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Tales of the accurate gun

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Today’s blog is going to be fun for me, and I hope for all of you, as well. I’m going to talk about one of my favorite subject — the accurate gun. You have to be a shooter to know what I’m talking about because non-shooters assume that all guns are accurate. They assume that it’s the skill of the shooter that makes guns work like they do.

That’s like saying all violins are the same, and a master can make a student instrument sound like a Stradivarius. Or a NASCAR driver can make a minivan perform like a Ferarri. But it doesn’t work that way. While expert handling can extract all the performance from anything, no matter what it is, there’s also no way to get more than it has to offer, regardless of who wields the bow or sits behind the wheel. Or, in today’s case, is on the trigger!

Accuracy is something that lives in the gun. And, in my experience, a really accurate gun isn’t that common. Though I shot a lot starting in my late youth, it wasn’t until I acquired a custom .458 Winchester Magnum in my twenties that I encountered my first really accurate gun. I bought…or more likely, traded…for the rifle at a local gun show when I was living in El Paso, Texas, in the early 1970s. It was a 1903 Springfield that had been rebarrelled to .458 Winchester Mag.; and it came with the reloading dies, a bullet mold, a batch of empty brass and even a recommended load. The seller/trader told me if I loaded it with his load, the rifle would be phenomenally accurate. I’d heard that before, but not as many times back then as I have today. In spite of my doubts, I did the deal.

I cast up some of the 558-grain lead bullets and loaded up the exact formula the seller had recommended, which I recall was 24 grains of 2400 powder and a greased but unsized bullet seated to a certain depth in the case. Then, I went to the range. Since this was a .458 Winchester Magnum, I was prepared to be kicked hard, but that load was so soft that it was very pleasing to shoot from the bench. When I checked the first 5-shot group at 100 yards and saw that it was only an inch across, I was thrilled!

That’s when I began shooting 10-shot groups, because, try though I might, I could not get those big lead slugs to go anywhere but through the same hole. In fact, the accuracy of that rifle became downright boring after awhile. I would load up 40 rounds and shoot 4 groups that were all less than 2 inches across at 100 yards. Big whoop! There was no challenge.

I didn’t know then that I would never again have a rifle so inherently accurate. I just assumed that was the way of things, so I eventually sold or traded that rifle…and have lamented the decision ever since.

This is why I want so much for my Ballard rifle to shoot well — because I believe that it can! If that old put-together Springfield sporter could lob them all through the same little hole, there’s no reason a purpose-built target rifle made in 1876, when American gunmaking was at its zenith, shouldn’t do the same.

Marlin Ballard
My Ballard rifle is beautiful. If only it shot like it looks!

So far, the Ballard has been a heartbreaker. She taunts and teases me with her looks and then puts 7 out of 10 bullets through the same hole, while scattering the other 3 wherever she pleases! Time after time, I thought I found the secret and was about to turn the Ballard into the thoroughbred she is, and just as many times I’ve been disappointed. When that happens, I get so discouraged that I have to abandon shooting the rifle altogether and do something else. There have even been times when I’ve thought of selling the rifle just to get it out of my sight. But, then, I look at her and realize that I have to keep trying.

My latest theory is that the rifle needs a shorter bullet because the twist rate is very slow. It’s 1:20, where a normal .38-55 twist is 1:18. That would mean the 255-grain bullets I’ve been shooting are too long to stabilize. Please understand that I’m using smokeless powder in my reloads, and this rifle was designed for black powder. With black powder, you fill the case as full as it will go so there’s no empty space between the powder and bullet. If there were space, the powder would develop a shockwave that would destroy the rifle!

But smokeless powder doesn’t fill the case, and the pressure rises faster than black powder, so I have to keep the charges low. As a result, the gun cannot fire the bullet fast enough, even though it was designed to shoot that bullet. Because of that, it can’t stabilize it properly. At least, that’s my guess.

Another problem is that there’s no leade ahead of the chamber. The rifling rises up at the end of the chamber and that’s it. A bullet with a fat nose won’t chamber properly, as the rifling will prevent the bullet from being seated.

What I need is a custom bullet for this rifle and to own the mold made for it. I’m working on that right now.

Springfield O3A3
I got an O3A3 Springfield from my buddy Mac a couple years ago. Most Springfield rifles are accurate in the general sense, but this one is special. It lays them in there better than it should. I can pull a sub-2-inch group at 100 yards when I do my part, and that’s with the battle sights that came standard on the rifle.

O3A3 Springfield
They made millions of them, but this one is special. It’s more than accurate — it doesn’t like to miss.

The O3A3 was the last incarnation of the famous 1903 Springfield bolt-action battle rifle. It was made during World War II to fill the need for rifles until Springfield could catch up with the Garand production. What made it an O3A3 were several minor design changes that substituted stamped and welded assemblies for machined parts. Oh, the hue and cry about that was great! Even in the 1960s, old soldiers still bemoaned the cheapening of the Springfield rifle!

But there was a funny side to it, as well. The cheaper rifles were also often more accurate! Instead of the antiquated Buffington peep sight that had been around since 1884, the O3A3 has a modern rear peep sight that adjusts for both windage and elevation. And mine has a 4-groove Remington barrel that’s renowned for accuracy. Put the package together, and you have an American battle rifle that shoots like a target gun. The one I have does even better than most.

Buffington sight
For 1884, the Buffington rear sight that combined a peep with an open notch was high-tech. It was used on all U.S. rifles through the M1903 Springfield, but it’s dated today!

