Posts Tagged ‘Ruger Single-Six’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Blog reader Kevin asked me this question recently, and I embraced it because I usually don’t even have time to think about which airgun I would prefer to shoot. There’s always another blog, a feature article and 5 other deadlines pressing on my time…so thinking like this is not a luxury. It’s a fantasy! Then, Kevin asked this question and “forced” me to stop and think about it for today’s report. Ahh! Happy Friday!
The first gun that pops into my head when I ask this question is the Diana model 27 rifle. It’s just such a simple, uncomplicated airgun that I guess it serves as my happy place. But as I think about it, other guns pop up. The Air Venturi Bronco, the Falke model 70, the Diana model 25 are 3 more that come to mind immediately. They all share the model 27′s chief attribute — ease of operation. In short, they’re all fun airguns.
Diana’s model 27 breakbarrel is so light, smooth and easy to operate that it epitomizes everything that’s good about airgunning in my eyes.
Falke model 70 is another vintage breakbarrel that’s light and smooth like the Diana 27.
To take the fantasy a little farther, have these guns always been the ones that do that, or have there been others? Yes! There have been others!
My straight-grip Webley Senior pistol is exactly like the Diana 27 in this respect. It’s small and easy to operate. I still own this pistol, although there’s seldom any time to actually shoot it. But it’s right there in the drawer where I can put my hands on it whenever I want. I guess that’s good enough. I guess it will have to be.
I’ve owned this straight-grip Webley Senior since the early 1970s. It’s easy to cock, has a nice trigger and is fun to shoot. Not terribly accurate, but it’s one of those rare guns I let slip by because everything else works so well.
When I think a little longer and harder, my Beeman R8 pops into view. It comes in later because it has a scope, and scopes do complicate things. So do target sights, but my Walther LGV Olympia 10-meter target rifle now comes to light. And with it comes the new .22-caliber LGV. The target rifle took longer to pop up because it’s a heavy gun. The .22 took longer because of its power. When I want to play, power is the farthest thing from my mind.
Kevin didn’t ask me what my favorite firearms were; but since this is Friday, I’ll take a little license and include them, as well. Right now, my new PO8 Luger is a favorite because it’s accurate, recoils very little and it eats my handloads like they were candy! And when I think of that gun, I cannot overlook my Ruger Single-Six in .32 H&R Magnum. It has great power and almost no recoil. For cutting out the center of a bullseye, that little Ruger wheelgun is a dream.
The Ruger Single Six is chambered for the .32 H&R Magnum. It’s light, yet very powerful and will out-penetrate a .357 Magnum on a steel target. The 1917 Luger is such a smooth shooter that it’s like eating peanuts — I can’t stop! Both guns are very accurate.
Then, I think of my O3A3 Springfield. It’s one of the few military rifles that gives me an honest sub 2-inch group at 100 yards. If it didn’t recoil so much, I’m sure it would have popped up even sooner.
This O3A3 Springfield will smack you with recoil when you’re shooting full-house loads. The short stock gives it a running start at your shoulder. But the accuracy is stunning!
My M1 Carbine is also a favorite — not for its accuracy, which is just average — but for the fact that it drops the empty cases on top of the shooting bench! Most autoloaders throw their cases a country mile, but this little sweetie piles them up for me. With more training, I’m sure I can get it to put them back in the box!
My M1 Carbine is well-behaved. Next, I’m going to teach it to put the fired cases back into the box!
Guns I wish I still had
Now comes the Great Lament — the ones that got away! I had a Bernardelli Baby in .25 ACP that would put 3 shots into the bottom of a soda can offhand at 30 feet. Most .25s are lucky to hit dinner plates at that distance, but this little pistol was a good one. I let it get away. I recently bought another Bernardelli Baby in the hopes of doing the same thing. Alas, this one is a dinner-plate special.
Ruger .44 Magnum Blackhawk with 10-inch barrel
They’re very collectible now; but when I had my 3-screw Ruger Blackhawk, they were just good guns. I was too stupid to know that the one I had was an exceptional shooter. I figured I could always get another one.
Custom .458 Winchester Magnum
I have written about this rifle many times. I shot it with a 550-grain cast lead bullet, and it would put 10 shots into less than 2 inches (outside measurement) at 100 yards. It was like owning a target-grade 45/70. Stupid me — I thought I would always be able to find another one just as good. Haven’t yet!
What kind of shooting do I like to do?
