Category Archives: Rimfires

It’s Rimfire Time Again

Practice With A .22 LR Will Help Keep Your Eye Sharp.

When I see 20-round boxes of the most popular centerfire cartridges selling for $40, $50 or more, the simple cost of shooting centerfires for fun and practice is outrageous. It’s bound to have a long-term deleterious effect on the shooting sports from the standpoint of bringing new and younger shooters into the game as well as keeping existing shooters from heading to the exits. But wait, it needn’t be that way. It’s rimfire time again. That little cartridge celebrating its 156th birthday this year may just be the game changer we’ve been needing at this juncture in time.

Let’s look at the unique virtues of the little rimfire. It’s the first type of cartridge returning to dealers’ shelves in any quantity, and nothing can, or will ever, touch it in terms of cost-per-round fired. More importantly, the .22 rimfire and the rifles and handguns chambered for it can pretty well replace centerfires 100 percent for target shooting from 5 to 100 yards. That’s a bold statement, but it’s true.

I used to chuckle when all the centerfire shooters on the line were chasing that magical 1 minute-of-angle at 100 yards, and I could simply uncase a M1922M1 Springfield .22 with a No. 48C Lyman receiver sight, load it with an old lot of Winchester/Western standard-velocity ammunition and rap out a 5-shot, 1-inch group almost consistently. The point is the rimfire round is the most refined cartridge we have. It should be. We’ve been making it for 156 years and produce billions of rounds each year, plus the rimfire firearms today, in general, are the best we’ve ever had.

Just consider some of the outstanding rimfire clones that have been produced in the last few years that can serve you as a 1:1 substitute within a range of 100 yards for some of the most popular contemporary firearms seen on the target ranges.

A Model 52 Winchester Sporter is a great rimfire understudy for a big-game rifle.

The Walther Arms rimfire clone of a Colt M4 carbine (above) is remarkably
accurate in all details. Chiappa’s M1 Carbine (below, bottom gun) looks,
feels and functions just like an original..

Can’t find inexpensive .223 or .308 ammunition for your ARs? Check out the outstanding rimfire AR clones offered by Walther Arms, Ruger, Mossberg, Smith & Wesson, Legacy Sports and others. The Colt M4 carbine, UZI, Colt 1911A1, 1911A1 Rail gun, 1911 Gold Cup, HK MP5 and HK 416 rifle clones by Walther Arms, Inc. are such exacting copies of the centerfire versions that you wouldn’t know by looking at them or handling them that they’re rimfires until you’d examined what’s loaded in their magazines. ISSC’s rendition of the FN SCAR, Chiappa’s sensational rimfire version of the M1 Carbine, Sig Sauer’s P229 and ATI-GSG’s Colt are equally remarkable in their exacting detail to the originals.

Typically in these advanced rimfire models, all the controls duplicate those of their centerfire counterparts so their operation is familiar and instinctive to a shooter. The rimfire models also tend to share the same weight and balance of their centerfire brethren. In fact, because a shooter will fire many hundreds of rounds of rimfire to every single centerfire round fired, the use of a rimfire clone is a terrific training tool to totally familiarize a shooter with a specific firearm design and its operation.

Another advantage of the rimfire clone is its lack of muzzle blast and recoil which enables and encourages a shooter to focus on their sight picture and trigger release. I spend a lot of time on public ranges, and the predominant firearm seen on the rifle line today is some model of an AR, or “modern sporting rifle.” Short barrels and flash hiders generate an intense level of noise, particularly if the shooting benches have a roof overhead. It’s a real distraction for concentrating on the fundamentals of good shooting technique.

Walther’s HK MP5 rimfire copy is about as close to the real thing as you can come.

I’ve made it a point of observing fellow AR shooters—where they post their targets, how they operate their guns and how they group their shots on target. AR targets are typically posted at 50, rather than 100 yards. I see a lot of trigger jerking and flinching going on, and the typical groups at 50 yards don’t carry any bragging rights with them. It’s a shame. Most shooters would be better off if they took a rimfire clone out to the country and did some casual plinking with it, without being rooted to a bench and without being hammered by the muzzle blast of an adjacent gun.

There are enough rimfire models available today to serve as inexpensive, training tools for any centerfire handgun or rifle. I shoot a Model 52 Sporter as a big game rifle clone, a Walther Colt M4 as an AR clone, an ATI German Sport Guns .22 caliber Model 1911, Legacy Sports M22 as an understudy to the Glock line and their Mk22 (FN SCAR clone) and a Smith & Wesson Kit Gun as a J-frame, .38 Special clone. The only clone I regret not buying when it presented itself in a local gun shop was a genuine Model 1873 Winchester in .22 rimfire.

So, if you haven’t been following the clone market recently, you’ve been missing out on a lot of inexpensive, rimfire fun and a ready and reliable way to hone your skill sets. Most importantly, the rimfires will keep us shooting when the centerfire crowd stays home. It’s rimfire time again!
By Holt Bodinson

ATI’s GSG Model 1911 (above, top gun) replicates models like Remington’s “Enhanced”
1911 .45. Legacy Sports’ M22 (below) is an ideal rimfire trainer for the centerfire Glock models.

American Tactical Imports
(German Sport Guns)
100 Airpark Dr., Rochester, NY 14624
(800) 290-0065

Chiappa Firearms Ltd. (M1 Carbine)
6785 W 3rd St., Dayton, OH 45417
(937) 835-4055

Legacy Sports International (M22 & Mk22)
4750 Longley Ln., Ste. 208, Reno, NV 89502
(800) 553-4229

Mitchell’s Mausers
P.O. Box 9295
Fountain Valley, CA 92728
(800) 274-4124

O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc.
7 Grasso Ave., North Haven, CT 06473
(203) 230-5300

18 Industrial Dr.
Exeter, NH 03833
(603) 772-2302

Smith & Wesson
2100 Roosevelt Ave.
Springfield, MA 01104
(800) 331-0852

Sturm, Ruger & Co.
411 Sunapee St., Newport, NH 03773
(603) 865-2442

Walther Arms, Inc.
7700 Chad Colley Blvd., Fort Smith, AR 72916
(479) 242-8500

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GUNS Jan 2014

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Game Gettin’ .22

Ruger’s New “Hunter” Mk III.

