Cheap is as Cheap Does.

Pssst… hey kid, wanna try a sight? First taste is free…

Let’s talk about cheap sights for AR platform guns, mostly because I am cheap. I recently have had a chance to test four sights, two red dots and two sets of iron sights. Two of these I bought, and two were provided as test samples. We’re going to cover the freebies in this installment, both provided by the same company. I actually purchased these sights on Amazon and was immediately reimbursed via Paypal, before I wrote the reviews.

Feyachi RS-25 Reflex Sight

Feyachi Gold offered to send me a sight to test, their RS-25. Uhhh… do I want a free red dot? Let me think… I made it clear that the sight would receive an honest review and they sent it anyway, which speaks well of their confidence at least.

The RS-25 retails at Amazon for just shy of $50, and I’ve looked at $50 Red Dots before so I was prepared to be unimpressed. When the sight arrived I was surprised- it was well packed, had complete instructions written in good English, came with a spare CR2032 battery and an Allen wrench for installing and adjusting the sight. More importantly the sight is solid, machined from 6065 aircraft aluminum. Reading the manual it said that the sight would withstand an 800G shock, and could be used with large-caliber weapons with heavy recoil- even with spring-air rifles (which are notorious for messing up sights with their bi-directional recoil.)

The sight seems very solid, but it does not appear that the electronics are sealed against immersion; you can see what appears to be a circuit board and a wire underneath. Fair enough, they make no claims that it’s fully waterproof. It doesn’t look like casual wetting will disable it. It mounts on a standard Picatinny rail and is secured by Allen screws with the provided wrench. I mounted it on my AR 9mm, and while it is a bit lower than my normal optic it’s comfortable enough and easy to use.

The RS-25 mounted on my 9mm AR

The sight has a wide field of view- 15m@100 yards, and has four different reticles selected by a lever at the back of the sight. These are a 5MOA dot, a 10 MOA dot, a crosshair and a circled dot. I tried to photograph the different options, but no luck, so here’s an image from the manual:

The four optional reticles- 5 MOA dot, 10 MOA dot, crosshair and 5MOA dot in 50 MOA circle. You can see the selector on the bottom-rear of the sight.

The sight has a knob on the right (which is also the battery compartment) to adjust the brightness. There are eleven different settings, and 11 is bloody bright. The top setting might be useful at high noon on a glacier, but I mostly used it from 1-6 depending on the lighting.

The optics are clear and almost entirely distortion free, unlike most cheap red dots I’ve seen. The coating cuts glare in bright light, but seems to make dark areas slightly clearer and brighter. Neat trick; I dig it. So how’s it work on the range? Like a red dot sight. A pretty decent red dot sight. It was easy to zero, with positive clicks of the adjustment screw, and soon bullets were hitting where I aimed them, if not actually where I was trying to aim them. I was able to produce reasonable off-hand groups at 25 yards and ran several strings of double-taps at ten yards. I found I preferred the circled dot, and used it most of the time. I dismounted the sight and remounted it, and it held zero. (for COVID reasons I was at Champion Arms indoor range, so 25 yards was the max.)

OK, but is it durable? I decided to find out. It’s pretty standard to drop the sight a few times from whatever height seems appropriate, but this has never struck me as a useful test. Since I wasn’t about to drop my rifle repeatedly I had to come up with alternat6ive means.

My ‘alternative means.’

A Pittsburgh 16oz. dead-blow hammer seemed just the thing, and I whacked the sight fairly hard on the battery housing, top and sides. Hard to quantify exactly, but I was trying for harder than one might casually bang the sight into something in normal use. I didn’t really expect to break the sight, so I was not too surprised that it continued to function. I ran a target out to 25 yards, and I’ll be damned if it didn’t hold it’s zero! I was actually kinda’ impressed.

So, picking nits: I’d rather have it mount with a coin-slot knurled nob. I’m not keen on needing an Allen wrench both for mounting and adjusting the sights. That’s pretty much it. It’s functional and pretty tough, but to me the fact that it doesn’t seem to be fully waterproof disqualifies it from field use here in the Pacific Northwet.

I rated this a conditional 5 stars on Amazon, because for someone looking for a light-duty optic for plinking, a range toy or even home defense I can’t see how you could do better for $50.

Feyachi 45 Degree Offset Iron Sights Flip Up BUIS Rapid Transition Backup Front and Rear Iron Sight Set

Lord, that’s a mouthful, innit’? First things first- I have zero experience with this sort of offset sight. Nada. You probably already know this, but these are generally used in conjunction with a magnifying optic. Need to shoot fast at close range or broke your scope? Tilt the gun and keep shooting. That’s the idea anyway. I don’t have a magnifying optic and my current flip-up sights co-witness with my red dot, so I don’t really need these.

So, again these came decently packaged with an Allen wrench for mounting them, but no manual or instructions. The sights are solidly made from aluminum, and seem reasonably tough for what they are. Truth be told I may have mounted these backwards, but tilting the gun to the left was awkward, so I stuck ’em on the right. Deal with it. They fold nice and flat, and at the press of a button on each sight they pop up and lock in place. Press the button again to fold them flat. The work just as they should, and I found I could press the buttons without shifting my grip with either hand.

The front sight is height adjustable without tools, and the rear sight has a knob with nice, positive clicks for adjustment. I was able to zero them at twenty five yards with no problem at all. The rear sight can flip to offer either a Ghost Ring or peephole sight, and both shot to the same POI. Flipping the sights up and down over and over did not affect the zero, and the sight picture will be familiar to anyone who has used an M16.

The sights were more than good enough for rapid-fire at twenty-five yards.

I gave these a four-star rating on Amazon, mainly because the front sight rocked back and forth a bit when locked in the upright position. It didn’t seem to have any practical effect at the ranges I was shooting at but at longer ranges it might… and besides, it was the only thing about these sights that felt sloppy so it stood out.

I won’t be replacing my flip-ups with these sights because I don’t need to… but if I did need offsets I’d be fine with using these. This set of sights costs a bit under $30, and if you want back-up sights on a budget these will do the the job.

Next time…

…I’ll be reviewing a red dot and flip-up sights I actually paid for.

Hope you are all well and safe in these uncertain times.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 8 July 2020

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Finally Finished: 1873 Sheriff’s Model in .251 TCR

Last year I needed a gun to test the new cartridge I was developing, .251 TCR. I had an Italian percussion version of the 1873, so I converted it to fire center-fire cartridges and chambered it for the new round. It had some issues and I really didn’t like the look of the cylinder, but it did the job. I always intended to finish it up properly, but never got around to it.

It’s actually a six shooter, but you need to leave an empty chamber under the hammer. I never liked the liners showing in the gaps where the percussion caps went originally; it looks make-shift and unfinished.

Another issues was ejecting the empty shells. I’d shortened the barrel to 3-1/2″ for test purposes, and since it was just a test gun I didn’t fit an ejector. Because of the way I was using it removing the cylinder to load and unload wasn’t too much a problem. Later when I looked at doing one I discovered the placement of the ejector housing made it hard to adapt it for the smaller caliber.

Since this is effectively what people call a ‘Sheriff’s Model’ and the extractor was going to be a pain, I did what Colt did and ground off the ejector housing. Now I can easily unload by poking out the empties with a rod. First issue fixed. Now for the big one; a bespoke cylinder. I actually started this in May, and it sat through the month of June on the lathe, half-finished. I finally decided it was time.

I finished the lathe work and got ready to cut the lock notches and decided to try something new. It’s a bloody big cylinder for six rounds of a .25-caliber cartridge; why not make it eight? I’ve never done an eight-shot cylinder before so I was a bit nervous, but I went for it. I will say, it’s a lot easier to locate eight notches than six. Just divide the cylinder into quarters and divide the quarters in half.

