Saturday, December 23, 2006

Outdoor Survival - UPDATED

We've now been told that one of these men was found dead, frozen solid, in a snow cave near the summit of Mount Hood. That a sleeping bag and some other equipment was found in another snow cave nearby. That photos show that they weren't as well equipped as had been supposed. That the two who went to get help for their third apparently got disoriented and went north when they should have gone south. That these two may have slid some 2200 feet down a glacier and off the end. This is all very sad for the families involved and they will be in our prayers.

There are many lessons to be learned. Number one is "travel light, freeze at night" which seems self-evident. The other is "what can go wrong will go wrong". Plan for the worst. It makes day-to-day life difficult but sometimes gives you the edge needed to return to your family.

The great thing about life is that God has given us free will and let's us make choices. The bad thing is that we are responsible for making the right choices. Not just for ourselves, but also we must make the right choices for those who depend on us, those who need us. I think it must be terrible dying and knowing in those last seconds that you made the wrong choices.


These 3 men lost on Mount Hood have been in the news this past week. They still haven't been found due in part to the extreme weather conditions on the mountain. Why is this important?

Well, these three (3) experienced climbers went to an area with which they weren't familiar to attempt a one day summit climb during a period of possible extreme weather. When they got into trouble (lost, injured or snowed in, unable to move) one of the climbers attempted to use his cell phone. Now lots of searchers/rescuers are attempting to find and extract them from their misfortune. I don't know whether or not these 3 particular men are of this mind, but it seems that more and more often people put themselves in hazardous situations and EXPECT others to bail them out when the worst happens. They don't plan or prepare for the worst, indeed, they often seem totally surprised that the worst happened. Yet, without fail, they expect immediate assistance.

Yes, we've been conditioned to this at least somewhat because we DO respond to appeals for assistance. Some folks even give their own lives in an attempt to rescue some fool from his/her folly. This doesn't make this particular mindset right or responsible. "But wait" you say, "what about the children?" Ok, what about the children.

Children who wander away from HOME and get lost in the woods, children who wander away from their families on vacation and get lost in the woods, well they both frost my buttons. Not the kids really, but their parents. What in the heck were they doing? Don't you watch your kids to ensure they don't do wrong, improper, or dangerous things? Don't you watch your kids to try to keep them safe. You'd think that this never occured to some folks. How, why, can these parents think this way?

Do accidents happen? YES. Accidents happen. "Stuff" happens. "Murphy" is everywhere. But having a freak snow storm catch you at the base of a mountain in the middle of the summer isn't the same as going up on one of the highest mountains in the country in late fall, the cold season when weather is at best unpredictable even at lower elevations and unprepared/unsupplied for more than one day's outing.

I hope for the best for these men. I truly feel sorry for their wives and children. Risk takers put their families through a lot of worry. I hope these men come home to take care of their wives and children, mothers and fathers. I hope they are well and not crippled by frostbite, not starved and/or not suffocated in a snow cave. I'm pretty pessimistic though. These men did do more than many who find themselves in such a situation. They had left detailed info on climbing route, their equipment and planned time line. But, they didn't anticipate 70+ mile-an-hour winds along with snow.

I hope that you accept your responsibility for yourself and yours when you go into the outdoors. I hope that you will be profoundly thankful of the unexpected assistance of others in the exceptional situation which you couldn't forsee and for which you could NOT have prepared. In other words, I hope that you prepare for your outings and prepare for the expected possibilities of Murphy's influence on your life.

Michael Bane has his opinion as well.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

In Memoriam, Michael Franklin Mays

Let me start by saying that I know that whatever words I utter here will be insufficient to capturing the truth of Mike Mays' life. However, I have to share, even in this poor way.

Mike was a lot of things. He was a loving son, a Marine, a loving & devoted husband and father, a career soldier, an entrepreneur, a singer/musician, an inventor, a pastor and a true friend to many. He was my sometime hunting partner, basketball opponent, running/PT partner, co-worker for many years, a fine man who never failed to do the best he could and always tried to do the right thing. When he died he was 52, nearly 53, but even in illness he hadn't stopped being a good father and loving husband.

Mike loved to hunt. He loved to work out the puzzle of where the game was. He loved to take a new gun and try it on game and he was good enough he most often could. However, I could never quite get the hang of giving away guns like he did. I've known him to do that several times. I finally came to the conclusion that he did it because he couldn't imagine somebody else being denied a chance to go hunting, he had to help. Mike only ever killed one deer hunting with me. I was pleased to show him where to sit and in 10 minutes he'd shot a buck. In truth, he probably could have walked in there and found just where to sit and been successful without me. Still, it was pure pleasure helping him get that deer home.

Mike helped a lot of people. He gave them money, food, and his time. He did all he could. Of course, Mike believed that one must believe in Jesus to get to heaven, that good works doesn't do "it". If ever anyone believed Mike did.

Now, I'm sure he has to be in heaven. I bet there was quite a group there to welcome Mike home. I hope he'll be there to welcome me when it is my turn.

This is his "official" obituary...
Michael F. Mays – his body is now at Francis J. Collins Funeral Home, Inc., 500 University Boulevard, West, Silver Spring, MD 20901 where they will prepare and shelter it until burial on Dec. 21 in Arlington National Cemetery at 10 a.m.

Pastor Michael Franklin (Mike) Mays, 52, of Mt. Solon, was born March 31, 1954, in Abingdon, VA. After three months of hospitalizations, Mike died of heart failure Dec. 5 in transit from NNMC, Bethesda, to Fairfax Hospital heart unit.

Mike is survived by his wife of 33 years, Ginny Clinedinst Mays; daughter Charity Belle; and son Michael Jason Mays; mother-in-law Hazel Clinedinst, all of Mt. Solon; parents, Rev. Arthur and Myrtle Mays of Staunton; brother, Rev. Mark Mays and wife Rhonda of Harrisonburg; and sister Kathy Hall of Durham, NC; plus extended family.

Mike served as Stokesville Church’s pastor and worship leader. He was an accomplished songwriter, vocalist and guitarist, producing a CD, “Plowman’s Hope,” of 11 original inspirational songs, plus a small CD, “Happy in Heaven.”

He was founder and CEO of Visual Addressing, LLC, having secured patent rights and other patents pending for photo mapping directions at and

Mike served in the Marine Corps at M.C. Headquarters, Arlington, VA. He won the National Service Ribbon and Expert High Shooter Medal. He retired from 19 years in Virginia’s Army National Guard as Senior Nuclear, Biological, Chemical NCO; Marksmanship Trainer; Information Systems Security NCO; Budget Coordinator; Travel Orders Publication Manager; U.S. Army School System Reviewer; and control cell member in Virginia Army National Guard Emergency Operations Center in State duty alerts. His military awards include the Army Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Army Commendation Medal and Virginia State Medal for EOC Operations.

