Recently, I’ve done two ammo tests using my faithful Marlin 880 SQ .22 rifle, and while the gun is still more accurate than I can shoot it, I’m not happy with the trigger. The fact is that lately I’ve been spoiled by shooting some rifles with incredible triggers, and by comparison, the 880’s trigger is crap: lots of creep, inconsistent take-up, and sometimes a little grit when it releases. I’ve taken the trigger group apart and cleaned it thoroughly, so it’s not that: it’s just not a good trigger, and the gun isn’t worth spending money with a gunsmith who may or may not be able to improve it.

So I think I’m going to put the 880SQ into honorable retirement, and look out for a decent .22 rifle over the next year or so. I have a couple rifles on the short list — unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of money to spend on a match-grade one, nor do I actually want to get into that arena again — but my standards are nevertheless quite high and I do have some idea what I’m looking for.

My #1 choice is probably the Savage Mark II BV, and it has good reviews (like this one). It is kinda ugly, though it does have Savage’s sublime AccuTrigger:

My #1a choice might just be the slightly more expensive CZ 455 Lux model, because even though it doesn’t have a set trigger or heavy barrel, it is so beautiful I want it to bear my children:

I also like that it has iron sights for those “Oh shit, I just broke my scope!” situations.

As for a scope, I’m not too bothered; I have several I could use, but if I have enough room in the budget to buy a new one, I’ll probably get a Weaver RV9 3-9x32mm (+/- $250) or my old favorite, the Leupold VX-I 4x28mm (+/- $200). I’ve owned both in my time, and they’re excellent.

All suggestions and personal experiences on the above topic in Comments. Please don’t suggest any of the super-premium rifles like Anschutz because as I said, I don’t want to bench-rest it and I’m not going to drop over a grand on a plinker.

Range Report — Federal Auto Match .22 LR

So I got an email from Erik at AmmoMan, asking me if he were to send me a couple boxes of ammo, would I test them?

I’m just a poor corrupt blogger, so when people send me free stuff (especially ammo) in exchange for a link, who am I to turn it down? (Erik didn’t actually ask me for a link, but he’s getting one anyway.)

So a couple boxes of Federal’s Auto Match 40-grain ammo arrived at Ye Olde Ammoe Locquer, and off to DFW Range I went again. Here’s the ammo:

…fired as usual through my Marlin 880SQ:

Readers will remember my last test of Federal .22 ammo, so just for the hell of it I popped five rounds of the Federal Range ammo off, just to clear away the cobwebs and see if I hadn’t been imagining things when it came to its accuracy. I hadn’t.

This stuff is good — the “miss” at the bottom was a called flyer. Now for the Auto Match*:

…also with a called flyer at the bottom. Damn, this Auto Match stuff is also good. I fired off a few more 5-round strings into other targets, but with no appreciable difference.

So with that suspicion in mind, I found an old box (phew, at least ten years old) of Federal Match, and fired that too:

Wait… what? Another 5-round string:

Hmmm… I think Federal may have improved their .22 ammo quality over the past decade. But I’d hate to mislead anyone, so it looks like moar testing will be required… but as it stands right now, this ammo is very good — both the Auto Match and the Range variants.

Anyway, just for the hell of it, I’d also brought my Taurus Mod 62 for a little fun plinking.

So I loaded it up with the Federal Auto Match and fired off  a few rounds, then got serious, and fired a seven-round string (why seven? that’s what was left in the tube magazine). This was offhand and unscoped into a (larger) target at 25 yards:

Ugh. Either I have to have that cornea surgery soon, or else it’s going to be scoped shooting for the rest of my life. That, or a lot more practice.

*Federal claims that the Auto Match ammo is designed especially for accurate semi-auto shooting. Well, I still don’t have a semi-auto .22 rifle, so I can’t test that claim. But it doesn’t matter — it works just fine in any rifle, as far as I can tell.



After a comment from Longtime Friend & Reader Mh jogged my memory, I need to ask a favor of everyone.

I’d like to attend next year’s SHOT Show. If anyone can provide me with Press- or retailer accreditation, I would be forever in your debt. 

And if any of the Vegas locals would care to put me up for a couple-three nights, I will bring a bottle or so of single malt in gratitude.

