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Dan Wesson .357 Magnum

Many years ago I was bored one day and thought I would head down to the local pawn shop to see what new and exciting things they had acquired since my last visit. I love to go to pawn shops. Pawn shops are like a big kids neat stuff stores. They have tools, lawn mowers, drills, bicycles and just about everything a guy might like. Years ago I used to cruise most of the shops in town in search of treasure. Every now and then, I would be able to haggle with the owner and take home a new piece of treasure.

On this particular day, it was raining, and I could not go outside and play, so I headed to the pawn shop instead.

I walked around looking at the neat things that had been pawned since my last visit, but did not see anything I just had to have. That was until I spied a neat-looking revolver inside the glass counter.

I stood there looking at it until the owner asked if he could help me with something.

I asked if I could hold the gun, and upon inspection, I found it to be a Dan Wesson model 15 in .357 Magnum.

I was not nearly as knowledgeable about guns as I am today and really did not know much about Dan Wesson’s. I opened the cylinder, looked down the sights and, with the permission of the owner, dry fired it in both single and double action.

Wow! What a light trigger pull when the hammer was pulled back. I liked that a lot, but did not want to seem too interested, so I handed it back to the owner and told him thanks. He asked if I wanted to buy it, but I acted as if I was not really all that interested.

Just about the time I was ready to leave, he asked if I wanted to sell the knife in my pocket. "No," I responded, "But I might trade it for something in here." He asked to see the knife, so I took it out of my pocket to let him inspect it. To me it was just a knife, and I had plenty more that were similar. Watching him inspect the knife made me think I might have something special. Even though it was just a folding Buck knife that had a belt clip, this guy seemed really interested in it. He then asked what he had that I would like to trade for. I said the Dan Wesson and a drill I pointed to. I figured if I asked for more than I really wanted, I could let him haggle me down to what I really did want (the gun).

After a few minutes of negotiating, he had my knife, and I had a new-to-me .357 and a box of bullets.

Back home, I set up a target and proceeded to test out my new firearm. My first six rounds were from a distance of 15 yards, with 3 of the 6 rounds in the 10 ring and the other three just outside. I then moved the target back to around 30 yards, where I squeezed off 6 more rounds with very similar results.

Now for the real test. I got out my cardboard pig target (the same size as a 100 lb. pig) and placed it at a distance of 50 yards. These six rounds were shot from a rest. It took me three rounds to dial in the gun at this distance, but after some fine adjustments to the rear sight, I was dropping all the rounds in the target's "kill zone."

My revolver has deep black bluing, a vent rib, bright yellow front sight and a rear sight that is adjustable for windage and elevation. The barrel is six inches with a full-length lug. The grips were after-market Pachymere made of way-too-hard plastic. They needed to go, but it was all I had, and I knew they would have to work when I was in my stand that afternoon.

This revolver has an unbelievable trigger pull when the hammer is pulled back, and I was sure that was playing a part in the superb accuracy – which was going to get me a pig that afternoon. Other than the crummy grips, it was only showing some wear with a few bluing rubs and a small rust spot on the barrel that I could fix with a little steel wool and some bluing compound.

I was shooting 158-grain JHP, and the groups were almost that of a target pistol. I was sure I could improve them with my hand loads. I had a pile of .357 lead bullets I had just purchased from a garage sale, so I went to handloading. I had some 190-grain, flat-nose, gas-checked, hard-cast lead bullets that I was really anxious to try. With a supply of W-296 powder and a pile of magnum primers, I was fixing to make some noise!

After a couple hours of handloading, I was back outside for some accuracy tests. I started out with the maximum (or near maximum) loads, as my primary use for this pistol was to bring home some bacon. These pigs were about the toughest thing I would hunt here in Florida, and I needed all of the penetration and stopping power I could get.

The maximum load for this powder/bullet combination would send my bullet downrange at around 1,350 fps. In a .357 with a 190-bullet, that was a big load. The 13 grains of W-296 and the magnum primer combination was not a good load in this gun, but after I dropped the powder charge down to 12.5 grains and seated it a little shallower in the case, I had a really good hunting load that would stop a pig in its tracks. This load was shooting 1.5-inch groups at 25 yards from a rest. Not bad, if I do say so myself!

Then it was time to get my camo clothes on and head for the pig stand. After a short ride to the stand, where I had a feeder that ran year-round, I was pretty sure something would visit before dark. It wasn’t long before I heard the all-too-familiar grunting. They showed up just about the time the sun got close to the horizon. What a great sight! A half dozen little 30- to 100-pound pigs, and one was about to join me for dinner!

I was pretty sure I wanted a small one, so I picked out a nice little 30-pounder, set the pistol on the shooting rail, lined up the target and slowly dropped the hammer.

With the load report of my new .357, all of the pigs except one scattered into the thick cover. I sat there for a few seconds to be sure my dinner was not going to get up and run away, but a well-placed shot right under the ear had taken all of the fight out of this little piggy.

This Dan Wesson model 15 has since put quite a few pigs (and a couple of deer) on my table in addition to providing me with many years of fun at the range. This is by far one of the most accurate handguns I have ever shot. They are no longer produced, but there are a pile of them for sale. If you like revolvers, you owe it to yourself to get one.

They came with 2- to 10-inch barrels and pistol packs that came with several different barrel lengths. They also came in either blued or stainless.

If all firearms were treated as if they were loaded, there would be no more accidental shootings. Shoot Straight, Shoot Safe!

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Jim Hammond has had some sort of gun in his hand since he was 5 years old. He started with a Daisy BB gun as a small boy, and with careful instruction from his very safety-minded father, has become a skilled and knowledgeable shooter now willing to share his knowledge and experience as he has FUN SHOOTING. “Safety first and everything else will follow.”