Sunday, July 15, 2018

Review: Charter Arms Undercover .38 Special Hi-Polish

 

Tips, Tricks and Traps of the Charter Arms .38 Special in High Polish Stainless

I like Charter Arms. That's right. I'll say it again: I like Charter Arms. This review is for a new addition to my pocket pistol stable - a Charter Arms Undercover .38 Special in a high-polish stainless steel. My other Charter is a Pathfinder in .22 magnum; that pistol is extremely accurate for a snubby and has run perfectly for more than 300 rounds so far.

I have a number of other revolvers, such as an early Smith & Wesson Safety Hammerless from the early 1900s, a Smith & Wesson .38 Special snubby from the 1950s, and one of the later Smith & Wesson kit guns, the Model 317, version 3.

Why do I like Charter Arms? Here are a few reasons:

- inexpensive
- sturdy frame design
- inexpensive parts and accessories
- easy to work on and fix
- mostly stainless parts (aluminum ejector rod, etc.)
- good accuracy
- single/double action (can change to double-action only by installation of a $25 spurless hammer)
- made in the U.S.A.
- good, friendly customer service

Please note that I'm talking about today's Charter Arms, not yesterday or 10 years ago. From what I've read, I understand some folks have had problems with revolvers from previous iterations of the brand.

The Undercover Model

Charter offers multiple variants of the Undercover model in .38 Special, both standard weight and lightweight alloy. I really wanted a .327 model, but couldn't pull the trigger on a model named 'Undercoverette.' Charter currently lists the following Undercover models, all 5-round with the exception of the Police Undercover:

13811 Undercover, Blue DAO $ 352.00 (blue colored)
13820 Undercover, Blue Standard $ 346.00
13825 Undercover Tiger, Tiger & Black Standard $ 404.00 (striped)
23830 The Gator $ 424.00 (patterned)
23872 The Old Glory $ 462.00 (red, white and blue-themed)
63820 Undercover, Blacknitride™, $379 (nitride coated)
73811 Undercover, Stainless DAO, $364 (bead blasted)
73820 Undercover, Stainless Std, $358
73824 Crimson Undercover $ 577.00 (red colored)
73840 Police Undercover $ 390.00 (bead blasted, 6-round)

However, my Charter, in highly polished stainless is:

73829 Undercover, Stainless, High-Polish $379

Note that most of the revolvers fall under four Franklins. This is a good deal. But what don't you get?

- tight fit (close tolerance) and finish
- polished surfaces
- hand-finished parts
- an insipid internal lock
- a high price tag

A Closer Look at the High-Polish Undercover

The revolver comes in Charter's standard plastic, foam-lined box with assorted papers and an insipid trigger lock to satisfy the lawyers. You'll get a set of standard 'old school' wood grips instead of the rubber grips for most of the Undercover models.

The polish covers all of the exposed parts of the revolver, such as the outward face of the crane, trigger, strap, slide latch, and screws:
The polishing is most evident on the right side of the revolver, with its bare expanse of metal. But when you look closely, you'll see that although highly polished, the polishing did not remove all manufacturing marks. This is evident all over the revolver and quite frankly, I expected as much considering this revolver's price point - but it still looks great!

Of course, one of the first things I did was paint the front sight with a daub or two from my Wally World lime-green acrylic pen (you can get 'em in the fabric section):
A few other details, such as the shrouded ejection rod:
And the 2" barrel, where you can see the bit of metal not entirely polished. I didn't find it to be objectionable, and it's really not that noticeable:

Finally, the trigger, which is much like the trigger of my .22 magnum Pathfinder, but with a nice polish. The frame, unlike the polymer frame of the Pathfinder, or the alloy frame of the other Undercover models, is of polished stainless steel - this is a bonus in my opinion:
So the revolver looks good, but how does it shoot?

Range Report for the High-Polish Charter Arms Undercover

Took my new high-polish pocket revolver out to the range and ran a box of .38 Special FMJ FN. The first target was single-action at 12 feet. The initial cylinder determined that the revolver was shooting low, so this target was with the sight picture at the top of bullseye:

I think I'm pretty happy with the results. It is possible that the revolver may shoot higher with more powerful loads, but I like the ammo I'm using - reloads from a couple guys at Hyperion Munitions (support your local munitions makers!).

