Wow! I went to pick this up and there is my .38 and a magnum revolver from the same factory at the licensee’s shop. “If this was a magnum,” the proprietor said, hefting the Model 67 Carry Comp, “I could sell it today. I have a potential buyer for this.” He was pointing to the short magnum.

sw21.jpgOkay. I did the paperwork and took the .38. I don’t recall if I asked for it or if someone asked for it for me. It doesn’t matter. I like the .38 S&W Special cartridge and I like the K-frame format. It’s good enough for me.

I got it back to the office and tried the action. Wow again. The double action (DA) is as smooth as any I’ve tried since the last century. The single action (SA) is short, light, crisp. The sights are sharp, a tritium vial in the all-important front sight.

A word about the Model 67 in question: It’s a Performance Center (PC) gun. That could account for the fine out-of-the-box action. The two minor issues with this gun are points of irritation. One is the very bottom of the trigger. There is an unbroken edge and it’s a little sharp. What was my finger doing there in the first place? That’s a fair question. I was feeling the gun, looking for rough spots. I’d run out of places to look.

The other is the round rubber stocks from Butler Creek. This is a PC gun and could use nice lumber. Aside from that, the stocks cover the backstrap, moving my already-too-short hand further from the trigger. A point that could have pushed me over the edge was the compensator port at the end of the nominally 3-inch barrel. It’s actually 2.875 inches from the end of the forcing cone to the end of the expansion chamber. The crown of the barrel—the actual muzzle—is 5/16th or so back from the end of the barrel. That area between crown and faux muzzle is bigger than the diameter of the barrel; hence, an expansion chamber. 

There is a considerable port, oblong from side to side, at the top of the expansion chamber. It’s ahead of the front sight that is pressed into a dovetail in the raised barrel rib. That’s the front sight that has the tritium vial deeply imbedded therein. The top of the front sight says “Trijicon” in white letters.

The underside of the barrel has a rounded L-style barrel lug into which the extractor rod disappears when the cylinder is in battery. The typical S&W front lock-up, through the extractor rod, is fitted. There is no crane lock. The thumb-latch is the trimmed modern style. The hammer likewise has the “teardrop” hammer spur, which is easily thumb-cocked, but not heavy or snag-prone. The rear sight is the S&W adjustable micrometer style. 

Black Stainless
The gun is black. It’s also stainless steel. Can they blacken stainless steel? Yes, it appears so. The hammer and trigger are color casehardened. Happy days are here again! The back of the trigger has an overtravel stop visible. The Model 67 Carry Comp has the internal lock. I didn’t try it to see if it worked. The gun fired every time I tried it. 

The chambers are chamfered to make speedy reloading possible. The marketing information says that the gun has a pinned sear. That’s the old-style DA sear, no doubt. A “bossed” mainspring is also mentioned. A quick turn of the screwdriver and a peek confirmed that the mainspring has a raised rib. 

The SA is light, though not dangerously so. There is no “push-off.” The DA was light for the modern era. It was plenty lusty enough to light the primers of “lead-free” ammo, not always an easy thing. 

Range Time
I consumed some aging Winchester and Remington 158-grain lead hollowpoint (old “FBI load”) against the 50-yard steel plates. The distance was no match for the Carry Comp. Shooting from 25 yards on a short accuracy test—the range was packed—gave some interesting results. Black Hills Remanufactured 125-grain JHP (jacketed hollowpoint) put five bullets into 1.25 inches and Federal +P 129-grain Hydrashok put five in 2.375 inches This load displayed lots of flame from the comp. It was a cloudy day but I was still surprised.

Speer 125-grain Gold Dot +P gave a 3.25-inch result, which surprised me. It was a vertically stringing group. I can only guess this load isn’t meant for this particular sample. It does well in a number of other .38s of my acquaintance. I had the opportunity to get into the action bay for a quick handling test. I used a Kramer Belt Scabbard—this one faced in Stingray—for a holster. 

The Kramer is a classy rig in cowhide or in horsehide; forget the fancy stuff—that’s the whipped cream on the pumpkin pie! The Belt Scabbard is supposed to be a concealment rig—it’s one of my favorites. With the Stingray layer, it’s more suited to open carry in barbecue or “class A” occasions.

I used Remington UMC “LeadLess” 125-grain Flat Nose Enclosed Base (FNEB) ammo for the handling test. I started out with six rounds, fired in pairs from 25 yards. I was shooting on the FBI QIT-99 target from Law Enforcement Targets. The six rounds were well inside the bottle. I moved up and timed some hits from 5 yards. The slow time—this was the second draw of that gun from that holster—was a disappointing 1.4 seconds. From there, the times wandered down and the average ended up around 1.21 seconds. That’s not my best work but the times aren’t terribly off for it.

I continued with the handling test taking note of the pair of holes perilously close to the border of the “bottle” scoring area. Those happened when I was crowding for speed. I even, at great personal risk, shot from a close-range-only “protected position.” The gun wasn’t at my hip; it was just ahead of it. I wondered if that port would cause any problems. It didn’t, but I’d be reluctant to do a lot of hip shooting with any ported gun. The blast of hot gases and debris coming up out of the muzzle port could cause injury.

And you should keep your hand away from it. I know I shouldn’t have to tell people to keep their hands away from gun muzzles, but that’s the kind of world it is. All of the Remington-UMC bullets went inside the scoring area of the “bottle.” The ones sent toward the “head” were all inside the maximum scoring “box” inside the head zone.

What’s so good, in this day of flyweight .44 Magnums and just-a-few-ounces .380 pistols, about a .38 Special even if it says “+P” on the barrel that weighs 35 ounces? Well, it shoots. It shoots very well, quite accurately. It shoots very comfortably, even with the rubber stocks that don’t fit my hand. It shoots very comfortably without leaving a torn blister on the inside of the proximal area of the shooting hand thumb. My hands don’t tingle after shooting 200 rounds of ammo through this gun.

Did the port help with recoil control? Frankly, I’m not a good enough shot to tell. I’ll say this; people have told me that the port will wreck their night vision. Most fights happen in times of diminished light. Usually there’s some ambient light. It’s hard to identify a threat in total darkness. If you’re in a gunfight in a closed closet, you can’t see who or where the threat is anyway. To best accommodate your eyes to the dark, it takes considerable time. If there is any light at all—and there almost always is some light—you don’t have the best night vision from the unaided eye.

Another objection is that the attacker can figure out your location from the flare. He can see your muzzle flash? If you’re shooting at him, he probably knows you’re there.

Ports are a problem if you keep the gun in tight to your side to shoot. Auto shooters cant the gun out from the body to allow ejected brass to leave the gun and to allow the slide to run. Do the same with the Carry Comp. 

Even though I could see the expanding, burning gas leaving the port when shooting Federal Hydrashok for accuracy—this during daylight on an overcast day, I can’t believe there’d be enough flare to wipe out your ability to see. 

I have to confess that, during the handling test, I failed to notice any flash issuing from the port. I was too busy trying to make my hits in time. 

Final Notes
So what’s the use of a high end .38 Special revolver like the Carry Comp? When properly loaded and always carried, it can bring you home at the end of the day. You can shoot it enough to get proficient with it. It’s more accurate than it needs to be. 

And it’s a work of art—understated, but artistic nevertheless.

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