April 5th, 2019

The Rimfire Wheelgun — Why You Really Need One

Smith Wesson 22 .22 LR Revolver model 63 17 617 wheelgun revolver cylinder
Early 6-shot Model 617 shown. Current Model 617s have 10-round cylinders.

“But Honey, I really do need a new gun….”

If you are looking for justification for getting a new handgun, show your spouse this article. Today we explain why every serious shooter should have a .22 LR wheelgun. Rimfire revolvers are versatile, reliable, easy-to-operate, and fun to shoot. A good .22 revolver will be considerably more accurate than 90% of the self-loading pistols you could buy. With a good a .22-caliber rimfire revolver you will learn sight alignment and trigger control. Plus you can practice with inexpensive ammunition.

The better .22 LR revolvers also hold their value. In particular, a Smith & Wesson Model 617 (or its predecessor, the Model 17, shown below) is a good investment. You could use your S&W wheelgun all your life and then pass it on to your kids. If you or your heirs ever wear out the barrel or cylinder, Smith & Wesson will replace the parts for free, forever. Think about that…

Smith Wesson 22 .22 LR Revolver model 63 17 617 wheelgun revolver cylinder

The Model 63 Kit Gun is a compact 6-shot (older) or 8-shot (newer) revolver. Older Model 63s are in high demand, so this is another Smith wheelgun that holds its value well…

Smith Wesson 22 .22 LR Revolver model 63 17 617 wheelgun revolver cylinder

Smith Wesson model 617 4 inchSmith & Wesson Model 617 — Smith’s Model 617 is extremely accurate, with a very crisp trigger (in single-action mode), and good sights. You can learn all the fundamentals with this ultra-reliable handgun, shooting inexpensive .22 LR ammo. The Model 617 is rugged, durable, and can give you a lifetime of shooting fun.

Once you have mastered the basics of shooting with a .22 LR, you can move on to larger caliber handguns suitable for self-defense. Below is a slide-show illustrating a S&W Model 617 ten-shot, with 6″ barrel. S&W also makes a 4″-barrel version of this revolver. (See: Shooting Demo Video with 4″ model 617.)

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August 11th, 2018

Rimfire Revolvers Buyers Guide — Five Great Guns

Smith Wesson Model 617 wheelgun rimfire revolver

Don’t own a quality .22 LR wheelgun yet? Well start saving those pennies. Every serious gun aficionado should have a quality rimfire revolver. A rimfire wheelgun is also very good choice for a first handgun. Indeed, a strong argument could be made that a .22 LR revolver is THE best choice for a new shooter’s first handgun. A .22 LR revolver is easy to shoot, easy to maintain, and will last a lifetime. Once you have mastered the basics of shooting with a .22 LR, you can move on to larger caliber handguns suitable for self-defense.

TOP FIVE Reasons to Own a Rimfire Revolver:

  • 1. Rimfire .22 LR Ammunition is cheap, and now plentiful again.
  • 2. A good, full-size .22 LR revolver will be MORE ACCURATE than the vast majority of semi-auto rimfire handguns. With no magazines to jam, a good wheelgun will also be more reliable than most self-loading rimfires.
  • 3. A rimfire revolver can shoot tens of thousands of rounds, with just routine maintenance. This gun can last a lifetime and then you can pass it on to your kids.
  • 4. On a S&W revolver, it is very easy to tune the pull weight. You can have a safe double-action pull with a very light, crisp single-action release.
  • 5. It is easy to change grips and sights to suit your preference. You can also mount a scope on the top-strap.

TOP FIVE Rimfire Revolvers (Current Production)

1. Smith & Wesson Model 617, 6″ or 4″ BBL, $829.00 MSRP

Smith Wesson Model 617
10-Shot, Stainless Steel, 44.1 Oz. (6″ barrel), 39 Oz. (4″ barrel)

Smith Wesson model 617 4 inchSmith & Wesson’s Model 617, offered with either 6″ or 4″ barrels, is extremely accurate, with a very crisp trigger, and good sights. Accuracy is better than most shooter can hold. You can learn all the fundamentals with this ultra-reliable K-Frame handgun, shooting inexpensive .22 LR ammo. The 6″ version has a longer sight radius, so it’s superior for bullseye work. But the 4″ version balances much better. The choice is yours.

