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Old 03-21-2017, 05:19 PM
flangster

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LONG:Model 63 First Day at the Range (+Single 10, VQ LLV, and Springfield RO in 9mm)



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Mods: This could just as easily be in the FrankenRuger section, the Ruger Single Six Section or the Centerfire Pistol Section -- I shot all the pistols on the same targets, which makes the following a bit of a mash-up from a forum-organization standpoint. Please move if the hodge-podge offends.

Shaggy dog alert. Grab a cup of coffee, as this tale rambles.

Part of the problem of winter around here is that projects kind of pile up one after the other until you feel like you have to work out all the kinks on your first range day of the year. Or put another way, it is an embarrassment of riches. The kid-in-a-candy-store question is what do I test first?

This has been an odd winter in that several very good deals came my way: deals that were too good to pass up. Ever stacked so many deals together that were “too good to pass up” only to find that you’ve overspent the hobby fund? Well . . . . yeah. That’s sort of where I find myself this spring. And it kind of explains the weird collection of pistols that I shot together for the first time yesterday. I mean, who shoots a Springfield RO in 9mm for the first time at the same time as a S&W Model 63? Apples and oranges. But a couple of projects came together at the same time, which is my way of trying to explain the hodge-podge of targets below

Project #1 – the Volquartsen LLV. I bought this originally as just a receiver from VQ and put it on a 22/45 polymer lower. It looked like this:



. . . and it shot really well. Like this:



But a) I can't leave well enough alone and b) I really prefer the more raked-back angle of the Ruger Mk series in a .22 pistol to the more 45/1911-ish grip angle of the 22/45. So when lastchance67 posted a VQ lower in black aluminum for sale here about a month ago, I jumped on it. You know how when the first part of a purchase is far enough in the past that it feels like with the second related purchase you are getting more gun for the money? Well, I pretty much convinced myself that with the reasonable price that lastchance was asking for his VQ lower, that I was in the VQ game for a fraction of the cost. Crazy accounting? Yes. Rationalization? Yes. Anyway the lower arrived just as described. I had a deuce of a time putting it all together. I know the Mk pistols have that reputation, but I had been through this routine before and was always able to get things to click with the help of a little YouTube. Not this time though. For some reason, the hammer strut on the lower just wouldn’t play nicely with the mainspring housing. Lastchance was a gentleman about it – even offered to undo the deal. But I was >this close< to getting that VQ target pistol that had been eating away at my prefrontal lobes for a year and a half. “Nothin doing,” said I. But after grinding my teeth about it and trying on and off for several days to get the VQ puzzle pieces back together, I cried “Uncle” and sent the whole thing back to VQ for a checkup. They actually replaced some internal pieces stating that the replacements were required to bring the pistol up to even with their current product line. No charge, either, except for the hour’s labor. I also purchased some Volthane grips for the pistol and had them installed at the factory. And back the pistol came, looking for all the world like new. Now she looks like this:



But how’s she shoot? Even better than before, if that’s possible. The only piece on this thing was not born and bred at the VQ factory is the bolt/extractor group which is original Ruger. Man, does that thing shoot! Here is a target from yesterday with the VQ group (SK Magazine) in the center bull. MTM rest and an UltraDot sight. 12.5 yards to check function, but man I love those bug holes (10 shots). So: project success! Thank you to lastchance for sending the last piece of the puzzle. If there is any downside it is that future poor groups are more likely to be the shooter than the pistol. But with me, that is generally true. Look at the center group. That's ten shots, if you can believe it.



But what about the other groups on that target? Well, there is a bit of a shoot off there, with results that surprised me between an S&W Model 63 and a new-to-me Ruger Single Ten. Why do I need both? Well, clearly no one does, but a couple of three years ago the Single Ten was the first revolver I wanted that I just couldn’t afford. There was one at a local shop and the proprietor is a “full retail” sort of guy. Also this was before I knew about the money siphon that is Gunbroker. This one was advertised on GB as “barely shot,” and I tell you the thing looked brand new in the box. So I gave in to the temptation. Here’s the Ruger:



I tried it out with a cylinder full of SK Magazine, and it shot ok (upper left hand bull of the target above 12.5 yards). But then I tried some CCI Blazer (upper right) and thought, “now, that’s more like it.” Just over an inch for ten shots. For those who are tempted to make an apples-to-apples comparison between the Single Ten and the VQ LLV, don’t. The LLV has an UltraDot sight on it and the Single Ten has open sights. The Single Ten sights are green “Fire Sight” light pipe type sights. Line up the dots and you are good to go. Except that I really am not that good a shot with open sights -- need a lot more practice. The single action trigger on the Ruger is crisp, but a little heavier than I am used to – maybe it will smooth a bit with use. As with the LLV, I shot the other pistols on the target above off an MTM rest. My off-hand groups are about twice the size of the MTM-rested groups. I feel like every review about the Single Ten that I read in my obsession-phase with this revolver at least mentioned loading and unloading one shell at a time. Honestly, it didn’t bother me at all. These are plinking/fun revolvers and since I don’t have a speed loader for the Model 63 or other S&W rimfire pistols loading time is about the same. Slower, but not enough to put me off my feed. The balance and feel in the hand were great for me – better than the S&W Model 63 with its small J-frame. BUT. And it is a big but. Here was the surprise of the day. Look at those Model 63 groups. The S&W Model 63 – even with its less comfortable grip and three inch barrel – consistently shot its rounds into smaller groups than the Ruger Single Ten and its five inch barrel. Here is what the Model 63 looks like, in and out of the holster:





Sights on the 63 are red light-pipe front and black rear sights. The single action trigger is just great on this thing. I know a lot of folks send out their S&W revolvers to have the triggers worked on or lighten them themselves, but I wouldn’t dare touch this trigger. And the tiny wonder shoots! I have a half dozen other targets with the same sort of results. It has a nice heft, even with its small size. My only complaint is with the grips, which aren’t really comfortable for me. I swapped the rubber factory grips for the laminate Houge grips above, but I am not really loving them either. You can’t see it in the picture above, but the wooden grips are not flush with the 63’s backstrap, leaving a gap as the backstrap recedes “inside” the grips. However, I could live with that aesthetic, if they felt perfect. They don’t though; the Houges feel just OK to me. And I am not crazy about the look of the back of the pistol. [Anyone want these wooden Hogue grips, make me a reasonable offer via PM and they are yours. . . they just aren’t staying on this revolver.] However, it is hard to complain about the pistol’s performance. (bottom right bull above).

Now, the more observant among you will have noticed the giant honking extra holes in the target that are clearly not from a .22 LR bullet. Ok. Maybe “giant” is taking liberties. But they are larger. Those come from a Springfield Range Officer in 9mm with a five inch barrel. I bought this one new, from Bud’s, my head full of some rationalization like “I won’t go broke shooting .45 ACP.” Yeah, right. Rest assured that no matter how much that new range pistol costs that if you spend enough time with it, your ammunition costs are going to outstrip the retail price of that piece. This is true, even at 19.2 cents a round, delivered, which is what the Magtech 115 grain 9mm ammunition cost that made those holes. The Range Officer looks like this:





I cleaned it and gave it a light RemOil’ing before taking it out yesterday. It is tight, tight, tight. The trigger feels just like the trigger on its big brother in the safe (the Springfield TRP, which is going to bankrupt me with its ammo costs . . .oh, wait, we burst that bubble). But seriously, the trigger is just really crisp, with a short return. Safety is “righties only” and the sights are matte black, both of which are fine with me. I bought this because I really like the performance of the TRP and wanted to see what the basic design would feel like in 9mm. Not disappointed. It feels better in my medium-sized hands than a Baretta 92, and the trigger is nicer too - did I mention, crissssp. But will it shoot? Look at the center and two lower targets below (like the others, off an MTM rest - -and see the Model 63 turning in another nice performance, this time with Eley Target).



I should say that I have had pretty good experiences with the Brazillian Magtech centerfire ammo - it has been my inexpensive go-to for testing out pistols in 9mm, .38 Special and .45 ACP. Kind of makes me wonder whether the Springfield in 9mm will do better with a load that is “tuned” for it. 9mm plinking ammunition is so inexpensive these days that I have been reluctant to spend a lot of time handloading. Also, I will admit that I am still experimenting to get my crimp right. Last time I took hand-made 9mm rounds to my club they sprayed me with grit when the pistol cycled. (Always wear eye protection!) So there is some work to do there, but with .19 9mm ammunition I have been shooting more factory loaded than hand-loaded.

All the pistols I shot yesterday have adjustable rear sights. But the only one that is really dialed in is the LLV. The others will have to be tweaked a bit. If you have made it all the way to the end, apologies for being so casual with your time! Bottom line (and I should have started with this) is that all four pistols met or exceeded my expectations for a first day out. I think I can do better with the Single Ten - -may have to research what folks commonly do about the trigger pull and (of course) more practice off-hand with open sights is a necessity. For now, I am glad that spring is here and I strongly suspect that these pistols are going to be seeing a lot of range time.

flangster
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