Thursday, March 31, 2005

.45 Colt Ammo

I wanted to record some of my shooting impressions concerning my new EMF Hartford 92 noted below.

Yesterday, I took it to the range along with my chronograph. The following loads were tested with the noted results.

CCI Blazer200 gr. JHP11525902029
Win Cowboy250 gr. LFP8353873035
Win ST225 gr. ST9464481827
Reload250 gr. XTP177817561228
The reload consists of 250 gr. Hornady XTP-HP over 26 gr. H110 ignited by a CCI Magnum Large Pistol primer in new Winchester cases.

These are the cartridges I've tested so far.

After chronographing, I immediately went to the targets at 50 yards. A 3" bull was placed at 50 yards and used as the aiming point. Remember, my rear sight is all the way down as low as it will go. Somewhat surprisingly, all rounds grouped into about 4". Not so surprisingly, the center of this group was 3-4" above the POA. I then moved the target to 100 yards and mounted a 12" bull just above the 3". I fired 3 rounds using the center of the large bull as an aiming point. Neither round hit the target. I then used the lower 3" bull as an aiming point. Interestingly, a neighboring shooter said something about me not being able to hit the target. Frankly, I took offense and said, "look, it shoots high, I'll try a couple at the lower bull," and cranked off 2 more at the lower bull. The impact of both rounds can be seen in the photo, 2" apart. The load used was my reload. That did it for my reloads and I fired a mixture of the other ammo using the lower bull as the POA. ALL rounds struck 11" above that and to the right of the target. Easy enough to adjust the Williams Foolproof laterally, but there was nowhere to go for elevation. Quick reference to the Brownell's technical page on sight adjustment gave the amount of adjustment needed at .065".

I wrote Steve Young about the problem and that I proposed to modify the sight to correct the problem. I immediately got a phone call from him! He mentioned that another customer had the same problem. He thinks that the same sights are used on all guns and that they are set up for the .38/357 Magnum guns. After a good discussion the following options seemed to be on the table.

1. Modify the Williams Foolproof to allow it to go deeper the .065" necessary.
2. Get a front sight .065" higher.
3. Split the difference between the front and rear sight.
4. Send it back and drill 2 MORE holes for the sight.
5. Send it back and bend the barrel.

I rejected options 5 and 4. I do not want to bend the barrel, drill and tap 2 additional holes OR send it back.

The front sight is already an unsupported ½" tall. I don't think I want a taller front sight and don't want the hassle of changing out the front sight. A post or sourdough would give me about .020" to .025" height because the bead is used by placing it over the target and the post bisects the target. How it is used counts for something. I rejected options 2 and 3.

So, I've set myself up to modify the rear sight and after a close examination and taking the sight all the way apart and putting it back together a couple of times, started to work. First I scribed the outline of the elevator and then chucked the mount in the vise (after removing from the rifle, of course). I then went to work on it with a file. It took a couple of different files and the Dremel tool to nick out a particularly troublesome corner but I notched out the top back of the mount to give me another .065" clearance. Seems to work, now I'll be back to the range (after I load some more ammo).

Back to the ammo. All except my handloads were very mild generating only about 3-5 FPE in recoil energy despite the light weight of the rifle. Velocities are probably little different from those of the same cartridges fired in a revolver. The light loads smoked the brass cases and sometimes made it appear that I'd had a case failure by virtue of all the smoke coming from the action!

The CCI Blazer was first up and while accurate and mild to shoot (all are very mild) it didn't extract well because the rim isn't correct for use with the extractor. I can see how it would work fine in a revolver, but it was mildly irritating in the rifle.

Next was the Winchester Cowboy load. Put up in an old west appearing box, it is very mild in performance giving the lowest velocities of any factory ammunition tried.

Then, I tried the Winchester Silvertip. I thought this would be a relatively "hot" ammo as it is clear that it was made for the self-defense use of the cartridge. Just look at that huge hollowpoint!. Not so. Did give cloverleafs at 50 yards.

Then, the rip snorters, my handloads. Not only is the AD and SD of this ammo lower than any factory ammo but it cut cloverleafs at 50 yards AND can go into less than 2" at 100 yards (see target). Once I get it zeroed and fine-tuned, I think this will be pretty good ammo for my uses. 1756 FPE is nothing to sneeze at and extraction and ejection were slick and positive.

