The Handgun Bug.
Last year after reading about the 100 year anniversary, I got the bug to get a 1911. On a trip out west I stopped at Cabelas and handled a few different handguns. After getting home, I applied for the purchase permit (MN requirement).
I decided to get a 22 to practice with because of its low cost to shoot. This was important because I had never owned a handgun before. In early December Gander Mountain had a sale price for the Ruger Mark_III 22/45.
Since small game season was still open I made a target out of a box, put on hunter orange, brought my license with me, and walked into the woods to be far enough away from my neighbor’s house. I had a bunch of federal round nose lead bullets. The first 30 fired without a problem. After reloading the magazines, I experienced some failure to feed.
I went out after Christmas and did some more target shooting in the same location with similar results. I was cleaning the gun when a pickup pulled in the yard. I saw that it was the DNR. I explained that I was target shooting in a safe direction, wearing hunter orange and having my license with me. He mentioned that 22s can fly long distances so be careful. There had been a shooting 15 miles away prior to Christmas and apparently someone who heard the shots was concerned. When I checked the law enforcement report in the local paper a week later, it said someone had called saying, “A hundred shots had been fired in the area.” (I know it was no more than 50.)
Small game season was ending soon. Snow had been very light for the 2011-12 winter, so I started driving into a gravel pit
to shoot. The pit had a slash pile which someone plowed a lane to. So the nervous wintering folk did not have to listen to practicing.
Cleaning the Ruger was a challenge at first. I watched the video on line on how to disassemble and reassemble the gun. Read the instructions but was having difficulty in the reassembly. During reassembly after the bolt has been installed. You place an empty magazine in the gun and pull the trigger with the barrel pointed down. What is supposed to happen is that the firing block should fall forward to allow insertion of the main spring. What you have to do is push on the block so that it falls forward enough to allow the main spring to latch.
With the failure to feeds I tried some Winchester 555 ammo. I would still get one failure to feed out of 50 shots. I talked to a friend, who had been ordinance sergeant, about the failure to feed. He told me to polish the ramp. I got some 2000 grit paper and smoothed the ramp. After a couple polishes I no longer had the feed issue. I even got decent feeds from the federal ammo I was having problems with. I picked up box of Remington 525 bulk ammo which has also done well. After that initial box I took advantage of a sale and rebate, and purchased four additional boxes.
Loading magazines in the winter gave me stiff fingers so I ordered 3 additional mags from Cabelas. The ability to load the magazines in the warmth of my home made the shoot much more enjoyable. During the cold weather, I was using paper targets stapled to boxes. My goal for shooting with the 22 was to shoot a grouse in the head. I practiced shooting at 5 to 10 paces, looking for quarter sized groups. (Reality was Kennedy half dollar groups on a good day and Eisenhower dollars on a bad day.) As the weather warmed, I started placing clay pigeons on the gravel piles to use as targets.
The ordinance sergeant encouraged me to shoot with both eyes open. Early in that time I realized I am left eye dominant. Being right handed this forced me to make a choice. Shoot left handed, twist my head, or shoot with one eye closed. I
hose to shoot left handed. The Ruger is not designed for lefties. It took time but I am now comfortable releasing the bolt and releasing the safety using just the left hand.
I shot about once a week for about 8 months. Most outings would see a hundred shots taken. 99% of those shots where made standing without the aid of shooting sticks or a bench rest. I started working on shooting distances using the pigeon clays as targets. At 10 paces I would shoot the clays with the clays single handed. For left handed shoots, I would aim dead center. For right hand shots because of my left eye dominance, I would shoot to the right side of the clay. At 20 paces I could hit a clay reliably using two hands. I would pace off 30 and 40 shooting distances as well. The 30’s were rough at first but by watching the dust of missed shots I got so I could break the clays. The 40’s I might go 10 shots or more and not hit the clay. At those times I tell myself to calm down. I reloaded the gun and hit the clay on the first shot. I was feeling fairly confident that by fall I could shoot a deer with a hand gun.
Choosing a 1911 began by reading an article about its anniversary, it continued by watching a video on line by Hickok45
bout the anniversary. I watched his videos about a mill spect 1911, the Springfield Range Officer, the Ruger SR1911, replica of the original issue, and other guns. I checked out pricing at Cabelas and Gander Mountain. Checked out other online reviews and came up with a wish list.
I wanted better sights.
