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Lessons Learned from Shooting the Smith & Wesson Model 52-2

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Lessons Learned from Shooting the Smith & Wesson Model 52-2 - Page 3 Empty Lessons Learned from Shooting the Smith & Wesson Model 52-2

Post by BlueRidgeBoy 11/22/2017, 8:43 am

First topic message reminder :

In the course of putting a Model 52-2 up for sale on this board, member Mike Myers and I discussed why this is such a great target pistol, as well as its limitations.  He suggested that I post those comments here for the group.  In summary, there is no better pistol for teaching follow through and no finer a weapon on the short line than the Model 52-2.  However, due to the ballistics of the round it fires, the pistol is not always competitive at outdoor 2700 matches where the slow fire stage is shot at 50 yards.

Federal .38 Special Match uses a 148-grain wadcutter bullet that produces velocity at the muzzle of 690 ft./sec.  At 25 yards the bullet is moving at 648 ft./sec and at 50 yards, just 609 ft./sec.  For a gun zeroed at 25 yards, the bullet will drop 4.3 inches below the muzzle at 50 yards.
 
Compare these statistics to those for Federal’s .45 caliber 185-grain match semi-wadcutter.  That load produces muzzle velocity of 770 ft./sec.  At 25 yards the projectile is moving at 735 ft./sec, and at 50 yards, 703.  For a gun zeroed at 25 yards, at 50 yards bullet drop is 3.1 inches.
 
All of this is to demonstrate why the .45 round is less subject to displacement by wind than is the .38 – it has greater momentum.  If you’ve ever shot at Camp Perry, you will be acutely sensitive to the impact of intermittent 20 mph crosswinds on shot trajectory.  Xs become 10s.  10s become 9s, or, in gusts, 8s.  This is why the Model 52-2, marvelous as it is, is not a competitive 50-yard gun in outdoor 2700s, except those that are shot on the calmest of days.  However, in the hands of a skilled marksman, at 25 yards outdoors this pistol will eat the lunch of every other weapon on the line and that goes double for indoor 2700s shot at 25 yards.
 
For me, this is all about the 52-2's incomparable trigger.  Yes, it is by definition, light, just 2-1/2 pounds, a distinct advantage over the 3-1/2 pound triggers on .45 caliber 1911s.  But the 52-2's trigger is also smooth, crisp, short, and has a very palpable and quick reset – so important for maintaining one’s rhythm during strings of sustained fire.
 
To actualize this trigger’s potential, especially at 50 yards, I have found that the scrupulous practice of follow through is essential.  Allan Loszan describes follow-through like this:
 
“Perfect control of a shot demands full attention, as the critical moment of actual shot release cannot be precisely determined. To ensure that concentration goes beyond the hammer fall and the projectile leaving the barrel, all efforts towards creating a perfect shot must be extended beyond the actual shot release. Only full awareness of all fundamentals can bring about correct analysis of technique.”
 
Indicators of lack of follow through (i.e., loss of concentration, or, awareness) include:
 
·      Increased muzzle wobble at the moment the shot breaks.
 
·      A sudden rise in the muzzle – often while the bullet is still in barrel.
 
·      Inability to correctly call one’s shots.
 
Many shooters see the sights while holding in the aiming area and then see the sights after the shot breaks. But very few shooters actually see the sights through the shot, including at the precise instant that the shot breaks.

So, the question becomes “how does one learn to pay close attention to sight alignment while seamlessly integrating that awareness with control of the trigger?”
 
I hit upon the following technique one afternoon in practice while working on my 50-yard slow fire technique.  It is quite simply a meditative approach that gives one’s unconscious (subconscious in the popular vernacular) permission to release the shot since the unconscious is much more aware of when to break the shot than is one’s conscious mind.
 
First, in your most relaxed stance with your pistol in the low ready position, as you run through the mental checklist of fundamentals before you begin the string of fire, close your eyes and visualize being the bullet leaving the barrel with the sights perfectly aligned and flying downrange until it strikes the center of the X-ring.  This visualization is from first the shooter’s and then the bullet’s perspective.
 
