Around the Water Cooler, Feb. 6, 2018

Feb 12, 2018


This feature first appeared in our companion service The Tactical Wire

I’ve had several range trips since our hiatus at the end of 2017 and quite a bit of it covered items discussed here and on Shooting Wire as ‘first look’ type stories. Other items have yet to be examined on the wires. Let’s put those range notes here, as we discuss these items “around the water cooler.”

Vortex photo.

Vortex Optics Impact 850 Laser Rangefinder: Since I saw the press release in third quarter of last year, I was interested in giving this a look. To catch up, since I’d had several trips to Wyoming on rodent-strafing safaris, my inability to effectively estimate range has bugged me. I’d gotten a “no-box” “display model” laser rangefinder and wrote of my use of that device in our wire services. I used it on the club range to get close-to-accurate distances on some of the range bays. During a recent trip, I took the Vortex Impact 850 Laser Rangefinder to our second pistol bay – which is unmarked. I was working out with new pistols and wanted to nail down distances.

The Impact 850 quickly sorted through those chores, but I also checked distances to the range road, to the utility barn and various other locations. Use of the device was quick and easy, intuitive controls. I had to do nothing to set it up beyond installing the battery. Lightweight, compact, water- and shock proof, it’s a steal at the mid-$200 price range.


UpLULA : I usually don’t use magazine-loading aids. But, it’s been cold here -- winter is a fact of life -- and my old hands get cold. I’d been on a Ruger event recently and got an UpLULA magazine pistol loader among the other things we received from Weighing less than 3 ounces, the pocket-size, “universal pistol magazine loader and unloader” is said to load just about all magazines for 9mm and 45 autos. It’s certainly simple and quick to use.

I’d put the UpLULA in the range bag and, on a trip to shoot various autos from Ruger and Glock, found it to be more than worth the additional weight.

Taking a braced position with the Ruger PC Carbine on a fifty-yard target.


One of the autos on that trip was the Ruger PC Carbine. I’d taken it out with other guns to see if it lived up to the guns we’d had at Gunsite in December. Still working around various minor weather calamities, I shot the little gun only from fifty yards. It seems to be a sweet spot for the gun. I was tending slightly low, slightly right at fifty yards with 115 grain ball. At that, I put the best four of five into less than two inches at fifty yards – with a called flyer that wrecked the group.

Fifty-yard group with the Ruger PC Carbine. The low hit is a called flier.

And it consumes Federal “Aluminum” ammo you buy at the big mart store without any feeding issues. I’m still using the gun as-issued, no optic, as I seek to ensure everything’s working as it should. What use is it? Consumers called for it, they must see a need. Personally, I see it filling several roles. Even though Jeff Quinn,, didn’t find a lot of velocity boost in the 9mm from a 16 inch barrel – this confirmed by Ed Head on DownRange.TV – it’s far more easy to shoot accurately at distance (and, therefore, close up). The Ruger PC Carbine is an easy transition gun for new shooters of all ages from rimfire to centerfire guns. It’s much easier on your steel targets than conventional centerfire rifles and it’s not nearly so noisy as those more powerful guns. Add magazine compatibility with your holster gun and you have a handy piece to have around.   



Finally, I’ve still been working with the Smith and Wesson Model 43c. A “Centennial” hidden-hammer revolver in .22 LR, it’s plagued with tough extraction with certain loads – first noticed with Winchester Super-X and more lately noticed with some Remington Golden Bullet 36 grain HP ammo. Strangely, some low-cost ammo like Remington’s Thunderbolt not only show very nearly the best accuracy I can get out of the flyweight revolver, extraction is easy.

Small guns really amplify minor differences in everything from ammo solutions to shooting styles. Shooting the S&W M43c from a seated rest at 25 yards – why not? – I found that Thunderbolt ammo printed a 4 7/8” 8-shot group 7 ½” low on the target. Five of the eight rounds went into 2 ¾” – remarkable for a very light revolver with a very heavy trigger. The aforementioned Super-X went eight inches low, but put five of 8 into a 3 ¼” group on its “best of” attempt. The pocket holster shown is the Bianchi Model 152, currently the home of the ultra-light gun.

- - Rich Grassi