Next, I tried some double-action, but a yard closer:
Not too hard to keep on the sight picture. I like the way this revolver handles, especially with the range ammo I'm using.

I think this revolver's a keeper!

Friday, July 6, 2018

How-to: Kel-Tec P-32 Gen 1 to Gen 2 Conversion

 Converting a Gen 1 to Gen 2 

Kel-Tec's P-32 .32ACP pistol is a fabulous, fun piece of brilliant tooling. It is cheap, reliable, accurate, easy to work on, has inexpensive parts, and provides peace of mind for your pocket with a lightweight 8 ounces.

Nearly all P-32s around nowadays are 2nd Generation - the main difference being:

- different grip
- different slide
- different barrel
- different extractor
- different firing pin retention
(The Gen 2 incorporates one of the most ingenious dual-function firing-pin and extractor systems on the market in my opinion. A single hex screw retains the firing pin under spring tension, and at the same time, holds the extractor under spring tension with no coiled spring or plunger mechanism. )

That's about it. Or I thought at first. But the hammer is different! Read on to see how.

Good News and Bad News

The good news is that Kel-Tec, AFAIK, will update your P-32 to Gen 2. You'll basically get a new pistol back, and can enjoy your Kel-Tec goodness knowing you've got one of the best .32 ACP pocket mouse on the market.

The bad news is that if you like your Gen 1, you cannot get any replacement parts without scavenging other pieces for parts. Kel-Tec doesn't sell Gen 1 parts.

So what to do if you want to upgrade a Gen 1 and don't want to send it into Kel-Tec?

Well, that's what I did for a quick afternoon project.

Clean Up First

The first task was cleaning up the pistol. It was dirty, slightly rusted, and look liked it had been carried in a work truck tool box or the bottom of a jon boat. A complete disassembly required removal of only two plastic pins, which punched right out, and the lifting and release of the hammer spring from the bottom of the magazine well.


As you can see, this Gen 1 was kinda gunked up. Here's the muzzle, which you'll note is quite different from the Gen 2:
The shape of the front of the grip is different, and there is a small retention/guide plate for the recoil spring and plastic rod.
The top of the slide shows another difference (and in this case, a rusted retention firing pin screw:

Assembly of the Franken 32

After clean up of the receiver (the only part of the P-32 with a serial number), and other parts - which looked surprisingly good, everything when smoothly until it was time to check function - the hammer wasn't cocking, and i thought for sure that everything was kosher.

It wasn't! Here's why (I think): not only is the hammer different on the Gen 1, but also the hammer block inside the grip. Here's a comparison of the Gen 1 hammer and a brand-new Gen 2 hammer:


See the difference? Here are some measurements. First the width of a Gen 1:


And now the width of the Gen 2:


So, different hammers. Hmm... Perhaps due to the Gen 1 hammer I tried, it would not 'mate' with the Gen 2 hammer block in the grip? Well, I thought "Why not just just put a new hammer in?"

Well, fortunately I had a spare P-32 hammer on hand - cheap enough part, so why not? Installed it after driving out the small roll pin holding the hammer spring on the old hammer, then reassembled, installed, and checked function.
It works! So now I have an upgraded Franken 32!

Conversion Range Report

Well, it looks like I have another P32 in the stable. This one will be a 'beater,' and is also going to get a trigger upgrade. I'll also replace the trigger bar (small spot of rust on it, and for $4 for the part, not a big hit to the wallet - these pistols are @wesome!)

Went to a local range and ran a half box of GECO using a variety of magazines. No malfunctions. I think the results are pretty good:

RTK Trigger Install Tips and Traps

To finish off the conversion I installed a spare RTK trigger. Be warned however: You will have to smooth away adequate clearance for the front of the trigger ball in order to achieve a reset. This means you'll be forever modifying the Gen 1 receiver. Since this is a 'beater' P32, I didn't worry, and view this project as a learning experience.

After I got the trigger reset working, it was a simple matter to adjust the over-travel - after the hammer spring was installed. I think I like the results and will give this little pistol another run at the range on my next outing:

Range Report with RTK Trigger

Got out to the range this morning and ran a full box of GECO .32ACP FMJ through what I now call my "Franken32," or just "Frankie" for short.