After I do that for a while, and it feels comfortable and unforced, I then call up a second visualization, which is from the target’s perspective.  It begins with a view of the muzzle of the pistol I am holding in the ready position with the sights perfectly aligned on the target, progresses through the bullet flying downrange directly at the center of the target, and ends with the bullet piercing the X-ring, all visualized from the target’s perspective.
 
That’s the second step.
 
After I do that for a while, and it feels comfortable, natural, and unforced, I then try to visualize both scenes – the bullet striking the X-ring from both perspectives -- at once.  The goal is just to hold those two images in my mind simultaneously, if only briefly.  If I can do that, even for a couple of seconds, I have found that I shoot more 10s and Xs.  I believe that this technique works because in essence we program the unconscious to successfully complete the task – shooting 10s and Xs – and give our conscious mind permission to step out of the way.

BlueRidgeBoy


Last edited by BlueRidgeBoy on 11/22/2017, 7:15 pm; edited 3 times in total

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Post by mikemyers 10/10/2020, 9:29 pm

PhotoEscape wrote:Shipping label on the way.  Shipping two of my 52s.  Just learned, Renee is no longer there.
AP
It's now two years later - can I ask how the new barrels worked out?  Did they make a change in the group size?  If so, only from a rest, or with the new barrel were you able to shoot the gun better?

I've now got two Model 52's.  What made the biggest difference for me, is mounting a Vortex Venom dot sight.  
It's still a challenge, but it is probably my favorite gun to shoot.

This is the best I've been able to do so far:
Lessons Learned from Shooting the Smith & Wesson Model 52-2 - Page 3 Img_3414
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Post by bruce martindale 10/12/2020, 12:56 pm

What ammo Mike? Nice target.

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Post by mikemyers 10/12/2020, 1:29 pm

Thanks - ammo was my reloads, old Federal cases, with 2.8 grains of WST, Magnus #514 bullets, and the brass crimped with a taper crimp die to 0.370" as suggested in The Pistol Shooter's Treasury.  It was shot two-handed, as with the 52 I can still get better groups with two hands than one-hand.  

The only other change was to keep loosening the crimp expansion die by 1/8 turn, until (finally) all the bullets drop roughly 3/8" into the case with just light finger pressure.
(fixed the typo, thanks, Cecil.)

I don't get targets like that every day.  Usually the group is larger, but every so often all the holes are overlapping each other.


Last edited by mikemyers on 10/12/2020, 3:33 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by mikemyers 10/12/2020, 3:11 pm

What I "wanted" is irrelevant.  Other than for "efficiency", I think I am doing exactly what you suggest.
Station #1 - resize, deprime
Station #2 - insert new primer, expand
Station #3 - powder drop
Station #4 - RCBS LockOut Die (powder check)
Station #5 - Seat

All rounds now to to my RCBS BigMax Single Station press, for the 0.370 taper crimp.

Cecil is correct, it seems everyone has a better idea of how to do this, but as I read it, "better" just means eliminating for the final step to be on a second reloading press - time, and efficiency.  Every way that has been suggested to simplify things leads to other problems. The most popular suggestion to simplify my life is to move the powder drop to station #2, and I've already bought the parts I need to do just that, but this means I need to remove the powder drop device from the die plate, and move it to another die plate when I want to switch back and forth between 38 and 45.  Or, I can do what my relative did with his Dillon 550, and buy a second powder drop device.  None of those options sound very appealing to me.  Besides, moving the round onto the second press gives me a chance to examine the round for any "issues".  Until recently, "issues" mostly meant lead on the outside of the case.  That's now ancient history, since I just started opening up the bell 1/8 turn more if a round didn't drop into the case.  Now all rounds drop in nicely (excepting brass that might have a "ding" on the end of it for unknown reasons, but this gives me an opportunity to fix the brass, with primer already seated, and run it through the press all over again.