Mike worked at Lowes, Smith’s Transfer as Frontline Breakbulk Operations Supervisor, Pitney Bowes as independent service sub-contractor for upper Shenandoah Valley and Charlottesville regions, and U.S. Postal Service, Dayton, VA as rural carrier. He was an avid hunter and outdoorsman.

A service to celebrate Pastor Mays’ life will be held at Victory Worship & World Outreach Cntr., 200 Hammond Lane, Staunton, VA at 7 p.m., Dec. 12. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to New Life Ministries (WNLR), P.O. Box 400, Churchville, VA 24421. He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery at 1000 on 21 December 2006.

If you can attend SFC (USA, Ret.) Michael F. Mays burial at Arlington, please do so.

It only seems right to note the passing of Mike's son Jason here with him.
MOUNT SOLON — Michael Jason Mays, 36, of 1378 George Walton's Road, died Tuesday, May 15, 2012, in Augusta Health of complications following his first bout with pneumonia.

Born March 15, 1976, in Staunton, he was the son of Michael Franklin and Virginia "Ginny" Clinedinst Mays. He was a member of Stokesville Church. His angelic eyes and smile tugged at the heartstrings of the community who came together with area churches to build a handicapped-accessible home for him in 2007. He lived with his mother and sister, received care from Judy Ward, Betty Hevener, residential consultant Amy Harmon of Family Sharing Inc., Deborah Bullard of VCSB and Drs. Richard Elsea of West Augusta Family Practice and Zizette Makary of National Naval Medical Center of Bethesda, Md.

He was preceded in death by his father and his maternal grandfather, Albert "Snooks" W. Clinedinst. Surviving are his mother and his sister, Charity Mays of Mount Solon; his paternal grandparents, the Rev. Arthur Mays and Myrtle "Gertie" Mays of Staunton; his maternal grandmother, Hazel Langston Clinedinst of Mount Solon; his uncle, the Rev. Mark Mays and wife Rhonda of Mount Crawford; his aunts, Kathy Hall of Staunton, Judy Ward of Churchville and Teresa Howdyshell and husband, Jim, of Mount Solon; cousins, Susan Medlin and husband, Travis, Neal Hall and wife, Kristie, Lydia Trollo, Jennifer Inboden and husband, Matthew, Melissa and Luke Mays, Audrey and Anthony Bess, Hayden Hall and Julia and Gabriel Inboden.

The family will receive friends from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 19, 2012, in Bear Funeral Home. Jason will receive a musical tribute at 7 p.m. Friday, May 18, 2012, in Stokesville Church from jazz guitarist Mike Ess of Richmond accompanied by other artists. Jason's life will be celebrated at 6 p.m. Sunday, May 20, 2012, in Sangerville Towers Ruritan Hall. Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

Jason's family expresses appreciation for the exceptional care and devotion shown by Augusta Health, Rockingham Memorial Hospital and Staunton-Augusta Rescue Squad.

Memorials may be directed to The North River Ministerial Association in the hopes that other families might be blessed as we have been by this group's projects. Direct funds to NRMA care of Mossy Creek Presbyterian Church, 372 Kyles Mill Road, Mount Solon, VA 22843 or to Sangersville Towers Ruritans 38 Emmanuel Church Road, Mount Solon, VA 22843.

Condolences may be expressed online at

Mike and Jason will be buried in section 66, 7475.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Colt Lightning Reproductions - UPDATED Aug 2007

Mike Venturino's article on the USFA Lightning carbine in the most recent issue of Rifle magazine inspired me to do some research on the various reproductions/recreations of the Colt Lightning pump action rifle.

The Colt Lightning was made in 3 frame sizes. The smallest was for the .22 rimfire, there was a medium sized frame for the .44-40 and .38-40 and a large size frame for the .45-70 and similar sized cartridges. Various reasons that the gun didn't compete better with the Winchester leverguns have been mentioned. I believe the extractor had a tendency to break, also, the action has to be open to load. Thinking was that the pump action wasn't traditional enough (although the Spencer and Burgess pump shotguns had a following).

Now, with the rise of NCOWS and the SASS all sorts of older, obselescent firearms have had renewed popularity to the point that they are being reproduced for shooting in the timed matches and used by the NCOWS personas. Among those are the Colt Lightning which has had reproductions, some with modifications, produced by AWA, Beretta, Taurus and USFA. All of these are the medium frame size variety. There are .357 Mags (Taurus), .45 Colt, .44-40 and .38-40. There are rifles and carbines, high grade engraved guns and everyday plain blued guns. Prices range from $370 something to well north of $2000.

American Western Arms (AWA) has the Lightning Rifle. Their MSRP starts at $850 and goes up.

Beretta has the Gold Rush. The prices for the Gold Rush are $1450 and up.

Taurus has the Thunderbolt. Taurus MSRP is about $500 but I've seen the guns in shops for $399 and a little less.

USFA has their Lightning in several models this Special Baby Carbine being one. Prices for these start at $1995.

Dixie Gun Works' Lightning in several models such as this carbine are Pedersoli made. Prices for these are in the range of $1100-1300.

You pay your money and take your pick. For me, the only cartridge I'd want in my Lightning would be the .44-40 (aka .44 WCF). The tapered case and more than adequate rim, designed for rifles, unlike the .45 Colt, would likely function best in these truly old style rifles and carbines. Not all of these guns are so chambered. I'd also mount a tang peep as shown on the original above. This would make a fun, functional, even practical firearm. However, not all the copies come in .44-40 so that limits my choices...


Steve Young of Steve's Gunz has this to say about the Taurus,

Over the years I have worked on several of the USFA Lightning pump rifles, and several of the AWA's. AWA was the first to get them out and they did have many problems with their early guns, but both the USFA and the current AWA-USA are good guns, but they are not cheap. That said, when Taurus came out with the "T" Bolt folks that knew I had experience with the puimp guns begain to send people to me that had bought the "T" Bolts. I would say I have had about 20 to 25 of them here for work. Of that number I just couldn't make 5 of them run right. They would double feed from the mag jamming the gun. This was because the poor fit of the action slide to the lower frame. It was so loose the cartridge stop never came up to the same place. I could get it to stop the double feeding but then the cartridge stop wouldn't always allow a fresh round in. Bottom line is I sent them back to Taurus and they did manage to fix most of them but some required more than one trip back to Taurus. I have one gun here now that not only double fed but wouldn't chamber from the carrier. That gun has been back three time and still doesn't work. The really sad part is the quality of the workmanship,too. This was a new gun when it first went to them but now it's beat up, the wood is bruised and scratched up, the screws are buggered and still doesn't work. The last time I talked to them they tell me there is nothing else they can do. So much for their lifetime warranty.
The folks at EMF bought some and have since dropped them from their line. The original Customer service person with Taurus Ron Vogel has left them and the "T" bolt will probably never be mad by them again.
Tycer, think about this. All the other pump rifles start at $800. The Taurus gun is still under $500. I'm betting that's because the quality just isn't there.

