By Tank Hoover
And Finally Figurin’ It Out
Today was an educational one. I was shooting two pistols, my Ruger .357 Maxi and a faithful companion, my blued Ruger Bisley in .45 Colt, sporting a 7.5″ barrel. For the Maxi, I had a few 187 gr. WFN GC PC bullets loaded over 22.4 grains of H110. I also had around 40 200-gr. slugs from the RCBS 180-gr. SIL mold, loaded over 22.4 grains of H110. I also brought along my TC .357 Maxi contender carbine for two reasons. First, being a way to check for preliminary accuracy of loads with its 2.5X scope, and secondly, to blow-out some loads too long to shoot in the Ruger Revolver, and make some empty brass for it.
My plan was to start my shooting at 50 yards, get a good zero on the pistols, then start banging away at 100 yards. So, I test the RCBS 180-gr. SIL load with the TC contender and am rewarded with a sub-1″ group at 50 yards. I then unlimber the 10.5″ Maxi from its rug and load it. The sights look sharp and crisp, the orange 2″ square on the paper plate is perched just right, on top of the front sight, trigger pull is nice and smooth and five rounds go down-range, courtesy of a fiery inferno of H110 blistering their butt’s all the way down the barrel.
I excitedly set the spotting scope up as the Maxi cools and am expecting to see a nice 2″ group — or better. What I see surprises me, or more accurately, disappoints. Only three shots were on the paper plate, strung horizontally across the center of the plate, end-to-end, approximately 8″ across the 9″ plate. Damn! EEHH! So I think, oh, it’s just the first group, just getting warmed up, and skeptically load up another five rounds. Same sequence, same results, maybe a tad worse.
“What in the hell is going on here?”
Is the 65 degree heat affecting the powder coating on the bullets? Is this bullet a dud? I switch over to the 187 grain load. Same thing! Am I just having a bad day? Lets really buckle down, and get serious! The more I shoot, the worse things get. I pull the cylinder, and check the barrel. Looks slick as any barrel shooting PC bullets. A few deep breaths, I set the Maxi down, and start in on the Bisley.
It’s stoked with my favorite woods hunting load, a cast 260-gr. 454424 Keith slug, from a 70’s vintage mold, with full diameter front driving band, over 20 grains of 2400. I snuggle the Bisley into the suede-covered sandbag atop a 4″X6″ block of wood, and let loose five rounds, then check them. Thank God! I have a 2″ or better group staring back at me through the spotting scope. I shoot another group. Same thing. “Okay, Mr. Maxi, what’s up?”
Maybe it’s me and I’ve settled down? I talk myself through the fundamentals, let loose five times, and see two holes in the plate!
“This @%#$^&*&^#$%%$^#^@@?*(*$%^ GUN!!!!”
I’m ready to pistol whip someone and wrap the 10.5″ pipe around someone’s head. Luckily, I have the range to myself, and avoid any arrest for assault on a Ruger Maximum! I shoot, and shoot, and shoot some more.
My groups look like a machine gun was swung across the target leaving a string of holes in its wake. I break the gun down again, look it over, cogitating best I can, in an agitated state. Is the rear sight windage spring broken or weak? Nope. I put the gun back together. I’m reminded I need to replace the much-too-low front sight with a taller one. I look and see it will be easy, as only one screw holds it on. As I touch the front sight it wiggles!
Hallelujah! The angels sing, a beam of light comes down from the heavens, illuminating the now forgiven Maxi of its previous sins! A few turns from a Leatherman flat blade screwdriver rectify my predicament, and I’m ready! I have five rounds left. Again, the same sequence is preformed. Bingo! A group of 2.8″ and four into 1.8″ is peppered on the perforated picnic plate. We are back in business. Or, at least until I have time to handload more ammo for my Maxi.
A Different Caper
I recently solved another “situation” of the inaccurate kind. I was shooting my Lyman Flying Fist, 311440 a few weeks ago. It shot horrible at 50 yards in my .327 Federal. I chalk it up to not stabilizing. A couple days later, in the confines of my reloading room, I notice my LEE sizing die I had used on the above bullet. As I put it away, I notice it was my .311″ sizer, not the intended .314″. Oops. Case solved, ya big dope! Bullets were too small in diameter and were rattling down the bore!
Shortly after this discovery, I head back to the range with the correctly sized Flying Fist slug and am rewarded with nice snug 2″ groups at 50 yards.
Just goes to show, there’s usually a simple fix for perplexing problems. Try to stay cool headed and take the time to figure it out, unlike me. Hey, I’m human, as I explain to my wife. Use yer noggin’! Ask some of the graybeards at your range if you have problems. Never give up and you’ll learn about your gun, ammo, or shooting style, which in the end, will make you a better all around shooter.
Besides, these sorts of things are actually kinda’ fun too. But don’t tell anyone I said that.
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