June 2002

Firing Line: 06/02

Lapping The Swede
In regards to your article on NECO’s bore lapping system (August 2001), you might also mention that your neighbor in Canadian, Texas, David Tubb of NRA Highpower fame, sells a similar setup called “final finish.” His system is 50 already abrasive coated bullets in your desired caliber. I have used it three times on three different calibers, and I am a firm and committed disciple.

My first use was on a surplus 8mm Mauser, issue barrel, my first try at cutting and recrowning a barrel. Result was a shiny barrel that went from OK to minute of angle. Next was a 6.5x55 Mauser (May 2002) that I did a full custom (entry level) job on.

I have no idea what it would have shot like without fire lapping, but I now have a 6.5 Swede that will shoot MOA or better.

-C. L. Hiatt ll
@outdrs.net

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Ruger Service Six On Target
Just read your write up on police turn-in revolvers (April 2002) and think your choice of the Ruger Service Six as a best buy is right on target. I own a Security Six with 6-inch barrel and love it. It was a hand-me-down from my grandfather and my father, who were both in law enforcement. After several years as a patrol gun and even going through a motor home fire (it wasn’t loaded and was thoroughly inspected by a gunsmith after), it works flawlessly and groups excellent. I fly-fish in Alaska and use it as my sidearm. I don’t worry about the finish, and I know it will always perform when I need it.

-Erik Lovell
Red Bluff, CA

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I knew I had subscribed to the right gun magazine when I decided on Gun Tests. The April 2002 issue hit right at home, because I am looking for a .38 Super, and a while ago I found a used Ruger Speed Six. The .38 Super I am considering is a EAA Witness I found tucked away at a rural gun dealer, and the Speed Six was a used Postal Inspector’s firearm. The Speed Six cost me $250 with tax, shipping, and the dealer mark-up.

I knew it was pretty much toast when I bought it. It had some serious problems, but I put my faith in Ruger. They did not let me down. I shipped it off to the East Coast and eight days later they returned it to my doorstep with a new trigger, a new dog pin, and a new cylinder latch catch. They did it for free and did not even charge for return postage.

It is special because I had never seen this model with a factory 3-inch barrel. Thanks for the history lesson in the article. I have a lot of faith in the weapon and have carried it on long trips hiking in Montana.

-Paul Marsolek
@i29.net

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Don’t Buy Colt’s?
Your article on police turn-in revolvers was a very informative review. The only observation I would like to add is that Smith & Wesson as well as Ruger continue to service older revolver models.

Colt’s, however, no longer repairs Trooper MKIIIs and no longer makes replacement parts for these and other discontinued items. Gun Parts Corp and Jack First have limited inventories of parts left for the older Colt’s.

With this situation as a factor, I would have given the Colt Trooper MK III a rating of “Don’t Buy.”

-Jeff Fite
Southgate MI

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Russian Mak IZ OK
You are right about the quality of the Russian-made Maks (March 2002). I have a .380 Mak I bought for $129 on sale from a now-defunct sporting-goods store. It is marked “IJ70-17A,” which I assume the 17 is for the 9 x 17 it shoots. It is also marked “Made in Russia by IMEZ.” It has not misfed or misfired, although I shoot mostly hardball in it. It also has adjustable rear sights. I bought an HKS follower depressor to load the clip. The little tab would tear up fingers or fingernails.

-David Cash
Arlington, TX

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Bowen Modifications
Thank you for the fine article (April 2002) detailing Hamilton Bowen’s work on the .45 Colt that you sent to him for tuning. The article stated that the cylinder-mouth reaming that Bowen performed on the revolver was unnecessary and added nothing to the gun. That is true as long as the shooter confines himself to the use of jacketed bullets. The experienced sixgunners who shoot cast bullets, however, size their bullets to fit the chamber, that is cylinder mouths on revolvers, regardless of bore size. Because of the maleability of cast bullets, even hard-cast, a certain amount of obturation, or slugging-up, occurs in the chamber as the cartridge fires. Cutting the chambers to the same size and shape (perfectly round), ensures that the same size and shape bullet will hit the forcing cone from all six chambers. This can add significantly to accuracy.

A most interesting trend in handgun hunting is the use of heavy-for-caliber cast-bullet loads, mostly of the LBT design. It is extending the capabilities of the .357 and .44 Magnums and .45 Colt revolvers to unprecedented levels. It is this type of handgunner who appreciates the services of gunsmiths such as Hamilton Bowen and John Linebaugh. I expect that they know what they are doing, even if the customer doesn’t. There are many articles on this topic on web pages such as www.BearToothBullets.com.