:-)

No malfunctions, no problems, and 100 percent reset following trigger pulls. For me, the RTK trigger provides a more comfortable seat for my index finger.

I think I like the results:

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Review: SIG Sauer P238

SIG Sauer P238 Review and Range Report

Gotta love marketing, especially when combined with exceptional quality and manufacturing. I don't buy Swiss watches, but I recently took the plunge on a SIG Sauer P238 that just spoke to me from the display case of a LGS. This was totally out of character for me, as my main interest is in small calibers (.32ACP and rimfire). In fact I had just sold off a .380ACP pistol that I had for more than 25 years - a Beretta 84B - too big for carry or even the bedside table drawer.

At one time long ago I also owned an Iver Johnson Pony 1911. It would only reliably eat Federal FMJ, and it was a handful to shoot. But there were a few things about this P238 that I liked right off the bat:

- lightweight - less than a pound
- great ergonomics - feels good in the hand
- nice daytime sights
- price (got a nice discount from the dealer)
- SIG's reputation - this is a quality piece of tooling
- simple break down - single tool-less lever
- came with two 7-round magazines
- apparently a popular model - lots of 'em out there - more parts, etc.

Range Time

So it was off to the range after an initial take down and cleaning. Taking down this pistol for the first time wasn't a lot of fun, but then again, either was my Beretta 84B. After removing the magazine and taking off the safety, I finally figured the correct point to line up the slide with the lever. Cleaned up the pistol, remembering this caveat:

NEVER NEVER NEVER PUT THE SAFETY ON WHILE THE SLIDE IS OFF

(Apparently some very bad thing will happen. I need to read up on this one.)

Reassembly also comes with a caveat:

ALWAYS ALWAYS PRESS DOWN THE EJECTOR UNDER THE SLIDE IN REASSEMBLY

Oops! How to Fix a Fallen Ejector


If you push the ejector down too far, it will fall into the frame. You now have some work to do.

DO NOT FORCE THE EJECTOR UP UNLESS YOU WANT TO BREAK YOUR PISTOL

Here's one version of the fix:

Ejector pushed too far

If the linky fails to work, here are the basic steps, according to 'bumper' in cited thread (note he does not mention turning the pistol upside down while pressing the sear spring):

1. Remove slide. Remove grips. Lower hammer gently.

2. Remove pin at bottom rear of grip frame (this retains mainspring housing) push mainspring housing down about 1/4" or so (this step may not be necessary but'll make the next step easier.

3. The left side of the sear/ejector spring is for the ejector, it's the side with the small 90 degree forward bend or "hook" at the top. The front edge of that hook is supposed to be in the little notch at the bottom backside of the ejector. This rounded notch is facing upwards now as the ejector has rotated forward too far.

4. To get things back right you will need to use a small screwdriver or similar tool to push the ejector side (left side) of the spring aft far enough that it will allow the top of the ejector to be rotated back - this will swing the bottom of the ejector forward so that releasing the ejector spring will have the top of the spring behind the bottom of the ejector. You may have to hold the top of the ejector spring back while you push the mainspring housing back up.

5. Replace mainspring housing retaining pin. When using screwdriver or similar to push ejector side of spring back, you may want to wrap tip of driver to avoid scratching spring.

If this sounds too complicated, watch a video. Here's a link to a 'tube vid on the fix:

ejector fix

Interestingly, the original Colt Mustang's (the P238's older twin) manual has a short section on this problem, and a short description of an easy fix with two pictures:

So there you go. Gravity is your friend in this fix!

Anyhow, after checking the P238's function, I was ready to go.

I still had a box of 13-year-old Winchester 95-grain FMJ FN (flat nose), but also bought a box of Federal FMJ from Wally World (great place to shop for ammo late at night!). My first 12 rounds looked like this:
The first six rounds were me getting used to the recoil and retort of the pistol. But note the last five rounds: All on the bullseye. This pistol needs absolutely no sight adjustment! It shoots point of aim! Lining up the dots under the bull resulted in a nice 1.5" group! Wowzers!