Through it all, the rifle performed as expected. SLICK! All ammo fed without problems except that I short stroked it twice for some unknown reason. The bore must be slick as well, clean up was a breeze. Brass came out with little deformation indicating a seemingly well cut chamber. Recoil should have been stout with my handloads but it wasn't at all punishing. It seemed less so than my old Winchester and Marlin 1894s in .44 Magnum. Both guns weighed more so it must be a happy coincidence of the rifle's geometry and my body shape!

With the sight now right I expect that the next range session will produce a good zero.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

I have to compliment Steve Young of Steve's Gunz who called me last night to discuss my concerns. Now I know that he's in Texas but this was still at the end of a long work day for him. He's a pleasant fellow to talk to and it is clear he enjoys his work. I think it is good customer service and Steve will get my business again.

What we discussed is the mounting of the Williams Foolproof on my carbine. Steve pointed out that the CAS shooters don't use the guns at targets beyond 50 yards and the wide range of adjustment isn't necessary. He also pointed out that these are 100 yard guns. I kinda disagree on that, I think that properly loaded they should be good to 150 yards. After that trajectory DOES get to be too iffy with MY ability to judge distance. He also mounts the sights at that height so that if one wants to switch to a Lyman sight (the model # escapes me) you won't have to drill and tap two more holes, only one.

One can also alter the Williams, install a different front sight (a sourdough might be good) and play with your loads a bit.

I'm hoping to be able to use bullets in the range of 250 to 325 gr. at about 1600-1800 fps. As I told him, we'll see. I haven't had the gun long enough to really wring it out!

Friday, March 25, 2005

Rossi/EMF .45 Colt Carbine Arrives

I've finally (after ONLY 8 weeks) received my EMF Hartford M92 Winchester clone from Steve Young (aka Nate Kiowa Jones) of Steve's Gunz.

My new EMF 92 in .45 Colt

I haven't been able to get to the range, yet, but did get to shoot a few rounds and make a few observations.

The receiver, lever and hammer are all in color case.

Steve has a great program where he will sell you an EMF gun at 10% over wholesale, he does his race ready work and ships it to you for one price. In addition, I had him mount a Williams Foolproof Receiver Sight, replace the plastic follower with one of steel, and install a barrel sight dovetail blank to replace the removed rear sight. My total was $638.90 and I think worth every penny.

When I got to the local FFL to pick up the gun, the folks there commented on how slick this gun was compared to the Legacy, Navy Arms and Rossi guns that they had sold. It is slick! You can operate the lever, under load, with only your little finger. Further, it works at speed or as slowly as you can work the lever. I've yet to see just how long a cartridge it will handle but it did handle all the ammo I had on hand.

Now the ammo is an experience. I suppose that the major markets around here are for CAS shooters and those who wish to spend little money as everyone seems to have only the "cowboy" loads by various makers and CCI Blazers in the aluminum cases. There is one exception, most dealers seem to have large quantities of Winchester Silvertips which use a 200 gr. bullet. It is a good thing that I bought some 250 gr. Hornady XTPs and a couple of hundred new cases. I'm certainly not going to be able to explore the full performance range of this rifle with locally available ammunition.

The gun itself is pretty nice. While the color case is nothing as brilliant and bright as a Doug Turnbull it does have the appearance of well-worn well-cared for color case hardened metal. I don't know if that is the intent but it does give the appearance of a very well cared for rifle with faded colors. I should note that this is on this particular gun. I've seen several of the Navy Arms guns with a more intense color. Those of you who do this know that there can be variations in production guns and I don't know what process is used for the color-case on the Rossi made guns.

The metal finish of the blued steel parts seems pretty even with no dips or waves or color variation. However, even I (I've got color deficient vision) could see that the magazine tube and the barrel have a different finish. I'm not certain if the barrel simply has a higher polish but the colors and appearance is different. I did need a good natural sunlight on it to see it though. It is the magazine tube that is the odd duck as the rest of the blued steel parts seem to match.

The wood to metal fit is generally very good with only 2 exceptions. Both are where the butt meets the receiver and both are on the left side of the gun. One is where the wood stands a bit proud of the receiver boss and the other is where a bit of a chip (possibly) was taken from the wood along the tang. All the rest is very good even the buttplate which seemed to be a bugaboo on other guns I've seen from this maker (Rossi).

