A Productive Day At The Range

I have been working on several new loads for various calibers lately but I haven’t been able to make it out to the range to test them out. Well, I finally made the time and took care of that.

Packed up and ready to go to the range!

The two loads I most wanted to test out were:

  • .38 Special 148 Grain Hollow-based Wadcutters (HBWC) over Trail Boss powder
  • .32 Smith & Wesson 77 Grain Lead Round-nosed (LRN) also using Trail Boss

I was really excited about using this particular powder because it is especially bulky and fills the cases very nicely. Unfortunately, these loads didn’t perform as well as I would have hoped. Neither resulted in the velocity I was hoping for. The .38 Special rounds were not going fast enough to stabilize and were keyholing the target. I will say that a 5/8ths inch long bullet traveling sideways at around 500 fet per second (fps) makes a fairly impressive hole in a paper target.

I am going back to a more traditional powder (probably Hodgden 700X) for both of these loads. While the loads were not a success the testing proved exactly what I needed it to do so from that perspective it was a success. My chronograph worked and showed me right what I needed to know.

Until I shot it…

Chrono down! Medic!

I finished testing the two pistol loads I wanted to test so decided to get a little practice in while waiting to move over to the rifle range. Somehow one of my rounds hit the sunshade on the top of the unit and the whole thing took a nose dive into the dirt. That’s one of the problems and risks to this type of chrono and one I was willing to take as a trade off for the extra flexibility in the types of testing I could do (semi-auto handguns, bows and crossbows) and the price of the unit.

I will probably have to replace the sunshade but I will have to work with it a bit to see if there is any other damage.

I have always liked the idea of a small red dot sight on my hunting rifle. At closer ranges it is quick to being on target. It makes the rifle lighter and easier to carry in heavy brush. Plus, I can shoot with two eyes open and still see my target.

I was pretty sure it would work well enough at closer distances but I wanted to see if my marksmanship and experience had improved enough that I could use it at longer ranges as well; 100 to 150 yards (I know that’s not a long distance to many of you). I had a Primary Arms red dot laying around so I mounted it on my Ruger American Ranch rifle in 7.62×39 (7.62 commie) and loaded the rifle in the bag.

Red dot on 7.62×39 Ruger American Ranch

The little red dot sure changed the weight of the rifle and its balance point. I liked that just as much as I thought I would. I sighted the little optic in at 25 yards with just a few clicks and was shooting just fine at that distance. Fifty yards was the same. No problem with hits.

100 yards?

OK, so much for this idea.

At that distance I was still hitting the target reasonably well. In fact, back when I first started shooting center fire rifles I would have been pretty happy with those groups on a scoped rifle. Easy center mass hits on a man sized target at that distance but I like to be more accurate than that when hunting. My groups opened up a little too much for what I would be comfortable with for hunting.

Plus at that distance the target was visible but not nearly as much as it would be with even a 2x optic. The extra magnification will help ensure that I am hitting exactly where I want on the animal and hitting exactly what I think I am. Another test that successfully failed. I will be going back to the 2×7 scope.

The one test I really wanted to do but didn’t get a chance to was to test some .308 Winchester loads I put together some time ago. By that time the heat was really starting to get to me so I was about ready to go. Besides, I had already shot my chrono so…

…I’ll just have to head back out there again soon

Take care and God bless.

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The Lever Gun Has Had Its Day

The lever gun has had its day, and a hell of a day it was. But the present and the future belong to the bolt-action and the AR.

-David E Petzal, Field and Stream (link)

Well, I am not sure where ol’ David lives but it sure isn’t around here.

He is correct about some things. The increased interest in long range precision shooting tends to move people away from lever actioned rifles. The bolt gun tends to be a better platform for that particular sport. He is also correct that the AR platform is now incredibly popular and a new “wonder cartridge” is released every few years which tends to keep them selling. So, the days of a deer rifle in every pickup truck and every deer rifle being a lever action from either Marlin or Winchester are gone. That’s true as well.

However…

It doesn’t take the incredible popularity or success Henry has had in recent years. with their lever actions. Typically you don’t see new models and new chamberings being released as often as Henry does in a platform that is dead.

Remlin sales are probably still suffering these days but that has more to do with their quality control and production issues than the the demise of lever action rifles. By the way, a quick check of the biggest sporting goods store in my area has the Marlin 336 as a top seller.

Winchester may have sent production to Miroku in Japan but I sure don’t see their prices falling or spare inventory sitting on the shelves. And we won’t even go into the replica manufacturers like Rossi, Uberti, etc. who also seem to be doing quick well selling this deceased platform.

Now let’s take a look over at the used firearm market. JM manufactured Marlins, especially pistol caliber carbines, sure do seem to be hold their value pretty well. I have seen worn out old Marlins and Glenfieds going for the same price as brand new bolt guns. Finding a pistol caliber carbine, especially chambered in .38/.357 for less that eight or nine hundred dollars. Go ahead. Try.

