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.

- 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...


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.


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.