Monday, December 26, 2005

I got out this morning at about 1130. Went to my mom's place, mostly to just check the snow banks for sign. More than I expected and more regular (old and new tracks). Was a bit "crunchy". I moved and stopped and then heard a loud rustling and 4 does came out. They seemed on the small side and moved steadily over the fence and down the logging road on the adjacent property. I was happy to see 4 deer as I was thinking that it seemed there were never more than 2 in that area. Then I heard the rustling again and hoped that a legal buck would step out. At first I thought I'd been had but even I could see the "buttons" on this buck. He seemed bigger than the does as well. Hungry for venison, I thumbed back the trigger, brought up the TC New Englander and swung the bead on his shoulder. I kept up with him but he seemed to accelerate and I was not leading enough when the hammer dropped. Even 100 gr. of Pyrodex R under a 325 gr. Buffalo Bullet didn't seem to recoil as the bullet struck him through both hips. At this short range, the .54 caliber conical gave complete penetration (as should be expected). It also put him right down and cut an artery. He bled out into his abdomin and died in less time than it took me to reload and move the 45 yards or so to him. The meat is good.

However, I noticed several weaknesses in my behavior, aside from poor shooting. I had to notch my license and notched the wrong one at first. Buck fever. I'm out of shape and dragging the deer only about 100 yards uphill to where I could get the truck left me breathing hard. I didn't gut him well. I didn't skin him well. I didn't cut the tenderloins well (but oh so good tasting!).

Then I get home and find my wife is scared to death of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). I may post some CWD links later but it hasn't been detected around here. Not good to confuse her with the facts though. She's just recently discovered her own mortality and is desperate to hold on. We ALL go through this some time or another.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I've not been hunting much lately. The sleet/ice storm and continued cold weather have put quite a crunchy coating on the forest floor and one has to sit quite a while before the squirrels will come out. Deer? Well the season here is out except for bow but there will be no still hunting at all. Just can't move.

Can't get to the range either. One can now get back there but other committments prevent going out there. A bit cold for "serious" work as well. Interesting to check loads in these temps but not for load development. Kinda hard to isolate shooting errors as well since I'm never certain that I wasn't just shivering. Winds are worse on this range this time of year as well.

Christmas is just around the corner. It is pretty wonderful to think that we are only some 2000 years removed from the birth of our savior.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The PCS Gun

I've not hunted the last 2 days so that I could work and pay for my wife's Christmas gifts.

I've been wanting to put down on "paper" the story of my PCS gun. Perhaps I have time now.

A way back in 1973 I'd hied myself out of highschool government class and to the recruiter to enlist in the US Army. I was fortunate enough to qualify for language training and asked for (can you believe this) Chinese (Mandarin dialect). I knew I was going places but I had no idea what places those might be. I'd also just turned 18 and what better reason than that do you need to buy a gun. I actually got 2, a Winchester M320 .22 LR bolt action and an Harrington & Richardson Topper 12 ga. The .22 is pretty straight forward but the shotgun was going to take some "fixing".

That shotgun came to me with a full-choke 28" barrel. After my first travel as a soldier I could see that the barrel length was going to be problematic. However, if I simply lopped off some barrel, I'd have no front bead and no choke. Choke is useful. I figured an adjustable choke would be yet more useful. To that end I had the barrel cut to 20" and a Lyman Adjustable choke installed. The length is such that when it is disassembled the two parts (barrel w/forearm and stock w/receiver) are just the right length to be packed in the center of the issue duffle bagwith boots at the bottom and clothes all around and shoes on top. Despite the probable abuse it suffered from baggage handlers I never had a problem.

I did get it modified too late for my first assignment in California at the language school (Defense Language Institute - West Coast) and subsequent assignment to Goodfellow AFB outside of San Angelo, TX but the gun made the trip to Korea, California again, back to Korea and return to Virginia. It has been used on pheasant, hogs, rabbits, squirrels, mourning dove, grouse, and groundhogs. It has even stood ready to repel home invaders!

The PCS Gun as it is today. Still in pretty good shape after all it's travels/travails!

It was only many years later that I installed the Uncle Mike's sling swivels. I never found that I needed them when I was in service. The sling is a 1907 that I received in pieces but there was enough to use on this gun. It is very handy sometimes!

I have other shotguns, some bought for various reasons, some gifted, and some inherited. There are pumps and fine doubles but I often use this gun for our rather limited bird hunting.

Monday, November 28, 2005

It rained today and warmed from about 40 degrees to 53 degrees or so. However, I think the constant drizzle drove the deer to seek shelter. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out where exactly they went for shelter! I looked and looked but no luck. So, I still haven't had an opportunity to try the .45 Colt rifle. Oh well, tomorrow is another day.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Today's deer hunt started off dry but soon gave way to excellent infantry sunshine aka rain. I went to my mother's place and had an easy approach because I've prepped my ingress route. I did so by "mowing" i.e. blowing all the leaves off the route. Add that to the rain noise, pine straw remaining, etc, and it was a very quiet movement. However, it was soon clear that there were no deer in the immediate area. So, I followed a deer trail that passes near my stand down into the bottom (called Doe Hollow by locals) and up the side of the next ridge to the flat on the top of that ridge. About 100 acres was clearcut by Mom's neighbor for the timber to pay some bills. It has grown back in greenbriar and various other thorny vegetation. Except for the logging trails, it is nearly impenetrable to men on foot. There are a couple of these trails though that allow me to come in from the side and exit at the other end. I took my time in the rain and eased up the side of the ridge at a pace slow enough that I wouldn't be out of breath (and that is PLENTY slow!). I then moved back an forth a bit looking for more sign but nothing much had changed and I moved back along the ridge to a saddle where 4 ridges meet that we called Grand Central Station for the deer traffic that moved through there. I was heartened to find several fresh, very fresh, rubs along my route. Moving slowly and scanning before every other footfall (so my left foot was always leading at the stop for better off-hand shooting), I had to stop. I could have sworn I heard something.

Now most folks know that what you hear in the rain can fool you because as you change position dripping water on a variety of surfaces can sound as though it is something else, moving, etc. Still, I had this feeling. Suddenly, a deer crossed from right to left walking very slowly and stopped. Try as I might I could see no antler, a requirement today. Then she turned to face me. I'm sure she knew something was there. I did my best not to move at all and to avert my gaze at least a bit. I'm convinced that they can "feel" your stare. This doe was healthy, fat and had more gray on her muzzle than I have on my head. She soon was satisfied that I was no threat and moved slowly on down the hollow that meets 2 of the ridges meeting and GCS. I was hoping that she wasn't alone but after an hour of standing stock still in the rain it was apparent that she was.

By this time I was soaked and had not a lot of options to hunt in this area. Because of recent construction, there are limitations as to where I can hunt and how I can hunt the area so that rifle shots will have a safe impact area. I decided to call it a day. Now if I had a partner I might have kept hunting but by myself there is NO pressure to keep going and no REASON to keep going due to tactical limitations on the single hunter. I may have been an infantryman for many years but that doesn't mean I like to be cold and wet. My clothes are now in the dryer and I'm going to spray my rifle down with WD-40 and get ready for tomorrow.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Well, I had an interesting day for my short deer hunt. My normal stand being unvisited for the last couple of days I thought that perhaps the deer had been thinned out (I suspect a particular local of poaching). Perhaps, it is the warm days combined with full moon most of the night that has kept the deer from moving past. Anyway, today I moved to a 3 year old clearcut about ¼-mile away and quietly moved into the wind and up onto the broad flat of the ridgeline in the clearcut. I could "feel" the deer but couldn't see them. I looked and looked, eased down a trail and then back up to where I'd started. I looked some more. I just knew they were right there. I looked and looked some more. This must have taken about ½-hour with me standing in one place and looking. I didn't dare try the Primus can as I was afraid they would connect me to the sound. Finally, I took a single step forward....

THAT did IT! Three large, brown and white, deer-shaped forms busted out through the briars which nearly cover the flat towards the opposite side of the thicket and were gone. I tried to double back and around but now the wind has shifted and is blowing my scent down the length of this side of the ridge line. Rather than really push them, I decided to ease out and leave them for another day. On the way out I stopped by Mom's pond and yes, they've been in and all around the pond since last night. However, it doesn't seem to be more than 3 or 4 deer and NO fawns. Oh, well, there's always next week! Regular gun season. We'll see. I have to work the next 2 days.
So another thing that happened at the range is that I went through my regular brass patrol picking up any rifle brass still on the ground. Found several .30-30 once fired cases that had obviously been fired in a .375 Winchester or .38-55 chamber. No rifle parts about so I presume the firearm was undamaged (as I would expect). I've never done this as I don't want a .308" bullet slopping down my .375" bore but this fellow has done it for me. I'll have to size and try these cases in my .38-55.

As one would expect there's always a bunch of .30-30 brass, some .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester and .30-06. But who doesn't reload their 7mm Rem Mag or other belted mag cases or fat mag cases. Apparently there are some as that gets found on the ground in neat piles with great regularity. Funny how folks will complain about the price of gas but throw away so much perfectly good brass.
Still no luck with the deer but I'm excited about being able to develop a load for my new Ruger New Vaquero 4-5/8" .45 Colt. Today, I took some rounds loaded with the Mt. Baldy 255 gr. Keith over 8 gr. of Unique to Hite Hollow Range and tried them at 25 yards.

