Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Back to the range...

Colt Official Police 5" made in 1929
After my rather interesting day attempting to sort out how useful my S&W 1905 4th change in .32-20 might actually be, I was told that it must be me responsible for the dismal performance. While that's certainly true in some way, the question is in WHAT way. Is it my eyesight, my shooting ability (eye/hand coordination), the loads used, matching the load to the gun, or what? So, I decided to try another firearm.

The gun in question is this Colt Official Police in .38 S&W Special. The range was again, 15 yards and I used the same 50-foot slow fire pistol bull. Once again, I alternated right to left, DA to SA for 48 rounds on each target. I shot at the same time of day, with the sun in about the same position.

Several issues became apparent. In DA I had one chamber that would not rotate into position correctly every time. That is to say, when I started the cycle by pulling the trigger, the hand couldn't "lift" or rotate the cylinder into position. This didn't happen with any but the one chamber, it didn't happen every time but often enough, and it didn't seem to be caused by something like high primers (and how did I manage to load a high primer case to affect the one chamber and no others?). It wouldn't do it when unloaded nor would it do this when used SA, thumb-cocking the hammer.

Another problem was the sights. Again, I would lose the front sight. These sights aren't polished to a "silver" like the Smith and the rear notch is much more generous. Still, I would lose the front sight and be unable to focus on it. This does nothing for repeatable sight alignment.

The third "problem" for me was the grip shape. This gun is a bit larger than the K-frame S&Ws and there is a longer reach to the trigger. This is particularly noticeable in DA and I caught myself incorrectly handling the trigger particularly after the distraction of the aforementioned malfunction. You can see in the DA target that my trigger control issues are much more pronounced.

SA target
DA target

Loading and shooting was done as quickly as it was possible to load from the ammo boxes set on the ground at my feet. I used the 6 o'clock hold (or thought I was). The load was the Hornady 158 gr. swaged SWC over 5 gr. of Unique. This is not a wimp load for the .38 Special. Clearly the gun wanted to shoot, the limiting factor was me. I think it is my vision. As I mentioned before, I have cataracts and wear bifocals. This is clearly affecting my ability to see the sights. It is more than a bit frustrating.

However, it is clear to me that the other gun, the S&W 1905, has at least some issues with the ammo used.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

At the range with the Smith and Wesson Model 1905 4th change...

1905 4th change with issue stocks
I got some time to run out to the Stonewall Rifle and Pistol Club to shoot a bit. So, I took my old Smith and Wesson 1905 4th change to the range. Ammo used was loaded several years back (I got it from him before Mom died or in 2009) by Jim Taylor and it utilizes Lyman's 3118 bullet. As noted a way back when this revolver is well worn as demonstrated by the gas cutting in the top strap and exterior finish. It still locks up well, but the barrel is loose and one gets the impression that only the pin is keeping it from unscrewing itself from the frame. Also, the front sight is nice and shiny and that was a bit of a problem today. I have installed a pair of magna stocks and a Tyler T-grip adapter. This is a big improvement over the issue grips.

When I got out there one of the other members was just cleaning up on the pistol range, another was mowing and two were up on the rifle range changing targets. I took advantage of the situation to get these two targets set up on the same frame and to put the frame out. I carefully measured the distance using my laser rangefinder and took a position at 15 yards.

I can often get within 15 yards of a squirrel and have done with this gun but I've only managed to bring one to bag. While plinking at dirt clods and fist size rocks made me think the gun had some potential left I had some doubt as to my actual ability to hit anything with it. I have some worries about my various eye issues (bifocals and developing cataracts) affecting my ability to sight accurately.

Taking my ammo can to the firing point I started shooting. Double action only on the right target and single action only on the left target, I alternated right to left for 8 cylinderfulls on each target, i.e. 48 rounds each. You will not see 48 bullet holes on each target. I used the 6 o'clock hold and this gun shoots a mite low with this load. Again, I should note that the sun was behind me but the sight reflected quite a bit of light and I often lost it in the rear sight.

Both targets on the range backer.  Note the .30-something holes below the targets.

After shooting I was looking at the targets and noticed that the bullet holes were dispersed very similarly no matter that I'd been shooting all DA on the right and SA on the left. So, I thought I'd try an experiment. Using the photo-editor software I clipped the two targets from the original photo, made the right or DA target 50% transparent and then overlayed the DA target on the SA target. The result is that you can see how some groups get bigger and, again, how little difference there was in using the two methods of shooting.

DA target overlayed on the SA target. 

Please note that while I matched up the center rings pretty well, there is a bit of "parallax" due to the original picture being centered between the targets. However, one can see all the shots recorded on both targets at one time. I thought it was pretty interesting.

I still like this gun. I might have to find a better example though, this one is pretty rough indeed.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Notes from the gun shop...

Much slower than it had been and more normal for this time of year. Ammo is still the big thing and people are still astounded that there is a "shortage" even as they try to do the same thing everyone else did which caused the "shortage".

Young fellow brought in a drilling, 12 ga over .25-35 or 6.5x52R, a Merkel. Oh my but what a wonderful thing. He says that he thinks it was made in 1926 but the rifle barrel is stamped "12.25.35". Any thoughts?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Videos from the past...

I was recently reading a book which mentioned the Jack Robertson and Arthur Young movie from 1926, "Alaskan Adventures". A silent film it depicts Alaska including the wildlife and shows Art Young, a rather famous archer, in action. Pretty neat!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Notes from the gun shop...

Wow! What a slow day, relatively speaking. Finally falling back to normal for this time of year in terms of business. Not that we've got ammo coming in mind you but the outflow has noticeably slowed.

There are 2 Smith and Wesson Model 17s in the shop. One is a 17-3, no box for $750 (cash) and the other is a 17-4 with box, tools, and paper for $850.

