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.


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.


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!


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.


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.