From left to right- Abilene .44 Magnum, Colt Detective Special .32 S&W Long, Chiappa Rhino .357 Magnum, S&W M1903 .32 S&W Long, Rossi M68 .38 Special, Cimarron Richards-Mason .38 Special, S&W M1905 .38 Special

November has been interesting. I mean, if you consider getting migraines practically every day interesting. I don’t; it gets in the way of everything- including making a living. Then there was the fact that we had a novel to finish (we did,) a bit of hunting, stocking the freezer for the winter, butchering goats etc. In short there has been little time for shooting or writing about shooting. I haven’t been to the range in weeks.

That changed this afternoon. I needed to test some new loads in the .44 Magnum, test the modifications to the Rossi and S&W .32 and just do some shooting for pleasure. I took a fair selection of revolvers as you can see above and several hundred rounds in three different calibers. What I did not bring was the correct glasses- I accidentally brought my reading glasses. Bugger. So shooting the .44 at 25 yards was a matter of guessing where the target was and resulted in 5-6″ groups, which sucks. Basically I had a choice- wear readers and see the front sight, or wear regular shooting glasses and be able to see the target but not the sights.   OK, short range work then.

The Abilene shot well at short range. Recoil was quite easy to manage; between the porting, the 7-1/2″ ported bull-barrel and the reshaped grip it was very nice to shoot, and the loads were quite accurate- at least as well as I could shoot under the circumstances. It’s just that somehow posting targets from less than 25 yards with this gun seems a bit silly.

The Rossi M68 is an ongoing project. We got it cheap and it had been messed about with quite a bit so I fell no compunctions about experimenting on it.  It’s been a learning experience for sure; it’s a part-for-part copy of a S&W Model 60. In the past I made a custom grip, shortened the barrel to 2-1/4 inches and re-crowned it, made and mounted a new front sight. Recently I considered ‘Fitzing’ it, but I couldn’t bring myself to cut away the front of the trigger-guard. I did bob the hammer, narrow and reshape the front of the trigger-guard and reduced the handle to the smallest useful size I could do.  This involved modifying the grip-frame and relocating the grip screw. Now that I have sussed it out I’ll make a new grip. I wanted to remove the writing on the barrel so I slab-sided it because I liked the look.  I also smoothed and rounded the trigger and chamfered the chambers.


So how does it shoot? Unreliably and like it needs trigger work. Despite the fact that it gets 100% ignition with primed cases if I fill those same primed cases with powder and a bullet ignition drops to about 70% reliable. I have no clue why this is.

Accuracy is alright and it hides marvelously in a pocket, but it’s an experiment, not a carry piece. Unless or until I can make it 100% reliable it never will be, either. Still, it’s serving it’s intended function of education, so it’s all good.

I also fired the M1905 and the Chiappa Rhino. Both shot well as expected, but results were pretty typical for me and none of the targets were exceptional. I had really wanted to wring the 1905 out at 25 yards, but with the wrong glasses on-board that was not going to be a happening thing.

Next were the .32s, starting with the I-frame S&W.   This gun had serious issues when I got it; rust and pitting, massive end-play and cylinder-gap, timing problems… the list is long. I’ve already documented resurrecting this gun, and now it was time for more test-firing. Suffice it to say it is now tight and right, refinished and ready to go. Rapid-fire at seven yards produced an acceptable group- rather to the left. Since I reset the barrel I probably need to tweak it a bit to get the front-sight aligned.


After I get this issue sorted I am probably going to make a period-style target grip; this is a range gun but properly kitted out it might make a fine small-game getter.

The Detective Special was the star of the show; as always a delight to shoot. This is a 7-yard rapid-fire target-


I was pulling a bit to the left- need to work on that. I shot this target at ten yards, also rapid-fire-


This was rather better. I do love this gun, and wouldn’t hesitate to carry it for self-defense. I’ve considered a Tyler T-grip to improve the grip, but my pinky-finger falls naturally underneath the handle and locates the gun quite consistently so it is not strictly-speaking necessary.

Despite the ‘oops’ with the glasses I had a good, much-needed range session. Since it looks like circumstances have conspired against hunting tomorrow I’m glad that I got out for this.

The reloads used for today’s shooting were:

.44 Magnum- 260gr. HC SWC over 9.3 Gr. of Unique with a CCI Large Pistol Primer. This should be making 1175-1200fps. and around 800ft/lbs. of energy. A nice mid-range load for Blacktail deer.

.38 Special- 148gr. BBWC over 3.3gr. of Unique with a CCI Small-Pistol primer. This load needs to be a little stouter; some hits are tearing the paper occasionally and I want to punch nice, neat holes.

.32 S&W Long- 96gr RNFP over 2.7gr. of Red Dot with a CCI Small Pistol primer. This is a pleasantly snappy load with modest recoil and excellent accuracy


Michael Tinker Pearce, 17 November 2017



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