We've had an influx of Savage Model 24s. .222 over 20 ga, .30-30 over 20 ga., and another, I think it is a .22 Mag over .410 but I could be wrong about that. All came in with broken firing pins. One was missing the trigger guard and one was missing both firing pin springs! I hate to say it but I see two trends. One is that the 24s break firing pins and the other is that those who sold/traded them to us were less than forthcoming.

We also had a pre-64 Model 70 Featherweight in .243 come into the shop. Nice rifle!

As I might have mentioned we have a new "gunsmith". He is capable, careful, knows his limits and has excellent attention to detail. If he doesn't think he can do the job he won't take it. However, he only works every other week on his rotating schedule.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Trip to the NRA Annual Meeting 2013

We have been gone for twelve days, gone to Nashville, Memphis, Houston (for the NRA Annual Meeting), and Pensacola. In that time we got to see friends and family, some celebrities and a lot of new places.

Unfortunately we had not been able to complete the installation of the new water pipe to the house before we left. Although the pipe was actually installed, the inspection had not been done nor had the trench been backfilled. We could only hope that the work would be done by the time we got home. It is not. We have some major rehab to do to the front yard. It seems that the backfill wasn't done for several days after we left and that we had a pretty big rain storm which caused a lot of subsidence of the backfilled dirt and the old sod was killed. So, more topsoil has to be brought in, the old sod removed, seeding and so forth. Great fun. Now, back to the trip...

Our first stop was the Opryland Resort in Nashville. Neither of us had stayed there before. It has rather elaborate indoor gardens and water features and the the room was pretty nice albeit a very long walk from the car. There are a number of restaurants but you must be aware that, other than fast food and pizza, they do not open until 5:00 PM which is when the hamburger (very good) and pizza place closes. You can take a "cruise" around Delta Island, for a fee of course.

Cannon in front of the marker for Nathan Bedford Forrest's last speech (Thomas R Machnitzki)
We next spent two nights with our friends in Munford. I got to see the site of Nathan Bedford Forrest's last speech at the Tipton County Museum and to shoot at the Top Brass shooting range. Nana got to go shopping with her good, long time friend, Criss W______. She also had a great time playing roulette at the Southland Park Gaming and Racing in West Memphis where we met some of the W______'s friends, MaryJo and Jim C_______ and ate a prime-rib dinner.

We made a two day drive of the trip from Memphis to Houston stopping in Marshall, Texas at the Hampton Inn for the night. We took I-40 west to I-440 to I-30 south to US 59 and followed US 59 (the I-69 corridor) to Houston where we stayed at the Magnolia Hotel at 1100 Texas Avenue. The hotel was wonderful. They provide milk and cookies at night and breakfast in morning and both were excellent as were all the staff.

The NRA Annual Meeting was the primary purpose of the trip and we had a great time. On Thursday we registered, shot an AirForce precharged air rifle, and got to see, and be in, the audience of the Glenn Beck show. That was pretty interesting. It has been quite a while since I've been at a TV show taping.

On Friday we went through about half of the exhibits and the went to the Leadership Forum. Apparently we were on Fox News with Shepard Smith because Nana's brother texted me during the concert to say he'd just seen us.

Nana and me applauding Glenn Beck
Every year now, the NRA puts on an "NRA Country" concert that supports the Folds of Honor charity. This year the performers were Kevin Fowler and The Eli Young Band. Kevin Fowler was some good, hard-chargin' honky tonk get down and feel good music. His band was good, even the "roadie" was entertaining. A GREAT opener that failed because of the 30+ minutes needed to get The Eli Young Band on stage. Unfortunately the sound engineer confused good music with loud music. Sound levels were so high that one couldn't understand the words of any of the three songs we sat through. Perhaps if we knew any of the songs (or of the band) we might have enjoyed it more. We left early.

Saturday I made an early return to the floor to see the half of the exhibits we'd missed on Friday. At about noon I went back to the hotel and Nana and I walked down the street to Kobeque Grill. The food is sort of a hybrid version of Korean and modern American cuisine. I had the spicy pork rice bowl. The spicy pork and the rice were good but I'm NOT a fan of raw broccoli, cabbage and carrots. Yes I still like Kimchi but this wasn't Kimchi. It was still a good meal. This was the night of the Stand and Fight Rally. People were lining up at 4:30 and so did Nana and I. Once we got in and got our seats at about 5:30 it was only a little while before Guitarchestra (founded by Tulsa musician Jerry West) started to play. Then we had the main show. Although Glenn had said Ted Nugent would be there he was not. A relatively abbreviated affair, we moved from the Pledge of Allegiance to the National Anthem to Larry Potterfield to Frank Caliendo (who was absolutely hilarious!) and finally to Glenn Beck. Glenn Beck's speech was excellent but ran a bit long. As the old saying goes the mind can only absorb as long as the rear end can endure. Hard seats nearly put an end to our ability to absorb the many good points in Glenn's speech.

Transportation around Houston was a bit dodgy for us. Fortunately the Magnolia provided excellent shuttle service. Unfortunately, the NRA has fallen down on this aspect of the Annual Meeting, especially as compared to Pittsburgh and Charlotte. I would have liked to have gotten reservations at the Hilton or the Four Seasons which would have been but a very short walk to the George R. Brown Convention Center but that was not to be. We'll try to improve on that for next year. I think they should have the hotel discounts set up for the following year so that one can make reservations a full year in advance. I could use the planning time and a chance to get a better room in a better location.

We left Sunday morning for Atmore, Alabama to see your great Aunt S__ and Uncle M_____ as well as your Uncle in Cantonment, Florida. All were well. We had some good meals and conversations and then headed for home.