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Old 04-24-2017, 05:47 PM
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Default Gunsmithing or Bad Ammo??

So I took my 686 in for an "action job" and love the new trigger.

Took it to the range and shooting HSM Cowboy Action .357 Mag 158 Grain semi-wadcutters had three rounds where the hammer struck the primer double action but the round did not fire. Reloaded those three rounds and single action they all fired.

Went back today and took the other brands of .357 Mag I had. The Liberty Civil Defense .357 Magnum 50 grain had one round that dented the primer double action but did not fire. This round did not fire single action either.

The regular Federal .357 158 grain JSP worked fine.

Is it possible to set the trigger so light that the hammer won't detonate rounds?

Or did I suddenly pick up some bad ammo?

Gary Reeder in Flagstaff, AZ did the gunsmithing.

Thanks for any thoughts.
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Old 04-24-2017, 05:51 PM
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Give Gary a call and see if he can help. If it shot good before and this has just developed, I doubt its your ammo.
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Old 04-24-2017, 05:58 PM
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Good point. Busy guy, will shoot him an email.
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Old 04-24-2017, 06:06 PM
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In answer to your basic question, YES it is possible to set the gun so low that it won't go bang when it should.
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Old 04-24-2017, 06:38 PM
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What you are dealing with is different brands of primers. It is well documented that Federal primers are the easiest to fire with a lighter hammer strike. Winchester is usually the next easiest, with CCI being the hardest and all the other American ones somewhere in between. I don't know where all the foreign ones fall on that chart. I only use Federal primers because all of my guns have been tuned to a light trigger pull.

The Federal ones worked fine. That makes sense, they are the easiest to fire. If you put more tension on the mainspring it will fire the other primers, but the trigger pull will be heavier. If the strain screw is bottomed out as it should be, you can get it to go in further by filing off the bottom of the head while it is spinning in a drill. Or you can make it more adjustable by getting a #8-32 x 1/2" long socket setscrew and put that in the frame with blue LocTite.
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Old 04-24-2017, 07:18 PM
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Thanks, that makes sense. New to having light triggers, but love it. Federal and Winchester it is. Did email Gary, nothing back yet as expected. Busy shop.
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Old 04-24-2017, 11:34 PM
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Any GS can go too light - although I'd not expect that from Gary - but again no one is always 100% perfect - 100% of the time! There is a fine line between light and too light!

If the gun is STRICTLY a Range competition gun, then yes you can restrict your reloads to Federal (the softest) Primers, but if this is not solely a Range or competition gun I would ONLY test it with CCI (the hardest to set off) and make sure you get 100% ignition. While there is a difference between the hardest and the softest, it IS a fine line! Personally I always set my guns to operate 100% with CCI Primers as a margin of safety. I normally do use Federal or Winchester primers but do on occasion use CCI and NEVER want to worry about what brand I am using nor do I want to bother keeping track of which bullets are loaded with what brand Primers.

A mark of a quality trigger job is not just how light it is, but how smooth and reliable it is. Sometimes people get confused between smoothness and lightness. I'd rather have a glass smooth 3 pound trigger than a light 2.25 pound trigger that wasn't reliable 100% of the time.

Last edited by chief38; 04-24-2017 at 11:37 PM.
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Old 04-24-2017, 11:39 PM
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Makes sense, thanks. Gary emailed back and suggested, "Try putting a bit more tension on the hammer spring by turning the screw in the front of the gripframe down at the bottom in a half turn. This won't have anything to do with your action job, it just puts a slight bit more tension on the spring. That should solve the problem." So will try that and see.
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Old 04-25-2017, 05:06 AM
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That I am surprised over! The Strain Screw is supposed to be tight to begin with - it is NOT an adjustment screw. If one wants to use it to slightly reduce tension on the Spring, the Strain Screw length should be adjusted - NOT the looseness/tightness of it - again, it SHOULD ALWAYS be fully tightened and the length adjusted. If in fact the Strain Screw is purposely backed out in your Revolver I would place a call to Gary and request a few new ones so that you can custom make the length you need to be 100% reliable. IMHO that was part of HIS job.I am unaware of any Professional GS's who leave Strain Screws purposely un-tightened.
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Old 04-25-2017, 09:50 AM
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Well, we'll see. Thanks. Learning a lot here.
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Old 04-25-2017, 10:20 AM
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On a duty/carry gun, the strain screw must be bottomed out on the head to prevent it from unscrewing during use. If the head is not solidly seated, they will back out from the flexing of the spring. Belt and suspenders insurance would be to bottom the head and use blue Loctite on the screw.

For range only, target and competition guns, I use the setscrew and blue loctite. Once the blue sets up, you can still make minor adjustments with an allen wrench and it will stay where you put it. This gives an easy way to find the lightest reliable trigger pull for any given ammo. If the screw should somehow back out, all you lose is points in a match, not your life. I have never had a problem, but not taking that chance on a carry gun. A half a turn on the strain screw is a huge amount. I usually adjust mine in 1/8 turn increments if I don't have a scale handy to see where I'm at.
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Old 04-25-2017, 10:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chief38 View Post
That I am surprised over! The Strain Screw is supposed to be tight to begin with - it is NOT an adjustment screw. If one wants to use it to slightly reduce tension on the Spring, the Strain Screw length should be adjusted - NOT the looseness/tightness of it - again, it SHOULD ALWAYS be fully tightened and the length adjusted. If in fact the Strain Screw is purposely backed out in your Revolver I would place a call to Gary and request a few new ones so that you can custom make the length you need to be 100% reliable. IMHO that was part of HIS job.I am unaware of any Professional GS's who leave Strain Screws purposely un-tightened.
Reeder's shop has a great reputation. I see no indication that he backed out the strain screw as part of the action job. It may have been loose before Reeder touched the gun. I would not cast aspersions on his professionalism without knowing the entire story.
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Old 04-25-2017, 10:39 AM
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I have ground enough strain screws in my time that I can feel when I have it at just the right length (scale not necessary). After grinding them I also contour the tip to look Factory - just because. It gives me a nice light and smooth feel with 100% reliability with any primers out there. Yea, once in a rare while I might go a bit too far - so I'll toss that screw and start with a new one. They are cheap enough and it doesn't happen very often so I don't mind. They all get fully tightened.

I also have different guns for different purposes. I have my Competition Guns, Target Guns, Combat Guns, Hunting Guns etc. and they are adjusted specifically for their intended purpose. I NEVER adjust the original - I put that in a little plastic envelope inside the original box with a note that specifies what it is. I also replace any modified screw with the original on the rare occasion I sell a gun. I NEVER modify an original part on any gun - I always use new ones!

This might be different than some people do - but I can only comment on what I do and what has worked for me. YMMV.

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Old 04-25-2017, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Inusuit View Post
Reeder's shop has a great reputation. I see no indication that he backed out the strain screw as part of the action job. It may have been loose before Reeder touched the gun. I would not cast aspersions on his professionalism without knowing the entire story.
No negative casting intended. Just commenting on what the OP wrote. Hey, ANYONE can make a mistake - NO ONE is 100% all the time. That doesn't mean they are bad GS's!
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Old 04-25-2017, 09:16 PM
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Not unhappy, following Gary's directions. First gun I brought from him a Texas Ranger Classic had a wee problem. When I took it to the range, first round the rear sight came off. Apparently someone in the shop used too short a screw. Sent it back, he fixed it, no problem since. This was my third revolver sent to Gary for an action job. No problem at all with his work. We're all human.
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Old 04-25-2017, 09:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inusuit View Post
Reeder's shop has a great reputation. I see no indication that he backed out the strain screw as part of the action job. It may have been loose before Reeder touched the gun. I would not cast aspersions on his professionalism without knowing the entire story.
I am not looking to point any blame one way or the other but it seems obvious that Gary was aware that there was adjustment room in the strain screw on this gun to make an adjustment. It may be his way of leaving a little bit of room to tweak to the customers ammo choices?
However relying on a strain screw only for an 'action job' would not be a proper choice and I am sure this is not the case here.
Karl
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Old 04-25-2017, 09:52 PM
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Default Yes and yes.....

Yes lightening the spring incorrectly can cause light strikes. The strain screw is NOT an adjustment screw. It should always be tight.

Yes, you can get bad ammo. I've got a question right now of a box of bad primers but I'm not making a judgement until I tear down my rifle and see if there is anything fishy going on.
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Old 04-25-2017, 10:02 PM
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This topic I find very intriguing. Basically I was the guy who got a revolver and at one time had the opportunity to handle a custom revolver that an action job that made my eyes light up like a little kid and a little kid I am not LOL

The strain screw (with no offense, Chief38,rwsmith I hope you don't think any less of me) continues to be taboo for some and completely acceptable by others as means for adjustment on the mainspring, and from experience a half turn can cure an ignition problem. I don't fully understand why there isn't a preloaded spring under the head shoulder so that it is adjustable within a small range where as the preloaded spring will hold tension on the screw to keep it from moving in or out. There could even be a small locking nut inside the grip frame to secure the strain screw once adjusted.

There can be some ill effects from adjusting the strain screw because it does effect the arch of the mainspring and that then can actually bind on the grip screw that passes through the grip frame. I ran into this problem once on an aftermarket grip where the grip screw was located in such a position to interfere with the mainspring.

