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Smith & Wesson’s Performance Center 686 357 Mag Short barrel self-reliance

My wife and I spent the weekend pushing the home perimeter tree/brush line back ten feet. The project may not sound like much but, in Maine, old growth trees line up twenty-five feet apart and saplings… anything three inches in diameter or less, stand shoulder to shoulder with heavily leaved branches blocking out the sun….

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17-357 RG

Warning: Bullet selections are specific, and loads are not valid with substitutions of different bullets of the same weight. Variations in bullet length will alter net case capacity,  pressure and velocity. Primer selection is specific and primer types are not interchangeable. These are maximum loads in my firearms and may easily be excessive in others….

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17 Hornet Handload Data

Warning: Bullet selections are specific, and loads are not valid with substitutions of different bullets of the same weight. Variations in bullet length will alter net case capacity,  pressure and velocity. Primer selection is specific and primer types are not interchangeable. These are maximum loads in my firearms and may be excessive in others. All…

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Ruger’s Single Seven Bisley in 327 Fed Mag Part I A compact single action trail gun

I realize there are several companies that manufacture single action revolvers, but none as well as Ruger. Not in quantity, not in quality and not with so much diversity of models. In addition to a multitude of catalogued firearms, Ruger, also produces a large number of firearms that are sold exclusively through select Ruger distributors. In this case, the Ruger Single-Seven products are exclusively available from Ruger’s distributor, Lipsey’s.

Ruger’s Single-Seven products are further examples of what contributes to the continued popularity of single action revolvers and why Ruger is the leading producer. The Single-Seven, built on the same compact frame as the Single Six and is available in six distinctive configurations as detailed on the table that follows.

Ruger Single-Seven Bisley – Lipsey’s Exclusive
 8160 8161
Newport, NH
Caliber 327 Federal Magnum
Capacity – Rounds
Barrel Length ”
5.50  5.50  4.62  7.50  3.75  4.62
Rifling 1:16″ RH  6 Groove
Construction Alloy Steel  SS  SS  SS  SS  Alloy Steel
Finish Blued
 Stainless  Stainless  Stainless  Stainless  Blued
Grip Frame
Bisley Standard
 Birdshead  Standard
Hardwood Hardwood Hardwood Laminate
Overall Length” 11.0  11.0  10.25  13.0  9.75  10.25
Weight Oz 39
 34  38  32  34
Rear Sight
 Adjustable  Adjustable  Adjustable  Integral  Adjustable
Front Sight
 Ramp  Ramp  Ramp  Blade  Ramp
Lipsey’s Retail
$709  $652 $ 652  $652  $652  $629


In general, I am not a single action revolver kind of guy. Could be the extra coordination and dexterity required for proficiency but, more than likely, it is the traditional plow handle grip I find difficult to master. I am probably the exception, because virtually every cowboy action shooter can, and Elmer Keith could, pop rabbits while shooting off hand at 300 yards. Elmer Keith shooting, not the rabbits.

Yes, I do realize the plow handle grip is supposed to roll in my hand under recoil, but you say that as though it is a good thing. No, I like to keep my gun’s front sight down in the event I want to squeeze off another shot and I do want my entire arm and shoulder dampening recoil and my gun hand wrist doing something other unscrewing itself. Subsequently, my preferred big bore and small bore single action revolvers have Bisley grip frames which allow me to comfortably shoot even heavily handloaded 45 Colt, 454 Casull and 480 Ruger chambered revolvers with accuracy.

Above – Bisley grip top, plow handle lower. Notice the Bisley grip’s reduced bottom flair and straightened front and back strap. The hammer thumb piece sits lower for an easier reach for one hand cocking. Not a surprise that the Ruger Single Seven Bisley does well in the accuracy department, as the style of grip appeared on the 1894 Colt Special Target Revolver. The pistol was later renamed in honor of its showing at England’s target matches, held at Bisley Common 1). 

While I appreciate the Colt history and the grip style, for me the grip shape is of much greater consequence when affixed to a modern Ruger. In the case of the Single Seven, grasping the Ruger in a one or two hand hold and pointing outward, the sights naturally come up level, the grip is secure and thumbing the hammer take little exertion or shift in the gripping hand.

All of the Singles series share a common cylinder frame pictured above a Single Six 22LR and Single Seven 327 Fed Mag have common cylinder windows, 1.529″ W x 1.445″ H, and both have 1.420″ diameter cylinders. The 327 Fed Mag Cylinder measured 1.462″ long – chamber and throat, the 22 LR cylinder measured 1.405″. The 22 LR base pin bore extends further from the face of the cylinder and the barrel shank protrudes further into the window to accommodate the shorter cylinder. .The exterior cylinder wall thickness for the Single Six is a huge overkill for what is required. At 088″, the 327 Fed Mag cylinder wall is more than enough for the 327 Fed Mag cartridge. No, that is not a super short barrel 327 Fed Mag Ruger. The barrel was “removed” from the Single Six cylinder window so the frame would stand out for illustration.