The Model 617 is rugged, durable, and can give you a lifetime of shooting fun. Your Editor has owned a 4″ ten-shot Model 617 for over 20 years, and it’s still going strong. Here is a video showing the 4″-barrel version of Smith & Wesson’s popular model 617.

Hickok 45 Demos “Wonderful revolver”, a 4″ Model 617. See also Hickok 45 m617 Part 2:

2. Ruger GP100 .22 LR, 5.5″ or 4″ BBL, $829.00 MSRP

Ruger GP-100 5.5
10-Shot, Stainless Steel, 42 Oz., 5.5″ Barrel

Ruger introduced the .22 LR GP100 two years ago. Since then, it has become a good seller. This 10-shot revolver with 5.5″ barrel has a comfortable grip and triple-locking cylinder (locked into the frame at the front, rear and bottom). Many shooters like the fact that the 5.5″-barrel GP100 carries its heft more to the rear than S&W’s 6″ 617. However, we’d give the edge to the 617’s trigger. NOTE: Davidson’s also has a limited edition GP100 with shorter 4″ barrel. This Davidson’s exclusive edition 4″ GP100 is handier to carry and balances better.

3. Smith & Wesson Model 17 Masterpiece, 6″ BBL, $989.00 MSRP

Smith Wesson Model 617 wheelgun rimfire revolver
6-Shot, Carbon (Blued) Steel, 39.9 Oz., 6″ Barrel

Smith & Wesson recently re-introduced its Model 17 Masterpiece revolver. This Blued 6-shot classic has been “re-released” with a retro-style grip. It still offers outstanding accuracy and a sweet trigger pull. For those who like the look of the original K-22 revolvers this can fill the bill. With a non-underlug 6″ barrel, this is 4.2 ounces lighter than the 6″ Model 617. The price, $989.00 MSRP, is pretty steep. It you look around you may be able to find an original K-22 for a few hundred dollars less. We’ve seen some decent examples on Gunbroker in the $700 range, but pristine K-22s are selling for over $1000 now.

4. Smith & Wesson Model 63, 3″ BBL, $769.00 MSRP

Smith Wesson Model 63 wheelgun .22 LR rimfire revolver
8-Shot, Stainless Steel, 25.8 Oz., 3″ barrel

The 8-Shot Smith & Wesson Model 63 may be one of the most versatile revolvers on the market. With a 3″ barrel, it balances well and is easy to hold. This makes this a great training pistol for a new shooter, even a junior or a lady with small hands. The latest 8-shot version offers nice big sights with fiber-optic front insert. While we consider this a great training and plinking handgun, it can also do double-duty for concealed carry. No the .22 LR won’t match the stopping power of a .357 Magnum, but better armed than not.

5. Ruger LCRx, 3″ BBL, $579.00 MSRP

Ruger LCRX LCR-X revolver polymer composite handgun .22LR rimfire
8-Shot, Steel/Aluminum/Polymer, 17.3 Oz., 3″ barrel

The new Ruger LCRx Revolver combines traditional wheelgun features with modern composite construction. The 3″ barrel and cylinder are steel. The “frame” housing the barrel and cylinder are aerospace-grade aluminum. The rear/lower section of the pistol, what Ruger calls the “fire control housing”, is made of polymer. This cuts weight and tames felt reoil. That fire control housing holds the hammer/trigger assemblies and provides a mount for the interchangeable grips. This is really a very innovative pistol. Thanks to its weight-saving features, Ruger’s LCRx is 8.5 ounces lighter than S&W’s Model 63, though both have 3″-long barrels.

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June 5th, 2018

Wheelgun Fever — Why Our Favorite Handgun is Not a Glock…

Smith Wesson model 617 .22 LR Revolver handgun
S&W Model 617 now has a 10-round cylinder, but early models were six-shooters.

While Accurateshooter.com concentrates on high-accuracy rifles, we know that many of our readers enjoy handguns. We are often asked “What is your favorite handgun — Glock? HK? SIG Sauer?” The answer to that question may be surprising. This Editor’s favorite handgun, at least the one that gets shot most often, is a rimfire revolver — that’s right, a wheelgun.