18 rounds at 25 yards from Ruger New Vaquero
I was pretty pleased as the wind was blowing with gusts to at least 25 MPH, the temp was only 30 degrees F (less than 0 degrees Celsius) and the sun was shining strongly from my right. Previously, the gun has been shooting low and to the left with 9 gr. of Unique and 2 bullets including the Mt. Baldy 255 Keith AND with 8.5 gr. Unique and the Mt. Baldy. I'm convinced that at least some of that is ME. My technique with the gun needs work. Now the "groups" are relatively centered and elevated. For the time being, at least, I'll shoot the gun as is. I want to see if the POI changes as I get more experience with the gun. Yesterday, I was able to hit plastic bottles but not the target! I can see that there is a lot of potential in these 3 cylinders-full. Anyway, this should be an ongoing effort and fun. After all, fun is what it is all about.

If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to write. A link to my e-mail is at the bottom of the page.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Yesterday deer hunting was a bust. Warm weather and full moon at night have combined to keep the deer bedded up during the day in spite of the incoming front.

Today, we saw the strength of that front with high gusts and spotty, heavy rain. Since it was raining too heavily to hunt this morning I went to the range. Now that is a bit of the gun loony coming out. While there, I met a local fellow, L. Carpenter who was shooting a beautiful S&W .30-06 bolt action and a Valmet 12 ga. over .30-06 which he thinks is an excellent game gun. He says he loads it with 3" buckshot for the heavy brush/close range stuff and uses the .30-06 at 40 yards and more.

Mr. Carpenter said that he had done what I had done. Go to the range early, in the rain, hoping the range would be clear. Except for myself and one other, it was.

I went to try the 8.5 gr. Unique under the 255 gr. Keith bullet .45 Colt load in my New Vaquero. It is funny, but it seems that while it groups low and to the left, it will shoot to point of aim on small targets such as cans (which I picked up). Why I'm shooting so differently on paper as compared to the other I don't know. It isn't something I've noticed myself doing before.

Anyway, the group with the 8.5 gr. load is bigger than with the 9 gr. so I'm going to try some more 9 gr. and some 8 gr. to see if there is a noticeable difference.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Today was the second day (first for me) of our early muzzleloading deer season. Bucks only. I went to several of my "good" places but, because I left late after running a critical errand for the wife, was late to all of them. Saw no deer. It is amazing but I do believe the hunting pressure is up this year ALTHOUGH 3 major camps that have been in place at this time for the past 20 years were NOT set up. I wonder if the major organizer of each has died. Seems that is what happens. The one guy who instigated the camp at a particular location dies and every other participant moves on. Oh well, tomorrow is another day.

FWIW, I use a Thompson-Center .54 New Englander with TC's hunting tang peep and Buffalo Bullets 385 gr. conicals over 90 gr. of Pyrodex RS. I'm running out of the 385s and have some 425s so will go to those next.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

There has long been a "controversy" or, perhaps discussion, regarding RN bullets and use in tubular magazines with certain cartridges such as the .38 Special is oft revisited. Yesterday, while at the range and just after having seen my copy of the DGW Annual article on the Whitney-Kennedy rifles I had an epiphany as to the source of this old saw. That article on the Kennedy rifles had that little tidbit about the problems they had with mag tube explosions and UMC ammo. It suddenly struck me that we've touched on just about everything but that they were using black powder. BP explodes whereas the smokeless will not. Well not in the same way, the burn rates being different. Suddenly, years of hoary lore was made clear.

When the tube mag guns came out the firearms industry was in a state of rapid development of new arms and ammunition. Early centerfire ammo used a wide variation of primer sizes. Some were rather large by our current standards. Also, black powder was THE gun powder. As we all know, black powder is a different class of explosive than modern smokeless propellants and can cause the type of tube damage we now fear from such an event. Smokeless doesn't. So, at the time, a combination of lack of experience with bullet shapes and use of RN in tube mags, larger diameter CF primers, blackpowder (in significant quantities), and heavy recoiling cartridges caused the tube magazine explosions we talk about (still) but seldom if ever experience.

Also, I was shooting "Round Nose" UMC .38 Special ammo. I noticed that the "RN" isn't as it has a flat tip. So, for those who use or want to use the cheap .38 Special ammo in their Marlin and Rossi leverguns, I think it is probably a very low risk activity.

Funny thing is that I've read all this info before but am apparently too slow to put it together. Now, this might not be the end all of the argument but I do think it is a big part of the legend of the tube mag explosion.

I just don't see as we have a problem at all, everything considered. Just don't use a hard, pointy bullet in a tube magazine. Then you'll have zero problems.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Misc Reloading Fun

I've been pretty busy lately and mostly not with shooting. Had a spot of trouble with the boiler and home heating but have that sorted out now. I've also been running up and down the road to get some of Mom's chores done.

However, I've not been all a dull boy and have been able to accomplish some reloading and shooting fun.

One of my big projects was to break down and reload a large quantity of .35 Remington ammo that I'd loaded for the Contender. It FINALLY dawned on me that all my .35 Rem ammo should be loaded for the weak sister, my Dad's (Granddad's, Great Uncle George's) Model 8 Remington. The load that works best in that gun is 38.5 gr. H4895 under the Hornady or Remington 200 gr. RN. I used the Hornadys this time. It took a while but I broke down about 200 rounds and got them loaded fairly quickly. It helps that they were loaded with the 200 gr. Hornady so new bullets were not a requirement. I also had another 100 cases to load and got those loaded as well. Now I have plenty of practice ammo for both guns. Only a re-zero of the Contender is required. Velocities are (IIRC) in the 2200 fps vicinity with pressures low enough to avoid beating the old Remington to death.

Remington M8, a good, old, deer gun

Another project was the loading of all my accumulation of .44 Mag brass. Since I have enough full-on .44 Mag ammo I decided to load the remainder with 8 gr. Unique under the 240 gr. Hornady LSWC (a swaged bullet) or my remaining stock of BullX 240 gr. SWC. Either load is accurate and shoots to the same POA in my revolver. This is mostly what I use anyway. They are a great practice round in the Contender pistol and suitable for 99% of the targets that I'm likely to encounter with my M629.

That M629 S&W is another project that I'm carrying on. I finally received the rig I ordered from Levergun Leather Works and a fine set up it is. The belt is particularly comfortable and will work with other leather. You'll note that it isn't adorned and that is my style. Basketweave is OK, but the floral carving does nothing for me one way or the other and I certainly won't pay for it.

Levergun Leather Works holster with belt and S&W M629 with new Hogue wood monogrips

I've also been shooting the New Vaquero and found that my technique needs refinement. However the gun is comfortable and fun to shoot. I think it handles better for me than the M629 and I think it will be more comfortable to carry.

For the New Vaquero (NV) I've ordered a Sourdough Pancake, belt and cartridge slide from Simply Rugged which should serve well for daily carry/wear. I may also get a Threepersons holster from some other maker to ride on the LLW belt for this gun and use while hunting. We'll see.

I've also been reloading for the NV. I first tried the Winchester Cowboy loads in this gun. At 7 yards, they are right on POA. That's pleasing but, let's face it, these aren't the most energetic loads possible in this gun. Now, I know that the NVs aren't up to the New Model Blackhawks and Vaqueros built on the larger Super Blackhawk frame but they can handle Colt SA level loads (SAAMI approved) which do run a bit over the cowboy stuff. So, I tried 9 gr. of Unique under the Cast Peformance 265 gr. WFNGC (I'd already loaded this for my M92 EMF/Rossi) and this worked well but because I load the very similar Beartooth 300 gr. WFNGC over 23 gr. of H110 for the M92, I REALLY, REALLY, don't want to be in a position where I confuse the loads. With this as a consideration I looked about for another bullet to use as standard in the .45 Colt revolver only loads and I think I may have found it.

The Mt Baldy Bullet Company located in Cody, WY is one place to get the original Keith 250 gr. bullet with a hardness of 11 BHN. Prices are reasonable and Frank ships in the USPS flat rate boxes. That really cuts down on what could be expensive shipping of the heavy bullets. I bought 400 of the Keiths which I intend to load over 8-9 gr. of Unique. I was also able to score an uncataloged bullet, the "collar button" for use in light .45-70 loads!

Thanks to Frank "Sore Shoulder" S_____, without whom I wouldn't have known about the collar buttons, I placed an order and these are good quality bullets. It will be real fun to shoot these in my .45-70 Contender rifle with scope.

250 gr. Keith on left, "collar button" for the .45-70 on right

The collar button is lubed with liquid alox and loaded over about 9 gr. of Unique in the .45-70 case. I don't have velocity figures as I've not loaded or shot these yet. I've been too busy to even weigh the bullets! However, I can tell the 100 that I got are well made and very consistent. If this works out I may need to order another 400. They would make great training/play bullets for young folks using the .45-70 for the first time. Lots of fun to say you shot the .45-70 without having to nurse a bruise.

