The late Chuck Ransom was a very accomplished man. At various times, he was a U.S. Marine, firefighter, machine shop foreman, gunsmith, competitive shooter and inventor. At all times, he was a decent man and one of my best friends. I remember him for a lot of good times, but the world remembers him for a remarkable device called the Ransom Rest, a mechanical device that permits a scientifically oriented shooter to evaluate a pistol and/or the ammunition it is firing. The rest consists of a cast-steel base that the shooter attaches to a solid bench or pedestal and a movable rocker arm that is held in close contact to the base by a powerful spring. A handgun can be placed in the forward end of the rocker arm and held there in rubber-faced “inserts” made to the exact shape of the gun's butt. Built in this fashion, there was no possibility of marring the firearm.
A shooter positions behind the rest, mounted solidly on an inert bench or table. Shaped to give the shooter complete access to the gun's controls and fitted with a remote controlled trigger, the rest's rocker arm and mounted pistol recoil upward when fired. The shooter manually returns it to the down position. The important characteristic of the rest is simply that it always returns to exactly the same position, so that every shot in a series is aimed at exactly the same spot. All human effort in the aiming and firing process is removed and the resulting on-target group is representative of what the gun and ammo combination will do under the best circumstances.
The only limitation of the Ransom Rest is that you need a wide array of inserts to evaluate the various guns that come along. 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. Conversely, you can find out which of several similar pistols will shoot best with any given load. It is literally a handgun lie detector.
Chuck Ransom never intended the Ransom Test to compete with handgunners, but there are several who insisted on trying to do just that. It is possible for a very good marksman to produce an occasional group that is better than the Ransom Rest's. But—in any meaningful multi-group comparison—the Ransom Rest will win. That's because Mr. Ransom's contraption never gets tired, has infinite patience and can keep shooting accurately from dawn to dusk. I know that because I have done it. The device delivers the last shot out of a group of 10, a thousand or even ten thousand, exactly like the first. Paired up with one of Dr. Oehler's magic boxes, the Ransom Rest lets you find out a great deal about your gun and its ammunition.