This Editor’s first really accurate handgun was a .22 LR Smith & Wesson Model 617 that could easily stack ten shots in a dime at 10 yards. It remains my favorite and most-used handgun. What can we say about the Model 617? The single-action trigger pull is superb, and the accuracy surpasses most any semi-auto rimfire pistol, except for a few, very expensive target pistols. We like the 6″ version for the longer site radius, but the 4″-barrel 617 is also very accurate, and it balances better.

Smith & Wesson 617

We strongly recommend that new pistol shooters start off with a .22 LR rimfire handgun. The .22 LR cartridge is accurate but has very low recoil, less “bark” than a centerfire, and very little smoke and muzzle flash. New shooters won’t have to fight muzzle flip, and won’t develop a flinch from the sharp recoil and muzzle blast common to larger calibers. With the .22 LR, the trainee can focus on sight alignment, breathing, and trigger pull.

Smith & Wesson Model 617 Video Reviews
Here are three video reviews of the Smith & Wesson Model 617, both 4″-barrel and 6″-barrel versions. All three videos demonstrate the 617’s great accuracy. The reviewers concede that this handgun is pretty expensive, but all agree that the Model 617 will last a lifetime, and hold its value.

Hickok 45 Demos “Wonderful revolver”, a 4″ Model 617. See also Hickok 45 m617 Part 2:

Popular YouTube Host 22 Plinkster Tests Model 617 with 6″ Barrel:

22 Plinkster loves the Model 617, “one of his favorite revolvers in the whole entire world — a great choice”. He reports it “shoots straight [and] functions pretty much flawlessly” with nearly any .22 LR ammo. In this video, 22 Plinkster tests a wide variety of rimfire ammo types including CCI .22 LR Std Velocity, .22 Shorts, .22 LR Shotshells, .22 Stingers, .22 Super Colibri, and .22 LR tracers.

This Video Features the Smaller 4″-Barrel Model 617:

Other Rimfire Revolvers — from Ruger and S&W

If you’re considering a rimfire revolver but would like to see other options, read our Buyers Guide to Rimfire Revolvers. Along with the S&W Model 617, this covers the Ruger GP100 10-shot (5″ bbl), Ruger LCRx 8-shot (3″ bbl), Classic S&W Model 17 6-shot (blued 6″ bbl), and S&W Model 63 (3″ bbl).

TOP FIVE Reasons to Own a Rimfire Revolver:

1. Rimfire .22 LR Ammunition is once again plentiful and affordable. The revolver can shoot all kinds of rimfire ammo — even 22 Shorts.

2. A good, full-size .22 LR revolver will be MORE ACCURATE than the vast majority of semi-auto rimfire handguns. It will shoot all types of .22 rimfire ammo with no cycling issues. With no magazines to jam, a good wheelgun will also be more reliable than most self-loading rimfires.

3. A rimfire revolver can shoot tens of thousands of rounds, with just routine maintenance. The gun can last a lifetime and then be passed on to your kids.

4. On a S&W revolver, it is very easy to tune the pull weight. You can have a safe double-action pull with a very light, crisp single-action release.

5. It is easy to change grips and sights to suit your preference. You can also easily mount a scope on the top-strap.

Recommended .22 LR Revolver Training Targets

The .22 LR cartridge makes small bullet holes in paper. These can be hard to see if you’re shooting at large, black bulls-eyes, particularly at an indoor range. Also, when shooting rimfire, you’ll go through ammo quickly. For that reason we recommend targets with bright-colored, multiple aiming points.

Pistol plinking practice Rad fluorescent target fun

Pistol plinking practice Rad fluorescent target fun

The 19″x25″ Sight-Seer target (left) is great for pistol practice. It features eight red bulls on a 1″-square grid. Ultra bright fluorescent red inks, printed on heavy, 60-lb vellum paper, are highly visible, even indoors. You can use a classic Six O’Clock hold with this target, putting the bottom of each circle on top of your revolver’s front sight.

The smaller, 8.5″x11″ Sinclair Fluorescent Sight-In Target (right) also works well. It has four small diamonds surrounding a large center diamond overlaid on a 1-inch grid. Diamonds and grid are printed in fluorescent red/orange on white, heavy-grade paper so your shots print nice and clean.

