Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Range Report - The Ruger Mk III, and Reinforcing the Basics

Today was the first day at the range with the new Ruger Mk III. The verdict?

I love it. Just like I thought I would. The trigger is crisp, clean, and surprising (like it's supposed to be). This pistol performs better than I will ever be capable of. Having grown up on my dad's Mk I, I expected the Mk III to be a superb gun, and it actually surpassed my expectations. It was worth every penny - especially when you consider the fact that a brick of 500 rounds of .22LR costs less than a box of 50 rounds of either .45 or .380.

This trip, before I fired the Ruger, I took the opportunity to test the Hornady Critical Defense carry rounds I got for the Kel-Tec. My main concern was that they feed and fire reliably. I don't have enough for real practice with those, and they're expensive ($22 for 25 rounds). With only 25 rounds, I had exactly enough to shoot 2 magazines and have enough left to load 2 magazines and have one in the pipe for carry. So that's all I shot - 12 rounds. I had no problems.

I did, however, notice that I was shooting extrememly low. I had printed targets on regular paper, and while I was aiming at the bullseye, I was only just hitting the bottom of the paper at 10 yards (well, 10 paces really, but close enough). This confused me, because last time I took this pistol out, I was grouping right around my point of aim at 7 yards (it was a big group, but that's just me, and why I need to practice more - thus, the Mk III purchase).

Once I had run a few magazines through the Ruger, I got the Kel-Tec out again, and loaded up with the Winchester white box ammo I picked up last week, and tried to figure out what was going on. The first round surprised me - the recoil was noticably heavier with the Winchester than the Hornady. Then I realized, the FMJ rounds are more massive than the JHP, so recoil would naturally be stronger. Somewhere in the second magazine, I realized something:

I had developed a flinch.

It was a #6, actually. I was dipping the muzzle downward just before the trigger break. I also realized that I had been doing the same thing with the Ruger, but had corrected it without even realizing it at the time.

You should understand something. I have been shooting since my parents decided I was old enough to do so safely - around 6 or 7 years old. So when I realized I had developed a flinch, I saw it as a personal affront. How dare my neuromuscular system do that to me? I was determined to fix the problem, right now!

I spent the rest of the evening - and the rest of the box of .380 - working my way through that. By the time I got towards the end of the box, I was once again clustering my shots around the point of aim. I also learned that 10 yards may be better than 7 for reinforcing the basics - it seems to make me work harder to compensate for my essential tremors, and therefore makes me more successful at doing so. I was actually getting better grouping than at 10 yards than at 7.

On the other hand, the longer I shoot, the worse the tremors get. Towards the end of the box, I had a couple of flyers, one of which was fairly devastating (click to embiggenate):

If you can't tell from the crappy cell phone pic, one of my shots cut the wooden upright I staple the cardboard to (and yes, that's an old pizza box - it was convenient, and, most importantly, free). It wasn't low, though. Here's a close up of the damage. You can see there were actually 3 shots that hit the upright - one clean hole, one graze, and the killer shot:

I took that as a sign that it was time to go home.

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