The Devil Made Me Do It

Today (Friday, 27th March, in the year of our Lord 2015) I did something rather out of character. I bought a new pistol. Not just new in the sense of “in the box, unfired” as opposed to used, but a rather new configuration and model.

I bought a Ruger model 3906. In dog years, it is a Ruger .22 long rifle caliber pistol. The design is a variant of their rather tried and true standard semi-automatic pistol; this being the newer but well-established “22/45” variation. It is further variated in that the frame is what seems to be a polymer plastic and what appears to be a bull (of greater diameter and non-tapered) barrel is actually a small – thin – actual barrel with an aluminum shroud covering the barrel. This shroud is of one piece with the receiver. A very neat arrangement. And the barrel is threaded in the event I should desire a suppressor at some future point.

The nominal (holster maker) barrel length is four inches from breach face to muzzle, actual ballistic length (from base of bullet to be fired to muzzle) is about three and five-eighths (3.625) inches. On my genuine but not-for-trade kitchen scale, the pistol with both magazines provided weigh just shy of 1.5 pounds, unloaded. In other terms, that’s 23.5 ounces. This is a light pistol. I have a suspicion this pistol was configured with hikers or back-packers in mind. Overall length is eight and three-eights (8.375) inches; overall height is five and five-eighths (5.625) inches.

I can imagine the question: “Being that light, how does it recoil?” Since this pistol is chambered for .22 long rifle, recoil shouldn’t be excessive. Also considering the pistol has a full sized grip, one can have a decent controlling grip on the pistol and I doubt recoil will be much of a factor.

With all that in mind, I haven’t shot it yet. I plan on doing so shortly. I will report when I do.

The pistol comes with adjustable, high visibility sights. They are pretty much the standard adjustable sights Ruger has been using on their line of .22 pistols for many years. The front post is square and plain matte black. The rear sight ‘blade’ (mounted athwart and the part with the rear sight notch) is also plain matte black, as sights should be.

The pistol has the familiar Ruger ‘button’ thumb operated safety; mounted on the rear right side of the receiver (works best for right handers). Also featured is a hold-open device activated by the empty magazine, a loaded chamber indicator (identified by cast-in lettering) and a Government Model style magazine retainer or release as you are pleased to think of it. The magazine is NOT a bottom, ‘heel’ release anymore. I think Ruger changed that some time ago, but I really don’t keep track of ‘new’ guns all that much. I note Ruger has equipped these pistols with a ‘magazine safety’. Sigh.

I find magazine safeties offensive. The idea behind a magazine safety is the operator is too stupid to remember to remove the round in the chamber. Perhaps with the change of U. S. society to the position that no one should be responsible for their own stupidity. Enough. I’ll get off on a full rant shortly.

Markings on the pistol are nicely roll-stamped and attractive. They’re big enough to read but don’t monopolize the view. The serial number is very obvious and easy to identify and read. I think it is acid etched; it doesn’t seem to be engraved or roll stamped. Definitely not hand stamped. The ‘read manual’ warning is politely placed on the bottom of the barrel shroud – which is part of the receiver. It is easy to read, meaningful and happily easy to ignore.

Since this pistol is a ‘sporting – recreational’ type pistol, I personally do not foresee the need for speed reloads.

I mentioned this is the “22/45” configuration. The grip panels look much like Government Model grips. The right side panel is somewhat trimmed at the top, forward corner to allow the slide lock to operate freely. They are made of what strikes me as rubber – a bit soft and clingy and are black to match the frame. They have the Ruger phoenix or dragon (I’ve never figured it out; I think I’ve read what it is, but don’t remember) logo cast into the grips.

Looking into the packing box (which I shall keep; I learn slowly, but pretty well), I find Ruger includes a soft, zippered pistol case – with Ruger logo, of course. Also included is a Weaver type mounting rail. The receiver is already drilled and tapped for mounting and the three tapped holes are currently filled by headless screws to prevent debris from filling them up. There’s a padlock on behalf of the psychotically intrusive. I suppose it could be used by an owner with children and no safe (he said, trying to be positive). One more thing – as Columbo would say – is a ‘key’ which can be used to activate or deactivate the internal ‘lock’ which keeps the manually operated safety from being moved from ‘safe’. This device also mandated by the psychotically intrusive. Presumably will not lock by itself; I don’t have any use for it. I can live with it as this is not a defensive pistol.

All in all, this is a classic looking pistol. It is businesslike in black and aluminum. Also, the grip fits my hand properly. I can hold this pistol one handed and feel like I am not going to drop it.

Update from Wednesday, 01 April 2015. I finally shot this pistol and sighted it in. After a couple of tries where I took everything to the range EXCEPT this pistol (did take several other .22 pistols and a couple different kinds of .22 long rifle ammo), I did get to shoot this one. It shoots fairly well.

Since this is a ‘field’ pistol, I thought some high speed ammunition was in order. I have the remains of a box of Winchester High Speed “555” ammunition. It is a plated bullet, in more or less SWC HP configuration. According to the printing on the box the bullets are 36 grains. According to the Winchester website, the velocity is given as 1280 feet per second; however, the website does not detail from which firearm or under what conditions the velocity was determined. I also tried a few rounds of CCI Standard Velocity at 1070 feet per second. The CCI has proved to work best in other pistols for accuracy and reliability.