Steve Young, 23 August 2007

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

No Hunting, Chainsaw Day

No hunting, but I was carrying while I used the chainsaw to remove the "foundation" plants at Mom's house. The landscaping was once small but due to lack of trimming, a belief in natural growth firmly ensconced in Mom's mind, they finally got so big that they were a liability deserving of immediate action which even Mom couldn't/wouldn't oppose. It took all afternoon to get the back of the house. Next time it will be the front of the house and will take twice as long. Bless her heart, Mom "helped" but at 73 and missing a lot of muscle on the left side of her body after her radical mastectomy, she couldn't do much but stand in the way... So, I'm a bit beat and may not go back for work until Thursday.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Where I've been in the US

create your own personalized map of the USA
or check out ourCalifornia travel guide

I saw this elsewhere and I just thought it was indeed neat. I've missed 3 states. I'm ashamed. I've also been to Great Britain, France, Japan and South Korea.

The Brush Hunter by Lewis Ballard

The brush hunter:

1. does all his hunting before he shoots

2. won’t buy a $2,400 Steyr Scout rifle

3. will buy a $240 .30-30 that does the same job

4. knows that size really does matter

5. knows that velocity really doesn’t

6. thinks a softball trajectory is just fine

7. wishes Winchester had called the Model 95 chambered in .405 Winchester the Theodore Roosevelt "Big Stick" Commemorative

8. reminds everyone that the .45-70 was heralded as a flat-shooting, long range cartridge in 1873

9. reminds everyone that the .30 Winchester Center Fire was heralded as a flat-shooting, long range cartridge in 1895

10. reminds everyone that the .30-06 was heralded as a flat-shooting, long range cartridge in 1906

11. doesn’t think the last hundred years or so have changed the .45-70, the .30 WCF and the .30-06 into weak sisters

12. thinks shooting at 300 meters is just fine on the Marine Corps KD range

13. would rather spend an hour stalking before the shot then twenty minutes walking after it

14. knows that "out where the ranges are long" you need to get closer

15. thinks most cartridges introduced since 1920 have been a step backwards, if not pointless

16. is willing to make an exception for the .444 Marlin and .44 Magnum

17. doesn’t "get" the magnum craze

18. thinks he gets the .350 Remington

19. definitely gets the .375 Holland and Holland

20. wants to get into Cowboy Action Shooting

21. reloads his own ammunition because it’s fun

22. knows Peter Paul Mauser designed a couple of pretty good rifles

23. also knows that John Moses Browning was a freakin’ genius

24. understands that Uncle Elmer banged away at that elk with his revolver, way out past Fort Mudge, only because the elk was wounded and his rifle was dry.

25. fantasizes about Cape buffalo and lion

26. would love to hunt boar with a spear

27. pretends his 12 gauge side by side is a double rifle, when no one’s looking

28. doesn’t much like variable scopes, or any scope much above 9x

29. doesn’t understand why you’d collect a gun you wouldn’t take to the field

30. likes having the choice between a Marlin Guide Gun and a Winchester Timber Rifle in .444 Marlin

31. wishes Winchester would introduce a .338-06, call it the .338 Keith, and start a .270/.280-style war with Remington’s .35 Whelen

32. thinks the single shot rifle is, like Obi-Wan’s light saber, a more elegant weapon, from a more civilized age

33. knows the .45-70 hits harder at 100 yards than any .270

34. knows how to use a shooting sling

35. likes tang sights

36. thinks the 270 grain .375 Holland and Holland is a good "light weight, high velocity" load

37. doesn’t feel especially "handicapped" or "primitive" with a muzzle loader

38. hunts with a muzzle loader during regular seasons

39. would really love an eight bore double rifle

40. thinks a hot-loaded 1886 .45-70 is a superb rifle for African game

41. is tired of gun magazine articles on shooting at game at (or past) 500 yards

42. is also tired of gun magazine articles on custom .45 ACPs that aren’t single-action revolving pistols

43. wishes there were gun magazine articles on custom .45 ACPs that are single-action revolving pistols

44. has a spare .45 ACP cylinder for his .45 Colt Blackhawk

45. is glad Bill Ruger came out with the Blackhawk, the Redhawk, and super Black- and Redhawks, the Number 1, the Red Label and the 77 International

46. wishes Bill Ruger would come out with a good $500 double rifle

47. believes in complete penetration

48. trusts sectional density more than energy figures

49. wishes the standard bullet weight for each caliber was about twenty grains heavier

50. wants a power formula that includes caliber, bullet weight, bullet shape and (what the hey) velocity

51. is proud of himself when he passes up a shot he doesn’t feel good about

52. sights his rifle in at the bench, and then mostly shoots from the kneeling, sitting and other field positions

53. knows its called hunting, not shooting, the same way it’s called fishing, not catching

54. is pretty sure that, 100 years ago, using Krags and Winchesters, hunters lost less wounded game than hunters do today

55. thinks a Ruger 20-guage Number 1 with a rifled barrel for shooting slugs would be just keen

56. always wanted to rechamber a 16-gauge double shotgun to .45-70

57. likes putting rifled choke tubes into his side by side and shooting slugs

58. knows you can’t miss fast enough to bring down game

59. will admit that, if we were just being practical, we would all shoot Remington or Winchester .30-06s

60. is glad he’s not entirely practical

61. thinks that a .358 Savage 99 with a 1.5-5x scope is a pretty hot rock setup

62. wishes that you could still buy a factory .358 rifle

63. wishes you could still buy a new Savage 99 with a rotary magazine, or even a Savage 99

64. wonders if Elmer Keith would pack a .44 Magnum, a .45 Colt, or a .475 Linebaugh today

65. would secretly like to have a Westley and Richards takedown .303 single shot

66. would rather buy three Rugers than pay $1400 for a new Colt

67. still finds himself thinking about the Colt

68. is proud of the fact that nostalgia plays a role in his firearms taste

69. wishes he shot a little better

70. is a member of the NRA, even if he thinks they’re a bit wishy-washy

71. is secretly in awe of people who pick fights with Cape buffalo, even with a .475 Linebaugh

72. would like to have a Freedom Arms .45 Colt and a Dakota Arms .338-06, but gets along pretty good with his Super Blackhawk and .308 Ruger International

73. likes shooting guns that have been "obsolete" for about a hundred years

74. secretly thought the "Win-Tuff" laminated stocks looked pretty cool

75. would much rather finance a hundred year old H&H than a new BMW SUV (ten percent down, 0.9% financing for four years)

76. thinks that Hummers should be available all stripped down, with a winch and snorkel, without carpet or stereo, for about fifteen grand

77. knows that time has not stood still, and that today’s powders, primers and brass, not to mention bullets, are the best that have ever been available