It began with a hand drill and ended in 1949 in receivership. The rotary hand drill that Bill Ruger designed and produced in the late ’40s under the newly formed Ruger Corporation featured a Luger-looking handle and frame composed of two, inexpensive, steel sheet stampings that were welded together to form a comfortable grip. It was a clever, modern design which even incorporated a magazine well, storage compartment for drill bits accessed through a latch in the base of the grip. Fortunately for us, Ruger’s carpentry tool business failed because his quality hand tool products were simply too expensive in a very competitive market.

On the other hand, that first failed company had given Ruger invaluable experience in manufacturing, marketing, cost accounting and financial management that would prove essential to success with the formation of the Sturm, Ruger & Company in 1949. And that welded, sheet metal, drill grip? Well, it and the machinery and dies that formed it would soon be put to a higher use.

With a $50,000 cash infusion from his new socialite partner, Alexander McCormick Sturm, Ruger was able to acquire some of the assets of the defunct Ruger Corporation, including the drill grip tooling, and start building his dream pistol in Southport, Connecticut. With some slight modifications, that old, rotary drill grip frame was morphed into the new grip frame of the $37.50 Ruger .22 semi-automatic that established the company and has been their bread-and-butter product for the last 64 years.

Going head-to-head with the established Colt Woodsman and the High Standard lines, the Luger-looking, Ruger .22 pistol is an inspired design, inexpensive to make, and reveals a touch of the romantic side of Bill Ruger whose retrograde designs have captured the hearts of generations of shooters.

The essential elements of the design consist of two steel stampings welded together to form the frame; a receiver made from tubular steel enclosing a round, reciprocating bolt; tough music wire springs used throughout and the only screws in the fix-sighted, Standard model are the retaining screws for the grip panels.

Now 64 years later, when you think about all the non-Ruger aftermarket parts, accessories and full dressed custom Ruger pistols that are based on the company’s basic production model, it’s refreshing to watch the company begin to design and market a variety of creative and distinctive autoloaders which have now reached the “Mark III” level.

While the original blued “Standard” model with a 4-3/4- or 6-inch barrel and fixed sights is still in the line, small improvements have been consistently incorporated into the design over its lifetime. The rear frame around both sides of the cocking piece has been scalloped to facilitate a better grip on the bolt when it’s being retracted. A bolt stop has been added that automatically holds the bolt open when the last shot has been fired. An improved safety now locks the sear so that the pistol can be loaded or unloaded or the bolt operated in a completely safe condition. The magazine has been beefed up, and a new magazine latch has been added. Stainless steel models have been introduced into the line.

The latest improvements include a loaded chamber indicator, a key operated internal safety lock, a magazine disconnect and the “California hump”—a projection on the magazine mechanically connected to an arm on the trigger preventing the shooter from seating or removing a magazine if their finger is on the trigger.

While the Standard, Target, Competition and 22/45 models have been around for a few years, Ruger’s new model for 2013 is the Mark III Hunter. It’s a gorgeous handful with very distinctive styling.

Three elements of the “Hunter” immediately catch your eye—the new laminate target grip, the fluted barrel and the fiber optic sight system.

The laminate target grip is also found on the “Target” model with its 5-1/2-inch bull barrel. The new grip looks more massive than it feels and it feels very good. The fingergrooves are placed just right so that all your fingers are supported which adds tremendous stability to your grip. Also, the proper grip angle has been maintained so that when you raise the pistol to eye level, you’re right on target. On the other hand, if a customer didn’t care for the new grip, Ruger offers the Hunter model with a traditional, slab-sided, checkered, laminate grip as well.

The 6.88-inch fluted bull barrel offers the best of both worlds—a long sight radius and just enough weight forward to give the pistol some stay-on-target stability. In fact, the neutral balance point of the Hunter model with iron sights is right at the trigger finger. Whoever designed the overall package really is a pistolero who knows his stuff.

Designed for the hunt, the Hunter’s fiber optic sight system produces a fast sight picture, which is very visible during those dawn and dusk light conditions when small game tends to be out and about. The fully adjustable rear sight sports a shallow “V” sight blade in the “Express” sight mode with an eye catching white index line. The front ramp of the Hunter carries a red fiber optic tube. Thoughtfully, the Hunter comes supplied with five extra light tubes—two red and three green.

Fortunately for us, Ruger’s tool manufacturing business failed, but the racy grip of his rotary drill soon returned as the stylish grip frame of his new .22 auto. Photo: Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.


I’m conflicted about the sighting system. Strange as it might seem, I (and others) see two different sight pictures served up by the front light tube depending upon the ambient lighting condition. The metal housing that supports the light tube is squared off at the top, and if I’m in the shade, the front sight looks like a rectangular red post. If I’m in the sun, the front sight looks like a day-glow red dot. If I see the sight as a post, I can take a 6 o’clock hold. If I see it as a dot, I can center the dot on the target. Of course, this translates into two different zeroes, and when shooting the dot, I have a difficult time controlling vertical stringing.