Recommended .22 LR Ammo Box

smith wesson model 617 mtm ammo caddy carrier box plastic

When we go to the range with rimfire handguns or rifles we bring this handy $9.99 MTM ammo caddy. The compact carry case will hold boxed ammo, plus you can lay out your ammo in 10-round rows. This makes it easy to fill the 10-Rd cylinder on your Model 617. This ammo case is offered in both blue (as shown), or red.

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May 11th, 2018

Six Tips for Novice Handgun Shooters

Birchwood Casey Target Spots neon day-glow
OK this is no novice. But even champion pistol shooter Jessie Harrison, Captain of Team Taurus, had to start with the basics. Jessie says that safety should always be your number one priority.

At AccurateShooter.com, our primary focus is precision target shooting with rifles. But it’s definitely fun to shoot pistols too, and we bet most of our regular readers own handguns. Here are six tips for shooting safely and accurately with handguns. These pointers will help you advance your skills and have more fun with your pistols and revolvers.

1. Make Sure Safety Is Number One

Whether you own one gun or one hundred, gun safety must always be your main priority. In this video, Smith & Wesson Team Captain Julie Golob covers the basics of gun safety.

2. Start with a .22 LR Handgun

Pistol Shooting Tips Target Mentor safety training

We strongly recommend that new pistol shooters start off with a .22 LR rimfire handgun. The .22 LR cartridge is accurate but has very low recoil, less “bark” than a centerfire, and very little smoke and muzzle flash. New shooters won’t have to fight muzzle flip, and won’t develop a flinch from the sharp recoil and muzzle blast common to larger calibers. With the .22 LR, the trainee can focus on sight alignment, breathing, and trigger pull. When he or she has mastered those skills, move on to a .38 Special or 9mm Luger (9x19mm).

What gun to use? We recommend the 10-shot Smith & Wesson Model 617. Shooting single action, slow-fire, this is ideal for training. Shown above is the 4″-barrel Model 617version which balances well. There is also a 6″-barrel version. It has a longer sight radius, but is a little nose-heavy. Both are great choices. They are extremely accurate and they boast a very clean, precise trigger.

browning buck mark buckmark stainless udx rimfire .22 LR pistol

If you prefer a semi-auto .22 LR pistol, we recommend the Browning Buck Mark series. Buck Marks are very accurate and very reliable. This rimfire pistol is available in a variety of models starting at under $350.00. Like the S&W Model 617, a good Buck Mark will serve you for a lifetime.

5. Use Quality Targets with Multiple Aim Points

Birchwood Casey Target Spots neon day-glow

Birchwood Casey Target Spots neon day-glowIt’s common for new pistoleros to start shooting at cans or clay birds at a public range. That can be fun, but it’s better to start with proper targets, placed at eye level, at 7-10 yards. We like to use targets with large, brightly colored circles. Focus on putting 5 shots in a circle. We recommend targets that have multiple bullseyes or aiming points — that way you don’t have to constantly change your target. There are also special paper targets that can help you diagnose common shooting problems, such as anticipating recoil. EZ2C makes very good targets with bright, red-orange aim points. You can also use the bright orange Birchwood Casey stick-on Target Dots (right). These come in a variety of diameters. We like the 2″ dot at 10 yards.

3. Shoot Outdoors If You Can

Pistol Shooting Tips Target Mentor safety training

We recommend that new pistol shooters begin their training at an outdoor range. There are many reasons. First, the light is better outdoors. Indoor ranges can be dark with lots of shadows, making it harder to see your target. Second, sound dissipates better outdoors. The sound of gunfire echoes and bounces off walls indoors. Third, an outdoor range is a more comfortable environment, particularly if you can get out on a weekday morning. Indoor ranges, at least in urban areas, tend to be crowded. Many also have poor ventilation. If you can make it to an outdoor range, you’ll be happy. Many outdoor ranges also have some steel pistol targets, which offer a fun alternative to paper. When shooting steel however, we recommend polymer encased or lead bullets to avoid ricochets.

5. Find a Good Mentor and Watch Some Videos First

Pistol Shooting Tips Target Mentor safety training
Photo courtesy AV Firearms Training.

