I’m a big fan of large Smith & Wesson N-Frame revolvers because they generally chamber big, powerful cartridges. The N-Frame originated with the .44 Special, and it’s been used for every early magnum handgun round. World War I saw the N-Frame chambered for .45 ACP military service ammunition, and this caliber has remained popular over the years in various service and target revolver configurations. One of the latest .45 ACP N-Frames to hit the market is the result of a collaboration between the Smith & Wesson Performance Center and the fertile mind of renowned firearms instructor Clint Smith.
Some 31 years have passed since several other Yavapai County, Arizona, deputies and I petitioned our sheriff to allow the troops to choose between the mandated .38/.357 revolvers or 1911-type pistols. The sheriff finally gave his blessing after meeting with Colonel Jeff Cooper at the American Pistol Institute (API—now Gunsite) and being shown the advantages of the 1911. With that said—and although my preference is a 1911 for defensive use—I never felt unarmed carrying my Colt Python loaded with 125-gr. jacketed hollowpoints (JHP).
The 325 Thunder Ranch was an attempt at updating the .45 ACP revolver design, but the grips and accuracy did not meet our expectations of guns built by the Performance Center.