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Beartooth Regular
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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,
      I've been shooting the hound out of the SBH, and mostly I've found I stink! I've been getting groups in the six inch range on average (at 25 yds). Extremely uniform velocities, but not-so-good accuracy. I have improved; I don't get many wild fliers any more! But MAN this is hard! Now, on to the topic at hand...
        Marshall has mentioned bore constrictions as hurting accuracy in these guns, so I wanted to slug this rascal. I only have a cheap plastic Lyman caliper so my measurements are not that good, but here's what I got.
Cylinder throats appear to be between .430-.431 and fairly consistent. The bore seems to be right at .429, maybe just a tink over (I could really use a good micrometer!). There is a very slight constriction that I can feel at the barrel threads, but it is very slight. Once started I could push the slug all the way through the bore by hand! I guess that means the bore is smooth. I could even push the slug past the constriction. My measurements comparing the muzzle diameter to the constricted part were inconclusive.
      At this point I don't know whether to lap the bore or just practice shooting. I wish I knew someone who is a good single action revolver shot to give me a true benchmark of what the revolver is doing. Most of the people at the shooting range seem to think it's shooting pretty good, but I'm not satisfied... Yet. They don't seem to have the same expectations that I do and think it's unrealistic to want  >2" groups from a "cowboy" gun! They are also surprised that I get near 1 MOA with my 30-30.
     Well, back to the loading bench !        ID
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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You've actually learned some valuable information, plastic calipers and all.

The cylinder throats are bigger than the bore.... good!

The bore is pretty smooth... good!

There is some choke under the barrel threads... very common.  IF - you can push the slug through the constriction easily (ie. by hand, not pounding it with a mallet), then it's probably a minor thing.  If it takes a whack with a hammer, then yeah, lapping might be a good idea.

Now... lastly, does it foul much?  If yes - a definite candidate for lapping.  If not - an indication that you might not need to mess with it.

So now what's left is to figure out what bullet size you need.  You can order a box each of a couple of different sizes, OR you can send your slugs to someone with a better micrometer.

By the way, I'd bet a hundred dollars that the dimesions of the gun are slightly larger, and your plastic calipers are just a wee bit off.  If I'm wrong, you probably have the tightest SBH ever made.  Measure some factory bullets with your calipers and compare to this diameter printed on the box.  Not a sure thing but a good reference.  

I have the Lyman calipers too, along with two steel calipers and a micrometer.  The Lymans are useful for carting around to the gun show, where it would not really be tragic if they got lost.

My micrometer goes to 0.0005" (five ten-thousands, or half of one thousand).  If you want me to measure them for you, send me a message and I'll reply with my mailing address.
 

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Beartooth Regular
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Discussion Starter #3
MikeG,
      I did as you suggested and measured a couple of bullets I have on hand. Hornady 180 gr are supposed to measure .430 and measured .429 with my calipers, Oregon Trail 180 gr are supposed to measure .431 and measured almost that.  (Over .430 but not quite .431)The Hornady bullets fall right through the cylinder, the OT bullets do not. Most of the shooting I have done so far is with the Hornady bullet and Winchester factory loads. The Oregon Trail bullets are six freebee sample bullets they sent and I haven't shot any of them yet.
       The gun hardly fouls at all and is very easy to clean, so I'm sure the bore is smooth. And yes, I can push the slug past the constricted part with my hand, no need to hammer the dowel. It seems maybe I should just shoot it for while, you think?    Thanks,  ID
 

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IDShooter,
The only other thing that comes to mind that hasn't been brought up yet is the crown.  Just remember this is the last thing the bullet touches before it is on its way.
I would take a good look at that.
And also I had a friend who had a SBH that measured good but it had a cylinder that was out of alignment with the bore.  He sent it back to Ruger and they fixed it for him.  It isn't spitting any lead is it?
Good Luck
 

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Good morning ID Shooter,
I agree with your attitude.  when you will not settle for less, you usually get what you want (or at least closer to it).  2" groups @ 25 yards is a resonable goal.

