Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Review of Ruger Shopkeeper

Tips, Traps, and Tricks of the Ruger New Bearcat Shopkeeper



It looks like I've come full-circle on my range shooting nowadays. First started out with small-caliber polymer-framed pistols, Zamak Saturday Night Specials, tiny stainless hideaways, folding pistols with arm braces, and takedown rifles.

Then I was bitten by the wheelgun bug. There's something about wheelguns that I like. The simplicity. The convenience. The one-on-one challenge for accuracy. The zen of loading, shooting, cleaning, and maintenance. The ability to personalize in style, fit and carry.

And now I own my very first single-action pistol. Kinda backwards, huh? Anyhow, I'm very happy with my new revolver: The Ruger New Bearcat Shopkeeper, a Lipsey 3" barreled stainless model.

First Impressions


One thing I've noticed is that in most on-line reviews, pictures of the ejector rod's half-moon finger piece show the finger piece moving all the way to the rear.

This originally couldn't happen on my Shopkeeper, as the ejector rod spring would not compress enough:


Better Ejection with Ejector Factory Spring Replacement


One fellow gunslinger on RFC suggested that an ejector spring for a 4" Bearcat had been installed. I subsequently ordered one ($10+s/h) and then compared it to the installed spring. Nope, my Bearcat came from the factory with a 'purportedly' shorter spring. Here is the original spring as installed (the replacement was 4"):


So I subsequently removed the shorter factory spring, put it away in the Ruger case for safekeeping, then clipped and installed a shortened replacement spring:


The original spring only allowed clearance as shown here:


The result of installing the clipped replacement spring is that the business end of the ejector rod protrudes one-eighth of an inch more out of the cylinder chamber. This makes for more efficient ejecting of empties with no modification of the ejector housing or use of a modified ejector rod:


My ejector rod's end is slightly beveled all around, not sharp-edged. I was initially worried about how it would work but went to the range for an initial fit and function, and ran 120 rounds of assorted ammo. 

My Shopkeeper was flawless. I was even able to achieve a small bit of accuracy right off the bat - but make no mistake: shooting a single-action revolver with a short barrel and iron sights is a challenge.

Best ammo was CCI Minimags for accuracy. Opening the gate, putting the wheelgun into half-cock, then rotating the cylinder to have the rod slide along the trailing edge of each cylinder chamber worked just fine for extraction, and I was soon zipping empties onto the bench top.

There are some nice touches here, such as the laser-engraved cylinder. I think it's funny that some folks are paying gunsmiths to remove these 'rollmarks':



The Shopkeeper even comes with a handy finger-slicer built in - LOL! Of course the secret to not hurting your fingers is to properly hold the gun for extraction. I open the gate, put the gun into half-cock, then hold the gun in my left hand, turning the cylinder while at the same time pressing down the extractor with my index fingernail (making sure that the muzzle is, always, pointed down range).

TIP: You don't even need to look at your Shopkeeper while using the ejector. Place the hammer in half-cock, open the gate, then rotate the cylinder until you feel a 'click'; this indicates you're all set to eject, and the ejector rod will be in the right place alongside the trailing chamber wall to catch the lip of the empty case. Try it!

If you get the hang of it, you'll soon be handling your Shopkeeper safely like a long-time pro:


One tip: always ensure that your cylinder pin is firmly and properly seated. This will avoid any problems with alignment:


One thing I always seem to do on all my guns with iron sights is to deploy a daub of fluorescent lime-green acrylic paint from my $2 Wally World paint pen (found in the fabric section):


If you're interested in the Shopkeeper, but worried about all the problematic reports (most of which seem to center around the 2013 time-frame concerning cylinder chamber diameter, or OCD owners disappointed with grip sizing and fit) - don't worry! Ruger will make things right for any problem with your plinker, but there is little to go wrong with this single-action. You may find a timing mark on the cylinder face, and a factory smith is required to fit the action before the gun leaves the factory.

