Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Ammo Review: Big Bore Revolver

This month's Ammo Review is of two big bore revolver cartridges from Hornady.

The ammo for this review was provided by Widener's Reloading and Shooting Supply

The first of the two loads from Hornady is the 300 grain XTP for the .44 Magnum.
The .44 Magnum is probably my favorite overall cartridge. I happen to own five firearms chambered in .44 Mag (3 revolvers and 2 rifles). It was also the first centerfire handgun I ever fired....when I was just a wee lad. See my post on the history of the .44 Mag here.

In my opinion the .44 Mag is one of the most versatile handgun cartridges ever conceived. While you won't be ringing a gong at 1000 yards, it is capable of hitting a target at 600 yards (Bob Munden proved Elmer Keith's legendary shot on an episode of Impossible Shots). It can take any known creature in North and South America and most of the remaining ones around the globe. 

In 1965, Magazine publisher Robert Peterson took a 14 ft tall Polar Bear near Kotzebue, Alaska with a nickel plated model 29 Smith.

For this test, we will be using three guns, a Ruger Super Redhawk with a 7 1/2" barrel

A Winchester model 94 with a 16" barrel

And a Ruger Super Blackhawk with a 5 1/2" barrel

This load is a 300 grain XTP, which stands for Xtreme Terminal Performance. These are perforated, jacketed hollow point projectiles

Before heading out to the range, I measured the combined overall length and the weight of five randomly selected cartridges. Below are the results:

Cartridge 1: 1.582" - 432.7 grains
Cartridge 2: 1.582" - 434.4 grains
Cartridge 3: 1.584" - 434.4 grains
Cartridge 4: 1.587" - 434.4 grains
Cartridge 5: 1.581" - 432.7 grains

The very consistent numbers provided an average COAL or 1.5832: with a deviation of only .006", the average weight of the cartridges was 433.72 grains with a deviation of 1.7 grains.

It will be interesting to see if these will feed in my model 94 Winchester.

Hornady's website did not provide the advertised COAL, although the cannelure crimp would dictate a COAL close to our 1.58" average

The velocities between the guns, to our surprise, did not vary much. I had expected to see at least a slight jump in velocity when fired from the 16" rifle barrel, but there was little difference. 
The average for the 5 1/2" barreled Ruger was 1,122 fps  with a deviation of 42 fps 
The Super Blackhawk with the 7 1/2" barrel had an average of 1057 fps and a deviation of 176 fps.
The Winchester 94 saw an average of 1,144 fps and a deviation of 180 fps.

Hornady's website gave a tested velocity of 1,150 out of a 7 1/2" barrel, this was just about 100 fps faster than our average for the 7 1/2" Super Redhawk, in fact only one of the cartridges tested ran faster than 1,150 fps. 

Side note, the 300 grain rounds fed and functioned perfectly in the Winchester 94

Widener's sells these 20 round boxes for $21.00, see them here

Next up: Hornady 45 Colt 255 grain Cowboy Lead

I am a big fan of Westerns and Cowboy guns. My favorite movie of all time is Tombstone. I happen to own several single action revolvers including one of the Ruger Vaqueros that  was used to test this ammo.

If the proper case and firearm are used, the .45 Colt can be a very versatile round. Some case manufacturers, like Starline, proof test their brass to .44 Magnum pressures. So if you have a Ruger Blackhawk or original Vaquero in .45 Colt, you can get .44 Mag performance from the old Cowboy cartridge, of course you would want to use all precautions and work up your loads slowly.

These Hornandy Cowboy Action Loads are on the opposite end of the spectrum though. They don't even match up to the original loading of the .45 Colt. 

The original .45 Colt cartridge from 1873 was loaded with 30 grains of black powder and pushed a 250gr lead round nose bullet to just around 1000fps from a 7 1/2" Colt Single Action Calvary model.

These loads weigh in at 255 grains and have a reduced powder load for fast recovery in the shooting competitions. The advertised muzzle velocity is just 725 fps

As above I selected five cartridges at random and measured the combined overall length and weight of the entire cartridge. Below are the results:

Cartridge 1: 1.574" - 376.1 grains
Cartridge 2: 1.576" - 377.2 grains
Cartridge 3: 1.572" - 375.8 grains
Cartridge 4: 1.575" - 376.1 grains
Cartridge 5: 1.574" - 375.2 grains

The very consistent numbers provided an average COAL or 1.5742 with a very tight deviation of only .002", the average weight of the cartridges was 376.08 grains with a deviation of 2 grains.