O3A3 rear sight
The O3A3 rear peep modernized the Springfield rifle during WWII. It made the rifle easier to shoot accurately.

It’s a natural shooter! For some reason unknown to me, my O3A3 puts all its bullets where I want them — with iron sights! When Mac traded it to me, he apologized for the Social Security number that some former owner engraved on the receiver with an electric pen. It’s barely visible, but its presence makes this 99-percent rifle a $600 shooter rather than an $1,100 collectible. But there’s also an upside to that. I don’t have to worry about the wear I’m causing by working the bolt because all the value has already been taken away.

I’ve owned six 1903-type Springfield rifles in my life. All of them were accurate, but this one is special. It goes beyond being accurate and crosses into a realm that’s hard to define. Those readers who own accurate guns will understand what I’m saying.

Handguns, too!
I’ve owned super-accurate handguns, too. One of them is a revolver I got just recently in a trade. It’s a gun I never would have considered before shooting 12 rounds offhand into pretty much one hole at 15 yards a few months ago. And the caliber — .32-20, which is also called .32 WCF — is a caliber I thought I would never own.

The gun is a Smith & Wesson Hand Ejector with target sights. It’s from the 1930s and shows it’s heritage proudly. It was carried for years in a handmade leather holster until the owner, my pal Otho, finally decided the gun had become too valuable to carry anymore. He no longer shoots handguns for medical reasons, so he was kind enough to let me try his pride and joy earlier this year. When he saw that I shot it well, too, he offered it to me.

S&W Hand Ejector
This 32-20 S&W Hand Ejector looks dated, but it shoots like the target pistol that it is.

Most revolvers have one chamber that’s just a little out of line with the barrel and shoots just a little off. This one has six good chambers that you can’t tell apart downrange. But that’s understandable; because when it was made, Smith & Wesson used skilled craftsmen to fine-tune their revolvers — especially those with adjustable sights.

I own lots of accurate firearms and airguns, but today I’ve been discussing something more than that. The guns I’ve mentioned, with the exception of the Ballard, are beyond accurate. They have something that’s hard to define and harder to give a name to. When I pick up one of them, I know where my shot will be going — every time! I don’t know what to call this thing I’m talking about, but it does warm my heart to shoot one of these special guns.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

126 thoughts on “Tales of the accurate gun”

  1. Such a relevant and important topic.

    Accurate guns are special guns. Seems we all have stories about accurate guns we took for granted early on in our shooting lives and sold or traded them not knowing how hard they would be to replace.

    If I stumble upon an accurate gun I don’t sell it anymore.


  2. Best thing is when you stumble on an accurate gun and get the chance to shoot it enough that you don’t have to consciously think about what you’re doing when you shoot it. That makes for a very good combination. Given the ammo shortages of recent years, I don’t know how often that happens these days.

    • Bob,

      Yes, I have tried black powder. I haven’t been able to get results that are as good as the best I can get with smokeless powder, yet.

      I have just sprung for another bullet mold. This one is a shorter, lighter bullet that is also larger in diameter than the best one I now have. I will try it both sized and inserted in the cartridge cases and also loaded separately into the bore. I’m hoping it will work.

      Fingers crossed!



  3. BB
    When I read your articles it seems that I always can relate to them in some sense to something I have experienced.
    I remember my dad saying when he was shooting a new gun and was trying different loads when I was a kid.
    “I know this gun should be shooting better than this” and would keep working till he got it.
    On that part I wish I would of payed more attention to what he was trying to teach me.

    And I have definitely learned over time from RC planes, muscle cars, dirt bikes and so on. That if you have something good don’t get rid of it. And like BB said. Set it aside and come back to it if ain’t working out at the moment. I have gotten rid of things and wished I had not done that.

    And the Buffington peep sight your talking about I just love those sights. Even more than the modern peep sight on the Springfield. Just me but I like how much elevation adjustment they had.

    And BB I do understand that realm of hard to define. And it happens not only in guns.
    And like the saying goes. You don’t know what you got till its gone.

    All I can say is I like boring accurate guns.There’s always more ways to make the shooting time more exciting and challenging. And when you do have a gun like that it allows you to find the problems you have with your shooting techniques. Which makes the gun even more valuable in the sense of being accurate.

    And we were talking about something at work tonight. Spring and nitro piston guns.
    There is 6 of us that shoot together on the weekend. We rotate going to each others house’s to shoot. We will come up with different things to shoot at. Targets, what position to shoot at. Even trying different types of holds.
    We are all going to get a different gun (we all decided break barrel) and figure out the ammo for each the best we can. Then each of us is going to shoot each gun. And see what the results will be from each shooting a different gun.

    All this came about because I said what if you have a challenging gun setting in front of you. The other day I said I done shot spring guns and nitro guns. But I really never went about getting a result like I do now days. I just shot them and took them for what they were. Or what I thought they were anyway.

    Well I’m ordering a Benjamin .25 cal. Nitro piston walnut stock break barrel today. And I already have multiple types of pellets from my Marauder .25 cal. So I have the one up on the other guys already.
    Put the problem is they are all pretty smart shooters.

    Dang any way and I said I was only going to shoot for fun.
    Aw the heck with that….. Let The Competition begin. 🙂

    • Today, right now, well maybe wait a few more hours, contact CharlieDaTuna to see if he has a trigger for your new sproinger. I did such when I first acquired my Gamo CFX. It took it from being a pretty decent sproinger to one that would shoot with the best of them. No, it will not make it into a Rekord or TX200 trigger, but when you shoot it with the stock trigger and then the GRT trigger, you will be amazed.

