Sunday, April 12, 2009

Three .44s plus .45, 327 Mag and .357 Sig Compact

What's better than shooting holes in stuff? Shooting holes in stuff with friends. I couldn't find anybody to go to the range with on Saturday, so I called up an old buddy from way back and went out to his farm to shoot my new .44 rifle and other assorted pistols. At top is my new Marlin 1984SS, a stainless-steel .44 Magnum/.44 Special lever gun.

And I took two other .44 pistols, a Hy Hunter .44 Magnum single-action I borrowed from the gun shop where I work for a test run and my S&W Model 29 .44 Magnum. Also in that pistol pile is my S&W M&P Compact .357 Sig and my Llama IX-C .45 ACP. Not shown is my Charter Arms .327 Federal Magnum, which I was wearing at the time.

I don't have a single-action pistol and was considering whether the Hy Hunter was going to be my first.

The first target, the fullsize Blueman, was shot with the lever gun at 25 yards and the Cowboy pistol at 15 yards. Lever gun was shooting high, which I corrected, but a tad to the right, which I didn't try to correct. Of course I didn't read the manual first, so I found out afterward the rear sight is drift adjustable. I've got a sight pusher, so I'll fiddle with that next time out with the Marlin.

The Hy Hunter didn't need any sight correction, thank God, as I didn't want to even think about what adjusting it would require with its fixed sights. It shoots dead on, as a couple of holes in the center will attest.

With .44 Magnum loads, it's a hand cannon but shoots dead on. With .44 Special loads, it's a pussycat.

It was a lot of fun to shoot, but after slowwwwwwly reloading it a few times, I figured out why all the old cowboys are dead. They got shot while reloading.

I think I've cured my itch for a single-action pistol. This one is beautiful, black steel finish throughout and beautiful pearl grips. Handles well with its 6.5" barrel, great trigger that couldn't be more than about 2 lbs. It's even a good buy at only $350 which is a steal for a well-made carbon-steel pistol. This one was made by J.P. Sauer & Sohn back in the '80s in what was then West Germany. That's the Sauer that has since merged with Sig to create Sig Sauer. Those Germans make fine pistols.

But it's a range toy and I've got enough of those already. Back to the shop it will go. I've finally found a pistol I don't want to buy. Unbelievable I know, but true.

The second target is shot with my S&W 29. Lordy is that one fine-shooting pistol. It makes the single-action .44 seem a century out of date, which it is. I love shooting .44 Specials and I can see with this new lever gun and my Smith 29, I'm gonna have to buy more .44 ammo. A lot more.

My buddy, his wife and I went through more than 100 rds. of .44 Special and about 25 rds. of .44 Magnum. My gun shop is one of the few I've seen that stocks .44 Special ammo so that will be my next objective, stocking up while it's available. We've got several different brands of range ammo and hollow-points to choose from.

Next up after the .44s was a few magazines of .45 ACP for my favorite full-size pistol, my Llama IX-C 1911. I bought some Canadian-made 15-rd. magazines for it and had shot them once and had a jam or two, so I needed more work with them.

Target is a 11x17" Redman shot at 15 yards with four 15-rd. mags shot at center mass and at the head.

The first time I shot the Canadian-made mags, I found they will hold 16 rds. instead of the 15 marked, so I had to try that. One jammed a time or two, the other didn't. So this time I loaded both to only 15 and both of them worked perfectly. Lesson learned. Fifteen rounds is enough, specially when it's .45 ACP.

Next up was my fairly new S&W M&P Compact .357 Sig. I'm now up to about 250 or 300 rounds and have yet to have a bobble. Performance-wise, it's just as reliable as my S&W M&P full-size .357 Sig, which has yet to jam at about 1K round-count. S&W's so-called full-size M&P has a .4.25" barrel, which is compact in every other maker's book, and the M&P "Compact" with it's 3.5" barrel is subcompact size for all other pistol makers.

The small Redman target with the M&P Compact is shot with two 10-rd. mags and two 15-rd. mags. It's nice to have a compact pistol that takes full-size mags.

I've been carrying the compact but the more I shoot it, the higher my confidence grows that it will perform in the clutch when it really counts. And if your self-defense pistol isn't reliable, why carry it?

I'm in the process of down-sizing my pistols from full-size to carry size and so far have sold my full-size .357 Sig, a P226 Sig Sauer, and have my full-size 9mm CZ SP01 Custom and my full-size .45 ACP FEG Browning Hi-Power clone up for sale.

The Llama has earned a permanent job as my car gun, riding on the seat beside me, and I'll let my S&W 29 go right after I auction off one of my grandkids, so both of those are definite keepers.

I've only got one other candidate I'm considering for sale, my Steyr M357-A1. I never thought I'd let it go, but frankly, it's my least-reliable .357 Sig.

That's not to say it's unreliable. But I never had a jam with my P226 and I've never had a jam with either of my two S&W M&P .357 Sigs. I have one every now and then with the M357-A1, maybe one ever 100-200 rds., so that's makes it the least reliable of the four. It's a fine compact carry pistol with 4" barrel, almost identical in size to my so-called full-size M&P .357 Sig. They even share the same holsters. But as good as my Steyr is, and I love it, the M&Ps are more reliable.

And when I compare my M357-A1 to my Steyr M9-A1, it comes in second again. So far I have yet to have any jams with my M9-A1 with somewhere near 1K in its round count. Maybe the lower-powered 9mm rounds just don't create as much stress as .357 Sig and are less jam prone.

I really haven't made a decision on whether the M357-A1 stays or goes, but I'm considering it. I'll wait until after the CZ and the FEG are sold and then make a reassessment once I've added another carry pistol or two as their replacements to see where I'm standing.

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