Asking The Important Questions

Key takeaway from the test:

  • The AK is the most reliable but after seeing how many have broken over the last two and half years on the range, it’s not the indestructible weapon everybody talks about (and I always thought it was).
  • This may sound crazy but it’s fair to say that they finally suffer a catastrophic failure (cracked trunion) at 80,000-100,000 rounds.

Oh.  Positively glass-like fragility, then.

Well, that means that on my current AK (obtained almost NIB), I have about 79,000 more rounds to go.  (I hardly ever shoot much through mine because a) I know how it works and can shoot it just fine,  and b) I prefer shooting my other guns.  I shoot it fairly often, but only a mag or so’s worth at a time — more a “hi there, how’re ya doin?”  kinda thing.)

I know how to fix the thing if it ever breaks — I just don’t care to.  If I were ever in a (SHTF) situation where my AK breaks, I’m sure there’d be a couple of other options lying around.


Outstanding Comparison

I just watched Paul Harrell’s video comparison of the .357 Mag cartridge vs. the .44 Mag, and it’s the best yet.  Basically, he compares identical bullet weight and barrel length (to make it “fair”) in an empirical study, then compares “common” gun choices and bullet weights for a realistic evaluation.

But what impressed me was that he doesn’t bother with any of that ballistic gelatin nonsense.  Nope;  he builds a realistic effectiveness measurement target using pork ribs, pork chops, oranges (to simulate vitals tissue) and back ribs.  This is what I’d do if I wanted to get into what he does, on a full-time basis.

Watch the video for the full flavor.  It’s long — as they all are — because he’s serious about the topic.

As for his bona fides, he lists them all at the beginning of this video, and let’s just say that his skills, knowledge and expertise are more than adequate for the task.

He’s done many more such shows, so wave good-bye to your weekend if you dive into the Harrell Matrix.  That’s where I’ll be, if anyone asks.

One Forward, Three Back

Sometimes I wonder why they bother.  In an article which reviews Ruger’s new mini-wonder pistol, the field-stripping process is described thus:

Field stripping is easily accomplished by following the directions in the instruction manual. That’s the usual gunwriter verbiage, but it isn’t quite what I experienced with the 57. Following the direction to ensure the pistol is unloaded, the slide is first locked to the rear.
Opposite the takedown lever is a pin that takes a bit of effort to depress. Ruger recommends using the base pad of one of the magazines; I ended up using a punch. Once the takedown lever is protruding from the frame, it can be rotated down. Next, rather than the conventional method of running the slide forward off the frame (I warned you to read the directions) the slide is moved forward about a quarter inch, then lifted straight up.
The recoil spring and barrel can then be removed from the slide in the usual manner. Ruger has designed this pistol to be taken apart without the need to press the trigger, a feature I heartily applaud.
Reassembly is quite easy if one follows the instructions, but entirely impossible if, somehow while messing around with it, the takedown lever is allowed to snap back into the frame. (Ask me how I know.) Anyway, it really is quite easy, but I enjoin you, make sure the takedown lever is still out (or in the disassembly position) should you wish to avoid a couple of frustrating hours mucking about.


Ruger could just have made their new wunder-pistole come apart like their own Mk IV .22 pistol, namely:

  1. Remove all boolets (and the mag) from the gun.
  2. Cock the piece and click the safety catch up into SAFE.
  3. Press the little button under the slide tabs at the back.
  4. Lift the slide assembly off the frame.

And that’s it: no special tools, no screwdrivers, no coins, nothing. The firing pin assembly is loose in the slide, and just drops out into your hand for cleaning. Here’s a pic-by-pic:

And now for the best part: the reassembly.

  1. Slip the firing pin assembly back into the slide (it can only go one way).
  2. Place the slide’s hinge hook back into the front of the frame.
  3. Drop the slide back onto the frame, and push it closed until you hear the click.
  4. You’re ready to start shooting.

Best part:  I never had to consult the manual.

Did Ruger do that?  No.  Instead, they made the new 57’s field-stripping procedure more akin to the older Mk I/II/III pistols:  a study in frustration.

