Saturday, February 22, 2020

AR-15 in 7.62x39

Today I finished building my first AR-15 that isn't chambered for 5.56x45mm. It was time for something different.

While I find the 6.5 Grendel to be very interesting, I didn't want to get into a new caliber at this time, so this one is in 7.62x39. I've maintained a good stash of that caliber since before I got into ARs, starting when I bought a Chinese SKS in 1988.

I used the following parts:

The enhanced firing pin is to improve reliability with foreign ammo with hard primers, while the bolt from BRA is supposedly higher quality. One thing 7.62x39 ARs have the reputation for is breaking bolts. I'm hoping to avoid that but in case it happens, I'll have a spare ready to go.

First impressions of the AR-STONER kit were good, except for the poor staking of the carrier key to the bolt carrier, so I restaked the screws.

Here's the assembled carbine on my messy workbench:

And a close up of the receiver. It's my first AR with a graphic on it:

I would have finished it last weekend but managed to shoot a detent spring into the unknown. To complete the rifle I had to wait for an order containing spare detents and springs to arrive from Brownells.

It will be interesting to see what the recoil impulse of an AR-15 in 7.62x39 feels like compared with an SKS, AK, or VZ-2008.

I really hope that eventually Pennsylvania will legalize semiauto rifles for big game hunting. We got semiautos legalized for small game and varmints so hopefully after another year or two the PA Game Commission will realize that it hasn't caused the sky to fall and they'll let us use them for deer. This would make a fine rifle for the ranges encountered in most of PA.

I should be able to put a few rounds through it tomorrow, after which I'll post a follow up report.

Video: Guns Rights Supporters Must Speak Up

Monday, January 20, 2020

Range Day, and Presbyopia Sucks

I was off today and went to the range with three wheelguns:

  • H&R Model 733 in .32 S&W Long, with a 2.5" barrel
  • Ruger GP100 in .38 Special, with a 4" barrel
  • Uberti Bisley in .44 WCF, with a 5.5" barrel
Under the florescent lighting, I had a hard time seeing the front sight of the H&R and even the Ruger. When shooting both outside I had better luck being able to see their front sights but today, the H&R's was all but invisible. I have the H&R's front sight painted white but it just disappeared in the range lighting today. I'm going to try hitting both with some hi-viz green to see if that helps.

One of the reasons I ordered the Uberti with a 5.5" barrel was because I thought it might be easier to see the front sight compared with a 4.75" barrel. It was the one gun I shot today with which I didn't have difficulties.

Yay, middle-age.

In other news, I shot some more rounds from the box of .44 WCF handloads I'd put together with 7.0 grains of Hodgdon Universal under a 200 grain RNFP Desperado Cowboy Bullets. Grouping was OK but I had two squibs that blooped the bullet out of the barrel but were definitely underpowered. In both cases the barrel had a lot of unburned powder left in the bore. I'm going to pull down the rest of those rounds.

The only possible causes I can think of are (a) bad primers, or (b) contamination of the powder charge by my case lube. I degreased the cases after resizing but I'm wondering if I didn't do good enough of a job, and the powder was damaged in those rounds.

Even with the aggravation it beat going to work!

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Loaded some .44-40 for the Bisley

This afternoon I took advantage of unseasonably warm weather to spend some time out in my shop and load up another box of ammo to try in the Uberti Bisley. I used once-fired Starline brass from last night with the same powder charge, 7.0 grains of Hodgdon Universal. However, this time I used my home-cast bullets from the Accurate 43-215C mold.

It will be interesting to see if the heavier bullet affects the point of impact. I'm expecting it to be a bit higher. (At close range, handguns tend to have a lower POI with lighter projectiles, because they recoil less and thus the muzzle flip is less when the bullet leaves the barrel.)

Another thing that will be of interest is how well my homebrewed lube of 50/50 beeswax/mutton tallow works with smokeless powder. It works very well with black powder.

I also want to try this bullet with 8.0 grains of Universal, and 8.0 grains of Unique. I recently bought an 8 pound jug of Unique so I am hoping that it'll work well in the Bisley.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Uberti 1873 Bisley .44-40

This week I took delivery of an Uberti 1873 Bisley with 5.5" chambered for .44-40 WCF. I ordered it from Dixie Gun Works and had it shipped to a local FFL who handled the transfer for $30.

The fit and finish is very nice although I am not 100% thrilled with the varnish finish on the grips. I may strip them and finish them with Watco Danish Oil.

I didn't test the trigger with a gauge but it's crisp, and I'm guessing it's around 3 pounds, with hardly any creep.

The piece has Uberti's Cattleman II-type lockwork which includes a transfer bar and retracting firing pin, which allows it to be safely carried with all six chambers loaded.

Tonight I took it to the range with my father and brother. We shot three different loads:

1. Black Hills 200 grain CAS loads.
2. Handloads with 200 grain bullets from Desperado Cowboy Bullets on top of 7.0 grains of Hodgdon Universal powder.
3. Handloads with 219 grain bullets cast in an Accurate Molds 43-215C mold, on top of 1.9cc (~28 t0 30 grains) of Goex 3Fg plus 0.5cc of cornmeal filler. I'd put these together to mimic the ballistics of the .44 Henry Flat round, to shoot in my Cimarron 1860 Henry.

