Yesterday, I took it to the range along with my chronograph. The following loads were tested with the noted results.
|CCI Blazer||200 gr. JHP||1152||590||20||29|
|Win Cowboy||250 gr. LFP||835||387||30||35|
|Win ST||225 gr. ST||946||448||18||27|
|Reload||250 gr. XTP||1778||1756||12||28|
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.