Monday, September 02, 2019

.32 Caliber Range Report

On Saturday I was able to get the Beretta 81 out to the range. I put 50 rounds of Aguila and 20 rounds of Fiocchi .32 ACP through the gun. It showed good accuracy at 7 yards and had no malfunctions. As expected, the Fiocchi ammo, which was made in Hungary, was loaded hotter than the Aguila ammo. Recoil with both loads was mild.

I also put 50 rounds of Remington .32 S&W through my "Cowboy Pimp Gun," a Ruger Single Six Vaquero chambered for .32 H&R Magnum.

Shooting .32 S&W in the Ruger felt like a pop gun. My reason for buying the .32 S&W ammo was to get brass so I can reload it with black powder for my vintage-1878 S&W Number 1 1/2. My plan is to load the black powder ammo with an Ideal No. 2 reloading tool which I won on eBay yesterday.

(Picture borrowed from the auction.)

Another pic from the auction shows some corrosion in the bullet mold cavity but I think it'll clean up OK with some Evaporust. Even if the bullets aren't perfect it's not like I'm going to get gilt edge accuracy from the Number 1 1/2, which has merely vestigial sights.

That said, shooting the .32 S&W in the Ruger was plain fun and I have three more boxes of it.

Out of curiosity I tried 5 rounds of Aguila .32 ACP in the Ruger. The .32 ACP cartridge is semi-rimmed and being a rod-ejector, I don't need to be concerned with the small rims slipping over an ejector star. Pressure of SAAMI-spec .32 ACP is under what the Ruger is rated for, being chambered in .32 H&R Magnum (20,000 PSI vs. 21,000 CUP.)

However, CIP-spec 7.65mm Browning / .32 ACP can be loaded to 23,000 PSI so it's probably not a good idea to run it in most .32 H&R wheelguns. It would be safe to shoot in revolvers chambered for the .327 Federal Mag, which is rated for 45,000 PSI. I suspect that it would be fine in the Ruger, which is rather overbuilt.

Aside from shooting the Beretta and Ruger, I put another 50 rounds through my Glock 19-sized Polymer 80 pistol. I need to do some more tinkering with it, because although it feeds and ejects fine, it's not locking back after the last shot in a magazine. This is with both MagPul and Glock factory mags, and with CCI Blazer Brass 115 grain and 124 grain Winchester 9mm NATO Ball.

One thing I'm noticing is that it's becoming increasingly difficult to see the front sight of small pistols when shooting them indoors under florescent lighting, especially if they aren't square. I may look into getting a Merit Optical Attachment for Pistol Shooting. (I don't have this problem when shooting outdoors and my iris is contracted, which gives better depth of field.)

Yay for middle age.

Friday, August 30, 2019

A Brace of .32s

Nowadays, .32 caliber handguns are not super popular with American gun owners. When choosing a small bore, most will just get a .22. And when looking for a centerfire, .380s, 9mm, and larger are much more popular. This has become even more true with the advent of ultra compact .380s like the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard and Ruger LCP, and very small 9mms like the S&W Shield.

However, in the late 19th Century small .32 caliber revolvers were very popular. When Smith & Wesson wanted to come up with a larger gun than the Number 1 in .22 Short, they introduced the Number 2 Old Army in .32 rimfire.

In 1878 Smith & Wesson introduced the Number 1 1/2 Third Issue in .32 S&W, their first centerfire cartridge. With an 85 grain lead bullet at about 700 FPS it's hardly a barn burned by today's standards, but in the pre-antibiotic days, getting shot with anything was extremely dangerous, which made it a good deterrent due to the likelihood of infection. In fact, when Leon Czolgosz shot President William McKinley, he used an Iver Johnson .32 S&W revolver. McKinley died eight days later.

A few weeks ago I sold one of my AR-15s so I had some fun money burning a hole in my pocket. In perusing Simpson Ltd.'s website, I came across a very nice looking early production S&W 1 1/2 in .32 S&W. I called them up on Saturday and yesterday the Fedex truck dropped this off with me:

Here it is next to an iPhone 6S Plus for scale.