I've also been busy processing a bunch of range brass. I got started because I wanted to use some of it. However, not all of it is of interest to me. What is interesting is the cartridges that you find from what are, presumably, non-reloaders. By far the most common case is the good old .30-30 followed by the .243, .30-06, .270, .260 Rem, .25-06, .35 Rem, .44 Mag, and 7mm Rem Mag. What is surprising about this year is that some cartridges that showed up that I would have assumed would only be owned by reloaders. These include the .460 S&W, .22-250, and .270 WSM. Of course, there are hundreds of .38 Special, .357 Mag, and .45 ACP. I also get a few .32 ACP, .380 ACP (quite a few of these), .40 S&W (I don't think ANYBODY even bothers to pick these up, I know I've stopped), .45 GAP, .357 Sig, 7.62x25mm Tokarev, 10mm Auto, .308 Win, .300 Win Mag, .280 Rem, and .30 Carbine. There are also lots of Russian made and Berdan primed brass and steel cases mostly in 7.62x39, 7.62x51, 7.62x54, 9mm Makarov, and .223 Rem but also in 5.45x39, .30 Carbine (!), and .45 ACP. One sees the 8mm (7.92x57) stuff sometimes but it is pretty spotty. I even found 6 .50 AE cases. I'm tempted to put the brass cases I don't use in the recycle drum and cart them to the metal recycler's for the few bucks I can get for scrap value. All the steel cases are trashed. There is zero market here for those cases. Most can be easily IDed and left on the range.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Packing Gun

I’m looking forward to using the .45 Colt Ruger New Vaquero on a daily basis and all I need to do that is to develop a single load to use in the gun and to acquire good leather in which to pack it. As noted earlier, I think I’ve got the leather deal worked out for daily packing by getting a Sourdough Pancake (don’t you just love the humor in that) from Simply Rugged run by Rob Leahy.

Rob’s shop is just north of Anchorage, AK and I’m sure he gets to test his stuff on a regular basis. If pretty is what you want, you know, with all the floral carving, etc., well this might not be for you. But, if what you want if performance and comfort I think, based on comments by users, that you’d be well pleased. Prices are VERY reasonable for high quality leather. Rob’s talked about getting his own boat and I’ve done a bit to help out by already forwarding my order for holster, new belt and cartridge slide (I just might need more than 6 rounds). All I need to do now is wait.

While waiting, perhaps I can work up a good load for the gun that will be accurate, repeatable (components will be easy to replace) and effective. At least that last will be relatively easy to accomplish as the large caliber is effective without depending on expanding bullets. Big holes in and big holes out equal effectiveness. However, one must put those big holes in the proper place.

Properly placing those big holes is why accuracy is a goal. We should at least remove the firearms system (gun and ammo) from the causes of inaccuracy. Put it all on the shooter! Fortunately, preliminary testing with the Winchester Cowboy loads indicates that there is potential for excellent accuracy. That’s very heartening. All one has to do is find bullets of the proper hardness and size (diameter) to work in this gun. The first thing to do to that end was to measure the chamber mouth. The chamber mouths on this gun measure .4516” to .4517”. Stupidly, I didn’t measure the bore but as most revolver shooters know, the chamber mouth and barrel leade must work together for best accuracy. Widely varying measurements, differences from the bullets and many other things can affect accuracy. It is very important that a bullet be sized to correctly fit both chamber and bore. I believe that a .452” bullet which hasn’t been cast to be overly hard will probably work. We won’t really know until we try. Sometimes one has to fiddle around a bit to achieve the best possible performance. Not just any bullet design will do.

Some bullet shapes aren’t conducive to accuracy and some aren’t as effective as they could be. A broad meplat makes an effective bullet. This is particularly important with non-expanding bullets. I had the idea that I’d love to use a genuine Keith bullet for a couple of reasons. First, they’re effective. I think they have a proven record. Second, they’re appropriate to the gun. What better way to load the .45 Colt SA than with the first really improved cast bullets as used by Mr. Keith? Third, this bullet will visually identify these loads as different from those loads for the EMF/Rossi 92. This is important as the NV loads MUST be within SAAMI specifications. The loads for the 92 will probably destroy this revolver. Not a good thing. These bullets can be difficult to find.
However, after a bit of a search, I think I’ve found the bullets that are most like what I want to use AND most likely to be successful in this gun. From Mt. Baldy Bullets in Cody, WY, I finally found a 250 gr. Keith style bullet of the proper hardness (11 BHN). I’ve placed an order for 400 (to really ring them out) and now await delivery.

Colt 1991A1 Government, Colt Combat Commander and Ruger New Vaquero are all caliber .45 guns and of similar size. The New Vaquero's size is comparable to the more "modern" pistols.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Ruger New Vaquero

Well, I've FINALLY gotten the Ruger New Vaquero .45 Colt 4-5/8". I'm pretty impressed although I should add that I've not yet had a chance to shoot the gun. Tomorrow or Wednesday, maybe... The gun seems well put together and locks up well without much slop. The front sight seems to be square and plumb, everything seems to function as intended AND the sights are easy for me to see. The finish is nothing special. If you expect Ruger's applied Color finish to match the Turnbull color-case you'll be disappointed. I've also read that the finish will wear rapidly. Fine with me, I might expect to send it to Turnbull for refinish after it is pretty worn. I sure do like this grip better than those the Ruger SAs have had for years. Based on this I might get 50th Anniversary or preferably, if they come out next year, a .44 Special or .45 Colt with adjustable sights.

Now I need to order leather. First, I'll get a set-up I can use in the field and for daily carry. This gun seems handier than my S&W 629, but that could be just me! I've already got an order ready for Rob Leahy at Simply Rugged. I'm going for a Sourdough Pancake, a cartridge slide and belt. I think the prices are good (excellent) and Rob repeatedly gets kudos for his quality.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Diagnose Your Handgun Shooting

I really need to return to my target shooting roots with this target (click on the pic for a full size image, print on 8-1/2x11 paper)...

Shooting Corrections/Diagnosis Target for Right Handed Shooters

This baby is great for figuring out your shooting problems with properly zeroed handguns. Reverse for Left Handed shooters.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

I went to the range today with my Colt Combat Commander and a box of reloads consisting of .45 ACP brass trimmed to one length, 7 gr. of Unique and a Hornady 200 gr. CT Match lit with a CCI 300 primer. This is a pretty accurate bullet up close and cuts a .45 cal hole in the target. Unfortunately this load only fed from one magazine I had on hand. That's a big bummer! Now need to clean the gun though.

Nobody else was on the range and I had a good time exploiting the situation by firing on the 150 meter target area. I was easily able to smack a 2 liter bottle somebody left littering the 50 yard line and these rounds stayed on a silhouette at 150 yards, once I found the range. You have to know how to hold.
I've been wanting a .45 Colt SA with a 4-3/4" or 4-5/8" barrel. I'd like the older, smaller frame size so that it isn't too much gun to pack on a daily basis. I about decided a Ruger New Vaquero .45 4-5/8" Blue but can't find one anywhere to look at. Have found the USFA Gunslinger and Nettleton but that's a hair out of my price range and neither were 4-3/4" guns. So, I went into a local dealer to re-look a 4-5/8" STAINLESS New Vaquero. However, it too was in .357 Mag so, I had a long talk with the owner and his wife. Explained how I didn't really want to pay upfront for a gun I might not like but that I understood why they'd want some sort of confirmation that it was sold before ordering (in the form of $$$$). Not really keen on that, but he called his distributor and quoted me a price of $428 on a CC & Blue New Vaquero .45 Colt 4-5/8". I guessed that when the gun arrived and I couldn't find any flaws I'd be getting it. I'm not enthused about paying more (it seems) for the Taurus, Beretta, etal than for a USFA or Ruger. Then again, one can pony up for a COLT or one of USFA's really cool tricked out guns. I figure with the Ruger that once I wear the finish off I can send it to Turnbull for a real CC job. I'm looking at a pancake holster for the Ruger which I may carry cross draw under the hunting coat (legal for me).

What surprised me is the number of .357 Mag guns on the shelves. Now, do the shooters want .357 Mags/.38s or are they simply not selling. Can't get the dealers to say. They've tried mighty hard to push the .357 Mag guns my way. Heck, the 50th Anniversary guns are even showing up in the shops USED! That's pretty quick turn around.

Unfortunately, that wasn't to be. As noted above that dealer told me he placed one on order and it was $428 to me. As his cost was $398, I figured all was ok. Apparently, he was just stringing me along. I say that because he didn't call when the revolver was supposed to be in, his help didn't know anything about the gun, his distributor didn't have any guns (as I waited for 1 hour for the help to get around to making the call to check availability). He was all hot to get my money but couldn't produce. Lost sale.

Instead I went to a shop owned, in part, by a highschool acquaintance. Prices aren't the best but aren't the worst either. New crew when I walked in the door. So much so that I thought they had a new owner! Not the case. However the young lady knew what I was talking about, got the details right, got right on the phone to the distributor, wrote up the sale, made the order, thanked me for my business, confirmed contact info 3 times, and acted like she, only an employee, was glad to have my business. THEN I allowed as to how I knew the owner. We had a pleasant conversation about 5 minutes long and I left. Total elapsed time, 20 minutes. This beats every other shop including this one with the previous employees all hollow. So now I've got an actual gun on hand at a distributor and on order. $459.90 + tax.

I don't take crap when I'm buying. I don't like to be lied to. I don't go back to stores where I'm so treated. I hope that all business owners note that SERVICE is what differentiates their business. Poor service loses sales, good service makes sales.

Ok, too much ranting. Back to the gun.

I'm going to need leather and I'm thinking that a simple pancake might work for me even though I've not had a lot of success with others of the genre. From Simply Rugged owned by Rob Leahy I think I might order the Sourdough Pancake (I get hungry just thinking about it!) which has the additional slot for crossdraw carry. This would be useful for me under my coat while hunting. However, I'm holding on to the order until I get the gun!

