September 2012

.410 Loads: Keep the Change

Reader Kimball passes along a cinematic reference that dovetails with our small-gauge shotshell test. Reader Stagg says we missed Marlin’s lightweight Papoose 22 LR takedown gun.

“Checking out the .410 Bore: We Test Seven
Loads for Defense,” August 2012

Loved the great article on .410 shotshell loads. You were intrigued by the “defense discs” of the Winchester PDX1 shell and mentioned the Old West folklore of a shotgun load composed of a roll of dimes. There is a great example of this legend in Sam Peckinpah’s 1973 film, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. In the film, Kris Kristofferson’s character (Billy the Kid) uses a double-barrel coach gun loaded with thin dimes to great effect against a brutal enemy. After dispatching his foe he remarks, “Keep the change, BOB.”  Thank you for the excellent magazine. —Blake Kimball, Saint Cloud, Florida

“Inexpensive Red Dot Sights—BSA, NcStar,
 Tasco, & Bushnell,” July 2012

The chart showed a “no-parallax” distance of 50 yards for three of the sights tested. I think this is an error. These red-dot sights present a no-parallax dot to your eye. The sight doesn’t care what you’re looking at or how far away the target is. So there is no reason to specify any “no-parallax” distance. Or one could specify “From point-blank to the farthest galaxy.” This is completely different from the parallax focus distance problem of crosshairs in a scope. I am not highly experienced in firearms optics, but I have been an amateur astronomer all my life. Red dot “sights” were originally developed and marketed for aiming telescopes before they were applied to firearms. —Ralph Blasier, Michigan

Re “Down Range, Bad Month For Guns,”
August 2012

You mentioned ratification of the small-arms treaty. Didn’t the Vienna treaty void the requirement of our senate ratifying a treaty signed by our secretary of state or president? I think once they sign a treaty, it becomes binding to our country and the only way to revoke it is if a president or secretary of state signs something stating it is revoked in the US. Is this true? —Donny

The worry about the treaty is less with the actual process of ratification, but rather how a given administration might enforce it, with or without ratification. The Obama administration has proven that it will ignore laws it doesn’t like (DOMA), and hyper-enforce laws it wishes to (the Gulf drilling moratorium, leading to a civil contempt finding against Interior Secretary Ken Salazar). Obama could use the Arms Trade Treaty as a fig leaf to do anything he darn well wishes to, restricting or banning any firearms. —Todd Woodard

“22 LR Takedowns: Browning, Ruger, Marlin
Go Head to Head,” August 2012

I bought a Browning auto in the 50s ($59.95), and it is grooved for ordinary rimfire scope rings. I think they are Burris. I have a Redfield ¾-inch scope on it, which doesn’t overwhelm this little rifle. Over the years, the only problem was a broken extractor that I replaced. Worked without it, but you couldn’t remove a dud or a live round. Gets an “A” from me.

I cut a piece of semi-hard rubber, like fan-belt material, for a block I insert into the receiver to hold the bolt back as a safety measure when not actually firing at the range. I believe our good Chinese friends at Norinco made a clone. My rifle is Belgian made.

As far as the Marlin 39A, got one of those at about the same time at about the same price as the Browning. Never any problems. I don’t know what is happening with a lot of these gunmakers, probably cutting corners in manufacture. The designs worked well for decades. Kinda heavy for a 22 LR, but still gets an “A.”

Ruger guns are fine. I have six of them. I just can’t warm up to plastic and aluminum. A great issue. No ARs, no plastic pistols. A welcome break!  —Greg Fischer, New Jersey

I just finished reading the latest issue of Gun Tests for the second time, and it is another great issue. Keep up the good work. I really enjoyed the “Takedown Rifle Showdown” the most. I’ve been wanting a Marlin 39 for some time, but I’ve been hesitant due to all the bad reviews/reports that I’ve read about Freedom Group–owned companies, and your article and my own personal experience confirmed it. So, now I will search for the Marlin 39 on different internet-auction sites.
Also, may I suggest that you guys do a installment on reloading equipment such as progressive presses, scales and trimmers and such? Just a thought. Thanks again for putting together the best firearms mag there is.
—Mike Penrod, Vowells Mill, Louisiana

We’re not willing to condemn Freedom Group companies’ products overall. We’ve tested plenty of their recent guns that have done well. —TW

I just wanted to point out that perhaps the reason the Marlin 39A had difficulty operating the lever in the evaluation by Ray Ordorica was because the takedown screw was too tight. Of course I don’t know if this was the case but it might be something to examine. We own a Marlin 39A and have not experienced the sticky lever issue, but we have found that the tightness of the takedown screw is critical to proper operation. Thank you for your magazine.
—Paul Roberts

I was sorry to read such a bad review of the Marlin Model 39A. My Dad had one that my Mom bought for him as a Christmas gift in the 50s. I’m 68 now, and I rode with her to the hardware store to pick it up because I knew which rifle he wanted. We’ve used that rifle all these years without problems. Dad’s rifle doesn’t have checkering and its pre-Microgroove. I also have an old Marlin lever action 410-bore and a Model 1894 in 357 Magnum. The quality is fine on all. My brothers and I have all used that old Marlin 22 rifle, and there’s no telling how many squirrels it has whacked over the decades. I’m sure that no matter how many squirrels it has put in the pot, the number of stories it has generated is much greater. Keep up the good work. Gun Tests is one of my favorites. —Bob Stretton Savanna, Illinois

