Sunday, September 03, 2023

Highway Patrolman Range Report

Last night I got to shoot the Model 28-2 Highway Patrolman with the new grips. This setup is a keeper for me. I ran 130 rounds through it. The first 80 were 148 grain wadcutters on top of 3.8 grains of Autocomp, while the last 50 were 160 grain semiwadcutters cast from a Lee mold on top of 3.8 grains of HP-38.

This combination of Magnas and a grip adaptor allows me to get a better hold on the big N-Frame than the Herrett's Shooting Star stocks did.

Look at those recessed charge holes. N-Frame magnum goodness!

Saturday, September 02, 2023

The Highway Patrolman Gets New Grips

S&W introduced the Highway Patrolman in the 1950s as a less expensive version of the .357 Magnum, AKA pre-Model 27. Instead of a high polish blue and checkered top strap and barrel rib, it had a more utilitarian blueing job and the top was bead blasted to reduce glare. However, the revolver's innards were the same as the more expensive .357 Magnums/Model 27s.

When S&W started assigning its revolvers model numbers in 1957 the Highway Patrolman became the Model 28, although they were still stamped "HIGHWAY PATROLMAN" on the right side of the barrel. They were offered with your choice of a 4" or 6" barrel. All were chambered for .357 Magnum.

The Highway Patrolman became popular with various law enforcement agencies and civilians, and remained in production until 1986.

Back in the 1990s when old Smith & Wesson revolvers were cheap, I traded into this 4" Model 28-2, made in the early 1970s. It's what is called a "pinned and recessed" S&W. You can see the pin going through the frame and barrel threads. The cylinder is recessed so that the cartridge rims are flush with the back face. Only rimfires and magnums were recessed. S&W discontinued pinning the barrels and recessing the rims in centerfires in 1981, to save production costs.

I think I have less than $300 into this Model 28 considering the value of my trade, an Astra A-75 9mm. It came fitted with some hideous aftermarket plastic grips with finger grooves. Luckily, my dad had a 6" Model 28 on which he'd installed a set of Hogue rubber grips in place of the Herrett's Shooting Stars his revolver came with. He gave the Herrett's to me and the plastic grips went into the trash. Here's what it's looked like up until yesterday:

(This is one of my favorite gun pictures. I really got the lighting right.)

The Herrett's are nice but a little big for my hands and the thumb rest on the left (a mirror of what's shown above) tended to dig into my palm when shooting. (I'm left handed.) So, about a week and a half ago I ordered a set of Magnas from World Wide Grips in Thailand. They are made from Thai rosewood. I also ordered a grip adapter from BK Grips. So, now it looks like this:

The new grips are well made and fit pretty well.

Incidentally, the reason that I didn't buy genuine S&W Magnas is that they have gone up in price as least as much as the guns. A set in excellent condition would go for well over $100. I paid $54.16 shipped from Thailand for these. If I was able to find actual S&W grips for a comparable price they'd be pretty ratty looking.

Tonight I ran 130 rounds of .38 Special handloads through it. The first 80 were 148 grain wadcutters on top of 3.8 grains of Winchester Autocomp. The last 50 were 160 grain semiwadcutters cast in a Lee TL358-158 mold. The wadcutter load is very mild while the SWC load should give about 800 - 850 FPS from the 4" barrel.

This setup is a keeper for me. I'll definitely be shooting it more. I'm able to better hold the gun and recoil control with these loads is fine. I need to run some .38 +Ps* through it but I am very pleased with the Magna/grip adapter combination.

*I find .357 Magnum recoil and muzzle blast to be obnoxious, even from an N-Frame. Anything that I might need to shoot with a handgun can be handled by .38 Specials loaded to +P or .38/44 levels. The Model 28 is ideal for these loads.

Monday, July 31, 2023

Gunmakers Fair at Kempton 2023

This past Saturday I attended the Gunmakers Fair at Kempton. This is the successor to the Dixons Gunmakers Fair, which was last held in 2019. If you are into black powder arms and history of the 17th through the19th Centuries, it's worth the visit.

I took some pictures.

Turning a powder horn base on a treadle lathe:

Two examples of 17th Century Armor:

An assortment of guns with matchlocks, wheel locks, and snaphaunce locks:

A sword with a cartridge box incorporated into the scabbard:


From top to bottom, a flintlock, transitional flintlock, a paddle butt wheel lock carbine, and a couple of wheel lock pistols:

A closeup of the dagger from the previous picture. The guard incorporates a spanner for a wheel lock, while the handle is a flask for priming powder:

Note too the powder flask made from a hollowed out antler.

There was a vast amount of guns, knives, and other articles that I did not photograph.

After finishing up at the Fair, I hit Dixons Muzzleloading Shop on the way home. As expected it was busy. Aside from black powder guns they also carry items they pick up at garage sales or that people bring in. Over the years I've bought some neat old tools there. On this visit I grabbed a couple of nice old American-made pliers, which I'll put to use.

The lineman's pliers were made by H. Boker while the long nose were made by Utica, both well-regarded American tool manufacturers of the past. The long nose had a few spots of surface rust but nothing a little oil and 0000 steel wool couldn't fix.