I have already ordered bullets, a 250 gr. Keith style, from Mt. Baldy Bullet Company in Cody, Wyoming. I like them just because they're in Cody! Anyway, I ordered 400 and we'll see how they work.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

This week I've been busy.

First, I had a full "tub" of fired brass which had to be run through the polisher, first inspectioned and sorted by cartridge and stored. I bagged over 300 .38 Special, .30-30 and .45 ACP and a quantity of 7mm Rem Mag, .270 Winchester and .30-06. I may have to build additional shelves for my collection of ammo/brass.

Second, I've been trying to decide between a Ruger New Vaquero and a USFA Rodeo as my packing big-bore revolver and possible replacement for my S&W M629. The main considerations are quality, large caliber (.45 Colt), short barrel length (4-5/8" and 4-3/4" respectively), fixed sights, NOT stainless and single-action. The gun has to be within my budget as well. I can't afford more than about $500. I'm thinking (and a little bit of hoping) that one of these will do for what I'll carry a big bore revolver. Knowing that they are limited as to the power of the loads they can handle I'm more than willing to stick to loads in the 8 gr. Unique 255 gr. cast genre. Heck, that's what I've pretty much gone to with the M629.

The trouble is that you just can't find one of these guns around here. I've looked high and low and multiple times. Interestingly, nobody is interested in ordering one of these guns on spec. You'd think they would be hot with the CAS crowd but apparently not! However, I finally found a shop that would sell me a Ruger New Vaquero for $428. Now I'm waiting on it to come in. Fingers crossed.

As noted earlier, I'm waiting on my belt and holster rig from Levergun Leather Works for the M629. Although I was told the wait would be about 6 weeks, I'm still on tenterhooks. The anticipation is killing me. I ordered without carving though as I didn't want to put money into something that didn't thrill me. Dad used to carve leather and he was good at it but I never felt that I particularly liked it. The carved initials and animals were interesting, simple borders look good, but basketweave and especially the floral carving just didn't make me like the goods. Now I'll have to get a holster (or two) for the NV as well.

I also explored the possibility and feasability of ordering bullets from a new-to-me bullet caster, Mount Baldy Bullets. I was particularly drawn to the .45 Keith style SWCs at first. Those bullets will be loaded just for the NV. This will enable me to tell at a glance which loads are for the pistol and which are for the rifle! Necessary since the rifle loads will rapidly disassemble the revolver! Not a good thing.

Also interesting me were the .45 "collar button" bullets for the .45-70. These short cylindrical bullets are intended for light vermin and practice loads in the rifle (and for short ranges). This will make my two .45-70 rifles much more flexible when hunting. Should be fun to play with as well.

I also was lucky enough to be able to talk to a friend who has some 5.56 ammo cans that I might get from him. I store my ammo in these cans as they fit the shelves well and keep moisture, dirt, etc. from the ammo. I could now use some more cans.

I've also been loading some ammo. First, I loaded up some .38 Special 205 gr. LBT over 2.5 gr. Bullseye loads for silent loads for the .357 Max Contender. Of course I had to try them in the 1894C and then talk about it at the Leverguns Forums. If you follow the link you'll see that this topic generated quite a bit of interest.

I also finished loading all the .45 Colt bullets that I had on hand. This will give me more than enough for practice and to use during the deer season. I also have a quantity of plinking loads for the rifle (which might also be usable in the revolver).

I also started loading my collection of .44 Mag brass with 8 gr. Unique and the Hornady 240 gr. swaged SWC. This bullet doesn't do as well with 9 gr. and with 8, thus the load. This has become my general use load in the 629.

The Lee C309-113-F from Lee Precision

Next, I have to set up the bullet molding apparatus to cast some Lee C309-113-F (shown above). I figure this bullet will help me make a good small game load for the .30-30 and .30 Herrett. Thanks to a Leverguns Forum member who GAVE me the mold. I will probably also try this as a silent load.

This coming week I hope to get the reloading finished, bullets molded, make a trip to the range (or 2 or 3!), and get ready, more ready for deer season. As the weather cools, I hope that the hunting will improve.

Monday, September 19, 2005

This morning I went to the range to try a couple of different types of ammo in my 1956 M39A Mountie. I shot the Winchester PowerPoints as a control. Range was 25 yards.

The CCI CB shorts performed about as expected but surprised me by impacting just a bit above point of aim.

The REAL surprise was the Aguila SSS 60 gr. .22 LR ammo. 10 rounds and no tipping. IOW, they stabilized in the Marlin. Furthew, POI was just 1¼" high and about ½" to the right of POA for this rifle zeroed with the Winchester PP ammo.

Now, some of you might not be aware of this ammo. However, we've talked about the Super Colibri here before. The SSS is a 60gr Solid Point Lead Bullet. Velocity: 950fps. Energy: 120Ft-Lb. The biggest problem is that it often won't stabilize. Up until now, I'd found that none of my .22s would stabilize this ammo. I know several shooters who'd had custom barrels made for their Contenders just to use this ammo. Thus I was very happy to see that I now have a gun that can use this ammo. Don't know exactly what I'd use it for though...

It could really benefit from an SGB tool or Paco Tool. With an improved nose form such as the SGB it could be very effective on game as large as fox and, where permitted, housecats. This ammo is subsonic but it is NOT silent. While I don't have the necessary measuring equipment I think it fully as loud as the Winchester PP ammo.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Got to go out squirrel hunting yesterday. Having been inside during the early morning I didn't realize how hot it would get. Wasn't quite in the mood as I like the crisp cold weather. Anyway, I got out there with the Marlin Mountie and put the stalk on several squirrels. Using a rifle this early in the season is certainly a challenge because you don't get to see the little fellows for long at all as they scamper behind leaves. When they get dowon on the ground you aren't going to be much luckier as all the ground cover is between you and them and they seem to have the ability to see THROUGH the ground cover while I can't.

Of course I really enjoyed getting this rifle out. I'm using Winchester PowerPoints and it is zeroed to be right on at 25 yards. However, the front big bead does limit range as the squirrel doesn't have to be too far out to have his entire head subtended by the bead. The rifle is a good solid "man's gun" but I sure do wish I'd had one when I was a kid! Mine was purchased used and was built in 1956. Good gun.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I had the new Hogue wood grips on the 629 to the range today and wow! Why is it that I don't get it? I could have had these grips years ago. They really handled the recoil well and were comfortable. I could get used to them very easily. Keith's load was a relative pussycat compared to the gun wearing those Gripper Compacs. Guess I'll have some stuff going on eBay...

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Lots happened yesterday.

First thing we sent a friend some money for roof repair. Not much now as I don't have much having spent it on some of what follows. We also donated to the Red Cross for disaster relief. I hope that anyone reading this will donate something to help those affected by hurricane Katrina.

My Hogue wooden grips came in from Hogue Auctions. Goncalo Alves, they are pretty blonde and go ok with the M629. I'll post a pic later with a target as soon as I can get to the range. However, these grips also feel pretty good. They were EXTREMELY easy to install. Following the directions it took all of 2 minutes to remove the Pachmayrs and install these and that includes the time to read the instructions. Just doesn't get any better than that. These grips feel rock solid. So far anyway as they've not had a single round fired.

THEN, I had to go to my mom's place to do some chores for her and carried the EMF 92 and some loads with the 250 gr. XTP-HP over 9 gr. of Unique. The gun took it's first groundhog! Range was about 85 yards, I held on his neck and the bullet went right through the upper chest.

I was also able to get my Federal Migratory Bird Stamp, needed to legally hunt waterfowl, but I had to go to another post office. Now, if I can just get locate some geese where I can hunt.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Went to the Post Office to get a Migratory Bird Stamp and they had yet to receive them! Season begins on September 1st. Not a lot of time... Makes one wonder about some folks.
Virginia has moved to selling hunting licenses on-line. What they haven't advertised much is that you now need a VA State Migratory Bird Stamp as well as the federal stamp to hunt migratory waterfowl. $9.75 and you can get it on-line. Don't be a putz like me and think that that was the Federal stamp... I'm sooooooo embarassed.

Also, I understand some state has moved to include pre-1898 single shot rifles in the ML season. Another state has moved to eliminate the season as in-lines have no disadvantage. Word to the wise, the VA people are also asking why VA has a separate season when the hunters are at no disadvantage and the season comes during the prime 10 days of the rut (according to lunar cycles). Pays to read the regs and follow the politics.

VA also allows cross-bows during archery season... I'm not surprised as the people who think that technology will help them "hunt" better will win out.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Earl Durand, Famous (?) Wyoming Outlaw

I love the .30-30 and am always looking for info on users, famous and infamous as well, who use the cartridge. In about 1974 I saw a movie about such a fellow. For years I couldn't place the movie, remember the name, and even misidentified the lead actor. I finally discovered that the movie was "The Legend of Earl Durand" and found the following on-line. I'd like to know how many of you folks from the Cody and/or Powell (or other) areas of Wyoming know of or have stories about this fellow? I'd say he was a rifleman as good as Harry Tracy but not necessarily a killer as we think of such today.

