Anyway, as I was saying, I was explaining to my Sweetie this AM about the lovely kinetic sculpture on the front porch, when she cut me off short — "It's not a kinetic sculpture," she said. "It's 5000 rounds of .44 ammo and get it the heck off the porch."
People are so cynical these days!
I had planned to shoot up a bunch of that .44 this week in my Subjective Recoil Experiment, where I was going to try and get a handle on how to adequately define the simple phrase, "It kicks like a mule."
However, since I am apparently still on a freakin' roll, the Permanent Sinus Infection was re-diagnosed as shingles involving the optic nerve of my right...ie, dominent...eye, essentially the old chickenpox virus from my childhood dropping in for a pleasant visit. Luckily, it's a minor case (I'm told), but it's being treated very aggressively. The eye doctor also "suggested" that I might avoid my contact lenses and any activity that places "additional stress" on my eye. Like, I asked, target shooting? Duh...
I wasn't planning on shooting at the Sportsmen's Team Challenge this weekend, but I do plan to shoot at the International Revolver Championship in California weekend after next. I had actually hoped to do pretty well in however much I shot (no, there's never time to shoot an entire match!), but the travel schedule and now the eye problem have definitely conspired to put a crimp in that.
As I mentioned before, Randy Lee at Apex Tactical built me a spectacular gun, an S&W 629 Classic .44 Magnum fitted with a titanium cylinder from a 329PD machined for full-moon clips — don't worry...you'll see lots of this gun and Randy Lee on the show!
No, the .44 is not nearly as gamey as a 625 in stubby, easy to reload .45 ACP a la the sainted Jerry Miculek, but 1) I had a 629 handy and 2) I am a huge fan of the .44 cartridge in all its permutations. So why the hell not?
My original idea was to shoot stubby .44 Russians, which is pretty close in length to the .45 ACP, out of the gun, but the Black Hills Cowboy .44 Russians I have, while extremely accurate, are dirty as all get-out...not a big deal in a single action cowboy revolver, but a huge issue in a DA revolver cylinder cut for moon clips and used in competition...the unburned powder gets under the extractor star and...you get the picture. Machine gums up.
This is, BTW, one of those strange areas in shooting where it's easy to confuse competition and the real world. Yes, dirty burning powder is an issue for competition loadings, but I have shot TONS of dirty burning reloads with Unique and Bullseye powders through .44 Magnums, Specials and Russians over the decades with no problems (except for occasional grousing at cleaning time). It's not an issue in field gun, because I'm not speed-reloading it a bunch of times in a row before cleaning — even blowing away the loose powder. It's not an issue with a self-defense revolver because I'm usually shooting hotter lighter bullet loads, which tend to burn cleaner.
Anyway, we're going to Winchester .44 Special Cowboy loads, which burn cleaner. If the gun doesn't like those loads, Randy will have to tinker some together for me — for which I'll owe him Big Time!
The big joke is, of course, that it's not me shooting my gun — it's Randy and the lovely Lisa Farrell, both of whom shoot better asleep than I do awake. Lisa of course will be defending her World Revolver Championship (the 5th or 6th) in a couple of weeks. I think she has arranged for me to shoot in her squad, so I can be humbled and humiliated publically.
Well, it'll be fun, and the Hogue range in Morro Bay, CA, is one of the most beautiful places to shoot in the country. Plus the Hogues throw a spectacular party after the match! I wish you could all be there, although I suspect Aaron Hogue is glad he won't be buying the drinks for all of you lushed!
I've also decided that I'm going to forward my own S&W 329PD Air Lite .44 Magnum on to the great Jim Stroh at Alpha Precision for some minor work. The gun is in beautiful shape and already fitted with the Hogue X-frame softie grips — thank you, Walter Coates! — and I was going to use it for a month or so in the Recoil Tests. However, I'm very hopeful about beginning filming on Big Bore Chronicles, our handgun hunting show, this fall, and I specifically bought the 329 as a carry gun for when I'm filming. It needs a trigger job — don't they all!!! — and while I like the Hi-Viz fiber optic front sight for competition, I simply do not like them in the field. That's because they're plastic and I've broken off far too many of all the brands of fiber optic sights.
True, the Hi-Viz sights are the sturdiest ones of the lot...the fiber optic tube is encased in solid plastic, as opposed to just suspended between two posts...but still, s&%t does happen. I've asked Jim, who's been overhauling my carry/field revolvers, to fabricate a front sight for the 329 with a 14-carat gold bead, my front sight of choice. I may go to a set of the Hamilton Bowen "Rough Country" S&W rear sights, but I am going to stick with the V-shaped "Express" rear sight as opposed to notch and post. I envison this gun as strictly a back-up, and if it has to be bought into play, it'll be for a snap-shot. The Express V rear sight and gold dot front is perfect for that application — just read the old African hunter books!
My plan is to sight the gun in with the Bufflao Bore 255-grain Keith bullet loads designed specifically for the 329PD, then hold over/under for .44 Special practice load...I'll probably use the Winchester Cowboy in that role. Again, I envision this as a very specific use gun, essentially (as I've mentioned before) in a role presently filled by Thumper, my short-barreled .44 Magnum Blackhawk, or my packing gun, a short-barrel .30 Carbine Blackhawk rebuilt by Hamilton Bowen.
I figure it'll take Jim a couple of months to get the 329 sorted out to my liking, so I figured I'd better let him get started!