Thursday, January 30, 2003

I received a nifty little knife I had bought from an eBay auction. It is the Frost (of Sweden) Swedish Army Knife. A 4" Mora stainless blade and plastic grip and scabbard. Eminently practical. For $9.95 + shipping I am VERY pleased.

Of course, even though money is now tight as I await the final price including shipping for the .41 Mag 16¼" barrel, I had to get a box each of .41 Mag and .25-35 ammo. I've got a bid in on dies for the .41 on Auction Arms ($20 and fingers crossed) and am looking for a set of .25-35 dies. I have lots of .30-30 brass and so can form my .25-35 cases but the .41s will have to be bought.

For the .41 I'm thinking of loading an LBT design LFN and for the .25-35 I'm thinking in terms of a 85-100 gr. bullet. This will probably be a varmint cartridge for me, although it could do for deer in a pinch. That's why the 100 gr. bullet is in the running.

I worked on getting the scope mounted and ready for the .25-35 barrel. I'll probably get a 2½X Weaver for the .41 but the scope I have is a 4X Simmons "Turkey" scope with one of those diamond reticules. We'll see how it does for coyotes and maybe turkeys (did I say varmints, guess I'll need to take that back).

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

2 New Barrels

I'm certainly enjoying the Contender. I just committed to the purchase of 2 more barrels for my Contenders! This will make 21 barrels.

The first is a .41 Mag, 16¼" bull barrel and the second is a .25-35 Winchester, standard taper 21". As most of you know this also requires at least one additional scope sight (I already have a mount, rings and one scope), dies for each, at least one hundred cases for each, bullets, and time to shoot. Don't even ask how I am rationalizing this.

I await load suggestions.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Hopefully, after I take care of some administrative requirements for the Foundation and get my truck inspected, I'll be able to get some hunting in. This will be for coyotes. Since I've not done a lot of predator calling, at least I don't think it is a lot, I'm sure that it will be a steep learning curve.

I intend to use my TC Contender carbines in .30 Herrett, 7mm TCU and 7-30 Waters. Will wait on the .22s until I can get them to the range to verify zero. That would be the .22 Hornet, .218 Bee, and .223 Rem.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

I went to the Old Dominion Gun Show today. Almost a misnomer, this was about 66% gun show and 33% "other" including military surplus, miscellaneous leather goods, coins, etc. VERY disappointing. Went to find 3 things in particular. TC Contender barrels, Ruger #1 (preferrably 1A or 1S), and Savage 99s. There were 3 Savage 99s, 2 in .300 Savage and one in .358 Winchester. There was one Ruger No. 1-A in .270 Winchester and NOT A SINGLE CONTENDER BARREL!!!!

I did buy a single pound of GOEX FFFG and 100 Winchester .218 Bee cases.

Terry McFarland, the proprietor of Old Dominion Gun Shows, Inc., is apparently having problems getting any dealers to his shows. I doubt that I'll attend another. Trouble is, there are no others to go to within reasonable driving distance.

Monday, January 20, 2003

Shooters are so fickle, at least I am, well, not really I just want more, all the time, more guns, new cartridges, etc. "So what started this?" you may ask (or simply page down to look for something more interesting). Somebody on the Accurate Reloading forum asked about rechambering the Savage 99.

Now there is a subject! I had a history teacher at Turner Ashby High School in Dayton, VA who used a Savage 99. I'm not sure of the chambering (.243 Winchester?) but I remember her name Mrs. Shelvie Carr (yeah, I spelled it correctly). There is even a picture of her "on stand" with her rifle. She wasn't the only hunter I knew who used a 99. As a matter of fact, this rifle in .250-3000 was my "dream" rifle for a while. That is until reality set in and I found I could only afford a Marlin M336. Although that was a great rifle, it is one of the few I've ever let go (and, of course, I regret it!).

Most of the talk has been about the .358 Winchester in the 99. Other topics have mentioned the .243 Winchester, .308 Winchester, .260 Remington, .300 Savage (a pre-military .308 ) and even the .22 Savage Highpower. This has really gotten my juices flowing! However, one of the problems mentioned is getting the rotor correct for the particular cartridge. I'd like to hear about the conversions to .260 Remington. That with a .358 Winchester would be a great 2 rifle battery in the U.S.