If I'm wrong, I hope someone corrects me, but as far as I can tell, I am now loading the way my friends here and over the internet want me to do things.  I plan to buy one new part from RCBS, and to have a talk with Jay or Don at Redding as to why my Redding competition die apparently doesn't work properly for lead bullets.


Last edited by mikemyers on 10/12/2020, 3:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by mikemyers 10/12/2020, 3:19 pm

Oops, I was responding to a post Cecil made a few minutes ago - I copied it, but didn't "quote" what he wrote, so that reply is no longer visible, and there's no longer any way to know it ever existed, other than to look at my other browser window.  

That makes what I just posted sort of meaningless, without his post still being visible.

I'm not going to copy what he wrote here - if he deleted it, I don't think pasting it into this response would be the right thing to do.  From now on, I guess I should "quote" people, in case part of the thing I'm responding to vanishes like this......     Oh well.  Cecil, feel free to delete what I just wrote, and this response too, if you wish to.
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Post by CR10X 10/12/2020, 3:29 pm

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Post by mikemyers 10/12/2020, 3:39 pm

Oops, I meant "expander", not "crimp".  I corrected that.

Cecil, when I replied, I was replying to something a post supposedly from your, on my screen. 
I saved the text - will mail it to you.  I have no idea how or why it vanished.  I'll let you figure that out, once you see my PM with the text.

Thanks - and sorry for the typo - I need to read everything twice to make sure I typed what I intended to type.     :-)

If you don't have the ability to delete something, then there's a bug in the forum code, as why did I get to see it?
Check your PM in a few minutes.....
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Post by CR10X 10/12/2020, 3:49 pm

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Post by mikemyers 10/12/2020, 4:50 pm

I'm doing great at getting my mords wixed up.   Geez, Apple tries so hard to "fix" what I just wrote.

Yes, I do what you and others thought I should do, increasing the bell 1/8 turn at a time, until the problem is gone.  
I don't seem to be doing as well typing in what I mean.  

How about this - each time the bullet felt too "tight" going into a case at the seating station, I turned the expansion die plug clockwise 1/8 turn, which slightly expanded the opening at the seating die.  After doing this long enough, I no longer had any Magnus #514 bullets that didn't "drop into" the case.  I didn't measure how far they went in - it seemed to be about 3/8" or so.  I will measure later.  My only goal, was to get the bullet stable in the case, so the seater die would push it straight down, eliminating the problem of shaved lead.

I need to go back to the original thread about this, which is already very, very long, and find out how to finish the other things that were suggested.  It was suggested that the "plunger" in the expander die should be replaced by a modified version available from RCBS, that opens up the case for a longer distance - at least that's what I think it does.

If I was in school, learning reloading, I may have just made it to the 6th grade.  I know a lot more than before, but I also know there is a LOT still to be learned.  

As to the Model 52, ditto.  I know enough, and have worked with it enough, that it may well be my favorite firearm, in so many ways.  I also realize I've just scratched the surface regarding learning how to use it properly.  I guess regarding this thread, I might have just made it into "high school".  Got four more years of basic stuff to learn, and all the brilliant stuff you experts have learned long ago.  I will never "catch up", but I hope to get closer.
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Post by mikemyers 10/12/2020, 9:07 pm

Since the Model 52 has sort of become a collector's item, and since spare parts are becoming more difficult to come by, what are match shooters using instead for Center Fire?
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Post by Wobbley 10/12/2020, 9:38 pm

45s mostly.
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Post by orpheoet 10/12/2020, 10:57 pm

mikemyers wrote:Since the Model 52 has sort of become a collector's item, and since spare parts are becoming more difficult to come by, what are match shooters using instead for Center Fire?
I’m shooting a Pardini in .32 ACP indoors.
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Post by TonyH 10/13/2020, 6:53 am

45. Makes big holes, easy to shoot and not finicky to reload for....and spare parts galore!
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Post by New2BE 10/17/2020, 9:23 pm

I like mine. Immediate feedback, soft shooting. Luv the trigger. Sighs are nice too. Easy Load for.

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