Sunday, September 22, 2019

Shooting the Smith & Wesson No. 1 1/2 Revoler

Yesterday I put together some black powder .32 S&W handloads using the following components:

  • Remington brass,
  • CCI No.500 small pistol primers,
  • Lead bullets cast in an original 19th Century Ideal mold/loading tool (shown in the video),
  • The bullets were lubricated with a 50/50 mix of beeswax and mutton tallow.
  • 0.3cc (approximately 4.8 to 5 grains) of Olde Eynsford FFFg black powder.
Goex developed Olde Eynsford to compete with Swiss black powder. OE burns more cleanly than regular Goex and is more energetic. Swiss is still a higher grade powder, but OE is a definite improvement over regular Goex.

Anyway, I got to shoot the old Smith & Wesson today. It was flawless for 49 rounds (somehow I managed to lose one of my once-fired cases before reloading them). Afterwards, we put 50 rounds of Remington .32 S&W loads through my Ruger Single Six Vaquero and saved the brass so I can reload it for use in the Smith.

Recoil in the old gun was very mild even though it's so small it's a little difficult to get a good grip. The sights are an afterthought, so it required extra effort to shoot well. (That's why we shot at only five yards.)

Here's a short video:

While this is not going to be a high round count gun, I will shoot it again. It was a lot of fun and I wish a modern replica was available.

We also put a few magazines through my Beretta Model 81, for a .32-a-palooza day.

Monday, September 02, 2019

.32 Caliber Range Report

On Saturday I was able to get the Beretta 81 out to the range. I put 50 rounds of Aguila and 20 rounds of Fiocchi .32 ACP through the gun. It showed good accuracy at 7 yards and had no malfunctions. As expected, the Fiocchi ammo, which was made in Hungary, was loaded hotter than the Aguila ammo. Recoil with both loads was mild.

I also put 50 rounds of Remington .32 S&W through my "Cowboy Pimp Gun," a Ruger Single Six Vaquero chambered for .32 H&R Magnum.

Shooting .32 S&W in the Ruger felt like a pop gun. My reason for buying the .32 S&W ammo was to get brass so I can reload it with black powder for my vintage-1878 S&W Number 1 1/2. My plan is to load the black powder ammo with an Ideal No. 2 reloading tool which I won on eBay yesterday.

(Picture borrowed from the auction.)

Another pic from the auction shows some corrosion in the bullet mold cavity but I think it'll clean up OK with some Evaporust. Even if the bullets aren't perfect it's not like I'm going to get gilt edge accuracy from the Number 1 1/2, which has merely vestigial sights.

That said, shooting the .32 S&W in the Ruger was plain fun and I have three more boxes of it.

Out of curiosity I tried 5 rounds of Aguila .32 ACP in the Ruger. The .32 ACP cartridge is semi-rimmed and being a rod-ejector, I don't need to be concerned with the small rims slipping over an ejector star. Pressure of SAAMI-spec .32 ACP is under what the Ruger is rated for, being chambered in .32 H&R Magnum (20,000 PSI vs. 21,000 CUP.)

However, CIP-spec 7.65mm Browning / .32 ACP can be loaded to 23,000 PSI so it's probably not a good idea to run it in most .32 H&R wheelguns. It would be safe to shoot in revolvers chambered for the .327 Federal Mag, which is rated for 45,000 PSI. I suspect that it would be fine in the Ruger, which is rather overbuilt.

Aside from shooting the Beretta and Ruger, I put another 50 rounds through my Glock 19-sized Polymer 80 pistol. I need to do some more tinkering with it, because although it feeds and ejects fine, it's not locking back after the last shot in a magazine. This is with both MagPul and Glock factory mags, and with CCI Blazer Brass 115 grain and 124 grain Winchester 9mm NATO Ball.

One thing I'm noticing is that it's becoming increasingly difficult to see the front sight of small pistols when shooting them indoors under florescent lighting, especially if they aren't square. I may look into getting a Merit Optical Attachment for Pistol Shooting. (I don't have this problem when shooting outdoors and my iris is contracted, which gives better depth of field.)

Yay for middle age.