Sunday, August 31, 2008

How To Spend A Sunday

(Or, Sometimes Whining Works)

I've been very lax about sending lead downrange on a regular basis and it bothers me. There was the moving, and the moving-in and the getting a boarder and more moving-in.

"What," you murmur, "But -- your boarder is Tam! How can you not be shootin'?"
Thing is, we don't bowl in the same league: a well-known gunnie gets invites to go shoot long in advance of the time I know if I'll even have time off. Between that and the insanely frequent scheduled overtime my job has come to involve (yeah, I'd complain, but with my house payments, grotesquely swollen by the Indiana real-estate tax snafu, I'll take time-and-a-half and like it), our availabilities have simply not overlapped. And my membership at the indoor range expired in March -- hopin' they'll take my Ballester-Molina tent-stake hammer .45 in trade for another year's fees, but to improve the odds, I need to get in while someone I know is behind the counter. The "Ballerina Molester" is no prize.

So what with one thing and another, I've gone shootin' maybe twice this year. Until today! I was -- yeah, I'll fess up -- whining on the subject yesterday afternoon and Tam declaimed, "Look, e-mail some of our friends and see if they're available tomorrow, we'll hit Eagle Creek around opening time."

"Oh, I just couldn't, I really don't know them that well." (I'm condensing -- I am unbelievably, stupidly shy about face-to-face meetings).

"Fine. I'll e-mail them and have them reply to you!"

Not much I could say about that other than blush and so it went. Caleb and Brigid were more than happy to go shootin'; we shot from ten until noon or a bit after and then three of us -- the Admiral had things to take care of -- went and had a delicious lunch, about which one of us has posted. For the record, Brigid cooks even better than you'd think from her posts on the topic, impossible as that may sound. Oh, yeah, put together Grade A eats from, as she put it, "whatever I've got here." Delightful but ended all too soon -- I'm not the only gal who gets stuck with being on page.

My fellow shooters are 'stonishin' good even if you go in knowin' they're good. Me, I muddled around a bit with the .22 (Ruger Mk. II), .38SA (Witness Compact) and 9mm (CZ 75B) (sorry about the hole in the lath target support, guys!) before getting dialed in and laying down some (for me) nice tight groups at 7 - 10 yards with the little Ruger and following up not too terribly badly with the .38 Super[4]. Well enough to be within the stoppin' zone on a baddie.

I'd forgotten how much fun the Mark II is once you're, what's the word? In the zone? Line up, press, there's the least little bucking in your hands and the sights are still on the mark when things settle. Or darned close, anyway, and you realign the sights if need be, press....

My shooting stance is mildly odd, as my eyesight requires bifocals (or my half-cheater shooting glasses when I've got contacts in) and so I have to lean my head back to get the front sight in actual focus. You know how they keep reminding newbies not to focus on the target? Not a problem for me: I can't. It's there quite well enough to line up on but if I'm not using something reactive, I haven't a hope of seeing where my rounds land. Like Thomas Edison's partial deafness -- he could hear a telegraph sounder clicking easily enough but the conversation and bustle of the office reached him dimly at best -- I think of it as an advantage. If I'm shooting poorly enough, I'll stop every five rounds and have a look in order to see what I need to do differently. If things are going well, there's plenty of time to check out the target after each magazine, while reloading.

Did absolutely zero malf drills or one-handed work, didn't even start from low ready, just concentrated on puttin' lead downrange on the center, on maintaining a proper grip (and reminding my hands of what a proper grip is!) and reacquainting myself with recoil.

Oh, boy, recoil! I shot a nice full-size, steel-framed Sig .45 ACP and was reminded once again of how pleasantly that fat cartridge recoils, just a slow, heavy push. The Sig was remarkably nice to shoot, with little muzzle flip even for me. Caleb had brought a single-action cowboy revolver in .45LC, which I'd never shot and about which I'd heard Dire Warnings[1] for recoil. He tells me they were downloaded target (plinking?) rounds; whatever the case, it was nice to shoot but I'd need to put in a lot of time just working out the proper grip: the hand-feel is very not a JMB-based semiauto.

Neither is the feel of the Nagant revolver. Tam very generously[2] offered her stock of 7.62 Nagant[3] ammo and I took her up on four of 'em. Tell you what, it's not a wretched thing to shoot -- single-action is acceptable and as I suspected, when the rounds are live, the long, slow, rough, mean DA pull does one's aim no good but it's not nearly as G-wdawful as dryfire at home would have you believe. Recoil is insignificant -- it's a .32 and not the speediest -- the 19th-century-European grip is easy to hang onto and it does what it ought. Emptying spent brass with the gonky little rod on a crane around the barrel is no harder than old American revolvers with fixed cylinders and a similar "smash 'em out" arrangement. At the time it was designed and for what it was meant to do -- last-ditch defense at sword distance -- I think it would have been entirely adequate. That the thing hung on, that it is still in use in some places that were within the former USSR, is a testament to stubbornness and the tradition of using sidearms as insignia. However, they do work.