I thought this comparison was comparing apples to oranges. You guys didn’t have the Marlin 70PSS Papoose 22 LR semiauto versus the Ruger 10-22 takedown in the test. The Marlin is lighter and less money, is easy to locate, and the test wasn’t complete without it.
—David Stagg

Your article on the Ruger 10/22 Takedown was right on the spot. I have one, and it is everything you say and then some. Not sure you should have used the Marlin 39A and the Browning SA-22 as a comparison. Marlin makes a Model 70PSS and Henry makes the U.S. Survival Rifle 22 LR that are both takedowns. Maybe you should have used these. Still, I think the Ruger 10/22 would still have come out on top. —Bob Mussehl, Belleville, Wisconsin

The Papoose is a stainless-steel semi-auto that comes apart like the 10/22 Takedown. It comes with a fiberglass-filled black synthetic stock, a 7-shot magazine, and a padded case with built-in flotation. I’m in the process of getting one to do a follow-up. Thanks for the tip, David. Bob, we tested the Henry U.S. Survival Rifle in the March 2003 issue, saying of it, “The fact that this rifle was so incredibly light was a big factor for us. We’d put a decent trigger into it and stick it in our backpack and go wherever we could legally carry a rifle, and consider ourselves prepared to fill the pot with nearly anything we could find to eat.” —TW

“Cowboy Revolvers: Cimarron
 Outduels Ruger, Heritage
 357s,” August 2012

I greatly enjoy your magazine and the very thorough scientific testing you conduct. Keep it up. Your article on cowboy revolvers was very informative, as I’ve been thinking of adding a 45LC to my collection. I have experience with many pistols, yet I have no single-action guns. I feel that as a true American, I should at least have one Old West gun.

However, your testing gave the results for groups at 10 yards, and to my thinking, 10-yard groups for guns with 4.5- to 5-inch barrels should be better than overall averages of 3.5 to 4.5 inches. I would expect 4-inch groups at 25 yards due to poor trough sights, but definitely not at 10 yards. If I add a sixgun to my collection, I want a tackdriver.

Can you expand a bit on why accuracy seems so poor in all three pistols? Is this typical of all cowboy guns? (If so I’m passing!) What steps would one take to get the guns in the article to shoot better?

An idea for an article would be how to spot an accurate revolver in a store. I have been in the situation of buying a Smith Model 10 and found four different ones, but I could only choose based on looks. How about an in-depth article on how to use feeler gauges and measure the gap to tell which may be more accurate?

And while on that subject, how about how to make that Smith Model 10 I bought shoot more to point of aim? I’ve tried every bullet weight and powder combo. It’s consistently 2 inches high and 2 inches left! Ugh. I’m now in the process on trying to slug the bore on this pistol, so maybe an article on how to slug a bore and how to open up cylinders if needed?

I guess I’m suggesting more on gunsmithing, and I know that’s not your magazine’s focus, but in the economic reality of today, I’m buying fewer guns and trying to make the ones I have better.

We make some assumptions in our tests about what ammos are suited to a class of guns, and sometimes we get a selection of brands that just suck in a certain test. Also, in this particular case, lighting conditions during the test days really made the sights hard to see. But the Cowboy Action game doesn’t emphasize hole-in-hole accuracy as much as speed, so we were still able to pick a winner. Yes, many of the additional ideas you suggest are gunsmithing related, and probably are more suited for coverage in American Gunsmith magazine, which, like Gun Tests, is published by AG Media. For more information on AG, log on to —TW

As a cowboy action shooter, I was glad to see your August review of cowboy revolvers. I have used revolvers from all three of the manufacturers you tested in competition. The Evil Roy (made by Uberti and imported by Cimarron) is a competition-ready gun. It’s almost unfair to compare it with stock models from Ruger and Pietta (the Heritage Rough Rider). Both of these revolvers can be tuned to be as smooth as the Evil Roy.

The majority of competitors are using Rugers because of their more durable internal components and price. Most cowboy action shooters who use Rugers will install a spring kit to lighten the trigger pull, a Ruger Super Blackhawk hammer that has a lower, wider profile, and replace the grips.

All three modifications are drop-in variety and can be completed by the owner to make the gun race ready. Revolvers of the Colt design, like stock guns produced by Uberti or Pietta, benefit from a trip to the gunsmith to be ready for competition.

You are correct in noting that most top competitors use the 357 Magnum models of these revolvers. Most use a handloaded 38 Special round that is very mild, so recoil is not an issue. I have never heard any competitors complain about hammer bite or the sharpness of the checkering on the grips of the NM Vaquero. The checkered plastic grips are indeed ugly compared to the nice wood that came on the Old Model Ruger Vaquero, but the checkered plastic grips sure do work better when the temperature is approaching 100 degrees and you’re sweating profusely during a shoot. —Jeff Fisher, Chattanooga, Tennessee

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