Here are few other targets:
 Looks like I got my money's worth 13 years ago with this .380ACP. I then did a 'round robin' (clockwise from upper left) with smaller targets using 5 rounds per magazine. I guess I was a little tired by the time I got to the tiny center bull, but this pistol worked for me:

There were no malfunctions whatsoever with the old ammo or several magazines of the new ammo.

I'm a happy camper. I like this pistol.

And here's a companion knife for this pistol - I like my Sebenzas:


Friday, June 1, 2018

Review: Loading Block for the Charter Arms Pathfinder .22 magnum Snubby

 

 The Pathfinder Snubby in .22 WMR - Tips and Projects

Boy howdy, it seems like there are some Charter Arms haters out there! There seem to be some folks who definitely do not like the company or its products (one poster said he got a nasty email reply from the owner at one point). I don't know this company's history and I'm not sure what kind of  revolvers were manufactured by the company during the brand's recent 'junk' period, but I decided to take the plunge and purchase a 2018-made Pathfinder with a 2" barrel chambered for .22 magnum.

A recent search for a rimfire snubby with a bit more punch than .22LR found me handling a Ruger LCR .327 Federal Magnum revolver, which I instantly disliked due to its sharp and obtrusive trigger guard - not good for my hands.

And there aren't many currently manufactured snubby revolvers for .22 magnum (discounting North American Arms). The top of the heap would be Smith and Wesson's 351 C and 351 PD, but I'm not going to spend $800 for a revolver with a Clinton lock. Same thing with Ruger (which is now beholden to anti-gun activist shareholder Blackrock - may they rot in hell).

The Charter Arms Pathfinder has no such nonsense incorporated into its design. Basic specs on my new Pathfinder (stolen from Charter Arms' web site):

Model:72324

Finish: Stainless
Frame: Stainless steel
Grip: Full
Barrel length: 2"
Capacity: 6-shot
Caliber: .22 Mag
Hammer: Standard
Weight: 19 oz

My kitchen scale told me that the revolver weighed 1 lb, 4 oz. unloaded, so the above weight info is wrong.

So what do you get? Well, the revolver doesn't have a finely polished finish. There was a small spot of finishing abrasive in one of the frame pin dimples on my revolver. The fit and finish is yeoman-like, but not award-winning. The revolver's latch mechanism, although it works, is kinda funky and feels cheap.

On the positive side, this is a relatively inexpensive revolver that works. In .22mag it's like the snubby has a bull barrel, which is a good thing, as the revolver can heat up if you pump out 100 rounds through it in a single hour like I did on its first outing.

First Range Session with the Charter Arms Pathfinder .22 magnum Snubby

Here are the first six rounds through the snubby - in single-action with my wrists resting on my range bag - i wanted to see how the sights were aligned - btw, the revolver had been fired at the factory with a full cylinder, evidenced by fouling - always, always, always clean your weapons out of the box!:


The Fiocchi 40 grain TMJ at 1900fps wasn't too bad and not really a handful. The revolver shot a bit left and low (to me), but I was able to follow up with different ammo and hit the bull in single-action, even another yard away:
The CCI Maxi-Mag TNT Varmint 30-grain at 2200fps had a bit more punch but was on point and accurate. This was what I was looking for. However, I was even more impressed with CCI/Speer Gold Dots, a 40-grain lower (1050fps) round (note the one flier - I pulled that one):
Finally, I finished up my snubby's first 100 rounds with some double-action:

Extraction Tips


 I was able to extract all rounds, although as the cylinder warmed up, the Fiocchi cartridges were a tad hard to get out (had to punch with my palm) - but no stuck cartridges. One thing I did notice with this revolver was that after loading and pushing the cylinder in, the cocking was easier if the cylinder was in time - not really a problem - had no trigger issues (although disappointingly, I did have two Fiocchi rounds fail to fire on first strike - a second strike was OK - no such problem with the CCI ammo).

UPDATE: When I got home, I took a bronze brush wrapped with copper fibers and scrubbed each chamber in the cylinder. I then cleaned the cylinder, wiped each chamber dry, then followed up with Simichrome polish, and thoroughly polished each chamber, again going in the direction of the brass - back and forth, not in a circular motion.  I then again cleaned and dried the chambers.

The result? At the next range outing, with the same ammo and same number of rounds (two boxes of Fiocchi - 100 rounds), I was able to extract spent brass just using a hard finger press - no punching required - this is very nice! I'm really starting to like this revolver!

