I gave everything a good cleaning. Itís surprising how much gunk is inside of a gun that has been stored in the case for 14 years.

I fired a variety of loads through the gun to register the sights including Hornady 165 grain Critical Defense and 180 grain XTP, PMC 180 grain JHP, Federal 200 grain LSWHP (it reminds me of the .38 Special LSWHP+P I carried as a police officer in the suburbs of Chicago in the 70ís and 80ís, only bigger), Blazer 200 grain JHP, and Winchester 240 grain LFN. The only round that really had noticeable recoil was the Blazer ammo; everything else was very manageable especially for so light a gun (18 ounces empty). S&W cautions that using bullet weights greater than 200 grains can cause bullet pull, however, I didnít have any problem with the Winchester rounds.

With the high visibility fiber optic front sight, I found that I had to crank the rear sight up almost to its highest limit to get the rounds to impact where I wanted them. Since I intended to carry this gun both concealed and open, I was concerned about damage to the rear sight, so I ordered an Extreme Duty Fixed Rear Sight from Cylinder & Slide and a .149 inch S&W ramp front sight and pin from Brownellís. The rear sight came in first, and after installing it, I found that all of the rounds were shooting almost 6 inches low at 15 yards due to the tall front sight. Once the new front sight arrived and I installed it, I was back on target. In particular, the two 180 grain loads hit perfectly to point of aim, so the Hornady 180 grain XTP has become my load of choice.

I ordered a holster from MD Whitefield (mdwhitefieldleather.com) based on recommendations on the forum. The 396 barrel is actually 3 1/8 inches and Mattís Classic Holster for a 686 3 inch accommodates a barrel up to 3 1/4 inches (it took a couple of texts/phone calls to make sure everything would fit; Matt is a real craftsman who will work with you). Matt also made sure that there was enough clearance for the high visibility sight (before I decided to change it). As a bonus, I had the holster within two weeks from the day I ordered it.

Iím really pleased with how everything turned out. I have a light weight carry gun in a serious caliber, that hits where I aim, is comfortable to carry, and IMO, looks as good as it shoots.
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Old 05-02-2018, 12:53 PM
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Nice gun, I have the 386 mountain lite in .357. You made some nice changes to your gun. Mine is a house gun, I carry a 640 24-7. The 386 goes with me if I go to certain areas for more shots.

Couple years ago, hiking in the Smokey Mountains it was a joy to have on my hip. There is a thread on the titanium cylinders disintegrating, hope mine stays OK. I like the gun a lot. Larry
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Old 05-14-2018, 12:00 PM
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Default Going old school

I added a set of K RB magna stocks that I picked up at a local gun show two weeks ago along with a BK grip adapter. Looks like a Model 66 on steroids.
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Old 05-14-2018, 03:57 PM
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HamHands HamHands is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by safearm View Post
I added a set of K RB magna stocks that I picked up at a local gun show two weeks ago along with a BK grip adapter. Looks like a Model 66 on steroids.
Oh yeah! Now it's right! With those Magna's and grip adapter she should handle great. I read your first post twice looking for the caliber mentioned before I looked at pics of 396-1 to see they are .44Special. Love that cartridge!

If you are going to use it as a true "Mountain/Woods Gun"... I think I've found my favorite woods load for my 629. It's a 255grain "Keith" hard cast .44Special from Underwood. The bullet has such a uniform crimp/seating that I don't think you would have any kind of bullet/crimp jump under recoil, (test first of course before carrying that load.) I haven't had any bullet jump with hot loads up to 300 grains in this baby.



I shoot a lot of the Speer/CCI 200 grain Gold Dots in the aluminum cases. They recoil quite light out of my 3" barreled 629. They have actually my around town carry load the last 6 months they handle so well. However, I might switch them to the Underwood 200grain Hard Cast wad cutters depending on how they shoot next outing. Seen in pick below far right: The aforementioned "Keith" .44special also shown below 2nd from left.


Good job taking those OEM sights off. I hate fiber optic anything and have never made it a week without cracking one, ever. They promptly get thrown in the trash and replaced if anything I like comes with one like on my CZ 97B. You did well with the ramped front and fixed rear sights for sure!

Lastly, JD is a good guy and his "HH" lock deletes are fantastic! I have 3 of them. If I buy a new "N" frame that damned lock *** is snatched out within the hour of getting her home and filled with one of JD's plugs. Your Mountain Light looks good with the dark colored lock delete. I did the same on my stainless 629 if you noticed!

Last edited by HamHands; 05-14-2018 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 05-14-2018, 06:35 PM
Paul105 Paul105 is offline
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Neat little gun, modified for your personal use. You have to handle one to really appreciated how LIGHT they are.

You ammo choice seems appropriate for the guns intended use. Recoil with loads like the above mentioned Underwood 255gr Keith are BRUTAL in the 396. I actually shot the "Keith Load" thru mine ONCE (Not recommended due to the thin barrel shank) -- just had to know.

Very nice gun.

Paul
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Old 05-15-2018, 12:59 PM
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Neat little gun, modified for your personal use. You have to handle one to really appreciated how LIGHT they are.

You ammo choice seems appropriate for the guns intended use. Recoil with loads like the above mentioned Underwood 255gr Keith are BRUTAL in the 396. I actually shot the "Keith Load" thru mine ONCE (Not recommended due to the thin barrel shank) -- just had to know.

Very nice gun.

Paul
Damn, really? Exactly how light is it? It's not an issue with a 629...
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Old 05-15-2018, 05:08 PM
Paul105 Paul105 is offline
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They weigh 18 oz and with the factory Hogue Bantams will draw blood with that Underwood 255 grainer. Your 629 weighs at least twice as much.

Just a point of reference, my 2 3/4" M69 (5 shot L frame .44 Mag) weighs 35 oz. It is equipped with Hogue 500 X Frame grips (modified as shown in picture below) and is not uncomfortable with 24.0gr H110 and 240gr JFPs.



When I shot the "Keith" load mentioned above in the 396, the gun was equipped with the Hogue 500X Frame grips.

FWIW,

Paul
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Old 05-15-2018, 11:35 PM
Entropy Entropy is offline
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Safearm,

Gorgeous revolver.

Curious as to the Suburb you worked. I grew up in the west burbs.
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