78. is enough of a sissy to wish Ruger would come out with a Number One .45-70 "Tropical" rifle

79. can justify having otherwise identical Ruger Bisleys in .45 Colt and .44 Magnum

80. really likes the Ashley Outdoors peep sights

81. is selfishly sad that Finn Aagard was called home

82. thinks that the .270 is a good long range cartridge

83. would still like to stoke up his .45-70 with black powder and thump a big pig

84. believes that, objectively speaking, a .30 WCF Winchester or Marlin is a much more dangerous weapon than an AK-47

85. knows that it is the man, not the tool, that is the operative and determining factor in almost all shooting

86. doesn’t mind at all that Marlin copied Jim West’s Co-Pilot when they brought out the Guide Gun

87. doesn’t see any real advantage to the new .450 Marlin over the .45-70 loaded stout

88. thinks the demonization of guns in modern society is a sad, sad thing

89. has a crazy mad love jones for single shot rifles

90. doesn’t have any real need for a 12" barreled Winchester 92 .44-40, but is intensely annoyed that he can’t buy one

91. resents being called a "slob hunter" just because he shoots a .30-30

92. for the life of him can’t figure out why people didn’t flock to the .358, .307 and .356 Winchesters

93. thinks the world really needs wildcats in .33-08 and 9.3x52mm (9.3-08)

94. has a good time hunting, even if he doesn’t see any game

95. doesn’t think much of synthetic stocks, while admitting their advantages

96. would rather put a laminated stock on his rifles than a plastic one

97. thinks the cartridge case heads inserted into the stocks on the Remington 14 and 14 ½ pump rifles were pretty neat-o

98. got funny looks that time at the range when he put up a silhouette target at 100 yards and whanged away with his .45-70, pulling eight out of ten head shots from kneeling or thinks hunting the Big Five back in the days, with a single shot muzzle loading rifle, when you were a month’s journey on foot away from "civilization", took an awful lot of intestinal fortitude

99. is a little bit puzzled that no one makes a modern hunting rifle as slick as a Krag

100. Knows that the best shooting accessory is practice.

Thanks to Jim Taylor for multiple reposts of this.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

1891 Argentine Engineer Carbine & the 7.65x53mm Argentine Cartridge

Wonderful things are these small ring Mauser rifles. Perfect for sporting purposes and not at all as clubby as the large ring Mausers. Even the G33-40 seems to pale in comparison. And boy are they a throwback to the heady days of the late colonial period. (Shown here is a standard Cavalry carbine)

My first 7.65x53mm rifle was an Argentine 1891 rifle somebody had converted to a sporting rifle. I had the barrel recrowned, installed a Foolproof receiver sight and Fajen stock along with some other cosmetic improvements. It went down the road at divorce time and I missed it. Many years later, a close friend knowing of my love/admiration of the 1891 action and 7.65x53mm cartridge initiated a trade which brought an Engineer carbine into my clutches.

The 7.65x53mm Argentine was initially developed for the Belgian version in 1889 and its ballistics are similar to that of the .303 British and .30-40 Krag. The 7.65x53 Mauser cartridge was adopted by the Belgian military around 1889, so the 7.65x53 is commonly known as the 7.65 Belgian Mauser. Shortly thereafter the 7.65x53 was adopted by several South American countries, including Argentina, so it is also known as the 7.65mm Argentine, particularly in North America. The 7.65x53 has a rim diameter of .474" and a case length of 53mm (2.09"). 7.65mm translates to .303 caliber in English usage, and the 7.65x53 uses the same .311-.312" diameter bullets as the .303 British.

What you really have, when loaded with 150-180 gr. bullets, is a hot .300 Savage or low end .308 Winchester. Even the case form is similar. In the light carbines, such as I have and prefer, it has been said to kick "like two mules". I don't think so, at least no more so than such a load from a .308 Winchester in any other 7½ pound rifle. Steel buttplate and all and I don't think it is uncomfortable to shoot. In combat or on game there would have been no problems, you simply would not notice.

Of course the original load was a 215 gr. jacketed bullet which left the muzzle of the 29" barreled rifle at about 2100 fps. I soon found that the 215 gr. Woodleigh JRN will shoot to the sights when so loaded but, of course, it is a bit slower from the carbine, doing about 2000 fps. Interestingly, most loads including commercial Argentine soft-point ammo will shoot usefully close to the sights are reasonable ranges. Range is thus really more limited by one's eyes and the late 19th century sights.

Fortunately brass is readily available. One can buy Norma or Hornady brass (also marketed by Grafs and Sons) or reform any longer cartridge using the .30-06 case head. Be aware that cartridges reformed from the shorter cartridges such as the 8x57 might have incorrect body taper when first formed and not be held properly by the magazine.

Bullets are the same as those used for the .303 Brit and 7.7 Jap (and maybe for the 7.62x54mm Russian) and are .311-.312" in diameter. For the carbines the 215 gr. bullets would be most correct but the 180s and 150s will work. Standard large rifle primers will suffice for any appropriate powders. It is a simple thing to use one's favorite powders for this class cartridge to move 150 gr at 2700 fps, 180 gr. at 2500 fps, or 215 gr. at 2100 fps.


Hogdon Data

No Deer for the Freezer Today, Yet Again

A sign from above, literally, as the incoming cold front and high winds blew down a tree limb that almost got me. That near experience with that almost widowmaker was taken by me that it wasn't my day to be in the woods. Oh, it was warm, over 63 degrees and it was nice to be out but... Now I'm pursuing other interests.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

My Special Detective Special

I've posted about this gun before today but I'll take the opportunity to sum up my experiences to date.

I bought a 3" Colt Detective Special which serial number places its date of birth in 1972. This means that it has the short post '66 grip frame. Finish is about 80-85% but that is, of course, a subjective thing. It has holster wear on the finish at the muzzle and was clearly placed on one side in a drawer, perhaps a damp drawer, for a long period as there is some missing bluing on one portion of the cylinder. It arrived in my hands with Pachmayr rubber grips that seemed to detract from the beauty of this gun and I immediately went searching for more appropriate grips.

This took me places I'd rather not have gone and I acquired some Herrett's grips more suited to the Police Positive Special, an abortive pair of Ajax grips and was finally given the best of the lot, another pair of Herrett's more moderately bulky than my never installed pair. I like this pair best and it is the pair shown installed.

Acquisition of speed loaders for this revolver was no problem at all and I now have 3 of the HKS speed loaders intended for the Detective Special. However, if you must, the K-frame speed loaders will also work and this was a major attraction of the Detective Special, it being a good, smaller, lighter back-up to the K-frame S&W service revolvers.

I needed leather for the gun as well but wasn't certain that I'd want to carry IWB all the time but realized that this gun would demand an IWB holster a good bit of the time. Rob Leahy of Simply Rugged came through with one of his inside out modifications to the Silver Dollar pancake holster. This works a treat and is comfortable in either carry mode. I've even worn the gun IWB when hunting with comfort! That is the holster shown in the photo and it looks good, too!

