My local K-Mart stocks two great "just-in-case" items sure to please every nimrod. First, for about one American dollar, you can get a great emergency poncho. They come in clear or orange, and only take up as much room as a pack of cigarettes. Ask for Code No 80-44-96 (UPC 4983363260). I carry several in my haversack at shoots, and they come in handy.
Another item available from most K-Marts is Hoppes brand Sporting and Safety Glasses, which can be worn over prescription glasses. For less then a portrait of our (or rather, your) own Abe Lincoln, they make a great back-up if you can't find your regular shooting glasses. I have both a smoke and yellow pair and they work just fine. And remember, N-SSA regulations require eye protection when on the firing line!
My newest and luckiest "hogleg" is a Navy Arms Remington Army Model .44. I picked two up at the Navy Arms booth at the Fall National in 1992, for $50.00 total. Seems Navy Arms was clearing out their inventory of mismatched kits, and after a quick order to Dixie Arms for about $15.00 worth of parts, I was in business twice. At the same National, I stopped by Jerry Balls' booth, and had the best looking one "coned" by Mr. Ball. Jerrys' work is top drawer, and the cone that he cuts in the barrel eases the shock that the ball leaving the cylinder receives, allowing a more gradual engagement between barrel and ball.
The kits need some tuning, however, which I'll try to describe. Photo A displays the "internals" of a Remington revolver. Starting with the hammer and moving clockwise there is the Finger and Finger screw. The Finger attaches to the hammer, and is designed to turn the cylinder to the next chamber as the hammer is cocked. If the finger point is not shaped correctly, it may not turn the cylinder correctly. Carefully fitting is required in order to arrive at an optimum shape. A finger which is too short or too long will result in chamber misalignment. The next pieces are the Trigger spring and screw. This piece provides the pressure to keep both the trigger and the Cylinder stop in their proper positions. The next part, the cylinder stop, is a key component in correcting or perfecting pistol accuracy. The cylinder stop operates as a lever on the trigger screw, shown just below the cylinder. When the hammer is at half-cock, the hammer pushes on the cylinder stop at its upper point and forces it down, releasing the squared button at the other end of the cylinder stop from the cylinder, freeing the cylinder itself to spin, as in loading and capping. When the hammer is at full cock, the cylinder stop springs back to lock the cylinder for firing. The button of the cylinder stop must fit each slot in the cylinder precisely. Pistolsmiths have anguished for more than a century to guarantee this junction, and a little work here goes a long way towards correcting errant shots.
The trigger (bottom of photo) is perhaps the most enigmatic of perplexing pistol parts. It must engage smoothly with the hammer, yet not be so quick to disengage and fire as to be dangerous or violate safety regulations. Care should be taken that the trigger does not bind with the cylinder stop in their shared junction on the trigger screw. The two adjoining surfaces of the trigger and cylinder stop can be polished to eliminate possible friction at that point.
The last element illustrated, the hammer screw, should not be overlooked. It should be straight, and not show signs of wear. The hammer and hammer screw must fit evenly, with no excess space. It is easier to have the hammer replaced then to have a bushing installed in the hammer screw port if problems are noticed here.
There are a lot of things happening inside your pistol when you cock the hammer and pull the trigger, and every bearing point and bearing surface plays an important part in the pistols' performance.
Photo B shows the Navy Arms Remington (top) and the Dixie Gun Works Rogers and Spencer for comparison. For years, I heard shooters and skirmishers say that the R&S was "stronger" then the other .44s. I finally got around to casting the chambers of both the Remington and the R&S this year, and the difference in my two specimens was minute. However, as Photo C shows, there is more metal between chambers in the R&S cylinder (right) then in the Remington. Since I don't load my pistols at the maximum level, I doubt that I'll ever really need to know or take advantage of this fact.
Photo D shows the sight comparison between my R&S and Remington (bottom). I've fitted my Remington with a dovetail front sight, a real advantage. If your shooting a Rogers and Spencer, don't forget that they style of your sight must stay the same, according to N-SSA regulations. NMLRA shooters are not restricted in regards to front sight replacement on the R&S.
Photo E shows perhaps my best discovery. My PLANO Model 757 Tackle Box makes a great pistol shooting box, with more than enough room for all the gear for a 25-yard and 50-yard pistol in one box. These boxes are available at most sporting goods outlets, for around twenty dollars.
Next month, I'll share some record keeping strategies that have helped me improve my pistol performance in the last year. Until then, shoot safe and have fun.
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