A Nurse with a Gun

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Secret Handshake

When I was younger, I enjoyed shooting different calibers. I enjoyed the trip to the gun counter to pick up 22 Rem Jet and debating the esoterica of caliber. I shot .44 special, 10mm, .38 super and .41 magnum. I can say I shot the .460 Rowland a few times. I owned a couple of handguns in .38 S&W, and paid the price for the anemic ammunition. Over time I tried out .357 Sig and .40 S&W as carry gun cartridges, as well as the .380. As time went by, I moved away from each of these for one reason or another.

Click to enlarge
Today, except for a few keepsake handguns chambered in those esoteric calibers, I have adopted 22 long rifle, 45 ACP, 9mm, .38 special and .357 magnum. This was not by design, it was an evolution towards simplicity.

As usual, I took a Ruger MKII to the range with my 1911s today. I still consider the 22 pistol to be the best investment towards marksmanship a shooter can make. The cost per shot allows a lot of lead to be sent downrange. The Ruger 22 auto-pistol is my choice for a reliable, durable and accurate handgun to shoot all that lead with. I have several and it's the one I generally recommend to those wanting a 22 pistol.

The only drawback to the Ruger 22 is the trick involved in the reassembly process. The Ruger is like a Chinese jigsaw puzzle. It goes together one way only, although it appears it can be reassembled in several ways. The trick is not allowing the hammer strut to bind. By flipping the pistol over and pulling the trigger just prior to closing the mainspring housing, the strut falls into the mainspring cap, and everything works as advertised. The flip of the pistol is the key, the secret handshake of the Ruger 22 auto-pistol. Watch in the video below just how quickly it happens.

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Blogger FECH said...

Can you recommend any other 22 pistols that aren't such a pain? I'm sure anyone can get used to the Ruger after awhile, but myself and my fiance are a little impatient being used to Glocks and similar such pistols. The 1911 is about the most complicated thing I can tolerate.

7:59 PM  
Blogger the pawnbroker said...

i can't find any fault at all with the calibers your process of elimination brought you to, xavier...and oddly enough, when theoretical "what-ifs" are posed, i find myself choosing, time and again, .22lr...

the ultimate survival tools; give me a few mk11's, a couple o' 10/22's, maybe a k22 6" and a rem. bolt-action for foolproof backup, and a few zillion rounds, and i'm good.

and i solved the reassembly dilemma years ago; i don't take the damn things apart. cleaning? hose it down with wd-40 inside and out, and it's good for another 10k rounds...


8:03 PM  
Blogger aepilot_jim said...

Yeah.... I watched it like 8 times and still can't see it. Damn, I'm in trouble with my .22/45

8:24 PM  
Blogger Wbdrey said...

That usually takes me about 20 minutes.

8:36 PM  
Blogger Edwardo said...

Impressive video. Now why can't I do that? I have a Mark 2 I shoot occasionally. I'm scared to field strip it without supervision. I have taken it twice now back to the gun store in pieces in a shoebox. The gunsmith always put it back together for me. I realize that I've grown accustomed to the Glock and it's simplicity.

9:09 PM  
Blogger danno said...

I have a Mark II and yes, it's a pain to reassemble. I know it's a pain and what to look for and yet I still have NEVER gotten it right the first try. Even following the manual step by step. I always have to pull the bolt stop pin and try again. (Kinda like every home repair job requires three trips to HomeDepot).

The SIL was in town this week with her brandy new Mark III with all it's Californication (Loaded Chamber indicator and mag safety).

The addition of the mag safety (won't fire unless a magazine is in the weapon). Unfortunately that complicates the disassembly/assembly process because the mag has to go in or come back out at every step.

I never could get the bolt stop pin (the aft end lynch pin) back in to that Mark III. We finally agreed she'd take it back to the dealer and ask for professional help.

10:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about showing a video of the Ruger handshake that is slow enough that we can see what the guy is doing?

11:02 PM  
Blogger Thomas said...

FECH said...
"Can you recommend any other 22 pistols that aren't such a pain?"

Have you looked into the Advantage Arms conversion kits for the Glocks.