Aside from the tools, Dixons also had a large supply of empty cases and bullets that probably came from an estate. For $10, I found an unopened box of 100 .358 swaged lead semiwadcutter hollow point bullets by Alberts which date from the 1980s or 90s. We used to load Alberts bullets back then but they went out of business. I plan to load them in .38 Special to service load levels.

Running iPhone/iPad Apps on Macs with Apple Silicon

This is a nifty feature of Macs with Apple Silicon processors (i.e., M1 or M2 CPUs) that I wasn't aware of. You can run some iPhone and iPad apps on these Macs.


The screenshot is of the Storm Radar app that I normally use on my iPhone, but running on my M1 MacBook Air.

Did a Little Shooting Yesterday

Yesterday I was able to get some range time in with my Colt Police Positive and Beretta 71 Jaguar.

The loads I shot in the Colt were mixed .32 S&W Long brass, a Speer 98 grain HBWC, Winchester small pistol primers, and 1.7 grains of Bullseye measured out using the #00 rotor in my RCBS Little Dandy measure. I was able to reliably ding an 8" gong from around 15 yards. One thing I've noticed with the small Colt is that it's much easier for me to see the sights when shooting outside than when indoors under florescent lighting.

The Beretta 71 further cemented my opinion of it as probably the finest compact .22 autoloading pistol ever built. Since I bought it several years ago it's proven to be exceptionally reliable. Yesterday I shot CCI Stingers in it for the first time, along with 100 Remington 36 grain Golden Bullet hollow points. The only malfunctions I had were with a particular magazine that sometimes doesn't present the bullet at the correct angle to feed. This is a magazine and operator issue, not a gun issue. If I'm careful loading the mag it works properly. Otherwise it ran perfectly. None of the rounds failed to fire or eject.

I also intend to try it with a box of Remington Vipers and another of Federal Punch defensive ammo. If I were to toss it in my pocket for a walk I'd load it with Stingers for now.

I'd love to see Beretta bring it back with a few improvements:

  • An adjustable rear sight.
  • A slide-mounted front sight.
  • An ambidextrous safety.
  • Maybe a Picatinny rail on the dust cover.
  • An extended barrel threaded 1/2x28.
While I'm dreaming, make it to use Glock-compatible sights. This would allow it to use a wide variety of easily available aftermarket sights.

Ideally, this would be built in the US so it wouldn't have to be made larger to get enough points for import under the (unconstitutional) GCA of 1968.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

PSA Rock Range Report

Last night I took the PSA Rock to an indoor range along with 100 rounds of ammunition, one box each of American Eagle 40 grain FMJ and AAC 40 grain VMAX.

Out of deference to range rules each magazine was loaded to only 10 rounds. The cartridges loaded easily into the magazines without the use of a loader. Loading them to full capacity may be easier with one, however.

It's worth noting that the magazines are of the double-stack, double-feed type, like AR15 magazines. To load you simply press the rounds straight down into the mag.

I shot the American Eagle ammunition first, and experienced no malfunctions. The AAC ammo was loaded noticeably hotter with a bit more muzzle flash.

Speaking of which, the gun was not as loud as I was expecting. Certainly, it has more blast and flash than a .22 or the .32 S&W Long ammo I shot in my Colt Police Positive afterwards, but it wasn't objectionable. I found it less obnoxious on the indoor range than some .40 S&W and .45 ACP I've been exposed to.

As expected, recoil was extremely light even with the hotter AAC ammunition.

There were two malfunctions with the AAC ammunition. In both cases the slide locked back prematurely with one round left in the magazine. It's possible that this was shooter-induced. I need to shoot it some more and pay more attention to which magazine I was using when the malfunctions occurred.

All cases ejected vigorously to about 4 or 5 o'clock.

I was shooting at 7 yards and kept my rounds within a few inches. The gun's heavy trigger pull makes shooting tight groups challenging. I am hoping that with another couple hundred rounds it will improve somewhat but it may need a trigger job.

I won't make a final judgement on the pistol until I have 500 rounds through it, but my initial impression remains favorable.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Got a PSA Rock 5.7 Pistol

After doing a lot of research, last Sunday I ordered a Palmetto State Armory Rock 5.7 pistol, and I was able to pick it up from my local FFL on Wednesday.

A picture with my Beretta M9 for scale:

(The Beretta has slimline grip panels from LOK Grips, which I can't recommend highly enough. They really improved the feel of the gun for me.)

5.7x28 is a bit controversial among shooters but I decided to try it for a few reasons:

  • The ballistics from a handgun should be similar to .22 Magnum from a rifle. Obviously, from 10+" barrel 5.7 will have significantly better ballistics. Based on what I've seen on YouTube, the AAC 40 grain loads should give me around 1800 FPS from this pistol's 5.2" barrel.
  • Mild recoil.
  • The pistols have the reputation for being easy to cock, which is good for people with hand problems.
  • Very high magazine capacity.
  • Lightweight, compact ammo. A 50 round box of 5.7x28 is not much larger or heavier than a 50-round box of .22 Magnums.