- "The Legendary Earl Durand" by LillianTurner
- Earl Durand from First National Bank of Powell: The History of a Bank, a Community, and a Family
- Movie Poster for "The Legend of Earl Durand"
- Powell, WY History and Photos
- Wyoming Tales and Trails
- A Poem about Earl Durand
- Obit of the Last Surviving Member of the Earl Durand Posse
- Obit for the Last Surviving Hostage of Earl Durand
- CRIME: Beloved Enemy Time Magazine Monday, Apr. 03, 1939
- Earl Durand in Wikipedia
- Earl Durand from First National Bank of Powell: The History of a Bank, a Community, and a Family
I've got this S&W M629 4" with which I've never really had a good relationship. That is, no matter the grips it never really fit my hand, no matter the holster it was never really comfortable to carry. It can shoot as shown in this image of 100 shots on a single target. However, it has not been the best of times with this gun.

100 shots, mostly off-hand, 25 yards, 9 gr. Unique under the 240 gr. Hornady swaged SWC

So now, I've got this gun and I HATE to sell guns and I HATE IT when I can't master a gun and this gun has resisted my every effort. Now is the time to rectify the situation and that is what I'm going to do.

First, I ordered a Tom Threepersons holster and belt rig from Levergun Leather Works in Athol, ID. Lever has been doing leather for the greater portion of his life and his work looks good. A lot of it is for the CAS crowd, but you'll have to ask him what percentage. I thought I'd give him a try and I now await a rig that should serve the gun, and me, well.

Second, I've fought with the grips on this gun since I bought it. A 629-1 with square butt, I didn't like the factory grips but who does? Pachmayr Presentations went on it for several years and I did carry it deer hunting, shot a couple of groundhogs, kept it in the truck, and by the bed but that grip was not the greatest thing for my hand(s). I just don't have the reach to use these grips and shoot the gun in double-action. A different grip would be nice and I tried the Pachmayr grippers but the closed back style was just as long a reach and the open back style (currently installed) has a really sharp corner that doesn't handle the full-house .44 Mag loads well. As a consequence, I don't shoot the full-house loads very often. So, I needed a replacement and went to the Hogue Grips auction site and was able to find a set of grips for a little under $30, delivered. Haven't seen the grips yet but how about a set of wood grips for that price? Can you buck at that opportunity? Well, I've got my fingers crossed and the sandpaper and rasp ready.

Trail Boss powder is been all in the news lately. Developed to be used in the low velocity loads in high volume cases used in the Cowboy Action Shooting, this powder would have an application with such loads in my .45 Colt EMF 92 carbine. Can't find it. Nobody around here has it. Some look at you with a really blank look when you mention it. What's up with that? I ask, but no real answer is forthcoming. Who knows? It is frustrating.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

I've just returned from a jaunt to visit my brother-in-law (together with my lovely wife) in Green Cove Springs, FL. Because he had just built and was still finishing a new home we intended to help WORK but all we did is play.

Ok, so I helped get his drag racer ready for this weekend. Well, that was PLAY. And I did help get his boat ready for floundering, MORE PLAY. And I did help him on a shakedown floundering trip. EVEN MORE PLAY!!!

The truth is that all I did was play. We ate at a crab shack, local pizzeria, and home (fresh fried flounder!). We played on the race car and boat, fished (gigging flounder is nothing BUT fun!). My wife talked and shopped and ate and slept. We had a great time!

Gigging flounder is great fun. My brother-in-law works for the Navy managing maintenance/rebuilding of fleet aircraft. He travels a lot and enjoys hands on projects. His boat and floundering are two things, aside from drag racing, that he really enjoys. You should see his eyes light up and I guess mine do, too! Anyway, he has a 14' flat-bottomed aluminum boat (like the 1440D in the link) with a 25hp Honda 4 stroke (now that is a quiet motor) and no center seat. He has mounted a bank of 6, 500 watt halogen work lights on the bow and powers them with a 3KW Honda generator. Depending on which bank he's working and which side of the boat needs to be lit he uses the center 2 lights and 2 lights on the shore side of the boat (not all 6 at once). It is pretty cool as you pole down the coast in 4-8" of water, following the tide and spearing the fish as you spot them on the bottom waiting for their dinner. Of course, this can only be done at night so no couch potatoes and no direct sunlight! He knows his stuff and we got our limits both nights (10 each or 20 total each night) or 40 fish all together. At more than 1½ lbs each (we got several whoppers as well as several 14" fish), we had many lbs of good eating in the freezer (3 gallons of meat ready for the frier). He figures that those fish would have cost us $400 in the store.

It is great fun and sort of combines hunting with boating and staying out all night. One doesn't need to invest a lot to participate but of course some folks do. I'd forgotten how much fun it was to be out on the water after dark and to navigate by the navigational markers. Technique and timing count for a lot and I can see how some folks wouldn't be as successful as others. At first I couldn't see the fish until they were pointed out to me, by the end of the second night I was seeing fish my brother-in-law didn't see or before he saw them. Of course you get to see lots of other fish as well, such as needle-nose gar, rays, small sharks, sheepshead, mullet (the principle prey here), redfish, and crabs. That alone is interesting and exciting. You certainly don't, and can't, see all that during the day.

Now, if I can just get him to take me shrimping...

Hobie (left) and Brother-in-law (right) in front of boat with one night's catch. The small boat is easy to handle with a single pole even in a tide that brings in 4 ft of water in 3 hours.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Trip around the country...

My wife and I (and our miniature schnauzer, Bailey)just returned from a 24 night RV "jaunt" around the country. Not the whole country, just 18 states. Because we couldn't leave until 8 June and had to return not later than (NLT) 2 July, we were limited in the time available at certain places. Another limitation, that I placed on the trip, was that driving time would not be in excess of 6 hours. There were several reasons for this restriction. First, I HATE to drive! Second, we had our dog and thought it inappropriate to have her in the crate more than necessary. Third, there's lots of places between "here" and "there" with something great to see (as it is you can't see, photograph, or spend much time at everything along our route). For this trip, we mostly stayed at KOAs. Every place we stayed had some sort of on-line presence as I wanted to sort of test this out.

For those interested our rig consists of a Ford F150 with the Triton motor and tow package dragging a Trail Manor 2720SL. The truck did very well and I never went over 3000 rpm nor did I have to cut out the overdrive. The steepest roads encountered with trailer were I-25 dropping into Trinidad, CO and on US 65 in Missouri! The problem wasn't in going up, it was coming down. The F150 engine isn't set up to brake well.

Our first stop was at the local KOA to load out, final operational check of all systems and to give Miss Daisy (my wife and employer) a final opportunity to bail on the trip. Everything went well mechanically, we got the "stuff" into the trailer and were gone the next day. Please note that I only wore ½ the clothes I carried and that was far better than Miss Daisy. It is really easy to pack too much.

Our second stop was Chattanooga, TN. This was only a layover, and is about ½ way between our home and Pensacola, FL which was our first destination. This was a KOA and while acceptable wasn't quite as pretty, clean, etc as the KOA in Verona, VA. We went back up I-75 to a Cracker Barrel as it was "too darn hot to cook". You'll see that we pretty much followed this pattern throughout the trip!

Another pattern adhered to throughout the trip was that the system operator, me, couldn't ever put up the trailer fast enough, tear down the trailer fast enough, drive fast enough, drive slow enough or stop quick enough for photos. Glad I didn't have a shock collar!

Our next stop was Pensacola, FL (Milton KOA) to see family (our son and my wife's sister). Unfortunately we arrived about the time that Tropical Storm Arlene came ashore. Lots of rain and with 6" of water standing around the camper and more coming down I tore down the camper in the rain wearing only my swim suit. I'm sure the other campers thought there was more lightning than there was as the reflected light from my once large belly flashed across their windows. Nothing like handling 30A electrical service standing in 6" of water... That done and me dried off, we moved back across the bay to Pensacola proper and a Ramada (and another Cracker Barrel). Spent the day with my son and had dinner with my sister-in-law and her boyfriend.

Now it was on to Biloxi, MS to Cajun RV and the "strip", casinos, along the gulf. This is my wife's thing but this time we just ate out at the Grand Palace, watched folks abuse the buffet (my goodness can some people pack it in!), and did a quick cruise of the floor and poker machines. Lost my usual $5 and quit.

The RV park is right on the strip and many sites are on all gravel but there are some grassed sites (although not enough necessary shade). The folks there are real nice but the facilities are a bit dated.

Our next stop was Beaumont, TX and Gulf Coast RV. I'd originally chosen this stop because it was about ½ way between Biloxi and San Antonio and getting there or from didn't exceed my self-imposed 6 hour drive time. I then discovered the Texas Energy Museum and wanted to go there as well. Spindletop was the big discovery and really kicked off the Texas oil boom and the museum really is a great place for adults AND kids to visit. However, it wasn't open the evening we arrived so we had to wait until morning to visit. The folks at Gulf Coast RV were great about giving us a bit of extra time to check out so that we could go to the museum.

Gulf Coast is a great facility but for ONE problem, no SHADE! It was hotter than heck while we were there and shade would have been welcome. However, all the facilities are super clean and in excellent condition. It is a great place to drop the steps.

We left there at about 11 AM for the first big stop of the trip, San Antonio, TX. My wife was extremely excited and the drive was without incident. We arrived at the San Antonio KOA at about 2:30 and got set up in time to go downtown and eat. My wife HAD to go to the riverwalk. Again hotter than heck. The KOA advertised that they had bus service to the riverwalk (note that this isn't "shuttle" service) but it was the public bus system. Not a problem for me but the wife didn't like riding through the local run down section of town with people getting off work, etc. We did get to see the National Cemetery and the Spurs home turf on the way. We also had to wait in the heat as the bus was about 45 minutes late. Not a good thing when the wife is hot AND hungry. We ate at the County Line (a BBQ place) which was good but expensive (in keeping with the purely tourist atmosphere). Rode back with a few other KOA Kampers who commented on their unintended look at another side of San Antonio (!) and slept well. Got up early the next morning and went to the Alamo. Every gentleman kept his hat off inside. Very interesting. Road the riverboat, ate on the Riverwalk again, went to la Villita shops, and rode the bus again. Much fun, for me.

The San Antonio KOA must get quite a lot of business and they are a bit less caring about the condition of their facilities. The dog walk was downright dangerous for man and beast although there was safe space right at the camp site. However, the folks were very nice and helpful.

Our next stop, intended to be an overnight, was Abilene, TX. The ride was interesting and educational. Over a variety of roads, it was an interesting transition across the differing geography of Texas. Abilene wasn't particularly exciting but we did get to go to Frontier Texas. That is something for all ages. Lots of fun and educational.

The folks at the Abilene KOA were nice, the facility was a bit above average. While it was still really hot, the humidity was a lot less than in San Antonio. Trees are a rare thing here so not so much shade... We ate at a Texas Roadhouse and both food and service were excellent.

Our next overnight was at the Amarillo KOA. Again, another excellent facility but no shade. Pretty windy, too. Ate at The Big Texan, home of the 72 oz. steak, which was ok. Miss Daisy liked it more than I did. Went to the American Quarter Horse Museum as well and I liked that more than MD did so I guessed we were even. I guessed wrong.

Our next goal was Pueblo, CO and we stayed at the Pueblo North KOA. This was a night to wash clothes and the dog. A big negative was that it was here that we discovered the TV was going to pot. I'm guessing that the vibrating in the trailer didn't agree with the set despite how we packed it on padding in it's original box. MD likes to be able to watch TV and this was not a good development! Still hot here. We went to the local Walmart where I met a "long lost friend". Well he thought I was and I was polite but vague (I did NOT know this guy). He went on and kept looking over his shoulder for a bit...

Enroute to the next stop we passed through Cheyenne, WY. At the Welcome Center there, just off I-25, we saw pronghorns only some 50 yards from the parking lot! Pretty cool to me. Dog like watching, too. Saw these animals all through Wyoming (except Yellowstone) on our trip.

The next stop was Douglas, WY. Now this is the sort of small town where I'd like to live. The KOA (which pushes the jackalope connection) is very nice as are the folks running it. GREAT place to stay and much cooler in the evenings. Ate yet another steak at a local restaurant AND got to visit FT Fetterman. Warmed up during the day but not so much humidity (I'll take what relief I can get!).

Finally, heading to Cody. Went through Thermopolis, WY. Great scenery, great people, and the wife was really excited as we neared Cody. Can't take enough photos to capture all the great sights. Arrived at the Cody KOA early in the afternoon and got set-up in time to catch the "gunfight" (entertaining for a number of unintended reasons) and trolley tour of Cody. Fascinating.

Cody was the first KOA with the all-you-can-eat pancakes ($1 here) and we took advantage. First day we went to Yellowstone. Beautiful but not as the wife remembered it. We're old enough to know that you can't go back. Arrived at Old Faithful in time to witness a mountain thunderstorm and, unfortunately, see a 12-year old boy scout struck by lightning. We understand that he is still alive. Also during our stay, another boy scout was swept down the Yellowstone River. Last we heard they were searching for him, in Montana. Sad. That evening we went to the Cody Nite Rodeo.

The rodeo was about what I expected. You can't run a rodeo every night and expect to have the best talent or stock available. My wife was disappointed that there weren't "pros" there. I thought that the participants gave as much thrill in 8 seconds as anyone else could. We ate at the rodeo.

Anyway, the park is much changed from MD's last visit and much built up in the area of Old Faithful. Of course, she was last there about 40 years ago. Saw no bears or elk but MANY bison. Elsewhere in WY we saw many, many pronghorn antelope. All in all, we thought Wyoming was beautiful.

The 2nd day we spent at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. Too much to see in too little time (a recurrent problem). What a place! LOVED it (and so did MD). Art, natural history, firearms, great folks, great facility... what's not to love? FANTASTIC and worth the whole trip.

Interesting to me were all the guns I'd seen in books since 1965 finally just inches away from me. Really helped me to see the guns first hand. Also, while Mr. Cody had been a "hero" to me before, I really came to understand how fantastic this guy was. He may have made mistakes, been flawed, etc, but what a forward thinking, inventive person. Again, a great thing. Ate at the Mexican-American place on main street. Wife loved it.

On our third night in Cody we had a heck of a windstorm. It may have contributed to later problems (or not) but the winds must have been gusting to 50+ mph. Rocked the camper pretty good and didn't end until about 1:00 AM MT. I'm not sure, I was asleep but the wife didn't get to sleep until about 2:00 AM.

Got up the next morning to be greeted by our neighbors with tales of the harrowing night and our pancake breakfast. Packed and ready, we left for Hardin, MT via Billings. The trip was most notable to us for the change from high desert to grassland. Our comfort level went way up! Reached Hardin KOA at about 2:00 PM (lots of construction) and were off to the Little Bighorn Battlefield. Very interesting to get an idea of the scale (which means a lot to this old infantryman). Couldn't stop thinking that Custer must have been nuts. No competent infantryman so outnumbered would have done anything that Custer did.

Of course this is on the Crow Nation. The NAs may be poor but that was the best Kentucky Fried Chicken I've had or seen in a loooong time. Those folks run a tight ship.

We were there on June 23rd and so saw many activities taking place including a memorial ride on the reservation. Great timing, accidentally, on my part.

On the 24th we headed for Mount Rushmore and the Mount Rushmore/Hill City KOA for two nights. Now there is a great facility for family camping. Trail riding, all-you-can-eat pancakes, swimming, Mount Rushmore 5 minutes in one direction, Crazy Horse Memorial 10-15 minutes the other direction, beautiful scenery, etc. Wonderful. Moved my wife to tears.

First night ate at the restaurant on site. Had buffalo and it was pretty good. Gave the dog a good walk and said hello to some kampers who had lived through the big wind in Cody with us.

The next day we started with pancakes, buffalo sausage, and Mount Rushmore. Impressive and very interesting. Loved it all. By noon we'd seen it "all" and left to check on the dog and then for Crazy Horse. Had a very interesting afternoon at the Crazy Horse Memorial and then "home" for dinner. After dinner it was back to Mount Rushmore for the lighting ceremony. This included a salute to the veterans wherein the veterans folded the flag, all stood for the national anthem and the folded flag was passed from veteran to veteran. Forced to participate by my wife, I was surprised by the number of veterans who walked down to the stage to participate. This included a husband and wife with whom I spoke very briefly. My wife really enjoyed this particular day. She loved the scenery, the facilities, the ceremony and the short travel time.

The next morning we're off for Sioux Falls. Started to have fun now. Stopped in Mitchell, SD at the Corn Palace. Only did this stop because a friend thought it was so great. Frankly, I wasn't much impressed. Perhaps I was getting a bit tired. Too bad, I was only a couple of hours away from some real excitement. However, I also got to go through the Cabela's which is just off the exit. Great thing.

Continuing to Sioux Falls, at exit 390 I looked in the rearview to see the forward left coping on the trailer begin to peel off! Traveling at 75 MPH, I pulled over just in time to prevent the complete removal of of the molding and the possible removal of the trailer's side panel. Fortunately, I had some electrician tape and that got us the next 9 miles to Sioux Falls KOA which, by the grace of God, was right next to a full-service RV center which owns the KOA.

What had happened is that at some point the wind from driving some 4000 miles and/or the high winds we'd experienced a couple of nights had loosened the ill attached molding/coping. This stuff, which covers the gap between the front and side panels of aluminum, is vinyl and "glued" on with silicone sealant. The factory did not get the sealant located correctly and didn't have full contact along the length of the molding. This was on a Sunday and we had to wait until 8:30 the next morning to get the materials/help to repair the trailer. I think I did a much better job with the sealant I got from the RV center (they also loaned by a caulking gun, some surface cleaner and a shop rag). It didn't come off again but I did get a second tube of sealant and a caulking gun (from a Home Depot in Sioux Falls) just in case. This was kind of disconcerting for me and a major irritant for my wife.

Our next stop was a KOA (Kansas City East) just east of Independence, MO on I-75. Hot again after several cool nights, the worst part about this leg was the horrible traffic in the Kansas City area. Also, they had the worst maintained and manned restaurants and service stations of the whole trip. We had planned to go to the Truman Library but our repair work on the trailer ate up too much of our time and we were unable to do this.

The next morning my wife was eager to get up and get on to our next stop, Branson, MO. It has to be said that I-75 and US-65 were the two worst roads, for surface condition, we experienced (with the exception of surfaces under construction which were sometimes better). Rough with repairs that seemed to exacerbate the poor condition of the road rather than improve it, we bounced our way much of the way to Branson. Couldn't even stop at the Bass Pro Shop in Springfield! Oh, well... Went on to Branson and the Branson KOA where we had a site right off Lake Taneycomo and a very short walk from their all you can eat pancakes (nobody will believe that I lost 15+ lbs and 2 inches from my waist on this trip).

Of course "we" had to see some shows and we went to the Ray Stevens show and to a show by the Oak Ridge Boys. Also, my wife being a fan of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (two wonderful people), we went to the museum honoring them and saw the show by Dusty Rogers. Good cowboy music that doesn't hurt the ears. As Dusty says, "you'll still be able to hear when you leave." Being train buffs, we also took the excursion on the Branson Scenic Railway that leaves Branson's depot (downtown). FYI, the cars are air conditioned.

After Branson it was on to Munford, TN (just north of Memphis) to visit friends. They treated us to dinner at a very nice Italian place where I had shrimp and salmon on angelhair pasta. Lots of good talk, some wine and then we were off again for Nashville.

A quick drive (3 hours) to Nashville, TN and we were off to Opry Mills and then to the Grand Old Opry. The most memorable part of the show was a performance by Gail Davies of a gospel hymn in tribute to her friend Goldie Hill. Sung mostly acappella, I don't believe she needed a microphone to reach the 3000 some people present. Wow!

One more night in the trailer and we were bound for home! On the road from June 8 through July 2 we drove some 5700 miles through some 18 states. If we missed you I'm sorry, we didn't get to do a tenth of what we'd have liked to do but did all that time allowed. Hopefully we'll catch you next time!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Well, I finally got to take out the .45 Colt M92 after securing the front sight. Results were pleasing. Because it was raining and going downrange would have resulted in my own field of lost shoes I just shot at pre-placed (make that left behind) stuff including several metal plates. These have been there a while and are about 6" in diameter and at 50, 100 and 150 yards. Although I only got to shoot about 15 rounds, every round was a hit at every range, from the standing position! Very pleased I am. The load was 23 gr. H110 under the Sierra 300 gr. .451 JSP lit by a CCI large pistol magnum primer in Winchester cases. Seated as these were, they fed very smoothly through the gun. This load is in the 30K CUP range.

Hopefully, I be able to try the 265 gr. Cast Performance bullet loaded over 9 gr. of Unique the next time I get to the range. Unfortunately that will be about the middle of July! Argggggh!!!!

Friday, May 06, 2005

As I continue load development for the .45 Colt I can see that a trend is developing. Readers who wish to have some good background on what the .45 Colt can do when used in the M92 platform should read Paco Kelly's article on the .45 Colt in such rifles, 45 (long) Colt in Leveraction Rifles.

I'm not certain where Paco got his pressure data on his loads but my experiences seem to bear out those figures. Of course, I don't have a strain gage or lab to do testing for me, this is just many years of experience (and some mistakes!) talking.

So, I've already found that the load using the Sierra 300 gr. JFP and 23 gr. of H110 is fully acceptable in the M92 Rossi and I expect that I could do the same with the Hornady XTP bullets. The two Hornady bullets I'm referring to are the 300 gr. XTP-HP and the XTP-Mag. If I've updated the photo in an early post, you'll be able to see the differences in these two bullets. The main reason for doing so isn't really to gain more velocity and energy, although there might be minor benefits from doing so. The biggest reason is to bring the POI up on the target so that I can use these loads with my rear sight at it's lowest setting. I think I'll also be moving the 300 gr. Beartooth WFNGC a bit faster and will work up until that bullet also is "on" at 100 yards.

Now that bullet, and the Cast Performance 265 gr. WFNGC, are a hoot to shoot at targets. You can hear them slap the target backing at 100 yards. The sound is VERY noticeable and I'm sure that they would "slap" game pretty hard, too!

I am going to try to slow down the 265 gr. WFNGC, though. Even at moderate velocities with the 10 gr. Unique load, it shoots way too high at 100 yards. Perhaps IMR's (now owned by Hogdon) new Trail Boss powder will be just the ticket. Haven't seen any of that locally but I'm sure it will be here soon. We have several CAS organizations in the area. Even with a max advertised rifle velocity of about 725 fps, from a rifle it should do about 800-850 fps, that 265 gr. bullet would have a lot of uses around the farm for general use. Perhaps at that velocity it will shoot to the sights on MY rifle at some of the closer distances. It would also be a very mild shooter.

That brings up another subject, recoil. This rifle can either be a very mild gun to shoot with free recoil energy of less than 5 fpe or pretty rough with energies approaching 20 fpe. I'm sure many folks wouldn't like those upper level loads with the steel buttplate but I don't find them objectionable. It seems to me that the stock design is very good for my very average body dimensions. I might sometimes get a bit of bruising when wearing just a T-shirt but no pain.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I finally got to the range today to try out some new bullets and older bullets loaded differently. All bullets are 300 gr.

Hornady XTP-Mag, 22 gr. H110, 1423 fps, 1366 fpe, 5 fps AD, 7 SD This load was a bit stickier to feed than I expected but was pretty accurate. Also, it was on at 100 yards.

Beartooth WFNGC, 22 gr. H110 1480 fps, 1459 fpe, 6 fps AD, 8 SD Fed smooth as silk, just a little low at 100 yards, sub 2 inch group at 100 yards, just 4 inches low at 150 yards! I'm going to try to work this up to 23 gr. That big flat point really slaps the target backing. You can hear it through muffs all the way back to the firing line.

Sierra JFP, 23 gr. H110 1504 fps, 1506 fpe, 9 fps AD, 11 SD Another smooth feeding load despite the fact that it is the longest COL of any of these loads. 1" or so low at 100 yards. This bullet has the best BC of any of these 300 gr. bullets.

Hornady XTP-HP, 22 gr. H110, 1446 fps, 1393 fpe, 11 fps AD, 17 SD This time I seated to the topmost cannelure and it fed better but it also struck lowest on the target at 100 yards. I'm going to work these up to 22.8 gr. (the Hogdon manual max) and see how they do. However, it is the XTP-Mag that is most suitable for these velocities (of all the XTP bullets).

I need to restake the front sight and zero. Today, by paying attention to the front sight, lateral variation of all loads did not exceed 3". It was the vertical disbursement that varied.

Free recoil energy of these loads varied from 18 to 19 fpe.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Hornady XTPs

I picked up 2 boxes of the Hornady 300 gr. XTP-MAG (45235). These are HPs like the 300 gr. XTP-HP ( 45230) but have a round nose as opposed to the the truncated cone shape and only one cannelure for use at the shorter length. In other words the cannelure is in the same location as the topmost cannelure on the XTP-HP. It should feed a bit better. As to construction and use in the rifle, I expect that performance will be very similar at the 1700 fps starting velocity I seem to be getting in my rifle although the BC is better being .200 vs .180. SD for both bullets is .210. Hornady's bullets can be see on their web site. The velocity range for the HP (45230) is 800-1700 and for the MAG (45235) is 1100-2100. These are both .452" bullets.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Just back from the range with results:

265 gr. Cast Performance WFNGC, 24 gr. H110, CCI350 primer for 1579 fps 1467 fpe 11 fps AD 14 SD

300 gr. Sierra JFP, 22 gr. H110, CCI350 primer for 1407 fps 1319 fpe 10 fps AD 15 SD (Note that this load came closest to shooting point of aim at 100 yards.)

300 gr. Hornady XTP-HP, 22 gr. H110, CCI350 primer for 1431 fps 1364 fpe 22 fps AD 30 SD Note: The bullet has been seated out to the second cannelure. I'm going to try it seated to the first cannelure. It does not feed well seated to the same length overall as the Sierra bullet!

Free recoil energy of these loads is about 17.5-18 fpe.

I had another interesting experience. 4 times I looked through the aperture to see no front sight. I just picked it up off the ground and stuck it back in. You see, the factory heavily greases these AND stakes them. As the base is a tapered wedge, you can reinsert them fairly accurately and if I choose to retain it, only need to stake the one end of the dovetail. It is my OWN fault that I removed the sight earlier and pending the results of my experiments, haven't correctly reinstalled it.

Of course there was a wind from 3 o'clock this afternoon so, combined with the front sight laterally shifting to the right, my groups were somewhat larger than expected.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I got to the range this afternoon AFTER this morning's rain. Got to shoot the following...

300 gr. Hornady XTP, 21 gr. H110, CCI 350 for 1449 fps, 1358 fpe, 4 fps AD, 5 SD
300 gr. Sierra JFP, 21 gr. H110, CCI350 Unchronographed
260 gr. Cast Performance WFNGC, 10 gr. Unique, CCI300 1215 fps, 868 fpe 4 fps AD 7 SD
145 gr. RB, 2.5 gr. Bullseye, CCI300 for 287 fps, 27 fpe 47 fps AD 48 SD

I've not got a photo yet, but some of these were below aiming point at 100 yards, the 265 gr. CP WFNGC was about right on and even the aforementioned 250 gr. Hornady XTP load was a good 6+ inches lower! Who knows what's up with that. Perhaps Ben Rumson is correct about how I handle the recoil. This is with the original factory front sight.

By the way, that front sight didn't move through all that shooting! It is practically a finger press fit and it stuck right through it all. Very interesting.

In any case, I think that I can find a load that will creat significant FPE and penetration and it right on at 100 yards. The current load with the 265 gr. CP WFNGC seems to be a good general purpose load. I think that if I speed up the 300 gr. bullets they will also come up on the target.

I can't say enough about how much I like the gun despite the situation with the sights. If I can find a couple of useful loads I'll be well satisfied.

