Yesterday’s range trip largely falls into the category of ‘teachable moments.’ The words ‘Learning Experience’ also come to mind.
A few years back Linda Sold her best friend her Kahr E9 and has regretted it ever since. She’s just never found anything with the trigger and soft-shooting nature of that gun, and believe me, she’s tried! So when we happened across one on Gunbroker act an excellent price we were all over it. In anticipation of a range trip when it arrived I loaded some 9mm ammunition to duplicate typical range ammunition. A 115gr. FMC at 1050fps seemed about right. I loaded up a bunch of them… yes, I know people recommend loading just a few and trying them, but I wanted Linda to be able to shoot her new gun to her heart’s content, and I wanted to shoot the Taurus m905 with the new grips and the Helwan as well.
So we got to the range and Linda tried the new gun with an odd result- the slide kept locking back between shots. I tried it and that didn’t happen to me; the gun worked a treat. Linda adjusted her grip and things improved immediately, and she shot this target at 7 yards- not bad for someone badly out of practice shooting a new gun.
She found the gun to be every bit as nice to shoot as she remembered, and had a good time with it. At the end of the session she started having the issue again, and we concluded she pretty much had t be limp-wresting it, since I couldn’t reproduce the malfunction. We’ll work on that; maybe get her a ball to squeeze or something.
Meanwhile I fired the Taurus and discovered that the load I had selected was maybe not-so-much mid-range. The were seriously snappy, much more so than there Freedom Arms and Magtech ammo that I am used to. They were in fact snappy enough to break the lamination of the wood on the back of the grip. I reluctantly put the snubby away and relegated the rest of the ammo to the semi-autos.
So, Linda fired the Helwan for the first time and shot a rather nice group. Then I loaded up a mag and tried it… for the first time ever the gun jammed. Now, there has been a minor issue with racking the slide for some time, but the gun functioned so I had made the mistake of shrugging it off. Now the slide was jamming back and not returning to battery and it was very difficult to rack the slide and clear the weapon. OK, time to put that one away too. Bugger.
Time to resort to simpler tools. I brought out the Remington Bulldog and ran a quite satisfactory cylinder-full through it. I reloaded and fired a couple more shots and was having trouble re-acquiring my sight picture. That happens when your front sight flies off… oops. I couldn’t find the damned thing either. Well, I’d been figuring on a new front-sight anyway… aaaand gun number three goes back in the bag. Double-bugger. I was almost afraid to do any more shooting for fear I would break more guns…
Linda was done shooting, so I grimly brought out the Steampunk Snubbies and had a go. Fortunately they worked as well as I am accustomed to and after I chewed the centers out of a few targets I felt better. After that I fired the Shopkeeper’s Special with very satisfactory results, shooting two-hands, strong-hand and weak-hand. I felt redeemed as none of these guns experienced any difficulty and I shot them well.
So, the post-mortem…
First- the 9mm load I selected was much hotter than the reloading manual indicated. These were supposed to be moderate standard-pressure loads, but the recoil impulse was more in line with +P defensive ammuntion. I will definitely be heeding the advice to do small test-batches in the future.
Second- The laminated grip construction that I used is not strong enough for high-pressure loads in a light revolver. So, time for a new set of grips with more robust construction… and some lighter loads!
Third- the Helwan. Upon getting home I disassembled the gun and discovered the lugs on the locking-block are peened enough to drag in the slide. This has been a problem with some of the Helwan guns, and is quite expensive to fix. Locking-blocks are getting hard to source and don’t go cheap- about $75 when they are available. Currently barrels with locking blocks are available- for $175. Ouch… that’s only $50 less than we paid for the whole gun! If can develop reasonable material and heat-treat specs I may have to fabricate one, or repair this one. We’ll see.
Not altogether a stellar day- I had a migraine in the morning, gun and ammo issues in the early evening, and then our internet inexplicably went out. Neither computer could get online despite the fact that Hulu was perfectly happy to stream programs to our TV. Just one of those days, I guess…