In the leftist occupied sections of the country there is a renewed interest in lever action rifles, especially in pistol calibers, as self-defense weapons. Because ARs are essentially banned in many of these locales.

Folks, these are not the signs of the end of the lever action rifle. It is a sign of a writer out of touch with the real world.

Take care and God bless.

Some New Toys

I have to admit that as of late I have not been very good about saving money. I have been very good about buying myself some new toys…

Iver Johnson in .32 Smith & Wesson

I have always been fascinated by the Iver Johnson revolvers. They were so far ahead of their time in so many ways. Drop safe transfer bar firing pin? Yup, about 70 years before Bill Ruger. Trigger safety? About 80 years before Gaston Glock. Wonderful Wife inherited one from her dad that was non-functional. It was, in fact, found while fishing in a roadside pond. The serial numbers had been removed as had the sights. He called it his Bonnie and Clyde gun. I picked up the little brother (.32 vs .38 Smith & Wesson) that is in a lot better condition than his although missing quite the same level of history.

I will be reloading .32 S&W and will have ammo to take it out and give it a try soon.

A pair of Webleys

The barrel on my Grandfather’s Mark II Webley was damaged a while back (link). I found another Mark II on Gunbroker and paid way too much for what will likely become a parts donor. But that old Webley has some serious sentimental value and the parts from this one will make it whole again.

A Pair of 36s

I mentioned already on the blog that I had purchased a Smith & Wesson Model 36 with a 3″ barrel. She has some holster wear but is otherwise in fine shape. I love shooting this little gun and may decide to carry it on occasion (if I can find the right holster).

.44 caliber (replica) 1851 Navy

How could I resist? It was 25% off. It was able to be shipped directly to my door. and it makes a huge cloud of smoke whenever I shoot it.

This is a replica of the 1851 Navy by Pietta and is such a blast to shoot that I couldn’t pass it up. It was such a cool deal that I took care of a couple of birthday presents at the same time I ordered mine!

Other than the Model 36, none of these are guns I would use for self-defense unless I absolutely had to. None have any real investment value. None will put food on the table. They are, essentially, toys (for use at the range) and that is all. I probably shouldn’t have spent the money on them but I really wanted them. All but one were pretty decent deals and there is more to life than what you need. Sometimes it is nice to get something you just want…

Take care and God bless.

How To Reduce The Risk Of Getting Shot

I came across a post on a site I am unfamiliar with “Anti Media” one ways to avoid becoming a “gun violence” statistic and it actually made some good points (link).

For example, the number one recommendation was to not commit suicide. While this is someone trite it is still true. Most gun related deaths in the US, about 63%, are from suicide. Now, will banning firearms prevent suicide?

No.

I had a relative in the house for a while who was at risk for suicide. I was particularly careful with my firearms during that time frame. During one conversation with her I tried to get her to turn over a knife she had in her purse. She looked at me for a minute and then explained all the different things within the house that she could use to kill herself; kitchen knives, medications, household chemicals, the pool, ropes, cable, chains, taking a dive off the roof, the motorcycle in the garage, etc. She told me those were just the ones she could think of and there were probably more…

Other top suggestions included:

  • Don’t join a gang
  • Don’t deal in illegal drugs
  • Avoid dangerous people like criminals and abusive people

One of my personal favorites was to avoid gun free zones since nearly all mass shootings have occurred in gun free zones…

Just something to think about.

Take care and God bless.

 

Gun Shop Observations: SIG P365 and Ruger PC Carbine

Heading home from a meeting on the other side of town I stopped off for a bite to eat and also took a few extra minutes to browse at one of the local gun stores. I generally just go and drool over the Colt Snake guns they have in a special cabinet at the end of the counter. Guns I would love to have but never will unless Wonderful Wife wins me the lottery.

SIG SAUER P365

Further down the counter another customer was looking at the new P365 from SIG. Given that I am already pretty investing in both the Glock 42 and Glock 43 and the fact that I have pretty much transitioned into carrying either the LCR or the Airweight I was interested in this new choice but not overly so. Nevertheless, it was already out so I decided to go ahead and give it a feel as well.

Wow!

First, this thing is tiny. To be honest it is far more comparable in size and feel to the Glock 42 than the 43. It really does feel more like a little .380 than a 9mm, especially a 9mm with ten rounds on tap.

Second, SIG has done a great job of making this little guy feel really good in the hand (your results may vary). The shape of the backstrap especially the palm swell and the cutouts below the trigger and at the top of the backstrap really help. Between the texture and shape of the grip it feels small but also feels like it would be really easy to control recoil.

The trigger feels just about the same as the P320 (which most people like) so as long as the recoil is not too extreme this should be a fantastic shooter. I would love to get one out to the range sometime soon.

The only concern I would have is that the texture that adds to the sense of control might be a bit of a challenge when carrying concealed. It could catch on clothing and rub uncomfortably on any exposed skin.

All I can say is if you are in the market for a small concealed carry semi, the P365 should be on your short list.

