Saturday, June 02, 2012

Saturday Night Range Report

Tonight I was able to get out to the range with my dad and get some pistol shooting in.

Dad brought his Beretta M-9 and S&W Model 67. He got the M-9 pretty recently and so far its proven to be a pretty good pistol. The trigger on it is awful – heavy and the DA pull is long – but it’s been reliable and is quite accurate. To me it has all the ergonomics of a slightly rounded off 2x4, so I’m not a fan.

The Model 67 is the stainless steel version of S&W’s classic Model 15 Combat Masterpiece, built on their K-Frame. There are few handguns nicer to shoot than a K-Frame loaded with .38 wadcutters, IMHO.

As for me, I started off with my Ruger LCP, which due to it’s light weight and thinness, has become my main carry gun. I shot the 6 rounds I had loaded in the gun, Federal .380 90 grain FMJ, then put a few magazines of CCI Blazers through it. I’d wanted to try the Blazers because they are the cheapest American made .380 ammo I’ve seen. As long as the gun worked OK with them I planned to buy a few more boxes for practice. I also wanted to try the extra magazine I bought for the LCP.

As expected the new magazine and the Blazers worked fine in my limited testing. Because the LCP is so light, it’s no fun to shoot. Once I put about 3 magazines through it in one session I get shaky due to the recoil. Tonight I ran 3 mags full shooting left handed and 1 mag shooting from the wrong side. No malfunctions tonight.

Incidentally, the reason that I carry FMJ in my LCP is because penetration with .380 ACP jacketed hollowpoints is marginal. If a manufacturer develops a .380 JHP that can penetrate 12” in ballistic gelatin, I’ll reconsider my choice to carry ball.

Pietta .36 Remington

Much more enjoyable to shoot was my Pietta 1858 Remington “New Army Police” .36 caliber percussion revolver, shown above. I put the model name in quotes because Remington never made such a gun. Rather, they did make .36 revolvers during the percussion era, but they were referred to as a “Navy Model” and built on a slightly smaller frame than the .44 caliber New Model Army. Pietta builds the NAP on the NMA frame, which results in a really beefy gun.

I loaded the Pietta with 28 grains of Swiss Schuetzen FFFg black powder, a lubricated felt wad, and a .380 cast lead ball from Rush Creek. Ignition was from Remington No.10 caps.

I put 30 rounds through the wheelgun, pulling the cylinder pin after 18 rounds to put some more Ballistol on it to keep the cylinder turning easily. The Pietta suffered no malfunctions in this range session. I’ve found the Remington replicas to be much less prone to cap jams than the Colt repros.

Accuracy at 7 yards was pretty good with most of my shots in one hole a couple inches across. Unlike most cap and ball sixguns it shoots a bit low, so one of these days I need to bring a file with me to the range and take a little off the front sight, to raise the point of impact.

One thing which has continued to impress me is just how good the Swiss black powder is. I remember back in the 1990s when Elephant brand black powder was imported from Brazil, and people complained about how weak and dirty it was compared to Goex. Well, comparing Goex black powder to the Swiss stuff is like comparing Elephant to Goex. It burns much, much cleaner and is also more powerful than Goex, almost on par with Hodgdon Triple 7. I took me only four patches wet with Windex to get the Pietta’s bore clean after firing 30 shots. Unfortunately, Swiss BP is about as expensive as Triple 7.

Overall, it was a nice Saturday night.

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