If it were my gun, I can think of three solutions. One, switch out the fiber optic dot with a smaller, metal, gold bead which would go ever-so-nicely with the shallow “V” of the express sight. Two, keep the fiber optic front dot and replace the “V” rear sight blade with a conventional “U” notched blade having two green fiber optic dots on either side of the “U” notch. This would provide a very visible and accurate sight picture of three fiber optic dots lined up on target. It would also eliminate the illusion of seeing a red front post. The last option, although not my favorite when it comes to keeping handguns handy, would be to add an optical sight.

For the owner who wants to mount optics on their Hunter, the Ruger is packaged with an optics base that screws down in front of the rear sight and offers five cross-slots for mounting flexibility.

How does it shoot? The latest Ruger triggers are fantastic. Over a Lyman electronic trigger scale, the trigger on the new Hunter averaged a crisp 4 pounds, 4 ounces. It doesn’t get much better than that, and I really congratulate Ruger for the improvements they’ve made in their triggers right across the board.

Group shooting at 25 yards from a rest with the factory sights in the shade so I could focus on a post rather than a dot produced the following 5-shot results: Winchester 555: 5/8-inch, CCI Mini-Mag: 3/4-inch, CCI Select: 7/8-inch, CCI Quiet-22 Segmented HP: 1-1/8-inch. Surprisingly, the Hunter would not group Winchester Power-Point or Federal Gold Medal UltraMatch.

Some new ammunition I’ve been experimenting with is CCI’s new “Quiet-22 Segmented HP” ammunition as a small-game load. Testing it in wet newspaper, I found the bullet begins to separate in the first inch of penetration and is fully segmented into three petals by the time it reaches 2-1/2 inches. From a pistol barrel, the round is not that quiet, but it really performs on small game as that bunny in the picture will attest; however, with a quoted MV of 710 fps, CCI’s Quiet ammunition will not cycle a semiautomatic action so you’re on manual controls!

Ruger’s new Hunter model is a neat addition to the Mark III line. It’s a good looking handgun with a great trigger and superbly accurate. Bunnies, watch out!
By Holt Bodinson


MAKER: Sturm, Ruger & Co.
200 Ruger Rd.
Prescott, AZ 86301
(928) 778-6555
Action: Blow-back, semi-auto, Caliber: .22 Long Rifle, Capacity: 10+1, Barrel Length: 6.88″, fluted, Overall Length: 11″, Weight: 43.7 ounces, Sights: Adj. rear, fiber optic front bead, accessory optics base, Stocks: Target laminate, Finish: Stainless, Price: $729

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Majestic Arms Parts

Go Ahead And Give your Ruger a Makeover. You Can do It!

Introduced in 1949 at the princely price of $37.50, Ruger’s Standard and Target model .22 pistols have been the best selling rimfire autoloaders for 64 years, and sales of this fine handling, reliable gem aren’t slowing down one iota. In fact, every new generation of the Ruger pistol, which now is at the Mark III level, improves on the design of its predecessors, but there’s always room for improvement.

That’s where Dino and Joanne Longueira of Majestic Arms come into play with a line of ingenious parts and accessories that not only improve the basic Ruger pistol but are designed for problem-free installation by the owner.

Because of the hassle involved in removing the Ruger bolt from the rear of the frame, I suspect 95 percent of Ruger owners clean their pistols from the muzzle end. It’s a solution but not ideal if you care about keeping that all-important crown at the muzzle perfectly protected and unmarred.

If you’ve never fieldstripped a Ruger, here’s what’s involved. At the rear of the backstrap is a takedown-latch. Prying open the latch allows you to rotate the mainspring housing and attached bolt-stop pin down and out from the frame. The bolt-stop pin, which is that big, dome-shaped, pin protruding through the top of the frame to the rear of the back sight, is what retains the slotted bolt in the frame.

Once the mainspring housing assembly is removed, the Ruger bolt can be withdrawn out the rear of the receiver, permitting the owner to clean the bore from the chamber end. What causes a lot of people grief is reinstalling the complete mainspring housing assembly properly in the frame and so they end up cleaning the pistol from the muzzle.

Dino Longueira of Majestic Arms came up with a better solution. Why not design a 2-piece bolt-stop pin that can be unscrewed from the top of the frame, freeing the bolt so the bolt can be readily withdrawn out the rear of the frame without having to remove the complete mainspring housing assembly?

Bingo! Longueira calls it his “3.2 Conversion Speed Strip Kit,” and he sells a jillion of them. The kit will fit all Ruger .22 auto pistols and consists of two assemblies: a 2-part, stainless steel bolt-stop pin with Allen wrench and a new stainless steel hammer and hammer pivot bushing. Replacing the solid, factory bolt-stop pin with Majestic’s 2-piece, fast-dismount pin is a snap, making removal of the bolt and cleaning from the breech end fast and easy.

Next, why replace the hammer with its improved pivot bushing which requires removing the receiver from the frame, punching out some retaining pins and transferring the existing hammer mainspring strut to the new hammer? The answer is that Majestic’s new hammer and pivot bushing reduce the take-up of the 2-stage trigger by 65 percent and permit the owner to eliminate the magazine disconnect feature of the Mark III. The installation of a new hammer might sound a bit imposing, but Majestic supplies a well-illustrated set of instructions that will walk you successfully through the process. They also offer a “Quick Strike Firing Pin” to reduce lock time. And that’s just the beginning of Majestic’s Ruger renovations.

The bolt stop pin retains the slotted bolt in the receiver. Majestic’s 2-piece bolt
stop pin allows the bolt to be removed without further disassembly.

Majestic’s hammer and bushing reduces trigger take-up by 65 percent. The factory
hammer strut needs to be moved to the new hammer. A bench block is handy for
driving out the pin.

Majestic’s large, checkered bolt release is much easier to manipulate.

