Gail complimented me on my set of pages, and then asked if I would be interested in test-firing a converted S&W; 686 and reviewing it on my site. Being asked to play with a neat new toy that I was terrifically curious about anyway? Hell, yes! I told Gail that I would be delighted to do so, and they shipped the test gun off to me via Turner's Outdoorsman. After the requisite 21 day wait, I picked it up and started poring over it. And on a beautiful spring day in Canyon Country, CA, I and a friend visited a lovely outdoor shooting range called "A Place To Shoot" and put the converted 686 through its paces.
I hope to test-fire the revolver again this weekend, so this review should get longer and a bit more detailed in around a week and a half's time.
The Magna-Trigger is a wonderful solution to both of these problems.
Invented as a way to keep criminals from using a police officer's duty weapon against him, the Magna-Trigger renders the gun unfireable by anyone not wearing a special, very strong magnetic ring. A small blocking mechanism is inserted into the weapon (Smith & Wesson revolvers only, and not autoloaders) by experienced gunsmith Rick Devoid, and the device can only be disabled by a potent samarium magnet on a steel ring that the shooter wears on her middle finger. The conversion is also completely ambidextrous, and the Devoids recommend that a police officer wear a ring on each finger so that if one hand is injured in a confrontation, the other can still fire the weapon.
Magnetic mumbo-jumbo? Not at all -- the samarium magnets that are used will outlast you, and the technology that is used in this conversion is proven completely.
The gun is completely dead -- but when you pick it up, the magnet comes into proximity with the blocking mechanism, and it's live.
The three aspects to the conversion that I was most concerned with were the following:
Whether in a slow, deliberate double-action shot or a quick "pick it up and fire" shot of the sort that is more likely to happen in a defense situation, the Magna-Trigger performed perfectly and never once froze, jammed, or otherwise refused to fire. Perhaps more importantly, when I tested the revolver without the ring, even whapping it on the podium a little (not too much, Gail!), it never went off, cocked, or budged an inch past the few millimeters of play in the trigger that is always present. Not only did it fire when I wanted it to -- but it also did not fire when it wasn't supposed to, and of course with a safety conversion like this, that's half the reason for getting it!
So lefties or switches out there, rest easy -- this is one handgun-related accessory that truly lives up to its billing as usable by lefties.
I'm pleased to report that there were no problems with the conversion. While Sidra, as a novice shooter, was not able to put the revolver through a serious of "quick draw" or double-tap tests, she was able to use it without failure or "jamming" of any kind. (Indeed, so pleased was she about the "feel" of the S&W; 686 that she left the range planning to purchase one with a slimmer grip. The fat Pachmayr grip on the revolver presented me with no difficulties, but if you have smaller hands, you'll definitely want one that leaves the backstrap exposed (that doesn't completely cover up the very back of the gun's frame.)
Again, I'm pleased to report that the converted revolver performed quite well on all tests. I placed it on the podium before me and stepped back, then stepped forward, grabbed the gun, and shot quickly -- just as you might find yourself doing if someone breaks into your house. And again, with either the left or right hand, the revolver performed very well.
All of the above testing was done with a variety of ammunition, from .38Spl to .357M, so the conversion also performs well with a variety of loads.
Probably not. I have no children, and that would be my primary purpose for getting a Magna-Trigger conversion. As a private citizen as opposed to a police officer, anyone who would attack me would not expect me to be armed, and as a result, I don't feel that it would be necessary for me.
But if I had children in the house with me? Absolutely. Of course, nothing beats a good gun safety lecture, and no matter the status of the firearms in your house, you must give your children the information they need to coexist peacefully with the devices. So don't think that a Magna-Trigger obviates gun safety education for your kids -- just because you have this conversion doesn't mean you can get away without teaching them. But it will insure that their friends won't be able to play with "So-And-So's mom's gun," and it will also prevent accidents before the child becomes old enough to hear the lecture in the first place.
The conversion isn't cheap -- but it is worth every penny. You cannot order a converted revolver from Smith & Wesson, but must instead send your S&W; to Tarnhelm Supply (http://www.tarnhelm.com/) and let them install it. It costs $250 for the conversion itself, and $40 for each magnetic ring. Again, the magnets themselves are made of samarium and are strong enough to outlast you. (Rest easy that someone playing with a kitchen magnet wouldn't be able to fire your gun.)
On the lighter side, the revolver that Gail and Rick sent to me for testing was special not only because of the Magna-Trigger installed in it, but for something else as well. It was treated with a material called Sentry's Dry Lube, which you can find out more about if you follow the link to their site. Let's just say that after shooting both their test gun and my own untreated Ruger, the powder residue merely brushed off of theirs, and I was able to clean out the gun by running one cleaning patch through it and the chambers. Mine? Major elbow grease! Talk about envy! So as soon as I'm able, I'd love to have my own revolver treated with Sentry's Dry Lube to make cleaning it a ten-second operation.
For more information, please write or call:
431 High Street
Boscawen, NH, 03303
FAX (603) 796-2918
Or check out http://www.tarnhelm.com/ for the latest up-to-date information from Tarnhelm's own web site.