The term “tactical revolver” sounds almost contrarian these days. Although the double-action revolver has a host of virtues, the explosion of tactical semi-automatic pistols seems to have relegated the revolver to a few select, but important, roles: concealed carry, home defense and hunting. The idea of a cutting-edge, tactical wheelgun that is a preferable tool for anticipated high-intensity encounters seems absurd when so many other choices abound. Well, not so fast.
Innovation in materials and design, coupled with a specific unanticipated problem with the semi-automatic platform, prompted Smith & Wesson’s Performance Center to develop the TRR8—a revolver that meets the tactical demands of law enforcement or serves as a home-defense gun for the well-equipped homeowner.
The TRR8 is a double-action .357 Mag. built on the company’s large N-frame. Although that is typical, this particular N-frame features S&W’s scandium, an enhanced aluminum alloy that is as light as typical aluminum alloy, yet much stronger. As a result, the big wheelgun weighs in at 35.3 ozs., making it easier to carry and quicker to handle than an all-steel N-frame. The cylinder is of blackened stainless steel, and the barrel is steel, too.
The TRR8 incorporates today’s de rigueur feature of tactical handguns—a rail. In fact, it features two of them, with one over the topstrap and one under the barrel. The rails attach to the barrel shroud with Allen-head screws and are easily removed. They allow the user to mount various lights, optics and lasers, customizing the gun for various tasks. One can mount a red-dot scope atop the barrel and a high-intensity light beneath it, or even replace the factory rubber stocks with Lasergrips.
Fortunately, the TRR8 retains all of the original virtues that made the wheelgun such a popular design. It is reliable. It is simple to load and operate. It is easy to check, especially in a hurry. It is not ammunition-sensitive as its operation is independent from the proper functioning of the ammunition (squib load notwithstanding). And, it is powerful.
The .357 Mag. cartridge has been around since 1935 and although there are now many more powerful chamberings, there may be nothing more effective for self-defense. After all, of all the semi-automatic loads available, it was the ballistic profile of the 125-gr. .357 Mag. that designers emulated when creating the .357 SIG cartridge.
Of course, there are some liabilities to the wheelgun relative to modern semi-automatics, but S&W addressed these with some success. The first relative weakness is ammunition capacity. In the age of the double-stack magazine, a six-shot revolver seems very lacking. The big N-frame, however, holds eight rounds in its cylinder—a 33 percent increase over typical wheelguns....