I don’t know the answer to this (but I’m willing to learn):  how difficult would it have been just to stretch out the Mk. IV’s frame and breech to accommodate the longer 5.7x28mm cartridge?  Or, for that matter, the .22 Win Mag?

Oh, wait, I forgot:  that wouldn’t engender the same increase in sales (and all the concomitant gun-magazine hype) that a new pistol  would.

Instead, Ruger seems to have made a “new” pistol which hearkens back to the past.

Not interested.

Now if I were seriously interested in the 5.7x28mm ratshooter cartridge (a BIG if), I’d be far more likely to look at the PS90 mini-carbine:

I shot Doc Russia’s daughter’s PS90 a couple weeks back, and it was a sweetheart (albeit as ugly as Rosie O’Donnell).  But that gun’s way too spendy (over a grand and a half), so:  no.

I just can’t get excited about a new cartridge which is simply a very hot .22 Win Mag and which would cost an arm and a leg to get into, what with all the new guns etc.

I have enough calibers in Ye Olde Gunne Sayfe, so:  no.

What I may look at, if ever the funds become available, is the Kel-Tec PMR-30 in .22 Win Mag (of which I may already have one or two rounds in Ye Olde Ammoe Locquer)…

…and it’s all Ruger’s fault.

Or am I missing something, and is the 5.7x28mm the absolute bee’s knees?  Chuck Hawks doesn’t seem to think so.

Well, Shit

From National Treasure Joe Huffman:

Boomershoot 2020 is five weeks away and COVID-19 infections are still increasing across the country.  I’ve had several people tell me they are not coming this year.  Many states, including Idaho, have travel and social contact restriction.
I’m canceling Boomershoot 2020.

As the title says.  And as if I needed another reason to hate the ChiComs.

Apart from the disappointment of the thing, this also means that I’m faced with two choices:

  1. delay the raffle for the Hawkeye/Zeiss setup until after next year’s Boomershoot, or
  2. hold the raffle, send the rifle off, and have another raffle for Boomershoot 2021.

It’s going to be 2.

So I’m going to finish sighting in the Ruger (setting it up for a 200-yard zero rather than a 400-yard zero as originally planned), and making sure which ammo it “prefers”, before holding the raffle and sending it off (probably towards the end of May, in case the ranges haven’t opened before then — another reason to curse this fucking virus).  I’ll keep everyone informed, of course.

I’m still mad as hell / disappointed…

Handgun Feedback

I love emails like this one.  As Longtime Readers know well, I’m always on the side of people with lengthy experience with specific guns, and Reader Mike L’s opinions fall well into this category.  Enjoy.

I saw your posting today (2/22/20) regarding revolvers for everyday carry. I used to work for a major firearm manufacturer (though I do NOT speak for them, this is strictly MY opinion). When I worked there, firearms were 50% off MSRP.

627 – S&W makes 3 models of the 627. A 2.6 inch Performance Center, a 4 inch Pro series and a 5 inch Performance Center. ALL of these are built on the N frame, the same frame that the .44 Magnum revolvers are generally built on (there are a few .44 Magnums built on the K/L frames like the model 69 – those have the new fangled 2 piece sleeved barrels).

I have shot all of these model 627s. The 2.6 inch has slightly more recoil than the 4 and 5 inch, but not as much as you would think. That large frame soaks up recoil well. I personally like the 4 and 5 inch models. My father has a 4 inch 627. Great firearm. His is a Pro Series. Performance Center is built with decent care by a specialty department, the “Performance Center”. The Pro Series is Performance Center parts put together on the standard assembly line.

The 4 inch has a great balance overall, however this is a HEAVY firearm. Feels bulky. However even with full power .357 loads and HOT .38 +P loads this gun is a BEAST and handles them very well. Your hand won’t hurt after. There are a MULTITUDE of grips available (N frame) aftermarket so you can change them to your hearts content.