Solid Parts

The Ruger factory bolt release is really skimpy and slick. It’s an adequate release, I suppose, if you wear your Ruger in a very, tight-fitting, leather holster, but if you don’t, get Majestic’s extended bolt release which gives your thumb a solid, 90-degree, checkered platform to press down on.

Same goes for the factory magazine releases on the Mk I, II and III. They’re there, but the Majestic Arms replacement releases are more tactile and easier to operate.

Speaking of magazines, if you own a Mark III model, you’ll find a hump at the top of the magazine. It’s fondly referred to as the “California hump.” I know what you’re thinking, but that’s not the point. The hump is mechanically connected to an arm on the trigger so you cannot seat or remove a magazine if your finger is on the trigger; however, you can accidentally insert a Mark III magazine backwards. If you do, the hump slips over the inside of the frame and the only way to remove the magazine is to rip it out, destroying the magazine in the process.

Majestic Arms offers two solutions: their own brand of Mk II and Mk III magazines which eliminate the “hump” and feature an improved follower spring and extended aluminum base pad. On the bottom of the base pad is Majestic Arms’ engraved logo featuring a prominent arrow pointing in the correct direction for inserting the magazine. The second option offered is an extended, arrow engraved, base pad by itself that can be installed in seconds on existing Mk II or Mk III magazines. As Dino Longueira puts it, “Majestic points the way!”

If you’re the owner of a Mk II or Mk III .22/45 Ruger, you’re not forgotten. Majestic offers both their own make of magazines with extended base pads or the base pads themselves for the Mk II and Mk III .22/45 models.

And if you buy an economy pack of two Majestic magazines of any design, they throw in a neat loading tool.

One of the easiest, Ruger upgrades Majestic Arms offers is checkered, cocobolo grips available with either a thumb rest for right-handed shooters or with ambidextrous swells on both the left and right sides. Cocobolo is a richly grained wood, and it really dresses up a Ruger.

Finally, for 10/22 and Charger pistol owners, Majestic Arms offers a unique, lightweight “Aluma-Lite” barrel in a smorgasbord of color finishes. The Aluma-Lite barrel consists of a precision, Lothar Walther, rifled, steel liner encased in an aluminum shroud. I haven’t yet shot one, but Majestic claims the accuracy potential is 1/2-inch groups at 50 yards.

New products currently under development at Majestic Arms are a competition trigger and an extended slide racker for the Ruger pistol.

Of course, if you don’t feel particularly handy or just don’t have the time to fiddle with your Rugers, Majestic offers a complete line of inexpensive gunsmithing services. In fact, all of the modifications discussed can be carried out on the frame alone so by removing the serial numbered, barreled receiver, the frame can simply be shipped to Majestic Arms directly by the owner.
Neat company, neat people and a neat line of products to upgrade a neat pistol.
By Holt Bodinson

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Majestic Arms Ltd.
101A Ellis St., Staten Island, NY 10307
(718) 356-6765

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Smith & Wesson’s New Model 41

Return Of A .22 LR Gem.

It took Smith & Wesson 105 years to deliver a .22 semi-automatic to the shooting public, but when they did, it was a doozie. Introduced in 1957, the Smith & Wesson Model 41 was an overnight sensation, and frankly, the old wheelgun company was caught completely off guard. It took 3+ years of production to come even nearly satisfying the demand for what was then considered to be the finest quality, .22 semi-automatic made in America. Now, 56 years later, the famous target-quality, Smith & Wesson Model 41 has been given a remarkable facelift by S&W’s Performance Center. You wouldn’t know the old girl.

The Smith & Wesson Performance Center is unique in the firearms industry. Composed of senior craftsmen, it is has proved to be a hotbed for the development and production of innovative, refined and, in many cases, very highly stylized handguns and long guns. If it’s stamped “Performance Center” it’s a special creation and available only in limited quantities.

The skeletonized front sight (above) is a racy concept from the Performance Center staff,
providing a crisp, clear front sight. The Model 41’s rear sight (below) is uncluttered, clear
and micro-adjustable.


The Performance Center is also the source of precision gunsmithing services at S&W to upgrade, enhance and refurbish customers’ revolvers and pistols as well as being the source of the “Pro Series” of competition enhanced revolvers and pistols that qualify as “factory stock” in competitive matches.

The mission statement of the Performance Center is worth reviewing. It states, “The S&W Performance Center builds firearms of uncompromising quality for sophisticated firearms users with specific expectations and exclusive applications. To meet their requirements, Performance Center gunsmiths conceptualize, engineer and handcraft our products from the ground up. The team comprises the ‘best of the best’ with an average length of service with S&W of over 23 years.”

From that mission statement flows a stream of competition-quality revolvers and semi-autos, the familiar Thunder Ranch specials, unique M&P AR’s and those really exotic models like the .460 XVR revolver with its spacey 14-inch barrel and mounted bipod. I think the key word at the Performance Center is “conceptualize.” The ability of the Performance Center craftsmen to dream up a completely new design or to refurbish and refine an existing design really gives Smith & Wesson a creative edge in the industry. The new Model 41 is a perfect example.

When it made its debut in 1957, the Model 41 had really been rolling around the course for 10 years. In 1947, then newly elected Smith & Wesson president, Swedish-born engineer, Carl Hellstrom, refocused the war-weary company on the design and production of entirely new lines of handguns. Two Model 41 experimental prototypes, the X-41 and X-42, were produced that year. For the next 10 years at venues like Camp Perry, Hellstrom subjected the prototypes to the rigors of competition and to the design recommendations of experienced handgun competitors.

