Monday, July 30, 2012

Remington with Kirst Konversion Range Report

I just realized that I never posted a follow up range report on the cartridge conversion 1858 Remington I built last month.

For those of you tuning in late, last month I took a Pietta 1858 Remington percussion revolver and with the help of a Kirst Konverter and my Dremel tool, converted it to fire metallic cartridges. .45 Colt in this case.

So far I've had it out a few times and put 100 rounds total through it. It's working like a champ. Ammo was Black Hills .45 Colt loaded with a hard cast 250 grain LRNFP bullet at a sedate 750 FPS. At 7 yards it shot a couple inches high but into one hole. This Pietta has a heavier trigger pull than my other 3 Pietta Remingtons which makes it harder to shoot accurately. I'm going to look into a trigger job.

Recoil is noticeable. It's not painful by any means but the gun has a good deal of muzzle flip with this load. It'll be interesting to try with 200 grain loads, maybe even .45 Schofields. Since you cannot safely run hot loads in these conversions, I may as well go with light loads.

The .45 Colt cowboy loads are low pressure and don't require you to use the ejector rod to extract them if the chambers are clean. During the first range trip, in which I put 40 rounds through it, I was able to get many of the empties out of the gun by elevating the muzzle then tapping the revolver's butt on the carpet-covered shooting table. Any that didn't come out this way could be easily pulled free with a fingernail. Because the loads are low pressure, the cases don't obturate and seal the chambers very well, so they do end up getting sooty. Once this happens you need something to eject the rounds.

I brought the Remington with me on a camping trip back at the beginning of July where my friends and I did some plinking with it. A .45 Colt bullet will send an old hard drive flying. :-) I also put a couple of the Black Hills rounds through a pine log that was about 10" in diameter, from about 10 - 15 yards. The bullets penetrated the wood and were found under the bark on the far side of the log, showing no deformation other than rifling marks. Remember, these are considered light loads for a .45 Colt.

Recently, I saw somewhere online a passing comparison of .45 Colt cowboy loads with .455 Webley ball. It turns out that the reduced loads intended for cowboy action shooting with .45 Colt are similar to the .455 Webley cartridge used by the British army from the 1890s through the end of WW2. For example, the Black Hills 250 grain .45 Colt load at 750 FPS gives 312 foot pounds of muzzle energy. In contrast, the .455 Webley propelled a 265 grain bullet at a plodding 600 FPS for a paltry 212 foot pounds of muzzle energy. Despite these unimpressive numbers, the .455 had a reputation as a good round for fighting handguns.

Overall, I am really pleased with the Pietta and the Kirst Konverter. The combo gets two big thumbs up from me.

SkyDrive for Mac Issue and Resolution

I have been using Microsoft's free SkyDrive cloud file storage and synchronization service for a couple of months now, and up until last week it ran very smoothly. I've been able to easily sync files between my MacBook Pro running Mac OS 10.7 Lion, and my PC running Windows 7 Professional 64-bit.

Last week the service stopped working on my Mac, and I kept getting an error about having to choose my SkyDrive folder. When I tried to do so I encountered an error complaining that SkyDrive cannot use a folder on a case-sensitive volume.

I double-checked my Mac's hard disk, and sure enough, it was partitioned as a single volume, using the "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)" file system. This is not case sensitive. Repairing permissions didn't fix the error.

After much googling, I ran across several other folks who've encountered the same error message, one of which indicated that running Apple's Software update resolved the issue. Specifically, there is a Mac OS 10.7.4 Supplemental Update, the description of which is

This update addresses an issue where certain new APIs for file access are not present on some systems.

So, with SkyDrive uninstalled from the Mac, I ran Software Update and installed this patch, along with several others. When it finished I restarted the system just to be on the safe side.

After getting back to my desktop I ran the SkyDrive installer and it was able to complete without issues.

So, if you start getting weird error messages from the Mac SkyDrive client incorrectly complaining about a case sensitive file system, run Software Update from the Apple menu.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Rossi 92 Range Report

Today I got out to the range and shot the Rossi 92 I bought last Thursday for the first time. I ran 150 rounds through it: 100 Sellier & Bellot .357 Magnum 158 grain JSP and 50 Winchester white box .38 Special +P 125 grain JHP.

When cycling the gun empty at home  the action felt pretty smooth. However, once I loaded it up it became evident that there were some burrs in the action. In particular, the S&B .357s were hanging up when trying to load them into the chamber. There were a couple burs on the breech face, alongside the ejector slot. After about 20 shots I took a needle file and knocked them down a bit. I worked through 50 rounds of .357 plus 10 rounds of .38 (which fed smoothly). After about 60 rounds the gun was noticeably smoother and I was able to do rapid mag dumps.

The S&B .357s were loaded with a truncated cone bullet, while the Winchester .38s had bullets with more of a curve to the ogive, basically a RNFP with a hole in the tip. The gun seems to feed better with a more rounded bullet profile so I'll try to use that sort of ammo in the future.

I am going to have to tweak the ejector a bit. Ejection of .357 brass was positive but when trying to eject the last .38 in the gun, the empty case stayed in the receiver every time.

When shooting .38s I also experienced one time when the cartridge on the carrier ejected from the gun along with the empty.

After about 60 or 70 rounds I noticed the bolt pin stop screw on the left of the reciever was loose. It will get some Loctite.