      Yes, I let it get away and yes, I do regret doing such. I am planning on picking up another cheapo sproinger and it will probably have a GRT waiting for it’s arrival.

      • RR
        I had a .22 cal. Benjamin Nitro piston I guess maybe 3 or 4 years ago. I remember the trigger to be ok in my gun. But that son of gun did thump when it shot. And I’m talking about the recoil when it shot not necessarily the impact thump which it did do..

        I’m sure a trigger would help with the performance of the gun. But what about the operators performance? I think I would of been more successful if I would of listened more to what people told me about different holds for guns. And perfecting my techniques.

        I’m sure you know me by now. I’m always wanting to try to change something on a gun to make it better. But how do you satisfy yourself with that gun that just wont produce what you expect? Every thing hasits limit.

        • So true, but with a better trigger it just might take it to a higher level. The primary reason I got rid of the CFX is I had taken it to it’s limit. I had even tried a gas piston in it.

          The trigger will fit multiple air rifles. When you tire of this one you can pull it out and try it in another.

      • BB
        I think I may not of stated it correctly. When we get the guns sorted out we are actually going to try to shoot (each others guns) and see what results we get.
        We decided that we will all use a scope. One of the problems we thought about though was the focus of the reticle. So the scope can be any kind as long as it has a adjustable focus on the eye piece.

        I think it will be fun. Will see.

  4. And BB you always have wonderful photography even when you say it ain’t what you expected.
    So no criticism here.
    But I wish the picture of the Buffington peep sight was more clear. I would like to see if it was like what I remembered on the 30-06 that I used for ground hogs when I was a kid.

    I always thought it was a M1 Garrand. Or maybe it was a Springfield. I was a kid and not really paying close attention to what the gun actually was. All I know is it kicked like I don’t know what. But funny thing I liked that kick when I was younger.

    • Isn’t a 30-06 a bit much for a groundhog? Do you remember if it was a bolt-action or semiauto? That will tell you if it was a Springfield or a Garand. It was a source of great satisfaction to hear on the blog that the gun that took out Jaws was a Garand, doing it’s thing in the salt water. Knowing that it seems superfluous to me that it hit the oxygen tank. I would think that a Garand could take care of Jaws all by itself.


      • Matt61
        Had a 410 shot gun, a 22lr., a airgun, and a 30-06 that I could use.
        And most of the time the shots were about 75 to a 100 yards out when I was shooting the ground hogs. So the 30-06 was probably a bit to much. But the other guns wouldn’t of done the trick unless I got closer. It was pretty much open field with the levi running down one side so it was hard to get close to the groundhogs.
        And it was probably a Garand from what I remember what the wood looked like. It was a semi automatic. We moved from the farm when I was a teenager (still had the farm and was there all the time just didn’t live there any more) Don’t know what happened to that gun. For some reason some of the guns that we had weren’t around anymore. I think my dad sold stuff to help buy the new house.

      • Matt,

        Have you been living in a cave? LOL!

        The latest craze is shooting prairie dogs with 50 caliber bmg’s. There must be a hundred youtube videos of folks doing this. Now that’s a double barreled dose of overkill.


  5. If I was a collector, I would want the Buffington sight Springfield. If I was going to war, give me the peep. I would like to get my grubby little paws on some of the old long range sights to fool with some, but when the rubber meets road so to speak, I want something that works and works well.

    I think Bob From Oz has a really good question that I would have thought you would have tried on day one. You have stated many times that it was one of the most coveted target rifles of the time. At the time, they used black powder.

      • + 1 on retrying black powder……but experiment with load size! (if you haven’t already).Semolina flour or corn meal to fill the remaining case void.If it doesn’t tighten up,it will still smell delicious!

        • Frank,

          As far as load size goes, Ned Roberts and the other schuetzen shooters agree you have to load them full. I don’t mean volume — I understand what you mean by using flour to replace the powder. But they all say you have to use a full charge to get the best accuracy.

          They also say the power must be screened before using, so the granule size is more uniform. This is something they all did back in the day and we no longer do it. I haven’t done that yet. Maybe that is what makes the Swiss powder better than the other brands?


          • RR,

            Got it!

            Okay, first you need to understand that leather seals do work just as good as modern seals. They last even longer, plus they fit the bore of the compression chamber better. Their only drawback is the need for frequent lubrication, to keep the leather supple. And the leather is not suite to higher temperatures and pressures that a model breakbarrel would have. But your 1906 doesn’t have that problem.

            A leather seal lasts so long, once it is fitted to the chamber. I have seen leather seals that were close to 100 years old and still doing their jobs.

            You will encounter several problems with synthetic seals — the biggest being that one would have to be hand made to fit your gun, as no modern seals are made for those older models. If you don’t want to make your own seal, why don’t you just search for one already made? The British sites are loaded with such things. Try TRRobb’s site and John Knibbs site.


            • I have already started looking around for a spare leather seal or two. If I happen upon a synthetic, I will probably pick it up just to try it out. It is so easy to take this thing apart, I can change seals out in just a little bit.

              My main goal with this BSA is to restore it, not modify it. I have a very strong feeling I am going to be very happy with this thing.