I wanted the beaver tail.
I wanted the black body.
My first choice was the Springfield Range officer. I contacted a friend who is a licensed dealer. He told me the bad news that gun was out of stock. He gave me similar story about the Ruger. I started looking at the Remington R1. When I saw that they had an enhanced version that included the features I was looking for, I had him order the gun. I filled out the paperwork, paid, and picked it up at the end of July.
Remington R1 Enhanced
My first experience of shooting a hand gun happened last fall. The ordinance sergeant let me shoot his Remington-Rand. The Remington R1 Enhanced that I purchased is not the same company that made that government issue 45. The R1 Enhanced comes with two eight round magazines, a case and a bushing tool.
I had an easier time disassembling and reassembling the 1911 than the Mark III. The only hang up I had was not removing the spring from the slide assembly in the proper sequence. The initial cleaning of the barrel found a fairly clean gun. First time in the gravel pit I fired 32 rounds. I had one FTF. Took the round and put it in another clip and it fed and fired. I was using Blazer FMJ ammo. When cleaning the gun, I noticed that the grips were loose. I tightened them but they came loose again after the next outing. I put some blue Loctite on the grip screws. I have not had them loosen since.
From that first outing with the 45 on I started policing the brass. I did not find one case the first day out but have managed to collect the other 199 from that box. I do not hand load, but the influence of that sergeant has me picking up 45 cases. (The 22s I leave in the gravel pit.) As I look for that perfect hunting load I may have to have someone hand load bullets. Full Metal Jackets are not approved for hunting. In a smaller caliber I could understand the reasoning behind the regulations. Lead Round Nose and SemiWad Cutters have been recommended for hunting deer. These are harder to find on the store shelf.
I originally bore sighted the 22 at 5 yards which is perfect for grouse range. I knew that I was shooting high at longer distances. When I got the 1911 I wanted both guns to be zero a 50 yards. I went to http://ballisticscalculator.winchester.com/
and played with the numbers. For the 22 I chose 36gr lubed hollow points. At 50 yards it would be 0.8” low. The sight in distance is 10 yards. For the 45 I chose 230gr full metal jacket flat nose. At 50 yards it would be 1.3” low. The sight in distance is 7 yards. I went to the range and shot enough to know that I needed to do a little more work on the sights.
By the third week of shooting the 45 I had developed a flinch. Accuracy was now questionable for both guns. The solution I chose was to order snap caps, a 7 round mag, and a portable shooting bench. I wanted a magazine that I would only use for the snap caps. Since the 8 round mags were standard with the gun, the 7 round mag would not cause any confusion. The only cartridges placed in that 7 round mag are the snap caps. I know that it is common to dry fire a 1911 but I did not want to push my luck. With the snap caps I could “fire” the gun at home. After a few days I had stopped most of the flinch.
The shooting bench was for me to get confidence that the guns sights were accurate. I started with the 45 at 7 yards. But because of concern about the flinching, I limited the number of shots. I made some elevation changes. Switching to the 22 I moved back to 10 yards. Again I made some elevation changes. I moved to 50 yards. The 22 hit the paper but were low and right. The 45 was lower still and more to the right. I decided to call it a day.
After a week of more dry firing, I went to the range for some live fire. I decided to move the sight in distance for the 22 to 9 ½ yards. After making elevation adjustments and firing 50 rounds I was confident in the placement of the groups. For the 45 I decided to fire 4 round groups. I moved the sight in distance to 6 ½ yards. After the first group I decided to work on windage. On the Remington R1 elevation adjustments are made with a screw driver. Windage adjustments are made with a brass rod and hammer. I picked up a spent 22 shell to use as the brass rod. As the sun was setting and the mosquitoes began to appear I got the windage reduced from 2 ½” down to less than an inch. One more trip to the range and I should have the gun zeroed.
During those times of introspection, I ask what lead me to the 1911. It is not the first choice of hand gun hunters. As a matter of fact it has quite a few naysayers. Finding hunting ammo is a challenge. That model still pulls at me though. My goal from the beginning has been to hunt deer with a hand gun. Concealed carry was not a motivation in getting the gun. After 10 months I am beginning to think it might be worth getting it just so I use some other style holsters. I live in a county of less than ten thousand people. Crime is not rampant but murders, drug dealers, bank robbers and smugglers do travel the highway. In the back of my mind I ask myself, “Am I worried about something?