Sunday, January 02, 2022

Range Trip Today

I got to the range today with my Keltec RDB 17 rifle and Ruger GP-100 revolver.

I've had the RDB for about 4 years. It’s a neat rifle in that it’s an almost fully ambidextrous bullpup semiauto chambered for 5.56mm. Some of the early production RDBs had teething troubles but mine was made after they were worked out. I have at least 500 rounds through it with no malfunctions.

Anyway, I put a new scope on it this week and wanted to zero it. The scope is a Primary Arms SLx 2.5x compact. For a defensive rifle 2.5x with a wide field of view is very fast on target at close range while still providing a little magnification for distances out to a couple hundred yards. Since it’s a prismatic optic, I am able to see the the reticle clearly even though I have astigmatism. The reticles in most red dot sights are not perfectly clear for me due to that.

The scope has a range finding reticle usable out to 600 yards. I doubt I’ll shoot this rifle any further than 250. The instructions say to zero at 50 to get a point blank range of 300 yards.

Even though it was daylight I used the reticle illumination feature because I was shooting at black targets. The illumination lights up the reticle in red, so it had nice contrast with the targets.

My initial impressions of the scope are favorable. It has clear glass, tactile clicks on the adjustments, and a nice reticle. One thing I failed to do beforehand (and I should know better) was to tighten and Loctite the two screws that hold the scope to its base. Naturally, they loosened up after about 40 rounds. I had to dismount the scope, Loctite and tighten the screws, and remount it on the rifle. Luckily, I had both Loctite and the correct tools in my range bag. I was able to rezero the scope in 6 shots (two 3-shot groups).

After finishing up with the Keltec I went to the 25 yard line and put 50 .38 wadcutters through the GP-100. I recently replaced the trigger and hammer springs with reduced power springs from Wolff so I needed to verify it was working properly. I used my handloads of a Hornady 148 grain HBWC on top of 3.0 grains of Bullseye sparked with a CCI small pistol primer. CCI primer cups tend to be harder than other makers’, so if it reliably ignited them I know the gun is dependable. All 50 rounds went off as expected.

I was pleased to see a fellow club member teaching a couple younger guys who were out for their first time shooting. (By “younger” I mean teens or early 20s.) They were shooting a suppressed S&W M&P .22 pistol. The guy instructing was a Russian Jewish immigrant and it’s always good to see a fellow MoT at the range, especially when he’s introducing new shooters to the sport, and especially with an NFA item.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

New Stocks for my S&W Model 15-3 Combat Masterpiecet

One of the perks of having a father who is a S&W revolver aficionado but prefers Hogue grips, and who lives around the corner, is that he has a drawer full of OEM S&W revolver stocks. I was at my folks’ tonight for dinner and grabbed a set of K-Frame target stocks with the speedloader cut.

They show a good bit of finish wear but structurally they are solid. I previously had a set of Pachmayr Gripper Pro rubber stocks on the gun. Even with the exposed backstrap they were a little large for my small hands. The wood grips fit me better.

Before asking Dad if he had any of these gathering dust I looked on eBay and holy crap. Grips in this condition would probably bring over $100. NIB examples are closer to $180 now.

This Model 15 was the first good centerfire handgun I ever bought, and will be the last to go. It’s what I learned to be a competent pistol shot with. About 25 years ago I was at the range with Walt Rauch and he put a cylinder through it. As he handed the gun back to me he said, “Yup, the K-Frame is G-d’s gift to handgunners.”

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

SwissQlip Pocket Clip for Swiss Army Knives

Over the years, I've owned several multitools from Gerber, Leatherman, and Victorinox. However, for my needs I've found that a Swiss Army Knife is far more useful and easier to carry.

For my needs, a SAK is also more useful than a pocket knife that's just a knife. I  use the other tools on a SAK as much or more than the cutting blade.

I've carried several SAKs, starting with a Victorinox Pioneer that I bought around 1981 for $13 at Herter's Cutlery at the King of Prussia Mall. (This was the first knife I bought and I still have it.)

One thing I haven't cared for is how SAKs eventually wear a hole in my pants pocket. I've found a couple solutions to that.

The first is attaching the knife via its keyring to a short lanyard looped around a belt loop. I made the lanyard just long enough to hold the knife vertically in my pocket. The lanyard has a plastic clip that allows me to easily detach and reattach the knife to it. Naturally, this requires the use of both hands but the SAK needs that to open any of the blades or tools anyway.