However, it might be worth you checking out the 686 PLUS models… There are 2.5 inch, 3 inch, and 4, 5 and 6 inch models as well. Standard barrels and heavy-weighted barrels, standard, Pro series and Performance Center. The one I might suggest to you is the 3 inch 686 PLUS model

The 3 or 4 inch 686 PLUS model will give you a smaller frame than the 627, but offer 7 rounds of .357 / .38. In addition, the 3 and 4 inch barrels are long enough for accuracy and great for carry and with 3 and 4 inch you get a great velocity even out of MOST 357 loads. The recoil is not awful even with hot loads, and there are a multitude of aftermarket grips for this gun available.

I myself prefer Ruger revolvers. I have a stainless GP100 4 inch. I put a fiber front sight on it and it wears hogue tamer rubber grips. But the 627 and 686 are great guns!

RELIABILITY – So let me tell you from my experience working at one of the ranges and doing a lot of shooting when I worked for this major manufacturer which models were the most reliable:

M&P – VERY RELIABLE. YES I KNOW, PLASTIC “FANTASTIC” – These RARELY broke. If they did it was a MIM part like the slide stop or the recoil spring. And let me clarify, the recoil springs were captured, so when I say the spring “broke”, at around 15,000 to 20,000 rounds I would see the spring tip pop out and the rod and spring became 2 piece. GUN STILL FIRED! And you could use it like that until you obtained a replacement spring. Slide stop breaking would just mean the slide didn’t lock back on these. They still worked. I personally saw a Shield 9 with over 50,000 rounds through it, an M&P 45 full size with over 100,000 rounds through it and I saw an M&P 40 with 50,000-plus rounds through it. You will spend more money in ammo many times over than this gun is worth.

K/L and N frame Revolvers – AWESOME! The VERY BEST! One gun was a stainless 686 built in the early 90’s. Burn rings that were baked on (front of cylinder was black). Grips that were worn smooth. It turned out this gun was from a rental counter. Smith gives a lifetime warranty to individuals, but 1 year to rental guns. Management decided to honor the warranty on this one if it was told how many rounds were through it. The owner said “at least 500,000”. Thing was worn, that was for sure! But it finally had the firing pin break and the leaf spring style mainspring was loose. All Mechanical things wear.

I also had a fleet of these at the range I was in charge of. These rarely broke. If they did it was the screw for the cylinder release or a sight coming loose (roll pin working loose). They had thousands and thousands of rounds through them. I have heard 3rd hand of the internal lock sticking when firing and had seen some examples of customer guns coming back, but I didn’t ever witness a lock up in person. Usually when that lock locked up, it was something else wrong, like someone doing home gun smithing, or a defect from the get go. If you shoot very hot loads, the forcing cones on the 686 wear a little faster than the Ruger’s, but not at some insane rate either though. I myself prefer the Ruger GP100, but it’s FORD VS CHEVY debate here… Both the 686 and the GP100 are solid guns, and they last a LONG TIME! If you like the 686 but want blue, check out the 586, which is a pretty sweet piece. If you do go with the 627, that holds up without issue. That frame can handle .44 Magnum. You are NOT going to wear that thing out with .357 rounds. Might put some wear on the forcing cone with hot loads, but any revolver, even Ruger can have that happen.

J frames – Mixed results. Majority of these were VERY reliable. The .357 models HURT LIKE HELL to shoot [yup — K.]  and the forcing cones would wear out. The 360 PD seemed like a good idea, but not the best to use. It is beefed up from the .38 J frames, but that thing doesn’t hold up with .357 loads non stop.

The .38 J frames are generally bullet proof. Of course, .38 +P loads hurt a little to shoot, but hey, it’s a backup gun. What do you want? You can even get a 442 (Black) or 642 (silver) without that damned internal lock if you like.

For the recoil shy or if your hands aren’t up to the .38, check out the 351 PD, which is a .22 Win Mag model, 7 rounds. Very light recoil. External hammer. GREAT backup piece. FUN to shoot.