When finally released in 1957 as the Model 41, Smith & Wesson’s first .22 semi-auto, was a highly refined target design and not inexpensive.
Leafing through a 1961 edition of Stoeger’s Shooter’s Bible, I found the Model 41 carried a retail price of $100 while S&W’s top-of-the-line, K-22 target revolver was pegged at $81 retail. At the time, Smith & Wesson also marketed a plainer model of the semi-automatic, designated the Model 46, for $85, but competitors wanted all the bells and whistles the Model 41 offered. The Model 46 was discontinued.
As originally released, the Model 41 sported a 7-1/2-inch barrel with a muzzlebrake and a 3/8-ounce barrel weight. A lightweight 5-inch field barrel was soon added as an accessory from the parts department. In the years that followed, a variety of barrel lengths, weights and even extended sighting radius models were offered, including a .22 Short model for International Rapid Fire competition.

Certainly one of the unique features of the Model 41 is the ease with which an owner can change out barrels. You merely unload the pistol, lock back the slide, rotate the triggerguard down, lift off the barrel, replace the barrel, close the triggerguard and release the slide. It’s that simple. Machined tolerances on the Model 41 have always been held to a minimum, and the unique barrel retention system is rigid and wear-compensating.

The new Model 41 is an eyeful. Speak about styling! From its integral Picatinny rib to its skeletonized front Patridge sight, it bespeaks character.

In a day when optics are almost essential at competitive events, it was a masterful touch to machine a Picatinny rib into the 5-1/2-inch barrel. During my testing, that new rib just demanded some good optics, and I complied with the addition of a reliable 4×28 Bausch & Lomb pistol scope. On the other hand, the micro-adjustable, factory open sights are exceptionally uncluttered and clear, just great for precision target work if open sights are required.

Because it’s always been first and foremost a competitive handgun, the Model 41 has routinely been factory fitted with a light, crisp trigger, adjustable for minimal overtravel with an Allen head screw positioned at the back of the triggerguard. Smith & Wesson still supplies an Allen wrench with its pistol so it’s worth fiddling with the factory trigger stop adjustment a bit to suit your fancy.

The Performance Center specifications call for a factory adjusted, weight-of-pull, ranging between 2-3/4 and 3-1/4 pounds. The trigger of the test gun averaged exactly a crisp 2-3/4 pounds on a Lyman electronic gauge. It’s a great Performance Center trigger and easy to master.
If you are a lefty, one of the nice features of the Model 41 stock is that it’s ambidextrous. The controls are right-handed, but there’s a comfortable thumb rest shaped into both sides of the checkered target grips.

How did the racy Model 41 with its 5-1/2-inch button-rifled barrel perform? Over a rest at 25 yards mounted with the 4×28 B&L scope, the Model 41 loved the German-made Wolf Match Target load, grouping five shots into 1/2 to 3/4 inch. CCI’s consistently accurate Mini-Mag load produced groups in the 7/8- 1-inch range. CCI’s Mini-Mag or Winchester Power-Point would be my hands-down choices for small game hunting, and that’s not the first time I’ve made that observation.

Rimfires are choosy, and the Model 41 is no exception. There’s no right answer, even when shooting the same model side-by-side. For accuracy, you just have to experiment with each individual piece and then buy as much ammo, hopefully from the same lot, as you can afford (or is available these days).

Depending upon demand, Smith & Wesson’s classic Model 41 comes and goes. There have been years when the Model 41 was never even produced. This is not one of those years, and this is certainly not just another Model 41. It’s a certified Performance Center model, and if history is any teacher, it won’t be offered for an extended period of time.
By Holt Bodison

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Guns july

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Overlooked Rimfires Gem

The High Standard Sentinel.

I enjoy cruising the used gun sections of our local gun shops for those hidden gems often just passed over because no one knows a thing about them and often, what they do know is simply passed on misinformation. During the last year, a remarkable rimfire revolver with real character begged for a new home, and I simply obliged it because the price was so right. The 1956 era, R-101 Model High Standard Sentinel I picked up is innovative in features often unnoticed and unappreciated.

To fully appreciate High Standard’s Sentinel, you have to know something about its designer, Harry H. Sefried II. Sefried was one of the most creative firearm designers of the last half of the 20th century. At the end of WWII, he worked with Marsh “Carbine” Williams at Winchester, and then joined High Standard where he designed their leading models such as the Supermatic Citation and Olympic as well as the Sentinel revolver.

In 1959, he joined Sturm, Ruger & Co., where he served as chief engineer from 1959 to 1979. For 20 years, Sefried was Bill Ruger’s alter ego when it came to fleshing out and refining designs that Ruger conceived. He played a prominent, personal role in the development and design of the .44 Magnum carbine, the Security-Six, the Redhawk, the Old Army, the Hawkeye and the Mark II pistol, but his greatest achievement was the design of the sensational, utterly reliable, 10-shot rotary magazine for the 10/22.

rimfire 1

The cylinder is locked into place by a spring-loaded ejector rod (above). Pulling
forward on the ejector rod unlocks the little 9-shooter. Sefried’s unique ratchet
design (below) minimizes wear on the ratchet and pawl. Lock time of the Sentinel is
extraordinarily short.

rimfire 2

The Sentinel

Sefried designed the 9-shot Sentinel sometime in 1955. It was first introduced as the J. C. Higgins Model 88 by Sears Roebuck with a price tag of $37.50. Additional private label versions were produced for Western Auto and Col. Rex Applegate’s Mexican arms company, ARMAMEX.

Looking casually at a common Sentinel, it doesn’t appear to be a remarkable design. In fact, casting an eye on the black anodized, cast-aluminum frame of the 1956 era R-101 model Sentinel pictured here, it looks cheap. Cheap in price only. The devil is in the details.

Notice that there are no visible screws holding it together, just like a classic Mauser ’96 Broomhandle. Actually, there is one. It’s the screw securing the grip to the frame, but otherwise, the whole gun is held together by the single, visible hammer pin, securing the triggerguard, fire control system and grip to the main frame.

