Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sunday Morning Brainless Mental Exercising

Slept late, then scarfed my Sweetie's Superior Mush...a wonderful breakfast, needing only a couple of Mimosas to be perfect. Sadly, I decided to forgo the Mimosas (of course, lacking orange juice and champagne, I wasn't exactly good to go) because I'm going to be spending some time in the gun room changing over my hapless Dillon 650 from .357 to .44 Special, which always takes me longer than I think it will. Perversely, I woke up this morning thinking about .44 Russian, as in the cartridge as opposed to 44 Bolsheviks getting together for a Party meeting. As you may remember, I have this strange and largely unfulfilling relationship with the .44 Russian, the father of the .44 Special (and, I suppose, the grandfather fo the .44 Magnum).

A few years back I got the idea I was going to shoot an ICORE revolver match with an S&W 629 .44 Magnum modified for full moon clips by master gunsmith Randy Lee. I would shoot the stubby Russians in the gun which should reload every bit as fast as a .45 ACP S&W 25/625. I thought...

Well, the plan was derailed by factory .44 Russian cowboy ammo, which is loaded to such low velocities that even normally clean burning powder leaves a lot of residue, which clogged up the star on the finally-tuned competition revolver. Eventually, I used .44 Specials loaded with relatively clean burning VV. If I had had more time, I certain I could have tinkered around a .44 Russian load that would have worked perfectly. As I mentioned a while back, I've been shooting Wild Bunch matches with .44 Specials either in a Legacy Sports/Puma '92 clone or recently with a Cimarron/Winchester 1866 clone.

Of course, all this .44 Special shooting triggers the ole .44 Russian gene again (as I think I've mentioned). I can get a special carrier for the 1866 from Adirondack Jack that'll allow me to run the Russians and keep the .44 Special carrier for when I come to my senses. I could, of course, shoot the shorter Russians through the .44 Special Blackhawk. OTOH, I could launch into some nitwit search for a .44 Russian revolver, either through conversions (Hamilton Bowen likes the .44 Russian) or replica guns. A quickie Internet survey showed me I could get a Taylor/Uberti S&W Number 3 2nd Model snubby, an assortment of S&W Russian clones with the weird trigger guard hook, a Cimarron 1972 Open Top Navy and, amazingly, the hope of a (pause for big drum roll) Merwin Hulbert.

Well bless us all! M-Hs are among ther coolest revolvers ever made. Here's the low-down from Jim Supica's Armchair Gunshow (and Jim is the Great Living Authority on M-Hs):
The Merwin design is unique and required extremely precise machining and hand fitting. The twist open design allows for selective, simultaneous ejection of empty cases while leaving loaded rounds in the cylinder. To open a Merwin Hulbert, the gun is held in the right hand with fingers of left hand wrapping around top of the barrel,. The left thumb pushes the button on the front bottom of the frame backwards towards the trigger guard. The barrel is then twisted towards the left, (which would be clockwise as viewed from the rear of the gun) and pulled forward. This allows ejection of empties. If disassembly is desired at this point, the button on left side of barrel is pushed in and barrel and cylinder slide forward off of the frame.
One feature unique to Merwin design and evidence of the remarkable machining, which is highly prized by collectors, is "suction." On particularly nice examples of Merwins you will find that when you have gun open and barrel pulled forward, if you release the barrel, the barrel and cylinder will pull backwards towards frame as if spring loaded. No springs are involved; it is simply that the close machining of the parts creates a suction which tends to pull the gun back together.
I love the .44 snub M-Hs with the "skull-crusher option" on the grip. I dropped a note to the company this AM to see where they are in the resurrection...they are taking orders. which may or may not be a good sign.

So you're thinking, "Ah Bane and his weird pistols and pistol caliber carbines! What a quaint affectation!"  Well, from a new FBI solicitation for, uh, .40 S&W ARs:
There you are! What's old is new again!


Beaumont said...

I've long harbored a fondness for the .44 Russian myself. I long for a J-frame snubby in this caliber. Maybe you could drop a hint to Springfield -- or Prescott?

Would also love to own a new M-H, but $1250? Not any time soon. I could likely pick up two or three Smith #3 DAs without topping that amount.

Anonymous said...

MB, did you ever try Fiocchi factory .44 Russian?

According to their catalog they load the old-school 246 grain RNL bullet to something like 820 fps! If the figure is accurate, that's actually pretty zippy -- not sure I'd fire it in an original 19th-c. gun, for example.

It's weird you put up this post; I was just thinking about ordering some Fiocchi .44 Russian to try it in my Ruger/Lipsey's .44 Special Blackhawk ...

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Anonymous said...

I will gladly buy a MH for that price, but I'm skeptical to provide an unknown organization a 20% on that until we know they're for real and will actually produce..

Adirondack Jack said...

Psst, Michael, once ya get really deep into the .44 Russian (or, as I once heard it described, an uncircumcized .44 American) zone, there is a new set of mods for the Marlin 1894 that will allow .44 Russian, .44 Special, or .44 Manglem, mix or match out of the same rifle ;)

BTW, thanks for the mention of the carrier.