Monday, October 24, 2011

Badgers Badgers Badgers Badgers....

My Badger Custom grips came in over the weekend and they look amazing. Unfortunately, I still can't locate my camera. Anyway, the grips look even better than the (stolen) picture from my last post. My SP101 looks like it could destroy Aldoran. The grips are super comfortable and have a glassy shine. They carry really great in my jacket pocket and at 4 o'clock in my bellyband. The only drawback is that they aren't relieved enough near the cylinder to allow a reload from a 5-shot HKS speedloader. Of course, since Badger is a custom shop, you can order specially relieved grips for use with speedloaders. I use Bianchi strips for concealed carry anyway. I like HKS loaders on the range and at matches, but in the real world, the strips just work better.

Anyway, maybe this weekend I can get some range time with the new grips. And find my camera.

Monday, October 17, 2011

SP-101 Part II

I got to crank out about 150 rounds from the new SP 101 over the weekend, but I couldn't find my digital camera, which is annoying, so I'll have to steal other pictures to make up for it. I never really made any noteworthy groups anyway. I spent the bulk of the time from the 10 yard line and had good results. I used my K-frame-sized Fobus paddle holster to draw and fire two or three shots at a time as quickly as possible...with mixed results.

When loaded with Winchester White Box 110gr .357 mag loads (box claims 1300fps in a 4" barrel) or any flavor of .38spl I could make a roughly quarter sized group at 10 yards when firing at a comfortable pace. As I turned up the speed, it went to more a dollar bill sized group. Not bad by any means, but I felt the grip was too small at the top and the hammer is very over-sprung. To remedy this, I have ordered a Badger Custom boot grip and a spring tune kit from Wolff. Below is a similar 3" SP101 with the black boot cut grip I ordered. Note the thickness near the top.

The SP101 was completely reliable and never had casings stick to the cylinder, and the properly sized ejector rod knocked all rounds safely clear of the gun to make for a quick reload from an HKS speedloader.

I had four kinds of ammo on hand for my initial test-fire. In 357mag, I had some handloads consisting of 158gr XTPs over a stout charge of Hodgdon Lil'Gun, and Winchester 110gr "357 magnum" quoted at 1290fps. In 38 Special, I had a few rounds of Winchester 38+P 125gr JHPs, and a couple of boxes of my own 125gr LFN handloads over a stout-ish dose of HP-38. All of them shot to point of aim at 10 yards. The only load that produced any kind of recoil was my 158gr XTP load, which should have been producing over 680 ft/lbs of energy from the 3" Ruger. Buffalo Bore offers a very similar loading, though I think they use a 158gr Gold Dot instead of XTP. This load is what will be in the gun when I'm in the woods. I will be purchasing some Buffalo Bore ammo to carry on the street.

In general, I'm really happy with the SP101. It is very nice to carry both concealed and on my hip when I'm out in the wild. The 3" barrel and 5-shot cylinder make this gun small enough to be very handy to carry without sacrificing utility. This gun will do it all, and is stout enough to do it for a lifetime. I'm very happy with my SP101 as-is, but will do yet another update once I install the shiny new grips and reduced power spring.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I've been busy getting set up again here in the US of A, and kinda busy. But I did go get my carry permit renewed and I've picked up another carry piece that I'm pretty proud of. Yep, I'm carrying a five-shooter again. This time it's a Ruger SP-101 3" .357 Magnum, and I'm really liking what I see so far. Hopefully I will get in some good range time this weekend, so for now I'm doing a "first impressions" kind of look at it.

The DA trigger is VERY heavy but pretty smooth, though it isn't classic S&W smooth. The single action is really great, so I probably won't be doing any spring-swapping but will break it down and polish all the guts once I get my tools out of storage.

Size wise, it is almost the same as my M&P9c, but packs nicer because of the grip and barrel geometry. I've done some test-runs carrying it in a Bulldog bellyband around my new apartment, both in the 4-o'clock and 11 o'clock crossdraw position. It is much more comfortable to wear than the M&P9c, though going from 13 rounds on deck to just five may be too much of a trade for some folks.

The sights are a familiar and extremely rugged groove down the top strap and simple pinned blade front. Nothing special, but far from inadequate. I dig that arrangement, though I wouldn't fault someone for replacing the front blade with a tritium night sight. There are many inexpensive options from quality names out there. Grips, however, are harder to find. I am already thinking of going to some very handsome wood grips from Badger Custom Grips. They're expensive, but worth it to accommodate my larger mitts, though the factory grip is adequate.

Now, why did I pick this model of this gun to add to my stable? Well, this is a great all-arounder. It's small enough to pack, but large and sturdy enough to digest a steady diet of magnum loads, though I will probably stay away from the super hot 125gr variations that were linked (correctly or not) to flame cutting and damaging the forcing cones on earlier .357 mags. I plan on using a 158gr Hornady XTP powered by a stout dose of Hodgdon Lil'Gun as my hiking load, and a factory load from Winchester as my carry ammo. I chose the 3" model because I've read a number of blogs and reports with chrono data which leads me to believe I can get 90%-95% of the velocity offered by a 4" barrel. That means my little five shooter could drop a 700ft/lb bomb on an aggressor of either two or four-legged variety. To me, that is more compelling than 13 rounds of any 9mm +P on the market. I'm not a "bigger is always better" guy, but stoutly loaded factory ammo in the 500-700ft/lb range is pretty appealing to me.

I'm also a revolver lover of epic proportions. Yeah, I only have five shots, but those five shots should deliver twice the kinetic energy of any concealable auto-loader . There are a number of subjective reasons why I like wheelguns, but the biggest reason I can justify spending the cash on this gun is that it can do double duty as a kit gun and a carry piece. Now, most folks think of a smallish .22LR as a real "kit gun", but since the state ecologists have decided that we need mountain lions where previously there were none, I like the idea of reaching for a .357 better than a .22LR. Also, the cost of reloading for .357 magnum is fairly low, providing you can find components.

That's it for now. Hopefully I can put up some pics of the genuine article and some holes in targets by Monday.