Monday, July 29, 2013

Sunday: A Visitor, Range Day

     The greatly-welcome Data Viking e-mailed last week -- he had some free time, wanted to stop by, and did I want to go to the range?

     Oh, heck yes!  I'm always happy to see him, and he's an excellent shot.  He doesn't shoot often, but his grandfather was a very well-regarded gunsmith and he just about grew up with a .22 in his hands. 

     He had a .22 on hand when he showed up yesterday, too, but it was .22 Winchester Automatic!  He'd found a box of ammunition for his Winchester Model 1903 rifle, that company's first semi-automatic rifle.  His has a safety, so it's not one of the first 5000 but it's pushing a hundred years old.
Per Tam and the Blue Book, you're looking at about $800 of nice rifle.
     It doesn't look like a centarian.  That's a right purty shootin' iron.

     The Model 1903 and .22 Win Auto were designed together.  It is an interesting cartridge, coming in at the low end of .22 LR energies, pushing a slightly-heavier bullet at slightly-slower speeds, subsonic.  In practice, this means you line the sights up, press the trigger and the rifle makes a quick series of metallic sounds as it cycles with a mild "thump" at the start, and a small hole appears in the target.  It's as quiet as a suppressed .22 pistol!  The rifle is softer-shooting than an air rifle, despite the cartridge being as suited for small game as .22 LR.

     The sad news is, nobody but nobody seems to be loading it and the ten rounds I shot were a bit over ten dollar's worth of ammo at current rates.  But if you have a chance?  Try it.  You'll like it.

     As it turned out, the Data Viking had another .22 along, too.  He handed me a small blue box and said, "Have a look."
     It's the rebooted Whitney Wolverine!  I'd admired them at gun shows when Olympic Arms first brought them back, but never had the cash when they were available and in recent years, they stopped showing up.  Olympic still makes them, but you need to find an Olympic dealer to get one, and even at that, it's usually got to be ordered in.

     He had.  I congratulated him on it and said I looked forward to trying it at the range.  "Oh," says he, "I have one but I didn't bring mine -- that one is yours."

     Knock me over with a feather!  He knew I'd admired them (there is no more science-fictional of guns, for one thing; and they have a very good rep for  hand-fit and accuracy, for another) and when he discovered there was an Olympic dealer near his father's new home, he'd ordered a brace of them.  That's a real friend!  I thanked him profusely but hardly adequately -- it really is a splendid gift.

     How is it to shoot, you ask?  Fun!  It is as accurate as my Ruger Mark II with the Tactical Solutions upper, despite the shorter sight radius; felt recoil is less, despite the lower weight.  It's a genuine "tack driver."  It does have a weakness: the magazines are tricky to load and tricky to get seated.  If you look closely at the photo, you can see three little stick-on pads on the base of the mag, factory installed so the nominally flush-seating magazine can be fully seated.  Even with that, it's best to give it a good smack and then a downward tug to make sure.  The other issue is feeding -- I eventually worked the ten-round magazines up to reliably feeding seven rounds.  I suspect they'll get happier over time.  But here's the thing: even with those issues and plenty of other options--
L-R: Colt, S&W K-22, High-Standard, Iver Johnson, Whitney Wolverine
--I kept going back to the Wolverine.  It's that much fun.  It really is something of a ray gun: you line up the the sights and zap!  Right where y'pointed.
     Target includes several revolver shots, too, and you can blame the flyers on the shooter, not the sidearm.

     After shooting, we returned to Broad Ripple for refreshments at Fat Dan's Deli (including Angry Orchard hard cider, yum!) and a walk past the bike shop and "junk store" -- except they weren't there any more!  But not to worry, both had moved across the Monon trail to new digs.  Reclamation is a actually an art/vintage/antique place and can be counted on to have interesting items; they've got less space than they had.  The bike place has about doubled the size their shop, with a nice mix of new/old and parts.  They had a couple of tandems Sunday.  (Tam and I may be back to check those out today.)

     It was a grand day!  Thanks, DV -- thanks 10X!


armedlaughing said...

VERY Cool!

I'm not a big .22 guy, but still, VERY Cool!


Dave H said...

I've had a case of the wants for a Wolverine ever since I saw on on the Atomic Rockets web site. It reminds me of the toy guns that shot little yellow rubber balls I used to get as a kid.

I'm still waffling over whether to get an Olympic Arms version or hold out for an original Whitney. Thing is I want it to shoot, and I'm afraid if I had an original something would break and I wouldn't be able to get parts.

That is a darned good friend you've got there. You take good care of him.

Joseph said...

That is one fine looking pistol, Roberta!

Roberta X said...

He sure is, and I try -- I'm not very good at it. :(

I would not be at all averse to picking up either a new or or an old one. Magazines appear to be interchangeable (there was a fellow at the range with an original [!] and he tried a mag from mine) and it may be that at least some of the other parts are, too. Aside from the frame and barrel, there's nothing a machine shop couldn't mill using the old part.

It's a fun little gun and I expect it to get better as it is used more and the rough edges get slicked up.

NotClauswitz said...

That's not a "friend," that's a Love!
You go! I have no .22 pistols, just a Sig conversion kit - but it'
s either that Wolverine or a K-22 for me (in my mind)....

Bubblehead Les. said...

The Wolverine is one of the few pistols (IMHO) that comes out of the box Cranked up to 11! Congratulations!

Dave H said...

Les: We need to get Ms. X out to the Northeast Bloggershoot with that pistol. Everybody will want to try it. We'll get it broken in properly in just an hour or two. And she won't have to pay for the ammo.

Old NFO said...

Nice!!! THAT is a true friend! :-)

The Freeholder said...

I agree on the Wolverine being an exceptionally fun gun. It's one of my best .22 LR semis. Nice to know about the magazine--I thought it was just mine.

Robin said...

Well I am jealous as all heck.

Roberta X said...

I'm surprised the little "automatic" Winchester isn't getting more attention -- it's uncommon and a rare example of "right the first time."

J.R.Shirley said...

I've wondered about the Wolverine- thanks for the range report.

Butch_S. said...

I have a Winchester 1903, and a model 63 (same rifle in 22LR) as well. Nice design, only real flaw is they'll bite your support hand fingers if you're not careful.

Robin said...

Oh, I wasn't being particular in my jealousy Roberta ...


JohnW said...

Roberta, you might want to let Data Viking know that J & G Sales has Aguila ammo listed for the '03. Pretty reasonable, too.