Monday, June 25, 2007

Wild Bunch 1911

Since it appears that at least one of our clubs is going to start doing a Wild Bunch match at least semi-regularly, I thought I'd hand out some advice in case anyone wants to purchase guns specifically for those matches. The first and most important gun to have is the semi-auto handgun, preferably a 1911 style, though others would be appropriate. Currently, I shoot my Kimber Eclipse in the match and since Judge and myself are in charge, these type of firearms will continue to be allowed. However, that isn't necessarily the case at other clubs or matches, so if you're wanting to buy one so you can shoot Wild Bunch, you better look for something that you can use at nearly any match.

Since Wild Bunch is typically limited to the pre 1920 guns, a modern 1911 with all the bells and whistles really isn't appropriate. The good news? There are manufacturers still making 1911s based on the original design and are very very close if not exactly the same as the 1911 original. First and foremost, I point to the Rock Island Armory 1911 "GI" that is manufactured by Armscor and can be had for under $400. This is one of the better bargains in the firearms industry right now if you ask me. Judge bought one a while back and had me message it into a carry gun for him and in stock form, I find it to be an excellent shooter with in tolerance fit and adequate finish. Is it a Colt? Hell no, but at half the price, its a steal. BTW, I just found out that they make a tactical version of this gun in government and commander size and they are still under $500!

Next up is the venerable Colt. You can find an original out there manufactured by Colt, or you can get one manufactured during the war under license by other countries, most famously, the Argentinan "Sistema Colt". Unless you go with a foreign manufacture, the old Colt will set you back a pretty penny. No fears however, you can also buy a newer Colt 1991a1 which is a slightly updated Colt 1911 (80 series firing pin block). Note, some clubs might not allow it, but I couldn't imagine the a-hole that would. There is also a 1911 replica made by Colt mfg.

Next on our shopping list would be the Springfield Armory "Milspec" or "GI". These pistols are top-notch repros and will serve you for a long time and should be allowed at any Wild Bunch match. They'll run you between $500 & $600.

That's about all I have on the 1911 guns available today, there are others out there like Llamas, but this list will get you into a good 1911 that'll do for Wild Bunch, besides, these guns are just a joy to shoot. That's why I've wanted to do Wild Bunch matches for a while.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The B-Western Blues

I’ve been shooting B-Western for the last year or so and it’s been fun. This year I switched to the category full time and I’ve enjoyed myself…until this weekend. 95 degree weather and heavy polyester do not go well together.

I like the category requirements and I like dressing up so B-Western is perfect for me. I shoot gunfighter style for 90 percent of the stages, but occasionally when I get the bug I switch to traditional. It keeps things interesting. I win at the local level, but there isn’t much competition with only one other shooter, and at the bigger state matches B-Western is dominated by shooters who are good, but not good enough to win in the traditional category so my gunfighter centric version doesn’t play well. So I like dressing up, and I like shooting the category, then what made this weekend unbearable? Well, the heat and the boots, and the hat.

First in 95 degree weather you need a shirt that will breathe, and I like to be able to roll my sleeves up a little. Neither of those things are options with a heavy Polyester and Rayon shirt with fitted sleeves. I need a cotton shirt in light colors if I’m going to keep shooting B-Western in the heat of the summer.

I bought my boots about a year and a half ago. I went with an inexpensive (read cheap) pair of boots just to get started in the category and they are already worn out. They are uncomfortable and are starting to pull away at the sole. My original pair of ropers I bought for the sport has also worn out so I really need a new pair of boots. I want something that would be flashy, but also go with all of my outfits. I think I’ve found a pair that will work and won’t break the bank.

Finally let’s talk hats. Like the boots I bought cheap to get into the category, but it doesn’t fit just right and with no hair when I start sweating it runs right into my eyes. I need a white hat that has a good sweat band or something that would allow me to wear my buff under the hat. I wish you could wear straw, but I guess that’s not B-Western.

So I haven’t bought anything for shooting in well over a year, and I thought I had finished my collecting of accoutrements, but it looks like a still have a few things to keep my eyes out for.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


One of the shooting gadgets I've been meaning to get at some point is a chronograph so that I can know how the ammunition I'm loading is performing. It might not seem like a terribly important thing to a lot of folks and in general, if you keep to the published reloading data, you'll be OK and the ammo will perform well. Last weekend, one of these devices was made available at PVR so that folks could chrono their loads. I availed myself of the opportunity and was reaffirmed of nearly all of the ammo that I reload.

For instance;

The .357 magnum loads I developed from the Hornady XTP bullets were dead-on with what I thought they'd be coming out of my Model 19. the 125g round traveling at 1,300fps and the 158g coming at you at 1,150fps. The later is probably going to be my carry load since its more manageable and there's been talk of problems with K frame S&Ws with hot 125g loads.

My .45 ACP loads were book perfect at 850fps. This is my practice load of a 200g SWC.

The .45 Colt load used for SASS matches clocked out of my 7.5" Ruger at 650fps and out of my 24" 1873 at 850fps. That's what I'd call perfect for matches.

The only problem load I had was the Cowboy .45 Special loads. The 170g bullets crawled out of the 7.5" Ruger at a measly 400fps! That alarmed me since I used data for the .45ACP and for some reason, didn't work out to what I'd call a usable load.  I've given it some thought and the only reason I can possibly think of is that the large .45Colt chamber is allowing gas to bypass the bullet before it reaches the chamber throat.

Sadly, I didn't bring any of the .45 S&W (Schofield) rounds with me to test and see if they're suffering a similar fate (I doubt it), but until I get that problem ironed out with the Cowboy .45 Special loads, they'll be staying at home.

Note to Self: I need my own chronograph and a range out my back door.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tired Cowboy

So I spent the weekend at PVR so I could help run the Wild Bunch side match on both days. It was a lot of fun in the sun and the whole weekend was a blast. But I'm still tired on Tuesday, I blame Judge for not being there to help, but he had to go to Colorado and learn police stuff. Anyway, I think it was a pretty big hit and learned a few things.

  • Shooting revolvers and a 1911 is bad since the cowboys shooting were a little confused as to what to shoot when.
  • Dump target with 7 rounds of .45ACP is bad, the target dances and at one point I thought the target was going to come off the stand.
  • 1897 shotguns malfunction. At least three double feeds and other problems with the old guns when you try to shoot them fast. The modern replicas seemed to work ok.
  • More folks were interested enough in Wild Bunch to bring their own ammo and guns, something that surprised me.
  • When someone gets things right, it looks awesome!

I've been asked to do it every match at PVR, but I didn't commit to that since I don't know that it'll be as popular if it becomes too familiar. That and we need to come up with some award for the side match to hand out so people will have something to compete for.

I'm thinking the next time WB is done at PVR, we'll have to discard the revolvers and load up two mags with either 5 or 7 rounds for the 1911. Not alot of people have period holsters for their guns, so it will most likely have to be staged again, but I'd eventually like to do a from-the-holster stage.

Some more stuff to think about and try to come up with some interesting stages.