            • I agree that leather seals are quite durable and long lasting. Kind of off subject but I had an old two barrell Carter carburetor on a 64 Plymouth. I rebuilt the carb several times and on the accelerator pump it came with a leather seal on the end. The rebuild kit came with a rubber or something piece? But if I used the new piece it wouldn’t seal and some how gas would blow past every gasket in the carb and make the float stick? So once I went back to the old leather piece it would work fine?

          • RR,

            I must emphasize something that B.B. said.

            Even if you’re able to source a synthetic seal for your older gun it’s highly unlikely that it could be sized to fit the bore of your compression chamber as well as the leather seal does now. Looser fit = less velocity and possibly piston slam.

            Very common that older (and even newer) compression chambers are out of round. Unless you have a way to correct this, like with a sunnen hone and an operator that knows what they’re doing, you will more than likely regret a change from leather to synthetic.


    • The best and one of the few examples I can think of where the Marines really used long range marksmanship to effect was at the Battle of Belleau Wood in World War I where they suppressed the Germans at 800 yards or so with rifle fire. That was using the old ladder sight. But I don’t know if it made any difference in the battle. The marksmanship did not help the Marines when they charged over an open wheat field under machine gun fire or with the close quarters fighting in Belleau Wood itself.

      I’m actually partial to the 03A3 myself. I part I prefer the Garand style peep sight. And I’m also leery of low number Springfields which had faulty heat treatments that made them liable to blow up.


        • TT
          Yes I do.
          Back in the early days when I started my job at the machine shop we had one guy that was notorious for doing crazy stuff.
          These are only a few things I will list that he done.

          Left a wrench on a screw machine spindle after adjusting the length of the stop. And hit the go button. Yep wrench went flying.

          We had a 1 gallon bottle of blue Dykem.
          (it is dye that you use to color metal so you can lay something out or see if the finnish tool cleans up the rough cut when machining) he wanted to put some in the smaller 8oz. container so he decided he was going to siphon it with a tube and his mouth instead of just pouring it. Guess what he got a mouthful of Dykem and spit it out all over the place.
          He got nicknamed Poppa Smurf after that. And he had a blue beard for a while.

          So yep I know what you mean.

  6. I hope not but at the end of the day your Ballard may just not be a accurate rifle, only an average one.
    Perhaps that is why it was sold. It’s just really hard to get it to shoot. An old “from the day” black powder load may shoot the best.


  7. I’d be willing to miss bagging a moose or two simply because of looks…she is a real beauty! For some reason, something about Marlin pops into my mind whenever I hear the name Ballard but for the life of me I can’t remember what at the moment.
    I don’t think I currently own one single truly accurate gun. A few are ‘close,’ and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well my MP5 replica in .22lr groups. Top of the list would have to be an old Contender chambered in .45-70. Sub 2in. groups @ 100 yards are easy IF benched.
    To be honest I’ve been just amazed at how accurate airguns are! Granted the distances are shorter, but I’ve had some truly spectacular goups with a Disco & a P3.

    • I could be wrong, but I know Marlin rifles used to use Ballard rifling back in the day. Maybe that’s what you’re thinking. More likely you’re thinking of a connection because Marlin made Ballard rifles starting around 1875.

    • Dangerdongle,

      Marlin comes to mind with the name Ballard because Marlin produced the rifle. The Ballard saga is a long and interesting one. Ballard himself left the stage shortly after designing the first rifle. Marlin was the last maker, and also took the rifle up to its zenith.

      Ballard rifling is so legendary that it has become a generic term.

      Kevin Lentz was so taken by my Ballard that his visited John Dutcher, the author of the number one book on Ballards, and had a long discussion about my rifle. He put me in contact with Mr. Dutcher and he bought his book for me and had Dutcher autograph it to me.

      Dutcher has told me much more about my rifle than any book ever could. That’s why I like it so much. And of course I feel that Kevin has a share in the ownership with me, because of all he has done. He visited me several years ago and was able to hold the rifle, so among all the readers, he is the one person who has actually seen it. If he ever has the time, he is invited to come and shoot the rifle, and I hope I have it shooting its best by then.


      • B.B.,

        You’re too kind.

        I’ve been around Ballards as long as I can remember. Even attended the old Schuetzenfests with my grandfather that were held at the Coors range every year.

        Never owned a ballard though. Unobtainium in my mind. Kinda like a rolls royce. I admire what a rolls royce is and does but will probably never own one.

        YOUR saga about unlocking the accuracy potential in your ballard is very interesting to me. Discovering the secrets to accuracy one step at a time is a perfect lesson for those of us that shoot springers and nitro piston/rammed airguns. Sometimes the journey to accuracy is very discouraging.

        The part where you talk about frustration, setting the gun aside, having thoughts of selling it but in the end picking the gun back up and trying other options really struck a chord with me. Really happy to hear you have a new bullet mold on the way. Fingers crossed.

        ps-don’t sell my share in the ownership of that wonderful Ballard.


  8. BB,
    That is a profound topic. Just for fairness, I would argue (of course, you know I must argue :)) that many also incorrectly assume only a few of the very best rifles are accurate and don’t put the effort into shooting other rifles, even though a little effort would be rewarded; often the fault really does lie in the shooter or the load. Agreeing with you, however, the truth is that even two barrels made one after the other can vary, and one may be exquisitely accurate while the other is only mediocre. This is especially true of production rifles, though a certain brand/model may have a propensity toward one extreme or the other. I think, for example, that I got extremely lucky with my QB36-2, but I only got a run of the mill Diana 34 barrel.