If I were in your position and questioning if the problem is me, the gun or the load, I would try to eliminate as many variables as possible.  One way is to get a 2" group shooter to shoot your gun.  I guess the trick is to find one when you need one.  Another technique is to load up some jacketed .429 bullets in the best load you can find and shoot them.  Be sure go give the bore a good cleaning before and after.  If your groups stay @ 6" then it is probably not the load.

Also, how is the trigger?  A light crisp trigger is a blessing to small groups.  Personally, I fire lapp no matter of any other considerations.  It is cheap, can't hurt (when done properly), and will probably help sooner or later.  

Hope this helps.  Keep us advised.

God bless...................  Bill M
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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I guess I'd be inclined to shoot it for a while and see if I could not eliminate the shooter as a source of error.  Not just you personally - every gun is different and takes a little getting used to.  Things like how to place your hand on the best spot on the grip for you, what the best type of rest and the best position to place the gun on the rest, how to place your weak hand, how hard to squeeze the grip, placement of the finger on the trigger, etc., etc.  As you can see there are a lot of variables, and what works for one gun may not work for another.

Sometimes it takes a little getting used to the sights.

As Bill notes it won't hurt to lap but it won't hurt to wait a little either.  After all you'd like to be able to measure the improvement, right?  And right now I don't think that lapping is going to make much of a difference in the group sizes that you are reporting.

2" groups at 25 yards is a very reasonable goal.  On a good day I can better this, not always.  On a very good day I can do that at 50 yards.

Well, at least you have an idea what size bullets to get.  I'd start with a box of 0.431" and see how that goes.  

You might consider - gasp - getting a box or two of GOOD factory ammo (not the cheap commercial reloads) and compare group sizes.

Also you are still welcome to mail one of the slugs to me, if you just want to see how your caliper compares.
 

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ID Shooter,

All the above posts are great!  One other thought... I still haven't seen a Ruger .44 mag sixgun that didn't shoot it's best with .432" diameter bullets!  Bar none!

Sounds as though just a tad bit of lapping would help the constriction, but perhaps right now the best thing would be to try some good jacketed pills as Bill M. has suggested, then also try some .432" bullets as well.

Let us know how you progress!

God Bless,

Marshall
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hello all,
       Well, I went shooting again! I got some better results this time. As I had feared the biggest problem is my shooting, so I'm going to work on that first before I lap the bore. (Like MikeG said, I want to be able to see the results!)
        This trip out I incorporated several ideas from the posts here, including putting a dummy round in the cylinder a time or two. I found my trigger pull has improved greatly since the first couple trips, but the trigger is quite heavy. I have been dry-firing a lot and also working with my rest set-up.
      So how did it go today? I got around three inches with most groups today, with only a couple of flyers opening groups to 5-6 inches. My best results were with the Oregon Trail freebie bullets- 5 out of the six went into 2.5 inces and the other shot dropped low 4 inches. From this I would bet Marshall is right, that larger diameter bullets will shoot better. The Hornadys are locally available, so I will probably practice for a while with them.
        The fact that my groups are improving without any real load development tells me my shooting is the biggest variable at this point, so I'll continue working on that. Then I'll lap and try some WFN bullets to work up a carry or hunting load. Thanks for all your help!   ID
 