Adjourned for a wonderful lunch and good conversation, came home, went back to my room with a book and pretty much conked out for a nap. Woke a couple hours later to find Tam had done the same thing out in the living room.

All in all, a fine day!
1. Mind you, I've shot a lot of real "manly" calibers up to and including .50AE. Smaller than .50 is fun. I can hit the target well enough with .50 but the big Desert Eagle always ends up pointing ludicrously upwards at 45 degrees, no matter what I try. My least-favorite handgun round remains the .40 S&W/.40 Liberty (I owe LNS that much at least), with its nasty short, sharp shock of recoil. I've not tried .454 Casull yet.

2. Have you priced that stuff? I wasn't paying close-enough attention and tried to load one of her saved, once-fired brass on my first try -- saved 'cos at $50-and-up per box, you don't leave empties at the range.

3. Or "Naganat," as someone at Fiocchi labelled the top of the box. Probably not in spellcheck.

4. .38SA is a total affectation and an expensive one to boot. I am fortunate to have picked up a bit extra before prices went way up and Tam had some left over from her last fling with the caliber. It's just so darned much fun: with most brands of ammo, in that compact Witness especially, you get a delightful fireball in addition to a good, solid boom, while rounds go downrange as fast and flat as a .22: accuracy and special effects!


Home on the Range said...

Your shooting was top notch. Don't be modest on us now. I was impressed, and learned some things from watching.

Glad you enjoyed the quick "home on the range" grub. Next time, we'll hit the store and pick and chose and it won't be from "what's in the fridge". But it did turn out, didn't it.

Sorry to have to rush off. . part of it. We'll all do it again soon.

Carteach said...

Sounds like a fine day, and I can only wish I had been around to join the fun.

Lets see.... three shooty goddess's and a bridge troll.... I guess I could have picked up brass and done dishes..... (g).

That Witness looks interesting. I didn't know they came in .38 super.
Clearly it would be a fascinating hand loading subject. Heck of a CCW weapon in any case. I extend my envy.

As for fireball... my .45acp Commander does that trick with 'Power Pistol' powder. Excellent velocity and reliability, but one serious fireball at the muzzle. I wouldn't want to shoot it in the dark if I could help it, or near dry brush (g).

Sounds like a good morning was had by all!

Roberta X said...

Aw, Brigid....>blush<. I dunno as I've anything to teach -- I was watching you, Caleb and Tam and learning plenty!

Lunch turned out grand! I dodn't wrote of it overmuch as I knew you were thinking of doing a bit about it.

It was fun, Carteach! --Don't think I would characterize you as a bridge troll (you're not paid in live goats, are you?) but rather as the dashing-adventurer type

Witnesses (Witnessae? Witnesseth?) come in two sizes and pretty much every caliber from 9 Parabellum up to at least .45, and the right frame can be "caliber agile" with a slide/barrel/magazine swap. Turk Turon's got a full size and if I remember, all the kit to shoot anything from 9mm to .45 ACP. EAA had a rep for mildly surly customer service but the only time I ever had dealings with 'em -- my ex had a cracked slide on a used .45 -- they replaced it promptly and with no fuss.

Anonymous said...

Speak more of this Ballerina Molester you wish to cast aside.

Roberta X said...

It's a workin' gun -- I had a local good 'smith check it out and fix the magazine catch, which had insufficient engagement as-received. It has no finish left but no sharp spots or rust. It's got new, proper grips. I overpaid for it -- ordered it from one of the gun auction sites and the guy had a "representative picture" that wasn't.

The worst part is, I passed up a very nice example for the same price at the local gunshow a week before it arrived, 'cos I figured I had one in the mail.

It's the size and shape of a 1911A1, but uses lockwork like a full-size Star modela A, B or P. Barrel and magazine are 1911 parts, a cost-saving design trick.

I've got one magazine for it.

phlegmfatale said...

Sounds like a perfect day. Glad y'all had the chance to convene, even if it does make all the rest of us envious.

Somerled said...

Roberta, good range report. I am plagued by cataracts and bifocals. Hopefully I can have surgery done on them so I can get back to focusing on the front sight. Until then, I've been working a lot with rifles and various optics.

