Range Report for 1 December 2018- Something Old, Something New…

Webley Model 1883 Royal Irish Constabulary in .450 Adams

Tonight I had a gun to test, ammo to test and a new gun to fire for the first time. Well, new after a fashion…

Starting this off with the Webley RIC. I’ve been gradually sorting minor issues with this gun, and it was time for a final test. .450 Adams cartridge is not really commercially available so I have been trying various loads for it. It has shown a marked preference for hollow-base bullets; my go-to utility bullet (Aardvark Enterprise’s 200gr. TRNL Cowboy bullet) tends to key-hole from this gun.  I set up a swage-block and punch to make them into 200gr. hollow-base semi-wadcutters.

Cute little suckers, aren’t they?

I loaded these over 3.5gr. of Unique with a CCI300 Large Pistol primer. This was a deliberately light load, but it turned out to be too light. These might have been coming out at well under 400fps. Better to be too careful in these cases, of course. The good news is the bullets appeared to fly true- as near as I could tell. They tore the paper rather than punching proper holes, but examination of the target did not show evidence of Key-holed rounds as near as I could tell.

I am delighted to report that the gun functioned flawlessly throughout.

I suspect that the tendency to hit to the right is an artifact of my shooting, not the gun or ammunition.

 Moving on to the Remington conversion revolver chamber in .44 Colt, I was trying out a load with the .451 heel-base round-nose bullet. These were loaded over 5.5gr. of Unique with a CCI300 Large Pistol primer.

Armi San Marcos Remington reproduction converted to a ‘Bulldog’ and chambered in .44 Colt (original)

These turned out to be extremely inconsistent- the crimp is not holding the bullets well at all. What seemed to occur on several occasions was that the powder did not ignite properly; it was as if the primer was blowing the bullet into the forcing cone before the powder really got going, resulting in a very large flash from the cylinder-gap and an anemic ‘thump’ rather than a bang. The bullets all went downrange, but at highly variable velocities- many of them quite slowly.  Accuracy was within acceptable limits– however.  Normally I load these bullets with 6.5gr of Unique, and in the future I’ll be using that load with these bullets.

The two strikes on the white were both basically squibs. This target was shot at seven yards.

I think I am going to pursue my experiments with hollow-base .430″ wadcutters; while I need to tweak the design of the bullet slightly they are, on the whole, consistent in ignition and velocity even with the smaller powder charge.

Last but not least was a new acquisition in the form of an early Christmas present from Linda- a mint 3: S&W 31-1. Despite having been made in 1970 this gun appears new- possibly even un-fired!

‘Like New’ is no exaggeration on this gun- the checkering on the grips is actually uncomfortably sharp, and there are no signs of wear on the finish except for a faint drag-mark on the cylinder. Not bad for a 48 year old gun!
Stock S&W grips have never really suited my hand, so I cobbled up this target grip in Curly Maple

The load I was using was a 96gr. TRN bullet (from Aadrdvark Enterprises) over 3.8gr. of Unique with a Federal Small Pistol primer. This is a stout load- I recommend that it only be used in modern firearms in good condition! I do not, for example, fire them out of my I-Frame .32 Hand Ejector.

My first results at seven yards were un-inspiring; groups were decent overall but there were far to many fliers. This was all me, of course. I realized that I have been spoiled by the very nicely worn-in trigger on the S&W .32 Hand Ejector and the superb trigger on the .32 Colt New Police Detective Special. Buckling down on my fundamentals I focused down and was able to shoot this seven-yard target-

Ten rounds, double-action/standing unsupported at a 1-shot/second cadence. That’ll do.

The gun does consistently shoot a little low, but I can live with that. Next time I’ll load some target loads and see about pushing the distance out. The new grip was very comfortable to use; not too surprising since I tailored it to fit my hand!

A fun and informative evening all told. I am very pleased with the Webley’s performance and the new S&W. I’m looking forward to shooting them more on the future- especially that little .32!

Size comparison between the 31-1 and the 1903 .32 Hand Ejector. The I-frame 1903 makes the J-frame 31-1 look positively beefy!

Addenda: I will need to modify the left-hand grip panel; the inside casing hangs up on the grip on ejection. That’s a simple fix at least.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 1 December 2018

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