Saturday, January 18, 2003

As you might know I've been seriously hot for a "real" rifle other than my TC Contender carbines or a mil-surplus. My recent exposure to the Accurate Reloading forums and the popularity of the various 9.3mm rifles among posters there has made me look in that direction for the chambering I should get. Of course that forum is much more international and with many European and African shooters on board, the 9.3x62mm Mauser and 9.3x74R are the 2 cartridges of this ilk most mentioned.

Now, I am not as dogmatic as many and I soon noted that the performance level as well as bullet diameter (.366") is very similar to a slew of American cartridges such as the .358 Winchester, .35 Whelen, .350 Remington Magnum, .338-06 and .338 Winchester Magnum. Also, while I was initially drawn to the Mauser CRF rifles many used I have to admit that my long standing prejudice against bolt rifles (it HAS to be more than a preference for single-shots!) finally returned and I am now looking at the Ruger No. 1 in either the "A" (light sporter) or "S" (medium sporter) formats. Both have the slimmer and trimmer Alexander Henry style forearm, the barrel mounted sling band, barrel band front sight ramp and differ only in barrel length being 22" and 24" respectively.

Getting a rifle of this class, I would expect to mount a Leupold 1.5-5X in the factory mounts (although I would prefer a quick release type) and I might get a NECG aperture sight for back-up. I imagine that this whole thing would set me back $800-$1000 depending on whether or not I buy used. Unfortunately, of my preferred range of cartridges, only the .338 Winchester Magnum is offered and only in the No. 1-S. I have played with the idea of buying a used rifle, a new action (to have barreled and stocked), a used No. 1 in another cartridge (I found a .270 for $535, sans scope of course) to be rebarreled or to get a new .338 Winchester Magnum and shoot it to death and then have it rebuilt. Now that last is going to take a while and I don't really want to wait. Although Ruger may have made a 1-S in .35 Whelen, I can't find one. The .270 Winchester and .30-06 just don't float my boat.

Also, if I got one like this, I'd feel a very great urge to do something I know I'd regret and simplify my life by selling off all of my guns and passing the legacy guns on to my children early. Still, my .45-70 Contender carbine will do what this proposed rifle will do, albeit at much reduced range... Anyway it is quite a conumdrum for me. Knowing me, I suppose I will ponder this one for quite a while, while my money goes to support my other interests!

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Sorry to say that I've been painting and refurbishing a room in my house to use as an office and not out shooting or hunting. I did mount my Dave Van Horne 28 gauge barrel on my Contender. Hopefully I'll be able to get out and hunt before most seasons end this month. Best to have it ready to go, just in case!

An aside, this has got to be the largest case you can chamber a Contender barrel to. There just isn't much chamber wall left and the gun is extremely light. Dave did a fine job on it though and I've not experienced any problems with it yet.

In relation to my previous post regarding the various case dimensions of formed and commercial purpose built 7.65x53mm Mauser ammo I must note that there is currently an auction on eBay for a .30 Herrett barrel that was rechambered (supposedly by TC) to 7.62x39mm. Aside from the fact that this is a .308 bore and there are safety concerns in firing .311 milspec ammo through this on a Contender frame, these folks are advertising that it will now shoot BOTH .30 Herrett and 7.62x39mm ammo!!! What they are REALLY doing is forming 7.62x39mm Rimmed cases from the .30 Herrett brass. As pointed out by somebody on the TC List, there is .025" difference in the 2 case heads (the Herrett being the smaller). This is quite a bit (as I noted in the previous post) and I don't expect that they have particularly long case life even though they are only neck sizing (and supposedly in the 7.62x39 die). One has to wonder, "Why?" In my mind this is one of those barrels that should be welded up and tossed in the scrap steel pile but undoubtedly somebody will get some use out of it. Won't be me!

