Some of the gun gadgets from the 1950’s and 1960’s are truly innovative and fun to use. Most of them allowed either more or special trigger time with your firearm.
The vintage “Gadget” we are going to review today is made by Lachmiller Engineering, in California around 1963, It was only avail for 2 years according to their brochures.
It is called the “PIP-Squeak.” It allows you to load air gun pellets into the special included conversion shells to shoot out of a .38 special, .44 or a .45 rimmed revolver. The whole kit cost about $15 back then. The different caliber upgrade kits were approx $9.95 each additional. This kit is for the .38 special.
Lachmiller Enigineering, was a well known maker of various innovative reloading equipment in the 50’s & 60’s. You can still find dies, loaders and tools on various gun related auction sites made by them. Lachmiller, was bought out by a major reloading equipment maker in 1973. The new company decided not to market this gadget any more as it limits the sales of their reloading tools and components.
It comes with:
1- Loading base to insert and to de-cap a small pistol primer from the special conversion shells. This one comes with the optional mounting base plate that were purchased at a $1.75 premium by mail order.
5 - .38 special steel conversion shells (note only 5 for hammer safety)
1 – Loading and de-capping tool
1 – Handle
1 - Instructions
The loading gear and conversion shells
Showing how the conversion shell is primed
Showing how a pellet is placed and then inserted into the shell
The procedure is simple:
FIRST AND FORMOST MAKE SURE YOUR GUN IS UNLOADED AND THAT EACH OF THE 5 CONVERSION SHELLS ARE… U N L O A D E D…
Prime the 5 - .38 special conversion shells using STANDARD SMALL PISTOL PRIMERS and using the cam loader base (I have used this priming tool to prime my actual .38 special brass as well when I am up at the cabin). Using standard small pistol primers, you drop one into the hole on the base at the shell holder and lever the cam upwards and it seats the primer perfectly into the conversion shell. I have used magnum small pistol primers and it does get better performance with them, but you really must be aware of your backstop as they will often penetrate 1” plywood with using the magnum small pistol primers.
You then load a .177 pellet HEAD UP into the bore of the special conversion shell x 1 for each shell using the hand loader / primer punch to seat the pellet, do not jam it as you will either de-seat the primer or possibly set it off, just lightly seat it. Some brands and shapes of pellets do work better than others. Plastic bodied pellets do not perform well with this gadget as they melt and deform. I have also used lead ball rounds in .177 size (avail from GAMO), they work real well. Do not use copper plated steel BB’s, they could possibly scar your barrel. Hollow point pellets do perform well from this gadget on small game and pests
You load your revolver as usual. Then SAFELY ……Fire the 5 shots, empty the cylinder of the conversion shells. You then de-cap the conversion shells with the de-capping tool, then re-prime and reload and fire again. Do not try to use your Loading Press de-capper, you will break your pins. The de-capper punch supplied just requires a simple tap with a mallet or wood dowel.
With primers costing about $3.50 a pack of 100 for CCI Small Pistol Primers and average cost of pellets of about 100 for $2.50 for Crosman brand from any of the discount stores. The cost of shooting 100 rounds is only approx. $6.00. This cost can go up or down based on brands of primers and pellets you choose. Since you are using your standard revolver (I use a 1926 4” S&W-M&P pre model 10, shown below), your practice time is much lower costs using your real revolver and not an added air gun.
These rounds can be shot in the basement, garage, backyard or in the woods where permitted. Please remember to wear ear/eye protection and ventilate the area due to the primer smoke and the lead pellet. Please also make sure of your back stop as these can penetrate ½” plywood with standard primer and 1” plywood with small magnum primers. I have even hunted rabbit, rats and some birds with it.
The accuracy is really great, with 5 - shot groups at 25 feet being about 1 ½ to 2 inches, using the standard primers. Using magnum small pistol primers the accuracy is about the same, but the power is almost 2 fold. I have taken rabbit at about 10-12 yards with ease with small magnum pistol primers. It is perfect for garden pest control and shooting rats and such at the boat dock. Point of aim is pretty much right on, out to 15 yards. Yes, they are SMOOTH BORE.
All in all, the “PIP Squeak,” is made very well and sturdy. It is very simple to operate. Remember to clean the shells and gun after use, especially the bores of each conversion shell. I use a standard pellet gun cleaning kit for them in .177 cal.
If you are lucky enough to find one of these “Pip-Squeak” units, expect to pay upwards of $125.00. I paid $43.00 + $5.00 S&H for the .38 spl set off of gunbroker.com. I have seen them bid up to $125 and I am sure some have cost more or less than that.
I have saved hundreds if not thousands (all calibers included) of dollars in shooting this vintage gadget, rather than shooting live ammo. Live .38 special ammo is going for $20 to $35 a box of 50 now a days. Shooting this unit costs about $6.00 per 100 shots as opposed to $40 - $70 for the same 100 shots of .38 special.
Some of you handy gadget makers out there could make your own conversion shells out of brass, aluminum or mild steel by using the external and primer pocket measurements of a center-fire caliber (rifle or pistol) of your choice and then placing a center hole in the conversion shell to match your pellet size of .177 or .22 cal diameters. A standard hand primer can prime the home made shells. Make sure your primer holes are accurately machined/drilled and centered.
This is being presented only as a nostalgic look and review of a very unique gadget. It allows you to get as many shots and trigger times out of your pistol or rifle for the least amount of dollars. You could expand that savings by casting your own pellets, using wire lead in the right diameter, making your own precision made conversion shells and even making your own primers using the tap-a-cap primer maker, avail from some black powder suppliers.
There are other units and products on the market today called the “Convert-a-Pell,” and they do fit semi-auto as well as other modern revolvers and even some rifles. It does not hold the nostalgia as the “Pip-Squeak,” unit does though.
Speer and other makers also make plastic, rubber or wax practice rounds that are somewhat novel that fire by a primer as well, low cost and will punch paper with the correct sized hole rather than a small pellet. Do not use the plastic, rubber or wax bullets to hunt or use in pest control. They are good for indoor target practice though.
Any unit you decide to use whether it is bought, found or home made, your costs of practice shooting is cut way down, which means more trigger time for you as well as maybe even some low cost hunting for the stew pot or fryer using the pellet shooting units. Please follow all of your local, state and federal shooting and/or hunting laws when using these units or products.
Convert -a- Pell on a .45 Gov’t http://convert-a-pell.com/
Speer Plastic Training Bullets & Cases
X-Ring Rubber Bullets - http://www.midwayusa.com/viewproduct...tnumber=713633