Important ShopKeeper Tips, Tricks, and Traps - How to Avoid Lockup


I found no problems with my Shopkeeper. Here are a few tips, tricks and traps I've learned as a new single-action rimfire wheelgun owner:

1. Read the manual! This is essential if you want to use your new gun properly.

2. In particular, pay attention to the proper COCKING! Here's the relevant info from the manual, found on page 15:


And not only will the cylinder be out of index, but you may experience the dreaded 'lock up,' that some folks complain about! I have found that you can indeed lock up the action if you do not ease the hammer forward. You can do this from the half-cock and loading or unloading:

- after the gate is closed, ensure the cylinder is rotated counter-clockwise
- pull back slightly on the hammer while at the same time very slightly pulling back on the trigger
- when you feel the hammer release, take your finger off the trigger and ease the hammer forward

3. You can also experience a slight 'lock up' if your cylinder chambers get too dirty while shooting. This can happen at any point, especially if using lousy ammo, like Federal bulk or American Eagle (in the 40-round boxes). If you want to pretend you're shooting black-powder revolvers, fine, but this shit is simply awful:


What happens is that you'll be unable to fully seat the rimfire cartridges, and the rotation of the cylinder will be impinged by the outsized cases. You can also run into seating problems by first shooting shorts or longs, then switching to long-rifle ammo.

TIP: Take a small bore brush with you and clean out your cylinder chambers somewhat to continue shooting. And try not to mix ammo types during extended (100-round+) range sessions.

4. If by the off-chance that you do experience lock-up, you will need to remove the cylinder by depressing the latch button and extracting the cylinder rod. BE CAREFUL IF YOU HAVE AMMO IN THE CHAMBERS!

Your Shopkeeper Holster


I like to have a Ruger holster for each of my Ruger wheelguns. The sky is the limit if you want a good holster for your Shopkeeper. Prices range from all the way on the low end for a nylon waistband version all the way up to a custom Western-style leather.

The middle ground for quality and fit for me is a Triple K holster.  Ruger's version is a Triple K:


This is similar to my other Ruger holsters for my SP101s. Unfortunately, Ruger does not offer a holster specifically for the 3" barrel Shopkeeper. The good news is that there is a much-better fitting and more appropriate Western-style holster available at a reasonable price-point: the Triple K #675:


This holster is a great match for this little single-action. You may not be a fan of the leather thong strap for securing the hammer, but it works fine for me:



I hope you enjoy your Shopkeeper. I have now put more than 500 700 rounds through the gun and enjoy shooting it. Here's a recent range pic using three cylinders of CCI Mini-mags:



It's a nice companion to my small 100+ year-old Smith and Wesson Safety Hammerless:




Monday, September 23, 2019

Rebel Silencer SOS 22 V2

Review of the Rebel Silencer SOS-22 V2 Suppressor




I like shooting a lot of .22LR with my Ruger pistols and 10/22. Early in 2019, my LGS demo'd a small .22LR suppressor for me and piqued my interest. However, this was several months before the shop got an order kiosk installed, which makes the entire process of paperwork, fingerprinting, and payment a whole lot easier - no running around to get passport photos or fingerprint cards: Simply create an online account, verify some information, fill out the forms, scan your fingerprints and upload a digital photo - then sit back and wait.

I purchased a Rebel SOS 22 V2 on June 17, 2109. And then I must have hit the BATF lottery as I received my tax stamp in 96 days - it was signed Sept 14, 2019!

One nice thing about buying from my LGS was that it gave me the privilege of conjugal rights to any purchased suppressors "waiting in jail" (I fully anticipated waiting a year). Since we have monthly get-togethers at an outdoor range, I had a chance to run the Rebel suppressor on my MkIII w/Paclite barrel, my 10/22 SS TD, and my three Chargers (two blued, one SS).