This picture shows a CCI Blazer Brass 9mm 115 grain FMJ round next to an AAC 40 grain VMAX 5.7x28 round:

Here are the specs of the package I bought:

  • Two-tone sniper green/black
  • Optics ready
  • 5.2" threaded barrel (1/2x28 threads)
  • 10 x 23-round magazines
  • A soft case.
  • Gun lock.
  • Chamber flag.

The cost was $599 + tax and shipping. My FFL charged $30 for the transfer.

This will be my first foray in 5.7x28-land. At some point I'll probably add a Holosun 407K but first I want to try it with irons.

After I I ordered the pistol I also ordered 300 rounds of AAC's 40 grain VMAX load (they were out of stock of their FMJ loads) and one box of American Eagle 40 grain FMJ. When I picked up the gun I also bought one box of FN SS197SR 40 grain VMAX loads.

Yesterday I got a restock notice from PSA and ordered 250 rounds of their AAC FMJ loads.

Fiocchi is now selling 150-count bulk packs of 40 grain FMJ rounds. At some point I'll get some of those because they end up being the least expensive practice rounds.

My initial thoughts without having fired it yet:

  • The grip is nice. My hands are on the small side but I have no problems gripping it comfortably. The grip reminds me of a S&W M&P-9.
  • Good three-dot sights made from metal. The gun can be fitted with any Glock-compatible sights.
  • The trigger pull is heavy but has minimal takeup and a short reset. No noticeable creep. With some lubrication and dry firing I'm already noticing an improvement.
  • The finish on the slide is nicely applied.
  • The magazine catch is a bit stiff but is already breaking in. The mag catch is reversible but even though I am left handed, I will leave it as-is. I used my middle finger to push it.
  • The takedown procedure is the same as a Glock but easier because of the design of the takedown latch. Putting the upper back on the frame is a little different because of the takedown latch.
  • Field stripping and reassembly are easy. The takedown catch is much easier to use than on a Glock.
  • The zippered case that it came in is very nice.
  • The owner's manual is very nice and printed on good quality, glossy paper.

I will shoot it first with iron sights but plan to mount a dot in the near future. I should get to shoot it this weekend and will post a range report.

Sunday, July 09, 2023

Following up on the homemade percussion caps

We've been having some unpleasant weather here in SE PA recently. Hot, humid, and rainy with thunderstorms. However, yesterday I managed to sneak out for a couple hours to Boulder Valley Sportsmen's Association and shoot some targets on the woods walk course.

I took the Slotter-style plains rifle (which has become my favorite rifle) and aside from a capper full of CCI No.11s, a also brought along 6 of the homemade percussion caps from last month, in a 3D-printed star capper.

When shooting a caplock rifle it's always good to make sure the flash channel is clear before loading. This is most commonly done by popping a cap while holding the muzzle near a blade of grass or a leaf. If it moves you know the channel is clear.

Note that if I'm loading the rifle prior to a hunt, rather that popping a cap I'll use some rubbing alcohol and compressed air to ensure the channel is clear, especially since I may be loading (but not priming) the rifle at home. This is not a bad idea nowadays anyway, since No. 11 caps are hard to buy.

I did that with one of the homemade caps and it moved a blade of grass. However, when I loaded the rifle I found that the homebrew caps would not ignite the main charge unless I primed the nipple with 4Fg black powder first. That slowed the lock time down so that it was comparable with a flintlock.

(I keep a nipple primer in my shooting pouch in case I encounter ignition problems. This was the first time I actually needed it.)

Having tried them and found them wanting for use in sidelock rifles, I plan to make up another batch but add more priming compound.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

High Standard Sentinel Round Butt

A few years ago I picked up a High Standard Sentinel R-101 snubbie with a 3" barrel. It came with a square butt grip, which is very comfortable. However, HS also made round butt grips for these guns, which would make it a little easier to carry in a coat pocket. I was able to buy one from Numrich awhile ago but didn't get around to changing it out until today.

As the gun came:

And with the round butt:

Changing the grip required removing the only screw in the gun, which goes through the bottom of the grip into the grip frame.

The original grip has molded in checkering while the round grip is smooth. The gun feels secure in my hand but we'll see how it is when I'm sweating. I've also seen the round butt with checkering, which would have been ideal.

One might wonder at the point of a .22 snub. These guns were sold for use as plinkers or tackle box guns, but they are usable for defense even if they aren't ideal due to the caliber. It has a 9-shot cylinder so capacity is on par with a lot of autoloaders.

Because of the heavy double action pull I wouldn't recommend any rimfire revolver for defense if you have weak hands, but if you have hand issues that prevent being able to deal with the recoil of a .38 Special or other better caliber, it beats harsh language or a pointed stick.

The High Standard has been perfectly reliable for me so far. The hammer hits the cartridge rims with authority and as far as I can recall, I've yet to experience a misfire. I tried some Remington Yellow Jacket hypervelocity ammo and got sticky extraction, but that's the only issue I've had with it. I intend to try CCI Stingers and Federal Punch in it. (I have a box of the Punch that I'd bought for use in my Ruger LCP II Lite Rack, but it had a lot of malfunctions with it.)