Mechanically, it's perfect. There is no end shake, the timing is spot on, and it locks up tightly. There is a little pitting in the bore. I was able to remove the grips screw but the panels seem to be stuck on the gun. I need to figure out what I can use to soak in to loosen them but at the same time won't damage them. Also, the hammer screw wouldn't turn so I have some penetrating oil sitting on it. I'd like to get the grips and side plate off to inspect and photograph the inside.

I don't expect the pitting to hurt accuracy because my 51 year old eyes can't see the vestigial sights anyway. I plan to get ahold of some .32 S&W ammo loaded with black powder and try it out at halitosis range.

The other .32 I picked up yesterday is more modern. Recently, a bunch of surplus Beretta Model 81 Cheetahs came into the country. A story I read online is that they came from the Italian prison system, which is plausible since European law enforcement agencies liked .32 ACP (AKA 7.65mm Browning in Europe) for much of the 20th Century.

I had been holding off on ordering on the 81s but yesterday my local shop posted on Facebook that they'd received in a few in very clean condition. So, after dinner I ran over there, traded in a Stoeger Coach Gun that had been gathering dust, and tossed in another $40.

It was indeed very clean. It's been shot but well maintained. It has an "AF" date code stamped on the right side, which indicates that it was built in 1980.

That is a full sized Benchmade Griptilian knife in the picture with the pistol. It's large for a .32 auto so I expect it to be very pleasant to shoot.

I had thought it might be a good gun for my wife but as a straight blowback retracting the slide requires quite a bit of effort, and there's not a lot to hold onto.

Along with the Beretta I picked up two boxes of Aguila 71 grain FMJ .32 ACP ammo. I hope to shoot it this weekend, and I plan to get some European-spec ammo, which tends to be loaded hotter than American ammo in this caliber.

Range reports to follow.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Fishing With A Dirt Cheap Rod

Last year when I started to get back into fishing I became aware of Tenkara, including some very inexpensive rods imported from Asia. By inexpensive I mean that I saw them for $5 with free shipping from China when bought on eBay.

Earlier this week I ordered a very similar cheap rod made by uxcell from Amazon, for the princely sum of $10.47 on Prime. Uxcell offers them in several lengths. Since my good Tenkara rod is 12 feet long, I decided to go shorter and got a 2.5M / 8.2 foot rod. I figured it might be easier to use when there are a lot of overhanging branches. That's common along creeks in Southeastern PA.

Actually, based on what I read on, this might be more properly classed as a "keiryu" rod due to the lack of a cork handle.

The fit and finish of this rod are nowhere near as nice as my Wild Water Tenkara rod, but it was about 1/9th the cost. Before I took it out I added a couple layers of plumber's Teflon pipe tape to the threads on the base plug, because it seemed a little loose. I also added a couple drops of super glue to where the lillian attaches to the tip. Then, I added a lanyard of day glow line to the cap to make it easier to find if I drop it in the woods. Finally, I added a line winder from the 3-pack I got a few weeks ago. I much prefer this type to the foam disks.

Collapsed, the rod is 15-3/8" long. Weight of the rod itself without the line or winder is 59g / 2.08 ounces.

Closeup of the markings:

I was pleasantly surprised to see "Made in Japan" on it.

As a proof of concept, I decided to try something different. Instead of rigging it with a Tenkara line, tippet, and fly, I attached about 10 feet of #18 tarred bank line terminating in a swivel. Tarred bank line is intended more for catfishing but I had a hunch that it would work OK in lieu of level line, especially if using the rod with bait. Bank line is very popular with bushcrafters and I thought it would be interesting to try the new rod with something that many bushcrafters will already have on hand.

When I got to the Wissahickon Creek tonight after work, I attached a snelled and debarbed #6 hook and put a piece of a Slim Jim on it. After I got the hang of casting with the rig and getting several nibbles, I pulled out a decent sized sunfish.

After awhile the fish stopped showing interest in the bits of Slim Jim so I switched over to wet flies. To do so I left the swivel on the end of the bank line and attached a few feet of tippet to it, then tied on a fly. (I don't know the name of any flies except for Killer Bugs, which I was out of. I have some more being delivered tomorrow.)

Anyway, after a few casts this little bluegill took a bite:

Because I used debarbed hooks and neither fish swallowed the hooks, I was able to release both of them easily.

The uxcell rods are a good way to try out Tenkara / Keiryu type fishing on the cheap. They are inexpensive enough to leave in your car, bugout bag, or get home bag.