Do You Remember Your First ‘Big’ Handgun?

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It must have been right around 1979. Apparently, my father had been thinking about buying a revolver for some time, and when he finally made his choice, it was a beast of a gun. He chose a Ruger Security Six. Chambered in .357 Magnum, it was a stainless-steel version with a 4-inch barrel. The gun weighed in at 33.5 ounces before it was loaded.

My dad was always a fan of Bill Ruger’s simple yet stout designs. He taught me to shoot a pistol by plinking with an old Ruger Standard Model .22 auto — I still have that gun. It was not his first centerfire handgun, but it was the Old Man’s first foray into the world of big-bore revolvers. I don’t know how familiar you are with Ruger’s Security Six line of handguns, but, like most Ruger handguns, the Six line was pretty stout. Built with a one-piece frame and what can only be described as thick and stout parts, the Security Six was a big, strong, heavy gun designed for police and security work. Several police departments in the U.S. and around the world adopted one of the variants, which included the Service Six and the Speed Six.

Following Gun Range Rules

My plans with that revolver were not so grand. I just wanted to make a headshot on a human silhouette at 25 yards. I know you have heard me complain about such training. If you have read anything I have written in the past 10 years concerning defensive pistol use, you know that I consider training to make a head shot at 25 yards likely not the best use of your limited training time. But let me explain. No … there is too much. Let me sum up.

The gun club we belonged to at the time had a “pistol” range with target stands at 25 yards and 50 yards. The club also enforced rules banning the use of human silhouette targets, rapid-fire shooting and various other actions that pretty much took the fun out of pistol shooting. I saw a whole lot of old guys there with shooting boxes equipped with spotting scopes. They would stand in the perfect one-handed bullseye stance, fire one round with a 1911 pistol, put the gun on safe, look through the spotting scope for several seconds, then fire another round.

Even at 14 years of age, I knew these guys were not training for a fight. But rules are rules, so when my father and I would go shooting, I would staple paper plates on the target boards and methodically work to go six-for-six at 25 yards. Once I was able to do that, I would try shooting double-action to see if I could put all the rounds in that 9-inch circle.

I kept at it, doing everything correctly with every shot. Sight picture. Sight alignment. Smooth trigger press without moving the muzzle. And I got better. I was building the basics of marksmanship.

Looking Back

That revolver was the gateway to so many other things as a firearms enthusiast. We started handloading target rounds — 148-grain wadcutters — using an old Lee Turret Press. I competed in my first shooting competition with that gun, and all those old guys with the spotting scopes whipped my butt.

My dad and I shot together on weekends through my high school years. I put all my guns in storage when I enlisted in the U.S. Navy, but he was still heading to the range fairly regularly when I shipped out. Not long after I was filing my DD214, I came home to find that my dad had traded in the Security Six for a Ruger P89.

I wonder whatever happened to that old wheelgun. Is it still being used? Has anyone else learned to shoot with that silver behemoth? Did someone find my initials written in black ballpoint ink on the inside of the grip panels?

I still have that P89 and, like the Security Six before it, the pistol is big, heavy, over-built and ready for anything. I would not hesitate to smash out car windows with the muzzle. Having vowed never to sell another gun, I feel certain my children will one day be deciding what to do with that P89. I hope it brings them fond memories.

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About Kevin Michalowski

Kevin Michalowski is executive editor of Concealed Carry Magazine and a fully certified law enforcement officer working part time in rural Wisconsin. He is a USCCA and NRA Certified Trainer. Kevin has attended training across the U.S. as both a student and an instructor in multiple disciplines. These specialties include pistol, rifle, shotgun, empty-hand defense and rapid response to the active shooter.

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