But what ammo to use? Well, it is a 1972 gun. I like that it is as light as the S&W M36 but has the extra chamber in the cylinder giving me one more round before reloading. I think that this late a gun can use limited use of the +P loadings, namely the FBI load. Most of the time, I would expect that 4.5 gr. of Unique under a swaged or cast 158 gr. SWC (HP or not) will meet most requirements.

I guess I'm lucky in that this fixed sight gun shoots close enough to point of aim for practical use with these loads to 25 yards (small game) or even 50 yards (anti-personnel). However, I would not likely be shooting at anyone further than about 30-40 feet. It is comforting that I could take any necessary shot at that range.

How does the Detective Special compare to the S&W M36 3". Well, they don't vary in weight by more than a couple of ounces, loaded. Their dimensions aren't that different for length. However, the cylinders are enough different in diameter and the frames enough different in depth (top to bottom) that they can't share a holster. Also, that 6th shot in the Detective Special is comforting. I will say though that the heavier barrel of the 3" M36 "hangs" better than the Detective Special.

One thing that is seldom mentioned, particularly by shops that might be selling the Detective Specials, is that service support for the guns is rapidly going away. Few gunsmiths will work on them, the factory won't/can't supply parts or service. For some that is a deal breaker. I will continue to carry mine, but, I will carefully ration the number of rounds it fires.

Since getting this gun, I've bought a couple of other D-frames and a J-frame Colt.  Information on checking out these guns is important to the buyer of used revolvers, which all are.  So, I thought I'd include the following information (courtesy of Dfariswheel).

To check Colt timing:

Open the cylinder and look at the small "lug" in the bottom of the cylinder window. This is the cylinder locking bolt.

Cock the hammer, and watch as the bolt retracts into the frame and pops back out.

The bolt MUST begin to retract THE INSTANT the hammer begins to move.  There MUST be NO (ZERO) hammer movement possible before the bolt starts to retract.

The bolt should retract smoothly with no hesitation until it's fully retracted, then it MUST pop back out with a clean "snap".
There should be no hesitation, and no amount of "creeping" back out.

Close the cylinder.
Use your left thumb or fore finger to again cock the hammer, closely watching the cylinder bolt as you SLOWLY cock the hammer.

As the hammer comes back, the bolt will retract away from the cylinder.

The bolt MUST retract far enough to unlock the cylinder BEFORE the cylinder begins to rotate.

If the bolt is still slightly engaged with the cylinder lock notch, the cylinder will be attempting to turn while still partially locked.

This produces a "catch" or "hard spot" in the trigger pull and will damage both the bolt and the cylinder lock notches.  This often appears as metal "pulled out" of the lock notches, with rounded off and burred notches.

Continue to cock the hammer, laying your right index finger on the cylinder just enough to prevent "free wheeling".

Watch for the bolt to drop back onto the cylinder. WHERE the bolt drops is CRITICAL.

The bolt MUST drop onto the lead or ramp in front of the actual cylinder notch.
If the bolt drops too soon, (in front of the notch ramp), it will mar the finish of the cylinder.

The bolt SHOULD drop into the MIDDLE 1/3rd section of the ramp.

If the bolt drops late, (farther toward the actual locking notch) the revolver may display "cylinder throw-by".
In this condition, during double action shooting the cylinder may rotate PAST the locking notch, and fire in an unlocked condition.

It's the nature of the Colt action, that a hesitant or jerky trigger pull by the user can induce throw-by in even a properly tuned Colt.
The Colt trigger should be pulled with a smooth, even pull, with no sudden jerks at the beginning.

Continue to pull the hammer back and both watch and listen for the bolt to drop into the cylinder lock notch.

The bolt MUST drop into the actual lock notch BEFORE the hammer reaches full cock.

The most common Colt mis-time situation is the hammer cocks before the bolt drops into the lock notch. (Hammer is cocked, but cylinder isn't locked).

In this condition, with the hammer fully cocked, you can push the cylinder slightly, and you will hear the "CLICK" as the bolt drops into lock.

In my experience, most Colt's leave the factory with the bolt dropping a little late into the lead, but usually wear in to correct timing.

If the bolt drops onto the cylinder early, no real problem, but there will be extra finish wear.

If the bolt drops late (closer to the lock notch) the cylinder may "throw by" or rotate TOO far in double action and this can cause off-center primer hits and firing while unlocked.

Each of these checks should be done on EACH chamber. All of these checks are better done individually. In other words, do the bolt retraction check on all six chambers, then do the bolt drop test, and so on.

A properly tuned Colt will:  Have a smoothly functioning bolt with no sticky or hesitant movement.

Unlock before the cylinder begins to turn.

The bolt will drop onto the middle 1/3rd of the ramp.

The bolt will drop into the lock notch before the hammer reaches full cock.

Have a smooth trigger pull, which does "stack" or get progressively heavier.

- The Classic Colt Detective Special .38 Revolver By Mike Guffey

No Hunting Today

Gone to the doctor with Mom, there was no hunting today.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Charter2000 and the 1876 Winchester SRC Reproductions

I wrote Charter 2000 about the 1876 Winchester SRC reproductions, I'd heard they'd be out in 2 weeks when I sent the inquiry on November 7 and got this reply, on November 20.

Oh yeah, good customer service there as well. Won't likely be counting on their ability to support their product. At least the respondent protected his/herself by not signing the message. Good move!

The Final Chapter of Customer Service and Ajax Grips

Final chapter because I will never beg Ajax Grips to do business with me again. Never, ever, even if I'm hung toes first over a giant metal shredder. That can't be as painful as dealing with this collection of customer averse peckerwoods. Final because the last of the product I had to take to recover my "credit" with them has arrived. The overpriced Wilson .45 Gov magazine will find its way into my son-in-laws Christmas gift box. I hope he loves it.

If I may note the following.

1 - I've yet to receive an answer to any e-mail sent to Ajax Grips.
2 - The person who finally answered the phone seemed put out to: A) take my call instead of one from anyone else and B) didn't like that I didn't like their rather pitiful product.
3 - Their shipping costs are outrageous for what they ship.
4 - Shipping time is outlandishly long.
5 - Their grips are horrible as noted in the photos as posted elsewhere... Naw, let's post those pics again.

The backstrap fit is about the worst, with the grip standing a full 1/8" proud in places...

The fore part of the grip is only proud by 1/16" but is sharp in all places the hand contacts it.

The bottoms fail to meet by a full 1/8"!

On top of all that the grips are so thin as to be nearly unusable. Certainly much thinner than even the factory issue grips. "Custom", not in any way, shape or form. Abominable.

Yet another day of frustration...

Too warm with temps reaching 64-65 degrees (maybe higher) and the deer went to bed early in the day and stayed there. I had no luck finding them and no one to whom to push them or to move them to me.