-Darrel Astin
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA


In the shooting of many hundreds of cast bullets from several revolvers in Alaska and recovering the bullets from snow traps, I can verify that cast bullets definitely upset, or slug-up, as a result of a stout powder charge. If bullets were even slightly soft, they would show axial distortion that would prevent accuracy, and I saw that on bullets fired from properly dimensioned revolvers. If a bullet slugs up and is then squeezed back down by the barrel, there is no way the resultant bullet will be symmetric, much less accurate. The more slugging to an oversize dimension, the less chance there will be for accuracy.

Thus, to state that sizing the bullet to the chamber-mouth measurement regardless of bore size makes little sense. Early S&W Model 25 revolvers (.45 ACP) had cylinder outlets that measured around 0.458 inch, some much larger. The groove diameter was 0.450 to 0.451. If one shot cast-lead bullets sized to 0.458 in one of those barrels, he would quickly have a lead-choked mess. I found the only way to get the old S&W .45 ACP revolvers to shoot (I had several Model 25s and several 1917s, which shared the dismal dimensions) was to cast the bullets hard, size them to the groove diameter, keep the charge moderate, and hope that S&W would see the error of its ways. I complained loud and long to S&W about this. Finally S&W listened.

The very finest results are obtained when the cylinder outlets exactly match, or are very slightly larger than, the bore’s largest (groove) diameter. The bullet must also be fairly hard to avoid distortion from upsettage, and to hold the rifling. Also, no amount of forcing cone will make up for a misaligned chamber.

When S&W finally got the dimensions right, the company produced revolvers like my Model 625-3, which has the cylinder outlet the same size as the groove diameter. This is one of my most accurate, if not the very best, of my revolvers.

-Ray Ordorica

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Makarov Whiners?
I have been a subscriber for three years. Your reviews have guided me on several firearms purchases. I normally enjoy just reading your reviews; however, after reading all the whining letters regarding the Makarov review in March 2002, I felt compelled to respond.

As a previous owner, your review on the “craparov” was dead on accurate! If the whiners can’t handle the truth, then let them go back to reading other magazines for sugar-coated reviews! Your unbiased honesty is why I subscribe. There is absolutely no comparing a “craparov” to my SIG 226, HK USP9, or GLOCK 19 in finish, accuracy, and reliability!

As for my neighbor here in Arizona who says he shoots so well with this Mak, as a competitive shooter for over eight years currently carrying a Wilson Combat CQB, I am unable to free-hand seven rounds at 25 yards sub 1 inch. It’s a nice dream, but it’s time to wake up.

-Robert McCallum
Buckeye, AZ

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More On The Second
I’m sure Jerry Schroeder’s comment (Firing Line, March 2002) that the Founders intended the Second Amendment to merely guarantee “the rights of states to maintain a militia, aka National Guard,” elicited many comments from Gun Tests readers. I’d like to offer mine as well.

The trouble with such a contention is that it does not comport with the existing evidence. How can one explain away the writings of three constitutional commentators, who were contemporaries of the Founders, describing the Second Amendment as an individual right? If the Second Amendment had meant to preserve a “states’ right,” or be restrictive, rather than merely stating a rationale or purpose for preserving the right to keep and bear arms, it’s hard to believe that these three jurists would have misconstrued the intent and purpose of the Second Amendment: St. George Tucker—”The right of self defence is the first law of nature.” William Rawle—”The prohibition is general.” Joseph Story—”The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic.” Their comments have not been lifted out of context. They were specifically addressing the meaning of the Second Amendment. The full text of their comments clearly indicates they were talking about a right belonging to individuals—not the militia and not the states. After examining the text, laws and customs of the time, and the words of the Founders and their contemporaries, the narrowest plausible reading of the Second Amendment is that it was meant to preserve and guarantee an individual right for a collective purpose. (That does not transform the right into a “collective right” or the right of a “collective.”) The militia clause was a declaration of that purpose, and the clause following (“...the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”) was the method the framers chose to, in-part, ensure the continuation of a well-regulated militia. This evidence in its full context as well as other myth-busting facts can be viewed at www.guncite.com.