    I hope you triumph over the Ballard. I don’t think Kevin would forgive you if you sold it, although I would have long been rid of it (too pretty to work) and am impressed with your patience. Being simple minded, I feel like I have made my assessment in the first 10 shots; a rifle may not have produced its best group in that time, but it should be showing me what is possible. Alas, I also understand what you are suffering with the Ballard’s teasing, and therein lies the dilemma, I suppose?

    • BG_Farmer,

      You say that you like to make an assessment in the first 10 shots, yet you argue that working with a gun may reveal hidden accuracy potential. Do you see a problem with that?

      I guess I’m like you. I like the gun to reveal itself to me on the first try, as well. The Ballard is perhaps the first time I have actually worked hard to get a gun to shoot. I’m not counting all those 5-part blogs about pellet rifles, because for the most part, they failed. But maybe I didn’t try hard enough? 😉


      • BB,
        No, I don’t see a problem with making an assessment in 10 shots. Ten shots gives me an idea of what is likely to be a problem and/or if the thing is LIKELY to be worth the effort. I didn’t say my assessments were always (or even often :)) infallible or that I don’t like a challenge every once in a while! My most recent gut assessment is of a Ruger Mark III 22 45. If it were mine, I might best have pitched it into a deep hole! Instead I am researching how to approach salvaging the mess that the factory considers a functional product. Most online reviews tell me I’m wrong on that one, but I’m not so sure…

        You always go beyond the call of duty — re: 5 part pellet rifle blogs, so you won’t (or shouldn’t) get any grief from me! I think you also have done more than “due diligence” with the Ballard as well, though at this point you have invested so much time into it that it would be sad to give up.

        • Don’t give up on that 22/45, BG! Although I hate to say it out loud, I had problems with the take-down and reassembly procedure until I actually went online in search of answers. I also hate to say that it out-shoots my former, beloved, Browning Challenger III that I was forced to sell during lean years. It’s ugly for sure, but dang! it feels natural in my hand and hits what I point it at! Hardly ever a failure to feed or fire either. Items one of those tat I bought used, like new, at a gun show and will probably never sell.


            • I don’t know if they’re different, but the 22/45 comes apart with no tools other than a fingernail. But, you absolutely must hold it in the proper position for gravity to help reassemble it. Otherwise it won’t cock.

              • Think the 22/45 and the all the regular (original, Mk-II, Mk-III) use the same take-down. Pry out a lever on the back of the grip, pivot out the main-spring/hammer module which also drops the pin that blocks the bolt from coming out the back.

                The Challenger II (which I traded in for my MK-II Govt Comp Target model), and likely the Buckmark (I don’t recall a Challenger III) were rather simple in takedown: back out the screw under the barrel (buckmark: back out the screw holding down the rear sight — the Challenger II rear sight was only supported by the strap from the base of the barrel); lock slide to rear, tilt barrel off the conical end of the screw, release slide to front.

                Reminds me: I still haven’t ordered the target trigger group for my MK-II.

                • Wulfraed,

                  My 22/45 is listed at Ruger as just 22/45. No MK anything. Made in 1995 according to the serial number. Comes apart and goes back together as you described.

                  My old Challenger III was made sometime in the 80’s. At least that was when I got it. Slab sided, 5.5″ bull barrel and an aluminum frame. It was the last model with wood grips and the gold medallion that was before the ugly Buckmark series.


                  • That would be a Mk II action, as the mk2 runs from 1982 to 2004. They did the grip frame (aka “lower”) specially for the 22/45, but many perhaps most parts are interchangeable with regular mark II’s. I think you have the same bolt stop/release toggle as a mark III 22/45, though. That and the magazine disconnect are my big gripe with the mk III 22/45, but if on isn’t a hopeless grump like I am, it is serviceable.

                  • 1995 makes it a Mk-II; same general vintage as my KMK678GC (Interesting, Blue Book states it has black polymer grip panels, but mine has thumb-rest wood, and came with the scope base and rings [though to fit my red-dot, I had to get 30mm rings AND an extended scope base]). BB does give it a long confusing name too: government target model competition slabside… vs my government competition [GC in model number] target model.

                    Ah — no wonder I missed the Challenger III. Only produced from 82-85.

          • /Dave,
            I’m not giving up — too stupid to quit. Besides it is my wife’s, she researched and selected it herself, and she appears to be quite happy with it.

            I actually like the looks of it: a sort of multicultural love triangle involving the Nambus, Luger, and a dash of JMB’s classic 1911, in fashionable Zytel. Reliability is pretty good after 200 shakeout rounds, and accuracy appears to be excellent. My problem with it is the mk III add-ons, i.e. magazine disconnect and loaded chamber indicator, plus, the worst of the horrors, the 22/45’s special bolt stop/release. First, I’d like to see data on how many mk II accidents there were (I’m guessing zero) that led to the disconnect and the LCI being considered necessary. Then I’d like to know why the designer thought that the bolt stop/release functionality was even close to a 1911’s slide release (which many of us never touch except to field strip). If he doesn’t have a good answer, he should be forced to watch the thousands of YouTube fixes :). Surely if some dude in his mom’s basement can come up with a satisfactory fix, a professional should be held to higher standards. I know it is usable as it is, but it just seems clunky.