I really need to find a better way to make lock notches. I normally use a cut-off wheel in a Dremel (a Foredom, actually, but everyone knows what a Dremel is) but this makes rather over-size notches. This time I used a carbide bur, and it worked but they have a crude look to them. I guess I need to keep looking…

After the lock notches were cut I line-bored the cylnder, then cut the chambers and honed them. For this I used a 1/4″ tool-steel rod, and superglued a single layer of 1500-grit sandpaper to it. I mounted it in a hand-drill and went into the chambers with it. Rinse and repeat until everything is smooth and shiny.

This is the point where the pucker-factor went through the roof. I did not have an eight-shot cylinder to get some idea where to cut the ratchet to rotate the cylinder correctly, and didn’t know if I would need to replace the hand or if the stock one would do. I looked things over carefully and decided, ‘OK, about there…’ I took a deep breath before getting started, because if I screwed this up it would not be fixable, and hours of work would be down the drain.

I didn’t screw it up. I cut the ratchet and was easily able to adjust it to work correctly, and I didn’t need to change the stock hand. *Whew!* I polished the cylinder, then threw on a quick coat of Van’s Instant Blue. I’ll get around to rust-bluing it later.

Looking very dapper with it’s new, un-fluted cylinder.
A bit more svelte with the unused ejector housing removed.
Eight shots… well, seven really; I still need to leave the hammer down on an empty chamber for safety.

So the .251 TCR revolver is finally finished… for values of finished. Like, ‘It’s finished until I find a really sweet piece of wood/horn/antler to make cool grips.’ Or I come up with some other thing I just have to do, like lowering the hammer spur… Hmmm, lowering the hammer spur… For me a gun like this is not so much a thing as a process, but I can at least say this stage of the process is complete, and I’m happy with it.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 2 July 2020

Targets and Teachable Moments

Yesterday I packed up a bunch of guns and headed to Champion Arms bright and early to beat the crowds if possible. With only half of their lanes open there’s usually a waiting list to shoot, but yesterday wasn’t bad. Well… the wait wasn’t.

What was bad was that I’d been in such a rush to get out of the house I forgot my glasses, and since I don’t use them for driving I didn’t notice until I got to the range. Aside from driving I wear them full time, so shooting was going to be interesting, but my curiosity was piqued so I tried shooting without them. It was… interesting.

I started with the AR 9mm pistol, and with the Bushnell red dot mounted it was easy to hit at 25 yards, but the groups weren’t really good. Moving in to ten yards and running strings of double taps results were comparable; everything more or less where it should be, but a bit sloppy.

Then I tried my favorite carry revolver, my 3″ M1902 in .38 special. Uh oh. I couldn’t really see the front sight, and at seven yards rapid-fire groups were running 5-6″, but well centered. Double-taps were hitting pretty much centered but strung out 6-8″ vertically. Switching to my Colt Police Positive Special .32-20 results were similar, and I realized I was basically wasting time and ammo. Disappointed, I headed home.

Still, it was interesting and useful; it gave me an appreciation for what I can do if forced to shoot without my glasses. With the AR/red dot combo I did well enough out to 25 yards. With the revolvers my shooting was adequate at seven yards, but not terribly precise. I figure I would likely be able to defend myself adequately in most situations I might encounter… but I know I’d better not try for a ‘hostage shot’ at twenty feet. Having a realistic understanding of your limitations is important, and allows you to plan around those limits.

So, a teachable moment indeed.

27 June 2020:

This afternoon I headed back, with my glasses this time. I wanted to do some load and gun testing, but more importantly I just wanted to shoot. You know, for fun. Remember fun? It’s what we used to have prior to this year…

It being the weekend of course it was horribly busy. I put my name on the list and spent the next couple of hours, pleasantly enough, chatting with Chris from McCallen Tactical, some of the range staff and a couple other friendly folks also waiting for their turn. I also perused the shop and picked up some gun-cleaning supplies. Finally it was my turn, and I grabbed my stuff and headed to my freshly sanitized shooting position.

I’m not going to go into too many details, just captioned photos. Long winded captions of course; I’m still me.

I’ve finally gotten reloading dies for .30 Mauser, so time to free up some brass… It’s easier for me to shoot the C96 well than it is to shoot it fast; there’s a lot of muzzle-flip owing to the high bore-axis and powerful cartridge. This was one shot per second at seven yards. I’ve got more ammo on it’s way- 100 rounds was almost as cheap as a 100 pieces of brass, so I’ll just have to shoot some more. Uh, darn?
This little Hopkins & Allen .32 S&W is new to me, and for all that the double action trigger is awful it does put the bullets where you point it. I started at five yards, and the results were respectable given the trigger and tiny sights.
Moving back to seven yards and making an effort produced quite reasonable results. Both targets were shot with Remington factory loads. This little gun has some interesting mechanical features, so you can expect to be reading about it in some detail in the near future.
I decided to trot out Linda’s Colt Junior and have a go. With factory ammo it’s surprisingly accurate at five yards, and fun to shoot. No, the gun is not shooting low; this was due to an aiming error on my part. This target was shot using Magtech factory ammunition.
My 55 grain hand-loads at seven yards, one shot per second. Not too bad. I really like this little gun.
Firing at five yards with the Francotte velo-dog produced this rather decent group at five yards with the Magtech factory ammo. This gun is a hoot, and a lot of fun.
A less happy result with my 55gr. LFP load. The five torn-up shots were at seven yards. The five shots inside the ten ring were at five yards. They almost all key-holed; the Francotte really does not like these bullets. Disappointing.
This early Harrington & Richardson chambered in .38 S&W is also new to me, part of a trade that included the Hopkins & Allen above. This is not a model i have had good experiences with, but I cannot fault it’s accuracy at five yards. The double-action trigger is neither particularly good or bad, but it’s obviously serviceable.
The S&W Model 2 in .38 S&W shot as nicely as always at seven yards, but the chambers are rather sticky; need to address that. Of course there had to be a flyer, but at least you can feel reassured that I haven’t been replaced by an alien pod-person.
This H&R I am rather more pleased with. A Christmas present from my wife, it had been beautifully refinished by a previous owner. Nice results at seven yards; the trigger is quite smooth and not at all heavy, though the reset is so long I have to be very careful. With my big fat finger there almost isn’t room for it to reset.
Trying a new load for my .32-20 Colt Police Positive Special. This was double action at seven yards, once again with that ever-so-reassuring flyer. It makes pretty holes, and the drift to the right is all me. This load uses a 100gr reversed hollow-base wad cutter over 4.0gr. of Universal. From the Colt this makes a bit over 800 fps. and 145 ft./lbs. Not by any means a hot load, and it ought to make a good small game round.
Lastly I had a bunch of miscellaneous .251 TCR lying about, and decided to fire it off to recover the brass. I’m making a bespoke cylinder for this revolver so I’ll undoubtedly be wanting to reload specific rounds for it, so after the first few rounds I was pretty much just blazing away.

Well, there you have it, my weekend adventures and misadventures at the range. I gotta say, after all of this time it was nice just to shoot for pleasure. It’s been a long spring, and Lord only knows what the summer will bring.

Hang in there everyone, and I hope that you and yours stay safe.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 27 June 2020

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But That’s so… so Normal!

That was the reaction I got when my buddy that works at Champion Arms heard I was putting together an AR. Yeah, they know me too well…

In a recent post I detailed completing an 80% lower receiver. That being done it was time to decide exactly what I was going to build. Typically my main use for a rifle is hunting, and unless I get invited to an all-expense paid African safari I have rifles for that. I figured that maybe I’d go with a pistol build. Not an actual pistol, of course, but a short AR with a brace.