Parts Overview


The V2 suppressor looks quite a bit different from the current online reviews and videos of earlier models; there are five sections:



The 'SOS' in the products name stands for "Screw On Stack," as you can see in the picture above. The serial-number section does not have a baffle, but the subsequent four sections do, and you can mix and match - there is no specified order for the stacks, unlike other suppressors. Each baffle has a hole drilled to 0.25" (although i did find one that was closer to 0.26"):
 


The end cap attaching to your pistol or rifle's threaded barrel is a thick aluminum with wrench flats, while the business end of the suppressor has serrated knurls. There is no need to use a wrench or pliers to tighten this suppressor:



Note that the muzzle end is also recessed w/an inverted cone:


Function at the Range


I ran CCI minimags HPs, CCI SV LRN, CCI quiet LRN, CC1 Shorts CPHP (which cycled on my Charger using a modified BX-1), Remington HP Subsonics, and Winchester LRN M-22s. All functioned with no problem... (the Paclite barrel required about 400 rounds to break-in with smooth feeding - especially non-waxed rounds, but is now reliable). I ran w/two sections, three sections, and the whole enchilada... three sections significantly reduced sound level... all five sections and no hearing protection needed. Here is a the full taco plate:


Here's the SOS-22 V2 with only three stacks:



I don't have a chronograph, nor a sound-level meter... and don't see a need to get either (perhaps a chronograph if i were into hand-loading).

I can also run this suppressor on my Ruger stainless Takedown 10/22 or my three Charger pistols. The suppressor is especially effective when shooting CCI Quiet (710fps) LRN with my Volquartsen Firefly bolt, and even more so when running CCI Shorts in a modified BX-1.

Accuracy is not bad and equal to no suppressor with three sections attached... POI dropped an inch at 7 yards with the whole enchilada the first time out, but i'll run some more tests now that i have full custody. This is in contrast to my other suppressor, a Dead Air Odessa9 (which handles .22 thru 9mm) still in jail, which did not affect accuracy at 25 yards...

Coming Clean About Cleaning and All Hail Froggy!


Let's be clear about this aspect of ownership: Cleaning a rimfire suppressor is a bitch. I don't take shortcuts and I use elbow grease - it's part of the post-range zen for me... For my first couple range sessions I coated all parts inside and out with Breakfree CLP, gave it a chance to sit, then used a knife-sharpened bamboo dowel (wife unit's plant stakes from the dollar store) to work off the carbon... This was followed up with a gentle brush with an old, used .357 bronze bore brush, then a second go-over with some CLP and a re-sharpened bamboo dowel (chisel-point, btw)

The whole process took about an hour, and was a LOT easier and a LOT faster than getting the lead out of my revolver bores from use of the crap PPU .38SPL I made the mistake of buying last year (i've gotten rid of that stuff since).

Rebel Silencer recommends that you use FrogLube paste to coat the interior of the suppressor to make cleanup easier. I would not use this product on my guns, but subsequently purchased this coconut oil-spearmint-paraben concoction.  It is expensive for what it is, but I got a tub, and liberally lubed up my SOS-22 V2.

Next, at the range I blew a new asshole on a target using Winchester M-22, my Ruger Charger, and a GSG 110-round drum. Came home, and.... holy feck the crap wiped right off!

I followed up with a quick scrub in some cool water and dish detergent using a nylon brush. Maybe next time I'll dip into some of the bacon grease in the fridge for a smell treat range test.
  
CAUTION: The stainless caps are press-fit set and adhesed using Rocksett. Do not immerse your SOS-22 in hot water for any length of time unless you want to have to re-glue your suppressor together!

Overall Impression


The quality of build? Not bad. Not perfect, but not bad.  You can feel some 'rough' catches on thread starts, but the cerakoting is quite good - no drips, etc.  Machining of the threads is OK - everything screws together by hand, and I've had no baffle strikes on my:

- Mark III w/a PacLite 4" unfluted barrel,
- 10/22 Takedown stainless
- Charger Takedown stainless
- Charger Takedown blued
- Charger Takedown blued and WhistlePig Acculite 12"

Thanks, Ruger!