I’m pretty easy to please. I like whatever kind of shooting I happen to be doing at the time — usually. The things I hate are magnum spring rifles that buzz like bottles of hornets, slap me in the face and have no accuracy. I also disdain black rifles that can’t group in less than 3 inches at 100 yards. In fact, I dislike almost anything that isn’t accurate.
I enjoy shooting a .45 Colt Single Action Army with accurate loads and feeling the plow-grip roll in my hand during recoil. I like shooting a nice 1911 and feeling the slight burp of recoil when I hold my thumb over the manual safety. I shot a Walther P38 recently that had a nice trigger and is very accurate. My experiences with P38s aren’t that good, but this one was memorable. I could burn up a lot of 9mm ammo in that one.
When I came home from the hospital several years ago, I received this Single Action Army as a gift from the readers of this blog. It is a favorite of mine because it mimics the feel of a Gen 1 Colt perfectly!
Same for the PO8 I got for Christmas. The ergonomics are legendary and the trigger is extremely good for a Luger (their trigger linkages usually make for poor triggers). My handloads are moderate enough that I can shoot this pistol for the rest of my life and not put any wear on it!
I enjoy holding a 10 with a target air pistol and seeing the pellet hit the pinwheel. I love seeing 10 shots from an accurate rifle sail through the same hole at 100 yards, knowing the hole they made is smaller than half an inch. I love shooting 5 shots from a 10-meter rifle and seeing a group smaller than a tenth of an inch.
Holding a 10 with a pistol is very enjoyable!
I love shooting my Daisy Avanti Champion 499 offhand and making quarter-inch groups. My shooting buddy Otho bought one for himself this past December and has been doing the same thing ever since.
I enjoy shooting a Garand and hearing the shot go off but not feeling the recoil. I know it’s there, but the push is so slow that it doesn’t seem to count. The same holds true for my .357 Magnum Desert Eagle. It’s got enough power to drop a steer, but the soft recoil feels like a 1911 shooting +P ammo.
Best of all
But the thing I like above all is when I solve some problem of inaccuracy and turn a bad gun into a real shooter. It doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, but from time to time I do hit one out of the park. I’m hoping to do that with my Ballard someday. And maybe my Meteor, as well.
by B.B. Pelletier
Isaiah Garrison is this week’s BSOTW.
It’s uncommon for a firearms manufacturer to make an airgun. Many of them put their names on airguns made by someone else, but not many bona fide firearms manufacturers actually produce them.
Even rarer is when an airgun manufacturer makes a firearm. It does happen, but it gives us cause to stop and wonder.
In 1952, Sheridan, the airgun maker from Racine, Wisconsin, began offering the Knocabout single-shot .22 long rifle pistol. When it was first produced, this unique pocket pistol retailed for $17.95 at the same time that the model A Sheridan air rifle was selling for $56.50! What a turnabout that was!
Today’s report was requested by blog reader Robert of Arcade, who has waited patiently for this for several years. As most long-term readers know, Robert is an old-school hunter and trapper from upstate New York. One thing about the Knocabout that must appeal to him is its utility on a trapline for administering the coup de grace to any trapped animal. Of course, that’s not its sole purpose, but it’s one of the big attractions because of the gun’s budget price.
Knocabout is right
Before I continue, let’s get something straight. Knocabout is the correct spelling for this model. I’m aware that it’s not the right spelling of the actual English word. That would be knockabout. But Sheridan must have had their reasons for spelling it differently. And speaking for Pyramyd Air, we have no room to comment.
One of my little strategies for finding Sheridan Knocabouts on gun auction sites is to enter the word both ways. I often find that the seller spells it incorrectly in his caption of a photo of the box lid with the correct spelling!
The Knocabout is made in the most cost-effective way possible for the time, without stepping over the line into cheap. The barrel is a steel casting that also contains some of the features required for the breech. If it were made today, the barrel would be a thin liner pressed into an outer shell; but on the Knocabout, it’s a single, solid piece of steel with several machined areas that serve different functions.
The pistol weighs 1 lb., 7.30 oz. The barrel is 4-3/4 inches long and the overall length is 7 inches.
Two steel side plates contain all the action parts, riveted together into a working assembly. It’s not a very maintainable way to build a gun, but it sure avoids a lot of manufacturing steps. The best part is that it works very well! It’s not a minimal design that barely functions. It’s reliable, consistent and easy to operate.
You’re looking inside the grip frame at the mainspring that drives the hammer.