Too many new pistol shooters try to move right to rapid fire drills. It’s better to start slow, practicing the basics, under the guidance of a good mentor. If you belong to a club, ask if there are certified instructors who will help out. This Editor learn pistol shooting from a seasoned bullseye shooter, who got me started with a .22 LR revolver and very close targets. Over the course of a few range sessions we progressed to farther targets and faster pace. But the fundamentals were never forgotten. When starting your pistol training, it’s wise to view some instructional videos. Top Shot Champion Chris Cheng hosts an excellent Handgun 101 Series produced by the NSSF. We’ve linked one of these Handgun 101 videos for Tip #6.

6. SLOW DOWN — This Is Not a Race

When you learned to ride a bicycle, you started slow — maybe even with training wheels. The same principle applies to pistol shooting. When you get started with handguns, we recommend you shoot slowly and deliberately. Start with the handgun unloaded — just work on your sight alignment and breathing. With snap caps in place, try some dry-firing drills. Then progress to live fire. But be deliberate and slow. With the target at 20 feet, see if you can get three successive shot-holes to touch. Believe it or not, many common pistols are capable of this kind of accuracy (but you won’t see many shooters at indoor ranges who pursue that kind of precision). Once you master your form and accuracy, then you can work on your speed.

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July 5th, 2017

Rimfire Revolvers — Guide to Great .22 LR Wheelguns

Smith Wesson Model 617 wheelgun rimfire revolver

Don’t own a quality .22 LR wheelgun yet? Well start saving those pennies. Every serious gun aficionado should have a quality rimfire revolver. A rimfire wheelgun is also very good choice for a first handgun. Indeed, a strong argument could be made that a .22 LR revolver is THE best choice for a new shooter’s first handgun. A .22 LR revolver is easy to shoot, easy to maintain, and will last a lifetime.

TOP FIVE Reasons to Own a Rimfire Revolver:

  • 1. Rimfire .22 LR Ammunition is cheap, and now plentiful again.
  • 2. A good, full-size .22 LR revolver will be MORE ACCURATE than the vast majority of semi-auto rimfire handguns. With no magazines to jam, a good wheelgun will also be more reliable than most self-loading rimfires.
  • 3. A rimfire revolver can shoot tens of thousands of rounds, with just routine maintenance. This gun can last a lifetime and then you can pass it on to your kids.
  • 4. On a S&W revolver, it is very easy to tune the pull weight. You can have a safe double-action pull with a very light, crisp single-action release.
  • 5. It is easy to change grips and sights to suit your preference. You can also mount a scope on the top-strap.

TOP FIVE Rimfire Revolvers (Current Production)

1. Smith & Wesson Model 617, 6″ or 4″ BBL, $829.00 MSRP

Smith Wesson Model 617
10-Shot, Stainless Steel, 44.1 Oz. (6″ barrel), 39 Oz. (4″ barrel)

Smith Wesson model 617 4 inchSmith & Wesson’s Model 617, offered with either 6″ or 4″ barrels, is extremely accurate, with a very crisp trigger, and good sights. You can learn all the fundamentals with this ultra-reliable K-Frame handgun, shooting inexpensive .22 LR ammo. The model 617 is rugged, durable, and can give you a lifetime of shooting fun. Your Editor has owned a 4″ ten-shot Model 617 for over 20 years, and it’s still going strong.

Once you have mastered the basics of shooting with a .22 LR, you can move on to larger caliber handguns suitable for self-defense. Below is a slide-show illustrating a S&W model 617 ten-shot, with 6″ barrel. S&W also makes a 4″-barrel version of this revolver. (See: 4″ 617 Demo Video.)

2. Ruger GP100 .22 LR, 5.5″ or 4″ BBL, $829.00 MSRP

Ruger GP-100 5.5
10-Shot, Stainless Steel, 42 Oz., 5.5″ Barrel

Ruger introduced the .22 LR GP100 two years ago. Since then, it has become a good seller. This 10-shot revolver with 5.5″ barrel has a comfortable grip and triple-locking cylinder (locked into the frame at the front, rear and bottom). Many shooters like the fact that the 5.5″-barrel GP100 carries its heft more to the rear than S&W’s 6″ 617. However, we’d give the edge to the 617’s trigger. NOTE: Davidson’s also has a limited edition GP100 with shorter 4″ barrel. This Davidson’s exclusive edition 4″ GP100 is handier to carry and balances better.

