by B.B. Pelletier

This isn’t Part 2 to yesterday’s report, but it could be. Today, I got out to the range for the first time since February. And, man, did I need it! I took a bunch of guns that I’d never shot before and tried them all out.

1862 Peabody
This rifle was patented in 1862 as a breechloader for the U.S., but it was never ordered. However, three states did buy it for their militias, including Connecticut, which later returned all their rifles to the maker to be converted to .45/70. That is the caliber mine is, so I quickly cooked up 20 rounds of my Trapdoor Springfield load, knowing that the stronger Peabody falling block action would have no trouble with it.

Like a Sharps rifle only different, the Peabody isn’t as well-known as some of the other big bore single-shots. This one is a .45/70 made in about 1868.

The Peabody was the forerunner of the Martini falling block action. The difference is the Peabody has an exposed hammer that must be manually cocked. The rifling is Alexander Henry-type, and the bore on this rifle is perfect!

A good friend of mine takes a shot at the 50-yard bull.

Compared to a .45 ACP (bottom), the .45/70 rifle cartridge is huge and imposing.

I spent no effort making accurate rounds. These were just for function firing, and the bullets varied in weight by as much as five grains. Still, I shot a very decent first group with the rifle. Good enough that I’m now interested in seeing what it can be made to do. Anytime you get bullets landing near each other with a big bore rifle on the first go-round, you’re doing something right. I suspect this rifle can shoot into less than a minute of angle when everything is perfect.

While this is no screamer, it does indicate that the Peabody wants to shoot. Better sights, a refined powder load and finding the correct seating depth will all serve to tighten the group considerably.

This rifle recoils heavily with the test load, so I’ll have to load differently to reduce the felt recoil. The buttplate is narrow compared to other big bore single-shots such as the Trapdoor, and that magnifies the felt recoil. So, I stopped shooting after 10 rounds.

Single-Action Army
I then tried out my Uberti Single-Action Army, which was a homecoming gift this summer. All I had were light cowboy action loads, and the range was 50 yards, so although I did hit the bullseye, it wasn’t worth talking about. But the revolver certainly is! I really like the way Uberti copied the original Colt narrow grip profile, giving this replica the exact feel of an old black powder model Colt. It felt great, and recoiled with about the same energy as a .38 Special.

The Uberti SAA is a delight to shoot. The plow-handle shape of Colt’s grip makes the gun turn in your hand, absorbing most of the recoil. With the right loads, a 2″ five-shot group should be possible from a rested position at 50 yards.

I need to start loading for this revolver, because I know I can tighten those groups by quite a bit. And the cost per round will drop to about 7 cents. The only bullet worth loading in the .45 Colt is the legendary Keith 452424 semi-wadcutter from Lyman. Look for a more in-depth report on this gun in the future.

M1 Carbine
I recently scored a beautiful M1 Carbine in a large trade. It’s a 100 percent S’G’ gun, made by Saginaw Steering Gear at their Grand Rapids plant. Saginaw took over the plant when gun maker Irwin Pederson failed to deliver on their carbine contract. This builder of marine transmissions quickly organized the operation and began cranking out very acceptable carbines from the same machinery and using the same workers as Irwin Pederson. The difference was senior management. The Army was so impressed by their success that a second carbine contract was awarded to the company, plus they also made guns at another plant.

My new M1 Carbine. I’ve been searching for this rifle for 10 years!

My carbine is the most accurate M1 carbine I’ve ever owned or even shot. And it deposits the empty cases right in front of the shooter, instead of scattering them all over hell’s half acre. I really scored well on this trade!

This may not seem like a great target, but it’s the tightest group I’ve ever shot at 50 yards with a carbine. And this was just the first group!

The final tale
Last evening I did submit a bid for that David Lurch Primary New York crank airgun I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, but it was less than the reserve. So after my morning at the range, my friend and I headed over to the gun store where the Winchester 74 Gallery rifle was. I discovered that they knew what it was from reading the entry in the Blue Book of Gun Values. Because the book didn’t mention the Gallery model as such, the store personnel didn’t know what it was. And I’m sure it looked as garish to them as it does to me.

Like Marilyn Monroe, the Gallery Winchester model 74 looks better in pictures than in person.

So, I hemmed and hawed and danced around the store with the rifle in my hands, acting surprised when they told me that it shot only .22 Short cartridges. At one point, I passed on the gun at their price, and then five minutes later they knocked off $100 and ate the sales tax. Apparently, this rifle had been in their shop way too long.

And that’s the full circle of this two-day tale. I resolved the conundrum by investing in a rifle from which I know I can make good money.