.45 ACP revolvers – These held up well. Barely any wear on these. I saw one with over 10,000 rounds. Grips were a little smooth on it from handling but other than that functioned well. The .45 ACP doesn’t wear a revolver all that much. Recoil is not that bad. JUST MAKE SURE YOU ARE OK WITH MOON CLIPS. I do not mind moon clips, but some people hate them. Moon clips are generally much cheaper than magazines for semi-autos.

1911’s – Generally reliable. But as you saw, I saw the same thing. 3 pieces usually broke on 1911’s:
1 – the safety plunger and safety catch
2 – the magazine catch –
3 the slide stop catch and pin that held the slide on.
Usually when one of these parts broke, the gun went down hard. They shoot great, but they were the least reliable of all of the models. Not that they sucked, they just didn’t have the reliability of the revolvers or the plastic stuff is all. Overall revolvers held up better than 1911 models. Plastic stuff held up surprisingly well too.

Oh, and the 4 inch S&W model 19 is a VERY sweet piece. If you want a little lighter frame than the 686, but still something substantial. I saw recently there is a 3 inch ported version available too. I like the SP101, but the SP101 holds 5 rounds, Model 19 is 6 rounds and is blued, which is damn nice!

If you go with a 627, 686 or 586 (cuz blue is just so classic and awesome!), you could use .38 +P in both your main and your backup 637. This way, you carry one type of ammo for both. So no matter what piece you are using to fend off the goblins, you don’t need to think about which ammo goes with which boomstick.

New Colt Python? Um, yeah, right lol! Read the many issues with these… Lemons. They are too new and too expensive.

Hope this long long long rant helped…

Anytime, Mike… and that goes for the rest of you too.

Comparing Old Warhorses

I am often mocked because of my fondness (if not favoritism) of things of yore over their modern counterparts.  This is especially true of gun stuff, and cartridges especially.  (Executive summary:  not many cartridges developed since 1955 are that much better than their predecessors.)

One of my all-time favorites is the venerable .300 Holland & Holland Magnum, which was essentially put out of business by the .300 Winchester Magnum.  Why am I so enamored of this old warhorse (launched 1925)?

I once hunted with a borrowed rifle thus chambered many, many years ago in South Africa (I think it was either a Sako or a Sauer, can’t remember which) and in a single day’s shooting accounted for two or three impala, all of which were absolutely flattened by the heavy 180gr solid bullet.  I found the recoil far less punishing than other magnums (both the .300 WinMag and the monster .458 WinMag), and the effect on small- to medium-sized game was little different from either of the two others.

It’s not as hard-hitting as the other two, of course, when one looks at the raw numbers;  rather, the .300 H&H should be compared to the .30-06 Springfield.  Here’s a side-by-side of the Nosler offerings for each cartridge with the same bullet weight:

The Holland’s longer case holds more powder, I think, hence the slight velocity/energy difference.  Likewise, the rifle’s action needs to be a little longer than that of the .30-06 (which is already longer than, say the short-action .308 Win).

Of course, because so few rifles are made in the .300 H&H chambering nowadays, the ammo is filthy-expensive — usually over $50 / box for the cheap stuff, and it climbs into the stratosphere faster than the bullet it shoots.  By way of comparison, a box of the .300 H&H Noslers in the pic above costs just over $83/box, while the .300 Win Mag tops out at ~$70 (and the .30-06 pictured is $50).  Granted, these are all premium offerings from Nosler — but while one can find “cheap” .300 Win Mag and even cheaper .30-06, there is no cheap .300 H&H ammo.

And finally, here’s the .300 Win Mag which replaced the .300 H&H (sigh):

It’s not quite a like-for-like comparison because of the greater bullet weight, but where the difference becomes apparent is at ranges long than 200 yards (.300 H&H 2,490 vs the .300 Win Mag 2,520, and the differential widens at longer distances).

That said:  if I had to shoot twenty rounds rapid of each, I’d be okay after the .300 H&H, but would require some kind of medical attention with the .300 Win Mag.

And I’d sell a non-essential body part to be able to shoot them through one of these.  (“P.O.A.” stands for “piss off, arsehole” i.e. “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it, peasant”.)