Ruger PC Carbine

This is one of the recently released firearms that I have been most excited about. I love the idea of a pistol caliber carbine from a preparedness perspective. I also like the idea of being able to practice with a less expensive round. The fact that Ruger released this as a take-down model that could be configured to take Glock magazines was a double plus bonus. So, to say that I was excited to handle one in the gun store was a bit of an understatement.

Wow!

This little sucker is heavy. I never realized that this is a seven pound rifle (6.8 actually) before being loaded up with ammo or any extra spacers in the stock. My Ruger American Ranch Rifle in 7.62×39 weighs in at only a few ounces more than that with the scope and sling!

The extra weight means the recoil from this little rifle should be pretty minimal but when I think of a pistol caliber carbine I think of something a good bit lighter and handier. The rifle is well balanced with most of the weight towards the rear of the little rifle but still…

The fellow who was looking at the P365 walked up as I was handling the PC Carbine. The look on his face when I handed it to him probably mirrored mine when I picked it up. His immediate comment was “Wow, that’s a lot heavier than I thought it would be.” Which is exactly what I said.

To be honest, although they are not semi-autos, this makes the Ruger 77/357 (5.5 lbs) and Henry Big Boy Steel Carbine (6.5 lbs) look a whole lot more attractive. They are a little more expensive than the PC Carbine and shoot more expensive (.38/.357) ammo but they are a lot lighter and are consistent with the calibers I am currently carrying.

Conclusions

Bottom line, gun store fondling does not translate into real world shootability. I would still like to get the Ruger PC Carbine out on the range and after handling it I would like to get a P365 out on the range as well. The PC Carbine dropped down from “I really want one” to “maybe” on by firearm wish list. The P365 jumped up to a “cautious maybe” from a “nah, don’t really need it.”

Take care and God bless!

Buy Ammo Now

Even though Justin over at TheRevolverGuy.com has decided to carry a bottom feeder instead of a revolver he still runs a pretty great web site and I still frequent it regularly.

I came across this post the other day and I wanted to share it:

Panic Now: Building An Ammo Inventory

In it he shares a number of thoughts on why it is a good idea to stock up on ammo while demand is (relatively) low and availability is high including:

-Avoid cost fluctuations

-Avoid future shortages

-Avoid cost jumps due to increased taxes

-Avoid future bans or regulatory rules

-Being prepared for civil unrest

I couldn’t agree more, especially since I kinda added that last one in reading between the lines.

He also addresses the question of how to go about building your inventory and much ammo to keep on hand.

I use both approaches that he suggests; buying a little extra every time you get ammo for a range trip and buying in bulk. Most of what I have on hand was from buying a little at a time. We have a large retailer in the area that sells most common caliber pretty cheap and I take advantage of that. I have also bought in bulk when I wanted to reach a goal quickly and had the dollars to spare. I also watch for sales and buy calibers I use regularly when it is a good price.

My original inventory goals match up with his recommendations of one years supply on hand. Once I met those goals I reevaluated. In some cases I needed to stock more of one or another caliber because I started shooting it more and in some cases, for specific calibers, I just wanted some extra on hand above the one year goal.

I also learned to reload and have a supply of the components I would need if I have to go that route.

My grand mother lived through The Great Depression and she always lived by the rule of stocking up when times are good and being frugal when they are not. I try and live by that was well.

Take care and God bless

Third Range Report: Ruger LCR in 9mm

Since I initially purchased the Ruger LCR in 9mm I have been on a quest (obsession?) to determine why the recoil on a higher pressure round (9mm) seemed lighter than the .38 Special Ruger LCR I own. I have tried changing the grips to match but that had almost no impact on the amount of felt recoil and the 9mm still won the light recoil crown between these two (almost) identical revolvers.

So, this time out I was able to not only match the grips (both factory tamer grips) but also the ammunition. On a recent shopping trip I found some reasonably matched ammunition to use.

For the .38 Special I picked up a box of CCI Blazer Brass ammunition. This is loaded with125 Grain bullets that, according to the manufacturer’s specs, are launched at 865 Feet Per Second and carrying 208 ft/lbs of energy. For the 9mm load I found Federal American Eagle loaded with 124 Grain bullets that, again according to manufacturer’s specs head downrange at 1150 FPS with 364 Ft./lbs of energy. The bullet weights are the same but velocity and energy levels are different.

.38 Special vs. 9mm

I have had the ammunition for a few weeks but illness, work and life in general kept me from hitting the range until last weekend.

The contenders…

…and the results?

For all intents and purposes the perceived recoil was identical.

The 9mm is a slightly more powerful round with higher velocity and energy but with similar bullet weight the few extra ounces of the LCR negates any difference in felt recoil.

I was really surprised. I expected the 9mm to be more snappy and have more felt recoil but when I was finally able to compare like to like, they are essentially the same.

So, there you have it.

Take care and God bless.

 

P.S. By the way the little 9mm revolver continues to be reliable for me and has seen no malfunctions once I switched away from the Blazer Brass 9mm ammunition I was using.