I've been carrying the Browning 1895 all week. I have to take Mom to the Doctor Tuesday morning but after that, I have Wednesday and Thursday to hunt and will carry another of gun, likely the Rossi/EMF .45 Colt. Lots lighter, the 1895 weighs 8 lbs, but with plenty of power for deer to 150 yards. No, it isn't likely I'll get a 150 yard shot.

Friday, November 24, 2006

More of the Same

As in, still no deer in the freezer. Warmed up a lot today. I could not get in position on the likely bedding areas.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

No Deer for the Freezer Today, Again

Front moving in and I thought the deer would be out feeding but, again, no legal deer in sight. Wind about blew me off one ridge top! Finally, it started raining. I had no desire to be cold AND wet. I came home and reloaded some more for the .30-40.

The gun is easy to carry in the woods despite the 24" barrel and long receiver combining for longer than average rifle. I like the gun a lot.

Monday, November 20, 2006

No Deer for the Freezer Today

Hunted, walked, looked, and came home. No deer for the freezer today. Of course this doesn't mean that it was a bad day hunting. If it was me that was shot, that would be a bad day hunting. Otherwise it is all good. Tomorrow I'm going to try someplace with some deer chow on the ground.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Guns I have Sold

This is a sad, sad thing to say but I have actually sold guns and let them out of my hands. What foolishness sometimes possesses us. What and why you ask? Well...

The first is truely heart rending. This was my first centerfire rifle, my first deer was killed with this rifle, and it was a gift from Dad. The latter I did not know until I told him I'd traded it. I thought I'd paid for it out of my savings. Truly heart breaking that.

I'd been wanting a centerfire for a loooong time like every other boy I knew. I'd been putting money in my savings account (but I didn't hold the bank book) for that gun. Now, it was approaching another deer season and I had my safety certificate and could get a license. Dad and I made the rounds of gun shops and found the 336 in the Western Auto just off Court Square in Harrisonburg, VA. Talk about excited! That season I got my first deer, with one shot and it was a buck (it pretty much had to be!). Still excited. But I've always been a gun nut and a couple of years later I was wondering what OTHER guns might be "better". Oh, I truly regret losing this one and can't find the serial number anywhere. The follow-on was this gun...

Marlin 1893 .38-55 rifle. The 26" octagonal barrel had been cut-down to 19 inches and a bit, the magazine likewise shortened and a later 336 ramp front soldered (not silver soldered and not well at that) onto the barrel. The mag spring had to be replaced as it had been cut somewhere in the middle and welded back together to make the spring the correct length. The stock may have been taken from the same 336 donor rifle... You get the picture. But it did have a Lyman #2 tang peep which worked well. I found out later that that sight was correct for the Marlin 1892. Oh it was a mishmash but with a new buttstock and some cleaning of the solder job it was a treat. That rifle was able to hang around until my divorce when it "had" to go to pay the lawyer (or for food for the kids and me, depending on how you look at it). That was a great gun.

Of course, at about the same time, I was enamoured of the .44 Mag cartridge but too young to own a revolver. I found instead a "great deal" on a post-64 M94 Winchester in .44 Mag. I never managed to save up the money to install a Williams Foolproof, I think they were about $25 at the time, quite a bit of money to me in 1973, but that rifle was accurate and I killed crows (on the ground), groundhogs and other vermin. It was quick to the shoulder and while the Remington SWC (a half-jacketed round) didn't feed all that well it was accurate as was the more expensive 240 gr. SJHP. That last round became my ammo of choice until I started reloading. Unfortunately, this gun had one fault. It would, sometimes, feed a second round under the carrier. What a pain to correct that fault. Of course I was too stupid to know how to fix it by repairing the cartridge stop although I had access to all the equipment needed to effect the repair. I kinda wish I had that gun. Unfortunately I traded it for...

A Marlin 1894 in .44 Mag. These were "new" on the market at the time and had a few good write-ups in the gun magazines (yeah, I know, but I was 18). Now, I had the money for the Foolproof for that gun and although it never managed to be in my hands when there was a deer in front of me, it did get a few hogs in the FT Hunter-Liggett hills. I also loaned the gun out to similarly impoverished junior enlisted and they took hogs and goats with the gun. None of them managed to damage it (was I just lucky?) and I was able to bring it back from California just before shipping overseas to Korea for 3 years 9 months. Load of choice? Remington 240 gr. SJHP. Killed everything with a minimum of muss. However, there came a time when the wife decided that another fellow was more to her liking (he's gone now, too) and the gun was one of this group which went to pay the lawyer and feed my kids. I do indeed miss this gun but it could have been better. How?

Well, if it had been the Sporter version or the two band version I'd have liked it even better. It was fully as accurate as the Winchester it replaced and it never fed two but I've never really warmed to the rifle style forearm cap paired with the muzzle barrel band of which Marlin seems so fond. Looks dumb to me.

Sometime in this period I found an 1891 Argentine rifle that had been bubbaized. Still properly chambered in 7.65x53mm Belgian/Argentine, the rifle was the equivalent of the .308 but nowhere near the price. No matter, I supported the gun industry more than adequately in my attempt to feed the gun. I remember buying one box of Norma ammunition for $22 or over $1 a case and this was in 1973! Fortunately a Lee Loader came with the gun or I'd have been impoverished very quickly. Even a box of brass was over $15.

Still in the cut-down military stock and with a cobbled together combo of Weaver bases and cheap, cheap telescopic sight, this gun needed work. I bought a Fajen sporting stock, a Williams Foolproof, and Jon Ritenour installed a Remington 700 ramp and Williams front bead. The bolt had already been altered for scope use. While I was gone to Korea the first tour (12 months) my dad fit the stock to the gun and I was ready to go. I took the gun deer hunting several times but ammo was expensive and it didn't get loaned out for hog hunts. I did carry it to Washington on a visit to a friend at FT Lewis but a hoped for elk hunt didn't materialize. This gun, too, helped to finance the big "D". I'm still looking for it even though I now have a very nice 1891 Argentine Engineer's carbine.

While I was in Korea the second time I started to save quite a bit of money. Living cheaply on the economy and having little to do but play with the kids and read gun magazines/books I started to spend on my passion. After much consideration I bought, through my Dad who actually did the transaction while I was gone, a Ruger Security-Six in stainless steel with 4" barrel. A .357 Magnum, this gun was everything that one would expect. I shot it quite a bit with reloaded .357 Mag ammo and .38 Special wadcutters. I managed to kill a groundhog or two with it as well as a squirrel and wrote up the gun and my choice thereof in "The Sixgunner", the official news of JD Jones' Internationl Handgunners' Association (I was charter member #500).

The Security-Six wasn't just a hunting gun, it also served as the bedside gun and rode along on the seat of the car when I was out and about. At the time, that was the only way for me to carry and size was unimportant. Unfortunately, this fine gun also was sacrificed on the altar of divorce.