The SAAMI specs below show a maximum COAL of 1.60" and a minimum of 1.515, these Hornady cartridges are well within the specs.

Hornady's website also did not provide the COAL for these cartridges.
The website did explain the way the bullets are knurled instead of grooved. Lead bullets require lubricant to prevent leading the bore of the gun, Hornady uses knurles instead of grooves. They explain that the knurling distributes the lubricating wax more evenly.

Here are the two Vaqueros, a 4 5/8" and a 7 1/2"

The average for the shorter barreled Vaquero was 731 fps, with a deviation of 141 fps.

The average for the 7 1/2" Vaquero was 793 fps and a deviation of 193. Which is close to a 10% increase in velocity over the shorter barreled Vaquero.

The advertised velocity of 725 fps came very close to 731 fps average for the shorter barreled Vaquero.

These are listed on Widener's website for $19 for the 20 round box, see them here

Friday, February 22, 2019

Interesting Firearm Photos XXVII

Guard at U.S. internment camp during WWII

Mosin-Nagant training poster

Guns and ammo confiscated from Colombian cartel members

M-16 cut away

The body of the Howard Johnson Sniper, January 7th, 1973

2 Bore vs a 9mm Luger

Dutch resistance train with STEN submachine guns known at the time as Machine Carbines under SOE supervision

The pictures above were found freely on the world wide web and are used under the guidelines of Fair Use, per Title 17 of the U.S. Code. Where possible the source has been credited. If you own the copyright to any of these images and wish them to be credited or removed, please contact me immediately.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Featured Gun: The Hi-Standard Pistol

The story of the Hi-Standard Pistol starts with the gun that inspired it: The Colt Woodsman.

The Colt pistol was created by none other that John Moses Browning. 

Browning filed for his patent on March 30th, 1917. He was awarded patent number 1276716 just before the end of WWI on August 27th, 1918.

Browning had sold the design to Colt before getting a patent and in 1915 the first Colt Woodsman pistols were being shipped out of Hartford.

During this time a Colt employee by the name of Lucius M. Diehm decided to create his own .22 semi-auto pistol.

On August 6th, 1921 Mr. Diehm filed for a patent on his design, it was awarded patent number 15111510 on Oct 14th, 1924.


In 1925 Diehm, armed with his new patent, started his own company: The Hartford Arms Company.
Success eluded Mr. Diehm and the company was in financial trouble by 1931 (it was the Great Depression after all).

 The Hartford Arms pistol:

Enter Carl Swebilius:
Carl Gustav Swebilius emigrated to the United States as a young man from a small town in Sweden due west of Stockholm.  

Carl "Gus" Swebilius at work at the bench

Swebilius was born the son of a watch maker and learned the art of working with small finely machined parts from his Father. When he emigrated to America he went to live with his Aunt (or Sister, not sure which), who just happened to live in gun central: New Haven Connecticut.

In 1896, at the age of 17, Carl went to work for Marlin in New Haven as a barrel driller, eventually working his way up to Chief Engineer and Gun Designer.
Sometime in the mid 20's Carl left Marlin and worked briefly at Winchester. During that time (circa 1926) Carl formed the High Standard Manufacturing Company to make tools for gun making and other industries.

Swebilius ventured back into the gun making business in 1932 when he heard about the Hartford Arms and Equipment Company may be for sale. He rallied some investors (made up of current and former co-workers) and with $800 they purchased the assets and patents. That is the equivalent of $13,229 today.
There were enough parts in the inventory to complete 800 pistols.

See my post on the Hartford Arms and Equipment Company here

The company was doing well and the demand for the model B pistol required relocation. In 1935 Swebilius merged his two operations into a building at 61 Foote Street in New Haven, the location is now the Wexler-Grant School. Sometime in the early '50s High Standard relocated again, this time up the road to Hamden. The new factory carried the address of 1811, 1817 and 1818 Dixwell Ave, Hamden, CT.

You may notice that the guns feature the name Hi-Standard, while the company name is High Standard. Perhaps this was to keep the gun making separate from the other items manufactured by High Standard?

As stated the gun was a copy of Colt Woodsman pistol, you can see the similarities in the photo below (courtesy of The Unblinking Eye) on top is the Colt, on bottom is the Hi-Standard model B

The Hartford Arms model 1925 target pistol, became the Hi-Standard model B.