$300.00 +/-

drop it and away you go.....

11:28 PM  
Blogger RandomRob said...

The Smith and Wesson 22A is an exceptionally easy rimfire to take apart and clean. I have one and enjoy it, it is just as accurate as any other.

Nice caliber choices Xavier. I pretty much set out from the beginning to do the same. It's strictly .22, 9x19, .38 Special, .357 Magnum, and .45. It also helps keep mix ups from happening on the range with ammo.


11:30 PM  
Anonymous perpster said...

Xavier, What did you mean by this: "I owned a couple of handguns in .38 S&W, and paid the price for the anemic ammunition."?

I'm an S&W revolver guy, but I recently came upon a Colt Bankers Special (well worn shooter, not collector grade) and have to say I'm intrigued by 6 shots in a gun slightly smaller than a S&W 36 or 60. It's in .38 S&W aka .38 Colt aka .38 Colt New Police aka .38 Short. I haven't gotten around yet to researching if this is an acceptable self-defense round. Any thoughts on that?

I have limited my calibers by design for simplicity and economy. My calibers, other than this unusual gun, are .38 Special, .357 Magnum, 9mm, .22LR, .30-06 and 12 ga. If I had unlimited resources I'd open the flood gates to lots of other calibers and platforms but until then I pick from this menu.

11:33 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Browning Buckmark

11:34 PM  
Anonymous Stan in Minnesota said...

Once you practice it it is easy. I had a friend with several high buck race guns in a 1911 platform having trouble with his 22/45. I told him he needed to clean it but he was afraid of pulling it apart. I went over to the safe table, stripped it in about 15 seconds, ran a couple of patches through and put it together in less then 30 seconds. His eyes bugged out, I showed it to him several times more and then had him try it until he got it right.

I would usually put 5 bricks through the .22 each spring here in Minnesota before picking up my Charles Daley $350 .45 and then proceeded to half the time kick butt on half the guys with race guns. Some of them had holsters worth more then my Charlie.

Practice makes perfect both in cleaning and shooting. It is the person behind the gun 90% of the time, not the cost of the gun.

11:57 PM  
Anonymous PKFan said...

If anyone needs more info, go here

There's more dis-/re-assembly info than you'll ever need, including a video.

1:23 AM  
Blogger Mick said...

I got my first Ruger Standard in '81, my first pistol at age 24. I've had three Mk II's; one blue, two stainless. After the first few trips to someone more familiar with the handshake I got comfortable with the system, and in my current bull barrel stainless I put Volquartsen parts in it: hammer, trigger, sear, slide release and safety. That was 10-12 years ago; don't EVEN ask me to return it to stock!

3:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cz75 kadet is a fine 22

4:49 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

.38S&W is costly, more so than .45ACP, yet is low on the scale of acceptable self defense rounds. It's somewhere near a .32 ACP, I think.

5:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got a Speed Strip Kit from Majestic Arms
http://www.majesticarms.com/id10.html and it makes disassembly of my Ruger MKII a snap.

5:43 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

the ruger is not hard to put back together. Just read the manual.

really. read the manual and it shows where you the hammer strut should be.

I love my 10" barrel MKII.

Xavier has linked this site before on stripping the MKII: http://www.1bad69.com/ruger/field_strip.htm

6:10 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

The Beretta U22 Neos is very easy to field strip and reassemble.

6:33 AM  
Anonymous pyrojake said...


In the picture, I believe that the 1911 on the right is your Sistema, what is the one in the center? The slide looks shorter and the barrel is strange, or is that just the picture playing games with my eyes?

7:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first pistol was a Ruger Standard I bought slightly used from a friend's brother-in-law in 1971 for $40 (he threw in a holster). First time I took it apart for cleaning, I spent probably 3 hours trying to get the darned thing back together correctly. Finally took it in pieces in a brown paper bag to the little local gun shop. The owner took me in the back and patiently taught me how to completely disassemble and reassemble the pistol. The little gun shop is long gone, but I still regularly shoot the Ruger. It's probably had over 75,000 rounds through it, been through 2 firing pins and a couple rebound springs, but still shoots 2 1/2" groups at 25 yards (when I do my part) just like it did 38 years ago. I've owned dozens of pistols in all sorts of calibers, but the 4 3/4" Ruger Standard is still my favorite.

10:04 AM  
Anonymous perpster said...

Thanks for the reply Xavier. The elderly gent who insisted I buy his Bankers Special gave me a box of Remington .38 Short Colt 125 grain ammo with it. I just pulled it out and see that they are LRN. That, coupled with your analysis means I won't be carrying this anytime soon unless someone can recommend a good self defense factory load to put in it. Bummer -- I just ordered a Tyler T-Grip for it.

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My co-workers also tell me I should own a .22 Ruger or S&W for practice. I own an SA 1911 in .45. Why not just a .22 conversion for the 1911. Same trigger/grip feel. What's everyones opinion?

10:57 AM  
Blogger 1911-A1 said...

Xavier, I appreciate your blog very much!

I've been thinking of doing a .460 Roland (Clark Custom Guns) conversion on a 1911 and have been wondering about your opinion on those. It's timely that you mention shooting a .460 Roland. Could you provide some additional insight on that caliber and conversion?


11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Got to agree w/the CZ Kadet Kit. Very affordable, accurate, and built like a tank. It's a CZ after all.

11:27 AM  
Blogger nature223 said...

ok...that is a VERY well broken in unit,Mine would NEVER come apart that easy.
the reassembly is pretty much a trick that the guy who made the video has down pat.
I usually take about three tries to get ot back together,once you figure it out,the "trick" isnt aq trick at all,but simply knowing your gun.

FECH,get thee to a ten shot S&W /TAURUS revolver,the reload takes longer,but for a neophite,it's damn near perfect

1:47 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

It's my Colt Compact.

3:36 PM  
Blogger The Raving Prophet said...

Funny, I've been thinking about offloading 9mm from my collection (it is in the form of a CZ P-01, which is a great pistol and why I hesitate), leaving me with the same calibers you have as well as the .44 Magnum.

For .22, that idiot reassembly is why I ended up giving away my Ruger 22/45 and purchasing a Sig Trailside, which also has a much improved trigger.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fech, also easy to strip & assemble is the S&W Model 41, its a .22 target pistol, although its more expensive than any of the others recommended.

4:44 PM  
Blogger lee n. field said...

Hmmmm. How would you do the Mark i/ii/iii reassembly in zero g?

5:18 PM  
Blogger Sevesteen said...

It isn't a defensive gun, so mine doesn't get disassembled for cleaning often. This is due to the combination of mag interlock (I won't call it a safety) and the procedure--I'm not thrilled with having to hold it in various directions while pulling the trigger, and being required to insert a magazine is worse. I usually make due with a boresnake and cleaning what I can through the ejection port.

9:15 PM  
Anonymous Mikee said...

Nobody has said this yet, so I guess I will have to be the first. My disassembly of the Ruger Mark II or Mark III requires the use of a paperclip (or somethinge else) to pull the mainspring housing out of the handle. I have never been able to use my fingers or fingernails to do so, as demonstrated in the video. What has been done to make this possible in the video? Or does the person doing the disassembly have mini marlin spikes for fingers?

12:56 AM  
Anonymous model_1066 said...

Hello. Just a few observations about 22LR semiautos. I own two: a Walther P22, and a Browning Buckmark (camper model w/5" barrel, I think). The Walther has a 3 1/2" barrel (but one can buy a 5" barrel conversion kit) and is feather-light so it doesn't have the accuracy of the bigger, heavier Browning but is far more reliable and easier to disassemble. There is also a manufacturing defect with the Buckmark model I have: the part that the rear sight is attached to develops a crack in the middle towards the rear after a few hundred rounds. I replaced it once, it broke again, now I want to get rid of it. It is a good gun in all other regards, but this is a very annoying flaw. I can field strip and reassemble the Walther blindfolded in less than 2 minutes; one caveat for the Walther is that before it is broken in (~500 rounds) it is somewhat picky about ammo - get the high powered stuff so the slide cycles properly, and after breaking in, will handle any ammo. I have 3 other pistols: a springfield 1911, a S&W 10mm, and a Ruger GP100 .357 (my very favorite). Cheers!

1:22 AM  
Anonymous cartwheel said...

The CZ Kadet 22 can also be bought as a complete gun. If you don't currently own a CZ 75 then you don't need the kit. Buy the Kadet outright. I did.

5:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you guys comment on lubing a Govt 45? What do you use, and where do you use it? I tried using oil, and within a couple of days, it's gone, especially on the slide rails.

6:51 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Anon, go here for lubrication advice from me.

8:17 AM  
Blogger tom said...

I don't care who you are. Anybody can learn to field strip and re-assemble a Ruger .22 Mk pistol. No parts even go shooting across the room like happens if I'm not careful with my Wolverines.

No offense to anybody in particular, but if you can't do a basic field strip and re-assemble on a Mk .22LR, I'd be afraid to let you replenish the supply of staples in my Swingline.

You might take a bit of time to get the hang of it but then you probably do a lot of tasks every day of your life you didn't get right the first time. Many toddlers initially have trouble getting spoons to their mouths but they outgrow that stage...

Some Grumpy Smith and Gun Crank that owns a half dozen of the things and they all go back together in thirty seconds or less.

Broomhandle Mausers are a lot closer to Chinese jigsaw puzzles. Especially if re-assembling one you didn't take apart and you'd never taken one apart before is part of your final exam after two years of gunsmithing college.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Kim du Toit said...

Hmmmm. I think I'm with you, Xavier.

My carry choices are .38 +P in my S&W 637; .357 Mag in the S&W 65; and .45 ACP in the 1911. Mostly, that means the 637 (summer) and 1911 (winter), as the 65 is my bedside gun.

I plan on getting rid of my .44 Blackhawk soon (just don't need it, hardly ever shoot it) and thus will go the .44 Spec and .44 Mag.

I don't own a .22 pistol anymore, but if I did, I'd get another Buckmark. (Before anyone screams in shock, I DO have a 1930s-era Colt Officers .22 sixgun -- which is the most accurate handgun I own, in any caliber -- so my handgun plinking is well-covered. and if I want, I can always borrow a .22 pistol from one of the kids, who own lots between 'em...)

The ordinary Buckmark Standard is accurate, has a fine trigger, and is easier to field-strip than any Ruger .22 pistol ever made -- although it's also a PITA, it's much LESS of a PITA than the Rugers.

The easiest .22 pistol to field-strip is the Beretta Mod 71 or 75, but Beretta no longer makes them so they're super-spendy. I don't know how easy it is to strip the current drop of Beretta .22s.

3:01 PM  
Blogger gun papa said...

The MKII Fast Strip Video is mine. Thanks for posting it. My intention for making this video was to show no just the speed, but the technique of reassembly. There are a few tricks. I make it look easy. The main ones are that after the bolt retention pin is fully seated through the frame and receiver, I angle the muzzle upward, this allows the hammer strut to hang in the opposite direction, keeping it from getting caught behind the cross pin and the frame. While angling the muzzle upwards, you pull the trigger allowing the mainspring housing to swing back into the frame.

The gun in the video has a lot of rounds through it. Many newer guns are very tight, and my advice is to shoot the hell out of them before stripping them. In the mean time, just clean the open breech with a few drops of CLP, child's sized toothbrush, boltface, ect. with the gun together. You will do more damage to the barrel by cleaning it than just leaving it be until you are able to disassemble.

A lot of the MK series also have tight frame/barrel connections. If you insist on taking these apart, a rubber hammer is recommended for both removal and reassembly.

Please note that though the gun shown in the video is well broken in, it has lost nothing in the way of accuracy.

I have taken the MKII down to every last part. It is a very well engineered gun. I have abused the gun beyond belief and had only two parts break; the extractor and the firing pin return spring. The MKII shares the extractor with the 10/22 and costs about $1.

Type in "An Unnecessary Waste of Ammunition" into Youtube to see a video of the kind of abuse this gun has seen for years, or type in "dudepetri" into the search field to view all of my videos, most of them gun related. Regards, gun papa

Regards, gun papa

9:13 PM  

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