Notice the unusual cylinder ratchet Sefried designed. There are no conventional ratchet teeth in the early Sentinels. In their place are nine, recessed detents at the rear of the star extractor that are engaged by a conventional pawl. The rotation and alignment of the cylinder are precise, and by eliminating the conventional sharp teeth of the ratchet, wear is minimized in the innovative Sefried ratchet and pawl system, which extended life of the gun The grooved cylinder is counterbored to better support and encase the head of the rimfire cases. Since the hammer nose of the Sentinel is the firing pin, to prevent the hammer nose from striking the rear of the cylinder and possibly fracturing if dry fired, there is a relief groove milled at the 12 o’clock position on each chamber. The relief groove also serves as a positive channel for escaping gas should the case head rupture when struck by the hammer nose.

The cylinder crane locking mechanism is unique. It consists of a spring-loaded cylindrical shoulder on the cylinder ejector rod which is pulled tightly into a locking recess milled into the frame. To unlock the cylinder, you simply pull forward on the ejector rod and swing it out.

Perfect Grip

To me, the pièce de résistance of Sefried’s design is the grip itself. Sefried stocked the Sentinel exceedingly well. In my opinion, the square-butt grip of the early model Sentinels is the finest, general-purpose grip ever fitted to a handgun. The shape and inspired contours of the grip fit any hand, large or small. The angle to the frame is perfect, making the Sentinel a natural pointer. If you come across a square-butt stocked Sentinel, pick it up and get the feel of what words cannot convey.

The Sentinel was in production for almost 30 years and was offered in a variety of model designations, barrel lengths, mechanical features, finishes and chambered for the .22 Magnum as well as .22 Long Rifle. One of the more interesting and picturesque variations was the 1957 introduction of the “Dura-Tone” snubnose model with a 2-3/8-inch barrel, bobbed hammer and rounded grip. The cylinders, triggers and hammers were nickel-plated and the frames were anodized in either gold, turquoise or pink finishes. Fitted with white, smooth grips, the “Dura-Tone” snubbies were delivered in a lined presentation case. The ladies loved ’em.

The Sentinel design was also morphed into a variety of western-styled models with names like “Durango,” “Hombre” and “Longhorn.”
How does my early 1956 Model Sentinel with its 3-inch barrel shoot? The Sentinel sports a super fast action. I don’t know how fast its fast is, but the lock time is sensational as is its weight-of-pull in single-action mode which measures 2-1/2 pounds on a Lyman electronic scale. The short, snappy, double-action pull has to be mastered though. The pull-through to the release point is very short and precise.

The Sentinel sights are excellent and highly visible. The windage adjustable rear sight features a wide, square notch providing welcome daylight on both sides of the ramped front blade. The sights are factory zeroed for 25 yards, and at 25 yards, firing standard velocity ammunition, which my Sentinel favors; I can keep five shots within 1-3/8 to 2 inches.

Is this a great plinking gun? Yes, it is, with nine rounds between reloads! Often found in good condition and priced cheap, the early, Sefried Sentinels are worthy, little rimfires with intriguing, advanced design features that largely go unnoticed. Keep your frugal eye out for one.
By Holt Bodinson

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The Model 1

Smith & Wesson’s Little Rimfire.

For the millions of rimfire shooters who burn through billions of .22 rimfire cartridges every year, there is a story to be told—the 19th century story of the development of the world’s most popular cartridge which also can claim to be the oldest rimfire and most useful cartridge still in existence. The story revolves around three main players: Louis Nicholas Flobert (1819-1894), Horace Smith (1808-1893) and Daniel Baird Wesson (1825-1906). Each played a significant role in not only the development of the rimfire cartridge but in the design of the firearms that chambered it.

Louis Flobert was a French gunsmith who took the percussion cap, reformed it a bit with a slight rim, added a 5.5 to 6mm round, lead ball to the mouth of the cap and filed a series of patents from 1845 to 1849 that clearly documented the progressive development of his metallic, self-contained cartridges. The percussion cap was the key. Without the Rev.

Alexander Forsyth’s earlier work with concussion-fired fulminating compounds and the development of the percussion cap as we know it, Flobert would not have had his cartridge. What the development of the modern metallic cartridge required and what the percussion cap provided was self-contained ignition.

In the Flobert percussion-cap-based cartridge, the priming compound was spread across the inside of the head of the case so Flobert designed smoothbore pistols and rifles that featured a raised rib extending across the face of the hammer—a broad, fixed firing pin so to speak. Since Flobert’s little round balls were propelled only by a priming charge, generating minimum pressure, he relied on the weight of the hammer and the strength of the hammer spring to seal the chamber as the cartridge was fired.

Flobert’s simple firearms, firing low cost ammunition, were a tremendous success in Europe where shooting was much in vogue. Since the combination provided shooters the opportunity to practice their sport indoors, the Flobert pistols were commonly referred to as “parlor or saloon pistols.”
By Holt Bodinson

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One Neat Uzi

And It’s  A .22 Long Rifle.

One of the most iconic and most recognizable firearms of all times has just joined the rimfire club, and it’s a beaut! Under license from IWI-Israel, the current manufacturer of the Uzi family of tactical firearms, Carl Walther of Germany has created an exacting rendition of the UZI submachine gun in .22 Long Rifle. With similar weight, length, controls and even disassembly procedures, the Walther rimfire version of the Uzi, imported by UMAREX USA, is a remarkable achievement of arms making.

Reviewed earlier, the Walther-produced, UMAREX USA versions of the Colt 1911, M4 carbine and M16 rifle as well as the HK MP5 and HK416 are superior rimfire examples of those famous models. They are the best-of-the-best rimfire clones of the original models and a delight to own and shoot. The Uzi upholds that same tradition.