3. Smith & Wesson Model 17 Masterpiece, 6″ BBL, $989.00 MSRP

Smith Wesson Model 617 wheelgun rimfire revolver
6-Shot, Carbon (Blued) Steel, 39.9 Oz., 6″ Barrel

Smith & Wesson recently re-introduced its Model 17 Masterpiece revolver. This Blued 6-shot classic has been “re-released” with a retro-style grip. It still offers outstanding accuracy and a sweet trigger pull. For those who like the look of the original K-22 revolvers this can fill the bill. With a non-underlug 6″ barrel, this is 4.2 ounces lighter than the 6″ Model 617. The price, $989.00 MSRP, is pretty steep. It you look around you may be able to find an original K-22 for a few hundred dollars less. We’ve seen some decent examples on Gunbroker in the $700 range, but pristine K-22s are selling for over $1000 now.

4. Smith & Wesson Model 63, 3″ BBL, $769.00 MSRP

Smith Wesson Model 63 wheelgun .22 LR rimfire revolver
8-Shot, Stainless Steel, 25.8 Oz., 3″ barrel

The 8-Shot Smith & Wesson Model 63 may be one of the most versatile revolvers on the market. With a 3″ barrel, it balances well and is easy to hold. This makes this a great training pistol for a new shooter, even a junior or a lady with small hands. The latest 8-shot version offers nice big sights with fiber-optic front insert. While we consider this a great training and plinking handgun, it can also do double-duty for concealed carry. No the .22 LR won’t match the stopping power of a .357 Magnum, but better armed than not.

5. Ruger LCRx, 3″ BBL, $579.00 MSRP

Ruger LCRX LCR-X revolver polymer composite handgun .22LR rimfire
8-Shot, Steel/Aluminum/Polymer, 17.3 Oz., 3″ barrel

The new Ruger LCRx Revolver combines traditional wheelgun features with modern composite construction. The 3″ barrel and cylinder are steel. The “frame” housing the barrel and cylinder are aerospace-grade aluminum. The rear/lower section of the pistol, what Ruger calls the “fire control housing”, is made of polymer. This cuts weight and tames felt reoil. That fire control housing holds the hammer/trigger assemblies and provides a mount for the interchangeable grips. This is really a very innovative pistol. Thanks to its weight-saving features, Ruger’s LCRx is 8.5 ounces lighter than S&W’s Model 63, though both have 3″-long barrels.

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June 9th, 2012

‘My First Gun’ Website Debuts June 11, 2012

My First Gun websiteWe all have friends or acquaintances who are just getting started in the shooting sports. These newcomers are often overwhelmed with questions: “What gun do I buy… What gear do I need… How should I begin my training?”. With the upcoming launch of the MyFirstGun.net, new shooters can soon access a dedicated website that can provide answers to all these questions.

Ranks of New Shooters Are Growing
Since the year 2008 the numbers of first-time gun buyers, particularly in the handgun market, have risen dramatically. Thousands upon thousands of men and women are purchasing or considering purchasing their first gun.

Set to launch on Monday, June 11, 2012, MyFirstGun.net is an online resource specifically designed to assist the recent gun buyer or someone who is about to make that decision. The new website will feature numerous instructional articles, plus many training videos hosted by professional firearms instructor Paul Markel. Topics will include foundational material such as choosing the correct gun for the task, understanding handgun actions, ammunition choices, seeking professional training and practice. My First Gun can be accessed at www.myfirstgun.net or www.firstimegunbuyer.net.

NOTE: You can bookmark MyFirstGun.net in advance. However, the website is still two days from launch — so the links in this article may not be active before June 11, 2012. Just be patient. MyFirstGun.net will “open its doors” on Monday the 11th.

Smith Wesson model 617 4 inchFirst Handgun Choice — This Editor believes that a very good choice for a first handgun is a Smith & Wesson .22 LR revolver, such as the S&W model 617. The model 617 is extremely accurate, with a very crisp trigger (in single-action mode), and good sights.

You can learn all the fundamentals with this ultra-reliable handgun, shooting inexpensive .22LR ammo. The model 617 is rugged, durable, and can give you a lifetime of shooting fun. Once you have mastered the basics of shooting with a .22 LR, you can move on to larger caliber handguns suitable for self-defense. Below is a slide-show illustrating a S&W model 617 ten-shot, with 6″ barrel. S&W also makes a 4″-barrel version of this revolver. (See: Shooting Demo Video with 4″ model 617.)

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