There are more but the emotion of the moment prevents continuing this "saga". I'll do so later...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Political Action Request - CHP in National Parks

VCDL's Gun Dealer Legal Defense Fund -- help fight Mayor Bloomberg's
scheme to cripple Virginia firearms dealers. See:
To unsubscribe or change your email address, please follow the
directions at the end of this message.

Urgent! We need to roll up our sleeves and hit this hard!

Senator George Allen, keeping his word to gun owners, has introduced
S 4057, the National Park Second Amendment Restoration and Personal
Protection Act of 2006, which will allow gun owners to carry in a
National Park as long as the state where the National Park is located allows carry in parks!

Senator Allen needs to get the bill a Floor vote in the Senate and
get it off to the House for passage that must happen before the end
of the current session of Congress.

We need to do the following things ASAP to help Senator Allen MAKE

1. Contact Senator John Warner and ask him to support S. 4057

Phone: 202-224-2023
Fax: 202-224-6295

Email web page:

2. Contact Senator Majority Leader, Bill Frist, and ask him to fast
track S 4057!

Phone: 202-224-3344
Fax: 202-228-1264

Email web page:

3. Spread this email on other gun-related web sites and email lists
so we can get the word out to gun owners across the nation! Send it
to family, friends, and coworkers, especially those outside of
Virginia. We need Senators from other states to support this bill
and quickly!

Here is the web page that lists all Senators and their contact
information for those not in Virginia:

They should contact both of their Senators and Bill Frist (item #2 above).


VA-ALERT is a project of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc. (VCDL).
VCDL is an all-volunteer, non-partisan grassroots organization dedicated to
defending the human rights of all Virginians. The membership considers the
Right to Keep and Bear Arms to be an essential human right.

VCDL web page:

I hope that everyone will contact their Senators AND Senator Frist AND publicize this.

More Muzzleloading in the Rain

It was pouring down and I'm standing there, actually stillhunting, and see first one doe and then another and another and, no bucks. Has to be a buck. Never saw a buck. Soaked, I fired my gun clear and came home, cleaned the rifle and took care of the personal property taxes. Now that makes it about a normal day. On the one hand 7 does at about 25 yards or so and on the other hand paying $600+ in taxes.

Of course now it has cleared, mostly, and the sun is shining as strongly as the rain was falling 2 hours ago.

I almost forgot to mention that the FIRST thing I did this morning was try the .30-40 loads using 43 gr. H4350 under the Hornady 220 gr. RN. Success! I don't know why, but I like heavy bullets going relatively slow. I'm excited and will load up the rest of my cases thusly.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Muzzleloading and Rain

They don't mix, muzzleloading and rain. Oh, you can do it. But, for me, to go through all that and maybe not have your charge fire, well, it could just be weak and only wound the animal. No good. After a bit, I discharged my load into a soft clay bank and came home to clean the gun. Still, it was a nice day, if short.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Hunting - VA Muzzleloader

Got out with the New Englander today. Went up near Todd Lake. Found some sign/tracks but not with deer standing in them, then jumped some grouse. Did jump one doe but doe aren't legal right now. Weather was nice, overcast some with temps about 59-60 degrees Fahrenheit. There is always tomorrow.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Just a few thoughts...

Once again I'm awaiting the arrival of a service technician to repair/replace some appliance that broke. Hopefully, in about an hour all will be well. Fingers crossed.

I have been doing some things though. Aside from the horrendous torture of being forced by my wife to watch "Borat" at the theater, I've been loading some 220 gr. Hornady RNs for the .30-40 Browning 1895. They feed slick as snot, soon we'll see how well they shoot.

I've also loaded some .25-35 empties. Quite a few, and not all reformed .30-30 brass, had cracked/split necks. I don't know why. I loaded these with the 27 gr. BLC(2) and Hornady 117 gr. RN.

My New Englander and kit is ready to go. Tomorrow I'll be out hunting deer.

Had a Sharp-shinned Hawk in the back yard this morning. I hoped that some hawks would come in and take out some of the rabbits and squirrels. I had 12 squirrels around the bird feeder yesterday. Anyway, there were several crows harassing the hawk.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Another Company and Customer Service

Well, well, I've run into another company with a net presence who hasn't figured out how to answer their e-mail. I sent Charter2000 a message asking about the rumored release of the 1876 in saddle-ring carbine form about January of 2007. No response in going on 4 days. Ok, so I'm not a retailer. Guess I'll pop for one from another importer like Cimarron when theirs is released.

Ongoing Saga with Ajax Grips

Well, yesterday I received my order meant to use up my credit at Ajax Grips. I ordered 2 Wilson 7-round mags for my Colt .45 ACP pistols and a HKS speedloader for the 629. One (1) magazine and the HKS speedloader arrived via Fedex yesterday. It was UPS last time. No reason that I can see to switch carriers but it is a big difference at my end as UPS delivers about 1:00 PM and FEDEX delivers somewhere between 4:00 and 6:00 PM with no guarantee as to time. So one (1) magazine is backordered and until it arrives my transaction (how long has this taken?) with Ajax won't be complete. Again, I got to pay an extra $22 and change for the "privilege" of doing business with these folks. And they have yet to answer an e-mail.

Easy Shooting Guns or Marksmanship

I was talking about my new Browning 1895 rifle (.30 US aka .30-40) on a forum and mentioned (as I did here) that it was easy to hit the 4" plates to 150 yards from off-hand. One respondent thought that I must be a grand shot if I could do that. After some reflection, I'm thinking that he either didn't believe me or didn't understand what I was talking about.

First off you have to understand that the 4" plates are either 4" on a side squares, i.e. 16 square inches OR 4" in diameter or about 12.5 square inches area. That's not precision shooting by any means but good enough to bring a deer to bag.

Next, you have to understand that easy doesn't imply that you hit it with the first shot or even every shot only that it is a relatively simple and uncomplicated exercise to accomplish those hits. In this particular situation the Browning's sights are easy to see (at least in the conditions that existed at the time I was shooting) and easy to see against the target (again, in those particular conditions), the rifle was comfortable to hold and fit me well, the trigger wasn't influencing my shooting, the cartridge shot relatively "flat" (in other words it didn't require a lot of hold over out to that range), and the cartridge/rifle combination is balanced in that it doesn't generate excessive/intimidating recoil which might affect the shooter.

I don't think the task of hitting a 4" metal plate at 150 yards is anything any rifle shooter can't accomplish, it is just easier with some rifle/cartridge combinations. This Browning seems to be one such combination.

Friday, November 10, 2006

"Gun" Rights and the "New" Congress

With the Democrats taking control of the Congress what do we have, as gun owners, in our future? First, I submit that gun rights are really human rights. Rights to self-defense, rights to political freedom, the right to defend freedom of speech, the right to defend being born of a particular race...