The pistol is upside-down, and you’re looking at the metal plates that hold everything together. The barrel release and triggerguard are at the right.
The floating firing pin sticks out of the breechblock when the hammer rests against it.. When the safety is applied, it cams the hammer slightly back, allowing the firing pin to be pushed back by its spring. For the sake of safety, you should always apply the safety before opening the gun.
The grip is comprised of two plastic shells that are screwed to the sides of the sheet steel grip frame by two sheetmetal screws in each grip. When they’re removed, you gain somewhat better access into the action for cleaning with cotton swabs, though no other parts can be removed because they’re all retained by the seven rivets that hold the sheetmetal frame halves together.
The hammer is exposed and must be cocked manually. Then, open the breech by flipping the barrel up. Do this by pressing in on the lever sticking through the front of the triggerguard. The safety should be on when you do this. I found it best to load a cartridge, close the breech with the safety still on. Cock the gun and then release the safety when the muzzle is pointed toward the target. The instructions that are printed in the lid of the gun’s box tell you to do it this way.
The trigger-pull is single-stage and releases with 2 lbs. of pressure. There’s very little felt creep, and this trigger rates as a very good one!
The sights are cast and machined into the barrel casting. There’s a crisp, wide rear notch and a thinner front post that stands out clearly against a target with bright light falling on it. They’re non-adjustable, of course, but I admire how finished they appear to the shooter.
I’m sure you want to know how the Knocabout shoots, so I took it to my local gun club and shot it on the 15-yard range. I used a rested two-hand hold and a 6 o’clock sight picture. The targets were 50-foot timed and rapid-fire pistol targets, and I was at 45 feet, so they were ideally sized.
I tried the Sheridan with a lot of different ammo.
I shot the pistol with high-velocity .22 long rifles, standard-speed rounds that are listed as subsonic and two types of CB capsbecause they’re made for guns like this. As an afterthought, I also included some inexpensive Russian standard-speed long rifle ammo that has proved mediocre in some of my other .22s. Who knows if they would somehow shine in this pistol?
This is a single-shot pistol that takes a lot of time to load, so I went with 5-shot groups for this test. I’m not going to show you every target I fired, but I’ll give all the results. I’ll show only the worst group and the best. The first target, however, I mis-counted and shot 6 rounds.
This 6-shot group measures 6.5 inches across — from the outside of the two holes farthest apart. It was shot with CCI CB Longs, a round that did well in my 6-part report on CB caps versus pellets. In the Knocabout, however, it was dead last.
Winchester Super-X high-velocity .22 long rifle rounds made a group that measured 5-3/8 inches across the two widest holes. Aguila Super Colibri made a 5-1/8 inch group. Then, CCI subsonics turned in a group that measured 2-3/8 inches across. That sounded very good in light of what had gone before. But, then, I tried the Russian Junior ammo. Amazingly, they struck the center of the bull and gave a group measuring just 1-7/8 inches across. The pistol really could shoot, after all! I only needed the right ammo.
This group of 5 Russian Junior rounds was astounding after what had gone before. It measures 1-7/8 inches across!
Two other guns
Someone who doesn’t know me might think that I don’t know how to shoot, so I thought I would shoot two other .22 handguns to put these results in perspective. One is a very early Ruger Single-Six with the flat loading gate, and the other is a nondescript Ruger Mark II Target pistol. I didn’t shoot as many different rounds in either of these guns as I did the Knocabout, but I shot enough to show that I can shoot.
This Single-Six is an older one.
Five Winchester Super-X rounds from the Ruger Single-Six made this 2-3/8 inch group that’s well-centered in the bull.
Ruger’s Mark II Target pistol is mundane, but highly accurate.
This target made by the Ruger Mark II with 5 CCI subsonic round measures 15/16 of an inch across the outside.
Compared to what?
I’ve said many nice things about the Knocabout. It probably sounds as though I think it’s almost a free pistol. The truth is, it’s a long way from that. But compared to the other inexpensive single-shot .22 pistols made at the same time, I think the Knocabout might just be the pick of the litter. It’s certainly much better than a Wamo Powermaster; and from what I know from examination but without shooting one, a Savage 101. I know there were a double handful of other cheap single-shots in the ’50s, and I’m going to guess that the Knocabout is probably better than all of them. Of course, what do I know? I haven’t tested any of them. I’m saying that based on what I see in front of me and what I know about Sheridan’s reputation at the time.
With the grips off, you can see what the pistol looks like underneath.
The barrel flips up for loading.