The 'stacks' all line up, the end caps are perfect, the aluminum body w/steel cup inserts enable easy clean up of lead deposits, and while CLP gets the job done, Frog Lube is easier. Hey, I was skeptical, as I think Frog Lube should not be used on weapons - it's crap for that purpose. Either way, there is no need for dips, ultrasonic, corrosive cleaners, tumbling, etc. I have more than 500 700 1,000 rounds through my SOS V2 and it looks pretty good.

Here is a sample stack:




After cleaning I swab a Frog Lube'd finger inside and on the baffle cones. The suppressor comes apart easily if you keep the threads heavily lubed. Keep in mind that I always clean my gear after a range session as I don't like dirty weapons or gear.

Here is everything you need to keep this suppressor clean (besides patches or the odd scrap of rag). If you don't have Frog Lube paste (which I now recommend). CLP will work, but takes more effort:



Just my $0.02 on this suppressor. I'm happy, and this range toy will keep me shooting on my pistols and 10/22 while i wait for my Odessa9.

Oh, and thanks to the examiner who processed my form so quickly!

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Xiegu G1M Transceiver Portable Remote

Raspberry Pi Portable Xiegu G1M Transceiver Controller


Here is a portable remote control for my G1M using flrig. Note that both the computer and G1M are portable and running off a small battery (Lithium w/6Ah 12V and 3A 5V USB output). All you have to do is hook the Xiegu USB cable into the rear of the rig's COM port and configure using the IC-7100 protocol - very easy!

What works: freq/band change, VFO A/B swaps, mode change (AM/LSB/USB/CW), Pre-amp, Split and PTT. I may look into changing flrig's source to include a more sparse G1M control layout:


Here is a short demo video showing how the Raspberry Pi and LCD touchscreen work with flrig:



The Raspberry Pi and flrig work well together! Now I have a portable controller for all my rigs!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Raspberry Pi Portable Panadapter for the Xiegu X5105

An Inexpensive Portable Pandapter for the Xiegu X5105 and Other Amateur Radio Transceivers


WARNING: The RTL-SDR radio dongle currently doesn't work with the new Raspberry Pi4 and the Buster Raspbian release. The only solution right now is to either use a Raspberry Pi3B+ or purchase a NooElec NESDR XTR+ Tiny Extended-Range TCXO-Based RTL-SDR & DVB-T USB Stick (RTL2832U + E4000)

GOOD NEWS, however, because the issue has been fixed and should appear in the next Raspbian update?:

look towards bottom of post from RPi engineer 

 https://github.com/raspberrypi/linux/issues/3060


The Xiegu X5105 is one of the newer rigs introduced by Xiegu for ham radio enthusiasts. One of the neat features of this self-contained QRP transceiver is the presence of an IF output port on the left side of the radio. This is unlike the Elecraft KX2, which does not have this feature (and which costs 3X as much!). Even better, you can use open-source software to display the information!

From the rig's manual, you can see that the port hosts an SMA jack:


This port outputs a first intermediate frequency signal for use with software-defined receivers, such as an RTL-SDR USB dongle. Using this port, which provides a 70.455MHz signal, you can get a spectrum display of signals coming into the receiver and a waterfall showing where the signals are located.

The simplest method for using the X5105's port is to connect an SDR dongle to the X5105 via an SMA male plug to MCX RG316 cable. These are relatively inexpensive:


Plug the male MCX into the X5105's port, then attach the screw-on SMA connector onto your USB SDR dongle and insert it into your computer. You can then run a program such as gqrx-sdr, using the 70.455 frequency. As you turn the X5105's VFO, you'll see any available band activity on the display.

Building a Portable Panadapter


Thanks to Derek Copsey, a member of a Facebook Xiegu forum, I was able to easily assemble my portable panadapter in less than half a morning. You'll need:

- a Raspberry Pi 3B+
- a case
- a 3.5" LCD to plug into the Pi
- an SDR dongle
- instructions from W7QT's github page:

panadapter manual

Configuring Your Raspberry Pi Display


First, get your Pi running with the LCD (which runs less than $20 online). Most folks use the script LCD_Show, found here:

https://github.com/goodtft/LCD-show

After getting your display working, you'll need to calibrate your LCD. This is important if you want to accurate tap menu items from the desktop's uppermost pane. To calibrate, install the xinput-calibrator package. Run the program from either the desktop menu (Preferences) or from the command line of a terminal window.

