For reasons I can’t fully explain, I’ve wanted a revolver chambered in .45 ACP.
When I went to my first S&WCA convention in Sturbridge, I was able to shoot one at the Smith and Wesson Shooting Sports Center. The gun I rented was a Model 625 JM. (The “JM” is for “Jerry Miculek”, who shoots for the Smith and Wesson factory team. The 625 is the gun he used to fire 12 shots in under three seconds, including a reload.) Model 625 revolvers show up used fairly frequently, and I’ve been tempted by them. But either I’ve not had the ready cash, or haven’t quite been able to overcome my bias against shiny guns. (Also, many of the used ones I’ve seen have these kind of pastel grips, for want of a better description, and those also turn me off.)
I think my affection for the .45 ACP revolver has something to do with being drawn to the oddball and unusual. With most revolver cartridges – your .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .44 Special/Magnum, etc. – the cartridge has a rim around the bottom. When you go to unload your revolver, there’s a little metal piece (“extractor star”) that catches the rim and pushes the cartridge out of the cylinder. With most automatic pistol cartridges – 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP – the cartridge doesn’t have a rim, so there’s nothing for that bit to catch on, and the cartridge remains stuck in the chamber until you push it out with something like a pencil or cleaning rod.
This wasn’t a big deal until World War I. The military couldn’t get 1911 automatic pistols fast enough to supply everyone who needed a sidearm. Their other choice was to issue revolvers, but they didn’t want to deal with the logistics of having both an automatic pistol and a revolver caliber. They wanted revolvers that could easily use the same .45 ACP cartridge that the 1911 used. One of S&W’s engineers invented something called the “moon clip”, which comes in “half” and “full” moon variants. Cartridges snap into cutouts in the clip (a half-moon clip has three cutouts, a full moon clip has six), and then the clip is loaded into the gun. When you go to unload, the extractor star catches the moon clip and pushes it, and the fired cases, out of the gun. Moon clips are basically a primitive form of speedloader. Not that it matters that much in a defensive gun, but they are also a lot cheaper than a speedloader. (Amazon will sell you an eight pack of full moon clips for $8.95 with prime shipping. A single Safariland speedloader will run you about $11 to $16.) And there’s very little that can go wrong with a moon clip; it’s just a piece of stamped metal with no moving parts.
Here’s a video from YouTube that explains how moon clips work. And no, I’m not just dropping this here for my own reference.
After the jump, more words! More pictures! You can do anything with words and pictures!