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I've been on a bit of a buying binge for the last year, and now have nearly all the leverguns, singleshots and shotguns I've lusted after for 40+ years, or at least enough so I can trade off for any new and different wants! I'm waiting for Coyote Cap for another, and for the right deal on another one or 2 rifles.

It's handguns now - got basically what I thought I wanted/needed, but not really happy with some of the choices I made. I live in southern Maine, on our old 80 acre farm, and after a 10 year lapse, a year ago I got my CCW permit renewed due to too many cases of not having a weapon at hand when needed - mostly for unwelcome 4-legged critters, but things are changing even here! I now basically carry 24/7, but last summer quickly realized that for comfort and concealability I'd need a different handgun or two.

First attempt at a small CCW was an old Rohm 38 derringer, better size … but. Second was a Ruger 3-screw 357 Blackhawk, figured I’d do alum. Birdshead gripframe and ejector hsg, cut back to 3-3/4”, still too heavy and bulky. Then the 32H&R SingleSix planning the same cutdown, could’ve worked nicely – just don’t like the “New model” guts, and caliber’s better than 22Mag, but not as good as 357. I finally bit the bullet and bought a double action 2-1/2” 357 SP-101 – thin profile, SS, tough as nails, and I can still fire it single action if I want – carry it most of the time! I do love 45 Colt though, and despite much of the bad things I’d heard ended up trading my 32H&R plus cash for a Taurus 450SS, just a little larger and heavier than the SP-101. I also picked up another SS small carry piece – American Derringer M-1 45Colt/410 2-1/2” – another derringer, but w/1 round each of 45 and 410 formidable, and easy hot weather conceal.

I’ve had my 2 Ruger single actions for 30+ years - both 3-screw, a 5-1/2" Super Single Six w/both cylinders - comfortable and reasonably concealable in cool weather, and my pride and joy: a '72 production 4-5/8" 45 Colt with factory brass Super frame. I carried both frequently year around while at home and generally felt pretty confident with 5 rds of 22 Mag, and during deer season with warm 45 handloads. I've just recently given the Blackhawk a serious disassembly and cleaning, added a new Belt Mtn pin and steel ejector housing - I'd purchased it almost new, after it had been tuned up internally and shot a little - still in nice shape, in fact a local dealer/Ruger armorer made me a cash offer that seemed almost too good to be true!

I'm not a Cowboy Action shooter, but grew up with the Lone Ranger and Matt Dillon, with a certain fondness for single actions. Years ago briefly owned a Walther P-38, but never really liked semi auto. I bought both Rugers before the New Model became the industry standard, and am very comfortable with hammer on an empty chamber and the safety between my ears - in fact I bought a New Model 32H&R Single Six to cut down into a belly gun, but couldn't warm up to the redesigned action. (Out of my better than a dozen and a half rifles and shotguns, all are exposed hammer, and most with no tang or hammer block safety - by choice, and sometimes at much additional expense!)

I'd been intrigued by the 454, and 500 Linebaugh, on 5-shot converted Rugers - but don't need that much oomph any more than my 50-110 or 405 Browning levers. I'll probably deer hunt this year with the SS Rossi Puma 45 Colt I've cut down to 1/2mag 18" barrel - and carry a 45 Colt handgun, as I’d still like to shoot my deer one year with a handgun, given the usual short range.

Conclusions for my everyday CC: Prefer single actions, stainless steel for ease of maint., prefer 45 Colt w/warm handloads – fact. loads adequate, as are 357 and 38+P, need the smaller dia 5-shot cyl to reduce bulk. My Taurus 450 nicely meets most of these for CC, but marginally for a working/hunting handgun. For me my old Blackhawk is near perfect for hunting, but due to bulk & weight is at best marginal for CC. I’ve thought about a new model smaller Vaquero, SS and 45 Colt, to shorten to 3-3/4” with round butt – but $500+, to then extensively modify, still has to be loaded at lower pressure, and I still don’t like the New models?

All of a sudden, the FA97 3-1/2” rd butt, as reviewed by Brian Pearce in “Handloader”, has my attention! The price (around $2,000- list) is a little scary, but everything I’ve read and the used 83s I’ve handled in local shops convinces me that the quality justifies the price.

If anyone has firsthand experience with the model 97 (along with Taurus 450 and Rugers), please correct or confirm:
1 – should be only slightly larger and heavier than Taurus snubbie for carry.
2 – can be loaded hotter (same as my Blackhawk) than SS Taurus
3 - should replace both Taurus and Ruger for my needs
4 – will in function feel more like a 3-screw Ruger or old Colt than New Rugers?
5 – where would I get the best price? What’s normal discounting to a new dealer account from manuf. list (have a new dealer I’ve been working with)?

I realize that a lot of this is subjective, some judgment calls and personal opinion, which is why this post is so long, so you’ll understand where I’m coming from and what I’m looking for. This would be a major leap in handguns for me, in both quality and cost. From the sound of things it should outshoot my capabilities, with more than adequate margin for higher pressure (but shorter OAL) loads, and probably outlast me with proper care and cleaning! In big bear country and out in the boonies a 4-3/4” model 83 in 454 or 475 would likely make more sense, but I’m in an area growing more suburban every year, and infested with tree-hugging yuppies too! State of Maine CC law prohibits public brandishing – so when off my property and out of the woods I need something which will be fairly unobtrusive under a shirt or jacket in my usual high carry crossdraw holsters. SP-101, and to a lesser degree Taurus 450, hide fairly well – do you think this 3-1/2” 97 well be too difficult to conceal? And again, I love my 3-screw Rugers (old Colt w/coil springs), don’t really like Ruger’s New model redesign, where’s the 97 fall between the two?

Thanks, Joe (hobbyguymaine/oldwindbag)
 

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Holy smoke Joe!

After that post I don't really know what to say. You're asking us? It sounds as if you've already got it worked out. Get the mod 97 if that's what does it for you. I've got an 83 myself.

I'm no Glock guy or fancy short mag-type hunter. I hunt with single shots and in handguns I prefer revolvers. Still, when my butt's on the line, I have to say a DA S&W handles more naturally in my hand than any SA revolver- even though I've been on a bit of a SA binge myself...
 

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it can be done i carry my round butted 4 inch .500 bisley in a pancake holster once in a while and have never had anyone notice.
 

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Lloyd Smale said:
it can be done i carry my round butted 4 inch .500 bisley in a pancake holster once in a while and have never had anyone notice.
Likewise, I have carried a snubbed SBH and created no alarm form anyone noticing. With the correct holster, it's done quite comfortably.

Also have to welcome you to the forums. From one Mainer to another! Westbrook here. You?
 
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