Sunday, December 26, 2004

I've not been able to hunt the last 2 days because, well, yesterday was Christmas (and I've got family after all) and today is Sunday. Sunday hunting is still illegal here in VA.

Friday, I went out and the temps were down about 16-20 degrees. It had been 56 the day before and rained so there were puddles and a good amount of standing water and the ground was soaked just before it started to freeze. This created ice crystals that jutted from the ground and crunched underfoot (if you weren't careful). I carefully moved through about 3½ to 3 miles of deer trails and saw only a couple of old rubs, no scrapes (the last time I was here there was a scrape that was now clearly long abandoned) and crossed one, small, fresh track. Pretty disappointing.

This week will be a full 6 days of either sex but I have competition for my time. Tuesday I will be visiting with friends and discussing model trains (the wife's new hobby), Wednesday I will be visiting with my God-son and Friday & Saturday (maybe) will be spent at work.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The last 2 days of hunting (well partial days) have provided none of the traditional measures of success, like a buck on the ground! However, they've been informative and interesting and, above all, calming.

Yesterday, I didn't get out until late but had plenty of time and pretty good conditions to check a number of trails on an often hunted piece of farmland. It was informative because it was clear that there had been only those 2 doe had seen the other day in the weeks since "regular" gun season. NO new scrapes, NO new rubs, nothing to indicate that there was a buck in the vicinity. I hope he got some before they shot him in the regular season.

Today, was a bit rainy. Didn't look too bad at the house but the rain was really coming down on "the mountain". Still, I had taken the necessary precautions and tried to hunt. Other than getting wet, I did myself no good in the bring a buck to bag category. I did decide to see if my charge had been as well protected as I thought and proceeded to light one off at some very soft ground. She smacked the ground hard, at the mark, at 50 yards and went right off. Quite pleased at that, I didn't so much mind the early ride home.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Well, quite a bit of today was spent on awaiting delivery of a Christmas gift. All was not lost. Although it was very windy, I did get up to my mom's, do a bit of a chore for her and get out and see two doe. Unfortunately, doe aren't legal today but where the comely female of the species feeds, the male is not far behind. Tomorrow may be a better deer getting day than today.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Muzzleloading Hunting, My Gear

The next big thing on the calendar (actually it started December 18!) for those of us in western Virginia, aside from Christmas and New Years Day, is the late muzzleloading season. For those of you not from Virginia, we're limited to single barrel muzzleloaders with a .45 or larger bore. In-lines, telescopic sights, aperture sights and sabots (projectile .38 cal or larger) are all allowed. See the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for more information. As late as last year my Brown Bess Carbine wasn't legal (a smoothbore flintlock) but an all up scoped, Knight .52 in-line (reportedly accurate to 200 yards, see the data at the link) was legal. Any wonder that more hunters hunt our two muzzleloading seasons with their liberal "doe days"?


My choice is a combination of the modern and "period" hunting rifles. About 17 years ago, I bought (from MidSouth Shooting Supply) a Thompson Center Arms New Englander (now discontinued). Mine is a .54 caliber gun with a 1-48" twist rifling and a TC hunting tang sight. Yes, another aperture sight. I do like them! It has slim lines so that it carries well and the recoil isn't at all bad due to the design of the stock and the broad buttplate. Apparently, I like the rifle too as I've never been moved to get another, newer, different rifle.

For me, such hunting is about the challenge and so, while the rifle groups well at 100 yards, I tend to think in terms of 75 yards as my working maximum. The gun is accurate. When loaded with patched round ball and 60 gr. of Pyrodex RS it is accurate enough to take squirrels with headshots at up to 40 yards. The rifle "hangs" well for such shots, too. However, my hunting load is 90 gr. of Pyrodex RS or GOEX FFg with the same patched round ball OR 100 gr. of either propellent with a Buffalo Bore 325 gr. or Hornady Great Plains conical. So, this rifle is roughly the equivalent of the .45-70 black powder express load of the 1890s. Not bad that!

As you can see, I do use some modern conveniences such as the TC Quick Shot for the conical bullet loads. I use the Blue and Gray Quickloads for the roundball loads. The little belt bag is sufficiently large to carry about 10 loads which is more than enough for a days deer hunting (I've never fired more than 2 shots). the knife is a Russell Canadian Belt Knife made by Grohmann in Pictou, Nova Scotia, Canada. I really like my knife and bought it from a sporting good store in downtown Monterey, CA in 1974. I've carried that knife around the world but it is still in excellent condition.

Can't hunt today but for the rest of the week and NEXT week! Whoo hooo!

This year, the law has changed to allow smoothbore guns that otherwise meet the criteria of single barrel, single projectile and over .45 caliber. Thus my Brown Bess carbine can go with as well.


This baby shoots a .715" lead round ball at only 1000 fps and requires 100 gr. of powder to do so, but it is FUN. With a bit of muck about one can pull the charge and reload with shot or replace shot with ball. It takes practice to be proficient at 50 yards and somedays I won't take a shot past 25 yards. If using shot 25 yards is about the limit as one should use charges of no more than 1¼ oz of shot and 85 gr. of powder. It has taken squirrel and groundhog but no deer yet.

Nearing Year's End

Well, we're coming to the years end. Only a few (15) days left in 2004 and there have been many interesting things that happened this year.

My love of the lever action rifle has re-awakened and I am encouraged to find some of those guns that I always wanted when I was a kid but never found due to circumstance OR had and let go.

From top to bottom: Marlin 1894C .357 Magnum, Marlin 39-A Mountie .22 LR, Marlin 336T .30 WCF (.30-30 Winchester), Winchester M94 .30 WCF and Browning 1886 .45-70 Government




The first rifle was the first I bought this year and I got it from a forum member. Lever action rifles, particularly those made before the current legislated spate of add-on safeties, are difficult to find in this area. They can be found but I think that the majority either sell them to family and friends or hold on to them! When Lubbockdave offered this one I was on it! Of course he'd shot it a lot, apparently with .38 Specials (and kept the chamber clean) and it was well broken in and slick! I immediately installed a Williams Foolproof Receiver Sight (you might notice that I have this habit!) and went to the range. I quickly discovered that the rifle was accurate and fun and the .357 Magnum cartridge in the rifle is a winner. My load for this rifle is 15 gr. of Hodgdon's Lil'Gun under the Remington 180 gr. SJHP lit by the CCI550 primer. This load produces about 1675 fps and is adequate for all Virginia game to about 100 yards. Loading 18 gr. of Lil'Gun under the Hornady 158 gr. FP/XTP also lit by the CCI550 primer produces 2000 fps! This is the load for those who want to maximize velocity while retaining the suitability of the rifle for deer and the FP bullet holds together better than the HP version of the XTP.

The second rifle illustrated is actually the last I purchased this year. I found it on Gunbroker.com with a "Buy It Now" price of $300 but a minimum bid of $250! I bid the minimum and nobody else bid on it! This is an outstanding price for my area and I was offered $300 at the shop when I picked it up.

I'd always wanted a Mountie but, when I was a kid, you didn't spend money on what you did not NEED. Dad had a .22 I could use and I didn't have the money for one. When I turned 18 and had money I did buy a .22 but it was a Winchester M320, a bolt gun with a detachable magazine (and I still have it!). Yes, I already had a Williams Foolproof and mounted it. I then rushed to the range to try it out. At this point, I'm using the Winchester PowerPoint and it did very well at the range. Even with the factory bead sight, I was able to shoot groups no bigger than a squirrel's head at 25 yards. I think it will do better than that. It does have one flaw in that the tube magazine catch needs some work but it functions well (and is smooooooooth) and is accurate and I'm glad I bought it.

The third gun from the top, the Marlin 336T is a straight grip version of the rifle I had bought in 1970 (or rather my DAD bought for me). I liked that gun (also with a Williams Foolproof) but foolishly traded it off. The .30 WCF (.30-30 Winchester) cartridge needs no description by me. My load in all 3 of my .30-30s is 30 gr. of IMR 3031 under a 170 gr. FP lit by the CCI200 primer. I get 2100-2200 fps from my rifles. I killed my first deer (which dropped where it stood) with the rifle I owned earlier and I've got complete confidence in this rifle. After all, it will put a magazine into just 2½" at 100 yards even though the factory bead subtends the target bull at that range. I think it is a great gun.

The fourth gun is a Winchester M94 in .30 WCF. This gun was built (shipped) in 1943 and is a flatband, i.e. the front band is flat rather than curved. the gun was probably produced so that people could hunt for food during the rationing period of WWII. It isn't marked as such and so it is unlikely that it was used by the bridge or railroad guards. I traded a sofa for it in 1977 and when I got it it had a pine 2x4 that had been carved, very roughly, into a stock. It still worked but needed a new carrier spring. I also had it reblued and installed the Williams Foolproof. This is a great gun and because the front bead is smaller than the Marlin, it is easier to hold and shoot 2-2½" groups at 100 yards. I have killed deer with this rifle and after my divorce it was my only deer rifle.

The fifth and bottom rifle in the photo is a Browning 1886. Made by Browning as a reproduction of the Winchester 1886 and chambered for the .45-70 Government cartridge this is a Saddle Ring Carbine (SRC). I bought this one from another Leverguns forum member and it is a good one indeed. NIB when I got it I've already carried for a whole deer season and the stock has picked up the inevitable nick or two. Not to worry, I've already got a Williams Foolproof to mount but await the end of the deer and Christmas seasons before taking it to my gunsmith for drilling and tapping. Not much to say about the .45-70 cartridge either as it is well know and much has been written. I'm currently shooting the Federal factory 300 gr. "express" load (for which the gun is zeroed) or my reload equivalent. I wanted to get this gun for elk and/or moose hunting (if the opportunity ever presents itself) and for that purpose I think I will load a good 400 gr. bullet at about 1800 fps. I imagine that that will be all the recoil I will want!

These are wonderful rifles but I will be seeking three more. I like having examples of everything.

The first of those rifles I've yet to buy are a clone of the Winchester M92 in .45 Colt set up for me by Steve of Steve's Gunz who will buy a rifle or carbine at wholesale, set it up and ship to my dealer.

The second of those rifles is more up in the air. I'm thinking that I'd like a Savage 99 and would prefer to get one in .358 Winchester. I'd also like to get a Winchester M71 in .348 Winchester. These two cartridges are almost identical in performance. This makes the decision very difficult so I'm hoping that I get some clarity as I approach the time when I can actually afford one!

I could do it all with the rifles I have already but we know that being merely practical isn't the point.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

I sure would like to go shooting and hunting but it is once again pouring down rain and I have another bunch of things to do. Bummer.

Guess I'll read about shooting/hunting and reload some.

Friday, December 03, 2004

I love shooting. In that love of shooting I've accumulated some firearms. Those firearms have one thing in common with every other firearm I own, they are in some way dis-similiar from every other firearm. They mostly differ by action OR by chambering. The one exception is the .30-30 of which I have "3". A Winchester M94, a Marlin 336 and a TC Contender. Still, these 3 .30-30s have dis-similar actions. What I want is examples of every firearm type which interests me and of the different cartridges. In as much as I can, I try to meet both goals at once in every firearm I buy. Lately, my passion has been for leverguns! My latest such goal is to buy a Winchester M92 in .45 Colt.

I don't have either a M92 or a .45 Colt. I thought I'd get both in an M92 clone in .45 Colt. I plan to have Steve's Gunz order a gun for me and work his well-known magic on it. That way, I'm assured of getting a working example that will meet my specifications.

Problem is, what should those specifications be? I've thought about rifles, carbines, "trappers", full and half mags, different buttstocks, sights, finish, etc. Seems to me that I'd like something that is a bit less than 38" LOA. I've thought about having a carbine converted to a round barrel half-mag trapper but am concerned that the abbreviated barrel won't be legal in every community and that the half-mag will unnecessarily reduce capacity (for what I don't know, how many shots does one take at big game anyway?). I thought about a 24" round barreled rifle with full-magazine and my concern then was that the rifle wouldn't fit under the seat of my truck. So, I'm now leaning towards a standard carbine.

However, I'd like to get something different. Color case would be nice, walnut would be nice and a must have is an aperture sight. The color case would probably limit me to a good tang sight. I can't imagine putting a Williams Foolproof on a carbine set up to look old. Just wouldn't look right. Fortunately, Steve has a tang peep that is fully adjustable. That's a must as I expect I'll be doing some load development work.

The only other thing is that it CANNOT have a tacked on safety. The abomination that Rossi puts on the bolt is disgusting, more disgusting than even the Miroku tang safety. That alone limits me to one of several brands made by Rossi.

So, let's see, a Winchester M92 SRC carbine clone in .45 Colt with color case receiver, no add-on safety, walnut stock, and an installed, adjustable, tang peep.

Of course Steve will slick this up. I want sureness of functioning over slickness but I think he'll do a great job based on what I've heard and what little of his work I've seen. The only problem is cost... That means I've got to wait for it while I save up!

Of course, as with almost every gun I get, this means reloading dies, brass, a variety of bullets (until I run down the best loads), and a lot of range time. It all adds up.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

I did have a Bisley Vaquero listed on my want list, but perhaps I should wait for a New Vaquero in .45 Colt. If only they would make a Bisley grip for it.

I've owned a S&W M629 4" for over 18 years and never really become attached to it. Oh, sure, I've deer hunted with it, potted the odd groundhog and carried it quite a bit. I've just never become attached to it. Why? Because the grip doesn't suit me. It is too large for my hand and I feel that I have to stretch to reach the trigger in double action. Single action is just fine and I've done all my field shooting with it that way. So, somewhere in the back of my mind is the nagging thought, "why not just have a single action?" I'd sell this gun if I got a good offer.

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I have a tong tool my dad gave me about 1970. Thought it was long gone but it showed up in a box of stuff I'd not unpacked for a while (too much gun stuff!). I knew I had stuff missing but no idea what. First thing is always to get a manual or parts list. Having never used this gift (I went into the army IMMEDIATELY after receiving it) was another impediment to knowing what had gone missing. I finally found page 1 and page 2 of an Ideal instruction sheet.

Those 2 pages were an immense help. I discovered that I was missing an extractor, a decapping chamber, and a proper adapter die. This adapter die looks like a .38 but seems a hair small for the .357 case I had in my pocket.

It is a .44 Special/.44 Mag set (for that long lost and despised Winchester .44 Mag M94 carbine). Closer examination revealed that somebody stuck a case (.44 Mag?) in the I don't know who did it (might have been my now deceased brother, 18 years younger than me) since I never used it (well, not this one). I'd shipped out right after this was given to me and reloaded with my long loved Rockchucker. I couldn't remember the name of it before (hence needing the instructions/parts list) but the adapter die although marked "3" is too small inside diameter to be correct for the .44 Spec/Mag. Maybe that is why he got the case stuck. He didn't use the adapter die and apparently ran the case directly into the decapping chamber.

I contacted Lyman and they asked for a want list before they would tell me what they had. It takes them at least 3 days to respond to an e-mail. They responded and I've made up a list which I sent them but hadn't received a reply yet.

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That experience with Lyman and my posting about it on Leverguns.com (GREAT bunch of guys) elicited several comments about calling vs. e-mailing to get service.

Personally, I really dislike the phone. I dislike waiting on hold and maneuvering through a multitude of menu options. Not particularly normal especially when you consider that there are millions opting to carry their phones EVERYWHERE with them and talk on the phone all the time.

I prefer e-mailing because I can do it at my leisure, can read the response when I want and not be tied down waiting for an answer (I can do other things) and can actually talk to important people (like Mom, the wife, my kids) on the phone while I ask for service from a company with whom I'd consider doing business. I also have a written record of the "conversation" so that I can be certain of what I need to do and what to expect. It also permits (although some companies don't get it) the transmittal of photos, scanned documents, etc. to explain what it is that I want, need, or must do.

Maybe this is a peculiarity which will only strengthen as I progress in curmudgeonliness...

Thursday, November 25, 2004

First things first. The Browning 1886 is a sweet thing indeed. Even using the 300 gr. "express" loading, recoil is un-noticed in the field. Cycling of the action is quick, smooth and efficient and the gun never has to leave my shoulder. I know this because...

Yesterday, I went hunting in the rain. After poking around quite a bit and getting pretty wet I slipped through some thicker stuff and heard a bit of rustling coming my way. The purposeful stride made me think it was some four legged friend on a mission but not in a hurry. I was a bit surprised that it was a red fox. Mr. Fox was not particularly worried about me, if he noticed me standing there and paused with his back to me, looking up-hill, about 35 yards away. I was arrogant enough to think that it would be a good opportunity to collect a good fox specimen (even with the .45-70, by placing the large caliber bullet through his head. Such was not to be as I overshot him by about ½ an inch. The world erupting directly in front of his face made him turn around and head back whence he' come and I was already ready to launch another 300 gr. round in his direction. I didn't though, I'd already conceded my folly. Proves the gun is a keeper though!

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I also received a recently purchased Marlin Mountie made in 1956 (I thought it was 1955, the year of my birth according to the New York state records, but I'd received some bad info!). I bought this gun through my FFL dealer and Karo Arms in AZ on the Gunbroker.com auction site. You can see my feedback for Roger at Karo Arms as the gun was as described, communication was excellent (which isn't always the case with sellers on Gunbroker.com or other auction sites), and shipping was fast and professionally packed. However, there were several things to do to the gun to get it ready for my 30 year share of its lifespan.

First, it needed filler screws for the scope mounting holes in the receiver top. These are 8-40 screws and that was taken care of before I'd even completed the transfer. Many thanks to the fine folks at Nuckols Gunworks in Staunton, VA. Then, I had to install a Williams Foolproof Receiver sight which I'd purchased from MidwayUSA. That was a matter of but a moment as the receiver was already drilled and tapped. Then the rear sight had to be drifted from its dovetail (left to right) and that also took no time at all. I also removed the original front sight hood (I have the terrible habit of losing those things!). Now, I was ready to shoot.

To try it out I got down a box of Aguila Colibri (now discontinued), a very low noise alternative to regular .22 rimfire ammunition. Well, on the second round the hammer would not come back and the gun was jammed. I quickly took the gun down and saw that nothing was wrong in the receiver and that the hammer still would not go back. So, I reassembled the receiver and removed the buttstock. There, under the hammer, was a chip of wood from the right hand boss on the stock. I took that out and reassemble the buttstock to the rifle and... viola!

The action of this nearly 50 year old gun is as slick as snail snot on greased banana peels. The gun is still tight, the muzzle clean, the bore pristine, and I am happy. There are a couple of problems. First, the white line spacer under the butt plate has shrunk (as is usual for these). It did the same on a 1982 336T that I own so I don't know what I'll do. I may install a thin Pachmayr rifle pad on both guns. However, this doesn't do anything to affect the operation or accuracy of the gun so I've more than a bit of time to consider my options.

The other problem is more irritating. The magazine tube at the muzzle end is a tad bent and this was apparently done to make it easier for the inner magazine tube stud to lock into the magazine tube. There seems to be a bit of distortion at that point. Don't know what I'll do. For now it works and it is only a slight problem (IOW, its all in my head!).

The gun is not pristine all over though. There is some speckling on the receiver but there is no rust and by and large the finish is all there. The stock has been given one or more coats of True Oil (or so it appears). I knew that going in and see nothing wrong except for a couple of runs on the top flat of the forearm.

All-in-all, this is a great gun and I'm very happy with it.

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I thought I might edit my wish list. I've also re-prioritized...

1. Winchester M92 SRC .45 Colt with Tang Sight and maybe a few extras... (clone from Steve's Gunz)
2. Winchester 1895 SRC in .30-40 or .303 British with Lyman 38 receiver sight.
3. Winchester 71 in .348 Winchester (what else?) with a good receiver sight.
4. Ruger 4 5/8" Bisley Vaquero, blued, .45 Colt. Might install Tru-Ivory grips.
5. Savage 99, straight grip, brass spool (maybe), .250-3000 OR .260 Rem OR .358 Winchester OR .300 Savage, receiver sight.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

I've been hunting, finally, this week and not had a lot of luck. First, I didn't get to scout. Also, I don't have any hot spots. Seems my hot spots were everybody else's hot spots as well!

I have been taking the Browning 1886 SRC (.45-70) and it is a pleasure to carry. While I have plenty of lighter rifles, there's nothing wrong or uncomfortable about carrying this one. I've been able to see the sights in most situations (except today's heavy rain) but I do have to quit earlier as darkness impedes sighting earlier than with a good aperture or scope sight.

Lots fewer hunters where I go (should that tell me something?) with only 9 camps where there were once (about 1973) 250. Fewer camps, fewer hunters, fewer things pushing the deer, less browse from now grown up clearcuts, fewer deer but lots quieter. Getting out a walking has been a pleasure.

I've seen quite a few squirrels so there must be some hard mast. Soft mast seemed to have been plentiful a month or so ago. I've not seen any grouse but rabbits must be on an up cycle. Seen some coyote scat as well. Nowhere near the number of rubs, scrapes, fresh tracks, etc. from deer that we once had.

Friday, November 19, 2004

I posted on Mike Bellm's forum:

Yes, I have the 28 ga. Van Horn barrel. I like it.

It is really, really light since, well, heck, there's just about as minimal an amount of steel as you can have in a Contender barrel. It is so light that you really have to work to avoid shooting errors. There's no inherent self correction on something like swing through since there's no weight in the system to keep those barrels moving in spite of yourself. If you stop swing, the barrel stops right now! Heck, the whole gun weighs about 5 lbs (maybe a bit less).

I've tried several loads which work and I think enough better than the .410 to make the barrel worthwhile.

I had Dave put a modified choke in it and when I got it that's what it patterned. That's good. I also asked for a 22" but Dave (bless his heart) sent me a 25½" barrel. I wasn't happy when I opened the tube but I'm now glad he did that. Every bit of steel one hangs on that barrel is a good thing! Yep, this is a bull barrel!

Another consideration is that the "dovetail" locks are actually brazed to the barrel there being insufficient material to cut a dovetail. This and the bull barrel configuration require a dedicated forearm. I've modified a Custom Shop (Choate) bull barrel carbine Rynite forearm for use with this barrel.

Birding isn't what it used to be around here and I've only collected a couple of mourning dove and a single squirrel with the barrel. I just haven't been able to get onto any quail and not managed to bust a grouse with the gun in hand.

If anyone has further questions, feel free to ask even by e-mail. If you want to know about the 28 ga. capabilities any published data will apply. This barrel doesn't exhibit any surprises in that area.


I received an e-mail:

I happened to see on Mike Bellm's website that you have a site of your own and that you have a 28 gauge barrel for your TC Contender. I too have a Contender (a G2 model) which has a truly superior trigger and I had read here and there that 28 gauge shotgun barrels are made for them. Then when I saw your post on Mike's website I had evidence that these barrels are being made by someone out there. I had considered calling Fox Ridge to order one since I thought that the TC Custom Shop barrel should be a cut above what other companies make, but I guess that I must be wrong on that account. If you don't mind telling me: who made your 28 gauge Contender barrel and why did you decide to go with that company as opposed to Fox Ridge (Thompson Center Custom Shop)? Since I started this research on TC barrels, I see that there are a couple of companies that make barrels for their guns, and since I read commentary that TC's quality control is "spotty", I am beginning to understand why.So maybe a 28 gauge barrel from the TC Custom Shop would not be such a good idea after all? I look forward to your input on this subject and I thank you for your time and consideration.


My response (edited for this format and to remove personal references):

...about the 28 gauge. I got my barrel from Dave Van Horn. I believe he still has a website The Gun Shop.

I got the 28 gauge barrel from him because at the time:
1. I was on the prairienet TC list and they arranged a "deal" with Mr. Van Horn
2. I didn't have a 28 gauge barrel.
3. He was the only fellow who would make one for the Contender!

I didn't try the Custom Shop because they didn't do that at that time. I must not have noticed that they do 28 gauge Contender barrels now. I would think that they would do at least as good a job. Frankly, I've never gotten a bad custom shop barrel. I have 2, a .45-70 24" and a .25-35 21". Both are good accurate performers.

I highly recommend one other forum to a budding Contender freak like yourself. Specialty Pistols is a great forum for Contender and Encore shooters. Bullberry produces good quality after market Contender barrels as does On Target Technologies. For a good price on previously loved barrels, see Ed's Contenders.

Friday, October 29, 2004

A Political Note

Perhaps some readers won't particularly care for mentioning politics here but I have to express my opinion. I hope that I'll never have to use this blog for political talk again.

Politics is an integral aspect of the shooting sports. Failure to elect politicians who behave positively towards shooters and gun owners (and hunters) will doom the sport and steal the value of collections as well as the sentimental items from future generations. It is is up to each of us to do now so that others who follow will not have to undue the results of our apathy.

The most important event to us today is the Presidential election although we should not dismiss the congressional elections. EVERY person for whom we vote MUST be supportive of our rights. Our rights mean nothing if we are dead so security is the other important measure of a candidate. Social concerns such as Medicare, Social Security, even jobs are secondary. What is important is that the next President and the Congress understand that we are war with Muslim fanatics who wish to destroy us. Indeed, these people are more focused on our destruction than the Japanese or Nazis ever were. Failure to destroy these people is NOT an option.

There is only one candidate that will continue that fight with determination and dedication and that is George W. Bush. I think that in their determination and blinded by their unreasonable hatred of President Bush, the Democrat Party has proven that they are now a party of deceit and treachery. I believe that a vote for ANY Democrat is a vote for the ENEMY.

I hope that every reader will vote, and I pray that God will give you to see and do right and vote for George W. Bush and NOT vote for any Democrat in ANY office.
Well, I have to report that it comes time for each of us to prove himself (or herself) to be very foolish and to get a dose of humility. Today, was my turn to benefit from my dose of humility.

A little background is in order. Every morning I get up, walk the dog, fix breakfast (mine AND hers) say goodbye to the wife (who fixes her own breakfast), eat and then go upstairs to shower, shave (when the mood strikes or circumstances demand) and so forth. Every Friday and Saturday I do the same but have to dress for work (!?!), a necessary and sometimes enjoyable 7 hours selling and talking about militaria, military history and fine art prints for American Art and Antiques, Inc. and JamesDietz.com. One thing that I do everyday when I go out is to take one or more firearms, just in case. Now that it is hunting season (of one sort or another) I generally carry a selection to cover the various possible game in season. This morning, I wanted to carry my S&W 422 6" (for squirrel), my Contender with the 28 ga. shotgun barrel (I know something is in season!), and my Marlin 1894C in .357 Mag (for coyotes, fox, and later for deer, etc.). All was ready except for the Marlin...

I was in a bit of a rush this morning. My son was going to stop by at 9:00, I have to be to work at 10:00, I hadn't taken my shower until 8:00 (the dog was a little off schedule), and I stopped to watch something on Fox and Friends on Fox News Channel. For a news junkie, that can be a bad, bad thing. Anyway, I'm now against the clock and run upstairs, get into the safe and grabe the Marlin and 9 rounds of .357 Mag. Then I stuffed those 9 rounds in the magazine...

You may have guessed but if you haven't, I won't drag it out. I had loaded those 9 rounds into the Marlin, the 336T (in .30-30) NOT the 1894C! Now I can fix this, I just take out the mag tube plug and the forward band screw and dump the contents. So, I've run to the basement for the correct screwdriver and get to work and get it fixed. The main thing is that such a mix up on these two similar but clearly different guns was made by being in a rush and not paying attention to detail. It also started yesterday when I put the "wrong" gun in the spot I wanted the .357 Mag to be in. This morning I just reached in and assumed I had the correct gun. That they look so similar from the loading gate down (including that Marlin pivot "knuckle") let me continue with my self-deception for at least another full minute.

For those of you concerned about safety issues, the .357 Mag ammo doesn't feed in the .30-30 and the .30-30 won't fit into the 1894 in .357 Mag. In short, there was NO safety issue unless you think I should just slow down before I step on the dog, stub my toe, or something.

Now, I'm suitably humiliated, humbled, and my attention has been focused on safety and details. I hope that this relatively painless mishap will enable me to avoid something dangerous, to remember to look and acertain my target BEFORE shooting, to check the background, and to keep my firearms pointed in a safe direction. I hope that anyone who reads this will do the same.

Monday, October 04, 2004

1886 SRC to the Range!

Well, I took my new to me (and darn near NIB, period) Browning 1886 SRC to the range today. Whoooo hooooo. That steel carbine butt had me a bit worried, although the gun seemed to fit fine, but it was no problem being plenty wide enough to dissipate recoil across the shoulder. Most people would compare this gun to their .308 for recoil but some would find stronger loads intimidating.

Sights used were the factory carbine sights. They don't give a lot of definition particularly against black bullseyes. A Williams Foolproof is on order for this gun. The problem isn't the front post but the rear notch. At my age these sights might be more challenging than they would have been 30 years ago.

The target was one of those 8" round Shoot N C things from Birchwood Casey. The sights don't show up particularly well against this target but it is a reasonable size.

The ammo consisted of 4 different loads. They were the Remington factory 405 gr., the Remington 300 gr. "Express" loading, the Federal 300 gr. Express loading with the Sierra JHC and the new version of the Federal load with the 300 gr. Speer HotCore.

The 405 gr. load and the 300 gr. loads all stayed on the target at 50 yards. However, the 405 gr. load was noticeably lower on target at 100 yards being almost 7 inches below point of aim. However, all the "Express" loads shot to point of aim at 100 yards. An adjustable sight would make the 405 gr. factory load usable but it is only marginally so at 100 yards with the factory sight. When I reload for this gun for use on animals heavier than whitetails, black bear or hogs, I'll be using a good 400 or 405 gr. bullet at about 1600 fps. Again, an adjustable sight is probably necessary for this application. Such loads would be for elk, moose and perhaps larger black bear or bison. The factory "Express" loadings using the 300 gr. bullet are sufficient for any use I'll have for the rifle in this area. BTW, the .45-70 can push the 300 gr. bullet some 200 fps faster than the .44 Remington Mag from a rifle and with about 20K CUP less pressure!

Functioning was smooth, positive and problem free. The trigger was not unmanageable. Some might not like it but it was no better or worse than any other levergun trigger. I'm not particularly trigger sensitive and found it to be a good one. Ejection, even when cycling the action VERY slowly, was extremely positive and consistently dropped the cartridges just 2-3 feet directly behind me.

My general impression of the SRC was, in a word, outstanding. If the Browning 71s and 1895s are of the same quality, I'm hooked! Personally, one of these rifles in .33 Winchester would be about PERFECT for many hunters in my neck of the woods. They might not think so, but it would serve them very well indeed. In addition, it is just darn fun to shoot!

Here's a photo of the target used at 100 yards.



If you look at the pic, the black pasters are covering the first 4 shots I ever put out of the gun. Shot at 50 yards, observers were amazed that it was zeroed AND that I could hit with open sights. [?] The top 2 are the Federal 300 gr. Sierra JHC and the bottom 2 are Remington 405 gr.

Every shot seemed a bit easier to control and as you see the group sizes decrease so too I was working through the ammo list. IOW, the smallest group is the last fired on this target.

I'd like to reiterate that the action has a satisfying solidity to it. It kind of feels "hollow" when unloaded but when loaded and worked it feels like a little bank vault. With the hook the cartridges are dragged out, lifted up and placed perfectly for smooth entry into the chamber. Fast or slow, this action works. I'm sure you've run into lever guns (and others) that either wouldn't work at speed or wouldn't work when cycled slowly. This guns surely isn't like that.

With a good aperture sight, this could be the one gun. I'm looking forward to getting a good example of the little brother, the M92. Will probably take a while, but hey, I've had to wait for all the good things in my life.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

I've been thinking about the list of guns I want. Seems to change all the time. Should I list them? Think I will...

1. Browning 1886 SRC w/tang sight(enroute)
2. Winchester M92 SRC .45 Colt with Tang Sight and maybe a few extras... (clone from Steve's Gunz)
3. Savage 99, straight grip, brass spool (maybe), .250-3000 OR .260 Rem OR .358 Winchester OR .300 Savage, receiver sight
4. Winchester 71 in .348 Winchester (what else?) with a good receiver sight.
5. Winchester 1895 SRC in .30-40 or .303 British with Lyman 38 receiver sight.
6. Marlin M39 Mountie (already have the Williams Foolproof Sight!).
7. Ruger 4 5/8" Bisley Vaquero, blued, .45 Colt. Might install Tru-Ivory grips.
8. Remington Model 8 in .30 Remington (might be coming already!). Want to convert to trapper length and install a good receiver sight.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

I know that most people know how difficult it is to stop pursuing a hobby (an obsession, really) once you start. Of course, some people have no idea, more's the pity for them... Anyway, as a sub-obsession of shooting I really like the Remington Model 8 and 81 rifles. I've been wanting to collect them and mostly been able to avoid falling victim to my baser desires in this area. I did know that this could not last.

I've bid on a Remington Model 8 in .30 Remington on Gunbroker.com. My bid isn't all that high, $125 but follow the link and look at the gun. You'll be astonished!

Well, my thinking was that I could just do a little work to it and then have my second Model 8. My first
Model 8 was my dad's and before him, his dad's and before grandpa, his brother's! This rifle has been around in only 3 generations. Anyway, it is the rifle that is the source of the lusting after Model 8s and 81s and so I bid on this rifle that looks like crap. Of course, the seller has it listed as a .30-30 (?) and says it went on auction because it wouldn't chamber a round (a .30-30?) but I know it is really a .30 Remington of different shape and with a rimless case. I figure that I can get a new forearm from GunParts Corp., ammo from Buffalo Arms, reloading dies for CH4D, and maybe a peep sight somewhere along the way.


My First Model 8 in .35 Remington with Lyman Receiver Sight


Another thing I want to do is to convert it into a "trapper" with a 16" barrel. I know of somebody who has done that and I'd frankly like to copy his idea. I would then have the gun re-blued (why not?) and refinish the stock and forearm so that they match better than they probably would.

These guns are fun but hard to find at a price like this that allows one to play around with gunsmithing projects. I'm looking forward to this one.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Hobbies are fickle things indeed. About 1994, I sold my AR-15 and got hooked on Contender carbines. While I still love them and use the, 21 barrels later I'm running out of expansion possibilities. I do have 2 pistol barrels (and grips for them) but I just never could get excited about the Contender pistol. From the time the Contender came out, I'd been thinking of it with a long barrel in fun cartridges. It was everything I'd always thought it would be and it does help one experience cartridges one would otherwise have to order an entire gun (at attendant cost) to shoot. Things went well indeed but when barrels started going over $300-350 and requiring a 6-16 week wait PLUS poor quality control by the makers (giving you not quite what you ordered) I started losing interest in expanding the herd.

Then, I found Leverguns.com and their forum. There are lots of wonderful folks over there. They love and know their leverguns and are willing to share info and availability of guns. Truly, they enable the addiction! Now I am truly addicted.

I'm so addicted that I visit Gunbroker.com and AuctionArms.com daily. My tendancy, aside from the current guns I own, is to the saddle ring carbines or trappers. These compact, powerful and useful guns probably epitomize the gun that won the west, the saddle rifle of the cowboy, etc. They are full of western "romance" and when I was a kid, THE gun to have. I guess this is why the guns that interest me are so difficult to find at prices I can afford! Still, I plug away.

These are the three guns I currently own, shown together

and they are (from top to bottom): A Marlin 1894C in .357 Magnum, Marlin 336T in .30-30 and Winchester M94 in .30WCF (.30-30). I've no preference of maker but what I do want is an example of certain types. High on my priority list is a Winchester M92, a Winchester 1886 and a Savage 99. I will probably want a Winchester or Browning 71 as well.

I've already written about my desires for a M92 SRC or SRC Trapper. I was thinking of a button-mag (or half-mag) but have thought better of it. Still, I will be going to Steve's Gunz as he will buy the gun, perform the smoothing up and install the tang peep sight and then ship to my dealer. A very smooth transaction (and rifle action) is possible by doing this.

I think it is a little more than coincidental that Gunbroker.com has had listings for 3 of the Browning 1886 SRCs in .45-70. These are absolutely beautiful firearms and well made by Miroku of Japan (these people are doing Winchester's current 1892 leveractions). With a good aperture receiver sight, I think these would be a great rifle that would do it all for the North American hunter of big game.

The Savage 99 is an action I want that has to conform to my preferences. I want a straight grip, aperture receiver sight, and chambered to either the .250-3000, .260 Remington, or .358 Winchester. Kinda peculiar in today's world. Most people want to scope sight such a gun, particularly in the .250-3000 or .260 Remington chamberings. By the way, if you don't already know, the .260 Remington will be a custom deal. Savage never chambered a 99 for the .260 Remington.

Now, with the Winchester 71, one doesn't have much choice. It will be pistol gripped AND it will come in one chambering, .348 Winchester. However, this is a perfect cartridge for the aperture sight and one can learn to live with the pistol grip and curved lever.

Yes, indeed, hobbies are fickle things.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Well, it has been some time since my last comments. Some things have happened and I've been really busy during the summer. Don't quite know why, but the wife expects to do something other than mess with guns.

I've bought a third lever action rifle. Yes, I've gotten that fever, too. This is my new (to me) Marlin M336T. Made in 1982, this version has an 18" barrel. I'd been looking for one and when I saw it for only $260 on GunBroker.com I knew I had to get it. Wasn't planning for it, I had other higher priority projects, but couldn't pass up the opportunity. This was the gun I wanted when I bought my 336C in 1970 but couldn't find one then either!


As you can see, it has been around a bit. I added the Lyman 66LA receiver sight before taking the picture (and the sight slot blank) but had yet to remove the sling swivel stud and stud band. Those sling swivel studs are now gone. Removing them presented another problem.

I don't know why but many, many shooters seem to think that the Marlin trademark bullseye in the stock is the designated installation point for the rear sling swivel stud. In fact it is the WORST place to screw in your Uncle Mike's sling swivel stud. The plastic will break up far quicker than the wood of the butt. Also, please, predrill the hole before screwing the stud in. It makes for a much neater job. Well some past owner had done this as well. When I removed the stud, I had a gaping hole where the bullseye had once been. The stud's screw had completely broken the bullseye up and left a 5/8" hole to fill. I am thinking that what I'll do is to fill a lot of it with JB Weld and insert a "button" of deer horn. In the center of the deer horn I'll drill a hole and glue in a short piece of copper wire. I'll leave it standing proud of the stock and then file it down to match the stock configuration. Should give me a very unique bullseye!

I'm also thinking of refinishing the stock (and slightly thinning the forearm) and staining it darker. I think I'd like a darker stock. That would make an excellent January/February project.

I currently have 3 leveraction rifles. I've owned others but they had to be sold or were traded for others.  There are some similarities. First, all are straight gripped. It just seems more natural to me. Maybe, I've been too heavily influenced by all the cowboy westerns I watched or maybe it really does feel better when working the action. I don't know, but I prefer the straight grip style.

Second, they are all fitted with a receiver or aperture sight. The top and bottom guns have the Williams Foolproof Receiver Sight and the "new" rifle in the middle has the Lyman Model 66LA sight. I really prefer an aperture sight on these guns. The sight gives extended sight radius, is quick in the field, I have LONG experience with it (over 40 years continuous use including military use), it is compact and doesn't interfere with handling the gun and it is light.

Unfortunately, I had a bit of a problem with the Lyman sight. Not to say that they are all like this but this one is a disappointment. I've used them before with satisfaction but in this case, the elevation plate screw stripped the threads and can't be tightened and secure the elevation plate. This is necessary because the Lyman sight has a plate that can be "zeroed" or slid up and down relative to the marking on the sight base so that you can dismount and remount the sight with the quick release OR change the sight elevation and return to the "standard" setting. I did write Lyman, but I am no going to return the sight. I will just epoxy the elevation plate in place and leave it there. Frankly, I may not buy another new Lyman 66 sight.

In contrast, the Williams sights have never given me a moment's problem. They have been utterly reliable. Not only do I have them on the 2 leverguns shown above but also on a semi-sporterized (read bubbaized if you prefer) M96 in 6.5x55 and have had them on all but 2 of my other leverguns. Those included the dearly departed 336C and a Marlin 1894 in .44 Mag. Only a Wincester M94 in .44 Mag didn't stay around long enough to get the FP sight treatment. The other rifle already had a tang peep and didn't need another 2 holes drilled for the FP. I wisely kept the sight when I was forced to sell the rifle.

Now, I guess I've really succumbed to the disease of leveractionitis. I've gotten it in my head to do a button-mag Winchester M92 carbine in .45 Colt. After it was suggested by a fellow disease "sufferer", I am fixated on a "trapper" version with a 16" barrel AND I would like it to have a color-case hardened receiver. Steve of Steve's Gunz will do the work and has made some cogent suggestions of his own. This will be a full on custom gun and it will no doubt take some time to get the money together.

One of the driving issues is portability in a vehicle and usability or even possessability in various jurisdictions. The short barrel addresses the first 2 issues and the 16" or "long enough" barrel addresses the latter. The .45 Colt cartridge is usable in factory guise as an effective self-defense round but can be loaded up for deer hunting and longer range use. The button-mag will give sufficient capacity for self-defense use but will not hamper the handling characteristics. The carbine butt will be more RV and truck friendly even if it is carried in a case. There will be no sharp points to scratch or puncture the more delicate features in those vehicles and so it won't arouse the wrath of she-who-must-be-0beyed.

Soon it will be hunting season and we'll all be down the road for some fun. I hope to have photos this year.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

In the most recent issue of Rifle magazine, Dave Scovill has made some comments in his monthly column. Those comments are directed at some who Mr. Scovill feels might be expecting too much of the Marlin rifles. I believe, from reading the article, that he feels that way based on questions on conversions that he receives. He also posts a chart showing common lever gun rounds and the SAAMI pressure standards for those rounds.

This has caused no end of comments in a topic on the Leverguns.com forum. Many, including yours truly, have weighed in with words of wisdom regarding Mr. Scovill's article. Some are actually wise, some aren't. I feel as though I've been invited to a wrestling match with a pig. You know, you both get dirty but the pig LOVES it. That's what has made me think about this subject of cartridge suitability for the Marlins, most particularly the M336. It has also made me rethink my work with the .38-55.

I'll start by saying I'm not going to disappoint any readers of this blog or people who think that the .38-55 can be safely loaded to 42,000 psi same as the .30-30. I will continue to do so. In actions which will accomodate the 7-30 Waters (45K psi) and the .30-30 or .32 Special (42K psi) I think it is logical, reasonable and safe to load the .38-55 to 42K psi and I think that means that my load of 32 gr. of RL-7 under the 255 gr. Barnes Original or Stone Fence bullet is safe and within these standards.

However, I do not believe a couple of things that some do seem to believe or know. First, case shape does affect breach thrust in actions where the case head does not contact a standing breach. This includes the leverguns. In the leverguns, the bolt acts as a piston and pushes against other moving parts such as the locking lugs/bolts and over the distance of the length of the bolt can have a greater affect on the action.

The second is that the Contender, is a different animal and in that "case", where the case head contacts the standing breach (a part of the frame, not a moving part), the surface area of the case head and how much pressure is actually transfered to the breach is what is important.

This has been debated ad naseum over the years but I'm going to take a stand that I will follow in how I handle my own guns and reloading. I'm not going to rechamber the Marlin M336 for cartridges which produce in excess of 45K psi.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

My first deer ever was taken with a Marlin M336 .30-30 (if I can find the serial number of that gun I would, foolish youth sent it on it's way in a trade...[:I]) with a Williams Foolproof Receiver Sight. My dad bought it for me (although I'd thought I'd saved enough for it and that it was MY money that crossed the counter) and it was bought used from a Western Auto (remember those?) in Harrisonburg, VA. I still go by the spot I shot that deer every year, usually carrying Dad's gun... Anyway, it was a buck that field dressed at 120 pounds and had a little 5 point (eastern count) rack. My dad drove it off a clear cut and I shot it at about 40 yards. I think that was 1970... We found a 20 gauge Foster slug just under the skin and just behind the rib cage and that wound was all healed up. Lots of fine memories in that one hunt...

I often wonder if Dad knew just what that one event would mean to me over the years. In Korea, when fall came and I couldn't go home to hunt, I'd often day dream of that hunt. Of course, it wasn't just killing my first deer or first buck or using my new-to-me rifle, it really was about sharing the whole experience with my dad. I have to say that I got punished about as much as any other kid I knew and that my dad wasn't one to spare the rod but I've no bad memories of him at all. I deserved every spanking I ever got. What I do remember best are all the times we were in the outdoors. When dad kept me from going over the side of the 120 foot fire tower, or when we were in the 16' open motorboat crossing Lake George in 6 foot waves (Dad couldn't swim) with water coming in the boat and all of us bailing... Come to think of it, Dad wasn't bailing, he was sitting in his usual position, slightly hunched over (he was 6'+ tall) with both hands firmly grasping the seat. Maybe he was scared, it didn't seem so at the time. I remember the long hikes in Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia. I remember the fishing even when I was 6 at Spruce Knob Lake in WV or on the river on Grandpa's farm. I remember the sight of my dad coming in from fighting a forest fire still wearing his grimy white T shirt (they were ALL white then and with no logos) to take me to the Elkins, WV Forest Festival. I remember oooohing and aaaahing over the live otters in the tank at the WV Game Commission display while Dad talked with people he knew (probably about the fire). I remember seeing parades from his shoulders and having trouble standing afterwards. The thing about Dad was that there was a lot to remember about him. I guess I was kinda lucky.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

FINALLY remembered to carry the Speed-Six to the range (it is the bedside gun) and the results are... (drum roll please)... 1359 fps avg for 648 fpe with an AD of 39 fps and an SD of 51.

I have to say that I have one chamber than consistently gives lower velocities and one that consistently gives higher velocities with every load.

Also, I shot for group at 25 yards. I got 3 and 3½ inch groups for 6 rounds. This is a romper stomper compared to most loads I've been using. When I want something really powerful in a handgun I go to a .4something! Again, the 180 gr. bullet load gave 1179 fps for 556 fpe from this gun. I did shoot it for groups too, but at 50 yards and it gave 4-6" groups at that range.

The 180 gr. Rem SJHP load went into a 1.75" group at 100 today. I think this is remarkable given the sights (particularly the front bead). Another interesting point is that zeroed, the Williams Foolproof is resting on top of the receiver! One would truly need a higher front sight with this gun and an aperture sight when using lighter bullets. I've never needed to replace the front sight on any other levergun after mounting an aperture sight. This gun might be the exception. If so, it will get a sourdough front just .002-.003" taller. I think that is all the extra front sight it would need to zero that barn burning 158 gr. XTP load that goes over 2000 fps.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Some additional thoughts today...

About primers, the CCI500s and 550s performed about the same for me in the loading with Lil'Gun and the 158 gr. XTPs but NOT the same for the 180 gr. SJHPs. I don't know why, but the extreme spread was halved by switching the magnum primer with the 180s (with corresponding reductions in AD and SD numbers) while no noticeable difference occured with the 158 gr. XTP load. If I was a betting man, I'd bet on the CCI550s (or perhaps another magnum primer like the Winchester) as the place to START not to finish.

Another thought is that the 158 XTP HPs will not handle the velocity that the 158 XTP FPs will. I'd expect that the HPs would not be deer suitable but the FPs would be. I don't think that the FPs would be the rompin' stompin' pistol load though... So my all rounder will the 180 which is going slow enough not to blow a turkey all to heck, shoots flat enough that I can utilize the gun to the range the sights are useful (without needing a new, higher front sight), and will work wonders on deer and coyotes as well. If I have to use it for AP work, well the 158 won't be that much of a hinderance, will it? However, if I had already loaded all those rounds with the XTP FP, I might rethink my plan...

As to accuracy, well, the sights are some handicap for grouping but fast to hit with. Still, I cut cloverleafs at 50 yards, 2" at 100 seems to be easy.

BTW, I've heard that Buffalo Bore uses Lil'Gun in their loads and yes I believe their figures. Others report similar results with Lil'Gun. They also up their loads but I won't. I want 100% function, not riding the ragged edge of success. I adapt by aiming and stalking closer. Not always as "successful" but always fun and rewarding. Lil'Gun beats H110 all hollow in my .357s does really well in my .41 carbine and is about the same as H110 in my .44 Mag.

Marlin 1894C .357 Magnum

Well, I've received my new (to me) Marlin M1894 .357 Mag from LubbockDave. Hoorah. Actually better than described, well cared for and smoooooooooooth from use. Does shoot a little high now that I've got a Williams Foolproof Receiver Sight installed (about 10 minutes after I picked it up ). I think it will probably shoot POA or close to it with my intended load of Lil'Gun and the Remington 180 gr. SJHP. Yeah, I got it at 9:30 and was at the range by 10:30!

I looked high and low for a pre-crossbolt safety (which I might have mentioned that I detest ). I think it is actually a better gun than my old (and departed ) M1894 in .44 Mag. It is as accurate (even with the .38 Special FBI load) at 50 yards.

For those wondering if LubbockDave is fit to do business with you'll only get a big thumbs up from me. Modest description with complete photos, what I think was a fair price, fast shipment (and apparently good packing! ), and darn nice correspondence about it all to boot. I think he'll do to ride the range with.

This was my first net purchase and I was a bit nervous about it. Not because of the seller but because of the system.

It certainly IS a lot of fun. I've got the factory rear sight off and a dovetail filler in. I was really surprised by how well it shot (Microgroove barrel and all) the Federal .38 Special FBI load. I was adjusting sights but got a couple three cloverleafs at 50 yards. Swaged bullets never worked well in my 1894 .44 Mag but they did pretty good from this gun.

125 gr. Federal factory load (in fact I used up what I had) and they averaged 2068 fps. I also loaded a few (had some 6 primed cases ready, the bulk of my brass is in the trim stage) with Lil'Gun and the Remington 180 SJHPs. For MY rifle the bullets have to be seated so that the cannelure is just a shade below the case mouth (as trimmed). Easier to fix by trimming the cases a bit shorter than rolling a new cannelure.

With Federal .38 Special "FBI" load of 158 gr. swaged bullet, I got about 1100 fps and 2 inch groups at 50 yards. My bead almost covers the 50 yard pistol slow fire pistol target center I was using.

The 15 gr. Lil'Gun under the 180 gr. Remington SJHP does 1669 fps for 1114 fpe from my gun. My old 125 gr. SJHP loads over H110 did 1978 fps for 1108 fpe. These are just about as fast as the Federal factory 125s and shoot high just like the Federal ammo (no surprises there!).

I also ran the 158 gr. XTP over 18 gr. of Lil'Gun (CCI500 primer) over the chronograph. Temps were about 63-65 degrees. Average velocity was 1989 fps for 1389 fpe with an AD of 8 and SD of 10. These even beat the 125 gr. bullet reloads using 2400 I had!

Now this was with the HP version but I've no doubt it will do as well with the FP version which will probably hold up to these velocities and contact with actual game.

I also tried the 15 gr. of Lil'Gun under the 180 gr. Remington SJHP with the CCI550 (magnum small pistol) instead of the CCI500. Avg velocity was up slightly to 1675 fps with an AD of 15 and SD of 21. However the extreme spread (ES) was cut in half! I bought 500 of these and will no doubt load up the rest over the CCI550.

The 158s will shoot a bit flatter and have an extended point blank range over the 180s but the 180s have a lot going for them. They will probably penetrate a bit better, they were cheaper by half, they use less powder, they are just as accurate and they shoot flat enough given how much that front bead covers at range. I won't have to get a higher front sight either.

I also had 4 old (1975 vintage?) Glaser safety slugs for the .38 Special. These went 1986 fps (heck I was going to shoot them up anyway and have almost forgotten just how expensive they were at the time ).

The more I shoot it the more I like this gun. My old M1894 .44 Mag didn't have a barrel band at the forearm tip and always looked a bit odd to me. So that feature is an improvement in my book. Also, the 18½" barrel of this model seems to make it handy and balance like it ought to. I want to use this for my "truck gun" which is used on the very odd coyote (suicidal is more like it), feral dogs and cats, foxes, groundhogs, and maybe a deer now and again. Have yet to take a turkey with a "truck gun" but I see more turkeys from the truck than on stand! May have sold yet another of those Marlins! A couple of "spectators" were really excited to see those numbers. Of course, they had to try it out as well and went through most of the rest of my ammo.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

I thought I would post some notes on my 10mm Auto barrel from posts I made on the Specialty Pistols forum.

I have a 14" that I got from the old obsolete barrels list. I put a Choate extension on it and use it as a carbine barrel. I had some interesting results from my chrono run on my 14" barrel.

Load/velocity/energy/AD/SD
10 gr. Unique 155 XTP/1156/460/55/67
155 XTP Factory/1457/731/5/7
180 Hydroshock Factory/1093/477/39/54
180 Rem HP Factory/1180/556/20/27
10 gr. BlueDot 180 BullX TC/1510/911/10/16

Factory ammo sure ain't a barn burner!

Reference, pierced primers. This is interesting. I noted that some loads, and not the hot ones, have a tendency to have that look to the primers although none were actually pierced. You know, that just about pierced look. I haven't seen such primer appearance with any other cartridge regardless of pressure level. Of course all these were fired on the same frame. RELOADS don't exhibit this only FACTORY ammo. Peculiar.

I'm really getting to like the 180s in this cartridge. Guess what, just like the .38 WCF (aka .38-40).

BTW, another interesting observation. At 150 yards, all loads struck to within 3 inches of one another. My 14" with Choate extension, used as a carbine, TC aperture sight. That's with loads of 155 going 1100 fps to 180s going 1450 fps!

I can see why this level of performance had a following. Low recoil usable trajectory to 150 yards (and farther if you are have some experience), sufficient power for close range hunting but not excessive for small game and relatively low report. Would be a great cartridge to teach a youngster and transition to centerfire.

Found a box of PMC 170 gr. factory stuff and shot it up today. 1292/630/17/26 (fps/fpe/ad/sd)

I'm constantly amazed at the velocities I'm not getting. The bore expansion ratio is such with this cartridge that it does just a hair better in the 14" than it would in the 5".
Wanted to let you know the results from my 10mm Auto loads with the 180 gr. XTP and 10.4 gr. Blue Dot. I got 1271/646/23/32 (fps/fpe/ad/sd).

My load with the old BullX 180 gr. TC cast got 1510 fps with 10 gr. of Blue Dot. A little faster I can see but 239 fps! I'd like to know what is up with that. Well that is what makes this interesting. It is accurate.

Of course it is more accurate when the darn sight (TC made aperture) doesn't fall apart while shooting! Apparently the elevation screw unscrewed itself. With my handy magnetic pointer I found it but what a pain. I'll be switching to the Williams WGRS shortly.

I crimp them pretty good and it burns noticeably "cleaner" than new Unique. Of course clean means different things to different people. Also, I can't remember if I said before, but I'm consistently getting complete burn with 10.4 gr. BD and the CCI LP primer (standard NOT magnum). The other day I kept looking down the bore for powder and didn't see any. I was also shooting over my ground sheet to catch whatever blows out of the barrel, but nada.

I am seating those XTPs to make a COL of 1.265" (average). It seems to vary some (I measured 15) and varies between 1.260 and 1.270. I haven't been able to figure out what is causing the variation but suspect that there is a minor variation in the bullet length (guess I'll have to measure the bullets now! ). I does NOT seem to be the result of high primers, headstamp "burrs", or bullet deformation.

I loaded these so that I could use them in a Delta Elite if I wanted (eventually ) without regard to the throat length. I'm off to the range this morning to zero this load and try it for groups out to 150 yards (range use allowing).

Took the new load and loaded it into Pointblank. That program says my PBR (Point Blank Range) should be 107 yards. Range tests prove it out. If you want a 150 yard gun in this caliber you need to go to the .41 Rem Mag or wildcat the 10mm on the .44 Mag. With the 10mm Auto you are down 10-12 inches at 150 yards.

Now when I shoot this out of a Delta Elite, it doesn't seem that bad because I can easily adjust but with peep sights (and probably with a scope) it is very noticeable.

However, it should still do in any farm pest like groundhogs, coyotes and such.

Accuracy? Well, with my sight set up it is no great shakes. On rocks or what have you I will hit them but on a bullseye (50 meter slow fire pistol) at 100 yards, the front post subtends so much that it is difficult to figure out how much side to side you have. Groups ran 5 shots into ½" vertically but 1-2" horizontally. That was the best I could do.


Set up for the PBR, you have to remember that you will be shooting noticeably over at 25-65 yards. This overage is 1-2" and can make the difference if you're attempting squirrel dinner. Again, for those farm pests, just hold center of mass and you'll be fine. This will work on 2 legged pests to 150 yards but much further would be a true desperation/time buying move.

Interestingly, this load of 10.4 gr. BlueDot supposedly runs 35K CUP or around 4400 for breach thrust. That's near the limit for the Contender (isn't it supposed to be about 4500?).

In any case it is a fun cartridge.

Friday, May 14, 2004

I've been reloading the 10mm Auto for my 14" Contender barrel. My preferred bullet is the 180 gr. XTP and I'm currently loading it with Blue Dot (BD).

I've been reading some of the posts on the forum and following links to a certain excellent site and see that I'm not getting the results that I ought to expect.

First, I've tried various bullets. Those I had the best accuracy results with (other than the preferred 180 gr. XTP) were the 155 gr. Hornady XTP and the 180 gr. BullX (sadly departed) TC cast. I also tried various powders including BD, Unique, and 2400. In other words a wide range of powders (although the AA powders are very hard to come by around here). BD seems to be the best powder for accuracy and velocity.

Combining BD and the 180 XTP I worked up to the Hogdon's Annual Manual max of 10.4 gr. of BD. Velocity from my 14" barrel was only 1270 some fps. Factory loads from Remington, PMC, Federal (Hydro Shock), and Hornady did no better. Of course the Hornady factory 155 gr. XTP loading was an exception and produced about 1450 fps. One notably surprising thing is that the BullX 180 gr. cast went 1458 fps (or so, I don't have my records here at work) over 10 gr. of BD. Now, I expect jacketed bullets to be a bit slower, but 200 fps?

Reading posts here and there and some associated files, I see that this performance is generally what can be expected from 5" barrels. That's kinda disappointing but not really.

My goal was to load the XTP to .38-40 rifle velocities, or about 1350 fps and I'm only about 80-100 fps too slow.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Now, let me share an experience I've had.

Last fall I worked up a load of 2.5 gr. Unique in .38 Special cases under a 205 gr. bullet. This was to be used in a .357 Maximum rifle for small game. It would group into 1-1.5 inches and about 2 inches low of point of aim at 50 yards (sights set for the full-throttle deer load). At 25 yards they were spot on. I could see using these for a wide variety of small game including ground hogs, fox and "others" of that size. I loaded 50 to have to use and tested part of that batch to make certain I had it right. All was well. However, I had never chronographed that load. I did use one round to take one squirrel (on the ground).

Well, today I took it with me when I went shooting the Max (testing Lil'Gun loads). VERY disappointing! What happened! Well today (temp 59 degrees, similar to when I worked up the load) velocities went from 83 fps (yes, not a typo) to 340 fps. Most were striking 2 feet low at 50 yards (but 3 were spot on! ). These loads were useless today.

About midway through the test it occurred to me that they had been stored bullet down in the box and maybe the powder was not next to the primer. All following rounds (18) were given a sharp (but safe) rap on the bench before firing and the rifle barrel was elevated immediately before firing. Little if any improvement. Indeed, I did get a good group, just 2 feet too low! The 3 that were right on were from the first 22 rounds...

I don't know what happened here but I'm going to try a few more and see what happens...

Monday, May 03, 2004

I've recently been working with the .357 Maximum and Lil'Gun. Loads shown at the Dan Wesson page show a max of 23 gr. with 180 gr. bullets and 21.5 gr. with 200 gr. cast bullets. My experimentation took me to these limits with the 180 gr. Hornady SSP and 200 gr. Hornady RN. However, there was a problem with "sticky" cases. IOW, pressures are too high. So I dropped a grain for each and the 200 gr. Hornady still does 1939 fps (excellent) for 1670 fpe, 24 fps AD and a 28 SD. The hotter charge was better in that regard but one does not want to be forced to aid in the extraction of cases. You should just pluck them from the chamber without the use of descriptive phrases!

With the 180 gr. SSP, I only dropped the charge by .5 gr. and in a repeat of the previous experiment, velocities did not change (increased slightly!) but also the AD and SD increased substantially. I'm going to drop this charge the other .5 gr. (as I should have done) and try again. If all goes as before, velocities will average just below 2100 fps and the AD and SD numbers will be similar to the load with the 200 gr. Hornady.

I think it is very interesting that I can beat FACTORY .35 Remington loads with this case. Still, there are limits to what you can do and reloads in the .35 Rem. will only do about 2000-2100 fps with loads safe in both my M8 Remington autoloader and the Contender carbine. However, I have pushed the 200 gr. Hornady RN to 2200+ fps in the Contender.

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I received the first 50 of 100 bullets from Stone Fence today. I think I'll be getting 100 new cases and loading them all with this bullet and 32 gr. of RL-7. That will probably do me with this cartridge for the rest of my days.

Friday, April 30, 2004

I did indeed try the Sam Fadala load of 31 gr. of H4198 as well as another suggested load of 32 gr. of RL-7. BOTH loads gave velocities of about 2000 fps. I don't have the data here at work with me but I think they were within 50 fps of each other with the same bullets. I also tried them with the Barnes Original (you would use the .377" but I used the .375") and got the same performance and case head expansion.

Sam apparently uses both the Barnes and the factory bullets (which he pulls, then dumps the charge and then loads with his own charge). I would prefer the Barnes at this velocity if using this load on bear. The factory bullets are built for the 1300 fps range AND for deer. I don't think I'd be happy with penetration when started at 2000 fps but the Barnes is more heavily constructed and should do fine.

The load I decided to use is the RL-7 load of 32 gr. It apparently produced less pressure and was the faster of the two loads. Might be picking nits, but I liked it better. I used CCI LR primers and was careful to trim my cases and to use a slight roll crimp. This generally works well.

I've been using the Cast Performance 265 gr. GC but only with 28 gr. of IMR 3031 which gives me about 1560 fps (if memory serves). I would think that about 30 gr. of RL-7 or IMR-4198 (up to you to work this up in your gun) would go about 1900 fps. Of course it has to fit or it will lead the bore.

I've gotten Dave Deering (Stone Fence) of FL to make me some of his bullets and they are outstanding!

I like my Contender because I can switch back and forth and only need to buy an additional barrel (without additional firearms purchase, at least in my jurisdiction). The .38-55 is fully the equal of the .375 Win.

One other note. The Hornady 220 gr. .375" bullets will probably NOT work in your .38-55 as their form is incorrect to work with the .38-55 case and throat(s). I don't know about the Sierra.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Pedersoli Brown Bess Trade Gun

I'm an owner of a Brown Bess "Trade Gun" by Pedersoli as sold by Dixie Gun Works. There is nothing "wrong" with the gun. It is fun to shoot but some points...

1. In VA, it was not legal for deer hunting except during the regular gun season. This might not be a problem for you. It was for me. Where you live makes a big difference.

2. The bore is so big that I "feel" that it is too big for some other tasks like groundhog hunting (but not really). It works great on groundhogs with shot at 15 yards (like any other shotgun) and with heavier shot does well on other such quarry.

3. It uses quite a bit of powder although not that much less than say a .69 or .62 (20 ga.) We're talking 115 gr. vs 90 gr. for the smaller 20 ga. smoothbores.

4. It uses a lot more lead for ball.

5. Recommended ball size is .735" and that is incorrect, get the .715" mold. That size ball will work patched and in cartridge and when the gun is fouled. I can see why the military issued the .690" round ball.

6. For only slightly more than half again what this costs I could have had a custom smoothie that would be appropriate for French and Indian or Revolutionary War reenacting. This gun is not strictly accurate for those uses.

7. 12 ga. wads are not recommended 11 ga. is but 12 ga. work best in my gun.

8. I've not been able to get accurate much past 50 yards (with ball) and I don't feel good using it past 40 yards. That is MY level of skill.

9. You can easily make up buck and ball loads. However, they are not really good to use on deer. That warrants a long discussion of its own.

10. You can get all supplies by mail order. There are several suppliers.

11. The full length musket is a LOT of gun.

12. It weighs more than you expect. This might not be a problem but for some people it becomes one.

13. The balance point is right at the lock. Try carrying it one handed for any distance in your right hand and you'll see what I mean.

Links:
- Track of the Wolf
- Dixie Gun Works
- Flintlock FAQs
- Log Cabin Shop
- The Rifle Shoppe, Inc.
- American Longrifles (has a good forum)

You will also need a lot of accouterments. This alone will be an area of study. I'd be happy to answer any questions. If I don't know, I'll say so and point you to somebody who does.



Use of the smoothbore flintlocks is now legal during the Virginia muzzleloading deer season!

Thursday, March 11, 2004

A recent topic on a forum got me to thinking (always a dangerous thing). The following is a partial result.

30+ years ago there weren't many good gun magazines. As a kid I was happy to get anything to read. Often I didn't know about a magazine until I might run across it in a book store while traveling. Just wasn't the money available then as there is now to spend on this. You know this is true because of the huge number (compared to 1965) of such magazines available.

Unfortunately, that means that the best writing is now diluted. If they are lucky, a magazine editor will get a single good writer. A couple of magazines will manage to get two published in a single issue. I know there are several writers hanging out here now and then and I mean no disrespect (I've done some technical writing and know how it goes) but fellows, I've got very few favorite writers. It doesn't help that I've got 30+ years of experience and can sharpshoot the articles.

#1 are the old and now sadly departed writers: Elmer Keith, Charles Askins, Jack O'Connor, Francis Sell, Bill Jordan and Skeeter Skelton. Not quite departed, you can include Ken Waters in that list.

#2 and of the current crop is probably a tie between Ross Seyfried, John Taffin and Brian Pearce. I think Ross Seyfried's articles on the old guns and making them bark is one of the great joys of my life. Because of him, I keep my eyes open for my opportunity to own such guns and he writes well enough that I can actually get some vicarious pleasure from his experiments. I don't like every article Taffin and Pearce write but like them enough that I'll at least give it a look regardless of the subject. They are both capable of writing complete technical articles that are easy to follow and understand.

#3 might be Sam Fadala. His style is a little choppy but he writes about guns that interest me. He is also a bit of the rebel and will try things that others would not. You can also tell that he's done it and not read about it.

#4 is everybody else. Most write about things that seldom interest me. This doesn't mean that I have a personal grudge against any of them. They are trying to make a living doing something they have an interest in. How many here can say the same thing? There are quite a few writers who are simply grinding out articles. Craig Boddington, Phil Shoemaker, Mike Venturino, and John Barsness often write articles that interest me. I do understand what's said about an inability to properly frame a story in particular the articles mentioned. I read both of them and agree. They won't get clipped and saved.

Subject matter (i.e. editorial content) is another issue. That is a matter of who the magazine has as a target audience and who is editing. Editing also affects the articles. I've seen some perfectly good articles edited to an unrecognizable state by those who don't understand the subject. Good editors are as hard to find as good writers.

I take American Rifleman because I'm a member of the NRA). I subscribe to Rifle, Handloader , Successful Hunting (mostly for Ross's articles), Muzzleloader, Muzzleblasts (again, I'm a member of the NMLRA), Blackpowder Hunting (more Seyfried articles), Traditional Bowhunter, Primitive Archer and my wife subscribed me to Peterson's Hunting (no, I never express disappointment in a gift ;)). I sometimes buy other magazines (yeah, I get sucked in now and then) but lately it is the odd Shotgun News or Shooting Illustrated. This for specific reasons such as a particularly interesting article.

There are lots of other magazines out there. Most of us aren't aware of all of them. This is far better coverage than existed 35 years ago and probably a good thing. It is also more mainstream. A lot of the simplicity of the articles is directly related to all the new shooters coming into the sport and their need for info they understand and can use. Now having new shooters is a very GOOD thing indeed. If I have to look a bit harder for good magazine articles because of it, well I'll put up with that.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

I am going to try to bring together some related posts I've made to various forums...

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Is there something wrong with TC's .35 Rem barrels for the Contender?

With all the TC made barrels I've seen the problems aren't in how the guns are bored (I think they are very consistent in that regard) but in how they are chambered, crowned or finished. Finishing is a minor problem that brings the price down for the astute buyer. Incorrect crowning can be corrected as well. However, guns that are improperly chambered are a big problem. Often, only rechambering to a larger cartridge can solve the problems with the chamber and/or throat. That can be expensive as sometimes that also requires a foray into the world of wildcats (i.e. .358 Bellm or .358 JDJ) and additional dies, etc. Sometimes, that won't work either as there have been reports of chambers so far out of kilter that they simply can't be repaired. Bobby has probably seen a lot more .35 Rem barrels than I have and TC doesn't have a great rep for quality control so there may be something to the idea that the .35 Rem barrels are more likely to have problems.

IME, the .35 Rem and it's relatively small shoulder is a big problem for some reloaders who don't pay attention to detail or, perhaps, are somewhat lacadaisical in their approach to reloading. This even in perfectly set up barrels. When the dies are improperly set, there can be problems with proper functioning or case life. Many shooters will blame it on the barrel and move on.

I personally think the reason there are so many .35 Rem. barrels out there is that the .35 Rem is too mundane for a lot of shooters. Sure, it was a good first barrel but later... There are a LOT of options, and most want to try them. Rather than simply accumulate barrels (HEY!, don't look at me ), they sell them off and use the cash to buy new barrels, dies, etc. Contender shooters as a group seem to be more likely to do this than most shooters. We seem to love to buy, trade, accessorize, etc. However, it seems to me that there is a lot more of this activity among shooters than 30 years ago when many shooters only hauled out the guns to kill pests in the garden, go quail or dove hunting or for a couple of weekends of deer hunting.

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The .357 Maximum...

I have a TC factory 21" barrel for my Contender. Excellent.

There seems to be a lot of stuff out there on the .357 Max and some of it seems to be true! The best powders seem to be W680, AA1680, H110/W296 and H4227. Lil'Gun might be in the running here, too. I'm going to be trying it this summer. Remember to use small rifle primers.

In the longer rifle barrels I think it is possible to get 2000 fps with the 200 gr. jacketed RN and AA1680. 2000 fps for the various 180 gr. jacketed bullets seems to be no great thing. 21 gr. of H110 and the 180 gr. Hornady SSP gets 1960 fps in my gun. This is plenty good. With the Leadheads 205 gr. LBT GC I get 1600+ fps from a charge of 17.5 gr. of H4227. Now this is a fun load to shoot and it is still effective.

Some people say that it reminds them of the .38-55. I think they're right. I'm hoping I can get a 200 gr. to leave my barrel at 1900-2000 fps using AA1680 or Lil'Gun and if so it will be very close to that .38-55 255 gr. jacketed moving out at 1850 fps. The .357 Maximum is really a hidden jewell.

Of course, it is basically the .38 Extra Long. One of the recommended loads for that cartridge is 6 gr. of Unique under a 150 gr. cast bullet. Using 158 gr. swaged lead bullets with this charge gives .38 Special peformance from the rifle and is loads of fun for small game and plinking. Great training round, too. In fact, the .357 Max is capable of swallowing all the .38 Special and .357 Magnum ammo you care to feed it. Just be sure to clean out that chamber later so that the Max cases have no problems sliding into the chamber.

Friday, February 20, 2004

For years I carried a .45 Colt Combat Commander. Given the clothing I was wearing, it was easy to conceal AND with small kids in the house, I wasn't going to leave a gun out anyway. At night I took it off and then set it up at bedside. However...

The wife took exception to my having a cocked pistol next to the bed. Explanations of the mechanics were futile. Now the kids are grown, the daily clothing and work schedule have changed and has been easier to have a S&W M13 3" or Ruger Speed-Six (both .357s and no longer made, get a M65LS instead) for both uses. When I leave the house (I now do most of my non-profit work at the house), it is easy to pick it up and go. The springs are always at rest and the cartridge will do what I want including required applications at the farm.

Sometimes either of these guns is just too big. Then I carry a S&W M36. Very little transition needed.

I have used an alternative which I consider inadequate for winter work due to the heavy clothing some people might be wearing. That is the Pistolet Makarov using the 9x18mm cartridge. Pluses include low cost (VERY important to some people) of both the firearm and the ammo (which you can get for $60 for 500 rounds delivered!), light recoil (like the .38 Special), moderate capacity (8-9 rounds or more), and the double action feature (which makes MY wife very happy). Negatives are the bulk of the gun for the round utilized, what might be considered under-penetration by the 9x18 HP round, relatively limited effective range (compared to the heavier .38/.357 and .45 bullets), and limited range of support equipment such as holsters (although this has improved).

Most people don't have to use their carry gun on the farm but many do have families with whom they want to or must interact and whose skill set they must consider. For me, the answer is a .357 Magnum or .38 Special level load (including the 9x18mm Makarov) in a double action pistol or revolver.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

I was recently reminded that some people don't vote. They don't vote for a variety of "reasons". To me any "reason" to not vote is simply an excuse (lest you're in a coma or unexpectedly bedridden).

I always vote. Always.

Some 372 years ago my first European ancestors arrived in this country. It took a while, but they finally really got their hair up and took a chance to stand on the side of liberty. I believe that my first relative to stand under fire did so April 19, 1776 in a little village called Lexington. There were several more who took up arms in support of what was the beginning of the free world. One relative by marriage shot a certain General Frasier at Freemans Farm (Saratoga, NY). Since then, there has been at least one direct ancestor of mine who served in time of war, the only exception being my Grandfather who was rejected for having TB in 1917. I would hate to think that the my right to have my voice heard through my representatives, fought for by my grandfathers (and suffered through by the grandmothers left behind), was lost due to my laziness or ignorance.

Sloth and apathy are the allies of evil. When you don't vote you are in fact voting for evil. As God is my witness I believe this. To me voting is a sacred duty, a sacrament of free will, free will given by God.

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Now some might think this over the top, but consider that your shooting rights are controlled for a reason. That reason is to limit your free will, not to protect or defend others but to keep you from defending yourself and your family. Your vote is the only thing that prevents these people from winning here. I also believe that freedom here gives hope and encouragement to the many millions worldwide that they might also be free. It isn't just about guns...

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So far as actual shooting, I've not had the time to fire a single round.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Well, this past Saturday I received a package of 50 .375", 255 gr. jacketed soft point bullets from Mr. Dave Deering of Saint Petersburg, FL. A hobbyist maker, Mr. Deering is turning out a great product, in so far as I can tell without shooting them! They have been very consistent for weight, diameter, length, and finish. I'm personally hoping that these bullets will replace the Barnes original for my use.

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While I don't agree with all that the inheritors of Dr. Martin Luther King have done in his name, I do still have a great respect for this man. Recently, somebody on one of the forums I frequent made some negative comments about Dr. King by way of referring to the recent holiday in his honor as "James Earl Ray Day". It really pains me that some people just don't get why we have this great country and why we make the sacrifices we make (at least some of us make) to protect and preserve her. It also POs me that this fellow, by writing what he did, was working to perpetuate this myth of the gun owner as bigot. Got my goat and I had the following comments:

The Reverend Mr. King was killed by a white trash career criminal who used a Remington pump in .30-06. His birthday last Thursday was celebrated and commemorated by many people as was his holiday, yesterday. It is fitting and suitable that such people, heroes, be celebrated, remembered and honored. This is preferable to the honoring and popular beatification of people known only for drug use, mulitiple marriages/unions, and incidental creation of entertainment such as movies and music. Mr. King did more to preserve the union through his support of nonviolent civil disobedience than most who purport to support the same goals as Mr. King.

I well remember the night he was murdered. It was the night of my confirmation as a part of the body of Christ, the army of God. Our joy was completely ended when we returned home from worship to find that he had been ambushed by agents of evil in Memphis.

I served 27½ years in the military attempting to do my small part in preserving this country AND the ideals this country represents including those promulgated by the Reverend Mr. King. I take your comment, "...James Earl Ray day..." to be a personal insult. No thinking or righteous Christian person could make such a statement.

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On that same forum, a fellow was talking about wanting a good snubbie for carry and, as it turns out, to round out his collection. I had the following comments:

Years ago I got an M36, blue, 3". Of course it is .38 Special and I use the FBI Load. For a couple of years it was all I carried until...

I was threatened by some skinheads in my unit and the local PD detective recommended I be "prepared". I then got a Combat Commander in .45 ACP but switched to a M13 in .357 Mag when my wife went nuts seeing the Colt in cocked and locked mode. Sometimes I carry the very similar Ruger Speed Six 4" that was my dad's. All these guns have exposed hammers and I've experienced no problems. I feel very fortunate that my reputation saved me from actually having to use any of these in any but farm related vermin control.

I shot (as opposed to used or carried) the Ruger 101 in .357 and while it is bigger and heavier it (and its grip) handle the full-house .357 ammo better than anything else and this includes the K frames with factory grips (or factory grips and Tyler grip adapter).

I've never fired one of the new "flyweights". However, having seen other people fail to hit at 21 feet with the 2" M36 and 40, I would think that the flyweights would exacerbate control issues for many.

Even with farm use, I probably carry 6 months for every 1½ minutes of actual use. Carry comfort (and security) is extremely important and the holster makes a big, big difference but what works for each person is very dependent on body shape. For many, the rolls and folds make bigger pistols uncomfortable to carry and thus impractical. Weight is really important to some people but seems a bit overrated to me. I think an ankle holster is excellent for somebody who does a lot of driving but isn't so good if you're on foot. How you plan to carry should influence the choice of handgun. If one uses the pistol or revolver as you should, to break contact with the bad guy(s), your 640 or 649 should do for you.


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I've recently joined a new forum, AmericanLongrifles.com, which is very interesting. A recent thread titled, "Flints", has really gotten my interest. As a consequence, I'm learning far more than I expected to know about flint and gunflints.

Flint is a silicon based material that forms into nodules that settle in layers within beds of chalk. These layers are frequently disturbed by the forces of nature, such as the ice sheets and meltwaters of past ice ages - resulting in scatters of broken flints in the top soils, even outside of the chalk bed areas. Rivers, streams, and seas cut through the beds, and the broken flints are frequently rolled into the form of pebbles in the water. In Britain, the chalk bed areas are mainly resticted to the lowlands of Southern and Eastern England. Here, flint was frequently abundant. good nodules could be fond on or near to the surface, although in some cases, people would quarry and mine down to deeper layers for flint of a higher value. In areas of North-west Britain, where good flint was scarce (poor quality flint existed in the form of sea pebbles and derived nodules), it was imported, or when possible, replaced in use by igneous stone.

Flint has a slightly elastic nature, so that if it is struck hard, with a narrow point, it does not shatter - but fractures in a controlled manner. Energy dissipates in waves away from the point of impact, forming a cone. One side of this cone can be seen on the face of any flake that has been struck off the side of a prepared core of flint. The cone appears as a bulge on the new face of a flake, called the bulb of percussion or conchoidal bulb. This bulb, radiating away from a point of percussion, on a clearly defined striking platform is evidence that a flake of flint has been created by a sudden impact - usually in the hands of a human being.

The bulb itself is the best evidence of a sharp, sudden impact, but other clues can include: a bulbar scar - a scar frequently forms on the bulb of a flake, where the fracture occurred; ripples - waves of rings can sometimes be seen radiating from the bulb and point of impact. The sharper and harder the impact, the more pronounced the ripples; fissures - small scar lines can sometimes be seen shooting down from the point of percussion, over the bulb; flake scars can frequently be found on the back of the flake (dorsal surface), where flakes had previously been struck off the core; finally, utilisation - if a flake was actually used for a job, it might bear signs of wear along its edges, or even retouch.

French amber flints were an international standard. Apparently there were different knapping styles depending on regional preferences. Look in the upper left hand corner of this photo for an example of French gunflints found in Germantown, Tennessee during the late summer of 2002. Obviously, French gunflints will be found at sites of French occupation and where the natives with whom they traded lived. Another example of this is at the Gilbert, Texas site where gunflints such as these were found. However, there is a view that the English flints we think of as standard, were not. (See Buffalo Springfield's view) I tend to believe this as I've read much the same view elsewhere (and am searching for on-line documentation).