Friday, October 8, 2010

Fun at the range with (3) .45s, (1) .44, (1) 9mm and (2) .22 revolvers

I was all dressed for work, armed and ready to go when I got a call from one of the gun shop owners, with no gun show this weekend to go to, I could take Friday off. Woo hoo! Range day!

I've got a concealed-carry class at the shop tomorrow, so Friday off was a genuine unexpected pleasure. So I loaded up and went off to DeWitt's range for some fun.

First up were three new 12-rd. magazines for my new Steyr S9-A1 subcompact 9mm. The factory S9 mags have a 10-rd. limited-capacity bottom for some reason nobody at U.S. distributor Steyr Arms can explain. That's how they made them in Steyr, Austria, at Steyr-Mannlicher, so that's how they are.

But one of my buddies at Steyr Club, who wishes to remain unnamed, is a genius with Steyr magazines. I purchased three S40 mags with three 9mm followers from Steyr Arms, had them shipped to him and voila, three S9 12-rd.-capacity mags appeared in the mail to me. Thanks Mr. Anonymous, great job. Here's the results.
And how did they shoot? Perfect. You were expecting something else from the mag master?

Next up I had a trio of .45s that cried their way into going to the range, you shoulda heard all the wailing.
At bottom is my Sig P220 SAO with its new set of Nill grips that needed a baptism of fire. At top is my Para P12-45 compact, just back from Para-USA where she got the PXT power extractor and a new recoil-spring and guide-rod assembly. I've already test-fired the P12, but I figured another mag of hollow-points can't hurt. And at right is my Llama IX-C wide-frame, who is always on car duty and needed some work so Big Bertha came out from under the seat to speak her piece. Now for the targets for the first four up at the range.

All these targets are standing Isosceles at the usual max distance for social exchanges, 7 yards, rapid fire.
At right is the S9A1 with one 10-rd. mag of JHPs and three 12-rd. mags of FMJs. As usual, with a DAO trigger my lefty-trigger-finger tends to pull a bit to the right.

Then the other three, at left the Sig P220, second from left, Para P12, and third from left, the Llama. All three have excellent single-action triggers, which proves what everybody ought to already know. The best double-action trigger in the world still isn't as good as a good single-action trigger. One thing a good single-action trigger does for me is instantly cure my tendency to pull the point-of-impact slightly to the right.

And it also proves once again that I shoot my P220 better than any of my 1911 .45s. It is what it is.

Then the marvelous day at the range took a sudden downturn. Next up were a pair of .22 revolvers, a single-action Ruger Bearcat stainless and a S&W 317 8-shot DA/SA with a 3" barrel, both used guns I purchased at the gun shop where I work. This was my first occasion to shoot either of them since purchase.
After 12 rds. in the Bearcat, I could no longer get a round into any of the chambers. It looked clean so I didn't take it apart and clean it before shooting. I'm sure a thorough cleaning will take care of that problem.

But the S&W 317 was a total disaster. The daddy rabbit in the family-owned gun shop said something didn't seem right about the 317 when we purchased it from the previous owner. But he couldn't find any reason to send it to S&W for repairs, so it went on sale. And I bought it. And the boss was dead right about it.

One cylinder fired double-action, OK, but fairly stiff trigger. One cylinder fired single-action. Perfect, sights right on the money. Third cylinder, two rounds fired double-action and she locked up tighter than Dick's hatband, which according to my daddy was way too tight. I couldn't rotate the cylinder, couldn't pull the trigger or the hammer and could not force the cylinder release in to open the cylinder. To make matters even worse, you cannot send a loaded gun back to S&W for service.

But I know a local gunsmith, so I took it to him. He applied some gunsmith magic in his back shop -- said when he applied "a lot of pressure on the cylinder release" it finally opened. I didn't ask what he used to apply that much pressure. He got it unloaded and it will be headed off to S&W for service and repair on Monday.

Finally back to the fun. Before I left the range, I put some more rounds through my Kel-Tec PF9 subcompact 9mm to check the new Crimson Trace Lasergrip I just installed on it. Here it is with my improvised pocket magazine holder, an eyeglass case cut in half, perfect fit for a pair of spare magazines.

And I have some new grips I just got from S&W for my S&W 29 .44 Magnum and wanted to give them a baptism of fire. Question was, could I fire magnum loads without getting bit on the hand in the process?
The smooth laminate combat finger-groove grips are beautiful, but are they functional under magnum stress? The answer is definitely, just as comfortable and maybe even better than my ugly black rubber Pachmayrs.

Finally, here's the last two targets, the S&W 29 .44 holes in the left and the PF9 9mm holes in the right.
The PF9 still needs some benchrest work to get that laser sight zeroed. Maybe at the indoor range tomorrow after my concealed-carry class I can do that. But I gotta say it's a ton more fun shooting my big .44 than that snappy little PF9 with carry loads. That's why there's more holes in the .44 target than the 9mm target.

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