Sunday, September 25, 2011

32 H&R Magnum

What could possibly be better than a Ruger Single Six?
The answer is TWO of them!  Especially if one of them is chambered in 32 H&R Mag.

I've had it in my mind to acquire a Single Six in 32 Mag for some time.  For one reason or another I never did until recently.  Now I wonder how did I ever live without one.

In comparison, the look virtually identical with the exception of a gap behind the cylinder and the bigger holes visible from the business end of the revolver.  In the hand there is a noticeable difference in heft - the 32 H&R Mag variation is almost a half pound lighter - 30.7 ounces vs 38.4 ounces of the two I own.

32 H&R Magnum is a new caliber to me so I had to buy brass (Starline) and dies to reload it.  I also purchased the RCBS 32-98-SWC mold due to the rave reviews given to it by its owners who use it in their 32 Mags.  There are a number of bullets that are reported to work well in the 32 MAG including some 30 caliber varieties that if necessary can be "beagled" to .313" commonly used in "32" caliber cartridges.

Another mold I've had some success with in 32 caliber firearms, specifically the 32-20 WIN in the Marlin 1894 is the Lyman 311008.  Though heavy for the (32 H&R Mag) caliber others have used it successfully and I had a number on hand.  With the alloy I use (20/1) these drop ~118 grains and right at .313". 

The RCBS 32-98-SWC

The RCBS 32-98-SWC drops ~ 103 grains with my alloy and .316".  Early testing shows a slight improvement in accuracy if this bullet is sized down to .314" in the Lee Push Through Sizing die.

The spec for Overall Length of this cartridge is 1.350" which probably matters more in a magazine fed levergun than in the Single Six with easily accommodates longer cartridges.  I found that an OAL around 1.400" seemed to work fine with both of the bullets I tried.

The available load data is fairly tame but I decided to start low and work up slow.  Most of the loads I tried showed erratic velocities, but generally good accuracy.  One exceptionally accurate and consistent velocity starting level load turned out to be Winchester 231 powder.  It worked well with both bullets though I might give a slight accuracy edge to the heavier Lyman bullet.  This load produced 920 fps with the 311008 and 928 fps with the 32-98.

The starting level loads with Unique, Bullseye and Lil'Gun didn't perform as well as the W231 but they did show promise.

Subsequent testing has revealed improvements in both accuracy and constancy in velocities.  A load that appears to be a stellar performer is the RCBS bullet over Alliant's MAX published load for Unique.  The load averages 1190 fps and doesn't create the fireball at then end of the barrel that the Lil'gun loads do.  Very comfortable shooting too and I suspect it will make a dandy silhouette load.

Other notes:
-Lee Factory Crimp was used on all loads.
-All bullets were pan lubed (Beeswax - Crisco - petroleum jelly)
-Bullet sizes tested range from .313" - .316"
-All shooting has been done offhand at a range of 7 yards.
-Chronograph was set up at approximately 15' in front of muzzle.
-Five shot strings were used to determine average velocities.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chronograph Results

Velocity of a variety of ammo when fired from two Single Sixes.  Surprisingly the Shorter Barreled 4-5/8" Single Six produced higher velocities with most of the brands. 

22 Long Rifle
Brand / average velocity of 4-5/8" / average velocity from the 5.5" 

Federal Bulk 550 pack / 1110 fps / 1072 fps
Aguilla SE Subsonic / 932 fps / 901 fps
CCI CB Long / 573 fps / 561 fps
CCI Mini Mag 40gr Solid / 1063 fps / 1067 fps

22 Magnum in the 5.5"
5.5" Single Six only in this test

CCI Maxi Mag / 1280 fps
Federal 40gr FMJ / 1387 fps

My Single Six

I purchased my first Single Six used from a pard that didn't care for the deliberate nature of single action shooting.  It is an 1980's vintage and it has been a favorite of mine since day one.

It did take me a spell to become proficient, the 'lock time' on SA revolvers requires good follow-through. Once mastered the accuracy is quite impressive.

 25 yards, unrested

It wasn't long before the Single Six was accompanying me on hunting trips as a supplement to my long gun.  Its duty was primarily procuring "camp meat" but I didn't mind having it ready to go with the 22 Mag cylinder installed in the tent with me when I 'spike camped' away from base camp.