Even though the black powder load is a reduced load for .44 WCF, it had quite a bit more recoil than the smokeless loads, although it wasn't painful.

Some target pics:

I'm quite pleased with the accuracy. As you can see, it's shooting low. This was expected because several years ago Uberti started putting taller front sights on their revolvers. This allows the owner to zero it for elevation with his preferred load. Once I settle on a load I'll probably zero the piece for 25 yards.

This is my first Bisley-style revolver and I can say now that I am a fan. I found it to handle recoil very well.

I'm really happy with the revolver and look forward to putting a lot more rounds downrange with it.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Harrington and Richardson 733 Range Report

Today I got to shoot the Harrington and Richardson 733 .32 S&W Long revolver I bought a couple of weeks ago.

As mentioned in my last post, a range report was delayed because I had to replace the original hammer spring/strut assembly with a plastic part that shattered. The replacement with a metal part on it dropped right it and the gun functions as it should now.

I went shooting on a friend's property with three other people and was able to put 30 rounds through the gun at an 8" gong. From about 10 yards I hit the gun if I didn't yank the trigger. The double action pull is pretty stiff, but smooth. The single action pull is quite a bit lighter. The front sight is a narrow blade, nickel plated like the rest of the gun. I'd painted it with some white out ahead of time so I could see it.

The ammo I used was Prvi Partizan (PPU) .32 S&W Long with 98 LRN bullets. They claim a muzzle velocity of 787 FPS from a 6" barrel on their website (figures converted from metric). Out of the H&R's 2.5" it's probably making about 650 FPS. All rounds functioned as expected except for the very first shot, which gave me the first problem I've experienced with PPU ammo (and I've shot a lot of 5.56x45 and 7.63x25 from them). That round required three hits before going off.

Recoil was very mild, as expected. The H&R has small grips so in a harder recoiling round it would be unpleasant to shoot, but not with .32 S&W Long.

I don't anticipate putting high round counts through the gun but between it and my Ruger Single Six Vaquero in .32 H&R Mag, I'll probably setup for reloading .32 wadcutter ammo.

Fro the about $160 I have into the gun, I consider it well spent.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Harrington and Richardson Model 733 Revolver

Recently a local gun shop listed an H&R Model 733 revolver with 2.5" barrel for $125. The going rate on seems to be at least $150 to $300, from what I've seen. The 733 is the chrome (early) or nickel (later) version of the blued Model 732. It's marked ".32 S&W" on the barrel, but is in fact chambered for .32 S&W Long.

I've been on the lookout for a low cost wheelgun in .32 S&W Long and this seemed to fit the bill, so I called and had them hold it for a few days until I could go in to check it out in person.

Upon inspection the gun seems to have been fired very little and wasn't very dirty. I ran it through Jim March's Used Revolver Checkout and it passed, with a good lockup and no endshake, so it came home with me, along with a pound of Alliant Reloder 7 powder for use in my .44-40 rifles.

Note the lack of a cylinder catch. To unlatch the cylinder for loading or unloading, you pull forward on the ejector rod.

The serial number starts with "AH", placing the date of manufacture as 1971. It looks like it was made yesterday and had maybe a box of ammo through it.

After getting it home I ran a few patches through the bore and chambers, and cleaned out some corners with a toothbrush wet with FP-10.

One known weakness of relatively early H&R 732 / 733 is a plastic part on the end of the hammer spring guide rod, which bears on the hammer. Before I bought the gun I'd done some research and apparently, it's not uncommon for it to break. I therefore wanted to remove the grips, make a drawing of the part if mine was plastic, and replicate it in brass.

I found a photo of the offending part on Gunbroker, for reference, with the white part being the weak plastic:

Naturally, it shattered when I removed the grips. Just a little bit of lateral pressure on the assembly while pushing the left side grip off managed to break it.


After much cussing, I went online to search for a replacement. Luckily, Numrich has them, in either plastic or steel. Of course I ordered the metal part. It cost $35.99 after shipping. Even with the cost of the part the overal cost of the gun is in line what they go for nowadays at retail. I got the replacement about a week later and it dropped right in.

If you own or acquire any of the H&R double action revolvers I recommend carefully removing the grips to see if it has the plastic or metal part. If it's plastic getting the metal replacement is advisable.

So why a revolver in .32 S&W Long? They are just fun to shoot, in my opinion. Recoil is minimal with a little more pop than .22 Long Rifle.  Where legal, a lead .32 wadcutter or semiwadcutter performs well on small game without destroying much meat. Unfortunately, that doesn't include PA.

The cost to reload should be minimal, too, especially if you cast your own bullets. Based on the data I've seen good plinking and small game loads should use around 2.0 to 2.5 grains of pistol powder (e.g., Bullseye, HP-38, or Unique) which would make a pound of powder quite awhile.

Also, while on the light side for self defense, .32s beat a pointed stick. If it's all you have or can tolerate recoil-wise, a .32 S&W Long wadcutter will poke a ~5/16" hole about 15" deep in a bad guy.

I should be able to put some rounds through the H&R this week, after which I'll post a range report.