Shooting Times Magazine

September 1979



Load Too Hot for Diamondback

Q  I am thinking of purchasing a four-inch-barreled Colt Diamondback in .38 Special for all-around use. Could the Diamondback handle +P ammo once in a while for Woodchucks? I plan on using using 5.0 grains of Bullseye and the 125-grain Hornady bullet. Used all the time, would this load loosen parts and shorten the life of my gun?



A  The Diamondback is a small framed revolver, and +P ammunition should be used extremely sparingly in it. Your handload sounds much too hot to me. The Speer Reloading Manual Number Nine lists 3.0 grains of Bullseye as maximum with its 125-grain JHP bullet. A faster load with the 125-grainer would be 6.0 grains of Unique.





Who Can Restore Colt .32-20?

Q  I've had a single-action Colt .32-20 for many years. It is in fine shape mechanically, but the finish is badly worn. I don't shoot it much any more, but I would like to have it restored and put on display. Who could do this work for me.


A  Your best bet is to return it to the factory. They can reblue the parts originally blued and color-caseharden the frame. Colt prefers to blue the hammer and polish its sides bright, but it will attempt to put the casehardened finish on it if you are prepared to take a chance on it being warped in the process. There is a risk in redoing these old frames and hammers, and the customer must assume it, but I've had very good luck on several guns they've done for me.



Is Safety Transfer Bar Safe?

Q  I'm going to buy a Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Magnum as my nest gun. I read an article about the safety transfer bar in these guns that allows you to carry six cartridges instead of five. The article said that no safety device, such as this transfer bar, can be 100 percent safe, and that you should still only carry five rounds in these revolvers.

I'd like to have your professional opinion on this before I even purchase the gun. One very small mistake with a .44 Magnum can be costly.

A Yes it can, but I can't agree with the article that warns against carrying six cartridges in the New Model Super Blackhawk. With the hammer and trigger at rest, the transfer bar remains retracted and the hammer cannot strike the firing pin, even if struck a heavy blow.

I believe in this system and carry all my New Model Ruger single actions loaded with six rounds.


Grips for Colt Automatic

Q I have recently purchased a Colt .25-caliber pocket automatic which has one broken grip. Where can I find a replacement? These are the original hard-rubber grips.

The serial number of this pistol is 125151. How old is it, and would a factory reblue detract from its value as a collector's item?

A  Dixie Gun Works, Inc. (Box 130, Union City, TN 38261) stocks a variety of duplicate handgun grips and long-gun buttplates. They might be able to fit your Colt.

Your little gun was manufactured in 1915. Collectors ordinarily don't wan guns refinished.


Can Undercover Do the Job

Q  Bass fishing and hiking are my hobbies, and I have been looking for a small handgun to carry on these excursions, mainly for snakes but also for personal protection. I have a Charter Arms Undercover .38 Special. Can it handle the job?

A I think it would serve you very well. Carry it in a high-riding belt holster and load it with 158-grain semiwadcutter lead bullets over 5.0 grains of Unique. This is a powerful but safe load in your gun, assuming it's in good condition. 

I have deliberately omitted mention of shotshell loads because I prefer solid slugs to shot, even on snakes.



Wants New Service Rechambered

Q  My New Service Colt is in .455 Eley caliber and in excellent condition. The serial number is 80331. I would like to convert it to .45 Colt. Who would you recommend to do the job?

Could you also tell me how old it is and whether the gun will lose its value if the caliber is converted?

A  Your New Service was made in 1915, possibly for the British military. Collectors' interest in the New Service is on the upswing, but rechambering your gun would make it less desirable as collector's piece, more so as a shooter. If you insist on having it rechambered, Trapper Gun Inc. (28019 Harper St., Clair Shores, MN 48081) can do the job.


How Rare Is 1917 Colt in .45 ACP?

Q  I have a Model 1917 Colt .45 ACP, serial number 14821. I realize that more than 151,000 1917 Colts were produced, but what I would like to know is how many were produced in .45 ACP caliber, the approximate age of my gun, and your opinion of this model as a trail and field gun.

A  Although I've been informed that a few 1917 Colts were made in .45 Colt caliber, all the specimens I have seen were .45 ACP. I would assume that the vast majority of these guns were in this auto pistol caliber since they were conceived as a substitute standard for the 1911 automatic pistol during World War I.

Your gun is one of the last ones made and is approximately 60 years old. If ranges are limited to about 75 yards, it makes a good field gun when properly handloaded.


Ruger Owner Is in Luck!

Q  In 1975 I purchased a stainless-steel New Model Blackhawk single-action revolver. It is the convertible model with cylinders in both .357 Magnum and 9mm.

I have been told by reliable sources that Ruger does not make a convertible model in stainless steel. Will you please set the record straight and let me know if this revolver was produced for commercial sale or if it's a pre-production prototype.

A  You're in luck. I checked with a Ruger collector and learned your revolver is one of a run of only about 400 to 600 such guns. It should bring a considerable premium over its retail price.

Those interested in collectors' Rugers should contact and join  the Ruger Collectors Association, Box 290, Southport, CT 06490).


It's a "Parts" Gun

Q  I have a Colt single action which I believe is in original condition, although various so-called pistoleros and gunshop owners tell me it's not and then try to buy it. The black rubber grips are worn smooth, and the bore of the 5-inch barrel is stamped "Colt Frontier Sixshooter" on the left side. The frame just ahead of the trigger guard is stamped 180352 and the trigger guard and butt are stamped 140386. Can you tell me what I've got?

A  You have a gun made up of mixed parts. The barrel is .44-40 caliber and the frame was originally on a gun made in 1898. The trigger guard and backstrap were originally on a gun made in 1891. The cylinder should be in .44-40, but I have no way of knowing without examining it. Collectors' interest in such "parts" guns is lower than in guns that have all original parts.


Can Bearcat Handle Stingers?

Q  I have recently purchased a Ruger Bearcat .22 revolver with the aluminum frame. I have several Rugers and I wanted this one to add to my collection as well as to shoot.

Is the new high-velocity CCI Stinger .22 ammo too much for the aluminum-framed Bearcat?

A  According to a CCI spokesman, the Stinger ammunition is loaded to the same chamber pressure as its regular .22 Long Rifle high-speed ammunition, meaning it would be perfectly safe in your Bearcat. It seems to me that it has a bit more muzzle flash than standard high-speed ammo, and it's possible that you would eventually get some gas cutting on the aluminum topstrap over the barrel/cylinder juncture. But it would probably take a great deal of shooting for this to manifest itself.


Hunter Needs Right Scope Power

Q  I will be hunting deer next season in Oklahoma brush country. My gun will be a Smith & Wesson Model 58 .41 Magnum with a four-inch barrel. A Thompson/Center 1X or 3X scope will be attached.

Which of these scope powers do you recommend and what is the maximum effective range of this gun for deer?

A  I'm not particularly enamored with the idea of using a scoped handgun in the brush. Scoped handguns are a little slow to line up, and your buck can often bolt behind cover before you can get the crosshairs on him. For this type of hunting I would choose factory, Patridge-type sights.

But if you insist on a scope, the lower powered one would be preferable because it has a wide field of view. As a general rule you should limit you shots on deer-sized game to around 100 yards maximum, although slightly longer shots can be essayed under ideal conditions. That is, of course, if you have mastered your handgun and shoot it well.



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