            Did the teardown and re-assembly tonight, just for kicks. First time was a nightmarish scene with adult language and a large rubber hammer; that is typical for me on the first run :). Second time took about 1 minute, a pocketknife (my nails are short) and a chopstick (first thing I found; incidentally the manual recommends a “blunt, pointed object” or something to that effect:) ). There is a real trick, and gravity is the key. The magazine disconnect complicates it unnecessarily, though.

          • /Dave,
            I ran another 50 or so rounds through it yesterday (to make sure re-assembly was correct before she got home :)), and I have to say, one could start to like the Ruger MkIII 22/45. My wife doesn’t like 1911’s that much (or at all, which makes her choice a little confusing to me, but not a first time), so the bolt stop/release button doesn’t bother her one bit.

            Sadly, my first impression of it was skewed due to a poor choice of ammunition: Of the 5 or six I’ve tried since, the first one we chose to shoot is the only one that gives anything like trouble. The funny thing is I wasn’t so much upset for myself (as I expect trouble with .22autoloaders) as for my wife, since I was supposed to be guiding her with it, but she was not bothered at all. Why I didn’t reach for the Mini-mags at first — only being a (grumpy) cheapskate can explain :)! Even the 8 year old Golden Bullets (that my G60 likes also) shoot very well, though.

  9. Accuracy – the search for a human/ballistic holy grail.

    On a lower level, I’ve spent today zeroing my Baikal MP61 with a freebie (with an airgun magaazine subscription) Chinese made 4 x 32 scope. Sharp picture @ 10 yards. Using a ‘KillZone bench rest, so reticule totally under control.

    Because oldish arms are wobbly – if I ever find an accurate gun, will I be good enough to know it?

    I think if only I can leave the guns alone long enough – there are exercises on my wii machine to strengthen the parts that wobble – a more accurate man to find an accurate gun?

  10. BB,

    The Ballard is just testing you to see how much you love her… This next mould will do the trick!

    What do you think of this? (kind of a retro question since I already sent the money for it…)


    I know the metal is rusty, but the wood is beautiful! I’m hoping to get a shooter that’s maybe refinishable out of this. I’ll let you know how it turns out.


  11. B.B.

    Springfield looks like a real deal. And I can understand those guys who mourned machined parts. I don’t know why, but bolt-action feels to me more of a weapon than anything else, not those cheap spray-and-pray stamped-steel toys. And it’s a man’s tool – aim well, hit right, one shot – one kill. Leaves some time to think or drop a well-peppered one-liner. Perhaps its just because I own a bolt-action 🙂


    • Spoken like a traditionalist. I hope you’ve had a chance to shoot a Lee-Enfield which takes bolt-action shooting to its zenith. On the other hand, there’s a lot that goes into this experience. The Mosin is not as fast as a Lee-Enfield, but if one values a hefty clanking action, then the Mosin is it. This is a real man’s rifle that is rough and tough in every way, and it is the most reliable of all my rifles bar none. That action simply never fails to feed and extract ever.


  12. I have two guns that are very accurate. One because they are just accurate out of the box, the other because I put some serious work into making it accurate. They are my Airforce Condor. The other is my Benjamin Discovery. I got a lot of time, money, labor and parts in the disco, but It will shatter pellets one on top of another all day long as long as you do your part. I’m currently trying to sell it. My condor I won’t part with. Still unknown is my AR15. I haven’t fired it yet but I expect that will be very accurate too. I’m still waiting for my optics to come in. Then I need to zero the optics and test it for accuracy. The exciting thing about my AR is that everything is state of the art from the kevlar reinforced lower to the entire hand built upper. Every pin, spring, and part was bought piece at a time finding only the best of the best pieces.

      • There’s the rub. Since this is a brand new never been fired rifle I have to figure out what it likes. The first thing I have to try it on is Winchester 55 grain FMJ. It was the only 2 boxes of 5.56 in the store and I snagged them. If these don’t work well I’ll try and find something else if I can find it. Ammo is still a bit hard to come by.

          • Unless somebody makes self reloading ammo I’ll need to rely on preloaded ammo. I don’t have any reloading tools. Most of what I shoot is non-reloadable anyway, This is my first AR since I lift the army. Everything else is steel cased 7.62×39 berdan primed running through my AK47’s. I’m looking at making an upper that uses the 7.62×39 for my AR so it’s a more substantial deer hunting capable rifle. We can use 5.56 here in Michigan but I want something a bit heavier for deer. That will make my AR a multi-mission rifle as well. I like that concept. I first tried a multi-mission shooting system when I got my condor. I love the concept.

        • Tell me about it… Good thing I’m not a hunter…

          For the last 8 months the most I’ve seen of .308Win is two boxes (20rd) at a time. That’s just enough to maybe sight in at a range. .22LR? Haven’t seen any all year. Strangely, .270 seems common, along with a few other calibers — even .30-06 is on the shelves. .223Rem, 5.56, .308Win/7.62Nato? Not to be seen. Nor do I recall the older shorter range loadings: .30-30. Various old .32 and .243 loadings are available — could this be a sign that one should stock up on /non-mil/ caliber weapons for when the zombies arrive?

          • Well you could stash ammo for the zombie invasion but It might no be necessary. I already took the zombie invasion and put it down on 12-21-12 with my patented twinkie gun and a pallet of stale twinkies. Since we are all still hear I’d say I did a pretty good job of saving the world from being eaten.

            • But… But…

              Those Twinkies were our survival food!

