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Team Erhardt Project: It’s Alive…Well Almost

This is the third installment in the Team Erhardt Project IRC series which appears on The Shooting Wire.

Last weekend I got to take the S&W 627 V-Comp for a test drive. It’s not completed just yet, so it’s more like running one of those disguised new model cars around the General Motors test track outside Detroit. You might see it but you’re not entirely sure that what you’re looking at is what you’ll see out on the roads around town.

Out on the test track of the San Luis Obispo Sportsmen’s Association ranges, the 627 is on it’s way to awesome. Photo by P. Erhardt

Out on the test track of the San Luis Obispo Sportsmen’s Association ranges, the 627 is on it’s way to awesome. Photo by P. Erhardt

The revolver is going through an entire makeover, a transformation of sorts, and one that I am told promises to make mine the hottest looking gun at the International Revolver Championship. This of course marries up well with my personal shooting philosophy of, “If you can’t shoot good, look good.”

And everybody still asks me why I wear a button down shirt and a tie. Well now you know.

The first laps around the test track were just to make sure that the adjusted trigger pull met with my approval. From the factory the V-Comp had a trigger pull weight of over 10 lbs., no doubt courtesy of a team of firearms industry lawyers. Every company has them and the knuckleheads they sometimes have to deal with on behalf of their companies are why we can’t have nice things, like a sweet lightweight trigger pull.

It's Apex'dTo shed the extra pounds, Randy Lee ran the 627’s trigger through the Apex Fat Camp where he replaced the factory cylinder with a titanium version (also from S&W), added an as yet unreleased Apex Custom Cylinder Stop, and changed out the factory spurred hammer with a flush fitting Apex Evolution IV hammer. The Apex’d wheelgun – by-the-way, apparently that’s what loyal Apex customers call it when your gun has been tuned-up by an Apex gunsmith or Apex drop-in parts have been installed – now boasts a trigger pull of approximately 4 lbs.

That’s like a 60% drop in trigger pull weight…not too bad. Randy Lee tells me that the hammer installed in the gun is actually one from a limited run Apex produced but has not released. These hammers (essentially Evolution V hammers) require more finely tuned hand-fitting that I could never do on my own and they make it so the trigger can be taken down to as low as 3.5 lbs, depending of course on the handloading of the ammo used. Once you get that light you can forget reliable ignition with that box of factory ammo you picked up at Wally World.

The revolver also now sports one of Hogue’s long cylinder release latches which most competition shooters are using because it helps you reload faster. And I’m all about a fast reload. Anybody familiar with the origins of ‘Team Erhardt’ knows full well that I would have won the Steel Challenge but my reloads sucked. Which is why I am a disciple of the speed reload.

Internally (though they could totally be lying because how would I ever know) the gun is outfitted with a newly designed Apex firing pin. The design is so new that they are still testing it before officially releasing it. This essentially means I’m acting as a crash test dummy for Apex, just with “less crash test and more dummy” according to Randy.

Still not sure how I’m supposed to take that but I guess it’ll teach me to not keep asking “where are all the Dremel tools?” when touring the Apex shop.

Randy Lee hard at work hand-chamfering the titanium cylinder to insure reloads won’t be what holds me back this time around. Photo courtesy of Apex

Randy Lee hard at work hand-chamfering the titanium cylinder to insure reloads won’t be what holds me back this time around. Photo courtesy of Apex

The 627 is now back in the garage, up on the lift with the engine pulled. To make sure my reloads are flawless, the cylinder has been chamfered which enlarges the entryway for each round making it easier to align during loading. With an 8-round moon clip you need to make sure everything is aligned properly for a smooth reload.

Additional enhancements include porting of the barrel and profiling of the barrel…because the 627 only looks cool and I need it to look cooler. It’s an important distinction. Even the compensator, which is perhaps more cosmetic than performance enhancing, is being tweaked to open up the slots to prevent the build up of crud that might affect performance.

As for the trigger itself, the smooth faced version that came with the gun is being replaced with an older S&W factory serrated version. The serrated trigger aids with better finger placement when running the gun at speed and provides better traction when rolling through the trigger stroke.

One of the last major items to finalize is the sight. For the initial evaluation Randy had installed an OKO sight atop an EGW mount. While a perfectly good sight, the style doesn’t work very well for me because I had trouble finding the dot. My preference is for a tube-style sight which Randy is helping me source.

The other major finishing touch is the grip itself. As awesome as a 627 V-Comp from the factory might be, when it comes to the ergonomics of the grip, well, it’s got “Property of Suckville” written all over it. I found my grip had me pointing the gun slightly to the left which compounded my problem finding the sight. Not that pulling the gun up and finding yourself shooting to the left of the target isn’t problem enough.

Fortunately for me Pat Hogue has invited me over for a visit – honestly, I kinda invited myself but don’t tell him – and asked me to bring my wheelgun so he can fit one of Hogue’s famous Big Butt grips for me. I’ve spoken to Pat in that past about how to handle issues of grip ergonomics for shooters with larger hands and if anybody knows how to solve that particular problem it’s going to be a guy with the last name Hogue.

Next stop, Hogue…I like big butts and I can not lie. You other brothers can’t deny…

Got that stuck in your head now? You’re welcome.

– Paul Erhardt

You can also follow the Team Erhardt Project (or avoid it entirely) on Twitter at @TheShootingWire, use hashtag #TeamErhardt.

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