Someone told me the EAA Witness .38 Super would work with 9x23 Winchester without alterations. I've toyed with the idea of getting a Witness or building a 9x23 1911.

I don't often have many visitors at my range...good companionship you all had!

Roberta X said...

Phlegmmie, have you not shot with Lawdog an' other famous bloggers? --Our envy is amicably mutual! I'd love to have you visit sometime and we'd for sure set up a blogmeet/blogshoot for the event!

Somerled, please do not shoot 9x23 in firearms not designed for it on my account, and likewise .38SA. Loadings can vary widely and a chamber happy with one could get very unhappy with the the other. Witnesses are gutsy little gadgets and it might be a-ok, but what's EAA have to say? (A$k right, they might have barrels, etc. for 9mm B-B already. Vulcan knows they do for all the others). I'm pretty sure case head dimensions aren't the same -- .38SA is semi-rimmed.

Don't get me wrong, I like 9x23 a lot, though last I knew, it was hard to find anything but old cartridges with corrosive primers. (Surely this has changed?) It's a powerful round, one of the few chamberings with real ommph used by a 20th Cent. European military.

The quick and affordable route to a "9x23 1911" would be a Star Model A: the size, heft and control layout of a 1911 and designed for 9mm Bergman-Bayard from the git-go. Downside, most examples are cosmetically beat-up. But they're simple and strong, with the same 1905 Browning-derived lockwork of nearly all Star single-action sidearms. Sights are tiny and would take smith work to put something modern in their place. Less work, I suspect, than retrofitting a 1911 frame for the longer 9mm round, and you'd have a real "sleeper!"

Turk Turon said...

I'll never be able to afford a Krieghoff 4-gauge skeet set, so the EAA Witness is my consolation. It shoots 9mm, 40-S&W, 38-Super and 10mm. I don't have the 45 ACP kit.

Had to get one of my own after I saw the flame-ball from Roberta's Witness nearly ignite a target at Pop Guns!

Great carry piece: even if you miss the goblin, you might still set his clothes on fire.

Roberta X said...

WAIT! Somerled, I was totally off-base. I confused 9x23 with 9x21.

I don't know anything about the 9x23; Tam tells me the case head is indeed different to the .38SA and it's very high-pressure. She's paging through Cartridges Of The World even as I type, tryin' to keep me from digging myself any deeper.... >blush<

Roberta X said...

Turk, that was Winchester White Box, totally flameriffic in the short-barreled Witness. I think it's one of the best anti-zombie rounds made today.

At the range Sunday, I shot a several different makes of .38SA; you may be let down to hear that JHP carry rounds are no flashier than 9mm in a similar gun.

Turk Turon said...

Well, maybe if I mount a spark plug at the muzzle I can get full ignition of the powder charge.

staghounds said...

The Nagant ammunition can be made from .32-20 without too much trouble. Usually the rim is a bit thick so it has to be swaged down with a good thump from a heavy hammer.

I've had one that would shoot 32-20 without any trouble, but revolver loads, NOT rifle loads!

And did you know that there's a legend that the Ballerinas were made with scrap steel from the Graf Spee? Doubt if it's true, but it makes a good story.

Anonymous said...

I once had the opprtunity to hold a russian olympic target pistol{so i am told}. It was basicaly a nagant with a modified action and a new grip. The grip looked like it had been hacked out of drift wood with a chainsaw. But it pointed like you would not believe.

Somerled said...

Yes, Roberta, the 9x23 is rimless. Jim Garthwaite, Dane Burns, John Nowlin, and others have built some custom pistols for the 9x23. Colt and Springfield offered 9x23 Winchester 1911s for a time, which were re-worked .38 Supers. The Springfield had a ramped barrel, the Colt was unramped. No doubt it would be best to get a 9x23 barrel, although there are variations on chamber reamers.

John Ricco patented the case, which he contracted with Winchester to build. It "borrowed" it, added a little taper, was sued, settled out of court, and Mr. Ricco built a large indoor range, Classic Pistol, in PA with the settlement.

Winchester still offers brass and ammunition, which is strong enough to work with unramped barrels. Starline makes the 9x23 Supercomp brass, which has the same exterior dimensions but may not be as strong.

Your words are wise ones, Roberta. No sense blowing up stuff, including one's body.

Firehand said...

Nagant ammo can be found, Prvi and Wolf Gold, for about $25-28/box around here at shows. Online, should be around for about that.

Before the stuff was available I made brass from .223 cases; pain in the ass, but they work.

And Lee makes dies for reforming .32-20 cases; the bullet won't seat inside as the cases are shorter than Nagant, but they work. As Staghounds noted.