              {especially when the maker went bankrupt}

              {NOTE: the server needs a better error message when one mis-types the answer to the math quiz — “Internal Server Error” is rather misleading and scary}

              • Another zombie survival food is pop tarts. Start feeling like you need to chow down on some unlucky fellow’s brains, grab a pop tart instead. It will save you a whole lot of aggravation trying to chase down some guy that doesn’t want to be a manwich. Ever wonder why there’s no shortage of pop tarts? It’s a government edict that pop tarts should never run out to keep us from turning into zombies. I works.

                Yeah that error is a bit unnerving. I start to wonder if my server crashed and the world just ended.

              • Wulfraed
                Who types the wrong answer any way?

                I just tryed. And it doesn’t compare to the other page that comes up sometimes about the comment can not post due to content. I had to think about what I said. If maybe I worded my reply wrong or something.
                Now that you said that. That is the page I get when I have to page back and then click on a different topic then back to original topic to get my reply to post.(the can not post due to content)

          • Manufactured ammo is positively flush compared to reloading powder. I may as well mothball my Garand for all the hope I have of getting the powder it was tuned for any time soon.


            • Matt,

              Edith and I have purchased 20 pounds of powder and 25,000 primers in the past 3 months. You just have to know how to do it. I have turned down offers of another 15,000 primers and 16 pounds of powder.

              It’s all done on the internet and the prices are what they were 2 years ago, plus a HAZMAT fee with each shipment.


              • Powder Valley? That’s usually where I get mine. Had a bad experience with ordering powder from Midway. Everything else from them has been great, but they contract out the powder and primers and so they don’t control the customer service on that end.

                  • That bad experience with powder was a few years ago when they were transitioning to a new powder supplier. Made me really mad at the time because they cancelled my order for everything when only one variety wasn’t in stock (even though it said in stock when I ordered). I went to PV and never looked back. I still get dies and other supplies from Midway. Good to hear that Midway has got their powder supplier woes all worked out now!

  13. BB, Told you so about the .32-20 . Can’t believe you never considered it before. Now go and find a good ,32-20 single shot or bolt rifle , and you will wonder why anyone who loves lead bullets and handloading would ever mess with RF’s. Especially for hunting small game. BTW, I also have a nice single shot.458 and shoot a load similar in power to what you used in your re-barrelled Springfield and it is an accurate combination. I think of it as a nicer .45-70 , that can put out the power without straining the gun, or me.

    • Robert,
      I wonder about .32 S&W Long as well. I always enjoyed shooting that one in my aunt’s revolver — do you think it (or one of the later variants, see below) could be made to perform well in a rifle as a .22LR to .22M replacement? I guess the .32’s in general are having a resurgence of sorts with the .32 H&R and Federal “magnums”. I haven’t seen any of the short throw lever rifles chambered in any of them, but it might be worth a thought.

      • BG: My favorite revolver is a 5 1/2″Ruger SA in .32 H&R mag . It is the same as the .22/.22mag single six . but in .32mag, and has adjustable sights. I was given a bunch of .32 S&W shorts which I use for trapline dispatch. They leave no more damage in the pelt than a .22 short.I also handload .32 wadcutters in .32 S&W long cases for hunting rabbits and grey squirrels at short ranges. I tried loading hotter loads in the .32S&W cases but they are thinner brass and they will stick in my Ruger’s cylinder’s chambers. The 32 mag brass is better for the hotter loads. As a point of interest given the current ammo shortage, a .32-20 rifle or revover will chamber and shoot the ..32 mag, .32 S&W short, long, and the .32 ACP which you will have to punch out with a rod. Marlin did chamber their modern version of the model 94 in .32-20 and.32 H&R . Several years ago CE Harris wrote an article in the “American Rifleman ” magazine which showed a rechambered Remington bolt action in .32 S&W long. I have seen H&R handi rifles rebored for the .32 H&R mag. I have experimented extensively with several rifles in .32-20 cal in all action types that were once available. It is the best eastern woods small game and foraging caliber for the handloader/hunter. It can be loaded with either black or smokeless powder, and does not need jacketed bullets.

        • Robert,
          That is great information. You are right about the 1894 in 32-20/H&R mag — I may have seen it in the past, but I probably didn’t know I might need it. I’ll try keep my eyes open!

          Similar to that Single Six, I was looking at the Rough Rider in .32 Mag. Seems like it would be good for general purpose/utility use. As much as I love .22 rimfire, I’m thinking the ammo (all except the stuff that costs centerfire prices) just gets more expensive and less reliable by the year — if you can find it, and it is being relegated more and more to almost “toy” status because of that.

  14. bb , this might be out of context but today I visited a man that holds an award for shooting 1000 yards with a muzzle loader, I seen the award on the wall with several others he won. he makes inserts for peep sights. I have heard of him and today I went to his shop to buy some inserts for my fwb 300s. you might have heard his name but if not its lee shaver in lamar,mo. as for adduracy he must have some serious muzzle loaders. but it makes me think of the story of when the usa team beat the irish by asking to move the target out to 1000 yards . they were shooting sharps in 45/ 110 I think .might of been 45/90 but im saying 45/110. but you got my attention with that ballard. if you want to contac lee sometime I can give you his number. he sells his inserts to brownell’s midway and a few others . 1 fine gunsmith from what I gather . but I like that ballard, it would look great beside my granddads old 1886 in 45/70

    • Robert,

      Yes, I have heard of Lee Shaver. You have met a shooting celebrity!