There is obviously enough variance in the energy it takes to ignite primers, there is variance too in primer seating depth. For a gunsmith to do a trigger job for perhaps someone who does not know of all these variables but wants an improved action job it might just be best to have 'a little room' for adjustment in the strain screw.

Here is something pretty cool, you won't need a new strain screw to get more tension on the mainspring.This tool will mill the pocket slightly deeper so you can set the screw deeper, and speaking of that I just wonder on the variables on all the revolvers on the actual depth of this pocket that it sets into? This area could be a contributing factor to why some guns have nicer pulls than others.
Strain Screw Tool

Another interesting read here:
Smith & Wesson mainsprings: a little-known problem. - www.GrantCunningham.com www.GrantCunningham.com
I guess I am enchanted with the mechanics of a great trigger job and still learning all I can and keeping an open mind

Riverkilt, I am sure you are pretty impressed with the action job/trigger job on your gun, from my experience the half turn on the strain screw made little to no difference to what you felt but may easily cure your concern on ignition. I wish you the best to get it 'tuned in' for your type of shooting.

Sorry, long winded on this but really find it interesting.
Karl

Last edited by ontargetagain; 04-25-2017 at 10:10 PM.
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Old 04-26-2017, 09:30 AM
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Hogue has completely solved the problem of variable mainspring positions by making grips that attach at the bottom of the grip frame, leaving the entire spring area open. Thus, the spring can be whatever it wants to, without any interference from a screw going through that space.
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Old 04-26-2017, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Riverkilt View Post
Makes sense, thanks. Gary emailed back and suggested, "Try putting a bit more tension on the hammer spring by turning the screw in the front of the gripframe down at the bottom in a half turn. This won't have anything to do with your action job, it just puts a slight bit more tension on the spring. That should solve the problem." So will try that and see.
I'm really at a loss for words about that statement, no competent gunsmith I have ever heard about leaves that screw loose.

Example I bought a realy nice 66 2 1/2'' barrel and when it arrived at my FFL I thought the trigger was super light and wondered if it would light off primers OK. Bought it here on the forum and was told by the owner it had trigger work by a well know smith (I will not name the smith) The gun was very decent and I know my way around Smith's triggers so I accepted the gun.

I was right about every 2ed or 3rd time was a no fire. Pulled the grips and was going to change out the spring and I found the screw was not in as far as it could go. Tightened it up and all was well. Reason I did not mention the smiths name is I doubt he let the gun out with a loose screw.(think owner did it) It had with the screw tightened right about the nicest trigger pull I ever tried.
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Old 04-26-2017, 01:57 PM
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Hogue has completely solved the problem of variable mainspring positions by making grips that attach at the bottom of the grip frame, leaving the entire spring area open. Thus, the spring can be whatever it wants to, without any interference from a screw going through that space.
The Grip screw is NOT the strain screw. Even with Hogue's on them the S&W's that use a flat spring still have strain screws.
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Old 04-26-2017, 02:19 PM
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I've been building S&W revos for 40+ years. I KNOW the grip screw is not the strain screw. The point is that the grip screw does not go through the area where the mainspring is, so there is no chance of the grip screw interfering with the mainspring. Grips that are 2 piece with a screw in the middle of the side can sometimes be in the way of the mainspring.
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Old 04-26-2017, 02:25 PM
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What you are dealing with is different brands of primers. It is well documented that Federal primers are the easiest to fire with a lighter hammer strike. Winchester is usually the next easiest, with CCI being the hardest and all the other American ones somewhere in between.
That's interesting to hear....and not what I would have thought...given my own recent experiences with CCI. I'm occasionally piercing them with both my 586 and my 627. I was under the impression that my CCI's were made of steel too soft. I definitely poked holes in a few of them. I looked at them under magnification and there is a tiny hole within the crater and black residue around it. I still wonder if I got a bad batch...as I did buy some older stuff from a friend...I think the primers are CCI 550 and late 1980's to early 1990's.
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Old 04-26-2017, 03:13 PM
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Sounds like it may be a bad batch. They probably (hopefully) have better QC now. ATK now owns both Federal and CCI, no telling what changes may be (or have been) made.
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Old 04-26-2017, 07:37 PM
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So I took my 686 in for an "action job" and love the new trigger.
that action job probably included a reduced power mainspring and maybe cutting the length of the strain screw. A typical gun with stock spring has ballpark about 40% more strike force than it takes to ignite a "typical" round but not all primers are typical. A reduced power mainspring typically will lower the spring force by maybe 30% leaving you with about a 10% margin. If the strain screw has been shortened, you can easily get misfires. Or if you get some ammo with stiff primers, same thing.

