First Shots

by lizard

Yesterday I finally took out my Ruger for some target practice. A friend who actually knows what he’s doing took me to the Deer Creek Shooting Center in East Missoula. I had a blast (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Earlier in the day I went to Sportsmen Warehouse to get some ear muffs, glasses and ammo. I asked a guy at the counter what the best kind of ammo to get for a Ruger Mark III, and he kind of gave me this look like I was crazy or stupid, then said basically whatever kind of .22 rounds you can find. Since I’m new with all this, I didn’t realize how insane the consumer demand for ammo still is. Coincidentally, I just ran across this Missoulian article about a half hour ago on Twitter. Here’s a snip:

Ammunition manufacturers, such as ATK in Lewiston have been hounded so frequently from consumers and media, they’re posting FAQs about ammo shortages on their websites.

Like other companies, ATK referred The Spokesman-Review’s interview request to the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Mike Bazinet, NSSF public affairs director, said he’s fielded about 100 ammunition-related media queries in the past month.

“The main questions?” he said: “What’s the cause of the ammo shortage? Is it abating?

Bazinet dismisses rumors that the federal Department of Homeland Security has been stocking up and hoarding ammunition.

“A federal report from the Government Accountability Office two months ago said DHS purchases actually are lower than in the past,” he said.

Recent news about the U.S. Postal Service stockpiling ammo was blown out of proportion on the Internet, he said.

“It was for a small law enforcement arm of postal inspectors, not for mail carriers,” he said, noting the purchases were insignificant to the market.

Bazinet said the bottom line for ammunition shortages is consumer demand. Increased sales triggered even more demand as shooters stockpiled as much ammunition as they could get their hands on, he said.

After probably realizing I was a total novice, the guy pointed me to the few boxes of ammo they had left on the shelves.

Later, at the range, my new Ruger didn’t perform well. My friend had two ideas about what the problem might be. First he thought maybe it was the ammo. The bullets just weren’t feeding into the chamber smoothly from the clip, and it looked like maybe the tip of the bullets were slowing the action of the spring in the clip. As he fiddled, he was able to fire off a few rounds, which led to his next thought that maybe the Ruger was so new that its guts were stiff.

Since the first attempts at shooting my pistol weren’t going well, my friend offered to let me try his .44 revolver. I was hesitant, but relented and damn. That is not a caliber of handgun I’d be interested in owning, but it certainly put my Ruger in context.

After more attempts my Ruger seemed to loosen up a bit and would fire multiple rounds, but the action from the clip still feels a little hinky. Or maybe it’s the ammo. I’m not sure.

I’ve obviously still got a whole lot to learn, but I’m glad to finally start demystifying a tool only rendered dangerous by the various abilities and intentions of its relative users.

  1. d.g.

    I hereby nominate the last paragraph of this blog for inclusion in the weekly poetry section. Somewhere between dramatist Ionesco and poet Frost lies this surreal and bucolic weirdity.

  2. Craig Moore

    Try online here and

    BTW, there are no stupid questions regarding firearms and ammo, only stupid decisions from failing to ask questions.

  3. d.g.

    Is “Why?” just too, too existential?

  4. d.g.

    Is mentioning a friend who lives on Deer Creek and endures the gratuitous sound pollution and auditory violence (as do all the creatures in the area) peripheral to the self-indulgent paranoia of the author?

  5. d.g.

    Are we in danger of the author becoming irascible with something trivial (like that time I rated my own comments) and hunting us down and wounding us???

  6. You may want to hand load the ammo you use for self-protection to reduce the probability of a misfire or jam.

    If you continue having trouble, your weapon may be so far out of tolerances that it should be exchanged for another pistol.

  7. Big Swede

    Maybe the misfires can be blamed on your failure to wear the enclosed bracelet.

  8. Craig’s advice is actually very good. Reloading rimfire is a HUGE no-no for safety.

    Though it’s very difficult in the current market, try different brands of ammo and find one that works. I’ve fired about 7 different Mark IIs and Mark IIIs, and each one has been very slightly unique in preference depending on how it’s cleaned and handled. Jamming can actually be caused by such things as a loose grip on the weapon; the recoil requires some resistance to spring the next shell into the chamber. For the record, I’ve cycled more bulk ammo then I can count (American 500 ct. cartons …YAY!) The only ammo I’ve ever had the slightest problem with was actually Remington Thunderbolt, though that is awesome through my bolt action rifle.

    The .44 (mag) is an experience. I call it a hand-cannon for a reason. Though it is certainly not a firearm for everybody, there’s a lot to be learned in firing one. If you want a quick lesson in respect for handguns, it will give you one in a hurry. And it is incredible for teaching the mechanics of control, firm grip, proper follow-through and recovery.

  9. There is a known problem with the Mark III and feeding ammo. The small chute that guides the round into the chamber is not long enough (I assume this design is to allow for inserting the mag into the pistol without the chance of jamming against the chute). The downside to this design feature is that if you do not have the mag solidly into the gun (there is too much slop in the mag well), and the round doesn’t feed right into the chamber. My Mark III suffers from this problem.

    I get around it doing the following –

    1) you have to be religious about cleaning your gun. Any fouling around the mag or mag well with cause it to seat in a position that is not aligned properly.

    2) As someone has already mentioned, disassemble the gun and thoroughly clean it, oil it properly and reassemble it.

    3) Solidly load the mag into the gun. Ensure that the mag seats completely.

    If this is the problem you are facing, you will usually see it in the first couple of rounds you attempt to chamber. If a round mischambers, you will see a half moon cut in the top of the round. This is an indicator that the round is catching the loading chute.

    I am actually looking at installing a home made chute into my gun that is slightly longer than the factory chute. It will mean that I have to be more careful loading a mag, but it should resolve the issue.

    • lizard19

      very helpful info, thank you Moorcat. that is precisely what’s happening. I’m hoping to have time this weekend to disassemble and clean it.

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