Range Report for 6 July 17

My friend Don came by for a little show-and-tell, some coffee and a range-trip. Got to try something new- the Advantage Tactical Sight. This stock photo will explain it better than I can:


S&W M&P with sight picture

It’s pretty simple- put the point of the pyramid where you want the bullet to go. Don had just gotten this installed on a Sig P320 .45 and it was the first time either of us had tried it. It works, and I can see that with practice it would be a fast sight. My first group was dead at point of aim and reasonably tight at seven yards. I’m generally pretty skeptical of new-fangled sights, but I think this one shows real promise; fast, easy to use and intuitive. I like it.

The Sig P320 .35 was a pleasure to shoot- the grip had an excellent ergonomic shape and the trigger was decent. Recoil with WW 230gr. FMC White Box range ammo was pleasant. Unsurprisingly it’s a very nice, good-shooting gun.

As usual there were things to test- The S&W m1903 .32 Hand Ejector and my first reloads of .32 S&W long, the repair of the Helwan and the Beretta 1951 Egyptian Contract, and a new, heavier load in .355/19R.

First was the S&W m1903. It has some minor issues, but accuracy isn’t one of them. Despite the tiny sights tight groups weren’t difficult at seven yards but the gun manifested an odd issue- occasionally you’d pull the trigger and the cylinder wouldn’t budge until you jiggled it. Some of the cartridges exhibited a build-up of lube on the bullet and were seating a few thousandths short. Pressing the rounds firmly into the cylinder largely solved this. I was unable to replicate this problem dry-firing or with expended cartridges. By the end of 100 rounds or so this problem had basically disappeared. Examination of fired cartridges did not show any primer-bulges or other issues. Bit of a mystery.

The load used was a 96gr. LRNFP over 2.7gr. of Unique with a CCI Small Pistol Primer. While these loads displayed good accuracy- not much of a trick at seven yards, really- they did not seem to do a good, consistent job burning the powder. There were a lot of un-burned powder flakes and while there weren’t any true squibs the sound of the shots varied- through my sound-cancelling headphones some would ‘bang’ and others it was more of a ‘PFHOT’ sound. I’d been advised that small charges don’t always work well with Unique in this cartridge unless using deep-seated wadcutters. Loads of 3.3 gr. were suggested for this bullet but I was being perhaps too cautious. I will try a moderately heavier load next time.

The gun is a pleasure to shoot; the trigger-pull is quite nice and the grips, while small, work well with the addition of a T-grip style adapter. The sights are tiny but the gun shoots to point of aim. The only other note is that the cylinder-gap seems a touch large on this gun; I may take steps to remedy that but I’m going to leave it as-is for the moment.

.355/19R- my version of 9mm Rimmed based on .38 Special brass

The next item for testing was the new .355/17R load. these retained the 155gr. TMJ-RN of the previous load. Everything was the same except the powder charge, which was 4.5 gr. of Unique rather then 3.5gr. in the previous load. As you would expect there was noticeably more recoil, but it was by no means unpleasant. A bit like shooting target wadcutters from a 4″ .38. Accuracy was identical to the previous load, producing nice tight groups at seven yards- certainly acceptable from a 1-3/4″ barrel DAO revolver like the Taurus m905. From a 4″ gun this might make a very nice small-game load; enough punch without tearing things up excessively.

Up next were the m1951s- a Helwan and a Beretta Egyptian Contract gun. The Helwan had suffered from peened lugs on the locking block- totally my fault. I disregarded the advice to avoid +P ammunition in these guns, and five shots was all it took. I repaired the locking block and over the afternoon fired about 75 rounds through the gun. Works a treat and is back to being as sweet-shooting as ever. Firing the Beretta was more of the same- accurate, reliable and sweet-shooting. The larger sights of this gun were nice, but didn’t provide any notable improvement in accuracy or target acquisition; the smaller stock sights of the Helwan are quite adequate, which is undoubtedly the reason Maadi didn’t bother with the larger sights when they began production.

All the 9mm was my standard reloaded ammo- a 115gr. TMJ-RN on 5.3gr. of Unique with a CCI primer.

Not much to show in the way of targets; Don and I were sharing them and they filled up with holes rather quickly…

A highlight of the afternoon was the fellow the next lane was shooting a 6″ Python; beautiful gun. He offered to let me run a cylinder through it and it was about what you’d expect- excellent. The heavy barrel tamed the .357 loads nicely and the trigger was exquisite. Wonderful gun, though in truth I think I preferred the 4″ gun my partner carried back in the day.

It was great shooting with Don, and I had a good time with the show-and-tell and visiting.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 7 July 17

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