Monthly Archives: September 2017

Test-Firing Two New Remingtons


I’ve made a Percussion version of the Pug for a buddy and discovered that my First Konverter would drop right in so I decided to test-fire it and my new Remington project. Since the recoil-shield is not cut to load cartridges on either gun it was necessary to remove the cylinder to load and unload, but that’s really not that much of a pain.

The Pug performed flawlessly, firing a little low and left. This will be easily rectified; I won’t even need to remove the sight to do it. Another member of the range, Pat, Also fired it. He loved it- had an ear-to-ear grin, and loved the feel of the gun.

The new Remington did not do quite so well, not the least because I forgot I had not yet mounted a front sight… oops!  Even so it was no real problem to keep the lead on the paper at five yards. The real problem was that the latch on the longer loading lever was not up to holding the lever against recoil and it dropped as seen in the photo. I will need to redo it with a more robust system. Oh well, live and learn, eh?

So, a bit of a mixed bag, but mostly good. I very much enjoyed shooting both guns. I’m really looking forward to wrapping up these projects. Now if Grizzly Industrial would just get the damn drive-belt for my lathe to me…

Seriously, I am pissed at them. They held up my order because I had not updated my tax-exempt status- despite the fact that it was a taxable purchase and I had paid tax on it! Morons. It’s straightened out now and the belt will arrive next week. Oh well. Not much to be done except spread the word.

The load used to test these guns was my go-to .45 Colt load- a 200gr. LRNFP over 9.0gr. of Unique with a CCI large pistol primer.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 07 September 2017

Range Report 01 Sept. 17- Good News and Bad News

The other day at Pintos I picked up some .361-caliber 150gr. LSWCs and a bottle of Trail Boss powder for a project-gun (which will be a whole other series of posts.)  Naturally I needed a new load for the 150gr. bullets in the .38 S&W.  Why not try the Trail Boss?

How about because there is no published load data for Trail Boss in this caliber? Hmmm… Researching around there was a fellow who spoke highly of 2.7gr. of Trail Boss for this bullet. OK, we’ll try that and see how it goes.

Off to Champion arms to try that out. How it goes is both good and bad. The load is great- they’ve got some real pop, recoil is reasonable and accuracy is good- though honestly I was testing the load more than going for precision. Seven yards fired at a brisk pace-

That’s the good- the bad is that most of the rounds wouldn’t chamber fully. I use .38 Special/.357 Magnum dies to reload this cartridge, and with the .361 bullets it tends to push up a ring of lead at the lip of the cartridge which catches the inside of the chamber and doesn’t allow the bullet to seat properly in the chamber. It wasn’t much of a hassle to scrape them off with a thumbnail and get them to work, but who wants to do that at the range? I need to get proper .38 S&W dies.  Thumbs up to Trail Boss, thumbs down to my reloading.

The other thing that I wanted to test was The Outlaw .45. I installed a gated Kirst Konverter the other week and the breech ring did not fit precisely and would occasionally jam the mechanism up, particularly on loading. Not blaming Kirst; this is an older gun and specs change over the years. It wasn’t a big gap, so I took a piece of razor-blade and soldered it to the base of the breech-ring. That took out the slop and seemed to cure the problem. But would it hold up to firing? Yes. Yes it would.

As far as firing The Outlaw went it was good news/bad news again. Nicely accurate, but shooting very high. At seven yards, fired at a brisk place-

Pretty happy with that, so I decided to try it at 25 yards. This meant I had to aim well below the target, so consistency was problematic-

The two shots I pulled off to the left were totally my fault. That sucks because I was looking at a pretty good group there otherwise! I need to adjust the sights and get some practice in since this might be my ‘pucker-brush gun’ this deer season. I’ve got a private property locked down for opening weekend, and a lot of it is dense brush where 5-15 yard shots are the norm.  I’m quite sure my load will be adequate for the local Black-tails; they aren’t very large.

The loads used today-

.38 S&W: 150gr. LSWC over 2.7gr. Trail Boss with a CCI500 primer. This load has some pop to it- I would hesitate to use it in a lesser quality gun. I’m considering backing it off to 2.5gr.

.45 Colt: 200gr. LRNFP over 9.0gr. of Unique with a CCI300 primer. This is my tried-and-true .45 Colt load. It’s been great in everything I have shot it in- reasonable recoil, accurate and reliable.

So, a good productive morning at the range and directions to proceed. Fun too of course.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 01 September 17

Oh .38! You so Silly…

Think you are shooting a .38? You probably aren’t.

Most people are aware that modern .38s aren’t .38″ In diameter. They are .357″ or so, closer to a .36 caliber. Fewer people know that a .36 caliber cap-and-ball revolver has a nominal bore diameter of .375″.  So .38s are really .36s, and .36s are really .38s. Confused? You should be- it’s confusing. Most don’t know how this screwed-up state of affairs came about. Here’s how it happened as near as I can reconstruct it-

Let’s start with the muzzle loaders. Typically a muzzle-loader used a slightly smaller ball than the bore, with the difference being made up by the patch.  If you were shooting a .38-caliber muzzle loader these balls were often in the neighborhood of .36 caliber.

Colonel Colt decided to make a medium-caliber revolver, which was introduced in 1851. He called it a .36, because that was the diameter of bullets that a muzzle-loader of .38 caliber used. Except since you didn’t use a patch the bullet needed to be .38 caliber. Why didn’t he just call it the 1851 Navy .38? Who knows? Maybe the thought was that if he called it a .38 people would try to load it with .36-caliber balls. Yeah, it doesn’t make any sense to me either, but it set the stage for 150 years of confusion.

When Colt and others began to make cartridge-conversion revolvers the madness abated briefly. The two flavors introduced for these were .38 Rimfire and .38 Colt. In both cases actual .38-caliber bullets were used, but these were heel-base bullets with the base rebated to fit into a case the same diameter as the bullet (the only common uses of this type of bullet today are .22 Short and .22 LR.) The inside diameter of these cases was about .36-caliber.

These cartridges using heel-base bullets were not an ideal solution as the lubricating band was outside of the cartridge-case and could pick up dust and debris. The solution was to place the bullet entirely inside the cartridge-case. That way the lubrication was protected against dirt or being inadvertently wiped away.  In the case of .38 calibers this meant that you moved to a .36 diameter bullet. Of course you made your revolver with a .36-caliber bore for the smaller bullet.

So why continue to call it a .38? Marketing, I suspect. People were used to buying .38 ammo- easier to just keep calling it that. Besides, maybe .38 sounded more potent than .36 and it made a clear separation between new cartridge guns and the older Cap-and-ball guns. We can only speculate as they didn’t write down their reasoning.

Yep. Your gun is lying to you. 

The .38s aren’t alone of course; the original .44 Colt was .45 caliber to match the .451-.454 diameter bore of cap-and-ball revolvers. No, we don’t know why these were called .44s. Presumably the same sort of reasoning that originally led them to call a .38 a .36. Likewise .44s are .43-caliber. .32s are .31 Caliber. Bullets for.30-calibers are .31. Yeah, it’s kinda’ confusing- and dumb.

The bad part of it is we’re still doing it. .460 S&W Magnum? Yeah, it’s .45 caliber. Federal’s .327 Magnum uses .312″ bullets, being named I presume to distinguish it from .32 H&R Magnum and make an association with .357 Magnum. I guess we can’t look for a sudden burst of rationality from ammunition manufacturers at this late date…

Michael Tinker Pearce, 31 August 17