Let’s be honest here… the only people I’ve ever seen using a brace to stabilize an AR pistol were doing it to prove it works. Yes, the original ones were made to help people with only one good arm to shoot, but almost since Day 1 people used them as a stock, and eventually the ATF agreed that as long as you didn’t modify the device they couldn’t care less if you shoulder it. In practical terms this means people buy these braces to avoid the $200 fee for getting a tax stamp for a Short Barreled Rifle. If the ATF doesn’t have an issue with that, well then neither do I.

Woah, a complete upper for only $199! Thats… wait, is that a two-star rating?

Anyway, having established that I was going to make a pistol I needed to define what it was for. As I’ve already said I have rifles (and shotguns) for hunting. In addition to being a ‘man of a certain age’ and being of… ‘ample proportions,’ competing seriously is expensive and frankly of little interest to me these days. That pretty much leaves ‘home defense’ and fun. I’m good with that. Basically it’s a PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) in military terms; more than a pistol, but less than a carbine.

I live in suburbia, so home-defense is strictly a short-range proposition, and my house is tiny. The yard is big by neighborhood standards, which doesn’t mean it’s actually very big. Yeah, long range power isn’t really a thing for this, so a short barrel is a good idea. A short barrel limits my choice of calibers, because I think the rifle calibers perform poorly from short barrels and, more to the point they are LOUD. Pistol calibers are bad enough indoors… speaking of which I thought a ‘flash can’ would be a good idea. For those that don’t know this is a muzzle device that redirects the flash (and some of the noise) away from the user. It’s not a silencer; it doesn’t reduce the noise, it just makes some of it go away from you, and the idea of not being blinded by the flash in a darkened room has it’s appeal as well.

For short barrels the best readily available options are 9mm and .300 Blackout. The .300 is a lot more powerful than 9mm, which frankly isn’t required for the purpose, and it’s a lot more expensive than 9mm. Plus I already reload 9mm and am swimming in brass, so 9mm it is.

I was delighted to discover I could obtain a complete upper with flash can for $199 on sale. I was less delighted when I read the reviews… Um, no. Time to do some research… Foxtrot Mike Products 9mm uppers are highly recommended, and Primary Arms had one of FMP’s 5″ Glock-compatible M-lock upper with flash-can that looked tailor-made for my purpose. It was neither the cheapest nor most expensive option, but it looked the business and shortly it was winging it’s way to my door.

FMP recommends the Sylvan Glock Mag adapter for use with their uppers, so I snagged one of those too.

The SBa3 brace from SB Tactical is also well thought of, and I had fired guns that mounted them before, so that went into the basket too. Magpul for the grip, a Timney Impact single-stage trigger and ambidextrous safety, an Aero Precision lower parts kit, an Angstad 5.4ounce 9mm buffer… Soon parts were wizzing my way at the speed of USPS…

Timney Impact drop-in trigger. Very easy to install.

When parts arrived I fitted the pins etc. from the lower kit, then it was time to install the trigger. I’ve never done a ‘drop-in’ trigger of this sort, but it’s not rocket science and there are several good videos on Youtube. In a nutshell you drop it in the trigger well, line it up and pin it in place, then tighten two Allen-head screws to lock it down, and run two set-screws in on top of those to hold them. Easy-peasy, so naturally I didn’t do it that way.

I’d left some extra material in the trigger well, so using a flex-shaft tool with a carbide bur I slowly and carefully removed material until it fit and I could just barely run the pins through the housing. Now previously all of my AR trigger experience was with Milspec triggers. The Impact is a revelation. Travel is very short, it’s super-crisp and the reset is also very short. Timney claims it’s a 3.4 lbs. trigger, and I believe them. It’s fantastic. It’s way more trigger than a gun like this needs, but it’s not always about need, is it?

I won’t bother giving you a blow-by-blow of the assembly; it’s not difficult and there are plenty of how-tos online. Basically everything fit just as it should, and the Sylvan Magwell adapter was dead-simple to install. I did need to do a skosh of fitting to the lower receiver to get it to mate with the upper, but it was not a lengthy or painful process.

I researched magazines as well… but not well enough, perhaps. I ordered three clear polymer ETS 31-shot magazines from Gunmagwarehouse.com. These are pretty inexpensive and have good reviews overall, so of course as soon as I bought them a buddy who is deep into Three-Gun competition said they don’t hold up, and always crack sooner or later. They may be OK; those 3-Gun folks use their gear hard, and are far tougher on it than I’m likely to be. Nevertheless I’m going to buy three Glock mags just in case.

Last but not least I had a Bushnell TWRS-25 Red Dot to use as an optic, and bought a much-needed sight riser off of Amazon… and discovered I had hit the wrong button and ordered the 6″, which looked absolutely stupid with the stubby Bushnell sight. I almost ordered the correct one and thought, “Wait, I have a saw…” I cut it to the proper length and coated the exposed aluminum with some black lacquer I had on hand.

It’s basically done, though I am still waiting for the Magpul had-grip. Chris at McCallen Tactical gave me an A2 grip, so I could at least fully assemble it and test it. I played around with the idea of a flip-up magnifier, but they don’t seem to be an ideal solution, and on a short-range gun like this it seemed unnecessary.

Ain’t it cute?
OK, Maybe ‘cute’ is the wrong word, but it is certainly a handy little thing.

The Gun is 21″ overall, 24″ with the stock extended, and with a loaded 30-round magazine weighs just shy of six pounds.

I buggered up my back a bit, so no work today. Hell, it’s Father’s Day anyway, right? I figured the hardest part of heading to the range and testing it was the undoubtedly long wait to get a lane, and I could spend that in the car reading. I filled up the three magazines with some reloaded 124gr. 9mm, grabbed the earphones and headed out. Happily the gun just fits in my large range-bag.

So How’s it Shoot?

I researched carefully, got quality components and made sure all the bits would work and play well together, so naturally I assumed it wouldn’t work. I was not disappointed when it did work. Not a bobble the whole time. OK, there was one, but that was me; I’d failed to seat the magazine properly.

Sighting it in was an adventure. To start I ran a target out to ten yards and fired three shots. Blank paper. Not good. I reeled it in to 5 yards, and clover-leafed three shots 8 inches low and four inches left. Holy crap… I’d bore-sighted this optic on a carbine, and didn’t realize I’d had the sight dialed all the way down! After three adjustments I had elevation about where I wanted it, and ran the target out to twenty-five yards and adjusted POI to the right until hits were well centered. Good enough for now; I’ll refine that at the outdoor range later.

Twenty-five yards- standing/unsupported, center-hold, one shot per second. The flyers happened before I realized the riser had come a bit loose. Oops. I’d only had it finger tight. I cinched it down proper with a screw-driver, and things tightened right up.
Hmmm… had a bit of ammo left-over, so what’s a fella to do? Double-taps at ten yards of course!

I only took 90 rounds because I didn’t want to bugger my back further, and that’s a good thing… because I’d have kept shooting long past the point I should have quit. I certainly achieved the goal of making it fun! It is a ball to shoot. Mission accomplished.

Well… for now at least. I have no idea how long and well the hybrid-polymer lower will hold up. Reviews and indications are good; there is one fellow who torture-tested one with a .50 BMG upper and it held up… at least for as long as he could stand to shoot it. We’ll see. For now I’ll keep a close eye on it and see how it goes. It’s pretty cheap to replace it with a decent aluminum receiver, and at the first sign of trouble I will.