You'll be shown a graphical screen, and asked to pen touch four different points on the display. When done you'll be presented with a line of values representing your LCD's touch boundaries, such as:

"258 3966 3774 226"

Enter these values (as root) into the file 99-calibration.conf under the /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d directory. Here is my Pi's file:

Section "InputClass"
        Identifier      "calibration"
        MatchProduct    "ADS7846 Touchscreen"

        Option  "Calibration"   "258 3966 3774 226"
        Option  "SwapAxes"      "1"
EndSection


Reboot your Pi and you'll find a bit more accuracy in your touch points!  Unfortunately, the developer of LCD_Show not only left out calibration, but also an important step in touchscreen configuration: Proper setup for emulating a right-click using a touch pen!

Here's how to get right-click emulation:

- edit /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/10-evdev.conf to contain:

Section "InputClass"
        Identifier "evdev touchscreen catchall"
        MatchIsTouchscreen "on"
        MatchDevicePath "/dev/input/event*"
        Driver "evdev"
    Option "EmulateThirdButton" "1"
    Option "EmulateThirdButtonTimeout" "500"
    Option "EmulateThirdButtonMoveThreshold" "30"
EndSection


The next step is to install the software for your SDR dongle.

Panadapter Software Install


Follow the link to W7QT's install. I used the latest Raspbian release (Buster) at the time of this writing, and found a number of dependency errors using the Python script installs. I'd recommend using the apt-get approach, which are called 'install scripts' in the .pdf instructions

Next, get the rtl driver built and software installed. The steps outlined in the .pdf worked fine.  To start, you'll need to attach your dongle. Mine is an RTL-SDR (from the company's web page):



My version of this receiver was recognized as a Rafael Micro r820t under Raspbian Buster (not PIXEL!). You'll know when the dongle is ready for use (using dmesg to see kernel output), when you see:

usbcore: registered new interface driver dvb_usb_rtl28xxu

Next, run the panadapter package. The 3.5" LCD requires the 'FreqShow_Small' Python script. You'll be asked if you want to 'execute a script' via a dialog if you double-tap its desktop icon. Do so and you'll see the default screen as shown above in the title. The default frequency was a bit off for my SDR dongle, I had to touch the 'Set' button, then Clear, then tap in my X5105's IF frequency of 70.455. Being able to accurately tap the small 'buttons' (actually just words on the screen) and enter numbers is one reason to have your touch coordinates calibrated.

The required value for the IF (will be different for different rigs!) can be hardwired into the file 'model.py' under the FreqShow_Small directory:

self.set_center_freq(70.455000) # frequency in MHz of my 1st IF

Experiment with the different displays of the panadpater software. W7QT has done an excellent job of shoehorning a working program into a proper and compact display. Here's a video of my X5105 decoding CW with the panadapter, which is running off of a small lithium-ion battery with a 12V and more importantly, a 5V 3A USB port for the RPi 3B+ (and which will also work for the RPi 4!):




You can also adjust various display settings and if you click on the running display, it will enlarge and run full-screen - very nice! I also like that the adapter stores neatly away:


My Pi/LCD Panadapter is housed in a Pimironi Pibow PiTFT+:



Next, is another SDR client that works well on the Raspberry Pi. It requires a bit more configuration "out of the box" to work well, but the effort is worth it!

Making gqrx Work on a Raspberry Pi 3B


One of problems with Raspberry Pi 3B+ is a lack of CPU horsepower and RAM. This has been solved in the newer Raspberry Pi 4, especially the 2GB and 4GB versions. However, by properly configuring clients that require lots of CPU cycles, you can get acceptable performance with programs such as gqrx-sdr.