You might make the assumption that the Model A would have been the first model, but as it turns out the Model B was first, having been adapted from the Hartford Arms model 1925 Target.
The Model A was a Model B with a longer grip frame which was cut flat to be parallel with the top of the slide

The pistols morphed into different models over the years. Model A, B, D & E. Then there were the external hammer models: H-A, H-B, H-D and H-E models. In 1942 the A,D & E models were discontinued, but carried on in the H- models.

During World War II, High Standard supplied .22 pistols for basic pistol training and familiarization to the armed forces.
At the request of The Office of Strategic Services (OSS), High Standard working with Bell Labs created 2,600 flashless/silent pistols. Actual numbers are unknown as most if not all of them lacked serial numbers. The most famous of which was recovered by the Soviets after U2 Pilot Gary Powers was captured in 1960.

Rumor has it that many of them are still in "unofficial" service by various alphabet agencies.

Later came the Sport King, Flight King, Field King, Olympic, Supermatic & Duramatic. 

For a while High Standard marketed a .380 caliber version of the pistol, called the G 380

For the purpose of this post we will focus on the H-D Military.

The H-D model was born on January 29, 1940 and was produced until 1950. There were about 150,000 of the HD Military pistols produced. The earlier models had checked plastic grips, the later ones checkered walnut.

Operation: Semi-automatic, blow back
Length: 8 1/2" or 11"
Height: 5"
Weight: 2lbs. 12oz.
Barrel length: 4 1/2 or 6 3/4"
Magazine Capacity: 10 rounds
Stocks: Checkered Walnut


In 1968  High Standard was acquired by an investment company called "The Leisure Group". Operations were moved to East Hartford in 1976. In 1978 the company was purchased the managers, led by company president Clem Confessore.
By 1984 the company was in trouble and its assets were auctioned off. Gordon Elliot who was the National Parts parts distributor for High Standard was the winning bidder. Although he only purchased some of the product lines and the name trademarks.
In early 1993 a new company was formed in Texas to acquire the trademarks and .22 pistol line. The assets including tooling were moved to Houston in July of 1993 and the first of the Houston made guns shipped in March of 1994.

A version of the pistol is still being made, see the website here


In 1999 the Dixwell Ave. factory caught fire and the buildings torn down and property sold.

The location is now a Home Depot, see my post on High Standard for more info

photos courtesy of Lt. Jeff Pechmann of the Hamden Fire Department

The gun that inspired this post, it is an HD Military with a 6 3/4" barrel, it was made in the New Haven plant on Foote Street between 1945 and 1950.


The Unblinking Eye

Small Arms Review

Hamden Fire Retirees
Hi Standard Manuals
Breach, Bang, Clear

Ayoob, M. (2012), Massad Ayoob's Greatest Handguns of the World, Vol.2. Lola, WI: Krause Publications

Brophy, W. S. (1989). Marlin Firearms: A History of the Guns and the Company That Made Them. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Buy your Girl a Gun Day

Valentine's Day is when we show our love for that special person in our life.

What better way to say I love you and care about your safety than to buy them a gun?

 I declare February 14th "National Buy your Girl a Gun Day".

Rather than by flowers that will die, candy that will make her fat or jewelry that is artificially valued....buy her some real feminine protection....a pistol!

Plenty of manufacturers offer pistols just for the ladies...I covered this a few years ago, but decided to revisit it this month, see my past posts at the links below:

Pink Guns

More Pink

Personalized Girly Guns

Charter Arms has two revolvers in pink tones for the ladies, the first one is the "Pink Lady"

This one is called the "Cougar Undercover Lite"

Ruger is offering their LCP pistol is a few feminine colors

Pink, Purple, Muddy Girl Camo and Tiffany Blue

And just in time for Valentines Day Ruger, just last month, announced the LCPII will be available in three new colors

Rose Gold


Sapphire Blue

If your lady would prefer a revolver, Ruger has you covered there as well, the LCR now comes in Lavender

Kimber is offering their Micro 380 pistol in "Bel Air Blue"

They also have a purple "Amethyst" edition, see it here

Sig is offering their popular P238 pistol in rose gold with factory engraving

Another option is to have a standard pistol personalized just for her.

Here are a few from 7.62 Precision

A couple more in Tiffany blue

This one is for sale at Shark Coast Tactical, see the details here: