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Ruger Single Six: Match grade barrel? Accuracy?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Prosser, Oct 2, 2011.

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  1. Prosser

    Prosser Member

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    Hi

    I sold my Freedom Arms 252 awhile back. It was a pain, since the cylinder was cut so tight ammo consistently stuck: "Matchgrade cylinder"

    So, I bought a Ruger Single Six, complete with 22 Magnum/22lr barrel and cylinders.

    Here is my plan: Have a matchgrade barrel put on the gun, then sell the 22lr barrel and 22 mag cylinder unused.

    Also: What barrel length? My revolvers run between 4.75" and 7.5". I'm trying to make this as close to my FA and Ruger Single actions as I can, as a training tool.

    Which barrel? Douglas, Kreiger, or does it matter, once you get into premium barrels? Seems like the prices are all pretty similar.

    What kind of sites? Scope?

    I'm getting old, eyes aren't what they used to be...

    Anyone done this? Suggestions?

    Has anyone put a matchgrade barrel on a 22 revolver, and, if so, what kind of accuracy did you get?
     
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    IMO: A match grade barrel will make no practical differance.
    The line-bored Freedom Arms cylinder would have.

    You would be better served to just test every brand of .22 ammo you can lay hands on.

    One or more of them will shoot in the Ruger barrel better then you can shoot it I betcha.

    rc
     
  3. robhof

    robhof Member

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    robhof

    I haven't changed the barrel on my single six, but it gets pretty good accuracy, good enough to take squirrels with head shots. It came with a scope and I was going to remove it, but decided to try it first. Set up target at 25yds and proceeded to get 1" group in bulls eye, that was 5 yrs ago and still have the scope on it. Mine is the 5 1/2" barrel and bought used, if I was buying new and wanted the most accuracy and power out of the 22; I'd go with 7" or longer barrel. It also works with all the cheap ammo too.
     
  4. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Member

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    A "match grade" barrel is also much harder to install on a revolver than be fitted to an auto.
     
  5. Wil Terry

    Wil Terry Member

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    BOWEN re-built my old 1965 RUGER SSS 22/22MAG with a new Match gauge 7 1/2" .219" ID barrel. It averages right at .70" at 25 yards with any decent 22LR ammunition. Furthermore it shoots as well with the 22MAG cylinder with velocities right at 1700FPS or a bit more.
    I've shot prairie rats with this pistol so far away you fix an extra sandwich and carry more water to go find the corpus dilecti's.
    It's been 20 years now since I had Hamilton do this and I swear the pistol gets nothing but better everytime I take it out.
    If you think I am pulling your leg ask Taffin about this very sixgun.
    And so it goes....
     
  6. Prosser

    Prosser Member

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    Will Terry:

    That's the kind of accuracy I'm after. I will say the FA 83 shot .38" of an inch, with the right ammo, out of a ransom rest, at 50 yards, for it's new owner.

    My CZ rifle does that, with non-matchgrade ammo, and a scope.

    What did HB do to the gun, besides switching barrels? What make of barrel?

    Thanks

    Why did you settle on 7.5" for barrel length?

    The 252 was 9-10". One of the things I found a bit more rifle like then pistol.

    The older Single Six barrels were notorious for being anywhere from .223"-.227", sometimes on the same barrel. Have they gotten better these days?
     
  7. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    It depends. I do believe that a new barrel will be a waste of money if bore/chamber alignment is not near perfect on every chamber. So in that, a new line-bored cylinder would have to be made. Of course, it could be cut with any of a hundred different .22LR reamers. This is probably one of those instances where a good gunsmith, not Joe Bob up the street, should look at the sixgun and determine how bad the alignment is before proceeding. David Clements offers accuracy work on the Single Six. I don't know if Stroh will do a line-bored .22LR cylinder but I do know that he will do one for the .327 so odds are good. Obviously Hamilton Bowen is an option and will probably have the fastest turnaround.

    I've long wanted to do a match-grade .22LR Bisley Single Six with the dovetail rear sight, largest diameter 5½" bull barrel that will fit and a line-bored cylinder. I already have the dovetail sighted New Model to do it. Perhaps Lilja would sell a 6-7" stub???
     
  8. Prosser

    Prosser Member

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    My work takes me to that area this week, and around one of those guys that know what they are doing.

    My list is to have my 1911 chromed, a red insert put in my FA 83 .500 JRH, and the Single Six evaluated.

    Why 5.5"?

    I'm considering 4.5-7.5" barrels, and have no idea what the ideal 22lr barrel is for accuracy.

    I do want something that is about the same site radius as my big guns, and, since one is 5" and the other two are 7.5", guess which way I'm leaning?

    What's the number one match grade .22lr barrel around?

    I could do the Bisley grip, but, I've already got a nice set of small, but beautiful Hogue cocobolo grips on the gun. Seems the stuff is hard to get, and expensive.

    Chopping down a .22lr rifle barrel and threading it is not a big deal for the guys I know.

    We'll see how this works out this week.

    I'm not real sure the alignment was really an issue. I do know the quality of the ruger barrels have long been suspect.

    We'll see what the evaluation is of this gun.
     
  9. Quoheleth

    Quoheleth Member

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    I've not shot a single six, but for what it's worth, too long of barrels move the center of balance too far forward and fatigues the wrist in long shooting sessions.

    I had a 6 1/2" Blackhawk in .41 Mag a few years ago. I couldn't shoot more than a few cylinders full at a time for this reason.

    Granted, a .22 is significantly lighter than a .41, but the same principal applies - you get too much muzzle weight out front and it throws balance off.

    Q
     
  10. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    Ruger makes a fine barrel, they just cut a sloppy chamber and unfortunately, use a compromise bore diameter on the Single Sixes. It's not the quality that is suspect. You can take a 10/22 barrel, set it back, rechamber it and recut the crown and it will shoot with many aftermarket barrels.

    I wanted a 5½", which is not a length I'm very partial to, for several reasons. One being that while I usually prefer shorter barrels, I wanted a little more sight radius. I think it would balance it out better aesthetically, because the big Bisley grip frame on the little Single Six frame makes it look bulbous in the rear. Because I despise the neither fish nor fowl 6½" length and 7½" would be too long to be practical. I want it to be an every day beltgun. Plus I already have custom holsters for a 5½" Single Six.

    Lilja is the accepted "best". Probably some folks will argue but you sure as hell won't get a bad barrel from them.

    While I do A LOT of shooting with the Ruger XR3 and Colt SAA pattern grips I find that I do my most consistent shooting with Bisleys. Cocobolo is not difficult to get or prohibitively expensive. It's one of my favorite woods for grips. Cary Chapman has used some gorgeous cocobolo in his grips and I was tempted to choose it for my newest set he's working on now but they will be claro walnut.

    cw58.jpg
     
  11. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    Prosser, I suspect you "shot yourself in the foot" on this one both financially and from final performance point of views. You stated that the 252 shot wonderfully accurately but the ammo is sticky. Seems to me it would have made FAR more sense both economically as well as effort to just have the existing chambers reamed or polished with a very slight taper such that the forward portion guiding the bullets was left alone and the rear was eased out a thou or two to allow the ammo to seat and eject easily. Then you'd have your easy to manipulate gun which shot to your accuracy expectations.

    Doing all the stuff, and as Craig notes the barrel is only part of it, to accurize the Ruger up to what you're after is going to cost a LOT more in gunsmithing than the 252 and some relatively simple chamber easing work.
     
  12. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    This is the kind of project where you could spend a lot of money, and gain little advantage. That said, I still have a Swiss-made .22 LR Hammerli barrel blank set aside just in case (If you don’t recognize the Hammerli name, they are famous for making target pistols used in Olympic style shooting, and their best “free pistols” can group around .250” at 50 meters).

    But on a Ruger Single Six, which is an excellent revolver for its intended purpose, the lack of line-bored chambers could eliminate any advantage the new barrel might offer. At the least, the original chambers would need to be bored out and lined, and new chambers bored and reamed. I would expect that the cylinder could (and should be) shortened to .22 LR length, and the barrel stub at the back extended to match. A removable cylinder bushing would allow proper adjustment to compensate and correct cylinder end-shake. A new hand-fitted cylinder pin would also be necessary to obtain maximum accuracy.

    And after all of this was done you’d still have to contend with the single action’s relatively heavy and slow lock time.

    But if nothing more then “some improvement” is considered to be O.K., you could get by with simply replacing the barrel, which is made to accommodate the .22 WRM bullet, with one with a .219 groove diameter with a 16 to 1 twist. This would likely give you tighter groups, but the question would be, “how much tighter?”


    Of course the Freedom Arms revolver would give you all of this and much more. If case extraction is (or was) a problem then experiments with different brands of ammunition would be in order. If an answer wasn’t discovered the chambers could be honed, which is less desirable but would eventually solve the problem.
     
  13. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    I reckon it depends on the intended purpose. While it will cost probably $1200 for a custom barrel, line-bored cylinder and new front sight along with other tuning on the Ruger, the 252 still costs more and weighs a hell of a lot more. The 252 would make a great 100yd varmint gun but I'd hate to have to pack one in a holster!


    Once again, no one is gonna do this. It might've been standard procedure 50yrs ago when it was exceedingly difficult for a gunsmith to build a cylinder from scratch but today, they will always opt to build a new one. Besides, the cost of lineboring is in the labor and if you're going to the expense, you might as well go all the way with a new cylinder, rather than rigging up the original to save a little money. If it were even possible.
     
  14. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    It would seem that you are unaware that a number of today’s manufacturers (including Smith & Wesson) still occasionally line cylinder chambers and barrels.

    If the cylinder has sufficient wall thickness there is no reason the original chambers cannot be lined, and new ones bored. In the case of line boring the new chambers, the charge hole may not be concentric with the liner, but any difference would be so small that it would be inconsequential. While going to the considerable expense of having a new custom cylinder made apparently doesn’t bother you, others might have a different opinion and use the cylinder they had for a considerable saving, and as a practical mater, do so with no negatives. While in most cases lining would pose no problems, this would be particularly true in working with a .22 conversion.

    Looking at the conversion in question, even going to the question of line boring any cylinder is probably overboard. Buying a new custom cylinder is way, way overboard. But there shouldn’t be any objection to discussing the various ways that such a conversion might be done, and what can be done without having to take out a second mortgage on the farm. Custom cylinders do have they’re place, but this isn’t one of them.
     
  15. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    I don't care what the manufacturers do. Like I said before, you won't find a custom gunsmith who will reline chambers. Name one. We even have `smith's these days, like Hamilton Bowen, that procure ready-made cylinder blanks from 3rd party sources. They sure as hell won't reline one when they can more easily fit a new one and cut proper chambers. Why? Because it's the way they do business. It's the better solution.

    I seriously doubt, even if you could find a `smith that would reline a cylinder, that it would save any money.

    Relining chambers would make a great deal more caliber conversions possible and some easier. They don't do it. If an existing cylinder cannot be rechambered a custom cylinder is made. They don't reline cylinders. I wonder why.
     
  16. Prosser

    Prosser Member

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    Buying a 252 and shooting it are two different things.

    You think that because you got such a great deal on it, you can live with it. I couldn't. I paid 1100, sold it for 1500. That alone was a good enough reason to sell it.

    On top of that, it's a 10" long gun, with huge sites. And, it's big.

    Since I'm not an iron chicken hunter, it would have taken cutting the barrel down, getting a new front site, and I'd probably be about 5.5-6.5", and putting custom grips on it. So, I would have another 600-800 in an already expensive field grade. and its a FIVE shot. May not seem like a big difference, but trying to pound your ammo out isn't fun.

    I realized after I bought it that if I wanted a small hand cannon, one that is really a single shot, I could have bought a bolt action .22lr for 300 bucks, and been darn close to the same accuracy.

    The guy I take my guns to align bores if need be, JRH Advanced Gunsmithing.
    I've watched him do so on a big gun, and, it takes time, and money.

    If you notice, a barrel change on Will Terry's gun cut the groups down quite a bit. The real question is what else Bowen did while he was in there.

    I guess I'll have to wait and see what the barrel specs are. I might also do nothing, and just pound my 22lr ammo out of Paco's accurizer to .224.

    Just getting suggestions and experience, I hope, here.
     
  17. OldCavSoldier

    OldCavSoldier Member

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    I think *somebody* has a pant-load of extra money and time on his hands.....
     
  18. Prosser

    Prosser Member

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    Not even. If I did, I'd have another 1000 in the 252, and still own it.

    I'm looking to spend as little as possible, for a decent accuracy gain.

    Sounds like the only one who has done this got a huge accuracy increase, Will Terry.
     
  19. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    You're not going to find much evidence because very few folks go to the trouble of re-barreling Ruger Single Sixes to .22 LR. More common conversions are to small center-fire cartridges.

    Going way back to the 1950's and early 1960's there were a few hard-nose bullseye target shooters that still shot revolvers in the .22 tournaments. Occasionally you would see a little S&W .22/32 Target Model, but most were Smith & Wesson K-22 Masterpiece or Colt .22 Officers Models. I don't believe any had line bored chambers, but all had match grade barrels bored and rifled to .22 LR specifications. With the right ammunition (as each gun was a law onto itself) machine rest groups of around .750" at 50 yards were common, and sometimes you'd get a tighter one.

    There is no reason you couldn't duplicate this performance using the Ruger Single Six platform, but more would be involved then simply screwing on a new barrel.

    If you want to keep the project as inexpensive as possible, Numrich Gunparts Co. (www.e-gunparts.com) have an extensive supply of barrels and barrel blanks available. If you wish, the current barrel can be bored out and relined (see www.brownells.com) which will retain the current front sight and screw hole for the ejector tube. Any gunsmith worth the title who had a lathe could do the work, and an expensive big-name custom 'smith whould be totally unnecessary. This would get you about 2/3's of the way. The rest would involve a custom fitted cylinder pin and possibly a cylinder bushing to remove cylinder end-shake that is common in the Single Six. I suspect Brownells could recommend some gunsmiths in your area, because they sell the tools and supplies to do the work.
     
  20. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    I suspect because the particular 'smiths you are dealing with would prefer, when they can, to make the extra money from selling a custom cylinder.

    In particular, these cylinders are advisable when going to high-pressure cartridges. Otherwise they represent a largely unnecessary additional cost. But using stock parts does nothing to increase you're bragging rights. Half the fun in having high-cost custom guns is showing them off.
     
  21. Shimitup

    Shimitup Member

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    FWIW I took my relatively new to me used Single Six to the range today and shooting from rest with CCI standard vel shot four of the six into about .3" at 7 yards I'm pretty sure the 2 that didn't make it through the single hole were probably me not doing my part, being and old fart with reading glasses in indoor lighting doesn't help. I'm with rcmodel, find what your gun likes.
     
  22. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    Prosser, I didn't realize that the USFA gun was so big and heavy. Given that info I don't blame you one bit for going this route.

    Your Paco Accurrizer may not actually do anything if the LR cylinder chambers are "tight". If they are the bullet may well be back down to .220 or so by the time they exit. To get it right you'd want to ream out the chambers to accomadate the accurized bullets. But it might mean living with excess fouling from the brass not expanding far enough for long enough.

    Really I think Old Fuff has the answer. Boring and re-lining a barrel with a good quality sleeve sized for an accurate .22 would not be all that expensive. And it retains the stock sights and machine work.
     
  23. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    YOU are not going to find much evidence because it doesn't exist. Plenty of folks have this kind of work done, otherwise, the services wouldn't be offered with such specificity.


    It didn't exist back then.


    True but it won't save you any money. In terms of custom revolver work, a premium barrel is cheap. Usually around $200 installed. Skip the reline and do it right, it might cost ou an extra $50.


    Do you want it done cheap or done right? Unless you're willing to trust your shooter to Joe Bob up the street, who has probably never done this sort of thing, have it done right by one of the guys that works on Ruger single actions every day. It's cheap insurance.


    I'm getting the very distinct feeling that at the very least, your information is 50yrs outdated. At the very worst, you really don't know what you're talking about.

    In particular, these custom cylinders are useful when there are none available that can be rechambered. Whether that's due to available chamber size or length. Doesn't have a friggin' thing to do with making extra money or bragging rights. Don't insult my intelligence. It's about doing the job right. Not rigging it up as cheaply as possible. You wanna do it cheap? Just leave the gun alone. You don't build a custom gun to save money. You do it because you're not afraid to spend money to get exactly what you want when the manufacturers can't provide it off the shelf.
     
  24. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    It would seem to me that CraigC has lost sight about what Prosser's intentions are. No matter what the question is, CraigC's solution is to spend big-bucks for the ultimate (and of course most expensive) fully customized handgun built by a big-name gunsmith. To even consider anything else is a waste of money.

    Now if one has the money, and want's to spend it, that's fine - but the Old Fuff knows that for a lot less cash the results can be group sizes at .75" and smaller at 50 yards, and it's doubtful that the big-bucks special will be able to beat that by much, if any. As a practical matter whatever Prosser is shooting at is unlikely to know the difference. Going to the expense of line boring the chambers might bring some improvement by eliminating flyers caused by one or more chambers that aren't concentric with the bore. But one should ask, "is the very slight improvement worth the cost?" If one thinks so then by all means they should spend the extra money.

    While the Old Fuff has up to this point not rebarreled a Single Six, he does have some experience related to Smith & Wesson and Colt .22 match grade revolvers and pistols. He sees no reason that the expectations relative to working on the Ruger platform should be different.

    One weakness in the Single Six is that all too often the cylinder base pin is undersized (which allows it to wobble) and the hub at the front is too short (which contributes to end-shake). Both conditions can be inexpensively corrected, and occasionally that, in and of itself, will result in better and more consistent accuracy. Obviously experiments with ammunition is a low-cost way to tighten groups.

    In closing, I remember a remark my ol' Daddy once made, concerning rural Americans who it would seem can fix almost anything, without having to call in a "professional." "Some people," he said, "have money while others make up the difference by using their brains." ;)
     
  25. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    No Fluffer, try actually reading my posts. I'm not saying that a line-bored cylinder is the only way to go. I'm saying that no reputable gunsmith will do what YOU suggest. I challenged you to name one that would and you have conveniently ignored it. I'm saying that you don't have a clue what you're talking about because you've obviously never had work like this done. I have. Prosser has. Nor have you educated yourself enough in this arena to be able to give sound advice. If all of this sounds harsh, it is, you earned it.

    My best advice was:
    "This is probably one of those instances where a good gunsmith, not Joe Bob up the street, should look at the sixgun and determine how bad the alignment is before proceeding."


    Therein lies the problem. Ruger used to cut chambers all six at a time. While this is good for manufacturing ease, it is not so good for consistency. And a Ruger ain't an Officer's Model Match or K-22.


    Once again, a gunsmith should check alignment first. Because a tightly-fitted basepin can cause the accuracy to go either way, depending upon bore/chamber alignment.


    And there are some things one can't fix with increasingly larger hammers. Smart money knows when to call in a professional and building a super-accurate single action ain't something your average home gunsmith can accomplish. I know of only one so-capable.
    http://www.rugerforum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=54775
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2011
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