Sunday, April 07, 2024

.32-20 Quick Strips

The Tuff Products Quick Strips that I ordered the other day to use with my .32-20 Hand Ejector arrived today. They'll be perfect for packing reloads.

They can hold 8 cartridges each but I'll be loading only 6, which will give me a little more to hang onto while using. They also fit .32 S&W, .32 S&W Long, .32 H&R Magnum, .327 Federal Magnum, and 9x19. So, in the highly unlikely event you're packing a S&W Model 547 which is a 9mm K-Frame that doesn't use moon clips, these have you covered.

Friday, April 05, 2024

Revolver Day at the Range

Today I took a vacation day and brought the .32-20 S&W M-1905 M&P to the range along with a couple other wheelguns.

L - R, the .32-20, a nickeled post-War M&P "pre Model 10", and a Taurus 856. The postwar M&P and the Taurus are .38 Specials.

The .32-20 has one of the heaviest trigger pulls I've ever felt on a K-Frame, but it's smooth in both SA and DA. Shooting DA from 10 yards I was able to keep my shots in the -0 zone of an IDPA target. Considering the heavy trigger and poor sights I'm happy with that. I shot it with two loads, a 96 grain RNFP on top of 3.5 grains of Bullseye, and a 115 grain RNFP on top of 3.2 grains of Bullseye. The 115s shot a little higher, as expected.

When shooting rapid DA the gun squirms a little bit in my hands due to the pre-Magna service grips, even with the grip adapter in place. I will probably install a set of Magnas just to make it nicer to shoot but of course I'll hang onto the original grips, which are serial numbered to the gun.

I was shooting indoors today under florescent lights. This always makes poor sights harder to see compared with shooting in natural daylight and today was no exception. The rear sight on the M-1905 is a small V-notch while the front blade is fairly narrow. The postwar M&P has sights that are easier to see.

Overall, the .32-20 is a very nice shooter and I'm glad I bought it.

Because I've thought it would make a nice woods gun I'd like a couple speed loaders for it, if for no other reason than as a convenient way to carry a couple reloads. I tried K-Frame .38 speed loaders but they don't hold onto the narrower .32s. So, after some googling, I found that the Tuff Products Quick Strips sold for use with .32 S&W Long, .32 H&R Magnum, and .327 Federal, as well as 9mm should work with .32-20s. I ordered tow of the 2 packs of the orange versions. Being orange they should be easier to find if dropped and will help me tell them apart from my .38/.357 Quick Strips at a glance.

The postwar M&P is of course a very nice shooter. Unfortunately it's has a grooved trigger that likes to chew up my finger so after a cylinder or two I wrapped my finger with masking tape. In contrast, the .32-20 has a smooth trigger which is better for DA shooting.

The Taurus 856 is a surprisingly good shooter with a nice DA pull. It's a little larger than a J-Frame and holds 6 beans in the wheel, like a Colt Detective Special (whereas .38 J-Frames hold 5). I have small hands and find the grips comfortable. It'll make a good carry gun loaded with .38 Special wadcutters.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Painting Your Front Sights

Once you get north of 40 seeing the front sight on a pistol can become challenging. I'm in my second half-century so this has gotten even worse than it was for me in my forties.

If it's an older gun with either a plain black or worse yet, stainless front sight, it can be nigh impossible, especially if shooting indoors. If you can't replace the front sight or are unwilling to do so because of the gun's design or collectibility, painting it can make a big difference.

Several years ago I started out by painting the front sight on a couple guns white. This works as long as you're not shooting at a white target, at which point it's even worse than an unpainted sight. So, I picked up a set of Birchwood Casey Touch Up Sight Pens. The set came with three paint pens: white, red, and a lime green. The white pen was dead out of the box but the green pen is still going strong.

I first degrease the sight blade I want to paint, using rubbing alcohol. You can also use acetone. Wait for that to dry, then add a white base coat. Since my white pen was DOA I used white out correction fluid until I ran out, then I bought a bottle of white nail polish.

For example, here's the 1920s-vintage S&W Military & Police revolver I just got. The front sight is a thin half moon machined as part of the barrel.

First, the base coat:

(Sorry for the crappy focus.)

The white base coat helps the top coat(s) in green pop more. I generally use 2 or 3 coats of green, depending on how it looks. Make sure to let it dry thoroughly between coats.

Here's what it looks like with two coats of green. I'm going to add another.

White is very visible in the woods even at dusk but since I often shoot at white targets the green is a good compromise between maximum visibility in low light and usefulness against a variety of backgrounds.

I use this color combination on the percussion muzzleloader that I shoot in woods walks, on which I never know what color the targets will be painted. So far, so good.

Hoppe's No.9 will dissolve the paint but didn't seem to hurt the nail polish. Solvents like Ed's Red which contains acetone will dissolve the nail polish, as well.

The paint does wear off so I'm going to experiment with a clear top coat to hopefully protect the green and keep me from having to touch it up as frequently.

Note that I leave my rear sights black. Whether shooting a rifle or pistol, your focus should be on the front sight.