I like it. I like it a lot. If reliability continues this is going to be the new ‘nightstand gun,’ and I have no doubt I’ll be having plenty of fun playing with different loads, maybe add a light… hey, it’s Adult Lego, right? The possibilities are endless…

A happy father’s day indeed, and Happy fathers day to all of you.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 21 June 2020

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A Tale of Two Mouse-Guns, Pt. 2

Before the turn of the 20th Century the gun-makers of Liege, Belgium produced a lot of small revolvers for individual self defense- and by ‘a lot’ I mean like millions. Most of these were .22 rim-fires, often .22 Short. Most of them used a miniature version of the typical Bulldog revolver mechanism. One maker, August Francotte, offered 150 different revolvers in 1890, and he was not alone by any means. We’ll get back to Mr. Francotte shortly.

Typical mini-revolver patterned after the Webley Bulldog, chambered in .22 Short. Belgian gunmakers referred to these as ‘Puppies.’

In the 1890’s a French gunmaker, R.Galland began making a small revolver referred to by the trade name ‘Velo Dog.’ These fired a center-fire .22 caliber cartridge called 5.5mm Velo Dog. This was rather less powerful than .22 Long Rifle, but the very long casing allowed for cartridges loaded with pepper, lead dust, or wooden or rubber bullets. These were viewed as ‘more humane’ for use in the gun’s specific purpose- for cyclists to defend themselves from dogs. Lead bullets were also available of course, and these tiny revolvers were often employed for self defense.

Belgian gun-makers, of course, with their signature lack of respect for foreign patents, immediately began making revolvers to fire Galand’s cartridge and marketing them as Velo Dog revolvers. These were basically their standard ‘Puppy’ revolvers with elongated frames and cylinders to accommodate the new cartridge. Often these were shrouded-hammer versions so they would not snag on a cyclist’s clothing.

Galand Velo Dog Revolver. No, the trigger guard isn’t big, the revolver is small.

Galand’s revolver was of a fundamentally different design than these stretched ‘puppies.’ It was an open-top revolver, and had to be disassembled for loading and unloading. In the early 20th C. these were also offered in .22 Rimfire and .25 ACP.

.22 LR on the left, 5.5mm Velo Dog on the right. Fiocchi actually continued to produce Velo Dog ammunition until comparatively recently, calling it by its other name, 5.75mm Velo dog, which is actually the outside diameter of the cartridge at the mouth.

Returning to Auguste Francotte, between 1912-1914 his firm offered a copy of the actual Galand design, chambered in .25 ACP. Production was halted by the German occupation in 1814, and never resumed. This brings us to the second of the mouse-guns in our tale, one of these rare revolvers. Linda got it for me off of Gunbroker as a second birthday present.

Calling this gun a ‘knock-off’ may be doing it an injustice, as the Francotte is revolver is rather higher quality than the original Galands.
The gun is in spectacularly good condition for all that it’s over a century old. The only blemishes to its finish are on the rear of the grip-frame, where the original Mother of Pearl grips chipped away. There is some slight loss of the nickel and rust has developed there.

The gun is a ‘hammerless’ design, so the trigger is double-action only. The trigger is narrow and rather heavy, but exceptionally smooth with no stacking. Even Linda, a confirmed DA-trigger snob, pronounced it ‘good.’ The fit and finish is excellent, and it is overall quite an attractive little gun.

To unload the gun you rotate the lever on the right side of the frame forward 180 degrees. This allows you to remove the barrel and cylinder from the fixed arbor, which can then be used to poke the empty shells out of the chambers.

Ready to load- obviously there will be no quick reloads with this gun!

The gun holds five shots, and you’d better hope that’s enough, because you won’t be reloading in a hurry.

Despite it’s tiny size I don’t find it difficult to fire or manipulate the gun. This doesn’t mean it’s easy to shoot accurately; the sights are rudimentary and do not show up well. Since this designed to be used at very close range this isn’t realistically a problem. The barrel is only 1-1/4″ long, so the short sight radius doesn’t help… but it can be done within reasonable limits. I started firing at three yards as I had no idea where is would hit. As it turns out rather high, but the gun exceeds expectations.

This target was fired at a sedate 1-shot per second at three yards. If one allows for the high point of impact this would definitely “‘git ‘er done.’

Moving back to seven yards things got a bit trickier. Still not tragically bad, and no doubt practice will improve this.

Still shooting high. About a four-inch group (with one flyer) at seven yards.

The Ammunition I was using was Magtech 50gr. FMJRN. I am not best pleased with this ammo; I had several rounds that failed to ignite on the first strike. The primers showed a firm, deep strike on the first hit that should have set them off. One simply wouldn’t go off no matter how many times I dropped the hammer on it. Grrrr… I’ll try some different ammo for it, of course, which ought to show what’s what.

So what sort of performance does the .25 Auto offer from this diminutive gun? The Magtech ammo managed an average of 631 fps. and 44 ft./lbs of energy, with an extreme spread of 20 fps.

I am genuinely delighted with this little gun, as I am with the Seecamp LWS .32. My wife sure knows how to treat me right on my birthday!*

The Francotte and Seecamp; two very different mouse-guns from each end of the 20th c.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 19 June 2020

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*Pretty much all of the time, actually!

A Tale of Two Mouse-Guns, Pt.1

I’m not sure when I first heard the term ‘Mouse-Gun’ but it was a long time ago. This is the term often used to describe very small pistols. There’s some disagreement on the exact meaning; some say it’s because they are tiny. Others less charitably say it’s because they aren’t much good for shooting anything larger than a mouse…

The mouse-gun has been touted as ‘the gun you carry when you aren’t carrying a gun.’ It’s a deep concealment, last-ditch point-blank weapon. I’m going to be featuring two mouse-guns from opposite ends of the 20th Century, starting in the latter part.

The tiny but elegant Baby Browning, chambered in .25 ACP- the epitome of the mouse gun breed.

For the first two thirds of the 20th C. these guns were quite popular, and after WW1 they were pretty much all semi-automatics. Huge numbers of these guns were imported to the United States, mostly from Germany, Spain and Belgium. Most were in 6.35mm/.25 ACP, but they were also commonly chambered in .22 LR or even .22 Short. They were pretty marginal as fight-stoppers, but they had the advantage of being very, very concealable. Sometimes considered ‘Ladies Guns,’ they were often enough to be found discreetly tucked in a policeman’s pocket, or the vest pocket of a businessman.

The quality of these guns ranged from the rather awful ‘Baby Ruby’ to the exquisite Walther TPH and Baby Browning. After the gun Control Act of 1968 (under the misapprehension that these gun were favored by criminals) importing these tiny weapons was prohibited. Limited production continued in the United States, and does so even to this day, but by and large these guns have fallen out of favor, with the curious exception of the miniature single-action revolvers made by North American Arms. But that’s a subject for it’s own post.

Seecamp

In 1981 German-born gunsmith Ludvig Wilhelm Seecamp, maker of a double-action conversion of the 1911, went into manufacturing with the small Seecamp LWS25.

This gun resurrected and adapted the double-action only mechanism of the CZ36 and CZ45. These guns acted like a hammerless revolver; the trigger cocked the hammer for each shot, while conventional DA autos only require a double-action pull for the first shot, after which the slide cocks the hammer. Double-action-only semi-auto pistols are rather common today, but in 1981 it was considered revolutionary. The LWS25 was also fairly unique in that, being designed for close-range defensive work, it had not even the pretense of sights.

The Seecamp LWS25, a revolutionary and remarkably compact DAO pistol

The all-stainless LWS25 was quite petite, and was very finely fitted and finished. They were expensive compared to other guns in this niche, but were reliable and of such high quality that they developed a boutique following. Somewhere around five thousand of them were produced over four years, but in 1985 came the gun that really put Seecamp on the map- the LWS32.