To get gqrx work under Raspbian doesn't have to be a black art. Conflicts between ALSA and Pulseaudio are legion, but here is how to get a working install:

Step One:


Install Pulseaudio using apt-get:

sudo apt-get install pulseaudio

Step Two:

Install gqrx using apt-get:

 sudo apt-get install gqrx-sdr

Step Three:


Reboot <-- This is important!

Step Four:


Attach your SDR dongle.

Step Five:


Run gqrx.

Step Six:


Select the correct attached Device, and critically, an Input rate less than the default. I found that 1200000 worked well. If the input rate is too high you will get 'stuttering' of the audio signal. This rate worked well for receiving commercial wideband FM radio stations using the stereo *mono* mode via the Pi's stereo audio jack (lower the gain settings in the receiver options tab and use the desktop's audio slider):



Step Seven:


To reduce CPU load, click the FFT Settings tab, then use a lower FFT size setting, such as 4096 (or lower), and a lower frame rate for the waterfall, such  as 15 fps, as shown here:



You can also reduce the windows size to display just the current frequency and part of the waterfall when you run the gqrx on your 3.5" LCD. This will make even a 15 fps waterfall run faster and reduce CPU load. And by using gqrx's View menu, you can get the window down to a bare minimum for a nice little radio display:


Here's the display on the LCD sitting on the desktop. I have ordered a 'mini' SDR dongle, so the entire package will be even smaller:


 So there you have it! Note that the gqrx program can also be used as a panadapter display if you select the 70.455 frequency after attaching your X5105 to the SDR's dongle.

Portable operations of the Raspberry Pi are possible with an inexpensive lithium ion power pack. Make sure to buy one with at least 3A output with a 5V USB port so you can use it with any new Raspberry Pi 4.

If you've wanted to try using a panadapter with your rig, there's no reason to shell out big bucks for a piece of hardware you may end up not using.  This approach provides a way to test the limits of portability and to provide a way to inexpensively experiment. You'll also get a little display that is portable in the field, also works as a wideband receiver, and can also be used to play music!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

GNU/Linux Dual-Boot Install on Windows 10 RAID SSD

How Not to Hork Your Windows 10 Install

I recently received a Dell Inspiron 14 5000 convertible laptop (you know, the one where you can fold over the screen and pretend it's a tablet). It is a nice convertible laptop with touchscreen... fast booting, and with 500GB of SSD storage.

Unfortunately, DELL shipped it with Windows 10 (ugh!) and the SSD configured as RAID. As more experienced users of free software know, the biggest hurdle in configuring a dual-boot system infected with Windows is swapping the storage management from a RAID configuration to AHCI. There are all sorts of bad web sites and posts with bad info regarding this issue. 

But it must be done because GNU/Linux cannot run its installer [specifically partitioning tools] for a dual-boot system on an existing RAID-configured Windows 10 system. The idea is to change the scheme, then use Windows to partion the disk, then run the GNU/Linux install.

Here's how to do the storage management scheme swap and not hork your Windows 10 install.


And fortunately, Dell includes a factory restore mechanism in its Inspiron laptops: If you do run into problems, recover this laptop to its original factory condition by pressing F12 at the Dell logo, then selecting the restore option.

Ok, to begin:

1. run msconfig.exe and set boot to Safe Mode
2. boot to Safe Mode, then reboot to the BiOS by tapping F2 at the Dell logo
3. scroll down to System Configuration, then SATA Operation and set to AHCI, apply and exit
4. boot to Safe Mode, and run msconfig.exe again to set normal boot
5. keep your fingers crossed (it worked on this Dell 14 5000)

Next, make room for GNU/Linux by using the Windows+X key, select Disk Management, select OS (C:) and shrink it (i used 200GB, which is more than enough for GNU/Linux).

My next step was to use Rufus to make a bootable Ubuntu USB using the very latest Desktop version (Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS, good thru 2023). I popped it into a slot, then rebooted to BIOS, went to General->Boot Sequence, changed the Boot order to the USB drive, applied changes and exited.

Booted to Ubuntu live. Everything worked: sound, network, backlight keyboard, display brightness, touchpad, etc.

