Exclusive: The Bearcat And The Manson Reamer

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One Man’s Quest For A Smooth Ruger

By Roger Smith

bearcat 1

beatcat 2

bearcat 3

Jonathan (9) and Mikala (12) enjoy shooting with Grandpa. He also make sure they are up to speed with all the safety rules, including ear and eye protection. In the posed photo by the target, Mikala’s finger is out of the trigger guard and the muzzle is angled toward the rear, well away from Jonathan, so don’t get alarmed!

Recently I purchased a little Ruger Bearcat to introduce the grandchildren to the pleasures of handguns. Never before in my life have I had a .22 revolver whose cylinder didn’t allow loaded rounds to simply fall into and out of the chambers from their own weight. This little baby required sincere, concentrated effort to insert the rounds. Two of the chambers took real authority to fully insert the shells. The cartridges looked like I had rubbed them with 220 grit emery cloth right where they were crimped into the heels of the bullets.

What to do? Send it back to Ruger? Take it to a gunsmith? Nah. It seemed reasonable that if all of the chambers were too tight, then a finishing reamer should make everything okay.

I checked out Dave Manson’s on-line reamer catalog and found exactly what I thought I needed: a .22 LR cylinder finishing reamer. Now, I’m closer to being mechanically challenged than to being a highly skilled machinist, but I have already successfully used a Manson reamer and pilot set purchased from Brownell’s to open the too-tight throats on a .45 Ruger Blackhawk and a Vaquero to .4525″. I thought I could handle this job, too. A call to them with my credit card in hand delivered my reamer the very next day.

At my skill level, reaming the chambers was more scary than difficult, but everything came out perfectly. I wish I’d had sufficient presence of mind to take photos of the reamer before cleaning it of oil and chips after reaming each chamber to show just how much steel came out of each one! Oh, well.

In the photo of the reamer, the arrow points to the shoulder than can be used to smooth out the seating surface and circumference in cylinders with recesses for the cartridge rims. In the photo of the cylinder you can see where the reamer removed the bluing as it smoothed the surfaces. The dark areas the arrows point to are lower areas gouged out by the rough factory reamer that still have bluing in them.

It’s not unheard of for a revolver to throw one or two rounds into a different place from the rest of the group. It’s usually from having chambers of different sizes. If it’s from an off-center or an oversize chamber, you’re Strictly Outa Luck of course, to paraphrase that old saying. But if it’s from a chamber or two (or six, like mine) that are undersize, a Manson finishing reamer just might make everything okay.

For more info: www.mansonreamers.com

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Arrows point to the low, dark areas gouged out of the rear of each

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Arrow points to the shoulder of the reamer to smooth and level the rear of .22 LR cylinder chambers.

bearcat 6

After having its chambers uniformly finished with the reamer so I can get the rounds in, the little
Bearcat can now shoot!  Any time I can get a group like this hand-held at eight yards — I’m thrilled!

bearcat 7

This is the general configuration so you can get a handle on what was going on. In reality, the
cylinder would be in a vise and the reamer in a tool holder turned very slowly and carefully.

bearcat 8

A caring Grandpa and a handy reamer from Manson turned the little Bearcat into a
nifty .22 for teaching safe gun handling to his grand-kids.

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