At twenty-five yards – timed and rapid fire distance for NRA bullseye shooting – the factory sight setting was close enough to be on target. (This using the Winchester “555” ammunition.) All the shots were low and to the right of center. I read the instructions regarding the adjustable sights and corrected: Two clicks up and two clicks left. (Odd for me, usually I throw shots low and left. Perhaps I’m overcoming my tendency to ‘milk’ the grip?) After adjustment, the second set of five rounds were tighter, but almost exactly in the same place. Arrgh! So, I moved the sights another five clicks up and five clicks left. This put four rounds (not counting one thrown rather high and right) in a nice tight group just to the left of center but still about as low as the preceding shots. Humpf! I moved another five clicks up and one click back to right.

I think that will do it. Good news and bad news. The five shot group is now centered on the target. The bad news is the shots are strung from the (barely) 6 ring at about 2 o’clock to the 5 ring at almost 9 o’clock. Three shots in the 8 and 9 ring. Also on that same diagonal line. (Which indicates my old problem of ‘milking’ or squeezing all my fingers when I operate the trigger is showing up again. More on this later.)

I fired another five rounds with the same sight setting. They seemed to settle into the center of the target. Now I just have to practice.

Which brings me to the trigger. The trigger is a hard trigger. No doubt provoked by lawsuits of people who should not have guns, knives, pointy sticks, ladders, automobiles, power tools or microwave ovens, Ruger seems to follow the ‘idiot-proof’ theory of design. The only trigger I can recall that is as difficult to manipulate correctly is from a Hungarian FEG pistol.

At home, I dug out my trigger pull device and found the trigger broke at 5.5 pounds. Really? I would have guessed nine or thirteen, perhaps. I did check it more than once. 5.5 pounds. I am amazed.

The trigger is so hard that the pistol shook when operating the trigger. I was frankly amazed to have the shots hit the paper as well as they did.

Perhaps some shooting will ‘ease’ the trigger a bit. A bit of normal wear tends to do so. Also, I need to fire the pistol some more (so far, a total of thirty-five shots) and ‘learn’ this trigger. Thoughts of gunsmith adjustment also play through my head. Still, four pounds is probably as low as needed. But I still have to figure out why it seems so heavy.

Earlier in this exposition I mentioned the question of recoil. As I anticipated, recoil is just enough to disturb the sight picture but in no manner abusive. It doesn’t seem to recoil any more than most other .22 pistols. Perhaps it might bother someone with severe arthritis, but it should not bother anyone with normal physical abilities.

Back to shooting. I switched over to CCI Standard velocity ammunition and moved up to the 50 foot mark. (My hand was getting tired. Probably my eyes as well.) The groups were centered and I scored roughly 70% score. Not bad, but not impressive for a bullseye shooter, either.

After shooting, I dismounted the pistol and cleaned it. Thirty-five rounds didn’t dirty the pistol much. I bristle brushed the bore – not much to clean – and wiped off the parts. At first, the mainspring housing and bolt retainer was hard to remove. Perhaps I did something wrong, as the second attempt worked relatively easily.

Chronograph testing happened later, 03 April 2015. The wind had been a fitful lately and I wanted to regulate the sights and check accuracy. I shot on the indoor range. The fluorescent lights on the indoor range confuse the chronograph and it doesn’t work correctly. Hopefully next time.

The Winchester 555 ammunition – claimed to have a velocity of 1280 fps – delivered an average of 1046 fps. This ammunition was really quite consistent with an extreme spread of 32 fps. CCI Standard Velocity – advertised at 1070 fps – presented an average of 860.6 fps and extreme spread of 97.8 fps. Just remember, the advertised velocity is more than likely fired from either a long barreled rifle or a test device (with long barrel). The websites giving the advertising claims do not specify the arm used.

I remember the satirical comment of “If they print it on the internet, it must be true.” What is probably true about advertising is all claims ARE true, but only under specific conditions that may or may not be announced. Like which firearm was used, length of barrel, phase of the Moon…

I need a holster for it. I’m torn between a full flap, protective holster and a desire to keep the holster light – in harmony with the pistol itself. As usual, I’m thinking too hard. Probably a strong side or perhaps cross draw mount in lighter leather than the typical 10-12 ounce thickness. Still, not made from clothing leather; soft, pliable and without firm shape.

In all, I like this pistol and recommend it for those who desire such a device. It is ‘big’ enough to control and shoot properly. It is light enough to carry when hiking, backpacking, hunting or camping (if such is allowed in one’s venue, of course.) The high speed ammunition I used fed, chambered, shot, extracted and ejected well. (The first round from the first magazine did hang up on the feed ramp. I adjusted the round in the magazine and all was well. No other stoppages occurred.

The trigger is probably better than many alternatives, but is poorer than a target prepared piece. For two handed, field shooting, it will more than likely serve for most. (Perhaps removing the idiot magazine safety?)

The magazine safety and internal ‘lock’ are both mandated by the politically correct faction. They could both be discarded without undue danger. No doubt less clockwork would lower the costs of producing the item. Sigh. (I’ve owned several Ruger ‘Standard Pistols’ through the years. I’ve never shot any of them when I didn’t mean to so do. I’ve never shot myself or anyone or anything without intent. I’m surely NOT more specially equipped more than anyone else.)

Price? Out the door at retail, the device was under $500.00. AND the retailer even threw in a fifty round box of .22 long rifle ammunition!

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