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American Handgunner Sept/Oct 2012 Digital Edition - Page 24

SHOOTINGIRON tHUMB BUstIN’ MUsINGs FroM tHe DUKe MIKe “DUKe” veNtUrINo Photos: Yvonne Venturino MAchine rests Love At First sight? M I love pistol machine rests! Handguns can’t be sighted in properly when mounted in a pistol Machine rest. their recoil dynamics are totally different than when handheld. y job would be much more difficult without them. The alternative to a pistol machine rest is to shoot handguns from a sandbag rest. Although never very good at sandbag shooting I can do it — for a short period. After a bit my eyes blur, my hands get sore, and I tend to start jerking triggers. Then I never know if flyers are caused by me or by a fault of guns or ammo. My limit for group shooting from sandbag rest is perhaps two score rounds of light to moderate power (.22 LR to .44 Special) and not more than a dozen full-bore loads from magnums. On the other hand, when using a machine rest I’ve fired several hundred rounds in an afternoon, and figure the results are as valid for the last cluster as for the first. The hitch is changing targets, as in it’s a time consuming 50-yard roundtrip after every group. On my luckiest days I’ve conned Yvonne into being my target changer, but usually can only prevail with considerable whining about my bum knee. Before I had my own home range, a Lee Pistol Machine Rest was handy. It needs no permanent mounting because the handgun actually isn’t anchored to the rest. It’s a sort of brace affair. The handgun, sans grips, is mounted between aluminum grip adaptors, which are then pushed against duke at work with stops in the base plate. Although ransom pistol Machine still handheld, it’s aimed the same rest with a s&w Model 23 each time. Back in the ’70s I made outdoorsman mounted. He can up a portable bench out of an shoot all day like this with little fatigue. old redwood picnic table. Then I would find a suitable backstop on secluded public land and be able to start shooting in a matter of minutes. Too bad Lee Rests have been out of production for decades now. when time It was a good idea. allows, duke likes to shoot 12-shot groups from revolvers so each chamber (of sixguns) is used twice. Things You Can Learn the rAnsoM o nce I owned a permanent place to shoot I transitioned to a Ransom Pistol Machine Rest. With this setup the pistol is clamped into the rest, which means the entire apparatus must be solidly anchored. Recoil from powerful handguns is nigh on an irresistible force. Get a finger between a bench top and big revolver’s butt when it’s fired and you’ll agree. So, when I had my shooting house built some years back the contractor put in a beam for the Ransom Rest as part of the construction. It does not shift. Still you cannot bolt the handgun into its grip adaptors and start testing with the first round. To mount up a pistol or revolver in the Ransom Rest first its grips are taken off. Then its bare grip frame is put into special aluminum grip adaptors lined with a dense synthetic material. Those are fastened into the machine rest, the handgun’s sights aligned on target, and shooting starts. The sights won’t stay aligned where you started. Recoil will cause the handgun’s grip frame to settle into the grip adaptors, which causes the bullet’s point of impact to climb. Personally, before paying attention to groups, I fire at least 20 rounds of fairly hot loads to settle the handgun in. Then test shooting commences. hen in a hurry to meet a deadline I’ll often settle on 5-shot groups because it saves time both in reloading chores and shooting. On occasions when I get my life planned a bit in advance, I prefer 12-shot groups from sixguns or 10-shot groups from autoloaders. A dozen rounds through a sixgun means every chamber is fired twice. If one chamber tends to throw flyers it’s immediately evident. Flyers from the same chamber don’t happen often, but on occasion I have seen one chamber giving better precision than the other five. Once I mounted up my old Smith & Wesson Military & Police .38 Special of 1940s vintage and fired five, 5-shot groups from each chamber using factory 148-gr. wadcutter ammunition. All chambers averaged less than 1.50", but one of them averaged less than 1". Now here’s a solid fact although I’ve read differently on the Internet: You cannot sight in a handgun when it’s mounted in a machine rest. Having it bolt into that apparatus changes recoil dynamics. In other words, a handgun does not recoil as freely as when handheld. In my experience most, if not all, shoot much lower than where their sights are aimed when machine-rest mounted. Admittedly most handgunners do without a pistol machine rest, but I dearly love mine! W * 24 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER2012

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