Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Shooting My Chinese Horsebow Again

For the first time all year I flung some arrows downrange with the 50# Chinese horsebow that I bought in 2012 from eBay seller "handmadebow." I remain impressed with the bow, which shoots as well as my much more expensive 40# Toth Magyar horsebow from Seven Meadows Archery. (The Toth bow is better finished, to be sure.)

Much of my shooting today was with some Easton carbon arrows that I bought last year on closeout from 3Rivers Archery. The carbons are a lot lighter than my cedar arrows, and of course much straighter and more consistent. They fly much faster from the horsebow, flat as a laser out to 12 yards. The speed comes at a price in the form of greatly increased hand shock. The lightweight carbons are much less pleasant to shoot than wood arrows, and I enjoyed shooting the bow more after I switched to my cedars. They fly noticeably slower but the bow is quieter with less hand shock, and they still hit with an impressive thump.

Even though I had not shot the bow since last Fall I was able to keep most of my shots in a group the size of a paper plate at about 12 yards. I plan to practice more with it and hopefully take it hunting this year.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Pietta 1873 Millenium Single Action Revolver

Yesterday at Cabela's I bought a Pietta 1873 Millenium replica of the Colt Single Action Army revolver. The gun is chambered for .45 Colt, has a 4-3/4" barrel, and a matte blued finish with a brass grip frame and wood grips. Cabela's also sells them in .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum, with the same matte blued or a nickel finish.

Overall the Pietta is a pretty faithful copy of the Colt SAA, with the obvious exception of the utilitarian finish. The other way in which is diverges from the SAA's design is the presence of a safety that works by pushing the cylinder base pin back towards the hammer, to prevent it from dropping all the way and striking a primer. IMO it is neither easy to operate nor very robust, so I intend to treat the gun as a traditional single action, and keep an empty chamber under the hammer if I carry it.

Out of the box the action was very smooth and the trigger was very crisp, with absolutely no creep or takeup. It's a couple pounds heavier than I'd like, however, so I will do some careful stoning to lighten it a tad.

I already had a few boxes of Black Hills .45 Colt cowboy loads at home. They feature a 250 grain hard cast RNFP bullet at about 750 FPS. I wanted to pick up another box or two of ammo but the only .45 Colt that the store had in stock was Buffalo Bore +P, which shouldn't be used in SAAs or clones. However, they did have one box remaining of Ultramax .45 S&W Schofield with a 180 grain bullet at 650 FPS, a real mouse fart load. (For those unfamiliar with .45 Schofield, it shares the same case dimensions as .45 Colt, but is shorter. It can be safely fired in the Colt chamber.)

Today I brought the Pietta to my gun club and fired it at 25 yards, then 10 yards. At 25 yards it shot about 8" low and 8" left with the Black Hills .45 Colt loads. At 10 yards it was about 6" low and 6" left. The Schofield rounds impacted closer to center, but still low. This 10 yard group of 12 shots was fired before I started filing the front sight to raise the point of impact. I was aiming at 6 o'clock on the bullseye.

The two flyers were my fault.

The gun digested 100 rounds today, mostly trouble free. I did have a problem after the first three shots, because after playing with the safety last night I apparently failed to properly seat the cylinder base pin catch in the correct detent, and the pin started walking out. This prevented the cylinder from rotating so I had to dismount it from the gun. This goes in the operator error column.

The other issue I had was ammo related. One empty .45 Colt cartridge case was very tight in the chamber after I fired it, and I couldn't eject it until I again dismounted the cylinder and smacked the empty out with a mallet, using the base pin as a drift. Most of the remaining empties actually fell out if I elevated the muzzle, even without using the ejector rod. So, that one gets chalked up to an ammo problem.

If you want a Colt Single Action Army replica that won't break the bank, the Pietta 1873 is worth a look. As a copy of the SAA, it is not suitable for heavy loads, but the original ballistics for the .45 Colt round are nothing to sneeze at. A 250 grain .45 caliber bullet going about 900 FPS will take game up to deer size cleanly, or prove effective for self defense.