S&W Model 1905, 4th Change Hand Ejector in .32-20

One gun that I've wanted for a long time has been a Smith & Wesson Hand Ejector in .32-20 (.32 WCF).

Winchester introduced the .32 WCF in 1882 for its Model 1873 lever action rifle. It was intended for use on game up to the size of deer, although it would be considered very marginal on deer by current standards. About five years later, Colt began chambering their revolvers in the round.

The .32 WCF survived the transition to smokeless powder. Aside from their single actions, Colt also chambered it in the Army Special and Official Police, and S&W added it to the Hand Ejector K-Frames.

From the time of its introduction up until around World War 2 and even past that, the .32-20 was popular for small game, controlling varmints on ranches and farms, and even self defense. Unfortunately, the Pennsylvania Game Commission stupidly barred the use of centerfire guns for small game around 15 years ago so my use of this gun will be mostly be for plinking and informal target shooting. It may also get carried on a friend's rural property where it would be useful for handling wild dogs or coyotes should we run across any.

Over the past few years I've seen a nice assortment of guns in .32-20 on Gunbroker but held off on buying one because once the Plandemic hit, ammo and even empty brass became unobtanium. That situation has recently started to get better but still isn't at the point where it was in early 2020.

I recently sold off a couple of guns that had been gathering dust for a few years and decided to put the money towards a .32-20 revolver. It so happens that my local gun monger who I've consigned guns with had one listed on Gunbroker. I won the auction yesterday and this morning I picked it up.

For a gun that's a century old it's in pretty good shape. The sideplate has some minor pitting and looks like it was lightly sanded at some point to remove rust, and then reblued, and has turned a plum brown (this was disclosed in the auction). The crane has also turned plum brown. All the screws turned freely and none are boogered up, which is nice.

There was a suitable Pachmayr grip adapter in my stash, which makes the skinny service stocks much more pleasant to hold and makes the gun more controllable in rapid fire. Recoil should be very mild in this gun so I'm not concerned with the hump on the frame from hurting the web of my hand.

I removed the sideplate and it was pretty clean inside. I just blasted it out with Remoil and then compressed air, then lubed the contact points with some FP-10 and closed it back up. The right grip has quite a bit of wear so I think this gun was carried a lot. Or maybe a prior owner shot it so much he wore the right grip panel down. Anyway, one of the grips has the gun's serial number penciled on the inner surface.

The bore and charge holes had some crud in them and there's a little bit of very minor pitting in the bore, also as described in the auction. Nothing that should prevent it from shooting well, though.

The timing and lockup are excellent and there's no end shake to speak of.

A 500 count box of Starline brass should arrive today while a set of Lee dies plus a factory crimp die should come tomorrow, so I plan to load up some ammo next week so I can shoot it next weekend.

I am most definitely looking forward to shooting it.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Got Some Range Time in Today

We had another beautiful Spring day here in southeast Pennsylvania. I got together with a friend and we did some shooting on his property. 

One of the guns I brought was my High Standard Sentinel .22 LR revolver, about which I've written here before (check the tags on the right).

Last June, I replaced the original square butt grip with a round butt grip.

This was the first time shooting the gun with the round butt. It works for me and will make the gun more concealable should I need to do so.

The ammo I fired through it today was a box of CCI Stingers. I found that they shoot closer to point of aim in this gun than ammo with heavier bullets, so that's what I've settled on for feeding it. I do want to try some Federal Punch and while I think I have a box I couldn't find it.

One thing we noticed today since we fired most of the ammo double action is that the grooved trigger really sucked for DA shooting, especially on the edges. After I got home and cleaned it, I removed the grip and held the piece in a vise, then used some 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper, and then a round stone to dull the serrations. This should make it better for DA practice sessions. 

Last week I bought a World War Supply canvas M3 Tanker Holster, which is based on the USGI WW2 leather holster for the S&W Victory Model and Colt Commando .38 Special revolvers. The High Standard Sentinel is a little smaller than a S&W K-Frame and fits nicely into this holster.

With its alloy frame the Sentinel weighs only around 20 oz. so it's nice to carry. It would make a nice gun for the woods. In the past two years since I bought the revolver I've fired hundreds of rounds through it and had zero malfunctions, including no misfires. If I was limited to a rimfire for self defense this would probably be my first choice.

Friday, March 15, 2024

Ruger Speed Six Range Report

I shot the Ruger today for the first time. Both groups below were fired double action at 10 yards.

The Pachmayr Compac grips I installed are great, BTW. They are very comfortable for my small hands and do a good job of absorbing recoil. I'm half tempted to modify the grip frame of my Service Six to Speed Six dimensions and install a set of these.

The lower group is 40 rounds of .38 handloads with a Speer 158 grain .358 LSWC on top of 4.9 grains of Winchester Autocomp in mixed brass with CCI primers. This is a full .38 Special service load equivalent.

The headshots were .38s with a 178 grain .359 Keith LSWC on top of 5.3 grains of Unique in mixed brass and CCI primers. This is +P and approaching a .38/44 load.