The new gun was basically the old gun, but instead of seven rounds of 25ACP it carried six rounds of .32 ACP. While the .32 was nobody’s idea of a powerhouse, it was viewed as a big step up from the .25. What set the Seecamp apart from others of it’s ilk was that it was exactly the same size as the LWS25!

The main difference, other than caliber, was that unlike the straight-blowback .25, the .32 uses a retarded-blowback system. This consists of a recessed ring in the chamber. When the gun is fired the brass of the cartridge deforms into the ring around the interior of the chamber, and the extractor must ‘straighten out’ the brass as it pulls it out, which dramatically slows down the slide’s velocity and does a remarkable job of softening the felt recoil. Without this not only would the gun be markedly unpleasant to fire, it would quickly beat itself to death.

In the early 2000s the LWS380 was introduced, and again it was the same dimensions as the original .25, albeit slightly thicker. While production of the .25 had ceased in 1985, the .32 and .380 remained in production until relatively recently. Seecamp still exists, and still provides magazines and spare parts for these tiny pistols.

The LWS32

The gun we’ll be looking at is the .32 caliber version of this pistol. I had a choice of the .32 ACP or .380 versions of this pistol, and opted for the .32; I have trouble imagining that the .380 would be pleasant to fire…

This particular gun was made in 1996, and came with it’s original box and literature. Overall it’s in very good condition except for some slight scuffing along the sides of the slide, probably from pocket-carry. While waiting for the state to approve the purchase I ordered a spare magazine from Seecamp, which arrived promptly. At $35 dollars a pop, these are not inexpensive, but not out of line for such an unusual firearm.

My LWS32, with an Alessi pocket holster, spare magazine and original packaging. The Alessi holster is a bonus, especially as it’s pretty much exactly what I would have made for this gun.

I have rather large hands, so it is surprising to me just how comfortable it is to hold and use this tiny gun. The trigger is long like a double action revolver and around 10 lbs, but it smooth enough that you don’t really notice. There is some slight stacking just before release, but I never notice it when firing this pistol.

The fit and finish of this gun, inside and out, is excellent, and it feels like a solid, quality firearm… which it is. The gun weighs 11.2 ounces empty, and 12.7 oz. loaded with six rounds. It’s no featherweight, but honestly, as small as it is you really wouldn’t want it to weigh less when firing .32 ACP.

Packing a comparatively large cartridge in such a tiny package does require some compromises. One is the heel-magazine release; reloading requires two hands to extract the magazine. The magazine does not drop free; you have to push the lever back while hooking a nail in the cut-out in the front of the grip-frame and drag the magazine out. It works, and while it’s not ideal there simply isn’t anywhere to put a button-style release. Honestly on a last-ditch, point-blank defensive firearm I don’t think this is a huge issue.

Another compromise is the ammunition. The gun requires hollow-point ammunition. Ball is a bit longer and can jam in the magazine, a consequence of trying to fit a .32 ACP magazine in a space designed around a .25 ACP. When the gun was introduced the only commercial hollow-point that was widely available was the Winchester Silvertip, and originally they specified that as the only ammo to use in the gun. Since it was intended from the outset as a defensive arm it makes a certain amount of sense. Their website now has a list of cartridges that have tested as being acceptable.

The LWS32 with a quarter for size comparison.

The slide does not lock back on an empty magazine; there just isn’t room for a slide stop. This isn’t a deal killer, but it is a mark on the ‘Con’ side of the equation.

The one feature I find genuinely irritating is the magazine safety. It not only blocks the trigger, but it does not allow the slide to be withdrawn more than a 1/2″ or so, and trying to force it can damage the gun. This makes unloading a bit of a job; you need to release the magazine, pull it down approximately 1/4″, then you can rack the slide to eject the cartridge without loading another from the magazine. It feels unsafe, though it really isn’t; keep your finger well away from the trigger and all will be well. Alternately if this process concerns you you can remove the magazine and insert an unloaded magazine before racking the slide to empty the chamber.

Here’s another compromise: you’ll need to look up how to field strip this pistol… you’re not going to guess, so save yourself some time and don’t try. I’m not going to get into it here, but once you know the trick it’s not difficult, and reassembly is even easier. It is recommended to keep the gun, especially the chamber, clean, and keep the slide lubricated where it rubs against the frame to avoid the stainless surfaces galling. The Seecamp is a high-maintenance mistress, but treat her right and she will take care of you in turn.

The field-stripped gun. There are two nested recoil springs, with the inside one being the shorter of the two. This is as far as you need to go for routine maintenance, and you very much need to do routine maintenance. if the chamber is allowed to get too dirty residue can fill the chamber ring, and without that slowing things down the gun can damage itself when firing.

Go On Then, Tinker- How is it to Shoot?

I gotta tell you, it’s kinda’ brilliant. Anyone used to firing a revolver double-action will have no issues with the trigger; it’s really quite nice. Recoil is surprisingly mild, and overall it’s a quite pleasant gun to fire.Out of over fifty rounds fired there was not a hint of an issue.

The gun is made to point-shoot at close range, so initially I ran the target out to three yards and, gripping the gun one-handed, dumped two magazines rapid-fire. Well… they were all on the paper.

Even at three yards this is not a precision instrument, but lets face it- three yards is about two yards past the intended range for this gun. Still, a baddy would be pretty unhappy after this…

Ever the optimist I repeated this at seven yards… with predictable results. Hey, some of the bullets hit the paper! I mean, like four, but that’s some. OK, not ready for that yet. I taped the holes, reversed the target to show the bullseye, loaded five rounds, gripped the gun with both hands, and slowed down to see what I could really do.

Four well centered and a flyer touching the black. Not bad for a two-inch barreled, double action pistol with no sights.

There’s some potential here, despite the lack of sights. It’s going to take practice though. I know, I know… this gun is made for arms-length confrontations. but it’s fun to shoot, and I believe I have mentioned that I love a challenge?

This is a gun that demands practice, and with its dietary restrictions that’s going to get expensive fast if you don’t load your own ammo.

Speaking of Ammo…

Ammo can be hard to come by these days, even in lesser used calibers like .32 ACP. Pinto’s had some ball ammo- not good for this gun- and a box of hollow-points… at $21.95 for 20 rounds. Fortunately they also had a box of 100 60gr. XTP bullets for $18.95, and I had brass and reloading dies at home…

I loaded the sixty-grain bullets over 2.6gr. of Universal with a Federal #100 primer. This is supposed to give 1000fps. from a 3.8″ barrel, and maybe it does. From the Seecamp’s 2″ barrel this yielded an average of 727 fps. and 70 ft.lbs of energy. Not impressive, but it beats harsh words.

Feeding this gun is going to be expensive if i keep using hollow-points, but let’s face it, at these kinds of velocities HPs aren’t going to expand anyway. The specification of hollowpoints is to recuse the overall length of the cartridge, so there are alternatives. I have a box of 73gr hard-cast TCL bullets, and I’m going to work up a load for them. The gun will hand-cycle empty cases from the magazine, so I’m really not worried about feeding issues.

Despite the annoying magazine safety, overall I kinda’ love this little gun. After I’m satisfied with it’s reliability it’s likely to spend a lot of pocket-time around the house and shop this summer.

Stay tuned, there’s another, very different mouse gun coming to this page very, very soon.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 18 June 2020

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Ghost Story

I like the AR15 platform. Like many of my generation I was introduced to it by Uncle Sam, so I am intimately familiar with it’s operation and maintenance. I’ve owned a couple over the years. One I passed along because of financial need; self-employment is a fickle mistress. The other was a gun I assembled based on a .410 upper that proved to be just too problematic, and with a profound lack of foresight I sold off the lower I had assembled along with the .410 upper; A decision I have regretted several times since.