Meat Makers

In the areas I hunt, Grouse tend to hole up in thick cover.  My preferred Grouse tactic is to locate them and then stalk into a position I can get a clear shot.  Typically that window in the cover is very small and the Grouse is only partially visible.  Since the vast majority of the edible meat on a Grouse is the breast, I don't want to send a shot through it.  A neck-body junction shot is my preferred target as it is usually still, kills instantaneously and does not destroy the delicious meat.

I also frequently enter postal match contests and the Single Six does pretty well, even against pistols and revolvers with better reputations for target accuracy.  I'm certain my Single Six would do better with a better shooter behind the trigger, yet even with me steering the sights it frequently turns in respectable scores.

The Single Six is also a very safe handgun which makes it ideally suited to introduce new shooters to the sport.  It is reliable and robust which makes it outstanding for field use.  Time tested, classic styling... what's not to like?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Why a Single Six?

Perhaps the best description of the niche the Single Six occupies was written by Skeeter Skelton back in 1977 in his Shooting Times magazine article, What's the Best Trail Gun For You?

Here's a snippet from that excellent article that sums it up pretty well.

Let’s concern ourselves with yet another time-polished, nebulous term, “trail gun.” As a handgun man, I have a rather clear mental image of what a trail gun is. It is a handgun that you carry when you venture afield without the specific purpose of shooting anything. If you carry a long-barreled magnum revolver, you are likely hunting some sort of game. If the handgun on the car seat is a bull-barrel revolver or heavily frilled auto pistol, you’re heading for the pistol range for a bit of target work. When you select a snubnose .38 or a chopped and channeled .45, you ordinarily do so with personal defense in mind.

Earlier, I used the words “woodloafer” in a deprecatory way, yet I guess that I am one. Ambling along a dim trail in the pines, or beside a mossy creed in the bottoms, easy jogging a good horse through the brush, or simply and slowly scouting next fall’s hunting country in my old pickup—these are my favorite days. I don’t like to complicate them with a lot of hard work.

 I travel light. I carry a handgun on these outings and prefer that it, too, be light, with no heavy harnesses, no extra-long barrel, no deer-sized cartridges, and no oversized grips to knock against gateposts or vehicle doors.

My idea of a trail gun is a handgun that, with 50 pounds of ammunition, will make a package small and light enough that you are unaware of its presence until you need it. It adds practically nothing to the contents of a backpack or to the saddlebags of horseman or cyclist. Worn in a neat holster on the trouser belt, it lies flat and doesn’t sag your pants. It also looks at home in a fishing box.

Being small and feathery, my trail gun is of necessity chambered for a small-caliber cartridge. For the purposes outlined, I suggest the .22 Long Rifle, .22 Magnum, .32 S&W Long, .32-20 or .38 Special. Although I seldom carry a 9mm automatic on the trail, it would qualify in certain guns for those who like the auto pistol. 

There are other reasons to own a Ruger Single Six in your preferred flavor, but Skeeter outlines one of the bestThe Ruger Single Six does push up against the upper limits for a trail gun in both weight and size but both of those characteristics are among its attributes when it comes time to pull the trigger and contribute to its robust qualities.

Ruger discribes its excellent product like this:

Strong, Durable, Dependable, and Versatile. New Model Single-Six® revolvers are the perfect small bore single-action revolver for plinking, small game hunting or serious competition. Chambered in either .22 LR, .22 Magnum, or .17 HMR, these great single-action revolvers come in a variety of barrel lengths, finishes, sights, and grips.
Single-Ten™ models feature a ten-round capacity and Gunfighter style grips. Convertible models come with two cylinders (one in .22 LR and one in .22 Magnum) for increased versatility. Hunter models are equipped with an integral barrel rib for rigid mounting of Ruger scope rings (supplied at no extra charge).

A Ruger Single Six just like the one pictured above has been on of my longest owned and most used firearms in my collection.  I have used it in competitions, for hunting small game, plinking, "woodsloafing" (as Skeeter Skelton would call it) and its presence has been comforting while camping in the wilds.
I have owned a number of variations of this revolver including the 4-5/8", 5.5", 6.5" in new models, Three Screw Model and fixed sighted 4-5/8 New model.  I liked them all but for one reason or another traded some of them off for something else.  The exception has been my 5.5 stainless, which I'll most likely hang onto because I have the most history with it.  More on that later.


In this blog I intend to document some of the fun and adventure I have with my Ruger Single Six revolvers.