Shotguns Or Rapiers? By: Charles E. Petty


Killing Target Frames

Testing began with the S&W 1917 and went downhill immediately. I have a motorized target mechanism using standard butcher paper rolls so the target can be advanced from the firing line. The butcher paper is 18? wide and the effective target size is a little over 17? square. When we set things up we try to make sure the rounds are close to the middle of the target but a little variation does no harm. Usually.

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As shooting went along I clearly saw the frame rock when a bullet struck the steel. I stopped, checked to make sure nothing had gotten loose with the rest and fired another shot. It was more pattern than group. With the next gun the frame got hit twice more even though the majority of the shots were well on the target. I was in rear fear for my target and the frame did get hit again but no permanent structural damage was done and as soon as we got to the newer revolvers groups began to look like, well, groups.

To say I was surprised is a mouthful of understatement because even though I was not expecting great things, most groups were truly dismal and there can be no doubt as to the cause, since the new guns shot respectably. I’ve gotten sub-2? groups from the same ammo in 1911s. At home I carefully measured the ball end diameter of each charge hole and the average value is shown in the table. And this number really tells the tale: big hole = lousy accuracy.

So now there’s a new question for me to answer. What to do with the several early guns I already have. Well, one of the good news things for collectors is you don’t have to shoot them and since I have one of the newer guns I probably won’t, but that surely doesn’t apply to everyone. Lots of shooters like me enjoy shooting .45 ACP revolvers and for casual, close range plinking, they will still be just fine.

If you’re a handloader the first thing to do is load some rounds using 0.454? diameter bullets. We’ve known for years this can be a simple solution to problems like these, but if your chambers are bigger that may not be enough. I checked some of Remington’s 250 gr. .45 Colt bullets and find they run closer to 0.456?. Loaded into .45 Auto Rim cases they’ll work fine although there may be a little bulge near the base of the bullet. It will be harmless, albeit a little unsightly.

But if you really don’t want to go to all the hassle there is still hope. Charlie’s home for orphan revolvers is now open. Our motto is: Send me your tired, your poor — they will find a happy home here.

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