Clicked on the install icon on the Desktop, then selected to install a dual-boot system, with Ubuntu installing the GRUB boot loader to offer GNU/Linux or Windows boot. The empty disk space was recognized as partition7 and I assigned it as root ('/') - no fancy partitioning schemes needed for me. And the Ubuntu installer automagically created a 2GB file swap on the SSD and activated it on first boot - very nice, and quite acceptable practice nowadays (no separate swap partition is needed for simple user applications).
 

GNU/Linux was then installed and rebooted; saw the GRUB bootloader screen with Ubuntu first and Windows second. Both work fine!

Hope this helps someone out there.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Review: Installing and Using the Volquartsen Firefly Bolt

The Volquartsen Firefly Bolt and .22 Shorts in the 10/22

UPDATE (August 2019): Volquartsen has announced that it is discontinuing the Firefly and is currently putting the remaining new stock on sale (this review is of a blemish-sale model [which had no blemish])

I like my Ruger 10/22 Takedowns. I have a stainless Takedown rifle and two Chargers, one with a stock barrel and the other with a stock-length Whistle Pig Acculite aluminum-sleeved barrel. The rfile and two pistols see a lot of rounds every year because they're so much fun to shoot.

This review is of one of my latest accessories: a Volquartsen Firefly Bolt, which enables you to cycle and shoot CCI Quiet (710fps) .22LR rounds through your 10/22.

Installing the Volquartsen Firefly Bolt


I was able to purchase the bolt, which normally retails for more than US$200, at a substantial discount due to a blow-out clearance sale (and a big 'THANK YOU' to the folks at rimfirecentral for the heads up). The bolt arrived in new packaging with little to no apparent wear or use. The package included the bolt, its attached charging handle, a recoil guide rod, a recoil spring, and a buffer pin (I make my own out of Delrin 150 rod). I'm going to assume that you should use this buffer instead of the factory steel pin to avoid wear  to the lightweight bolt, which is aluminum with a small steel slide plate on the bottom.



But what wasn't included in the package? This is where Volquartsen missed the mark:

There are no included, nor published installation instructions for the Firefly bolt!


WTF? Do a little research on the web and you'll see post after post of queries regarding this issue. 

The Firefly Bolt

The Firefly Bolt is an interesting 10/22 accessory. As you can see it has the charging handle built in:



The underside has the 'normal' bolt channels, but also a metal (steel i'm going to assume) plate screwed and machined flush into the bottom of the bolt:


The rear of the bolt shows the rounded edge where the hammer resets and also the round end of the firing pin, which is captive and has little to no chance to wander during operation:


The forward end of the recoil spring guide rod slide into a channel hole on the side of the bolt. Also note the round business end of the firing pin:


When installed, the rod and spring look like this:


Installation


So here's how I installed the Firefly in four steps. There were no instructions, so I just went with my own guesswork. It's a pretty simple process, actually.

Step One


Remove the charging handle, which is built into the bolt, by unscrewing it counter-clockwise. Since Volquartsen didn't include a clue about how to do this, I initially clamped the handle in a small bench vise, first protecting it with a fold of leather:




Then twisted the bolt as a lever and it unscrewed right away:



However, the more convenient and proper way (thanks to 'Dr Heckel' on rimfirecentral) is to use a 1/8" Allen hex key:


This will avoid any damage, and makes tightening the handle a lot easier after bolt installation.

 Step Two


Hold the guide rod in the recoil spring, then hold the spring centered in the bolt hole and stand the pointy end of the guide rod in its notch in the receiver, and press firmly down while moving the bolt into position in the receiver channel:



Don't be surprised if the bolt seems 'sticky.' It's new:



 If the bolt sticks, simply nudge it forward - don't force!