Since then I have thought of assembling another, but there was always a higher priority. The other week Linda finally got tired of me mentioning it and said, “just do it already,” so I started looking at lower receivers. You can get a well-made lower for well under $100; in fact the Aero Precision unit I was considering goes for about $60 locally. But then I came across something that intrigued me… A Tennessee Arms Hybrid 80 receiver, a polymer lower with metal inserts at stress points, with finishing jig for around the same price. Hmmm…

For those not in the know an ‘80% Receiver’ is simply not finished; generally the assembly-pin holes and space for the trigger mechanism are solid metal, making it ‘not a firearm.’ These can be transferred, sold, shipped through the mail etc. because it’s not a gun… yet. Basically anyone can get one, and with a certain minimum of tools and skill can turn it into a lower receiver (the essential part that ATF considers a gun.) Citizens of the US are allowed to make a gun for personal use, provided they comply with all federal and state laws regarding ownership of the specific type of weapon.

These have become quite popular with folks that don’t like the idea of the government knowing about their weapons, or to circumvent ill-considered or poorly written laws in some places. This has caused the media to create the term ‘Ghost Gun,’ referring to the fact that they are not tracked or registered, and there is an entirely spurious thought that criminals will be all over this idea. They aren’t; it’s far too easy to obtain weapons that are illegally imported or sold by the small minority of crooked gun dealers.

My interest was simply curiosity. How hard is it to finish one of these? I decided this would make a worthy project and went and bought one. Unfortunately I bought it from an aftermarket supplier; if I had bought it directly from Tennessee Arms it would have come with the appropriate drill bits and end-mill to finish it… and instructions. Mine didn’t. I looked it up online, and as you might guess it’s not rocket science. In the interest of seeing how hard it was with sub-optimum tools I decided to give it ago. Worst case I’d simply buy the Aero Precision lower I was intending to anyway.

Polymer lowers are often sneered at by the AR cognoscenti, but I checked and these have a good rep for reliability and durability. Since this is mainly a ‘fun gun’ that I won’t be running enormous amounts of ammo through I figure it will do, and as I said above, worst case I can buy a proper one. Anyway the polymer is much, much easier to work with than aluminum.

Don’t need to get into a serious tutorial here; there are plenty of those on Youtube. I’ll walk you though the process with photos.

Here’s the lower as it arrives, in the single-use polymer finishing template. Above it are the provided screws and nuts to clamp the jig over the receiver. The template is made from the same material as the part, and it’s quite a snug fit, which is good.
There are five tabs with pin-holes in them, and the first step is to drill these out to accept the screws. I used a 5/32″ bit for this.
After drilling I used needle-nose pliers to hold the nut while I installed the screws. These need to be very snug, but you don’t need to go nuts tightening them down.
here’s the top view, showing the area that will become the well for the trigger mechanism.
This is the part set up in my milling vice. This is a pretty fancy vise, but any simple 2-axis milling vice that is large enough will do. If you don’t have one a pair of strong hands on a stable base can manage it, but using the vice is a lot better. One big advantage of the jig is that it makes it very easy to clamp the irregularly-shaped receiver in place.
Here’s another view. I’m using a 5/16″ Cobalt bit, which is seriously overkill for this polymer, but it’s what I had on-hand.
The next step is to drill a series of holes in the space defined by the jig. These should be as close together as possible. The end result needs to be 1.22″ deep, but i decided to take it in stages, and initially had the drill press set for 1/2″ of penetration. It’s necessary to blow the debris from drilling out regularly to be able to see what you are doing.
Once the holes are drilled I began using the drill-bit to knock out the web between the holes. I used the vice to move the piece back and fourth while I gradually cut the webs down about 1/16″ at a time until I hit my 1.2″ depth.
After that I set the drill press for 1.21″ of depth. Rinse and repeat. The bottom was somewhat uneven, of course, so I took the drill bit to the belt grinder, sharpened it with a totally flat point and went back over everything, smoothing out the bottom and sides.
Now it was time to use the provided piece to locate and drill a hole for the trigger to pass through into the trigger-guard. The provided guide fits into the top of the jig. The instructions I saw said to use tape to hold it, but what the hell. It’s a single-use jig, so I just used a few drops of super-glue. I found a drill bit that fit the hole and drilled a hole in either end of the slot, then used the vise and bit to gnaw the web out between the holes.
The final step was to drill the hole for the safety and the trigger pins. The jig has the drill bit size clearly marked. There are two 5/32″ and one 3/8″ hole on each side. Do not drill all the way through from one side to the other! If the drill bit wanders it will ruin the part. Drill the holes part-way through from one side, them flip the jig and drill from the other.

I deliberately left a little extra material in the bottom of the trigger-mechanism well; it’s easier to remove material than to add it! When the trigger assembly arrives I’ll see if it works or if I need to go a hair deeper.

I did do some finishing work inside the well. Initially I used a sanding drum, but this wasn’t ideal. I wound up using a carbide bur to remove some of the roughness, and it’s looking pretty good.

This kit is bare-bones, and does not come with any of the lower receiver parts. I got a kit from Aero Precision for $27 with all of the pins. etc. needed. I was able to install the front assembly pin, the magazine release and bolt-stop, but the safety and rear assembly pin require the grip and stock to be mounted to secure them, so I’ll have to wait for those parts to arrive.

Here’s the finished lower… as finished as it can be before more parts arrive.

Once all the bits get we’ll talk what I’ve decided to build and why, and about assembling the gun… then we’ll see if it works!

Michael Tinker Pearce, 14 June 2020

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I Do Like A Challenge…

The first pistol I made in my shop- just to see if I could. Chambered in .45 ACP, I now shoot the milder .450 Adams through it. Saves wear and tear on both of us...

So Linda has procured a fine pair of mouse-guns for my birthday (don’t worry, full report on each inbound!) and we were discussing this the other week. At one point she got a thoughtful look on her face and said, “I want to see you make the smallest gun you can.”

Regular readers are probably aware that I’ve made single-shot pistols before, so this was definitely in my wheelehouse. We negotiated the terms. I insisted it be in a real caliber- no 2.7mm pinfire or any of that nonsense- and it must be at least arguably useful. ‘Arguably Useful’ in this case meaning large enough to be easily operated, and to be at least potentially lethal.

Challenge accepted.

The sensible thing to do would have been to draw up a plan, make some templates to cut out the parts, organize the materials I needed and make sure everything was five by five. Naturally I didn’t do that.

For reasons I have never been able to grasp people seem to be in the habit of buying a new Ruger 10/22 rifle and immediately replacing the perfectly good factory barrel. I don’t know why; maybe they think they can shoot better than the factory barrel, and maybe a tiny percentage of them can. I think it’s the Lego factor myself. It’s easy to change, and by changing it it’s personalized (better!) Whatever the reason it means there are a lot of stock 10/22 barrels on the aftermarket, and it’s pretty easy to pick them up cheap if you look around a little. This is a Good Thing.

This is a good thing because not only are these perfectly good barrels, they are seriously stout. I am about 99% sure you could re-chamber these for 5.56mm and it would be just fine. This means there is a lot of material to work with. I cut a short section of barrel (about 1-3/8″) and squared it off on the belt grinder, with the bore off-center towards the top. I had a vague plan to make this a swing-barrel (opening to the side) and wanted to leave room for the screw that would secure it to the frame. I used a .22 chamber reamer on one end, mounting it in a T-handle and carefully reaming by hand until the chamber would accept a .22 Short cartridge.