Bottom line, you just learned why SW uses the springs they use: to have enough hit to ignite all brands of ammo. You also learned why spring makers put the large warnings about never using reduced power springs in life defense guns.

Last edited by bountyhunter; 04-26-2017 at 07:38 PM.
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Old 04-26-2017, 07:45 PM
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I have ground enough strain screws in my time that I can feel when I have it at just the right length (scale not necessary). After grinding them I also contour the tip to look Factory - just because. It gives me a nice light and smooth feel with 100% reliability with any primers out there. Yea, once in a rare while I might go a bit too far - so I'll toss that screw and start with a new one. They are cheap enough and it doesn't happen very often so I don't mind. They all get fully tightened.
Another way I find much easier is just to bend the mainspring slightly. You don't have to grind the screw but you get the same effect. Just make sure it's a mandrel bend. Nice thing about bending springs is that unlike grinding screws, it's completely reversible.
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Old 05-08-2017, 06:24 PM
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test post to see if it will post
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Old 05-08-2017, 06:44 PM
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I shoot reloads in all my guns. I've never owned a gun that had a problem with any make of primer. If it did, I'd have the gun fixed. It's that simple.
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Old 05-09-2017, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Toolguy View Post
I've been building S&W revos for 40+ years. I KNOW the grip screw is not the strain screw. The point is that the grip screw does not go through the area where the mainspring is, so there is no chance of the grip screw interfering with the mainspring. Grips that are 2 piece with a screw in the middle of the side can sometimes be in the way of the mainspring.
Actually the grip screw does rub the mainspring on the Wolff RP springs sometimes.
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Old 05-09-2017, 08:09 PM
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I tried out a Wolf RP but had some problems with light strikes. Went with the ( Custom-Tune« Spring Kit | S&W K/L/N Frame Revolvers-http://shopwilsoncombat.com/ ) and now run it in 586/686. The 586 responded better to the 14lb and the 686 responded better to the 13lb.

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Old 05-13-2017, 09:09 PM
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Hello Everyone,
I'm hoping someone knows how to help me out-- I have a S & W Shield .40 cal compact (3.1" barrel)- I'm looking for a replacement guide rod (preferably stainless steel)- but not having luck finding one-- closest I found was for a full size- appreciate any info
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Old 05-13-2017, 10:05 PM
Toolguy Toolguy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bountyhunter View Post
Actually the grip screw does rub the mainspring on the Wolff RP springs sometimes.
I'm talking about the grip screw on a Hogue Monogrip. That grip screw is outside the bottom of the grip frame. How could it possibly rub on ANY mainspring???
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Old 05-14-2017, 03:17 AM
Tyrod Tyrod is offline
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I have to admit this thread took me by surprise. From folks that obviously don't have a clue to GS that are adjusting trigger pull by not tightening the strain screw. IMHO, not tightening the strain screw is asking for trouble. By not tightening the strain screw with a spring under tension on the other end is asking for the screw to loosen further. If the user is aware and the gun will never be used in a self defense situation or loctite is used then I guess it's ok. It's just too easy to accomplish the same with a screw length adjustment. Yes, it's risky. The screw may have to be replaced, costing a bit more money. And it takes a bit more time. But, it most likey won't come loose. Adjusting strain screws to lighten trigger pull is just plain lazy IMHO. In the process of lightening a trigger, I might adjust the strain screw to get me where I want to be. But then, I count turns or measure the spring against the frame to tell how much to remove from the strain screw. I have a big problem with GS doing things that require caveats. Guns change hand too easily and GS instructions probably won't get passed on.

In this instance the OP wasn't even aware of the strain screw situation. I'm just glad this situation didn't end in tragedy.
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Old 05-14-2017, 08:16 AM
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I have been reading through these posts band I have seen something that is troubling, at least to me. The OP's question is great and his desire to remedy his problem is what this forum is all about however naming the GS without FIRST trying to resolve the issue privately is unfair IMHO. This guy's name and reputation have been "put out there" without his side being presented. I have no idea if he's a good GS or not but this topic could have been presented without naming him personally. I am an owner of a small business so when I saw this thread I felt I should respond. just my two cents, Rick.
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Old 05-15-2017, 04:23 PM
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Well, hey, I finally got out to the range today. Just been busy. Did find some of the same loads that misfired before. Followed the gunsmith's suggestion and tightened the screw under the grip. Turned about a quarter turn clockwise before stopping.

Ran 28 rounds of that same ammo through today and no misfire. So tightening the screw worked. From reading through the helpful feedback guess I should add some lock tight to the screw.

If it works on the ammo it didn't work on before guessing it'll work fine with the Federal I have on hand.

Thanks for all the help with my learning curve.
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