Readers can expect the usual trenchant reports on what I see at the show.

I should point out that Las Vegas is one of my least-favorite cities in the world, so this would be a huge sacrifice I’d be making for the sake of my Readers. I won’t be flying because TSA, so it’ll be a road trip too.

One last point: I’ll just have returned from the last leg of my sabbatical in Britishland, so if personal circumstances (e.g. poverty) cause me to have to cancel, you can’t pout.


Allow me to remind you all that it is precisely one month away:

100 rounds or more of your favorite gun fodder.

A couple suggestions, this one from our friends at CheaperThanDirt:


..and this one from Lucky Gunner:


…and one more for luck, from Sportsman’s Guide:


…but if you want to splurge and get yourself some top-shelf hunting ammo, try this from Graf & Sons:

(That’s $256.45, for the math-challenged.)

Of course, feel free to purchase a little more than 100 rounds, e.g. this offering from Georgia Arms:

…or this branded AR-15 food, from Ammoman:

Of course, you’ll want something to store it in, so from MidwayUSA:


This year, November 19th falls on a Sunday, so get it done. I will be in Britishland on that day, but that’s not gonna stop me from buying ammo, you betcha; and the fact that I can do it from behind enemy lines, so to speak…

I love the Internet.


At some point in the near future, I’m going to be bringing my newest acquisition home from Bitishland. I’m referring of course to this little sweetheart, the Mauser M12:

…lamentably without that fine suppressor, but hey.

My M12 really, really likes a certain brand of 6.5x55mm Swedish ammo, namely the RWS 140-grain HP (as seen here). Well, it turns out that you can’t get RWS centerfire ammo of any kind Over Here — I checked with Anschutz, the importer, and no joy.

Well, I’ll just have to find another brand of 6.5 Swede ammo that Madame enjoys shooting. In Ye Olde Ammoe Locquer I have what my Son&Heir describes as “two lifetimes’ worth” of the above, but the vast majority of it (+/- 2,000 rounds) is Hirtenberg mil-surp; in commercial ammo, I don’t have that much at all. Here’s what it looks like:

What I do have, though, is a decent range of ammo to test, to see which brand works best. (All the ammo is 140gr except for the Hornady, Wolf and Norma stuff.) The unboxed ammo — the Federal Premium — is what my M1896 likes to shoot when not shooting the mil-surp; it’s matched to lot #, even, so I’ll probably test it last, if at all. The ammo in and on the stock sleeve on the right is the same as the Federal in the top left corner (I have no idea why I don’t have it boxed).

Once I find the right match… Let The Buying Begin.

Anyway, it looks like January / February 2018 will be filled with many, many hours at the range while I figure it all out. What a tiresome chore…


In the Comments to an earlier post, Reader JoeInPNG said: “…I’m often surprised and pleased how accurate my Colt 1903 and 1908 are.”

And I was immediately reminded of the time I got to shoot one of the aforementioned, a Colt 1903 in its native chambering of .32 ACP (7.65mm Browning). The owner had had the gun re-blued in Colt’s Royal Blue, and it was so beautiful a gun that I swear I had larcenous / covetous thoughts about a gun for the first time since the Colt Python Episode of 2003. Here’s an un-refinished example, courtesy of Collector’s Firearms in Houston:

…and let me tell you right now, were it not sinfully expensive (well over $1,500), I’d be reporting it as mine.

A parallel thought occurs to me about the .32 ACP –and let me remind everyone, “ACP” stands for “Automatic Colt Pistol” — which by today’s standards is woefully underpowered as a self-defense cartridge.

I don’t care. If I had a 1903, I’d buy as much .32 ACP as I could afford — Visa and Mastercard executives would be booking their Bermuda vacations by now — and I would probably shoot out the 1903’s barrel in about six months. Yes, it’s that much fun to shoot.

The Colt 1908 (.380 ACP) is about the same size as the the 1903, despite being chambered for the larger cartridge:

In its label description the 1903 is called the “Pocket” model, while the 1908 is called the “Vest Pocket” model. Both guns are lovely — can a John Moses Browning design ever be called ugly? — and they would make a fine addition to the collection of anyone who loves craftsmanship and beauty.

The shooting fun, of course, is the joyful bonus.