Q. What groups can I expect from one of your custom guns through a Ransom Rest?”
This is one of the most commonly asked questions we receive regarding the gauging of pistol accuracy and there are a number of issues that need to be addressed, so I decided to answer it here. To bottom line it, I’m going to suggest that you don’t use a machine rest at all to test accuracy of a locked breech pistol. Chances are it will frustrate you and place unnecessary doubts in your mind regarding the accuracy potential of your handgun. The machine rest is a good tool and has a number of legitimate uses, but it has limitations, and testing the accuracy of a custom 1911 is one of them; especially when the difference between a 'good' custom 1911 and a 'great' one could be as little as a quarter to a half an inch on a target at 25 yds. Unlike a revolver, the sight and barrel axis of these pistols is independent of the frame and this produces variances that make mechanical rests a risky tool for testing accuracy in my opinion. I can’t argue the fact that there are some 1911’s that will perform well through a mechanical rest; usually newly built custom guns with a hand full of rounds through them. But I’ve never seen a rest that can’t be outshot over a bag by a good shooter and because of that I've never been able to justify using one.
It’s also unreasonable to assume that the rest is always good when in fact the sum of potential mechanical variances in the machine rest itself (to say nothing of the ammunition) substantially outnumbers those in a well-built pistol. I’ve seen way too many good guns get ‘sold down the river’ because of a machine rest. I’m not just talking out of a hole in my head on this one. My opinion is based on years of experience at Pachmayr Gun Works attempting to attain the mandated 1.250” group out of a rest with our painstakingly built Pachmayr Combat Specials. Frank insisted that we use the rest for targeting and we battled to get the groups without cheating; literally chasing accuracy ghosts in the guns that didn’t exist. The groups always seemed to hover just outside the mark. It was only after we started shooting the guns over a bag that the acceptance rate climbed.
In final answer to the question that prompted this essay I can honestly tell you that I don’t know what groups my guns will produce through a rest. Chances are that the result would be different from machine to machine. I’ve never owned a rest and I’ve never personally fired a Pistol Dynamics custom gun in one and I cringe when people do, because I know that no matter what the result, it's not a true representation of the performance of the piece. I can tell you how the gun will perform in my hands, on a bag, with my benchmark ammo. The targets that are supplied with my custom guns are not faked and are also not the best of the bunch. I fire five groups of five rounds each at 25 yds and ship the group that best represents the average. If the gun doesn’t produce my expected level of performance then I find out why and either adjust the handgun or wake the next morning, get out of the right side of bed, and do it again. The target is included so that you can rest assured that the performance of the handgun is commensurate with your investment. I value my customers greatly and your peace of mind is of the utmost importance to me. Relying on a machine to do that which under every other circumstance is performed manually is the wrong way to test accuracy. That's why I take the time to personally target every custom gun that leaves my shop.