I need to apologize, and now is as good a time as any. Usually doing a build like this I take copious photographs and walk you through the process step by step. I didn’t this time. I was caught up in the challenge and it simply didn’t occur to me until it was too late. I started writing this as a tutorial anyway, but it’s just to complicated, long, and hard to understand without reference photos. Basically I followed the same steps as in the .22 magnum build, only without drawing up plans. You can read about that here if you like:

https://tinkertalksguns.wordpress.com/2016/11/09/22-magnum-pistol-build-part-1/

https://tinkertalksguns.wordpress.com/2016/11/11/22-magnum-pistol-build-part-2/

Without proper plans to work from I just built this by TLAR (That Looks About Right.) There was significant trial-and-error involved too; it was a trail, and mostly in error. But in the end, four hammers, two triggers and six springs later, it was done.

So, without further ado… the pictures!

Yep. It’s small. I wear a size 6 glove, so my hands are big, but not huge. Despite it’s tininess it’s easy to handle and manipulate this gun.
Here’s a somewhat more universal size comparison- a .45 Colt cartridge. Did I mention this gun is tiny?
To load the gun, place it on half-cock, rotate the lock 180 degrees forward and swing the cylinder out to the left.
The right side shows the assembly screws, and the ends of the tubular pins for the trigger and hammer. There’s one more assembly screw under the bottom of the grip panel.
Here’s the innards- what little there is of them. Hammer, trigger, mainspring, trigger-return spring. That’s all there is. The mainspring is made in two parts- the spring and a helper spring. Ignition isn’t 100% reliable, but seems to be getting better as things wear in. If it doesn’t get to 100% fairly quickly I’ll be making a more powerful single spring.
Here’s all the bits. The assembly screws are cylindrical, and threaded through both the frame and side-plate. Rather than removing them to disassemble the gun you simply back them out from the right side until they release the sideplate. You can’t lose them that way. Of course you have to remove the right grip-panel to access the one on the grip frame, and there’s nothing to keep you from losing the grip screw…
Here’s the micro next to Linda’s Colt Junior .25, itself normally considered a very small gun.
OK, I never expected this to be a target gun, but I’d hoped to do a little better at a mere three yards… Whether you try to aim or just quickly point-shoot the results are about the same. I think with practice I’ll improve, but guns like this have always been a contact-distance proposition, so it’s all just in fun.

While the gun is quite stout enough to handle .22 LR, I chose to make it a .22 Short. Tradition, I guess, since the original guns of this type fired this cartridge. Of course then it was just called .22 Rim Fire, because it was the only .22 there was.

I’m using CCI .22 CB Short Low Noise ammunition. This propels a 29gr. bullet at 710fps. from a rifle, so it pretty much duplicates the performance of the original black powder load. I’ll tell you this, though- it is very much not ‘low noise’ from a 1-3/8″ barrel!

I was actually quite surprised by this ammo’s performance. My first test-shot in my shop (where I discovered the whole ‘not quiet’ thing) was fired into a pressure treated 4×4 at a distance of about 5 feet. I didn’t expect much, but the base of the bullet was just over 1-1/2″ deep in the wood! If I’d had any thoughts that this was a toy they would have vanished right then.

Not that this is a good, or even adequate gun for self-defense. It might, under just the right (seriously unlikely) circumstances, prove useful in the role. Fortunately that’s not the point of this gun; the point was the challenge which, even Linda was quick to admit, was met.

So, I’ll iron out the wrinkles, and once I am happy that it’s all right and proper I’ll rust blue it, and maybe replace the ‘randomwood’ grips with something nice and make it a clever little wooden box to live in. But one thing is certain… I will be shooting it and trying to improve.

After all… I do like a challenge.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 13 June 2020

If you like what you see here, please consider clicking the link above and supporting me on Patreon

Wow, It’s Been a While…

Yesterday I went shooting for the first time since early March. Linda is High-risk for COVID19, so we went into social isolation quite early. Champion Arms, my local indoor range, has been closed much of that time anyway, as has the outdoor range I am a member of.

The range has closed every other lane, so they are running at half capacity, and they are insisting on people wearing masks. Being basically cool people they also offered members an added month to their membership to help offset the time they were closed. Once on the range I lowered my mask; the air-evac system blows from behind the shooter and straight downrange, so at that point infection just isn’t much of an issue.

After basically three months I had a lot of things to test, some loads and even a new gun… but you’ll need to wait on hearing about that one. It’s getting it’s own post.

I started off with the Detonics Mk.1 CombatMaster .45. Sometime back I was perusing Pinto’s and came across two unopened boxes of Speers’ legendary 200gr. ‘Flying Ashtray’ hollowpoint bullets. Developed in the 1980s, these were the first hollowpoints that expanded reliably at .45 ACP velocities. I loaded these over a charge of Unique that propels them from the Detonics 3-1/2″ barrel at 900 fps.

Accuracy was fine, but these loads were a little hot for the fast-cycling gun, and some of the brass got crunched. Nonetheless it was reliable out of the six-shot Detonics mags. The 8-shot full-length Shooting Star magazines were a less happy tale. These have always worked perfectly with milder loads, but on average they malfunctioned once per mag with the hot loads. Not a tragedy; I have plenty of the Detonics mags. I think I’m going to back these loads down a bit; they really don’t need to be this stout to do the job.

The first group, rapid-fired ‘cold’ because I wanted to assess my performance after months without meaningful practice. This was rapid-fire at seven yards.
Two magazines of double-taps at seven yards. Not dismaying, but there’s room for improvement.

I also wanted to shoot a new load in .32 S&W Long- another hot load, this one an 85gr. XTP Hollow Point, and it’s stepping right out, at over 1000 fps. from the two-inch barreled Colt. This is not a load I recommend; while it is comparable to some of the load data from the 1930s, it is definitely not range ammo, and I plan to load it as a defensive load and shoot it very, very little.

Despite the power this load has relatively little recoil, and the Detective Special, as always, was a joy to shoot. I did shoot some precision targets, and the round is more accurate than I am at 10 and 25 yards, so good enough.

A couple cylinders of rapid fire at seven yards. Yeah, that would do, but yeah I am out of practice.

People talk about not wanting to blow up old guns with hot loads, but in a good quality gun that’s not really an issue. What you do need to worry about is loosening them up or screwing up their timing, which is a pain to repair and sometimes can’t be done.

Speaking of loosening up old guns, I am not eager to induce a case of Wobbly Webley Syndrome in my Mk.1. It’s near as dammit 135 years old, so I think a little TLC is in order. Like most of the .455s imported after WW2 this gun had the cylinder shaved to accept .45 ACP using moon clips. Since .45 ACP is loaded around half-again the pressure of .455 this was a terrible idea, but importers thought it would be easier to sell the guns in a common US caliber, and I am sure they were correct. But if you want your gun to survive and prosper, you load it down to .455 specs.

I’m practically swimming in ACP brass, so to avoid confusion I shortened a bunch of it to the length of .450 Adams for use in the Webley. That way there’s no chance of inadvertently loading full-power ammo in the old gun. I call the result .450 Rimless, and load it like .450 Adams. I took a bunch of loaded clips to the range and went to town on some targets.

The .450 Rimless worked great. I was consistently shooting high and right until I cranked down and focused. Rapid fire at seven yards.

As an experiment I had tried some of these rounds to see if the would feed in the Detonics, and they did, so I loaded up a magazine and gave it a try. In most semi-automatic guns the case head spaces on the lip of the cartridge in the inside of the chamber, and in theory a 1911-based gun does too… but in reality they effectively headspace on the extractor, which is fixed in the slide. When the cartridge is stripped from the magazine it slides up and under the extractor, rather than having a hinged extractor snapping over the rim when the gun comes into battery. This meant, in practice, the short casings might work fine.