Trigger


Regarding the trigger: I found double-action to be very nice and smooth, and could hear/feel the first stage 'click' even through my ear protection. Single action was very good, crisp and light with a clean break. I had no trouble keeping on target in double action. This would be a very fabulous revolver in 3-inch with an adjustable rear sight (I already have a Smith 317, so that's why I went with the snubster instead of the 4-inch Pathfinder).

You can easily turn this pistol into a hammerless double-action only revolver by purchasing a spurless hammer from Charter Arms for less than $25 - that's nice! (or you could just grind off the spur on your hammer - LOL!)

There are some maintenance videos on cleaning and taking apart this pistol. Charter Arms also sells a simple tool that makes working on the cylinder latch a lot easier - I may invest in it at some point.

Modifying the HKS 51J Speedloader and Making a Loading Block


I ordered a pair of speedloaders for this pistol from Charter. Turns out that I overpaid by 50% - gee, thanks, Charter! You can get the HKS speedloaders for this revolver (model 51J) from places such as Cheaperthandirt or Thesportsmansguide, etc. for about $8. So save yourself some ammo money, and don't buy them from Charter.

I was unable to not only not find any cheap loading blocks, but unable to find *any* loading blocks for this pistol. And I'm certainly not going to pay nearly $100 for a box w/blocks.

The first problem you'll find when trying to use the HKS speedloader is that while it fits the cylinder chambers, you won't be able to speedily load your revolver. Why? Because not only does the stock rubber grip get in the way, but so does the smaller plain wood grip!

Now, if you go by the HKS folks recommendation, you'll need to modify the grips (according to the back of the speed loader's package):



Let's see: Should I cut or sand away on a brand-new wood pistol grip, or should I cut or sand away on an $8 plastic speed loader? Hmm... Well, the HKS folks in Kentucky may think I should mess with the grip, but I dont. There is no need to modify the revolver's grips - and which aren't oversized - that would be dumb.

Here's my solution to the speedloader and loading block problem: Modify the cheap HKS speedloader, then make your own loading block:

I took a scrap piece of the hardest wood I could find in the garage, then used a small awl to pinpoint drill points for five load points on the block. Using a hand drill, I then started off with small bits and progressed to a bit sized for the .22 magnum. Using a bit of extra rotation, I slightly enlarged each hole, then changed to a conical grind bit to add a very slight chamfer (bevel) to the lip of each hole.

The speedloader was modified (as shown) by adding an indent between each round hole, then sanding a bevel around the top of the loader using a little drum sander on a Dremel. I think I also slightly sanded the circumference of the loader. After this, the speedloader easily slides into position with the rounds and doesn't run into clearance issues with the grip. This speedloader and loading block are ready for the range!

And if you want to keep things a bit more tidy, size your loading block to fit inside an "MTM 200 Round Small Bore Ammo Box" (currently less than $10). I cut out the plastic center section, then reversed the two ammo holders to present solid sides to the loading block, which sits flush with the bottom of the box:


I continue to be impressed with this revolver. Here's a pic from a range session today:
And then, a little round-robin a bit closer with smaller bullseyes:

 Holster for the Pathfinder Snubby

If you're looking for an inexpensive leather holster for your snubby, the Charter Arms folks offer a very reasonably priced Italian leather version for less than a Jefferson; you can easily slip off the belt clip if you just want a simple transport or pocket leather:

So there you have it. I'm more than happy with the accuracy of this snubby. I see no reason to practice out to 25 yards, let alone 25 feet. But for close-in work, this little snubster looks like a winner - especially in the pocketbook.
 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Review: Taurus PT-22 Poly - Tips, Tricks, and Traps

The Taurus PT-22 Poly


I like mouse guns. Thanks to North American Arms, Beretta, Kel-Tec, and companies such as Taurus, you can find some really enjoyable pocket pistols.

(Unfortunately, I won't be buying a Ruger LCP/LCR-anything at any time in the future due to Blackrock's interventionist shareholder activism in 2018. Besides the LCR has a terrible trigger guard for my grip, which would result in severe blistering in a single range session.)

This page contains a few observations regarding my new PT-22s.

