Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Shooting The .44 Magnum

Gun Fun From Long Ago

I've never really been regarded as a Gun Blogger, for the simple reason that I just don't blog about 'em often enough. In spite of my sizeable accumulation of boomsticks, there were always plenty of other writers who had that blog category pretty well sewn up.

Nevertheless, here's a gun tale from way back when, when my teenage mouth was writing checks my scant experience just couldn't cover.

I'd held a subscription to Guns & Ammo magazine ever since I could scrape together the $12/year tariff. I guess I started in the early 80's and kept it up for a decade or so. Add to that the regular issues of American Rifleman you got with your NRA membership, a compulsion to pay huge overdue fines for gun books from the local library, and I was a walking encyclopedia of firearms legend and lore.

Or so I thought...

I'd been deer hunting and target shooting since I was knee-high to an armadillo, but most of my trigger time going into my high school years had been behind long guns. My pistol experience was mostly pellets and BBs, and short on gunpowder-fueled poppers. There was a brief episode involving an Eye-talian nickel-plated .25 Auto of extremely questionable provenance purchased for $40 when I was 14, but the less said about that, the better.

I fell bass-ackwards into a gig teaching archery to a bunch of kids one summer, and one of the side bennies was the opportunity to play 'gofer' on the rifle range as well. The owner of the facility had a pretty good stash of guns, and loved taking them out for demonstrations.

One afternoon he was caught up in one project or another, and asked if I wouldn't mind doing the demo of his Ruger Super Blackhawk. He had a box of home-brewed .44 Magnum loads, and a couple of boxes of .44 Specials.

"OK, Cap...", he sez to me. "You know how to operate a single-action?"

Of course I did! In theory, anyway...

"First, show 'em how to load & unload it. Then run a cylinder through it to demonstrate, and let 'em each pop off a few rounds afterwards as long as the ammo holds out. You can shoot the magnums if you want, but make sure the kids only shoot the .44 Specials. I don't want the gun dropped or any bruised foreheads from the recoil!"

Man, I was all over that job! The fact that I'd never actually shot anything bigger than a .38 was immaterial.

I showed the kids how to pop open the loading gate, how to run the ejector, and how on a single-action you had to cock the hammer before each shot. I even showed them how to pull the cylinder pin and remove the cylinder.

I then loaded up the revolver with three rounds of the light .44 Special loads, followed by 3 Magnum rounds. My plan was to demonstrate the difference between a regular load and a magnum load.

OK, eye and ear protection on, range was clear, let's do this... First, the .44 Specials...

I lined up on the target. This was going to be just a light shove of recoil... Just a .44 Special...

Click-ka-click... Squeeze... **KA_WHAAAAAMMMM!!!!!**

The pistol jumps like it's trying to reach escape velocity.

...holy shit... WTF was that bomb going off???

Click-ka-click... Squeeze... **KA_WHAAAAAMMMM!!!!!*

Oh, bloody effin' hell! These .44 Specials are killing me!

Click-ka-click... Squeeze... **KA_WHAAAAAMMMM!!!!!*

OMG, Feels like I've inverted my hand. My palm now faces the other way...

I'm scared shitless. Those three rounds have numbed my hand. The next three are the Magnums! WTF am I gonna do?

2 dozen kids are waiting to see El Capitan finish the cylinder. Well, the show must go on...

This is gonna suuuuuuuuuck!!!

Click-ka-click... Squeeze...


Where's the kaboom? There's supposed to be an earth-shattering kaboom!!

Two more rounds left... *Pop* *Pop*

You gotta be shitting me!

Somehow, I'd bollixed up the order of the rounds during loading, or I'd forgotten which way the cylinder rotated. I'd fired off the magnum rounds first!

Not my finest hour, but even though I knew I was facing severe pain and possible bone damage, at least I had the balls to pull the trigger on the "magnum" loads!