Bein’ A Test Dummy


By Jeff “Tank” Hoover

I was a test dummy, once. Well, maybe more than once, but who’s counting? This last time, I was told I was the perfect man for the job. Rarely getting such compliments, I was ready to help out.

This all started last year while chatting with Jason Cloessner, VP and Product Development manager at Lipsey’s, one of the largest distributors of Ruger firearms. I call him Buddy, he really is a great guy.

I first talked with Jason, years ago, when Lipsey’s released the long awaited mid-frame flattop .44 special. Prayers from the countless Elmer and Skeeter fans were answered. Jason, recognizing rabid revolver fans would buy the long ago planned 6-shooter, which was ditched when the .44 Magnum came about, knew a longstanding niche needed to be filled, along with a great business opportunity. A deal was struck between Lipsey’s and Ruger and the guns were produced, selling out quickly, forcing a second, third and fourth run.

Jason, ever the enabler, took care of my .44 special needs and we stayed in touch. Jason, a true gun guy, is well versed and has a true interest, curiosity and knowledge about guns, while his enthusiasm is unbridled with his innovation.


Tank says the glazed eyes had nothing to do with shooting 1,500 rounds through
a .480 Ruger. Note critical test dummy markings to measure recoil impulse. Just
kidding, they’re just Tank’s kids making fun of him now that is arms are too
tired to fend them off.

The Bait Is Cast

Coupla’ years later I bump into Jason shooting at the NRA Whittington Center, in Raton, NM. In hushed tones, he tells me something big is in the works, about a “Ruger 5-shot project” underway and they are in the test phase of field-testing the guns for durability. Wiggling his worm, he tells me he’s looking for shooters to help send the required allotment of rounds down range. “Know anyone who would be interested, Tank?” grinning at me. The lure was presented beautifully, and I inhale the whole damn fishing rod, up to Jason’s elbows.

Jason tells me, “Don’t worry Tank, since we’re friends and all, I won’t charge you to shoot it. I’ll provide the guns and ammo for free!”
“Wow! Whatta’ deal,” is all I can eek out. True test dummy testimonial, so I’m living up to my title. I recruit my sidekick Doc Barranti to dummy along and join in the fun.

Jason tells us the .454 Casull was test fired by the fine folks at Ruger and they managed to put 5,000 rounds down-range. When the .480 Ruger prototypes were completed, they declined the endurance phase, sending Jason two guns and a pallet of factory ammo, with a note attached, “Here ya go. Good luck!” Several of the Lipsey staff pitched-in, as did Jason. He’s a fine shooter himself, but says he could use some help pounding those rounds down-range.


Tank and Doc at the range blasting away. 95 degree heat with 95 percent
humidity at 9:00 in the morning was the norm. Sweaty is as sweaty does,
eh? Bein’ a test dummy means you know how to take it!


Boxes of ammo and empty hulls defined our success.

Setting The Hook

Doc and I fly into downtown New Orleans, LA into Lois “Satchmo” Armstrong airport. August in LA is hot, but the unbelievable food makes it tolerable. Jason met us at the airport, as he was flying in from Nebraska from a promo event and lugs us home, where we meet his wonderful wife and three boys. We have a full-coursed, traditional LA meal including Crawdad Etouffee cooked by his wife. Our taste buds were in sensory overload in the warm setting of Jason’s home.

Bright and early the next day had us shooting factory ammo in the .480 Bisleys. We shot bullets from 325 grains up to 420 grains. We keep the shooting fast and furious, as they say, and the guns get so hot you can’t hold onto ‘em. During the next two days, Doc and I put 1,500 rounds through the guns. No one in their right mind would ever shoot their guns this hard. The guns hold up fine and Doc and I pass our first test dummy assignment.

Jason knows all the great local food places and takes great care of Doc and me. One memorable day we have a range lunch of fried alligator, boudin balls and shrimp. Test dummies need to eat, too! Jason was happy, Doc and I had fun, and the Rugers wanted more. We experienced great food and delightful people, while shooting some prototype guns. How can it get any better than that? Isn’t this the way life is supposed to be?


Recovered slugs from some of the Factory ammo we shot.


A range lunch of fried gator, shrimp and boudin balls hit the
spot just right. Tank thinks he’s part Cajun now.

It’s Not So Bad …

A few months later the first run of Ruger 5-shot Bisley’s are released in both .480 Ruger and .454 Casull. Jason does it again by answering the prayers of dedicated revolver shooters who enjoy blasting the big boys for their toys, at working man’s wages. This in turn promotes the shooting sports and is just plan fun. Jason has a way to get manufacturers to listen with his enthusiasm, knowledge and now, proven track record. It’s good for all of us.

After absorbing all those .480 Ruger rounds, you’d think a test dummy would be at risk of blowing a circuit, diode, or complex recording sensor. Nope! Ol’ Tank is running just fine, thank you very much. If you ever get a chance to be a test dummy, don’t pass it up.
It’s not so bad — especially when the food’s so good!

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