Regular readers know that a few years ago I switched from the beater 1911 I carried for many years to a beater .44 Special revolver. And from that time, the revolver and I have had a roller coaster relationship.
Look, it’s not all the gun’s fault, okay? It comes from a broken home. It was used hard and put up filthy. And then becoming joined at the hip with the likes of me … well, there were bound to be issues. I’m not a revolver guy. I think back with a bitter chuckle on my naive misconceptions about “simplicity” and “reliability” and “no ammo sensitivity.” It didn’t occur to me that a piece-of-crap auto will at least let you get one shot off before it jams, while a piece-of-crap revolver must function perfectly before it will ever fire at all. It took a comically long time for me to notice that a revolver must be cleaned in places an auto doesn’t have places, and that clearly nobody had ever cleaned this one. And did I do anything remotely resembling due diligence on whether anybody even sells .44 Special ammo around here? I did not.
So no, it’s not all about the Taurus’s failings. But still, the differences in balance and handling between an auto and a big revolver are far more extreme than I remember from my Hunter Pistol Silhouette days. Felt like I was practically having to learn to shoot all over again, and that was at the same time when it was slowly becoming apparent that I was actually going blind. So I didn’t need the additional drama. There was the mainspring thing, where the Taurus wouldn’t do more than dimple primers in double action. There was that ludicrous little wooden grip, what was with that? Then the cleaning issue.
Finally – Finally! – we got all that worked out, and I figured out where the Taurus likes to put bullets (It shoots high, but Oh! So! Consistently! high compared to my ‘roughly in that direction’ beater 1911.) I’ll never stop being nostalgic about that moment when I removed a chicken’s head with it in a moment of pique. It was finally starting to feel like love.
And then it started locking up again.
I actually considered professional therapy. I asked Ian if he would consider taking the Taurus to a gunsmith next time he goes to the city. If there’s anything remotely resembling a professional gunsmith around here, I haven’t found it in eight years.
Some weeks ago a generous reader sent me some factory ammo. I tend to hoard that and practice only with reloads. Because the only .44 I ever reloaded for was Magnum, and that was many years ago, my reloads up till now have been a little extreme. This past weekend I went out to the pistol range with Ian and Landlady, and dug out that Baggie of factory rounds. I noticed two things different about this practice session – First, these loads were quite a bit milder than what I normally shoot. Second, the Taurus functioned perfectly. Over and over. I couldn’t get it to do its trick.
I thought about that for a few days. Maybe I was just beating the old guy up for no reason. I do live in an environment where sometimes I have to shoot things. That’s why I wanted the bigger cartridge and the ‘flying ashtray’ hollowpoints my 1911 wouldn’t chamber. But most of what I need to shoot is pretty small. On the order of a coyote, say. There was just that one bear, and I didn’t actually get a shot at it. Maybe the problem isn’t the gun but the reloads. Wouldn’t be the first time.
So I dug around in my ammo drawer, and took lots of everything out to the pistol target in my yard. And – not to my surprise by now – the problem wasn’t with the gun but with the ammo. There was one single lot of reloads that locked up the cylinder after a couple of shots, and it wasn’t difficult to see why. I’d messed up the sizing on several cases, and the case heads were backing out and locking between the cylinder and the frame. The pistol itself is fine.
So – end of long, wordy story – I’m going back to the reloading shack. And then the Taurus and I will work on our relationship.