Sunday, January 12, 2003

I was posed an interesting question about the varying rim diameters of the 7.65x53mm Mauser cartridge. Since I have cases made from many different brands, and Norma, Argentine commercial (albeit made by the national armory), and the new Frontier as sold by Graf and Sons, I've measured and posted the results here:

Argentine commercial - .473"
Norma 7.65x53 - .473"
Frontier 7.65x53 - .468"
PMC 8x57 reformed - .468"
RP 8x57 reformed - .467"
FC 8x57 reformed - .468"
RP .30-06 reformed - .468"
FC .30-06 reformed - .470"
Win .30-06 reformed - .466"
FC.270 reformed - .470"

Interestingly, while this got boring to do, it pointed out a couple of interesting things:
- .473" seems to be the standard we should "shoot" for. There's a reason the Argentine is that size.
- .007" inch is the maximum difference between cases but all function without problems in my M1891 carbine.
- 8x57 is the easiest to reform (simply lube, run in the die and trim to length, then fireform), it may NOT provide the best parent brass for some users.
- Winchester .30-06 brass has the smallest rim diameter of commercial .30-06 brass available to me.
- My military .30-06 cases are buried so deeply in my reloading area I can't find them!

I think that it just doesn't matter that much. Once fireformed to the chamber of the rifle you are using, it will work very well indeed. And I think it should be formed to the chamber of the particular rifle you're using as the chambers seem to vary, sometimes widely. The only other consideration is whether or not the extractor will be able to grab the rim.

Additionally, I was asked about the .30-06 vs 6.5x55 case heads. Interestingly, all case heads .30-06, .270, 8x57, and 7.65x53 consistently measured .470 +/- .0005" and all the 6.5x55 measured .480 +/- .0005". This is to my mind one of the critical dimensions to look at when reforming. While .470" dia case heads MIGHT function in the .480" chambers they certainly won't last long.

Friday, January 10, 2003

As I've mentioned before, I'm am seriously jonesing for a 9.3 or .35 rifle of serious capability such as a .35 Whelen, .350 Remington Magnum, 9.3x62mm Mauser or 9.3x74R. Why? Come on, is that REALLY important? I suppose that I want a rifle to take Elk or Moose hunting that won't cause serious concerns on the part of the guide, outfitter, or PH.

I did buy the .45-70 barrel for my Contender for the same purpose but I continue to get the feeling that most people feel that a 6 pound (scoped) rifle is just not serious medicine for anything regardless of what it is chambered for.

Ok, so what rifle do I want to get this Elk/Moose slayer in? Well, I've been considering a bunch of options. First, I thought that I'd get a vintage rifle (I LIKE vintage rifles) in 9.3x62mm but found out that it is not the easiest thing to mount a scope and would often require alterations that I would not want to make to a vintage firearm. Then, I thought that the CZ-USA 550 American in 9.3x62mm would be just the ticket. However, it will still require several customizing things such as a banded front sight, a rear sight and perhaps slightly shortening the barrel and a set of slightly lower rings. Not impossible but discouraging.

Now I'm thinking of going the single shot route (big surprise, huh?) and for that am considering either a Ruger No. 1 (I'd prefer the Alexander Henry forearm used on the 1A) or TC Encore. I'm really not excited about the Encore. It just doesn't have that feeling of quality that the Contender has. This despite their common methods of manufacture, etc. I also don't like the Encore stock form, the way the hammer is shaped, the handling characteristics, etc. Finding a Ruger No. 1 action might be a bit of a problem though (unless Brownells still sells them). I will be mounting a Leupold 1.5-5x and would like to have a way to ALSO mount an aperture sight as a backup. If I have to start with just the action (i.e. without factory wood) I'll be stocking in a laminate like Boyd's.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

No shooting this week although the weather has improved to above seasonal temps. That goes away tomorrow but I'll be working anyway...

Finally found a Uncle Mikes paddle holster for a 4" medium revolver (#2). This has the adjustable thumb snap. After several false starts in getting this adjusted correctly, it now is and won't come unsnapped with pressure from the gun against the strap. Interestingly, there are a couple of ways to adjust drop height and angle of the holster.

I'm using it for a Ruger Speed Six .357 Mag Dad bought in 1973. This was his first handgun and he was 47 (my current age)! I can't imagine going that long without a handgun. In any case it really swallows the gun and protects it while fitting it well. As you probably know this isn't always true. I purchased it from my local dealer for $35 including the 4.5% tax. Dad had a Hunter holster from 1973 but I am not very fond of it.

I also received some Leadheads .310" bullets today. Weighing 145 grains, gaschecked and with a nice broad flat meplat I intend to use these to create small game loads ahead of SR4759 for both the .30 Herrett and .30-30 TC barrels.

I've also been considering a couple of "new" cartridges for my next Contender barrel(s). The 6.5x50mmR and the .300/221R. I'm also trying to get a good elk/moose class cartridge other than my .45-70 such as the 9.3x62mm Mauser or 9.3x74R.

I'm also getting my 28 gauge DVH Contender barrel out for late season grouse, squirrel, etc. Hopefully, I'll be able to get out next week before the next snow!

Wednesday, January 08, 2003


In response to a correspondent who thinks I am responsible for his new addiction to TC Contenders. A little research has corrected some errors, also corrected here.

Hello, my name is Hobie and I am a TCholic.

I can't help myself and although I don't quite know what has happened but I know how it started.

In 1968, Dad and I went to Hudson's, one of the local gun stores, and I saw my first Contender. At the same time I saw my first Ruger No. 1 and handled a cute little Remington .22 LR Rolling Block "musket". I told Dad then, this little break open would be a great little carbine (I'd already shot an H&R .22 Hornet and just knew this had to be better). Dad did get me my first TC gun in the form of a .36 cal. Seneca which he presented to me that Christmas 1972.

However, I couldn't do more than fondle the Contender and was distracted (fortunately) by circumstances until 1978 when a fellow named JDJ started a little thing called the Handgun Hunters International. As a "charter" member (#500 if I remember correctly) I eagerly looked forward to every issue of the news sheet (just as I did for all the gun magazines I subscribed to so that I could actually get them in the ROK). Although I let almost all my subscriptions lapse (except my NRA membership) I'd already seen the advertisements for the Texas carbine barrels and Choate's extension to convert the 14" barrels to carbine capable. Still, I was able to avoid becoming involved in the Contender sub-culture, at least for the time being.

In what I see now as a desperate attempt to maintain my sanity after my divorce, I bought a pre-forward assist AR-15 carbine and devoted myself to the hi-cap, many round shooting scene. This worked for a couple of years until, well, I remarried.

While I accept responsibility for my actions, this woman has enabled my many addictions. Things are just out of control. She's even talked about hunting in AFRICA and Canada! It was nothing to her to watch me sell my AR-15 and keep the money to spend on GUNS!

That is exactly what I did. I thought I'd just get a single frame and a barrel in a good deer capable round (.35 Rem), varmint round (.223), small game round (.22 LR) and then in .410 ga for doves, etc. Well, first I still had a bunch of 30 round magazines that were suddenly more valuable due to the hi-cap ban and a friend offered to trade for my collection. Yes, more Contender barrels...

It snowballed after that. I got barrels chambered for cartridges "because" I had dies (.30-30, .44 Mag, .38-55), "because" they were on sale (.357 Max, 10mm Auto), "because" I had brass I could use (7mm
TCU, .30 Herrett). It goes on and on. Then I had to get another frame so that I could let my wife shoot one at the same time as I was shooting the other. Yeah right, she doesn't even know I have the second frame!

All this was just killing me. I was nearing retirement and I knew that my available funds would dry up. I'd sold my bayonet collection and I had to do something. Then it struck me. All I had to do was to bring others into my world. They'd spend THEIR money and tell me all about it. It wouldn't be quite the same but it would be close enough and get this... I could do it from my home, over the INTERNET! How good is that!?!

Well, I guess you see that I am indeed the cause of your addiction. However, I know that you can get this monkey off your back but it will take drastic measures. I hope you're up to it. All you have to do is send me all your Contender stuff. Be sure to send it all because if you have even one die, one cartridge, one screw, you'll fall off the wagon in short order.

I'll own up to one more thing.

I haunt the on-line auctions looking for that "deal" on a Contender barrel. I also go around to all the local yard sales. I've heard tales of the widow selling a box full of "old useless barrels my late husband wouldn't throw out", but, I've never met her... I drool when my friends pull out their barrels. No, it isn't subtle. I'm just a sad individual.

Sunday, January 05, 2003

Yesterday was a good time, too. As I drove in I saw 4 does crossing the road. Stopped in the middle of the road to let them go at their own pace. After about 5 minutes they all had moved on across the road. I went down another 150 yards and parked at a turn-out.

It has been cold here lately (much colder than last year) and with intermittent snows and freezing temperatures has made still hunting difficult due to the noise from ice, crusty snow and frozen leaves underfoot. I prefer to still hunt, it is much more interesting if not so productive.

So... I tried to put the sneak on these 4 does (they were legal yesterday). After picking my way through the mountain laurel and other obstacles I found myself about 50 yards downwind of them as they fed/moved down the side of the ridge. However, a shot did not present itself as they seemed to know enough to keep the laurel between us. We played cat and mouse for over 2 hours as we all worked our way down the side of this ridge (and it is steep in some places!) towards an old logging road that runs the length of the hollow. Every time I thought they would mis-step and put one of them sufficiently in the clear for a shot from my .54 TC New Englander, they would halt and wait me out. I'd work out a way to move quietly over 2 or 3 feet to get a shot and they'd take advantage to move another 10 feet or so downhill to behind another patch of laurel (some of which is 5 feet or more across and 8 feet tall). This is how we spent our 2 hours or so.

Finally the vegetation opens up towards the bottom but they took the opportunity to quickly move another 50 or so yards away with many intervening oaks. Unbeknownst to me there was a party of hunters strung along the logging road although none were directly below me. The deer moved another 25 or so yards away from me (I was unable to quietly keep up and the wind was changing direction relative to me) and the other party opened up. 5 shots and enough drifting powder smoke to simulate a Civil War skirmish! But, no deer down that I could see!

Very exciting and enjoyable despite the 28 degree temp and 25 MPH gusts.

Friday, January 03, 2003

I've not been posting regularly, choosing instead to hunt. Not that I've been all that successful at my pursuit of the Virginia Whitetailed Deer. However, I have had two interesting incidents.

The first was 3 days ago. There was still a bit of ice/snow on the ground where I was hunting in the mountains west of Staunton. I took a seat and thought I'd wait a bit and see what transpired.

Those of you who hunt in this area know that the bear hunters are out and about with their hounds. It so happens that on this particular day there was a good number of hunters roaming the roads, their pickup truck dog boxes evidence enough of their particular interest.

After sitting for about 30 minutes, I became aware of a noise approaching. Soon, I was able to discern the rapid footsteps of some approaching two legged animal. Very quickly a turkey hen ran by. Only 30 yards or so away, she was moving so quickly that I didn't get my gun up before she had passed me by and moved on up the mountain and out of range. She was flat gettin' it. I've no idea why she did not take off and fly. The rest of the flock must have gone other directions as there was no sign of other turkeys. HOWEVER... in only about 2 minutes a rather louder crashing was heard. Not really load footsteps but the breaking of limbs and rustle of bushes and... in the distance... the baying of hounds. Oooooh, I was going to be in for a treat! The bear, about 150 lbs or so, passed just 50 yards away from my ground stand. Since the area I overlooked was fairly clear of brush, he was pretty noiseless but loped along at a pretty good pace and, at least while I observed him, did not pause or look back. Whether he was taking her lead or not he pretty much followed the hen turkey up the mountain. About 5-6 minutes later, here came the hounds. Lustfully baying now and again and strung out as the more fit animals were apparently in the lead. They paid me no mind what-so-ever. I had hoped that they would flush something more to my liking such as a nice fat dry doe but no evidence of that was heard or seen. Convinced that there were no quarry for me I moved on.

Of course I did not try to take the bear, those were somebody else's dogs and that just isn't done.