However, if YOU plan to put a Williams Foolproof, Lyman 66 or other receiver sight on a .45 Colt or .44 Mag M92, mount it as low as it will go on the receiver. You WILL need the adjustment range.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

I loaded 4 new loads (and the ramp ups) to test for velocity, accuracy and compatibility with the existing sight system on the EMF 92.

The bullets used in my .45 Colt handloads to date.

300 gr. Hornady XTP, 21 gr. H110, CCI 350
300 gr. Sierra JFP, 21 gr. H110, CCI350
260 gr. Cast Performance WFNGC, 10 gr. Unique, CCI300
145 gr. RB, 2.5 gr. Bullseye, CCI300

These are photos of the cartridges. The longest is 1.684" but still functions through the M92 action.

The longest of these cartridges is the load with the Sierra at 1.684" but the XTP has a second cannelure and can be loaded out to that length. Both will probably take the max load of 22 gr. H110 which should be very similar to that load as I use it with the 300 gr. bullet in the .44 Mag.

I've yet to use H4227 and Lil'Gun, both of which should provide slightly higher velocities if the manual is correct.

Yes, I have received the new .600" (measured from bottom of dovetail) Marbles sourdough front sight but haven't installed it yet. Perhaps my reloading will negate that necessity. That would be good as the sight will require modification, a lot of grinding, to use. I'd just as soon save the sight for another project if I can.
A comparison shot of the the factory front and the Marbles replacement. The Marbles must be extensively modified as most of the sight forward of the dovetail would have to be removed to avoid the barrel band!

This brings up another subject, removing and installing front sights. In this case the base of the original front sight was tapered in thickness to wedge into place in the center. It was heavily greased in the dovetail and can almost be removed and installed by hand but didn't come out after firing many rounds of heavy reloads. This is why one removes left-to-right and installs right-to-left. Not everyone does this sort of thing but enough do that it pays to adhere to this procedure.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

As the saga of my new EMF Hartford 92 .45 Colt continues I've more to report.

Yesterday I went to the range thinking that I might have solved the problem with zeroing the rompin' stompin' .45 Colt loads using H110 and the Hornady 250 gr. XTP. At 1778 fps, these are so fast that the .065" sight change made didn't do the trick. Well, now here's a puzzle, it did do the trick with the much slower 225 gr. Winchester Silvertip factory loads! It may have lowered the POI of the heavy hitters by 2" but brought the Silvertips down the entire, calculated, 11". So, what is up with that? As it is, the gun shoots high with the XTP load even at 150 yards!

In the photos below, you can see what happened on March 31st and what happened yesterday. I know that yesterday's group gave a better impression of the accuracy of the system with the various loads but it did rather raise another problem. One should note that we had a 25-30 mph quartering to cross wind! Had one gust I thought would take the roof off the shooting bench shed!

The question is, what to do? Well, one thing is to go to slower but heavier bullets OR bullets of about the same weight but slower OR lighter and faster bullets. I think that the last option is the least suitable given my intended use. It certainly isn't much good if I can't zero the system with usable ammunition at a reasonable range.

Brownell's does sell a sourdough front with the necessary height (.600") of over ½". That should also work to allow the adjustment necessary. Another thing is that the sourdough allows ½ the bead diameter in additional "height" because of how it is used to bisect the target as opposed to being placed over the target. If that doesn't work...

However, I did want to try heavier bullets and have order the Sierra and Hornady 300 gr. jacketed to try as well as the Cast Performance 260 gr. WFN. I also have the Lee Alox to lube some roundball to load over 2.5 gr. of Bullseye for a close range squirrel/rabbit load.
These are the targets from the two days.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

.45 Colt Ammo

I wanted to record some of my shooting impressions concerning my new EMF Hartford 92 noted below.

Yesterday, I took it to the range along with my chronograph. The following loads were tested with the noted results.

CCI Blazer200 gr. JHP11525902029
Win Cowboy250 gr. LFP8353873035
Win ST225 gr. ST9464481827
Reload250 gr. XTP177817561228
The reload consists of 250 gr. Hornady XTP-HP over 26 gr. H110 ignited by a CCI Magnum Large Pistol primer in new Winchester cases.

These are the cartridges I've tested so far.

After chronographing, I immediately went to the targets at 50 yards. A 3" bull was placed at 50 yards and used as the aiming point. Remember, my rear sight is all the way down as low as it will go. Somewhat surprisingly, all rounds grouped into about 4". Not so surprisingly, the center of this group was 3-4" above the POA. I then moved the target to 100 yards and mounted a 12" bull just above the 3". I fired 3 rounds using the center of the large bull as an aiming point. Neither round hit the target. I then used the lower 3" bull as an aiming point. Interestingly, a neighboring shooter said something about me not being able to hit the target. Frankly, I took offense and said, "look, it shoots high, I'll try a couple at the lower bull," and cranked off 2 more at the lower bull. The impact of both rounds can be seen in the photo, 2" apart. The load used was my reload. That did it for my reloads and I fired a mixture of the other ammo using the lower bull as the POA. ALL rounds struck 11" above that and to the right of the target. Easy enough to adjust the Williams Foolproof laterally, but there was nowhere to go for elevation. Quick reference to the Brownell's technical page on sight adjustment gave the amount of adjustment needed at .065".

I wrote Steve Young about the problem and that I proposed to modify the sight to correct the problem. I immediately got a phone call from him! He mentioned that another customer had the same problem. He thinks that the same sights are used on all guns and that they are set up for the .38/357 Magnum guns. After a good discussion the following options seemed to be on the table.

1. Modify the Williams Foolproof to allow it to go deeper the .065" necessary.
2. Get a front sight .065" higher.
3. Split the difference between the front and rear sight.
4. Send it back and drill 2 MORE holes for the sight.
5. Send it back and bend the barrel.

I rejected options 5 and 4. I do not want to bend the barrel, drill and tap 2 additional holes OR send it back.

The front sight is already an unsupported ½" tall. I don't think I want a taller front sight and don't want the hassle of changing out the front sight. A post or sourdough would give me about .020" to .025" height because the bead is used by placing it over the target and the post bisects the target. How it is used counts for something. I rejected options 2 and 3.

So, I've set myself up to modify the rear sight and after a close examination and taking the sight all the way apart and putting it back together a couple of times, started to work. First I scribed the outline of the elevator and then chucked the mount in the vise (after removing from the rifle, of course). I then went to work on it with a file. It took a couple of different files and the Dremel tool to nick out a particularly troublesome corner but I notched out the top back of the mount to give me another .065" clearance. Seems to work, now I'll be back to the range (after I load some more ammo).

Back to the ammo. All except my handloads were very mild generating only about 3-5 FPE in recoil energy despite the light weight of the rifle. Velocities are probably little different from those of the same cartridges fired in a revolver. The light loads smoked the brass cases and sometimes made it appear that I'd had a case failure by virtue of all the smoke coming from the action!

The CCI Blazer was first up and while accurate and mild to shoot (all are very mild) it didn't extract well because the rim isn't correct for use with the extractor. I can see how it would work fine in a revolver, but it was mildly irritating in the rifle.

Next was the Winchester Cowboy load. Put up in an old west appearing box, it is very mild in performance giving the lowest velocities of any factory ammunition tried.

Then, I tried the Winchester Silvertip. I thought this would be a relatively "hot" ammo as it is clear that it was made for the self-defense use of the cartridge. Just look at that huge hollowpoint!. Not so. Did give cloverleafs at 50 yards.

Then, the rip snorters, my handloads. Not only is the AD and SD of this ammo lower than any factory ammo but it cut cloverleafs at 50 yards AND can go into less than 2" at 100 yards (see target). Once I get it zeroed and fine-tuned, I think this will be pretty good ammo for my uses. 1756 FPE is nothing to sneeze at and extraction and ejection were slick and positive.

Through it all, the rifle performed as expected. SLICK! All ammo fed without problems except that I short stroked it twice for some unknown reason. The bore must be slick as well, clean up was a breeze. Brass came out with little deformation indicating a seemingly well cut chamber. Recoil should have been stout with my handloads but it wasn't at all punishing. It seemed less so than my old Winchester and Marlin 1894s in .44 Magnum. Both guns weighed more so it must be a happy coincidence of the rifle's geometry and my body shape!

With the sight now right I expect that the next range session will produce a good zero.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

I have to compliment Steve Young of Steve's Gunz who called me last night to discuss my concerns. Now I know that he's in Texas but this was still at the end of a long work day for him. He's a pleasant fellow to talk to and it is clear he enjoys his work. I think it is good customer service and Steve will get my business again.

What we discussed is the mounting of the Williams Foolproof on my carbine. Steve pointed out that the CAS shooters don't use the guns at targets beyond 50 yards and the wide range of adjustment isn't necessary. He also pointed out that these are 100 yard guns. I kinda disagree on that, I think that properly loaded they should be good to 150 yards. After that trajectory DOES get to be too iffy with MY ability to judge distance. He also mounts the sights at that height so that if one wants to switch to a Lyman sight (the model # escapes me) you won't have to drill and tap two more holes, only one.

One can also alter the Williams, install a different front sight (a sourdough might be good) and play with your loads a bit.

I'm hoping to be able to use bullets in the range of 250 to 325 gr. at about 1600-1800 fps. As I told him, we'll see. I haven't had the gun long enough to really wring it out!