Historically, the Uzi is a product of its political times and environment. The times were the 1940s and 1950s when Israel was emerging as a nation. The new country was forged in conflict with its Arab neighbors who were doing everything possible to insure it would not be a successful nation-state. The environment, the sandy, dusty deserts of the Middle East, is about as tough a proving ground as exists for any weapons system.

At that point in time, Israel’s Defense Forces were armed with everything from German and Czech Model ’98 Mausers to homegrown versions of the Sten gun. Faced with a rudimentary economy and the lack of an advanced industrial production base, the Israelis needed a domestic arms industry and a cheap, easily produced submachine gun suited for the ambush, raid, night-fighting style of close-quarter combat in which they found themselves engaged in daily. Uzi Gal gave it to them.

Working at the government owned Israeli Military Industries (IMI), Gal took some of the best features of the Czech vz23 subgun, specifically, its barrel-enveloping bolt and handgrip magazine well and crafted what was to become the most popular submachine gun of the era.

For ease and economy of production, Gal designed the Uzi to use a maximum amount of stampings and heat-resistant plastics. The major components—the receiver, top cover, trigger housing and folding metal stock—are welded-up, sheetmetal stampings. The only precision machining is found on the bolt and the barrel. The Uzi is simple to make, simple to use, reliable in the dirt of combat and cheap. In full combat mode, it can be fitted with a bayonet, anti-tank grenade, suppressor and flashlight.

The Walther-made rimfire version is even better, yes, the suppressor surrounding the 16″ barrel of the rimfire version is a fake, but by removing the screw-attached front handguard, you will find a 10-slot Picatinny rib under the barrel just waiting for a flashlight or laser.
By Holt Bodinson

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Ruger’s Little Pocket Revolver

The LCR is now offered in an 8-shot .22 Long Rifle.
If there’s any handgun more fun, more versatile, more handy and cheaper to shoot than a .22 kit gun or pocket gun, I have yet to see it. Short, light and always with you, it’s a gun with a definite and endearing personality. Building on the recent introduction of their popular Lightweight Carry Revolver (LCR) in .38 Special and .357 Magnum, Ruger has released a .22 Long Rifle version of the LCR. The new .22 LCR is destined to carve out a distinct niche for itself in the Ruger revolver line.

Rimfires 1

Galco’s Pocket Protector holster is designed for front pocket carry in
pants or jacket of the LCR. It’ll keep the gun in the same general position
so you can quickly locate the grip for the draw, and conceals the shape
of the gun so its outline doesn’t “print.”

A small, light .22 revolver makes a lot of sense. No handgun is more versatile. That rimfire cylinder will digest BB caps, CB caps, CB Longs, Shorts, Longs, Long Rifles and shotshells.

It doesn’t matter whether they’re blank loads, squib loads, subsonic loads, target loads, high-speed loads, solids, hollowpoints or shot. As long as that universal cylinder keeps turning, that little revolver will keep shooting.

No handgun is handier and more accommodating to different applications and environments. For the last three decades, Smith & Wesson’s stainless Kit Guns in .22 LR and .22 WRM have ridden my hip in the woods and across the fields more often than not. Built on the petite J-frame, the grip is a little small for my hands but with the addition of a Tyler’s Grip Adaptor, it fits me like a glove.

Loaded with CCI CB Longs, the Long Rifle Kit Gun has slain thousands of wood chips, cow paddies and other inanimate targets of opportunity from the hip and as well as in aimed fire. The .22 WRM version has accounted for scores of edible cottontails, a few coyotes and one very rabid acting skunk. These little guns are simply handy and provide opportunities for endless hours of relatively quiet and inexpensive practice.

Enter Ruger’s new rimfire LCR. Right out of the box, the rimfire LCR is an exact clone of Ruger’s popular centerfire version. The dimensions are the same. Barrel length: 1.875″; overall length: 6.5″; height: 4.5″; width: 1.31″ in centerfire and 1.28″ in rimfire. Weight: 13.5 ounces in centerfire and 14.9 ounces in rimfire. Same U-notch integral sights. Same choice of grips: Hogue Tamers or Crimson Trace Lasergrips. Same-same-same. It’s a perfect matched set! Either revolver becomes the ideal understudy for the other, a factor which adds real value to the overall design.

Speaking of design, it’s pretty radical for a revolver. Designed by one of Ruger’s in-house engineers, Joseph Zajk, the lower frame is polymer; the upper frame is aluminum; the barrel is simply an inserted steel liner while the highly sculptured, 8-shot cylinder, crane assembly, front latch, cylinder latch and fire control system are steel as well. What you come realize and appreciate is the composite LCR is a successful design for meeting the objectives of economical mass production and light weight.

It’s a safe revolver and features an integral lock-and-key system beneath the grip as well as a Ruger supplied padlock. Packed with the LCR are two small combination key-screwdrivers which permit you to remove the grip secured by one screw and then lock the fire control system. As an alternative, you can lock the shackle of the padlock through the cylinder frame and triggerguard.

How does it handle? The LCR is a natural pointer. The angle of the memory-grooved Hogue Tamer grips to the frame is excellent. Closing my eyes and raising the revolver into firing position and then opening my eyes, I find the sights are almost in perfect alignment. Along the same lines, the LCR is a great performing fun gun when shot from the hip. With a little practice, you can keep a tin can just a’bobbling along the good earth until that eighth round goes pop. Another option, Ruger offers the LCR with factory-fitted Crimson Trace Lasergrips for an additional $267.

Rimfires 3

The little LCR packs a lot of firepower, and its cylinder can digest a
variety of loads. The cylinder and crane lock-up of the LCR is conventional
and familiar to most shooters. The rakish sculpturing of the LCR cylinder
reduces weight and is a distinctive feature of the model.

