This will be considered a review in progress. I bought the gun about 3 weeks ago, and have had it out once, for 120 rounds.
I've been seeing these little Phoenix Arms .22 kits in all the NRA magazines. They sure look cool - locking case, locking magazine thing, cleaning kit, two barrels and two mags. Well, I went to the gun show this weekend in Overland Park and found one for $150. I had to have it. It just looks cool. Everyone I spoke to at the show had positve things to say about the tiny pistol.
I got home and had the first indications of trouble. First thing I do after purchasing a firearm is to read the fine manual and disassemble, clean and reassemble the weapon. The manual presented no problems -- very clear and well written. However, the firearm was quite tightly fitted and took some coaxing to come apart and reassemble.
No worries, right? It'll loosen up as it is shot, right? Well, we didn't get a chance to take it out till the following weekend. Why? Let me just say this: The case lock cannot be easily picked if you forget to bring the keys with you to the range.
First impressions: Firm trigger (ca 7-9lbs?). OK sights, slightly adjustable, but poor sight picture compared to a Buckmark or M41. Hey, it's not a bullseye gun, just a plinker, right? Good feel in the hand, well balanced. We'll see how it shoots next weekend.
|Phoenix HP22 with short barrel installed|
Finally, some free time! Now to see just how this thing shoots. I loaded up both magazines with Federal .22 ammunition, brass coated. Loading the mags is a bit more difficult that it could be. The magazines are stamped steel and fairly flimsy. If dropped, the feed lips could easily be bent.
First shooting proved it does function. We had maybe 1 in 10 rounds get hung up on the feed ramp, but a bit of oil there cleared that problem. The trigger is much heavier than I expected. Hard to simply squeeze to get a clean shot. Once you get used to that, we were shooting 2 to 3" groups at 10 yards.
One note -- the slide hold-open feature is based on the slide catching the magazine follower. This rarely works -- most of the time I found I was empty either by a *click* or by counting rounds.
Problem! After about 120 rounds thru it, the weapon ceased functioning! The slide went back, and hung up about half-way closed. I removed the magazine, attempted to work the slide in either direction, and had no luck. After about 10 minutes of fiddling and not wanting to waste our limited time at the range, I locked the gun back up and waited till I got home to diagnose the problem.
Upon returning home, I managed to close the slide by applying a good deal of force to it with a leather mallet. I proceded to disassmble the weapon and found signifigant fouling and residue mixed in with the CLP. In my opinion, there was more residue than could be accounted for from just over 100 rounds. Also, the plating around the barrel crown had begun to chip off.
Note: Do not use GunScrubber or other chlorinated brake cleaner to clean this pistol. The grips are normal plastic and are quite adversely affected by the strong solvents in brake cleaners. Also, there are several fiddly little springs under the grip panels, and removal of the grip panels is strongly discouraged by the author.
After a thorough disassembly and cleaning, I reassembled the pistol. It seemed to function normally. I did not find any broken or overly worn parts. However, the recoil spring seemed to have a strange kink in it, and I believe that the recoil spring popped out of alignment while firing and caused the severe lockup.
We'll be taking the pistol back out in a couple of weekends and see just how it functions. I'm not going to make any judgements till I get a full 500 rounds through it. At this point, tho, I'd not recommend this as a first gun or a gun for a novice. There is too much fiddly stuff to work with.
Well, it seems I'm not the only one having this problem with the Phoenix Rangemaster pistol. Gun Tests magazine took one out and had the exact same failure mode in less rounds than I did. I still have this thing; I imagine I'll keep it around as a non- functioning training piece for my son or daughter. However, I would not recommend anyone purchase this weapon. The $200 Browning Buckmark Camper is a much better value.
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Created October 11, 2000    ::    Updated Tuesday, February 28 2006 @ 01:29pm