Three Dog Night… er… Afternoon

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Three Bulldogs- .450, .38 and .32

No, really- I will write about something other than Bulldogs soon, but this is a range report and, well, all I shot were the bulldogs.  Two of the three needed test firing, which produced mixed results.

First of these was the folding trigger .32, which the Belgians refer to as a ‘Puppy.’ It’s a small bulldog, so I guess that makes sense, right?  This one is from an anonymous manufacturer and sports Belgian proofs. I got it off Gunbroker a couple of years ago- it was sold as a ‘parts-gun’ for $50. Technically I suppose this was true, but all of the parts were actually there… Someone had, at some past time, sawed the hammer-spurt half off and then broke it the rest of the way, so the first order of business was cleaning that up. Then after reassembly and some handling the two springs that usually break- the hand spring and trigger return spring- broke. I replaced them eventually (after the gun had spent far too long sitting around the shop) and decided it was time for a test-firing.

The problem is that the gun is chambered for .320 Revolver (or .32 Short Colt) which is basically unobtanium. After some research into the cartridge I decided the simplest thing to do was to ream the chambers to accept .32 S&W, which is very similar to the .320 revolver in pressure, bullet-weight etc.

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Even at 5 yards this little revolver is quite challenging to shoot.

Two things were immediately apparent- one, that I was only getting ignition about 50% of the time, and two- that it is very difficult to shoot this little revolver accurately!  The ignition issue is due to the firing-pin striking the very top of the primer. Sometimes a re-strike is effective, sometimes not.  The last thing this revealed is that the ejector rod is really not adequate- it barely gets the cartridges moving. It’s far easier to pop the cylinder out and use the base pin to remove the spent cartridges- which really isn’t significantly more difficult than using the ejector anyway…

So- alterations to the firing-pin are needed, and I have some thoughts for a project involving this gun- but more on that later.

Next up was the Forehand & Wadsworth .38. I’ve already done a blog post about this one, so we don’t need to go into details of the work done so far.  The first six shots went quite nicely, as you can see- these were fired at a brisk pace at five yards.

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Bit of keyholing here, and the shots drifted to the left as my grip on the too-small handle deteriorated…

I was using my standard .38 S&W load- a 150gr. SWC- and it was a bit snappy in this gun. Between that, my large hands and the genuinely tiny grip my shots were slipping to the left by the end of this string. This one was shot at 7 yards- paying more attention to my grip-

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This was the last six-shot string fired without interruption. While the leading problem is greatly reduced it has not been eliminated. After a couple of cylinders full lead stopped up the works and the cylinder needed to be fussed with before shooting continued. More adjustments to the hand seems to be in order.

Last but not least it was Leo’s turn.  Since this revolver is labelled ‘British Lion’ I’ve started thinking of it as Leo. OK then.  This revolver works a treat, and is quite reasonably accurate.

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This was shot with as center-hold in the sights; I usually hold at 6 o’clock with this gun.

This gun did not require testing, but the load did.  I was shooting a 198gr HBLRN slug over 2.0gr. of Trail Boss, and the only change from the last time I fired this load was the new loads have a roll-crimp. This makes for a notably louder report and more recoil- though it is still far from being objectionable.

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Double Action at seven yards fired rapidly
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…and the same at ten yards.

The current load is certainly adequate for close-up target work, but I think I am going to work on some loads with different powders. Red Dot is at the top of the list, and at some point some FFFg black powder is going to get into the mix.

Not an entirely successful afternoon at the range, but I learned things so it’s all good.  I really do like Leo; I think a period-style shoulder holster is called for here…

Michael Tinker Pearce, 18 May 2018

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