The wood itself is some sort of hardwood that mimics walnut but clearly isn't. Fairly unimpressive stuff, only the left side of the butt has any figure at all. I'm sure that many of Winchester's guns with the gumwood stocks looked no better than this.

I had Steve install a Williams Foolproof Receiver Sight as I thought that best for my purpose. I did consider a good fully adjustable tang peep sight but passed on that even though I'm a fan of them and just installed one on my 1906 Winchester (see below). Why? Because I thought it would get in the way and MIGHT be a hazard in high recoil situations with maximum loads. The second reason was unfounded despite the light 5 to 5¼ lb weight of this rifle. However, it would have been in the way.

This rifle is petite, so much so that when you wrap your hand around the wrist of the rifle your hand covers the whole wrist. I think that this would make a tang sight a big problem on what is a hunting rifle. Sometimes I have to control the rifle by holding by the wrist and this would be difficult indeed with the tang sight in the way.

The Williams Foolproof is a great sight and I have one on many of my rifles. It is light, strong, easily & accurately adjusted, without unnecessary protrusions to catch brush. Steve did a great job on the installation but I, in my ignorance, failed to make a specific request. That is, the sight should be mounted so that with the vertical adjustment in the lowest position the horizontal just clears the top of the receiver. It appears that this translates to having the top of the mount even with the bottom of the bevel on the receiver OR 1/8" lower than was done. Now I see why Steve mounted the sight mount even with the top of the receiver, but it doesn't give the full range of adjustment that users might find necessary. For my next rifle (I'm thinking .32-20), this is what I will have done.

For those who may not know, this is how the rifle (carbine) started.

I think that Steve did a wonderful job and I really like the gun. I hope that I'll get to wring it out including running all the ammo over the chronograph before too long.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Well, the grinding of the new tang screw went off without a hitch. I really like these little guns. Lots of fun. Helps excite you when you had great times with grandpa and one of these fine rifles.

Winchester M62A (top) and Winchester 06

The photo makes clear the differences in size between the 06 and 62A. The 06 is very petite compared to the 62A which feels pretty solid even for a grown man. The shorter length of pull is clear. The shorter barrel makes a noticeable difference in weight. My kids used to think it was heavy and preferred the 06. Right now the 06 is zeroed for the Aguila Colibri .22 ammo. No, it doesn't stick in the barrel.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Winchester M1906 Marbles Sight Installation

As I noted last time I'm searching for projects, mostly catch-up jobs, to do while awaiting my EMF M92 from Steve Young (aka Nate Kiowa Jones) of Steve's Gunz. The first of those projects is the Winchester M06 (aka 1906) that was my maternal grandfather's. When I got it it had just come out of 20-30 years of storage in my grandparents' attic and had a coat of fine rust over most of the exterior. However, the internals and wood were in pretty good condition and it WAS my grandfather's gun so...

Sight Installation Closeup

Well I had it bead blasted and reblued. I messed with some modern open sights for a while and then a few days ago I re-installed the #21 front sight and ordered a Marble's tang peep from MidwayUSA. AT $125 (less a nickel) it isn't inexpensive but not all that bad either. I received it today and quicker than Teddy Kennedy after bourbon and ice I had the sight on the gun.

Although I wrote the people at Marble's prior to ordering the sight so that I could be sure it would fit AND that the screws would be properly threaded I wasn't all that certain. Their response to my inquiry Will this tang sight for the Winchester 1906 work with the factory drilled and tapped mounting hole? Is a new tang screw included properly threaded for the Winchester? was Q1 - Yes Q2 - Yes, you may have to change threads. Not at all reassuring. However, all threads and hole spacing matched perfectly. The only problem was that the replacement tang screw was a bit long. No problem that, a few minutes with a grinder and it will be just fine.

This is a wonderful sight in another way. It is easy to adjust (I hope not TOO easy!). Looking through the aperture, I was quickly able to roughly zero the new sight by aligning it with the sight picture of the old open sight. The adjustments were easy to make and there was no roughness in the threads. I then removed the new/old rear sight. I hadn't done that before I took this photo (too excited).

Well, I'm bound for the basement to do some grinding on a tang screw!