      I know the inserts you speak of, but my rifle apparently has an insert made by the most famous sight-maker of all, whose name I can’t quite remember at this time. I was told that just the front insert in my rifle is worth $300 with his name on it. It fits the bulls I shoot perfectly, so I think I’ll keep using it.

      But thanks for the offer.


      • bb, I enjoyed our visit,he just got back from Africa and he said it wasn’t his best time there as he missed the first 1000 yard shot and the second shot was a miss to. he said I had to stop and get my head in gear but the third shot struck up silver. while there 1 of his emploees looked at my fwb and ask how much for that fine air rifle? its a fwb, the greatest spring gun. lee said he wasn’t much on pellet guns but if that employee likes it, its got to be great. lee is now doing a lot more articles in a few magazines. I read 1 while there too. and he said do come back n we can chat some more. it was worth it just to visit even though I needed the inserts ,lee also helped me out deciding what was best in the package to improve my groups

  15. Ridgerunner was taking about a CharlieDaTuna trigger. I bought a Gamo for $20 then put a $35 CharlieDaTuna trigger on it and I think it was worth every penny. Please don’t think i’m crazy!

    • Exactly. It won’t turn it into a Rekord, but you can adjust the 1st stage to where you like it and work with that long, creepy 2nd stage some. No, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but you can make a leather one.

      • Once I get that basement 10m range set up (my parents are STILL moving stuff out of the house I’m supposed to take over), I’ll have time to actually adjust the GRT-III in my NRA-1000 (Gamo ?Shadow).

        But yes, just having a real first stage rather than a mere trigger return spring should be a great improvement (as was discovering my my Diana M54 shipped with no first stage, all long creepy second stage — I still need to fine-tune the second stage engagement but having an actual 2-stage pull is wonderful)

    • Speakski,

      CDT trigger is worth twice its weight in banknotes, trust me. After using it for 5 years I think I won’t ever consider an original Gamos stuff to be a trigger.


      • Who knows, maybe some day Gamo just might get their act together. Recently they have taken a stab at fixing their triggers. Next time they might get it right. No, I will not hold my breath.

  16. Praise the Lord!

    It’s working and working beautifully.
    Today I managed to get to the range with 3 rifles, including “shillellagh” and it seems that dispersion that scared me so much is not sights. I was able to put 10 shots in 22 mm edge-to-edge at 50 m.
    Right after discovering that loss of grouping I quick cleaned the rifle with cotton swabs and I managed to get 1 little flake of lead out of the barrel, it was hanging on the crown. So I believe that my suspicion on the reason for rifle’s bad behavior is true. Now all I have is to wonder how exactly it could happen, as JSBs are very clean pellets.


  17. Accuracy,, the word is used so much. But what is it? For a gun to be “accurate”,, does it need to shoot sub minute groups? Do those groups need to be 3,, 5,, 10,, 20? ( if 10 is better than 5,, wouldn’t 20 be better than 10??

    Or are we talking about being accurate,, for what it is? BB,, you’ve mentioned your AR as being very accurate. I have model 70 in .270 that I believe to be, as well. But exactly where is that line crossed, between accurate and “ACCURATE”. I own a Crosman Challenger with which I have shot a 100 target ( one and only one,, so far), and a large number of 98s and 99s. Yet this airgun isn’t mentioned in the same breath with Anshutz or FWB.

    So,, what IS this thing? Or has it the same number of meanings as love?

  18. B.B., well you should be chastised for letting go that first Springfield. But what a strange gun. Why would anyone want to build a target rifle out of that caliber? I understand that the .458 Winchester Magnum is a short range caliber designed for elephants and that accuracy was no consideration whatsoever. And isn’t there a danger in rebarreling a receiver for a 30-06 for a caliber that is so much bigger? Have you had trigger jobs done on your Springfields? I’m finding myself agreeably surprised with the issue triggers on my Lee-Enfield and Mauser. They are double stage triggers that are a little hard–as they should be for combat rifles–but extremely clean. My Garand trigger was stoned into match condition, and I had a trigger job done on the Mosin, but neither is frankly all that much better than the other rifles.

    So, 1876 was the zenith of American gun-making and we are living in the twilight? I value my wood and metal rifles as much as the next, but I can’t say I’m too unhappy with the modern offerings.

    I see you’re not a fan of the notion that every gun is 100 times more accurate than the shooter, a piece of wisdom casually passed on to me at my shooting range. But what about Lt. Col. Bonsall who could shoot into two inches at 50 yards with any .45 that he drew from the armory? I take it this was offhand. I understand those general issue .45s in the 60s were pretty worn out at that point and assembled very loosely for accuracy. Unless the guns really were 100 times more accurate than the shooter than he should have been limited by them.

    So, one source of inaccuracy of the revolver is the alignment of chambers with the barrel, not just the relative looseness of fit caused by the swinging cylinder. Then I must have lucked out with both my Ruger Single Six and SW 686 because they are both phenomenally accurate, as much as my 1911–at least the way I shoot it.


    • Matt,

      Springfield actions are used often for conversion to very powerful calibers. It isn’t the diameter of the case that determines the possibility — it’s the overall length. The Springfield action is considered to be a strong one.

      Yes, Col. Bonsall was an anomaly. Never saw anyone that good with a piece-of-junk arms room .45. But that has nothing to do with the very special guns I’m talking about here. They shoot well in the hands of common people like you and me.

      When I said the 1870s were the zenith of gun making I was referring to the barrels. My Ballard barrel is as finely crafted as a Lilja barrel is today, yet it came on a production gun.


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