Smith & Wesson Governor Review
Part 4 - Range Test
July 27, 2011

Smith & Wesson Governor Review

In this Range Testing part of my Smith & Wesson Governor Revolver Review, I will focus on showing examples of patterns at distances for which I consider the intended range for this revolver (from 3 to 7 yards).  Although this may be what I feel is the intended range, it is capable of much more. 

Before I headed off to the range, I had to decide on what ammunition I needed to bring.  Since the Governor is capable of .410 shotshells, .45 Colt & .45 ACP cartridges, this revolver created a need for a variety of ammunition.  I ended up selecting the ammunition listed below.  The price shown is what I paid from at the time of this review and is provided for reference only.  By far, the .45 ACP ammo provides the cheapest ($/round) solution for getting some range time without breaking the bank.

Figure 1
Smith & Wesson Governor Review

Figure 2
Smith & Wesson Governor Review


I started out the range testing portion of the review shooting the TulAmmo .45 Auto since it was cheap and I wanted to get a feel for the Governor.  Quickly I learned that it shoots a little high at 7 yards with the the .45 Auto ammo.  Later I found this was not the case with the .45 Colt.  My daughter and I took turns shooting the selection of various ammunition shown above and had a blast.  During our fun, I did take time to collect some data to give you a feel for the accuracy and patterns you can expect from the Governor.

These photos show patterns for the #6 shot at 3, 5 & 7 yards.  Clearly you can take care of rodents or snakes with this load at close range.  Once I get to my outdoor range, I plan on trying to shoot at some clay pigeons.  I expect this to be a blast also.

Figure 3 - #6 Shot 3 yards                  Figure 4 - #6 Shot 5 yards                  Figure 5 - #6 Shot 7 yards
Smith & Wesson Governor Review   Smith & Wesson Governor Review   Smith & Wesson Governor Review

These photos show patterns for the 000 Buckshot at 3, 5 & 7 yards.  Keep in mind that with any of these shotshells, there will be some variation with the patterns, but I was pleased to see that at 7 yards the 3 pellets were close to the point of aim.

Figure 6 - 000 Buck 3 yards                Figure 7 - 000 Buck 5 yards               Figure 8 - 000 Buck 7 yards
Smith & Wesson Governor Review   Smith & Wesson Governor Review   Smith & Wesson Governor Review

These photos show patterns for the PDX1 .410 shot at 3, 5 & 7 yards.  I was very impressed with how well the three disks grouped together at each one of these distances.  You can see that the 12 pellets behind the disks do spread out much more at 7 yards.  There is no doubt that the PDX1 .410  would produce a serious wound at close ranges.

Figure 9 - PDX1 3 yards                   Figure 10 - PDX1 5 yards                    Figure 11 - PDX1 7 yards
Smith & Wesson Governor Review   Smith & Wesson Governor Review   Smith & Wesson Governor Review

These next groups of either 5 or 6 shots were all made at 7 yards at a local indoor range from a pseudo bench position.  Since all 10 lanes were full, I would have to say that the shooting conditions were far from ideal (loud unexpected bangs, cartridges flying over the walls between lanes, targets bouncing).  The biggest issue was that the target had vertical bounce on the cable system since the target was not at the end of the range (25 yards).  I chose to shoot at this 7 yard distance because I wanted to stick with a distance that I would consider to be a realistic in-home distance (even though 21 feet is a big room).  I have no doubt that if I were properly bagged in at a bench and shooting at a non moving target I could produce tighter groups and may do so in the future.  If you are looking for more proof of the accuracy of the Governor, it can be found in the September 11, 2011 issue of "Guns & Ammo" magazine where they review the Governor and show a table of 25 yard group sizes from 2.5" to 4" depending on the ammunition.  This revolver being capable of this type of group tells you it is clearly capable at longer distances.

One thing I found was that the .45 ACP (Auto) ammo seemed to group not as tight as the .45 colt.  This was also the results in the G&A magazine article.  These three groups averaged 1.93" at 7 yards.  The moon clips made loading very fast just as if you were using a speed loader, but removing the empty cartridge cases was a pain until I got the hang of prying them out with the blade of my knife.

Figure 12 - Tula .45 Auto                   Figure 13 - Tula .45 Auto                    Figure 14 - Tula .45 Auto
Smith & Wesson Governor Review   Smith & Wesson Governor Review   Smith & Wesson Governor Review

I did formulate the opinion that the .45 Colt was the more accurate round to shoot.  You can see that the greatest variation in my groups was vertically (bounce of target) and if I could have gotten a still target, these would have been some very acceptable results for this revolver.  The Blazer .45 Colt 300 grain JHP averaged 1.27" at 7 yards.  The aluminum case Blazer ammo did tend to get stuck in the cylinder and I had to push it out with a screwdriver so beware if you go this route.

Figure 15 - Blazer .45 Colt                  Figure 16 - Blazer .45 Colt
Smith & Wesson Governor Review   Smith & Wesson Governor Review

The Winchester Supreme Elite PDX1 .45 Colt 225 grain averaged JHP 1.80" at 7 yards.  I had no issues with the extraction of the cartridge cases for this ammo.

Figure 17 - Sup. Elite .45 Colt            Figure 18 - Sup. Elite .45 Colt             Figure 19 - Sup. Elite .45 Colt
Smith & Wesson Governor Review   Smith & Wesson Governor Review   Smith & Wesson Governor Review



One thing I found was there seemed to be a variation in the point of impact for the .45 ACP when compared to the .45 Colt.  The .45 ACP seemed to group higher on the target.  Based on the group sizes, I will probably plan to shoot the .45 Colt when accuracy is the desire.  Both my daughter and I felt the Smith & Wesson Governor Revolver had a good balance/feel and the felt recoil was not a big issue with any of the ammunition we used during our tests.  When shooting in double action, the trigger had a firm but smooth and steady pull.  In single action it had a very nice crisp pull at just under 5 pounds.

Overall, I am impressed with the capability of the Smith & Wesson Governor Revolver and feel it is well suited for home or personal defense.  One thing I want to make clear is that regardless of what you shoot, .410, .45 Colt or .45 ACP, you always need to focus on aiming to make your shots.  Don't be fooled by the notion that shooting a shot shell allows you to shoot from the hip (unless you decided to go with the Crimson Trace Grip option).

For more detailed photos and commentary, make sure you check out the other parts of this review and feel free to leave comments on my Reader's Comments page.  The following links are provided to help you see other parts of this review. 

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