I challenge Mr. Schroeder, or anybody else, to provide an authentic quote from a Founder or contemporary, or a 19th century Supreme Court decision indicating that the Second Amendment was meant to apply solely to a well-regulated militia. By the way, as a soon to be published law journal article documents (J. Norman Heath, U. Det. Mercy Law Review), two centuries of Supreme Court pronouncements on the militia contradict many contemporary lower-court gun-case assertions about the Second Amendment. The “states’ right” alleged to reside in the Second Amendment vanishes when exposed to the light of actual militia jurisprudence.

-Howard Picard
GunCite
Los Angeles, CA

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Update
We at Professional Ordnance, Inc., appreciate your non-polluted and impartial commentaries and articles, and we appreciate the article on Carbon-15 Type 97S Rifle in November 2001 issue. We had tremendous response on the article, mostly from the “serious shooter,” including law enforcement agencies.

We were happy to hear that the tested rifle would be included in your Guns of the Year summary in December 2001. Then we learned that the article was pulled because of numerous letters from your readers.

In earlier models, we admit some failures in bolt, extractor, and subsequently the reliability issue. We value our customers input and believe in continuous quality improvements. We evaluated and corrected most of the issues since April 2001 by innovative design and manufacturing process on the extractor, bolt, carrier, gas block, gas tube and chambering. The rifle you tested last year reflected those changes and was incorporated in our production by late April 2001.

We stand behind our product. It has a lifetime warranty, which surpasses other manufacturers in its class. All products returned for service and/or repair are incorporated with the upgraded components regardless of its condition, and we know our customers appreciate that.

We anticipated that the numerous improvements implemented into the new Type 97S would allow us to rise above the inadequacies that surrounded the traditional “Stoner System,” which we had closely mimicked in our previous models. These same improvements have been implemented into our product line. We hope that subsequent tests and reviews by journalists like you would establish this fact.

We are proud of our products, and you are welcome to visit our facility and make evaluation and/or test from any of the tested product from the production line. The Type 97S has been tested and approved by various law enforcement communities and is proven to be a reliable weapon.

-Raju Aykarethu
General Manager
Professional Ordnance, Inc.

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Caveat Emptor
I think you missed something in your review of surplus .45s (February 2002). If I were to find a 1927 Model “T” Ford, sitting in a farmer’s barn since 1945, and bought it for $300 (and thousands of people would consider this a good deal), I would not expect to turn the key and drive it away. At the minimum, I suspect it would need some work, if not a full restoration.

Be assured, however, that many of those “thousands” mentioned above would delight in tearing it completely apart, de-rusting, “parkerizing,” or otherwise refinishing the body and frame, installing a completely different engine (say) by Bar-Sto, a Wilson Combat 5-speed transmission, perhaps a front-end assembly from King’s Gun Works with Wolff custom-calibrated springs, a high-capacity fuel tank from Les Baer, new glass by Novak, and maybe some custom “tuck & roll” walnut upholstery from Brownell’s.

Of course, you’d want to fit a modernized “extended” safety- brake system, and it might have to go to the alignment shop.

Would all this cost as much, or perhaps more than a later-model? Very likely. But, for a certain segment of the car and firearms community, the fun part lies in doing it for oneself—in having it “your” way. The result can be an expensive failure, or a “vehicle” with which one will never wish to part. I’ve had it go both ways, and both, in retrospect, were valuable learning experiences.

The good thing is that all those “custom” parts are now available, brought to us, for the most part, by the same folks who used to labor for hours on end making them by hand—and, with a bit of “tweaking,” almost all of them will work just fine in a 1927 Argentine Colt!

For those who want an “out of the box” shooter, something else might indeed be a better buy, but even these “later models” may require a trip (or two) to the gunsmith. Many, if not most, new guns could use fine tuning in to be truly reliable “daily drivers.”

In a case such as this, I don’t know if a simple Buy/Don’t Buy quite applies. Maybe Caveat Emptor?

-James verHoef
Cypress, CA

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Errata
One nit to pick. In the May 2002 issue, you refer to the “K” prefix in the Ruger designation as meaning something other than I believe it does: stainless steel construction. In the case of the P95, it refers to a stainless steel slide.

-Walter J. Kuleck, Ph.D
Ruger Collectors’ Association #97
Cuyahoga Falls, OH


In the April 2002 issue of Gun Tests, we noted that we enlarged the stainless-steel flashhole insert in the Cabela’s Traditional Hawken flintlock. Due to an editing error, the relative size of the enlarged hole was wrong. It should have been quantified as around 70 percent larger.