More recently I discovered the SwissQlip, an add-on pocket clip for most 91mm SAKs. (Check the list of supported SAKs at the link.) It attaches to the knife using the keyring's mounting hole, after you remove the ring.

I installed one on a Victorinox Fieldmaster. Small screws like the SwissQlip's attachment screw often have a tendency to loosen, so I put a drop of blue Loctite on it before screwing it in.

I've been carrying the Fieldmaster fitted with the SwissQlip now for a couple months and it works well, with a couple caveats.

First, it does block easy access to the tweezers. To get the tweezers out you need to use the toothpick to pry it up to the point where you can grab it.

Second, it also blocks access to the package hook unless you use something else like a small screwdriver to pry it open. This I don't care about since I have never used the package hook on any of my SAKs.

I'm willing to put up with these two things because overall the SwissQlip makes the SAK easier to carry. It's held securely to my pocket and has just the right amount of tension to keep it in place while still remaining easy to reinsert into my pocket.

I haven't found that the SwissQlip gets in the way when using the knife.

At $20 it's not exactly cheap but it is well made and functional. It's a worthwhile addition to a SAK.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Shoulder Holster for the Cimarron Model P

I ordered this shoulder holster for my Cimarron Model P last week from an Etsy shop. I was originally planning to get something from El Paso Saddlery but their lead time is months and this was worth a shot for something more readily available, and for under $100. (I have no affiliation with the seller.)

The reason I wanted a shoulder holster is that due to my body type, belt holsters tend to drag my pants down. (That's a fancy way of saying I have a beer gut and no butt.)

It came in today and for the money I’m quite pleased. The ammo holder was a separate item. It’s intended to be worn on a belt but I’m planning to keep it on the shoulder strap, similar to how the WW2-style shoulder holster for my Victory Model was setup. The .44-40 rounds are very tight in the cartridge loops, so I’m going to leave the rounds in there to see if the leather stretches a little. I may put some neatsfoot oil on them.

The shoulder strap has holes punched in it for length adjustment, and it's secured with a Chicago screw. I’m going to add a second one to keep the excess from flapping and for extra security. I’ll give the whole thing a coat of Snow Seal or Montana Pitch Blend leather dressing. The fit of the gun in the holster is very snug. It carries vertically and there’s a hammer loop for additional security.

Maker's mark stamped on the back:

I might add a leather loop to secure the bottom of the holster to my belt to ensure that the rig stays in place when I draw.

This should work out well for use in the woods.

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Cimarron Model P Old Model .44 WCF

A couple weeks ago I ordered a Cimarron (Uberti) Model P in .44-40 with a 5.5” barrel. It arrived at my local FFL and we did the transfer yesterday.

I strongly considered getting a 4-3/4” barrel, but decided on the 5.5” barrel because of my presbyopia. For me the front sight is a bit easier to see on the longer barrel, especially if I’m shooting indoors under florescent lighting.

My new gun has the “black powder” or “old model” frame, which requires the use of a screwdriver to remove the cylinder. Uberti thoughtfully includes a spare base pin retaining screw. I would have preferred a Pre-War frame with the more familiar spring loaded base pin catch but nobody had them in stock.

I should note that this gun has the original Colt-style lockwork. The only safety is the two-position base pin, and you hear four clicks when you cock the hammer.

The Uberti Bisley in .44 WCF that I got last year is a great shooter, but I find that it’s easier to quickly get a good firing hold on the SAA-style plowhandle grip than with the Bisley grip. What would be really cool would be one of these with a Bisley hammer, which is lower so it’s easier to recock the hammer.

I’m already well stocked with loaded ammo and components for .44-40, so the availability or lack thereof of ammo at gun shops not a concern.

Before shooting any gun that's new to me I field strip, clean, and lubricate it. New guns come with an anti-corrosion coating but it's usually not a good lube, and in any event, you want the bore clean. Aside from that I painted the front sight with some high-visibility green paint. Not very 19th Century, I know.

I was able to shoot the new revolver last night, and I'm extremely pleased.

The action is very smooth with a great trigger pull. I haven’t put it on a trigger scale yet but I’m guessing it’s about 3 - 3.5 lbs. and crisp. The one-piece walnut grip doesn’t have the typical red color Uberti puts on many of their guns, and fits my hand perfectly. (I have small hands so I’ve always like the 1851-Navy type grip, which is found on the Model P.)