The LCR trigger was a pleasant surprise as well as its oversized triggerguard for gloved hands. As a double-action only revolver, a good trigger counts. The LCR trigger pulls smoothly and breaks cleanly in double-action mode. For more deliberate aimed fire, the trigger can be manipulated to almost a single action level of precision. We call it “stacking.” By pulling through and stopping at the point where the cylinder has rotated and is locked in place, you can take precise aim before applying just a bit more pressure on the trigger to break the shot.

I find that easiest way to stack a double-action trigger is to insert your trigger finger more fully through the triggerguard so the fleshy pad between the first and second joints is in contact with the trigger. As you pull though to the stop point, the tip of your trigger finger will touch the side of the frame and give you total control of the trigger in the stacked position. At that point, simply squeezing your grip a bit harder will usually break the shot. The LCR can safely be dry fired so there’s no reason not to practice this valuable technique until it’s mastered.

How does it shoot? I shot regular and high velocity loads on targets at 15 yards as well as CCI shotshells at 6′ and 10′.

The effectiveness of the CCI shotshell loads are reflected in the two Champion brand prairie dog targets. The LCR really throws some impressive killing patterns. If you tramp around in venomous snake country or fish where cottonmouths lurk, an LCR loaded with half a cylinder of shotshells would be very comforting.

On targets at 15 yards, the LCR’s short 3-3/4″ sight radius called for some hard holding. I learned two things about the gun. First, it favors standard velocity, Long Rifle ammunition for sheer accuracy. In fact, CCI’s new “Quiet-22” loading turned in the best, 5-shot groups which averaged 2″ while high-velocity loads like Winchester’s Power-Point and CCI’s Mini-Mag spread from 2-1/2″ to 3-3/4″.

The second thing I discovered is that some, not all, but high-velocity loads like CCI’s Mini-Mag and Winchester’s SuperX formed a small bulge on the lower case wall just in front of the rim and opposite the firing pin indentation. The effect of the bulged cases was to make extraction and ejection stiffer than normal. Federal high-velocity ammunition didn’t evidence this same problem.

Stored in your tackle box or vehicle, carried on your hip, maybe even stuck in your pocket for short jaunts, Ruger’s LCR is a neat concept gun and a welcome addition to the small frame carry plinker clan.
By Holt Bodinson

Galco Gunleather
2019 W. Quail Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85027
(800) 874-2526

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Rimfire Magnum Tack Driver

Magnum Research’s Barracuda .22 WMR.

Magnum Research stunned everyone with the introduction of their remarkably innovative, gas-operated Desert Eagle handgun and went on to stun the rimfire world with a carbon-wrapped barrel and the meanest looking stock in the business. I like mean machines like the SR-71 Blackbird and the Lamborghini Aventador. Magnum Research’s “Barracuda” rimfire magnum, part of their Magnum Lite rifle series, fits into the same visual class as those classics. It is high style, high tech and high performance from muzzle-to-butt.

Carrying the Model designation “MLR 1722M,” the Barracuda was available in both .22 WMR and .17 HMR. In fact, Magnum Research was responsible for carrying out some groundbreaking studies to see how the hot .17 HMR could be managed in a blowback, semi-automatic action.
While the .17 HMR functions well within SAAMI pressure standards, the cartridge generates its peak pressure almost as soon as the bullet leaves the case plus the timing of those peaks is not consistent from one shot to the next. This peak pressure inconsistency proved a challenge in solving the mechanical timing and inertia issues inherent in the design of a blowback, semi-automatic action.

Magnum Research solved the problem by drilling a small orifice in the barrel just in front of the chamber to bleed off a bit of the expanding gas. The effect was to equalize the peak pressure from shot-to-shot which solved the timing and inertia design problems. Over the orifice, Magnum Research installed a multi-holed gas block to diffuse the vented gas under the forearm.

Unfortunately, Magnum Research, which is now part of Kahr Arms, no longer lists a .17 HMR chambering in their catalog, but this same gas metering system is used in the current .22 WMR to enable the rifle to function with all bullet weights.
By Holt Bodison

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Mini Fun Gun

Chiappa’s Sensational .22 LR M1 Carbine

The M1 carbine holds the record for being produced in greater number than any other military firearm in the history of the United States with over 6,200,000 made between 1941 and 1945. Despite being “boy-sized” and firing what some would decry as a “pint-sized” cartridge, it proved to be a remarkably practical and reliable combat arm from WWII to Korea to Vietnam and beyond. Having had some experience with the M1 and M2 carbines, I was frankly blown away by the quality, proportions, features and accuracy of Chiappa’s new rimfire rendition of this classic arm. Distributed by Legacy Sports International as the Model “Citadel M-1.22,” the carbine is simply sensational.

What made the M1 carbine so popular with the troops? Two gun-savvy veterans writing after WWII pretty well sum it up.
Lt. Col. John George served with Merrill’s Marauders and wrote his memoirs in a book entitled, Shots Fired in Anger. George observed, “The carbine turned out to be the ace weapon of this war… It was light and handy, powerful, and reasonably accurate. The cartridge was powerful enough to penetrate several thicknesses of helmet and to perforate the plates of Japanese bulletproof vests… It was flat shooting enough to have practical accuracy at more than 200 yards… The greatest advantage of the carbine was its light weight, which is the greatest advantage any infantry weapon can have.”

The second observer was Tucson gunsmith, Roy Dunlap, whose book Ordnance Went Up Front, was published in 1948. Dunlap wrote, “Everyone who had to carry a rifle longed for the 6-pound, boy-sized semi-automatic, and combat soldiers came to prefer them in many cases because they and their ammunition were easy to carry.
By Holt Bodinson

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