The Single Seven really is an easy open carry revolver. At 39 Oz it isn’t the lightest revolver to carry, but it may be for an all steel firearm with a useful barrel length. It is only 1.4″ at the widest point.

Fit and finish of materials is excellent. The 5.5″ barrel and all steel construction, including grip frame, results in a pistol that is well balanced and has enough heft to mitigate. The sights are micro click adjustable and present a very clean silhouette against a target. Adjustments stay put regardless how hard the Single Seven is pushed.

Cylinder rotation is clockwise, both indexing and loading. A transfer bar prevents a dropped gun discharge. Loading is through a right side loading gate, a manual ejector empties spent casings.The hammer forged barrel is finished with a target crown. With very little use, the Single Seven pull checked 4 lbs 14 oz. Pretravel was virtually nonexistent, let off was crisp, overtravel was minimal.

The cartridge half of the partnership

Two 327 Federal Magnum rounds; 85 grain Federal Premium, next to 115 grain Speer Gold Dot, next to 357 Magnum. Approximations to place the cartridge into context with other common cartridges:

Cartridge Bullet
32 ACP 65 925 123
380 ACP 85 1000 189
32 H&R Magnum 85 1120 237
38 Special +P 129 950 258
9mm Luger 124 1120 345
327 Federal Magnum 100 1500 500
357 SIG 125 1350 506
357 Magnum 125 1440 575

The 327 Magnum puts out only approximately 13% less kinetic energy than the 357 Mag, but over twice as much as the 32 H&R Magnum and 45% more than the 9mm Luger. The 327 Fed Magnum’s relatively high velocity makes it a relatively flat shooter. In a compact double action revolver it is a good fit for a concealed, compact carry revolver. The Single Seven makes for a heck of an open carry firearm or trail gun for self defense, varmint control up to coyote size and hunting small game.

The 327 Federal Magnum seems to ebb and flow in popularity, usually dependent upon  what firearms are being introduced and how often the combination appears in print. Looking at a composite of online retailers, there are approximately six companies producing a pool of nine loads for the cartridge with enough of a spread in loaded components to fit all typical applications. Additionally, this is an easy and rewarding cartridge to handload. An example of factory loads –

Ammunition Bullet
25 Yard
5 Shot
Group “
Federal Hydra Shok
85 1400 1370 2.1
Gold Dot
115 1380 1387 1.8

I have nothing profound to say about this firearm, but then I don’t have anything profound to say about anything else either. Personally, I find this a really good looking, good shooting firearm. It is built like a tank, but handles like modern performance car and it is accurate. Any other comments would just be superfluous. I am labeling this as Part I, because I really want to some back with Part II addressing handloads. Won’t be long.


1) Bisley Bops the Bull’s-Eye Colt’s redesign pleased 19th-century target shooters. by Phil Spangenberger

The Ruger American Rimfire Target The 22 LR - Still A Great Way To Have Fun

I’ve been listening to Iris DeMent… something about her voice and honest presence I really enjoy. Songs like “Let The Mystery Be” or a “In Spite Of Ourselves” duet with John Prine reminds me of the 60s. The 60s are popularly labeled as a time of political chaos and a country in turmoil. I don’t remember that. Seemed more like a time with good friends, in school, in the military, at work. My wife and I were blessed with a wonderful family. I remember a national press that tried to otherwise define life in America with cameras always and only turned on the dregs of society, captioned as “Mainstream America”.

Much of the time I keep the TV turned off and read what informs and entertains. Books, fact and fiction, written by authors who have mastered an understanding of human nature and often what constitutes humor. The men delivering TV news look… prissy. Too slick, too manikin like to be real people. The women of the news dress as though they are attending a cocktail party, brunettes or blondes dependent upon the network. Both genders reading the news as written by agenda driven sources, both fabricating a narrative based solely on a contentious component of society.

Personally, I find my life in America to be good, as it always has been, through years of abundance, through years of tough times. They were all years of opportunity, some where I could find the key to success, others where I could not. None were spent waiting for others to define them. Right now, I want to write about firearms…

The schedule has been a few months of ill mannered, shoulder pounding, ear blasting long range magnums, so I am ready for a segue into some rimfire recreational target shooting with a rifle that is accurate enough to challenge a shooter out to a hundred yards if there is enough still air.