Guess what? They do, and are in fact pleasantly mellow out of the Detonics. Accuracy is fine as well.

.450 Rimless runs through the Detonics just fine, and with its mild recoil staying on-target during rapid fire was a doddle.

I don’t see any real utility in running the shorter cartridge through the Combat Master, but it’s nice to know I can. I think.

Lastly I had .41 Special loads to run through the Taurus model 415 .41 Magnum. Both used a 210gr. copper-washed Kieth bullet over a charge of 6.0 or 6.5gr of Unique with a CCI large pistol primer. The 6.0gr. load makes 875 fps. and 357 ft./lbs. from the 2.75″ barreled Taurus, and the 6.5gr load makes 919 fps and 394 ft./lbs.

Shooting very high and right at seven yards. When i really focused… a little less, but still high and right. The curse of fixed sights… sometimes they are fixed on the wrong place.

The 6.0gr loads had some pop, but were rather nice to shoot. The 6.5gr. loads had notable more recoil, but still not unpleasant. Not anywhere near as intense as shooting .41 magnum loads, but of course that’s why we load .41 Special.

Not sure what I’m going to do about these sights, but some sort of adjustment is needed, it’s just a question of how to do that. I’ll have to see how the front sight is attached.

I didn’t get to shoot as long as I wanted to since I screwed up my back earlier this week and it was starting to get fussy after an hour or so, but Lord it was nice to be back on the range!

I’ll cover the last bit of this trip in the next post, when I tell you about the new gun…

Take care and stay safe.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 11 June 2020

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Breaking my rules here…

As a rule I only talk about politics as it relates to gun control, and seldom even then. But today I am going to write about a sensitive subject that does touch on politics, but it’s really about how we in the gun community want to be seen. We’ll start with a question: Do we, as gun owners, want to be known as rational, reasonable people? Or would we prefer to be known as reactionary assholes who use paranoid fantasies to justify our crimes? Cowardly bullies that terrorize innocent people? As a bunch of cowardly, jack-booted thugs?

On the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state there is a town called Sequim (usually pronounced ‘skwim’ by non-natives.) Nearby is a small town called Forks, made famous in fiction for being the home of a sparkly undead child molester and his teenage victim. These are, for the most part, nice little towns. On June 3 there was a protest in support of BLM in Sequim. Whatever you think of Black Lives Matter, the protest was peaceful, and there were no shenanigans. The local police had this to say:

‘A peaceful protest with approximately 200 participants is in progress mid-day in Sequim on June 3rd. A portion of the protesters broke off from the corner of Sequim Avenue and washington street and marched on the sidewalk west to the roundabout. Sequim Police are monitoring the situation and there has been no criminal activity.

please disregard rumors that members of Antifa are being bused to Sequim from out of town. There is no police intelligence to support this rumor. Police Intelligence indicates the protesters are local people and Police officers are looking for potential signs of agitation.’

OK, that’s the view of the police. Here’s what the city had to say:

Vicious Antifa protesters!

OK, all good, and well done. People had their say and everyone went home without incident. Well, the police did run one fellow off… a fellow named Seth, who runs Fred’s Guns in Sequim. You might find the Yelp reviews of his store informative. Seth went to the protest and live-streamed, claiming to see 400+ protesters, and that Antifa members in black were being brought in by the busload. Very, very stealthy Antifa members; no one else, protesters, bystanders or police, saw them. You can still see the videos on his facebook page if you really want, but I am not inclined to post a link to this trash.

A couple from out of town came through in their camper- a converted school bus. Now the real fun begins. They stopped at a store in Forks, the small town near Sequim. Upon leaving the store they were confronted and asked if they were ‘Antifa.’ Apparently the locals were too stupid to recognize that the bus was converted to a camper and that it wasn’t full of people. I won’t even speculate as to whether the fact that they were a bi-racial couple had anything to do with the events that followed.

Brave patriots standing up to the forces of Eeeeeviiil.

The couple left, and were reportedly followed by several cars full of armed men. Local witnesses have verified this. A local said the police escorted the couple out of town for their own safety.

But the incident, and the social media posting, wasn’t over. The couple left and found a camping spot, but hearing chainsaws and nearby gunshots decided to err on the side of caution and leave… but they couldn’t. Here’s why, and bear in mind this was after the couple had left town, not as they were trying to enter.

Yep, it’s our old buddy Seth, lying again.

It is actually a crime to fell trees across a road. One wonders how Seth got this picture. One doesn’t wonder why he misrepresented this as preventing them from entering town. It seems very much like the sort of thing a lying, cowardly asshole might do to puff himself up.

The couple was able to leave when some young folk came along with a chainsaw and cleared the road. I don’t know who these kids were, but apparently wandering around with a chainsaw isn’t that unusual in a rural area where a lot of folks heat with wood.

I have this account from another local. They don’t mind being quoted by name, but the kind of cowards that harassed this couple cannot be trusted to leave them alone if they see this, so I choose not to name them. I will tell you this person is a gun owner and dedicated to our 2nd Amendment rights.

“First I’ll refer you to the page ‘Fred’s Guns 2.0’. He deleted the worst of his videos, but his live videos are what started all of this & some of them are still up for you to view. It all started with a BLM protest in Sequim (also on the Olympic peninsula) which then morphed into Seth (owner of Fred’s Guns) telling the ‘patriots’ of our town to come guard the community. Keep in mind this is a very small area and the entire protest was organized by mothers of young children & high schoolers. There was absolutely zero violence & the police were involved from the planning stages. Seth went down, posted a video saying that he saw 400+ people, a bus loads of people dressed in all black here from the city to riot for ANTIFA. None of this was true, and he was told to leave. He proceeded to post pictures of busses (including the one the family was driving) saying these were ANTIFA members. Then…people believed him & chased the bus down.”

Other locals have been in touch have verified the account above, and other details I have provided. They know me because they too are gun owners I am acquainted with.

Whatever our opinions of BLM, Antifa and their actions, they weren’t actually involved. The protesters were orderly, no busloads of Antifa were present, no damage was done by the protesters. Just a gun store owner spreading lies, and a bunch of bullies getting hysterical and harassing innocent people. What a grand victory for Truth, Justice and The American Way!

Is this how we want to be known? Because in the eyes of a lot of people these jackasses represent the gun community. I know full well that most of us are decent, thoughtful and law abiding people. The kind of people that pull crap like this aren’t, but since scum floats this is what people see, and what informs their opinion of us. This fact doesn’t thrill me.

I’m sure that the stupid jerks that perpetrated this shit are busy all over their social media of choice, letting us all know what big, bad, manly dudes they are, making up excuses for their behavior and spreading more lies to justify themselves. I’m sure there are plenty of people who will believe them. This kind of behavior is bad for gun owners, and in these dark, uncertain times this sort of crap, and the publicity that will come from it, is the last thing we need.

Local Law Enforcement is investigating, and charges may yet be filed. I’ll be watching with interest.

I encourage you to verify what I have written here; I understand that I am pretty much asking you to take my word for things, and you are free to disbelieve me… but why would I lie? I’m all for people working together, exercising their 2nd Amendment rights and defending their town and neighbors, but that’s plainly not what happened here. These people should be ashamed of themselves, and we should be ashamed that people like this count themselves as part of our community.

I fully expect a lot of negative kickback for this post, and maybe I’ll even lose some readers. I’m OK with that, because this sort of crap is bad for all of us and if we don’t police ourselves someone will… and I doubt we’ll enjoy that.

Take care and stay safe.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 6 June, 2020