Wednesday, December 28, 2011

4.2" SP101 in .357

The problem with Ruger is they keep making guns I want.  When they recently offered the SP101 in a 4.2" version I got a call from my gun monger that he had one with my name on it...

The 2.25" SP101 is a frequent CCW for me, especially when something small will do.  It is a fantastic gun and even with the fixed sights hitting a sheet of paper at 50 yards is easy and most of them will be inside the 4" bullseye.  So, when I got the call that he had one available, I had no willpower at all to resist.

The 4.2" SP101 did appeal to me as a top candidate for the "Perfect Packing Pistol" (3P) and felt it was my duty to test that.  As we all know it isn't about finding the 3P, it's all about the quest.

One of the things that strikes me right off about the new Ruger is what a great package it is.  The 357 and the SP101 are a fine match.  There are a number of 357 revolvers out there that are big guns.  I owned a 357 Blackhawk for a while and it always seemed incongruent to me.  I want a big cartridge in a big gun - the 45 Colt in a Blackhawk is delightful to handle, shoot and carry.  The 32 H&R magnum in a Ruger Single Six is another perfect match of cartridge and revolver and the new SP101 has that same magic.

Another early impression I had was how much better this revolver looks in person than it does in the pictures.  It's a hansom piece.  The wood grip panels are very attractive.

The new SP101 feels light in my hand and is just big enough that touching off a 357 round still sounds like fun.  The adjustable sights are very good and I even like the green dot shrouded on the front sight post, the squared edges still very visible and easy to align for those of us accustomed to that sight picture on our Blackhawks and Single Sixes.  One click to the right and mine was shooting POA = POI with 38 spl loads and just a bit high for 357.

A cylinder's worth, offhand, single action.
At the range I was even more impressed with the 4.2" SP101.  The sights are a big improvement over the fixed sighted versions.  The extra barrel length added about 70 fps to the 38 special loads (158 grain cast WFN over enough Bullseye to get 765 fps) but only about 30 fps with the 357 loads (158 gr, pushed to 1125 fps with Bullseye).  Both loads shot very well.

With the longer barrel I will try some powders with slower burn rates and see how they perform.  Lil'gun will generally produced some impressive velocity and good accuracy when I've tried it.

I see this revolver as a near ideal for an evening stroll along the lake shore or for a scouting trip, checking the game cameras, walking the fence lines and any other outdoor venture where an easy carrying and capable revolver could come in handy.  Toss a box of 38 special rounds in your pack and take advantage of unplanned plinking opportunities or making some camp meat if legal to do so in your area.  An extra speed strip or two of 357 will handle the vast majority of heavy lifting that one might need to address.

The beauty of this revolver is that it's small and lightweight enough to come along, yet big enough to get the job done.

M&P 45 & 45C comparison

I happened onto another S&W M&P45 recently and since I had the money, I bought it...

The 45C has been such a good performer that I've managed to overcome my bias against soulless polymer pistols - or at least the Smith & Wesson M&P series.  I love the look and feel of a 1911 and still own a few of em (and I have the Ruger SR1911 on order since last Spring...) but one cannot deny the practicality, capacity, lightweight, reliability and accuracy of the many polymer offerings available to us today.

My first impressions of the full size M&P 45 were how light it feels in the hand for its size - which ir roughly equal to a typical 5" 1911.  I was also favorably impressed by the comfort of the grip - the extra .415" over the 45C makes a difference.  It also has that narrow feel of the 1911 even though it is a double stack magazine.  It does point nicely though I like the grip angle better on the 1911.

The weight difference between the 45 and the 45C is slight, less than two ounces.  It is more noticeable when compared to a 1911, even with a fully loaded (10) magazine it still feels lighter than a loaded (7) 1911.

Unloaded weight
Unloaded Weight of 45C

Field stripping is very easy with these pistols and does NOT require tools to do so.

Over the chronograph the full sized M&P 45 does produce a little more velocity for the loads I've tested - generally between 25 and 50 fps greater.

Both pistols shoot point of aim = point of impact straight out of the box with 230 grain ammo at 7-10 yards.  Some old (1964) match 230 grain FMJ ammo I have averaged 885 fps and was the most accurate of the ammo I've tested so far.  Like the 45C the 45 seems to digest and fire everything I feed it, from cast SWC and WFN to JHP and FMJ.
The 10 round Magazine in the 45C.  I believe XGrips will be offering an extension for this pistol/mag combination.
The 45 will fit and can be drawn from the holster I carry the 45C in.  The muzzle protrudes slightly but it does not snag.

I don't plan to carry this pistol concealed very often so I'll be on the hunt for a field holster.  Paired up with my Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle the M&P 45 would be nice to have along during the Zombie Apocalypse for close range work when speed and capacity are needed.  In reality though it's nice to have a number of choices in a spice of life sort of way.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

30 Caliber Versatility and the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle

Among the virtues of manually run rifles - Pumps, Bolts and Levers - is their ability to function normally with a wide variety of ammunition.  Light and heavy, super and subsonic, jacketed and cast, economical and premium, reloads and store bought... and in the case of non-tubular magazine fed guns, pointy, flat point and round nose bullets too.