The load with the Keiths has been very accurate in my 4" S&W Model 15-3, Ruger Service Six, and S&W Model 28-2 but between the Carnauba Red bullet lube and Unique, it's very smoky. As a black powder shooter that doesn't bother me, however. The fouling wipes right off.

One of the nice things about Autocomp, though, is how nicely and consistently it meters in a powder measure, in contrast to Unique. A couple years ago I made my own load chart for my RCBS Little Dandy. I took a variety of powders and did an average of 10 throws in the different rotors and Autocomp was by far the most consistent, even better than other ball powders like HP-38 and Universal.

Wednesday, March 06, 2024

New to Me Ruger Speed Six

I've long been a fan of the Ruger Security, Service, and Speed Six revolvers. I much prefer them to their successor, the GP-100, which while being stronger and simpler to make, is bigger and in my experience, not as smooth.

The Ruger Sixes were made in both blued and stainless steel versions. The primary differences are the sights and shape of the butt.

  • Security Six: Adjustable sights, square butt, 2.75", 4", or 6" barrel.
  • Police Service Six: Fixed sights, square butt, 2.75" or 4" barrel.
  • Speed Six: Fixed sights, round butt, 2.75" or 4" barrel.
Most of the Sixes were chambered for .357 Magnum. There were some chambered for .38 Special for department contracts, and some Speed Sixes in 9mm which used moon clips.

Of the three major Six variants the Speed Six is the least common.

The Sixes are a bit beefier and more durable than S&W K-Frames but will still fit in many K-Frame holsters. For example, my 4" Police Service Six fits nicely in my Victory Model shoulder holster. (I've had the Service Six for years and it's a fine shooter, especially since I installed a set of Sile wooden target stocks.)

The first centerfire handgun I ever shot was my father's blued 6" Security Six that he used in bullseye competition back in the 80s. Between all the rounds he fired, nightly dry firing, and a Wolff spring kit, it was very smooth with a great trigger. Unfortunately he traded it off many years ago.

Last week I did some searching on Gunbroker and found that Robertson Trading Post had several Speed Sixes listed for sale at reasonable-for-2024 prices. I ordered one and picked it up from my local FFL today.

Aside from what are purported to be squadron markings on the left side of the frame, the gun is in excellent shape and appears to have been barely shot. It's very clean and the action is smooth for a Ruger. Lockup is solid and the timing is perfect. There is a small ding on the left of the front sight but it doesn't affect sight picture.

According to Ruger's web site the serial number places it as 1982 production.

It had a set of Sile rubber grips on it which are actually meant for a Security or Service Six with a square butt. I got this set of NOS Pachmayr Compacs off eBay for under $20 shipped. They fit the gun better and feel like they were made for me. I have a 3" S&W Model 10-8 with the same grips and it's very comfortable to shoot.

Although the Ruger is a .357 Magnum, it will see only .38 Special loads with maybe a few exceptions, since I'm not a fan of .357 blast and flash.

One might wonder what's the point of a medium-frame snubbie. IMO, it would make for a fine carry gun in cooler weather when you can tuck it into a large coat pocket or wear it outside the waistband but under a coat or vest.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Got a Lathe Spider

A couple weeks ago I ordered a spider for my 7x14 minilathe, something I should have bought years ago. Little Machine Shop had it as their weekly special so I finally pulled the trigger on it.

Link to minilathe spider:

The spider threads onto the end of the spindle and provides additional support to long workpieces, to prevent them from whipping around.

To install the spider you remove the gear cover on the end of the headstock and simply thread it onto the end of the spindle.

I used it today while drilling and tapping the flared end of the factory ramrod that came with my Investarm Gemmer Hawken. Even though I bought an unbreakable Delrin rod for it from Track of the Wolf, which is threaded on both ends, I want to keep the OEM wood rod as a spare.

This shows the ramrod mounted through the spindle bore.

And here I was using the lathe as a tapping guide to keep the 10-32 tap straight. I did not do this under power. Instead, I used the chuck key as a handle and rotated the chuck manually. Power to the lathe was off when I did this.

Aside from drilling and tapping the end of the OEM ramrod to accept 10-32 accessories like cleaning jags, worms, and bullet pullers, both ends of both rods got drilled and cross-pinned. To drill the holes I used my minimill.

Always cross-pin your ramrod tips! Failing to do so can result in the ends pulling off the rod if you get a jag stuck or need to pull a ball. It's simple to do so:

  1. Drill a hole through the rod crossways. I used a #40 drill because for my pin I used some brass rod 0.098" in diameter.
  2. Chamfer both ends of the hole.
  3. Drive the rod through the hole and cut it off. I used side cutters.
  4. Using a hammer, peen over both ends on a metal surface. I used the anvil on my bench vise.
  5. File the ends of the pin smooth.
One end of the Delrin rod from Track is tapped 10-32 and the other is 8-32. I will use 10-32 jags, etc. and have an aluminum T-handle with an 8-32 stud on the end. I have qualms about using it for cleaning or ball pulling.

Just another example of how my small, tabletop machines help me out with gunsmithing tasks.

Video: Banner Grabbing with Nmap


Video: Nmap Scanning for Specific Open Ports