AIUI, it's not uncommon for the Rossi .357s (or Marlin 1894s in .357, for that matter) to experience issues with the shorter .38 rounds. As long as it works 100% with .357s I don't mind the occasional bobble with .38s.

The trigger is good. Probably about 5 or 6 pounds and crisp, with very little creep.

I shot the gun at 50 yards, mostly with my arms rested on a shooting bench. The gun will group into about 3" with the loads I shot today. With the rear sight set on the lowest position it shot a few inches high and about 2" left. Since it was pretty close I didn't adjust the sights today, concentrating more on functioning.

Aside from making sure the ejector is not binding on anything and is properly shaped, I plan to strip the gun and polish the wear points to slick it up (but I will NOT be touching the locking bolts, which set headspace). I will also probably replace the plastic magazine follower with one made from steel, and replace the ridiculous bolt-mounted safety. Finally, I'll be giving the stock some attention to make it look nicer. Whatever finish Rossi uses on their wood comes out really dull.

Overall I'm pleased with the Rossi. It's a light, quick handling rifle in a useful caliber at a reasonable price. With a little "fluff and buff" it'll have a really slick action.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Rossi M92 .357 Carbine

I recently joined Langhorne Rod and Gun Club. It looks like this going to be hazardous to my wallet because it's very close to the shop, Surplus City, where I get most of my guns. I stopped there yesterday after going shooting and he had a couple Rossi 92s on the shelf. One blued .357 and one stainless .44 Magnum. Continuing the cowboy gun kick that I've been on, the .357 came home with me. $459.95 OTD.

Back in the days of the Old West, having a rifle and pistol both chambered for the same cartridge simplified logistics for people out on the frontier. The most famous pairing was a Winchester M-1873 and a Colt Single Action Army sharing the .44-40 WCF cartridge. Winchester continued the trend when they introduced the Model 1892 in .44-40, .38-40, and .32-20. The concept fell out of favor for a few decades but regained popularity in the 1960s and nowadays, the most common pairs are in .357 or .44 Magnum. The .45 Colt has been made available in leverguns in the past 15 years or so, and even the .44-40 has become popular again with the growth of cowboy action shooting.

Aside from logistics, lever action rifles chambering what we now consider pistol rounds make a lot of sense for many modern shooters, especially the carbines in .357 Magnum which can also shoot .38 Special.

.38 Special and .357 Magnum are widely available and relatively inexpensive. They are very easy to handload for and have mild recoil. Many indoor ranges will allow you to shoot rifles chambered in them, but not rifles in “real” rifle cartridges. This is important in our increasingly urban society.

Out of a rifle barrel the magnum handgun rounds pick up a lot of steam. E.g., the bullet fired from a 20” .357 carbine will gain several hundred FPS in MV, compared with a revolver, and will have approximately as much energy at 100 yards as one fired from a revolver will at the muzzle. (See the tables near the bottom of the page, here, for example.)

In the late 19th/early 20th Century, the lever action rifle was one of the premier choices for a defensive weapon. Even today, with AR-15s and AK clones easily available, leverguns fill this role well.

A .357, .44 Mag., or .45 Colt lever action carbine is light, handy, and can be stored with a full magazine and empty chamber, but is very fast to get into action. As noted above, the magnum rounds especially get a real boost from the rifle length barrel.

For several decades the Brazilian gunmaker Rossi has offered a copy of the Winchester Model 1892. Several years ago I had one imported by EMF, an 1892 Hartford Model Short Rifle with a 20” octagon barrel in .357. It was a nice shooter and I’ve been kicking myself for trading it off.

The Rossi I got yesterday is the basic carbine model (R92-56001), with a 20" barrel, 10 + 1 capacity, and weighs in at a whopping 5 pounds.

The wood is nondescript but is fitted well.  My dad owned a Browning B92 .357 when I was a teen, and it sure doesn't look as good as that, though.

This is a view of the safety that Rossi came up with. You can also see the Taurus integral gun lock on the back of the hammer. The two silver colored pieces are the locking bolts.

I find the safety ugly and obnoxious. With proper gun handling it is unnecessary.

After I confirm that the rifle works properly, I'll order a plug that's made to replace the safety so that the gun is closer to the way that John Moses Browning designed it. An alternative is an elevation-adjustable peep sight that takes its place; windage is adjusted by drifting the front sight in its dovetail. Steve's Gunz sells both items.

The peep sight paired with either a fiber optic or a large bead front sight should make a good combination for fast sight picture acquisition.

The action is already pretty smooth. As long as the Rossi functions OK I don't think I'll do any tuning on it, except by working the action and shooting it.

Two or three years ago Rossi was bought by their fellow Brazilian gunmaker, Taurus. Since then, the Rossi 92s have incorporated a gun lock built into the hammer, originally designed for Taurus’s revolvers. As with the safety, I'd rather not have the gun lock, but IMO the Taurus design is one of the better ones. It's unobtrusive and I haven't read of any cases where it's been accidentally activated. That said, I'm going to put a drop or two of boiled linseed oil on it to make sure (BLO is nature's Loctite).

I plan to pick up some Watco Danish Oil in medium walnut color. I saw the before and after pics of what a single coat did to a similar Rossi stock, and it was incredible. The wood went from very "meh" to really nice looking.

The only other addition I plan to make is a set of sling swivel studs so I can attach a quick detachable sling when needed.

After I shoot the Rossi I'll post a range report.