The 308 Winchester in an easily customizable platform such as the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle is a fine match of rifle and cartridge and I believe lives up to Ruger's claim of "The one rifle to have if you could have only one."

 Equipped with the Ruger Gunsite Scout a hunter could take to the field with loads suitible for both big and small game.

 A subsonic lightweight cast bullet or .314" buckshot will cleanly harvest game such as Grouse without destroying the delicious meat.  The load I like best for this purpose is the Lyman 311008 over a small amount of Winchester 231.  It is accurate, inexpensive and quiet to shoot.

Another subsonic load that has proven to be very accurate in my Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle is the Lyman 311284 (~210 grains).  Pushed to almost 1,000 fps it is very accurate and hard hitting making it useful for steel targets and control of larger vermin species.  The bullet also performs very well at supersonic velocities and my favorite load for this is using Unique to propel it to 1350 fps.

Lyman 311284
The Lyman 311334 (~190 grains) has proven itself in several of my 30 caliber bolt action rifles.  It also shines in the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle when pushed to 1900 fps with SR4759.  This makes an ideal load for inexpensive practice where high repetitions are required.  Rather than spending $0.50/shot for cheap jacketed ammunition you can shoot these for less than half that and reduce barrel wear.  Though the velocity is 300-600 fps lower than your typical 308 jacketed bullet ammunition it will perform at long range, perhaps even better.

Cast Bullets I've successful run through the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle

 For a fun and very inexpensive gallery load a #0 (~.314") buckshot over Bullseye is surprisingly accurate (less than 2" at 50 yards) out to 50 yards and will shoot Point of Aim out to 25 yards.  A fine remedy for garden vermin too.

For hunting loads I've had excellent results with 165 grain JSP bullets over the max (Hodgdon) published data for IMR 3031.  In the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle it is both accurate (1 MOA  or better) and achieves the highest velocity, 2573 fps in my Rifle.  Varget and IMR 4064 have both produced excellent groups in my GSR too but fell short of the velocity produced with the IMR 3031.  With all the rifle powders I've tested  I've found that the best performance in the GSR is at or near the max published data (ALWAYS double check data and work up incrementally!!), it seems happiest when velocities reach 2500 fps or better with 165 grain jacketed bullets and around 2700 fps with 150 grain jacketed bullets.

I will be testing IMR 4895 and Winchester 748 under a variety of Jacketed bullets as I've seen a number or impressive results from other GSR owners.  The Hornady 150gr SST has produced some notable results at 500 yards and has me especially intrigued.

After 11 months of ownership of a Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle I like it even better than I expected.  It has impressed me in the field and at the range.  With the introduction of the Polymer magazines it has improved field-ability of the rifle even more making it easier to carry and operate as well as superior weather resistance.

What the rifle lacks in aesthetics it more than makes up for in functionality.  I believe Ruger really thought this one through and made the comprises that made the most sense.  The only improvement I'm really considering is a rear sight that can be adjusted without tools and possibly a finer more visible front sight.  

If I really only could have one rifle, the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle would serve me well.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Magpul Art of the Precision Rifle

Looks like Magpul has released another good one!

Late Edit:  Just got this yesterday.  Watched the first two disks, EXCELLENT.  LOTS of information and some impressive shooting.  As always, very well done.  The filming is stellar.  I'll give a more complete review once I've managed to watch all ten hours of it...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ruger New Vaquero vs. Steel Plate

Delivering a 270 grain cast bullet chugging along down range at 900 fps then meeting a hanging steel plate is a pleasure my Ruger New Vaquero provides with regularity.  140 year old technology and genius refined by modern materials and genius will probably propel the popularity this handgun enjoys well into the future.

Long Range Handgun Shooting

My last trip out to the U-Pick Sagebrush Ranch the 32 H&R Magnum Single Six went along.  Naturally the array of target opportunities attracts a lot of lead.  The 32 Single Six made easy work of the steel plates out to 150 yards but the target that got most of my attention was the 400 yard Dinger...

Once again the Ruger 32 H&R Mag in the Single Six surprised me.  With a reasonable amount of hold over - aiming at a bush ~ 10' or so above the target I could ring the dinger at least once per cylinder's worth.  Too much fun to worry or care about wasting ammo... 

Comparatively, my 45 Colt requires a near mortar shot holdover to get that far and the success rate is much lower.

RGSR Magazine video

Here's a video I made about the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle Magazines.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle Polymer Mags

I scored some Ruger Polymer Mags for my Gunsite Scout Rifle recently.  I like them a LOT better than my steel mags.
The five round polymer magazine is the same size as the steel counterpart.  The 10 round polymer magazine is about an inch shorter than the 10 (eleven actually) round magazine that ships with the rifle.

 The new polymer magazines can be topped off while inserted in the rifle.

Shown with Dust Cover installed.

Much lighter, very tough.