Step Four and Finish


Then re-attach the charging handle. I may suggest using a bit of medium threadlock to avoid loosening during use:




The 'stickiness' of the bolt meant there was some friction somewhere along the receiver channel. I'm wondering if the design of the non-captive guide rod and spring, along with the rod hole means there may be some break in? Anyway, after install and a few dozen back-and-forth slides, there was evident wear alongside the charging handle side. Compare to the previous out-of-the-box pic:


 My solution will be to shoot the piss out of this new bolt. I'm guessing at least a couple hundred rounds may work. But in the interim, I used a little gun oil on the wear spot and sides of the receiver channel.

The final piece is the buffer. Here is a pic of the Volquartsen buffer. However, it was too soft and too large and would not install properly, so I reverted back to my Delrin rod. (One suggestion by 'DGF' on rimfirecentral is to use a fine emery board to knock off the edge on one end.)  At any rate, I would recommend a buffer other than the factory stock steel, as it could (just guessing) harm the aluminum bolt:



Frankly, I think installing this bolt is easier than installing a stock bolt. Dunno why Ruger didn't go with this approach. But as the old farts say, "The proof is in the pudding." So I'll update on how well the bolt works after a range session next week.

Range Report for the Firefly Bolt


Went to the range and ran 200 rounds of CCI's 'Quiet' 710fps .22LR LRN. Used a cheap red dot at 25 yards. The first 25 rounds seemed all over the place - i think the ammo is really just for plinking... but after more than 100 rounds the shots seemed to be settling in. Could also be due to a combination of barrel, bolt, and the dolt holding the pistol:


The off-groups above were me getting used to a new barrel slapped on the Charger. I also found that while the charging handle loosened a bit, I don't think you need to threadlock it, as unless you have a really long and extended range session, there is no way the handle can unscrew all the way - it's up to you, of course. And as you can see, I did remove the bolt for cleaning. However, there are a few tips and potential traps.

Firefly Bolt Removal


If you compare the Firefly with a 'normal' factory 10/22 bolt, you'll quickly see that the Firefly is somewhat longer. However, the Firefly is notched to match the receiver and install, so it goes in easily. But when you go to remove the bolt, you may find that the Firefly can catch on the receiver notch inside the channel. This notch and the bolt on my Charger had a tolerance that was close to not allowing the bolt to be removed. Here is a pic of the notch on my Charger's receiver:


One tip: You can either lightly sand the notch *before* installing the bolt, or if you're having trouble removing the bolt, push it all the way back (you did remove the buffer, right?), then insert a thin dowel into one of the buffer holes and push up to slightly elevate the bolt. It should then come out.

When cleaning the Firefly, I did note at least one area that received a bit of wear - it was opposite the charging handle side of the bolt. I'll just keep shooting this bolt to break it in:




Firefly Bolt and Shooting .22 Shorts in the Ruger 10/22


Found an interesting modified Ruger BX-1 magazine on the evil Internet auction site. It has a roll pin angled through the feedlips/extractor, which allows you to load and cycle .22 shorts! This section details my experiences with a variety of .22 short loads. Please note that accuracy wasn't the focus here - it was function, and I deem this experiment a success!

Here is what the magazine looks like:



The pin is aligned just below the lips at a precise angle:



For a first test, I used one of my Charger pistols with a factory bolt because I also wanted to shoot some Aguila SV later on. Using CCI CBs, which have a spec of 710fps, I ran 20 short rounds through the magazine at the range with no failure to feed or extract - although I had to cycle the bolt manually. I was a little excited at first, so the rounds were kinda all over the place at 25 yards:


During the next range session, I installed the Firefly Bolt in my other Charger pistol, then ran the same CCI CBs. Only two out of 10 CBs would cycle with the Firefly bolt - bummer! But then I ran CCI CPRN shorts, which have a spec of 1,080 fps (purportedly outside the Firefly's comfort zone, but hardly by much). The standard velocity .22 short round-nose rounds worked perfectly. Success!


Finally, I ran some CCI CPHPs, which are deemed 'high velocity' at 1,105 fps. As expected, these ran well with no malfunctions.



All in all, I like my Firefly bolt, and now that I know how to easily install and remove it, and how it functions with a variety of .22LR and .22 Shorts, this gives my shooting sessions a bit more flexibility and fun with my Charger!