The PT-22 is a cheap pistol but with better fitment than other pistols in its price range. If you go by some folks' complaints you may think buying an inexpensive pistol like this is a crap shoot. Perhaps so. However, on the other hand, there are a number of high-end expensive stinkers manufactured nowadays as well. Here's a short list of manufacturers with recent recalls:

Glock
Smith & Wessson
Ruger
Thompson
Walther

and of course, Taurus.

But frankly I'd say you're more than likely to get a great PT-22 in perfect working order. However, there are some things about this pistol that may require initial attention. I'll try to document them here.

By the way, you can look up your weapon via its serial number on the Taurus web site:

serial number search

(Interestingly I received a "No matches for your serial number were found." for both pistols - so the database is horked.)

The PT-22 Poly


Like many semiautomatic pistols nowadays, the PT-22 Poly has a polymer frame. I won't do a laundry list of specs, but my pistols, with the 2 5/8" blued and stainless barrel and slide, came with one newer-designed magazine with a capacity of 8 rounds, a 2.8" barrel, and a weight of 11 ounces.

Shown here is the blued pistol with the new magazine, and two old-style magazines:


I immediately ordered two magazines directly from Taurus since the PT-22 only came with one. The only ones available were the old style (show on the right below). Taurus delivered them to me in less than 24 hours from across the state!:


But getting the old magazines was a good thing! If you look at the new vs old bottom plate, you'll see that the old style allows you to remove the extension to convert the mag to a flat plate (simply use a toothpick to press in through the hole, slip off the extension, then use a screwdriver to unscrew the extension from the bottom flat plate- you cannot do that with the new magazines!

Just be aware that if you slip off the bottom extension on an older-style magazine that getting the extension back on can be a bitch.

Hint: Relieve the spring tension using a pick or screw driver to make things a bit easier and carefully line up the slot/channels to slide the extension back on.

First-time Cleaning

Always clean your weapons before taking them to the range for the first time. I wiped down the weapons with an oily (CLP'd) rag, along with the exterior of the magazine. Next, I carefully examined the weapon.

On both my PT-22s I had to chip off some residual polymer left over from the milling/prep process. Here's where to look:

You see the two front curved portions of the receiver? Both sides each had a little piece of polymer sticking up. Here's one piece:
The piece was about the size of grain of sushi rice. Although I'm sure the gun would have merrily squished and torn up the polymer during battery, I thought it best to carefully trim off each piece.

Here's another look at a second PT-22 i purchased (stainless). Out of the box, you can see the polymer remnants on the slide:

See the right side? That's a nice chunk of polymer. I'm not sure that it's a good idea to break in your pistol and hope this stuff 'goes away.' Here's another view:

I also looked at the feed ramp and saw some machining striations running horizontally on the blued pistol - the stainless was pretty good! To smooth out the blued ramp to help feeding, I took some 2000-grit wet-or-dry, rolled a piece up to match the ramp, then *carefully* smoothed out the ramp using *vertical* strokes (in the same direction a round would take). There was some striation in the chamber but I didn't mess with it. Afterwards, I took some Simichrome and polished the ramp and slightly polished the bottom lip of the chamber.

The Taurus Security System

Thanks to numbskull politicians, liberal retards, parents with Darwin-award progeny, and bottom-feeding lawyers, this pistol is equipped with an ILS (internal locking system). This means that you can lock the pistol to a non-functioning state with a little key that you could lose and that renders the pistol useless if needed. Many folks throw away such keys and the stupid Clinton locks included with pistols.

Hint: Be warned that not only is the PT-22's ILS useless, it can also destroy your pistol. Here's the warning from the manual:

CAUTION: 
Never engage the Taurus Security System on your Taurus Pistol with the slide in the open (rearward) position or with the barrel tipped up/open. This will result in permanent damage to your firearm.

What kind of stupid shit is that?

Oh, and for your info: There is no difference between the security keys for the PT-22 from pistol to pistol. The keys are all the same, so if you happen to lose yours, you might try begging for one from another owner on a Taurus or other gun forum.

Range Time and Finding Ammo

My first task was to find suitable ammo. 'Quiet' ammo (790fps) isn't going to work. At first I didn't think CCI standard-performance (1070fps) would work. I thought you were going to need some ammo with a minimum punch of at least 1260fps. There is nothing in the pistol's manual nor any information regarding appropriate ammo for this pistol on the Taurus web site.

