Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hump-Catting or Shooting the Puma 92

Before I begin, I must tip my hat to the Powerthirst commercial which gave rise to the phrase "hump-catting". Anyway, back on track. I managed to put about 120 rounds through my rifle on Saturday. I brought 200 with me, but I stopped because of a minor problem that I'll get to in a minute (stay tuned, it's not a horror story).

Tool marks are obvious, but when covered with moly-lithium grease, it works smoothly.

First of all, despite the rough looking mechanism, it fed anything I put in the magazine. It ate up my semi-wadcutters along with the round nose flat points. All of them were loaded to a case overall length of 1.602" by yours truly. Both loads were stoked with stiff doses of Winchester 231 powder which was lit off by Winchester Large Pistol Primers. The brass was a mix of Winchester, Remington nickel plated, and Starline nickel plated. Since we just got another six inches of snow Friday night, I worked the action with the rifle held sideways so I could catch the spent round, then rotate the rifle back upright while simultaneously closing the action. I had no problems at all with this method. I also shot a couple of quick strings of two or three rounds (over a 12' square tarp--I hate losing brass). Not a hiccup.

My 7.5" barreled Ruger Blackhawk used for size comparison.

The surprisingly small size of my rifle led some at the range to postulate that it would kick like a Missouri mule. However, it did not. I would equate it to a .22 rimfire magnum. There's a tiny bit of muzzle flip, but no recoil on your shoulder--not one bit. This would be a great way to introduce a new shooter to centerfire rifles. This rifle is just plain handy. Legacy Sports lists the weight at six pounds, but it is so well balanced that it feels like much less. Very young or very old hunters who can't pack a heavy rifle would be well served with this option. Granted, the .45 Colt is limited on range. But here in the flatlands, most deer and coyotes are taken at around 50 yards (even those taken with centerfire rifles). This carbine might be good for about 125 yards on such game, but I need to do some more accuracy tests and get good chronograph data on my reloads before I can back that statement up.

The safety. Useful? Yes and no.

The safety that I spoke of in the first look article proved to be more useful than not. The only way to unload this rifle is to work the rounds through the action. That means the hammer is fully cocked for that whole operation, and if it is still full of ammo, you'll be removing eight rounds (working the action eight times). The safety made me feel better about that operation. If the safety between your ears is working, then the one on the rifle is not really necessary. It is nice to have though. I think I'll keep it in place for now.

Now for the trouble I alluded to earlier. The front sight post. I got the rifle zeroed for elevation at 25 yards, but it was hitting about six inches to the left. At 50 yards, that was about 18" left. I didn't go to 100 yards because I didn't feel like I could make good hits using Kentucky windage. Oh, it made fantastic little groups--they were just WAY to the left. At 25 yards, I shot all nine (eight in the mag, one in the chamber) rounds into three cloverleaf groups that were all touching. If I did my job, the rifle would shoot nice little groups. And it is easy to shoot offhand because of the balance and very nice trigger. The trigger seemed to get nicer as the day wore on, and now seems on the low side of what my trigger finger says is four pounds. Still no creep and only a hint of over-travel. As pictured above, I used some metallic gold paint to make the front post stand out. Once I got home, I used my Grace Gunsmithing punches to drift the front post over and hopefully cure the problem.

The finish on the Puma is very deep and even. It is a very pretty little rifle, in addition to its handiness. The inside might be rough looking, but the outside certainly is not. One wouldn't expect the finish of a $450 rifle to look this nice. Kudos to Legacy Sports for finding a decent manufacturer for the Puma 92 line.

At the end of the day, I really fell in love with this rifle. The main reason is the general handiness of it. If it isn't handy, you won't take it with you. The Puma 92 has no sharp edges to hang up on stuff in the back of a truck, or snag on foliage. It is lightweight so you can carry it in your hand (let alone on a sling) for hours without getting tired. It is short enough that you can keep it with you on the tractor or in the truck--and have it ready for use at a moment's notice. That's what a carbine should be. Just plain handy. The Puma 92 carbine is the very definition of "handy". Now a few disclaimers: The .45 Colt is plenty here in Iowa and Missouri, as well as most of the upper midwest. Once you head into the South or mountainous West, you will want to upgrade to the Puma 92 chambered in .454 Casull or .480 Ruger, or the classic .44 magnum. If there are bears in your neck of the woods, the .45 Colt probably won't cut it unless you load the +P recipes that are only safe in Ruger, TC, and Freedom Arms. I've heard tales that the Puma will take such pressures, but don't take my word for it. If you do it, you're on your own. Puma doesn't suggest such loads and neither do I. BE SAFE. Enjoy your Puma 92 responsibly.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm Chuck Connors and I can shoot my giant penis, I mean rifle, with the best of 'em!