Saturday, April 6, 2013
I took my new .44 Magnum revolver to the range today - well, actually, to a farm about an hour's drive from home. Oleg and a number of his friends brought several new firearms, some to set up and zero scopes, others for photographs for use in advertisements and articles, and the rest for training and just plain fun. I guess there were seven or eight folks there, including Linoge and his wife. It's always good to see them when they pass through town.
(I wanted to take my new blackpowder revolver as well, but I'm still trying to locate all the accessories I need for it. There are a lot of them: blackpowder and/or a modern equivalent propellant, percussion caps, .457" lead balls, a powder flask and measure, over-powder and cylinder-sealing wads, cleaning gear that can handle blackpowder fouling [which is a whole different animal to modern propellants], etc. Local suppliers don't have everything in stock, so I'll have to order some over the Internet before I can play with it.)
The .44 Magnum cartridge is no slouch when it comes to recoil, and can be very uncomfortable indeed in a lighter gun, or one with a grip that isn't well designed to deal with it. However, Ruger's Super Blackhawk Hunter revolver weighs well over three pounds, a lot of it out in front of one's hands in the 7½" ribbed barrel. That absorbs much of the kick. Furthermore, the old-fashioned 'plow-handle' grip, popularized on blackpowder Colt revolvers during the 19th century, is designed to roll in the hand as the gun fires, absorbing a lot of the recoil in the process. I use a slightly different grip, so that the gun remains in line with my forearms as it recoils, lifting them with it rather than rolling in my hands; but even so, properly held, it's not at all difficult to control. (For a discussion of why this old-fashioned grip shape works so well, scroll down to the section titled 'Grips' in this article. A comparison between the 'plow-handle' and the later 'Bisley' grip style can be found here, if you're interested; and if you'd like a modern perspective on the general utility of single-action revolvers from an instructor whose views I respect, see here.)
I had a great time. I loaded up with six full-power rounds and let fly from 50 yards at a human-head-size rock on the backstop, hitting it every time. From a gun that's new in my hands, without needing any sight adjustment, that sort of accuracy put a great big smile on my face as I turned back to the others. I offered them a chance to shoot it, but no-one wanted to take me up on it. (Perhaps the thunderous BOOM! of magnum rounds and the sight of the gun kicking high in my hands had something to do with that . . . ) I put a few more cylinders-full downrange, getting more comfortable with the gun. I was wearing shooting gloves, which I habitually use with heavy-recoiling weapons or for extended firing sessions to spare my hands; but this gun was shooting so well that I ended by taking off my gloves and firing one last cylinder of full-patch ammo with bare hands. It didn't hurt a bit, to my great satisfaction. I'll probably put a Pachmayr or Hogue grip on my revolver for long-term use, which will obviate the need for gloves; but suffice it to say, even before I do that, I'm very, very happy with my new toy!
When I got home, I told Miss D. with a great big grin on my face, "Recoil therapy wins again!" She needs no reassurance on that score, of course, having whiled away months of rehabilitation after serious injury by sitting at a shooting bench putting hundreds of holes in targets downrange. Given her past shoulder injury, she's a bit leery of trying a .44 Magnum handgun, which I can understand; but I think, if I load it up with much milder .44 Special rounds, she'll probably enjoy it too. We'll see.