Something Old, Something New…

…that’s also old. Like 135 years old!

Took a trip to Champion Arms indoor shooting range this afternoon. I realized it had been roughly forever since I had taken my 1911 to the range. This was given to me many years ago by a dear friend, who has since passed away. I’ve kept it in exactly the condition it was when he gave it to me- baby-puke green Teflon finish and all. Thinking about it I realized why, despite my love of the 1911, it had been so long. I hate the GI sights, and the checkering on the safety is actively painful.

OK, both things are fixable. I used a cutoff wheel in a Dremel to cut a narrow slot length-wise in the front sight, then filled it with yellow nail polish. I took needle files to the rear sight and enlarged it and squared the opening. Much better. I put a 1/4″ sanding drum in the Dremel next and took down the checkering and sharp edges on the safety. No more pain.

Big improvement to the GI sights.

Shooting was, um, interesting. I couldn’t shoot a precise group at seven yards to save my life. I realized I was jerking the trigger, anticipating recoil and probably several other rookie mistakes. I took a deep breath, said ‘Screw it,’ and just started blazing away rapidfire. OK, not going to win any awards, but once I relaxed groups were consistent and not unreasonable for rapid-fire. Oh, and it was fun. I can knuckle down and try for precision next time.

Seven yard rapidfire groups,

I’ve been making more brass for .44-55 Walker and had fifteen rounds with me. Thumper worked a treat but I only got to fire one cylinder. Newly formed brass always sticks in Thumper’s chambers after firing, and knowing this, I made sure to have a 1/4″ brass rod to take with me to the range… which I forgot at home. Well, it was fun for the one cylinder I got to shoot. Now when I clean the gun tonight I’ll meed to retrieve the brass rod to drive the cartridges out.

I only got six shots, but they were pretty good shots…

After the Action Shooting International match in May I made some minor changes to the Detonics Combat Master Mk.1. It had the original three-dot sights, which I have never preferred; I find it difficult to achieve any real precision with them. I filled in the dot on the front sight and painted it with orange nail polish. I also improved the grip by contact-cementing a piece of 120-grit emery-cloth to the front-strap of the grip.

Sic gloria transit the three dot sights. The big orange square worked excellently. I ignored the dots on the rear sight.

Precision has ceased to be a problem. Firing standing/unsupported using a modified Weaver grip I put five rounds into a single hole. Quite satisfying.

I’d say the modification to the front sight has been effective…

Last but not least was the newly acquired, and newly modified, S&W .38 Single Action 2nd Model. An online friend has one that he snubbed the barrel on, added ivory grips and re-blued. I’ve admired it for some time, and when another internet pal found one in a local shop at an excellent price the game was afoot! By it’s serial number this gun was most likely made in 1884-85, but mechanically it is excellent, with a very crisp action.

So far I have made a set of antler grips for it, snubbed the barrel at 1-5/8″ to match my .38 Safety Hammerless and made and mounted a new front sight. It’s a little hard getting used to the spur-trigger, but accuracy is quite respectable at seven yards. The gun seems to point very well in my hand, so I tried point-shooting a 3-yard target, basically blazing away without aiming. Three of the five shots were clustered in the center of the paper, with the other two several inches away in random directions. I think with practice that will improve.

My first target with the .38 Single Action. Aside from the one flyer it’s not bad.
A second target at seven yards. Quite reasonable, I think.

Once I got past the oddness of the spur-trigger I really enjoyed shooting this little gun. Next week some supplies should arrive so that I can strip the nickel and rust-blue it. I think this is likely to become a favorite!

The loads used today were:

.44-55 Walker: 200gr Heel-base LSWC over 55 grains (by volume) of FFFG Triple-7 powder with a Federal #150 Large Pistol Primer

.45 ACP: 200gr. LRNFP over 5.6gr. of Unique with a Federal #150 large Pistol Primer.

.38 S&W: 125gr. LSWC over 2.5gr. of Unique with a Federal #100 Small Pistol Primer.

As always you use this reloading data entirely at your own risk.

I’d been a bit out of sorts all day, but leaving the range I was in much better humor. I’ve had a pleasant dinner, and will now more on to cleaning the guns. A good shooting session can be wonderfully therapeutic!

Michael Tinker Pearce, 09 September 2019

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