Sunday, March 06, 2016

Got in some range time, plus a new toy on the way

Yesterday I went out to a friend's place and did some shooting with my Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle .308 and Rossi 92 carbine in .357 Magnum.

First up was the Ruger GSR. I brought along a Ziploc bag of handloads consisting of Laser Cast 165 grain bullets on top of 13 grains of Alliant Red Dot, AKA "The Load" as described by C.E. Harris. The good news is that recoil was very mild, about like shooting an M1 Carbine. I could shoot them all day.

The bad news is that from 50 yards my "group" looked like I blasted the target with a few rounds of buckshot from my Mossberg 500. The group was about 18".  IIRC, these bullets were sized .309 and the Ruger may need .310s when shooting cast bullets. I have to get ahold of a .32 caliber bullet and slug the bore. I have another batch of "The Load," but tipped with 152 grain .30 M2 Ball projectiles. I'm hoping they shoot acceptably.

Before heading out this morning I stopped at Dick's and picked up two boxes of CCI Blazer Brass .38 Special ammo loaded with 125 grain FMJ RNFP bullets. I wanted to see if the Rossi would feed them reliably, for use in training my 11 year old daughter, and general plinking.

It turns out that the Rossi is sensitive to cartridge OAL, which was not unexpected. I've read that some Rossi 92 .357s don't like to feed .38 Specials. (The .357 was developed from the .38 Special by lengthening the case by 1/10 of an inch, and loading to higher pressure. .38s are perfectly safe to shoot in .357s but not vice-versa. Also, the .38 Special's actual bullet diameter is .357, or .358 if shooting cast bullets.)

If we worked the Rossi's lever too briskly, the round on the cartridge elevator would fly out the top of the rifle when the lever hit the bottom of the downstroke. If we worked it a little more gently it functioned OK. In contrast, when shooting .357s the rifle functions fine no matter how fast you run it.

In the 20" barrel of the Rossi, the .38s recoil like and sound like .22 LR highspeed ammo, but with a little deeper tone.

Shooting the .38s in the Rossi was a lot of fun, so I think I'm going to load some similar rounds in .357 cases, for better functioning. I'll probably pick up some cast RNFP bullets and may use this as an opportunity to try powder coated bullets.

I'm hoping to get back out to my friend's next week with the second batch of .308 handloads, and a rifle I should take delivery of next Friday: a Cimarron Firearms 1873 Sporting Rifle in .44-40 WCF. The 1873 was made in Italy by Uberti. I ordered it last week from Buffalo Arms and it's scheduled for delivery to my local FFL this coming Thursday.

This will be my second replica of a Winchester 1873. Back in 1991 I got an Navy Arms/Uberti '73 Carbine in .44-40, but eventually traded it off. Naturally, I came to regret that. I decided it was finally time to replace it but this time I chose a rifle length version with a 24.25" barrel. My old 19" barreled carbine had a capacity of 10 + 1, while the rifle will hold 13 + 1. Not too shabby for a 143 year old design. The Winchester was the Evil Black Rifle of its day.

I still have my .44-40 loading dies from 20 years ago but only 15 rounds of ammo left. So, I also ordered three boxes of Black Hill cowboy action shooting ammo and 500 pieces of Starline brass, which was on sale at MidwayUSA. Incidentally, my old box of Winchester 200 grain JSP .44-40 ammo has a price tag of $21.95. The same load now retails for about $70!!! The Black Hills ammo was about $40/box at MidwayUSA.

I haven't ordered any projectiles for the new rifle yet since I want to slug the bore first. After doing so, I'll order suitable cast lead bullets with black powder-compatible lube, since that's what I want to shoot in it. With 35 grains of Swiss BP I should be able to get abut 1300 FPS with a 200 grain bullet, to duplicate the original .44 WCF load. Goex will probably provide a bit less velocity and more fouling. I may also try Hodgdon Triple 7 BP substitute, which is a bit more energetic than Swiss, and very clean burning in my experience.

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