At least on the indoor range under florescent lighting, the gun shoots a little low for me when fired with two hands. However, if I shoot with one hand it hits dead-on. Windage is perfect. I shot .44 WCF handloads consisting of a 200 grain RNFP soft cast bullet from on top of 8.3 grains of Unique. I want to try it also with some lighter loads, e.g., 7.0 - 8.0 grains of either Unique or Universal. I’ll also try it with black powder.

(I also got to shoot a Colt King Cobra. Nice gun but the DA sucks compared to S&W DA revolvers. I'll stick with my K-Frames.)

There's one thing I'm not happy with, and that's the typically soft screws that Uberti uses on their firearms. Thankfully, they were not so tight that I couldn't get them out (a problem I've experience on other Ubertis), but some show slot deformation even before I touched them. IOW, they came that way from the factory. So, once I get confirmation that it's in stock, I'll be ordering a complete set of correctly hardened screws from VTI Gunparts.

Aside from recreational shooting this will see service as a woods gun. So, I need to get a suitable holster. I’ll probably order a M-1942 Tanker holster from El Paso Saddlery. Based on my prior experience with a Tanker holster for other guns it should be comfortable.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Nice Looking .44-40 Bullet

A couple weeks ago I placed an order for 500 .430" 215 grain RNFP bullets from Matt's Bullets. They arrived today.

L - R in the pics below: Matt’s .430 215 grain RNFP, Accurate Molds 43-215C 219 grain RNFP, Desperado Cowboy Bullets 200 grain RNFP.

You can see that the bullet from Matt's has a shorter ogive with a wider meplat than the 43-215C. This may improve performance on game.

The lube on the Matt's bullet is Carnauba Red. This works great with smokeless powder but as far as I know isn't suitable for black powder. The 43-215C is lubed with my homebrew 50/50 beeswax/mutton tallow mix. It's outstanding for black powder and smokeless (at least at mild velocities). The DCB bullet on the right appears to be cast from a Magma mold commonly used by commercial casters. It supposedly has a black powder compatible lube, but it doesn't carry enough of it for use in a rifle.

All three bullets are soft, around 11 - 12 BHN. This allows them to bump up and fill the bore on my guns as long as they aren't sized too small. They don't cause leading in my guns with my loads.

I loaded 50 of the Matt's bullets in virgin Starline .44 WCF brass on top of 8.3 grains of Alliant Unique tonight. I'm looking forward to seeing how they shoot.

Assuming they shoot well, I will probably reach out to Matt to see if I can purchase a batch as-cast, with no lube and not sized. I'll then size them to .430" and lube them with SPG so I can shoot them on top of black powder. It would be nice to have a commercial alternative to the AM 43-215C that I can load on top of BP, for when I don't feel like casting to replenish my supply.

Sunday, September 05, 2021

Been on a .44-40 Loading Binge

Last week I took stock of my .44-40 ammo stash and decided that it was lower than I wanted. I have plenty of components, so I got to work. Since Thursday, I put together 250 rounds:

  • 100 full power black powder loads (Accurate 43-215C bullet on top of 2.2cc of Scheutzen 3Fg)
  • 50 .44 Henry rimfire-equivalent loads (same bullet but 1.9cc of powder, with a 1/8" thick nitro card in between to take up the air space)
  • 100 smokeless loads (200 grain RNFP from Desperado Cowboy Bullets on top of 8.3 grains of Alliant Unique)
The smokeless loads should push the 200 grain bullet north of 1,200 FPS from a 24" rifle, a bit less from a 20" carbine, and somewhere in the 900s from a revolver.

I also put together 3 functioning dummies in Starline cases with the DCB bullets sized to .430" (as they came from DCB). Previously, I'd sized them to .429". They feed and chamber just fine in all my .44 WCF guns so that's one less step I need to take with the second box of these bullets I have. I'm hoping that they'll give better accuracy as well. Groups in the rifles have been mediocre although my Uberty Bisley shot them well.

After wrapping up I ordered a 500 count box of 215 grain .430" RNFP bullets from Matt's Bullets. The design looks very similar to the Accurate Molds 43-215C so I am hoping they shoot as well. Unfortunately, they are lubed with Carnauba Red. This is an outstanding bullet lube for smokeless powder but it's not suited for black powder AFAIK. So, they'll be reserved for loading on top of Unique, Reloder 7, IMR-4227, or Herco if I can find a pound at a reasonable price.

Loading the 150 black powder rounds mostly depleted my stash of 43-215Cs, so it'll be time to cast soon. After I cast a bunch I am planning to borrow my brother's RCBS Lube-A-Matic to size them at .430" and lube them with SPG, which should be quicker than pan lubing them.