Friday, September 25, 2015

Competition Ready Upgrades for the Ruger Mark III 22/45

The 2015 NSSF Rimfire Challenge World Championship is right around the corner.  Do you know what that means for this guy?  It means it's time to build a brand new gun for the event.  I went through a similar process last year with a Ruger Mark III.  You can read all about that project on my other blog if you wish to do so.  I was working on a review of the Ruger 22 Charger Takedown at the time of our NSSF Rimfire Challenge State Championship this year so I used it for the pistol portion of the shoot.  Heading into the biggest shoot of the year with brand new equipment isn't the smartest thing for me to be doing, but I favor curiosity over competitiveness.

This new pistol represents a big change for me.  I've always shot in the Limited Class using a heavy all-steel pistol with the stock Ruger target iron sights or the SeeAll Open Sight.  Now I'm going the opposite way with an ultralight pistol with all the bells and whistles allowed in the Open Class.  My 2015 pistol weighs more than a pound less than the pistol I used at the World Championship last year and will have a Burris FastFire III red dot sight.  I'm curious if this new rig will lead to more consistent, and possibly faster, times than I've had in the past.

For the base pistol, I started with a Tactical Solutions TSP-4.  Tactical Solutions doesn't list this pistol in their 2015 catalog, but I found out there were a limited number of these pistols produced for one of the larger firearm distributors.  Tactical Solutions replaces the Ruger factory receiver with their PacLite receiver.  They add a set of their G10 grips, Ruger Racker bolt handle, PacLite scope base, Compensator, and a SLAM Mag base pad equipped magazine to complete the TSP-4 pistol package.

I was a bit surprised to find that, aside from the G10 grips, the grip frame was entirely stock.  Factory Ruger triggers are fine for plinking, but for competition I would need to make some changes.  I acquired parts kits from Volquartsen Custom and TANDEMKROSS to complete my 22/45.  There were some overlapping parts in the two kits so the parts installed are shown in bold type

Volquartsen Custom Mark III Accurizing Kit    Retail Price:  $115.00
Target Hammer
Target Sear
Target Trigger
Extended Bolt Release
Trigger Return Spring with Polished Plunger

TANDEMKROSS High Performance Kit for 22/45    Retail Price:  $99.99
Steel Hammer Bushing for the Mark III 22/45
"Kanewolf" Slingshot upgrade

LCI replacement in black OR stainless steel
"Firestarter" Titanium Firing Pin
"Eagle Talon" Extractor
Extended Magazine Release

TANDEMKROSS Victory Trigger    Retail Price:  $34.99
 "Victory" Trigger with Textured Surface

Setting aside several hours one night, I set about making the upgrades.  Since I only attempt projects like this once a year, I tend to be a little slow and methodical with the work.  Using Gun-Guides for Ruger Mark III Series Pistols, instructions included with the TANDEMKROSS kit, and this excellent website I got through the job pretty quickly, but still managed to install the sear on the wrong side of the sear spring.  I make this mistake EVERY SINGLE TIME I work on a Mark III.  Maybe I'll get it right the next time around.  Just in case I forget, I left a Post-it Note reminder for Mr. Dumass in my copy of the Gun-Guide.  I case you were wondering, Mr. Dumass is my alter-ego that does dumb stuff even when I should know better.

My results were right on par with my expectations.  The Ruger factory trigger pull weight of about 5.5 pounds was reduced to slightly more than 2 pounds.  I didn't notice any issues with parts compatibility when mixing and matching parts from the two different parts kits.  I did need to do some fine tuning and testing of the pre-travel and over-travel adjustment screws on the trigger during my first trip out to the range.  I've included a video from my first range trip to demonstrate how the adjustment of the pre-travel screw can have a huge impact on the reliability of the pistol.

Pre-travel Adjustment Demonstration

Direct Link to Video on YouTube

Even though I've only had a limited amount of trigger time with the pistol, I'm really pleased with how it turned out.  With two weeks remaining before the World shoot, I'll be out on the range practicing and becoming more familiar with the pistol as much as I possibly can. 

I hope to meet some of you at the shoot next month.  I'll be the guy with the 22/45 that still has the pink dot stuck to the side of it. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

New Browning Buckmark Mods from TandemKross

The motto at TANDEMKROSS is "making good guns great".  Since their inception, they continue to expand their catalog of add-on or replacement parts for many different firearms.  I was very pleased to see their latest press release on their first two enhancements for Browning Buckmark pistols.  Rather than paraphrase Bryan Haaker, Business Development Manager at TK, I'll let him tell you about the two new products in his own words.

First up is the "halo" Charging Ring for the Browning Buck Mark.  Attaching to the new standardized bolt of the modern Buck Mark, there is no need to be struggling with those hard to grip bolt ears. Speed shooters, juniors or those with arthritic hands can now simply use a single finger and pull back to charge this fantastic pistol.

Second I would like to introduce the "Buck Pro" Extended Base Pad for the Browning Buck Mark. Now Buck Mark users can confidently seat their magazines consistently the first time.  In addition, if they get stuck in the mag well with an accidental soft push of the magazine release, stylish grip pulls make it super simple to yank it free.  Not to mention, they just look AWESOME ;)

Retail prices for the "halo" Charging Ring and "Buck Pro" Extended base pad are $49.99 and $9.99.  These items are currently available from TANDEMKROSS through their webstore.  TANDEMKROSS is currently offering free shipping on all orders that include either of these two new Buckmark items.

You can bet that we will be reviewing these items soon.  Gotta get past NSSF Rimfire Challenge Worlds first.

Monday, September 14, 2015

22 LR Ammo Test - Winchester Varmint HE 37 Grain Segmenting Hollow Point

Varmint HE is one of the newer rimfire ammunition developments from Winchester.  Currently available in 22 LR, 22 WMR, and 17 WSM this varmint load features high velocity for enhanced terminal performance.  The 22 Long Rifle load, tested here, features a hollow point bullet that is designed to expand and segment into 4 pieces.  As described by Winchester, the three forward petals shear away from the bullet shank during expansion.  The petals radiate away from the central wound channel while the heavy bullet base continues on a straight path through the target.  Winchester describes this as 3/1 Segmenting Expansion.

For this test I used a Ruger 10/22 Carbine with an 18.5 inch barrel.

The chronograph and gel block were positioned 25 yards down range of the rifle.

Prior to starting the test I measured ambient air temperature and relative humidity.

The test protocol is simple. Run 5 rounds into a target to capture the average velocity. Shooting
from a rest, I also capture an accuracy sample.

During the second phase of the test I replace the target with a 16 x 6 x 6 inch block of Clear Ballistics Gel. Shooting over the chronograph, I spread 4 shots into the gel block.

The test concludes back at the house where the penetration depth for each bullet is measured.

Each bullet is then recovered from the gel and
weighed and measured.

Each recovered bullet is photographed from top and bottom and displayed with the data measurements from each test shot.

For those less detail oriented, you can jump right into the test video posted on the Rimfire Channel YouTube channel.

My Thoughts On This Test:
I thought these test results were outstanding.  With hyper velocity ammunition, accuracy can suffer in some rifles.  We didn't see that was the case with this ammunition.  While we didn't see the 3/1 segmenting expansion in our test results, all four of our test shots expanded to nearly 2 times their original diameter.  Velocity was a bit "spready" with a spread of nearly 100 fps in our 4 test shots, but they all performed well.

Final Verdict:
Brick-Worthy  This one is worthy of buying by the brick when it starts showing up on store shelves again.  My opinion may change if new batches demonstrate segmenting expansion.  I think this load performs perfectly as tested.

Direct Link to Video on YouTube