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  #1  
Old 05-30-2020, 12:19 PM
Pariah Zero Pariah Zero is online now
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Alternatives to a ransom test?

From reading, it seems a Ransom Rest is the gold standard for testing accuracy of loads in a 1911... but it is a bit of an investment and Iím not sure itís a direction Iím interested in going.

I know... buy once, cry once. I just donít know if itís worth crying for yet.

Are there any workable (and cheaper) alternatives that I could use to get a taste and decide if Iím really interested?

Iíve seen sand bags, plastic rests, things like the CTK Precision rest...

Iím interested in learning from experienced shooters.
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Old 05-30-2020, 02:09 PM
TRSOtto TRSOtto is offline
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Sandbags and a very good trigger press.

Rest only the frame on the bags. Don't let the slide touch at all. You can practice and end up shooting some phenomenally good groups.
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Old 05-30-2020, 03:04 PM
JayhawkNavy02 JayhawkNavy02 is online now
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Pariah Zero, You'll probably get a lot of inputs, here are a few I’m familiar with.

The gold standard for a 1911 is probably the H.E.G. Rest vice Ransom Rest. They are almost impossible to find and mostly in possession by Bullseye Gunsmiths. The others I've found/used are with the military shooting teams with few exceptions.



A few alternatives

Cheaper....Caldwell HAMMR pistol rest. Uses Ransom Rest inserts and is pretty decent. You can typically find one pretty cheap, or at least used to. Great part is you can keep the inserts if you later to upgrade to a Ransom Rest.



Cheaper(er)....Lee Pistol Machine Rest. Less expensive than the Caldwell and will give you very good results, but you need to be handy as the inserts are unique and not been in production. You can find them used, and for cheap, but it will take a little searching, therefore you may have to machine/build your own. Quite a few folks I know who use them do so with success, but they avoid the OEM mag style insert and use the 1911 grip screw bushings to hold the pistol in place.






Cheapest? HySkore Parallax Pistol Vise and Shooting Rest at $55 new and less used, with no inserts or brackets required. It can beat a Ransom Rest if you have a poor foundation (non-stable surface), especially if you use an optic. For 50 yards, I recommend a low magnification scope. It will almost be as good as a Ransom Rest (with a scope if you do your part) and not require the infrastructure that a mechanical rest does. There are probably similar options that I'm not aware of.



Regardless of what type of mechanical rest you choose, you need a solid foundation. Otherwise you’ll find out why they're called a “Random Rest”. Here is Jerry Keefer's setup, overbuilt but probably the gold standard.

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  #4  
Old 05-30-2020, 03:06 PM
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RetiredRod RetiredRod is offline
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What TRSO said. IMO, sandbags are the best alternative.

Years back, in my quest for the ultimate accuracy load, I bought a Ransom Rest. For me, it turned into a complete PITA. Unless you have a place to shoot where you can set it up once and leave it, the setting up/taking down becomes very time consuming. Time I'd rather spend shooting. The RR must be very solidly anchored among other things. I decided sandbags and good shooting technique were satisfactory for my needs. Sold the RR after a few months of aggravation.

Of course, YMMV.
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Old 05-30-2020, 03:49 PM
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I have a ransom rest and they take some time to get used to and remove operator error.

Anchor them to the center of the planet and remember that the grip inserts are a consumable.
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Old 05-31-2020, 06:54 AM
jmorris jmorris is offline
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For rounds I’m not going to be shooting at long ranges, I generally don’t use rests because that’s not how I’m going to be shooting them. So I work up loads for pistols like the XP-100 a bit differently than a 1911.

I’m not a fan of sighting in or picking loads for pistols when the firearm is touching anything other than my body. So I don’t do stuff like this.



Not to mention that guy won’t after he notices the cylinder gap and blow by ruins his bag...

This is OK if the bottom isn’t touching the rest, just the hands.



If I want it more stable than it is in my hands I steady my body vs have it bouncing off other stuff, preferably more like this.



Or



Because it’s going to react the same when I am shooting it. I guess if I always shot my pistols from machines I’d treat them more like my benchrest rifles and only shoot them from machines but that’s not how I use my 1911’s and most other pistols.

If you just want to know what the barrel is capable of just get the pistol out or the equation and use a fixture like the one used here, start around 1:19.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-2-0rxaAEA

He also explains why he’s not using the ransom rest that’s sitting there for the test.
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  #7  
Old 05-31-2020, 09:08 AM
JayhawkNavy02 JayhawkNavy02 is online now
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Precision Pistol Perspective with all the bias that entails, with the exception of Mr. Clapp. Understood Bullseye aka "Precision Pistol" may not be the OP's game of choice so there is that

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmorris View Post
I guess if I always shot my pistols from machines I’d treat them more like my benchrest rifles and only shoot them from machines but that’s not how I use my 1911’s and most other pistols.
Wiley Clapp

Ransom Rest by Wiley Clapp - American Rifleman

Clapp on Handguns: Ransom Rest Revisited by Wiley Clapp - American Rifleman

"Further, I have people stating that the results obtained do not show what a handgun will do when fired in a human hand. That's the good part. Human hands are part of humans, which are at least inconsistent and sometimes downright erratic. Marksmanship enters into hand-held shooting, even on sandbags. If your trigger release and follow-through are not perfect, your groups on target won't be truly representative of what the gun and ammunition will do. It should be obvious that results will differ with different shooters. That's why shooting by hand (when a Ransom Rest is available) doesn't make sense. The major advantage of the Ransom Rest is consistency—it holds the pistol in the same way every shot. It will shoot the same way for hours on end and with thousands of rounds down range. I know this for a fact, because I have gone from dawn to dusk in several different shooting sessions. For a shooter, particularly a handloading one, the Ransom Rest provides the ability to maintain quality control over large batches of a given load. It's also handy in developing a new load or selecting a commercial load. Several 10 shot groups with a commercial or handmade load through the same gun will pretty much show what your gun will do. If you have a gun of known accuracy, careful use of the Ransom Rest can show you what each of many loads are capable of. Wiley Clapp"

Larry Leutenegger's Resume:

* US Army Marksmanship Pistolsmith/Gunsmith - '84
* Distinguished Service Pistol - '77
* Pistol Marksmanship Instructor for Army Marksmanship Unit
* Coral Gables High Service Shooter - '78
* International Pistol Team Shooter - '78
* Interservice Team Champion - '78 & '79
* National Trophy Pistol Team Champion at Camp Perry - '79
* NRA 2600 Club
* President's 100 - '80 & '90
* Bianchi Cup Team - 3rd Place '88
* Bianchi Cup High Service Trophy - '88
* Military gunsmith for - '88, '89, '90, '91 CSIM games

The Custom-Built Handgun - by Larry Leutenegger

"...I function-fire the gun, a minimum of 50 Bullseye rounds. I function-fire by hand, so the gun has the same resistance and movement as it would in a match. Finally, I accuracy-test it in a Ransom Rest, with several kinds of ammo, including factory match (using lots I know are accurate) and my best handloads. Larry Leutenegger"

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmorris View Post
If you just want to know what the barrel is capable of just get the pistol out or the equation and use a fixture like the one used here, start around 1:19.
Testing barrels prior to installation is valuable, to ensure they meet accuracy requirements. However that may not help someone with a completed build, other than to recognize a poor performing barrel. A fixture also won't validate proper installation/fit on its own. That is where a mechanical rest comes into play, and you'll still need one even with the fixture.

Sams Custom Gunworks - Parts Store



Next item is cost. The only pistol barrel fixture in production I'm aware of is by Dave Sams and the cost is about $2800+ inserts unless you constrain it to one platform like the 1911. Probably outside the OP's budget since you’ll need a mechanical rest regardless.

David Sams' Resume

* USA Master Gunsmith
* Distinguished Service Pistol & Presidents 100
* US Army Marksmanship Unit Custom Firearms Shop Head Gunsmith
* US Air Force Pistol Team & Michigan State Police Pistol Team Gunsmith
* Designed the modified M9 EIC Pistol for Match Use
* Gunsmith for multiple National Precision Pistol Champions and Olympians

A Day With A Master Gunsmith by Chip Lohman - Shooting Sports USA

“It starts with the barrel. No amount of welding up or machining is going to improve an average barrel. That’s why the first thing I do for a new build is to shoot just the barrel from my barrel test fixture. If it turns out to be an average barrel, I put it aside for “pie plate” shooters. Once I know I have an accurate barrel, I move onto building the rest of the gun, which involves fitting the bushing to the barrel, then fitting the bushing to the slide, and on to the other work depending on the model gun I am building. For the ultimate in match preparation, you can send your firearm to a gunsmith for accuracy testing on a mechanical rest.” - David Sams

Jerry's Keefer's Resume

* Guild Master Pistolsmith
* VA Govener's 20 - 15 times
* PPC Master Class Champion - '94 Pearl Magnolia Regional & '94 National Police Shooting Championship
* PPC High Master Class Champion - Virginia State - '00
* Distinguished Revolver
* Distinguished Semi-Automatic Pistol

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Keefer View Post
In a loose fit, the barrel becomes a camming device which positions or attempts to position the upper unit. The weak link in the 1911 accuracy equation, is the dynamics of the barrel. A barrel tester will show the capability of a barrel. The amount of loss when installed in the gun will show the skill and ability of the builder. The better the frame/slide fit, the closer to a stationary barrel.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Keefer View Post
I have spent almost 40 years, shooting/testing on the RR. One thing has become apparent during that time. Build as robust platform as possible. I have graduated to 2+ yards of concrete, covering approx. 1000 pounds of I beams, and steel channel reinforced/supports all welded together. The base mounting suggestions of one inch wood for the RR are meager, and with the slats on each end, flexes in the middle. It really needs 4 inches of steel reinforced, laminated 3/4 in plywood glued and sheet rock screwed together. The RR base uses wood screws to attach to the wood. Poor at best.. Machine the mounting holes to accept countersunk bolts that pass thru the wood. 1/4 inch steel plates inlaid into the wood base on both sides aid in supporting and anchoring the base to the wood. Many will say "overkill" but the guys at the top test frequently. You must know how your equipment is performing. Ammo, powder, barrels, lot to lot is almost always different. A gunsmith cannot afford to build guns that are not shooting micro groups. The shooters at the top are going to test your product. It better be right. I wish, I had the money and time I have wasted, rebuilding guns I "thought" were not up to that standard, because of an inadequate test rest platform. Because this super heavy RR is so very reliable. The old "settling shots" phase of the test is gone. It shoots good groups from start to finish. Dave Sams has an HEG rest. I feel as Dave does that it is far superior to the RR.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Keefer View Post
The reason most of us "elitists" entered this foray, is because Steelwolf made the broad, sweeping, declaration, that slide to frame fit had zero affect on accuracy, period. He did not segregate disciplines. We "elitists" pointed out that in extreme accuracy applications, it in fact does. There is a small clientele base in this country that can shoot at 50 yards, to the potential of the gun, and those shooters request and seek out the best we are able to produce. Plus, they realize, that humans error and fatigue. Very accurate guns, mitigate those errors. Your past employer who put slide to frame dead last. Well, thats odd, because it is the very first step usually taken by an "elitist". For, the frame and slide is the foundation for the entire system. The Ransom Rest is not a crutch. It is a tool, one step below the barrel tester, to test parts, the final outcome, or to test various machining techniques.
Jon Eulette's Resume

USAMU Pistol Team
Gunsmith
National Champion
2600 club & 2650 club
National Precision Pistol Champion
Distinguished Rimfire
Distinguished Pistol

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Eulette View Post
There isn't a high master out there who will shoot a pistol that isn't shooting at the highest level of accuracy. But typically proven in a ransom rest; yes I know that's different than from the hand.
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  #8  
Old 05-31-2020, 11:04 AM
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RetiredRod RetiredRod is offline
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JayhawkNavy02,

I'm not going to quote your post because it was so long. It was definitely fact-filled and very informative. We realize you're very knowledgeable about accuracy and Bullseye Shooting. But, don't you have to admit it was "over-kill" for the OP's simple question of whether there is a cheaper alternative to a Ransom Rest.
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Old 05-31-2020, 11:11 AM
JayhawkNavy02 JayhawkNavy02 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RetiredRod View Post
JayhawkNavy02,

We realize you're very knowledgeable about accuracy and Bullseye Shooting. But, don't you have to admit it was "over-kill" for the OP's simple question of whether there is a cheaper alternative to a Ransom Rest.
The post that answered the OP's question is in #3 above.
My post that you are referring to in#7 is in response to JMorris' post #6. Where I probably failed was to make that clear.
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Old 05-31-2020, 11:29 AM
Pariah Zero Pariah Zero is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RetiredRod View Post
JayhawkNavy02,
But, don't you have to admit it was "over-kill" for the OP's simple question of whether there is a cheaper alternative to a Ransom Rest.
What was the Mythbusters motto? ďIf itís worth doing, itís worth *over* doing.Ē

Iím definitely not as far along the journey as he is.
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Old 05-31-2020, 11:35 AM
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RetiredRod RetiredRod is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayhawkNavy02 View Post
The post that answered the OP's question is in #3 above.
My post that you are referring to in#7 is in response to JMorris' post #6. Where I probably failed was to make that clear.
OK, thanks. Didn't realize that.

Have re-read your Post #3 and my "over-kill" comment still stands. It's like asking someone what time it is and they tell you how to build a watch.
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Old 05-31-2020, 11:43 AM
JayhawkNavy02 JayhawkNavy02 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RetiredRod View Post
OK, thanks. Didn't realize that.

Have re-read your Post #3 and my "over-kill" comment still stands. It's like asking someone what time it is and they tell you how to build a watch.
My goal is to give the best information I can, to help primarily new/novice precision shooters be successful and ideally avoid some mistakes that I've made in the past with equipment.

Now approximately 42%, nearly half the posts (5 of 12) so far have been expended discussing how long the previous post(s) is....
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Old 05-31-2020, 05:25 PM
markm markm is offline
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If you belong to a club you might ask if they have one, I know mine does.
I bought my own because I figured at the price of a cheap gun and much less than a nice one and considering how much I spend on guns, ammo and reloading it gets lost in the noise.
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Old 05-31-2020, 06:56 PM
jmorris jmorris is offline
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Lots of ground to cover in that post but I would ask for what end use and quote this part.

Quote:
It's also handy in developing a new load or selecting a commercial load.
Depending on the use there is more to selection of a load than accuracy, coming from someone that has been somewhat successful in pistol shooting sports.

The OP seemed reluctant and didn’t seem to have a specific goal in mind. If shrinking group sizes he/she shoots is the goal shooting premium factory ammunition by hand for a baseline and going from there would be much less than any machine rest and make a better shooter in the process.

I can have machine rests and remote triggers shoot great but if his goal is to shoot better groups, I question the usefulness. If he could just flip a switch and hit a 3/8” target 60 yards away could he do it himself?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1L4EJAcnhY
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Old 05-31-2020, 08:04 PM
drail drail is offline
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I have sighted in a lot of 1911s in a Ransom Rest and then had to re sight them for the owner's hands. A gun recoils completely differently in a mechanical rest than it does in human hands. Hands, wrists and elbows flex.
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Old 05-31-2020, 09:09 PM
flechero flechero is offline
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True that it's not the same but how will you know if your ammo or gun is capable of the standard you are asking for if you can't validate that the gun/ammo can hold whatever that standard is? How will you ever know how good you have shot, without some measure of the gun/ammo?

This was posted some time ago- I think it was originally on the bullseye forum.
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Old 05-31-2020, 09:20 PM
JayhawkNavy02 JayhawkNavy02 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flechero View Post
True that it's not the same but how will you know if your ammo or gun is capable of the standard you are asking for if you can't validate that the gun/ammo can hold whatever that standard is? How will you ever know how good you have shot, without some measure of the gun/ammo? This was posted some time ago- I think it was originally on the bullseye forum.
It's from the Bullseye Encyclopedia that myself and many others donate too. The original owner has passed, but its a great (but aging) resource funded by the Bullseye Forum regulars.

The Custom Built Handgun by Larry Leutenegger - Bullseye Encyclopedia Hyperlink - Also posted above.

Another good article by Dr. Brad Miller.

Accuracy Testing: Shortcomings Of The Five-Shot Group by Brad Miller, Ph.D. - Shooting Sports USA - Hyperlink

Safe to say both are focused on Precision Pistol sports....
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Old 05-31-2020, 09:29 PM
jmorris jmorris is offline
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Quote:
...how will you know if your ammo or gun is capable of the standard you are asking for if you can't validate that the gun/ammo can hold whatever that standard is?
I don’t need a machine rest to shoot 1/2” groups at 100 yards with some pistols and have others that couldn’t shoot a 1/2” group at 15 yards with the best machine rest.
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Old 05-31-2020, 09:36 PM
markm markm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drail View Post
I have sighted in a lot of 1911s in a Ransom Rest and then had to re sight them for the owner's hands. A gun recoils completely differently in a mechanical rest than it does in human hands. Hands, wrists and elbows flex.
Even from sand bags I've usually had to readjust sights so I don't waste my time.
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Old 06-01-2020, 10:07 AM
flechero flechero is offline
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you crack me up!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmorris View Post
I donít need a machine rest to shoot 1/2Ē groups at 100 yards with some pistols and have others that couldnít shoot a 1/2Ē group at 15 yards with the best machine rest.
Ha ha! A bolt action rifle with a pistol grip and a derringer... not quite the subject of discussion in this thread! But if you haven't shot the derringer with a RR you don't actually know what it is or isn't capable of, and that is the point.
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Old 06-01-2020, 11:38 AM
david_root2000 david_root2000 is offline
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I am a bullseye shooter and Sporter rifle, Hunter Silhouette, steel bowling pins, and plinking. I bought this
https://www.brownells.com/optics-mou...nt-prod63.aspx

To test my 1911 pistols. I use sand bags and a 6X pistol scope. I tried a 14X rifle scope and did not shoot any smaller groups, so the 6X is fine with me. I only do this to test load/pistol combinations. Shooting a group less than 2" @ 50 yards IS fun.

Cheaper than a ransom rest but still good repeatable results.

I also use this
https://hyskore.com/products/30034-swivel-pistol-rest/
Pistol rest. Its not the Parallax model that clamps the gun, its just a nice quality rest.
The parallax model says right on the website its not for shooting groups, just for sighting.

David

Last edited by david_root2000; 06-01-2020 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 06-01-2020, 01:16 PM
TRSOtto TRSOtto is offline
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I shoot 1911's off bags at 100 yds all of the time. Once sighted in at distance, I've not noticed a shift in POI vs POA when I go back to shooting shorter distance offhand.
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