Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Range Report

It's all over now, except for the lingering smell of Hoppe's #9 and a lighter wallet. The guns are clean, the brushes and rods are stowed away, and I'm kicked back in front of the Mac to tell you all about it.

Little Bee-Boy and I ventured out to the Hot Wells Shooting Range out on Hwy 290 this afternoon to break in the new .45, and burn up some old .22 & .357 that's been hanging around for a while. There's about half a dozen shooting ranges in the Greater Houston area, and Hot Wells is just about the cheapest and most chickenshit-free of all of them.

We've got an indoor range about 2 miles from the house, but it's only got 10 lanes, has an ironclad "NO EXPOSED LEAD" rule, meaning no hollowpoints, JHPs, wadcutters, etc. Plus, it's got the goofiest check-in procedure I've ever seen. You go in the first door, stop in the alcove, unpack your guns, open the cylinder or lock back the slide, place gun in a clear plastic bag, repack all your other shit you've unpacked to remove guns, then proceed baggies in hand up to the counter to check in.

Now, I'm pretty sure I know why they do this. There's probably been one too many idiot show up, pull a handgun out of their waistband and ask which way to shoot. This can lead to slight misunderstandings! Still, I'm a careful shooter, and I have a range bag for a reason. My guns are unloaded before I leave home, and remain that way until I reach the assigned firing lane. Basically, I feel I'm made to jump through hoops just to cater to the dumbass crowd.

So, I vote with my dollars. They're not a bad range, but IMHO, I don't like to be treated like a potential criminal. For the same reason, I refuse to do business with gas stations that force you to pay before pumping. The fact that the station has had people wahoo gas bothers me not a whit. I am not going to pump and run, and I want to be treated like the law-abiding person that I am.

So, we went to Hot Wells. It's a $6 per gun range fee (pistols), no limit on shooting time or shooters, and they shut down the line every 30 minutes to change targets and rotate out shooters. It's not a fancy place, but it's OK. They have a 3,7,10 & 25 yard slow fire pistol range, a 25, 100 & 200? yard rifle range, an IPSC-style range, and several varieties of shotgun options, including skeet, trap and sporting clays.

It's a little shopworn, and they need to police up the brass more often, but it's the cheapest place I've found down here to burn off a few rounds.

Little Bee-Boy brought along his .22 pistol, a Smith & Wesson 422, and I had the new Springfield Armory .45 and the old Ruger Blackhawk in .357 Mag.

I was primarily concerned with seeing how the .45 would shoot. I bought an additional 100 rounds of 230 gr FMJ (above and beyond the Ammo Day purchase!) and 50 rounds of .38 Special. I brought along 70 rounds of the .45 JHPs, and 50 rounds of .357 Magnum. We had about 250 rounds of .22 as well.

The 7 round stainless mags seemed to work OK. The Wilson Combat 8 round mag was so far superior in loading and performance, though, that I may need to go ahead and buy a couple at the next gun show, and leave the 7 rounders for SHTF work. We had several failures to fire with the .45, and one failure to feed. The feed failure was due to Little Bee-Boy limp-wristing the .45. No, that's not a gay slam, it just means that he didn't keep as firm a grip as necessary to help the action cycle cleanly. No big deal, we just ejected the clip, dropped out the stovepiped round, and were back in action in seconds.

The failures to fire are gonna require some tinkering with the trigger setscrew to eliminate some overtravel. I found that every so often, I would go to squeeze the trigger, and there was no corresponding bang. I would let off on the trigger, let it travel fully forward, and then it would shoot OK. Basically, I was not letting the trigger reset forward of the sear. A bit of adjustment should set that to rights.

The .45 shot just like I knew it would. Big brawny shoves against the hand, just a bit of muzzle flip, and solid lockups on return to battery. It shoots pretty much dead on at the 10 yard range. I'm used to aiming below the bullseye (6 o'clock hold) to get hits in the X ring. This gun wants you to hold a little higher.

The .357 shot just fine, as always. There's not a great deal of difference shooting the .38s and the .357s, though, considering the big Hogue Monogrip I've got mounted on the heavy Blackhawk. It's excellent at soaking up recoil, and makes recocking a lot easier than the usual walnut grips. Pretty as the walnut grips are, after you've shot 2 dozen full Magnum loads, you've got a bit of a palm tingle happening!

Bee-Boy had a bit of a problem with the Smith. We kept getting failures to fire. I think it's just a case of "I don' wanna eat that nasssty Federal ammo!" coming from the gun. Bee-Boy thinks it's his failure to thoroughly clean it, and after taking it apart this afternoon, he may be right. First of all, that gun's a bitch to disassemble. Usually, wet & dry patches down the barrel, and a good toothbrushing with Hoppe's in the action suffices, considering it never gets shot all that much. Once we got it apart, though, there was enough crud in there to build a good-sized cockroach. I think there might have been sufficient grit caked around the firing pin area to impede normal forward travel.

It's clean now. I found 1002 uses for the bottled computer gas. It's great for blowing out hidden grit from underneath delicate action bits that you don't want to disassemble. Just flush with a good dose of Hoppe's, brush a bit, then hit it with the air. It's clean enough to eat off of now. However, it'll have to be another day when we test it.

So, a fun day was had, and we couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day to do it in. We just need more bloggers along for the ride next time!

Adios, muchachos!