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!