Some folks on the web published recommendations that supposedly came from Taurus, but I've been unable to find anything at the mothership. The lists of supposed 'good ammo' includes:

American Eagle HP (1280fps)
CCI Blazer (1255fps)
CCI Mini-Mag HP (1260fps)
CCI Mini-Mag Solid (1255fps)
CCI Velocitor HP (1435fps) <-- YOWZA!!!
Federal Bulk HP (1260fps)
PMC Match Solid (1050fps) <--- not sure
PMC Zapper HP (1280fps)
Remington Yellow Jacket HP (1500fps) <-- YOWZA!
Remington Hi-Speed Solid (discontinued?)
Winchester DynaPoint HP (1250fps)
Wolf Match Solid (1050fps) <-- nope, don't think it will work

Some of these are common, while others are not or are expensive or are no longer made.

I mostly shoot rimfire (and .32 ACP or .32 S&W), so I had several brands and types on hand to try at the range. Here is what I experienced with my blued pistol:

I have had three failures extract and five failures to fire (that went bang on the second pull).

The best-performing were Fiocchi's CPRN .22LR, CCI Velocitors, and, after a 350-round break-in CCI Standard Velocity LRN!!!! I attribute the failures to fire to crappy ammo. I was disappointed in CCI's 'Swamp People' rounds - stupid product. The Federal failure (FTF(BAD)) to extract was due to a dud round (Federal makes some really crappy bulk ammo - I got burned on this ammo by Cabela's, which censored a bad review, and by Vista Ammunition who basically blew me off when I called to file a claim.)

Here's an example of the Federal crap ammo. After an initial 'Phttt!' a squib lodged in the PT-22's barrel, with just the nose sticking out of the muzzle like a little dog's dick. I had to punch it out with a cleaning rod:


The Aguila failure to extract was due to bulged cases that stuck in the chamber (happens with that ammo once in a while on my other .22s as well). The Stinger FTE was on the last round - a horizontal stovepipe.

Fiocchi, CCI Standard Velocity LRN, and the CCI Velocitor were the clear winners in the reliability department. However, the surprise was which ammo seemed more accurate.

YMMV.

Update: I ordered a precision digital scale and a .22 rim gauge to hopefully sort my ammo before hitting the range. Stupid me. Should sorting reduce problematic rounds and increase accuracy? The answer is NO! I'll have to live with Federal crapshoot rimfire until I expend the remaining 1,000+ rounds left from the bad lot - I'll *never* buy Federal bulk ammo again!

I ended up shooting 50 more rounds each of the Fiocchi (with no incident) and 50 rounds of the Aguila (with no incident). All in all, about 160 rounds for the initial session.

I'll update the above chart as I find different ammo for testing.

Accuracy

Here is the target from Armscor (Filipino-made):
Not too shabby. The Armscor .22LR is pretty cheap. I like it in my Phoenix Arms HP22As. The PT-22 trigger is double-action only. Not bad, with about a 6-pound pull. I had no trouble pumping out rounds and after more than 150 rounds my trigger finger wasn't sore. The PT-22 is not a range gun, but plently accurate for me.

Here is the Federal target:
 Pretty sucky. Not only does Federal make shitty .22LR, the crap isn't accurate. I've had under-charges, over-charges, duds, and a squib round that lodged in my Smith 317's barrel.

Here's Fiocchi's target:
That's some paper shredding! I was shooting holes for at least one magazine.

Here's CCI's 'Swamp People' target:
Meh. All over the place, but some hits on the bull.

Now here's the Aguila target:
Bazinga! Now *that's* what I'm talking 'bout! Note however that there is some keyholing (similar to Fiocchi). But this stuff shoots straight - the only bad thing is possible case swelling that can cause FTEs. I may explore some other Aguila (there is a nickel-case version of its high-velocity "Prime" stuff that looks interesting, but I haven't been able to find it anywhere as yet.

Here is the CCI Stinger target. I don't think I can recommend this ammo, though. On a second outing, the Stingers blew the slide off the PT-22's rails!:
Note that like the Aguila HV, there are some key holes. This ammo packs a punch though!