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Hi ID. You sound exactly like someone i used to be. I would shoot a cylinder, crank on the sights, shoot another cylinder, crank on the sights, etc. My brother, who is an excellant revolver shooter, told me the best way to hold, squeeze, etc. It took me several thousand rounds to teach myself that i am the only one who knows whats best for me as far as technique goes. my way of holding , squeezing of & follow thru is unique only to me. I also have a super blackhawk & shot 6" groups at best for a long time. The one thing you said that makes me feel as though you are on right track was the "dummy loads" idea. wished i had thought of that a long time ago. I am also a bowhunter & know that follow thru is about the most important thing one can learn. It sounds to me as if your on the right track. The one thing that you need to do is SHOOT & SHOOT A LOT. Hope this helps you somewhat. By the way, the super b i used to crank on the sights, shoots 1" groups @ 25 yds. on a consistant basis now.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hello,
      Just a quick note. After the last shooting session I posted about here, I cleaned my revolver thoroughly only to find lead in the cylinder throats and forcing cone! As you recall, I only shot six lead bullet rounds, and followed them with 44 jacketed rounds! I could not believe there was lead in there after that!
     The lead bullets were slightly above cylinder throat diameter (they wouldn't fall right through). I though this was an optimal situation. The leading was in each cylinder just at the junction of the chamber and throat (were there is a little step down in diameter) and on the bottom half of the forcing cone. It was impossible to brush out; I ended up getting a copper "Chore Boy" scouring pad and using Marshall's suggested de-leading device, which worked admirably.
       My question is what went wrong? Or is this common? I have experienced exactly zero leading while loading cast bullets for my rifles. Incidently, there was no lead at all in the revolver barrel, just the cylinder and forcing cone. Any sage words?     Thanks,  ID
 

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Good evening ID Shooter,

I must start with telling you I do not know what caused all the leading in your cylinder throats and the forcing cone.  My concern for you is all the variables make it all but impossible to figure out what the culprit is.  

My humble suggestion is to load up some good jacketed loads and get your skill level up to where you are reasonably happy and you get to know the gun better (probably over 100 rounds).  After a thorough cleaning (jacket residue and lead are a bad mix) try a .432 lead bullet load and measure both group size and leading.  My guess is you will have wonderful accuracy and little to no leading.  Then you are ready to compare other bullets/load to your "standard" load.  

I have a SBH that hates any lead bullets under .432 and leaves gobs of lead in the barrel/forcing cone with any but a full load of H-110 to obturate the bullet in the barrel & forcing cone.  With a .432 bullet it will give me accurate loads well under 1000 fps and over 1300 fps with no leading at all.  None of my other 44's act this way at all.  Just the quirks of some guns.  

Keep shooting and getting better.  Get a great trigger and practice.  The quirks will sort themselves out with a bit of time.

Hope this is of some help.

God bless...............  Bill M
 

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I agree with Bill 100%!  Do try some .432" diameter bullets and I beleive that your leading woes will go away!  What you have experienced is a classic example of an undersized lead bullet (probably a bevel based bullet) that was hard enough not to obturate at the pressure threshold it was fired.  Thus, blowby, and leading in both the chamber throats and the forcing cone.  

Don't dispair!  I hear of this most frequently with Ruger .44's especially since they are the last of the revolver manufacturers still using the original specifications that Elmer Keith and Harold Crofts worked out for the .44 Remington Magnum in the very beginning.  In those dimensions, they specified a chamber throat of .4325" as optimum.  Even up until the late 70's Remington's half-jacketed SWC factory ammo used .432" diameter bullets, as did Norma's ammo until about 1981 or 1982.  Feed it right, and it'll be kind to you!

God Bless,

Marshall
 

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I have a pre-warning label NM SBH 7.5" that shoots a cylinder full into .5 - .75" @ 25 yds. with several different loads, all bullets sized to .430".

I've also seen others spray with the exact same loads.  Like Bill M says, every revolver is a different beast and you'll have to cater your loads to each individual gun.

This is a great reason to start casting your own bullets (if you don't already do so). You will have absolute control over the bullets you feed that pistola. Beartooth offers lots of sizing options and that is a great service.

PS - Any company that sells 500 cast bullets for 24 bucks is really selling fishing weights that look like bullets. They're too stinking hard (so they won't dent each other in transit) the beveled base lets gas blow-by occur (heck, it encourages it) and the lube stinks.

I'd recommend reading Dave Scovill's "Loading the Peacemaker" for several reasons, one being the excellent chapter on cast bullets. Marshall's BEARTOOTH BULLETS TECHNICAL GUIDE is also superb and it too belongs on your bookself. There is no reason to shoot jacketed bullets from that .44.

keep shooting & take care
 
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