Sunday, October 19, 2008
Yesterday, I made my more-or-less monthly 40-mile-each-way sojourn to the range for some R&R. This time, I dragged the chronograph along to clock a new load I bought for my S&W Model 642, the slickest little carry revolver ever devised. Earlier in the week, I had purchased a box of Federal .38 Spl. +P 158 gr. LSWCHP ammunition, the so-called "FBI load," and I was anxious to see how it performed in the little snubby. (Of course, the 642 wasn't the only gun I took, but more on that later.)
I've usually carried and fired loads with lighter bullets in the 642, namely 110 gr. and 125 gr. But, although I've known about the FBI load and its real-world efficacy for years, I've never tried it. That changed yesterday. The good news is also the bad news in that it is at least, or seems to be, a notch above, in terms of power, rounds with lighter-weight bullets. The good news part explains itself; the bad news part is that it also ups the recoil a good bit. Not to unmanageable levels, mind you, but it is pronounced, and it makes this round a load best practiced with in 5-10 round sessions.
Other than that, it performed beautifully. Hitting accurately at 9 yards (offhand) and clocking at an average of 805 fps, which I thought was pretty good considering the 1 7/8" barrel it went through. The velocity, by the way, was not much below the other load I chrono'd, the Speer Gold Dot .38 Spl. +P 125 gr. JHP. The Speer load, for the one round I was able to measure (my chronograph was acting funny at that point) went 828 fps. Granted, that's not an average, but it's probably in the ballpark of where that load generally shoots. With a less than 30 fps. difference, I believe I'll begin carrying the FBI load; I just feel more confident with that heavier bullet. One other downside to the FBI load I just thought of, and it's a minor one, is that it leaded the heck out of my barrel, but a little elbow grease, Rem-Oil, and Chore-Boy copper wool will take care of that.
The S&W Model 19 I own shot my softball .38 Spl. reloads (3.0 grs. Clays, 154 gr. LRNFP, WSP) with typical aplomb. It really loves that load and puts it on target almost in spite of me. The fact that it's such a mild-mannered load probably doesn't hurt either, coupled with a trigger that's the best on any gun I've ever fired. I recently had some custom gun stocks (aka, incorrectly, as grips) made for the gun from Herrett's Stocks, Inc. that fit me like a glove and make the gun feel like an extension of my hand, which is as it should be since I sent them an outline of my hand and they fitted the stocks perfectly to suit me.
I also put 50 rounds through the S&W Model 617 10-shot .22 LR revolver. This gun is always fun to shoot, mainly because it's accurate and non-taxing regarding recoil. In the past, I've put over 450 rounds through it in a day without tiring. (The only reason I stopped was because I ran out of ammo.) I bought the gun new and I've since put over 6700 rounds through it (I actually keep count) and I hope to put several times more than that through it before I pass it on to my son.
Finally, I toted along the quintessential working man's semi-auto centerfire "battle" carbine, the SKS. I put only 20 rounds through this gun, but that was enough to remind me of how infinitely practical both the gun and the 7.62x39mm round are. The gun is as tough as a tank and, though it does not possess tack-driving accuracy by any means, its accuracy is acceptable. Plus, although prices have gone up since I bought mine, they are still a great bargain.
After the firearms shooting was done, I promptly made my way over to the bow range where I quickly discovered I had left my bowstringer at home. DRATS! It wasn't a total loss, however, as I was able to string the low-poundage recurve I had via the step-through method and use that for practice. The other bow, though, was too expensive to try that method with (if you mess it up, it can ruin your bow) and I left it alone. I only got serious about archery this summer and it is a close second to firearms shooting in terms of enjoyment. One area where it exceeds firearms is in its simplicity. I'm sure I will vacillate between the two sports in the future, but I can't see forsaking one for the other. They are both such fun.