Now here's the target from the CCI Velocitors:
And here's the CCI Standard Velocity, which had no problems during a 50-round box:

Yep, it looks like the CCI Standard Velocity, the Velocitors, and the Fiocchi, are the winners! I'm very happy that the PT-22 now eats the CCI SV. Nice recoil with good accuracy. I have several boxes of the Stingers and Velocitors, so I'm gonna keep some for carry purposes and shoot up the rest.

The Verdict

I'm settling on CCI Standard Velocity LRN, 40-grain, 1070fps for this pistol. Here's why:

Clean Up

Don't be foolish. Always clean your weapons thoroughly after shooting. Don't let them sit around with primer or powder residue. I came home, then wiped down all the magazines (don't oil them - just wipe them down really good - oil attracts pocket lint, dirt, etc.)

I popped the tip-up barrel, then gave it a good scrubbing. Long rifle .22 is dirty - some more than others (Fiocchi is pretty damn clean-shooting, in my opinion).

Tip: To easily take off the slide, tip up the barrel, then lightly depress the trigger while moving the slide back then forward to lift off - it should be a silent, smooth process. Reverse the procedure when done. You'll save wear-and-tear on the receiver and slide channels.

Walking Trigger Pin?

One thing I noticed on the blued pistol was that it looked like the trigger pin had walked out to the left about a millimeter after a range session of 100 rounds. I don't think it came from the factory this way, but i could be wrong (just checked my new stainless out of the box, and it too was out a bit, but not as much). Setting it back to the proper position required several light taps with a punch, so perhaps this was not the result of my PT-22's range session. But it is something I'm going to be mindful of and pay attention to in the future:

By the way, this is the 'normal' position of the pin (after a few punch taps), and in the picture above the pin is flush with the frame on the other side.

Removing the Poly PT-22 Plastic Grips


You can also easily remove the plastic one-piece grip. Remove the magazine, tip up the barrel, remove the slide, then engage the safety (to ensure you don't have a flying part). Next, unscrew the single screw at the bottom of the pistol. Push the grip down just a tad, then carefully use the tip of a screw driver to leverage the plastic from the frame, using the frame at the bottom of the rear of the magazine well as a fulcrum (right by the screw hole):

The grip change is so easy it's a wonder that Taurus (or a third party) hasn't offered different grip colors. If you look closely at the lower portion of the rear of the frame you can see the innards of the pistol, the magazine safety and the Taurus ILS:
It *appears* that you can easily defeat the ILS and magazine safety (i.e., can't pull trigger with no magazine) by removing the ILS screw and/or the magazine safety parts inside the magazine well of the pistol's grip. The relevant parts of the magazine safety are shown in the pistol's schematic:

The parts are (31 to 34): magazine safety lock, lock spring, mag safety spring, and mag safety screw.

To defeat the ILS and magazine safety (enabling the pistol to fire with a magazine removed), first unscrew part 34, then back out the ILS screw using its key. Next, unhinge the magazine safety spring, part 33, then push the magazine safety (parts 32 and 31) up into the magazine well, using a pick or small screw driver. The safety assembly will then drop out of the well when free of the safety spring's (part 32) slot in the well. I placed the parts back in the little plastic bag that contained the two ILS keys and put the bag away in the pistol's case for safekeeping. Voila! No ILS and you can fire a round with the magazine out of the pistol - much safer for me in a crisis situation!

The Missing Part - Actually An Improvement


One of the complaints with earlier PT-22s was the eventual destruction of a plastic part of the slide. That's right, the brilliant designer had a plastic part, most likely designed as a bumper(?) that was an insert in the front of the slide. You'll find it shown in your PT-22's parts schematic and listed as part number 26:

Don't panic if you don't find this part in your pistol. It ain't there. The PT-22's slide has apparently been re-designed now and doesn't have the insert, even though it's listed in the manuals distributed with new pistols.

So there you have it. I'm pleased with my PT-22s, and I'm sure they will only get better with some more range time - perhaps lightening up on the trigger pull. Oh, and I have no trouble whatsoever racking the slide, but then again I also have a Browning Hi Power and don't have trouble racking that pistol either.

As more issues, ideas, or tips crop up I'll document them on this page.