Ruger American Rimfire Target

Manufacturer Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.
Point of Origin Mayodan, NC
Model Number
Type Action Bolt Action
Caliber 22 LR
Magazine Capacity 10
Barrel Length 18″ Fluted
Twist  1:16″ RH 6 Groove
Receiver Material 416 Stainless Steel
Barrel Material 416 Stainless Steel
Muzzle Threads
Scope Mount Picatinny Rail
Stock Black Laminate Thumbhole
Pull Length 13.25″ – 13.75″
Overall Length 37.0“
Weight 6.7 Lbs
Safety Tang
MSRP $579

The Ruger American Rimfire Target is a solid example of a quality rimfire. Available in 17 HMR, 22 LR and 22 WMR, in both alloy steel or stainless steel versions, with a choice of thumbhole and non thumbhole, black laminated target stocks.

A U.K. conspiracy?

Regardless multiple visits to the U.K., I am still the guy who opens the right side door and is surprised to see a steering wheel. It is only attempting to avoid an awkward conclusion that has, more often than not, led me to being the self assigned driver in a traveling group. Fortunately, with a cheek piece on both sides of the American Rimfire Target’s stock I was confronted with no such forced decisions.

Ruger has considered multiple shooting perspectives when making their stock selection. The ambidextrous cheek piece and grip is beneficial to left handed shooters, right handed shooters who obsess over grip shift and some forms of competitive shooting where weak side shooting around, over or under a barrier is an integral component. For guys who still view the 1959 AR-15 as a newfangled contraption, and believe that left handed firearms are for communists or democrats, the Ruger American Rimfire Target thumbhole stock provides a high comb for comfortable optical sight use. The stock has excellent geometry, 1/2″ and 1/4″ spacers to adjust length of pull and a flat underside for a hand filling, without death gripping hold.

The bottom side of the stock is flush, including the inserted 10 shot rotary magazine. The only protuberance is the extended magazine release. The stock narrows a bit in profile forward of resting/gripping surfaces. Side vents aid cooling during extended shooting sessions. Swivel / bipod mounting studs are in place as shipped from the factory. The grip has slight palm swells on both sides, which proved to be comfortable and steadying. For folks who prefer extended magazine capacity, the Ruger American Rimfire Target is compatible with all Ruger 10/22 BX type magazines.

The Ruger Rimfire Target rifle utilizes the Ruger patented Power Bedding® integral bedding system. The barreled action is keyed to the bedding blocks in the stock and secured with two fasteners. The 0.860″ bull barrel floats in the forearm for greater shot to shot precision. The muzzle has a 1/2″x28 thread to facilitate the use of muzzle devices like the Ruger Silent-SR sound suppressor.  The Ruger Marksman trigger has a very clean pull and is pull adjustable between 3 and 5 lbs. The subject rifle was received with a 4 lb 2 oz pull from the factory.


The American Rimfire Target rifle includes a Picatinny rail which makes scope and ring installation and swapping an easy task. A tang safety is on a great place to allow actuation without grip shifting. Bolt lift is 60° which provides scope eyepiece clearance. The Marksman trigger is a good one in terms of feel and pull with nothing lost to the inclusion of a trigger safety.

Finally getting around to live fire…

Actually, that is not a truthful statement. It’s just that I was having fun shooting and distracted from clocking bullets with the chronograph or measuring group sizes. Only two types of ammo were used, Federal Champion and Remington Golden Bullets, primarily because they are common rounds and reliable performers.

Ammunition Bullet
100 Yard
5 Shot
Group “
Federal Champion 36 1280 1240 1.4
Remington Golden Bullet
40 1255 1263 1.5

In all fairness to the Ruger, 100 yard groups were shot on a typical Maine day, gusting winds, and from a front rest only. So I would conclude by saying the Ruger American Rimfire Target was able to easily produce 1.5″ and under 5 shot groups at 100 yards, warm or cold barrel and with common recreational ammo. A little ammo juggling, a little better shooting conditions and a more seriously settled in shooting effort would produce better. It was interesting that both ammo types despite bullet weight differences shot to approximately the same point of impact.

Closing comments…

Setting aside the issue of thumbhole, no thumbhole, this is my favorite version of the Ruger American Rimfire. Why? Let me think about that for a moment… I can see spending time, popping varmints and advancing the two person challenge series my wife and I often stage on the weekends. The fit and finish of barreled action and stock, the adult size bolt handle makes the American Rimfire Target feel more like a centerfire than a rimfire rifle. What about the .17 HMR or 22 Mag versions. I am sure they are excellent for folks who favor those cartridges and have the applications. For me, the 22 LR is the least expensive cartridge, capable of solid performance which is followed by a small centerfire cartridge when it is time to move up. Nice job on Ruger’s part. A good contribution to rimfire enthusiasts. Niffty rifle.