Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Range Day

Today I headed out to the range. This time, it was Big Bore day. (Or "obsolete cartridge day").

I started off with an old favorite, and by "old", I mean my Model 1887 Trapdoor Springfield in 45/70 Government.

Because you never know when the Indians may decide to attack...or those pesky Spanish.

I was trying out some newly-minted smokeless powder loads, carefully, of course, since this rifle was made for black powder cartridges. (Hence the cartridge name: .45/70, for .45 caliber, 70gr. black powder.)
The new rounds shot well but gave my shoulder a walloping. Unfortunately it took ten of these downrange before I finally figured out that I wasn't hitting at 200 yards because the sights are calibrated for the old black powder cartridge and mine aren't a ballistic match.

So I just dropped the old Buffington sight and just fired using the fixed battle sight. The rest of my test rounds hit my pistol silhouette bad guy in the torso at 200 yards nicely. Who knows, but maybe someday, some jackbooted type out collecting ARs might just earn the distinction of being the last guy in history to be taken out by a 405gr. lead bullet fired from Trapdoor.

"Feed me, Seymour!"

Not bad for a century and a quarter old.

Then it was pistol time, so I hit the steel plate range with my favorite revolver: my .41 Magnum Smith and Wesson Model 58.

What a great cartridge and a great pistol. Damned shame that it never really caught on despite the best efforts of shooting legends Elmer Keith and Bill Jordan, but I'm a devotee and I'll keep this one in action.

For the most part, I was shooting some positively anemic "cowboy" loads (made for cowboy action shooting) that I bought not realizing that they were, in fact, wimpy cowboy loads. The upside is that they're loaded using Starline brass, which is most excellent brass indeed, and soon I'll have 50 more rounds of my preferred load: a 215gr. cast last semi-wadcutter over 15.5 gr. of Accurate #9 powder.

While the cowboy loads had a bit of trouble actually knocking down one of the largest plates, the few rounds of my stuff that I brought out for comparison flattened them with considerable authority indeed.

Now I'm home, with guns to clean, brass to polish, and beer to drink while taking care of the first two agenda items. I'm happy.


  1. Excellent! Me, I'm slogging through trying to find parts for rather generic handguns right know.

  2. You are an evil Man ML. Your posts on the .41 magnums have gotten me to thinking thoughts I really shouldn't be thinking.

    I gotta get to the gun store. I wonder where I can get some reloading dies in .41.....

    Have mentioned I'm a big bore revolver fanatic with poor impulse control?

  3. Anonymous6:09 PM

    Learned two things about 45/70s while tromping around in Alaska

    1) They're not for bears, they're for mosquitoes

    2) If used on bears, aim doesn't matter - just pull the trigger. The kick will knock you out of the bear's range regardless.



  4. @ Six: Midway always carries such dies. Or eBay. Get a .41 Magnum. Come over to the dark side. Ruger even makes a kick-ass single action in .41...Just saying.

  5. The .41 didn't catch on mainly cause in San Antonio they used full power .41 magnum loads on duty and in practice.

    Might hard on most people, especially female cops.

  6. I am so envious of the Allin.

    With the 405, do you have time to sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow [trajectory]" before the bullet hits the paper? Maybe some 300s would take a more direct route.

    (I think the .45/70 was the original cartridge with the design objective of clearing tall obstacles that would otherwise interrupt the bullet's flight path.)

    I've noted before, I'm with you on the .41 - mine's a Redhawk. Wish I could find some poor fool to sell me a Marlin [for cheap] to keep it company. For now, it just has to make do with my autographed copy of No Second Place Winner.

  7. Nice! :-) and better YOUR shoulder than mine!!!

  8. I love reading about happy range days - sounds like a great one! And that Springfield looks pretty.

  9. Had a .41 mag Ruger in the 70's. 7.5 inch barrel if I recall correctly, with oversized grips. What a monster hogleg! I'm sorry I sold any gun I owned, but especially this one. I agree with Paul, standard loads seemed to be really hot for this caliber. It kicked like crazy.

  10. Anonymous9:55 PM

    I love the smell of gunpowder in the morning it smells like victory.
    This is my own phrasing.