Anway, I don't think that much will happen due to gridlock. Sometimes gridlock is a good thing. The Dems are not united. They had to put up conservative candidates to beat the Republicans. No liberal won unless they ran unapposed like Pelosi, just look at Lamont who lost to Lieberman. Will these folks really be so beholding to Pelosi and Schumer that they will abandon their values to vote for these things? Maybe, but not with political pressure from home. I think they are smart enough to realize that they used the liberal leadership to give them an "in" in a party that is socialist but that when that older, often aging, leadership goes the new class will be the leadership. Also, these freshman senators and representatives realize that they will not be re-elected if they radically deviate from their campaign persona. The margin is much better than it seems as the RINOs are gone (e.g. Chafee and Dewine) and there are not 60 votes they thought they needed. I think the two houses are still divided, even among the Dems as the Reps have such a short time to their election cycle.

The Dems will also be distracted, continue to be distracted, by their hatred of Bush and his cabinet. They are already working towards trial or hearings on all those poor souls who served the past 6 years. The first lamb up for slaughter will be Rumsfeld.

The Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has served the country most of his 72 years and done a darn fine job the whole time. He was brought in to restructure the Army and was confronted with going on a war footing at the same time after 9/11. His replacement Gates may be different in temperment but not in accomplishment nor in ability and that will not make much difference for the management of the war. After all, it is the circumstances surrounding the war that will effectively make the decisions for the leaders, not the Secretary of Defense. Still, it will distract the Dems. Distracted, we will not be so easy a target.

What concerns me more is that our perceived weaknesses will encourage our enemies to take a greater risk and again attack us here in the homeland. That will be disastrous for the Dems but it can be more disastrous for shooters in that components will become hard to get either due to simple non-availability or to increased cost as a result of rising fuel prices and competition with military requirements. If it is a major attack, it could seriously damage our economy or even require the restructuring of our transportation system. In that case you'd best be prepared to get along with what you have. That includes .22 LR ammo. At least your "excess" can be traded.

Note: I don't like posting "political" posts here but this is close enough to my regular subject matter that I've done so. For my political posts, see One Old Soldier under the Blogs on the right.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Muzzleloading Hunting, the Controversy

The controversy as to the purpose and direction of muzzloading hunting (as opposed to primitive firearms hunting) has apparently reached another milestone...

The infighting on the subject amongst hunters is, has been and will be tremendous. Some of the participants are vicious.

The truth is that in the past it was supposed to be a "primitive" hunt and now it isn't. Some of us take exception to that but many if not most just take deer. To them it is, as here in VA, a chance to take the "best" deer a week earlier than any gun hunter without any handicap compared to a gun hunter.

Muzzleloading Season

Our season WEST of the Blue Ridge starts Saturday (it started Nov 4 east of the Blue Ridge). Unfortunately (perhaps not so much) I'll be working. Next week promises to be cooler and I'll be able to hunt most of it. Monday I have to wait for delivery and installation of a new dishwasher. Since I'm it otherwise it wasn't a stretch to pop for a good unit! Anyway, I'll be able to hunt Tues-Thurs for certain.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Shooting Impression

An impression because it didn't get to the range, ammo wasn't shot over the chrony, etc.

Using Remington factory 180 gr. bulleted ammo the sights were right on. Feeding and function was slick, smooth, and easy without any hitches. Felt recoil was less that my No. 4 MK 1 rifles firing .303 Brit ammo also doing 180 at 2400 fps (note that some say the Remington ammo won't hit 2300 fps). It was easy to hit 4" plates to 150 meters shooting off-hand. I like it.

I was really happy to have this gun to shoot after not seeing any deer this morning.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Good News Comes in Long Packages

Yes indeed, packages about as long as a Browning 1895 Grade I rifle chambered for the .30 US (aka .30-40 cartridge). The monkey is taking quite a ride this year. I just bought this very nice rifle from Terry M. in Michigan and despite some drama that often seems to accompany long distance deals the rifle arrived safely. I've been coonfingering it ever since I got it into the house.

The .30-40 cartridge was adopted by the US Army in 1892 along with the U.S Magazine Rifle, Model 1892 (aka "Krag") rifle and was one of the first three cartridges for which the Winchester 1895 was chambered. Like many military smokeless cartridges of the period it moved a 220 gr. jacketed bullet out the muzzle at about 2000-2100 fps. One could say that it is the US version of the British .303 round. Aside from the ballistics with the 215-220 gr. bullets, both cartridges will push a 174-180 gr. bullet at about 2400 fps or 150 gr. at about 2500 fps and have similar dimensions. One thing about fans of the 220 gr. bullet at 2000 fps is that it is much easier to get such bullets in .308" than in .311" or .312" diameter (and cheaper).

The Browning rifle was also produced in .30-06. I guess I could have looked for one of those. I have lots of brass, dies, etc, but the .30-06 just doesn't float my boat the way the .303 Brit and .30-40 do. I'm looking forward to working with the cartridge. I've already got some brass and more brass, 220 gr. Hornady RNs and dies on order. They should arrive next week and if possible I'll take the gun hunting this year.

I'll be looking for a Lyman 56 or perhaps I'll save up the money and get a Lyman 38 reproduction to install. I like the Williams Foolproof but, let's just face facts, it wouldn't look right on this gun. I'm really leaning towards the 38 as having a much wider range of elevation adjustment.

The gun itself is very handy. Much handier than expected with the 24" barrel and magazine protruding below the receiver. The balance point is just at the front of the magazine and the gun rests well between the hands coming to the shoulder smoothly and aligning the sights to the eye like a good shotgun. I'm sure my very average dimensions have something to do with that. Still, I can see how the gun was pretty popular among a number of people on the cutting edge of technology in 1895 or so. It is a much nicer gun than a bolt action of the period.

I still haven't gotten to take a good photo of the gun or shoot it. I hope to do so this week and will post the results of both endeavors ASAP.

See also:
.30-40 Krag Cartridge Board - by Gil Sengel

More on Customer Service - AJAX Grips

Customer service comes close to being a misnomer for Ajax Grips. They have yet to respond to ANY of my e-mails. I bet that is a big plus for their business...

Anyway, after about 2 weeks I got my credit for the ill-fitting grips (an understatement for these "custom" grips). I've lost $14 in shipping so far and will have to pay another $7.99 in shipping for this "order" to claim my credit. For those of you who can't do math that's about $22 in nothing but shipping and overpriced at that as their packaging sucks and is $2 too much for the items of the weight shipped. Think I'll ever buy anything else from these folks?

So, my order to them goes out this afternoon after work. I'll report back as to what happens.

For those of you reading this and running a business, don't ever try to do this to me. You might, depending on circumstance, get away with it one time but you will never, ever get another dime from me AND your name will be, forever, mud when I mention you to my friends, family, acquaintances, strangers, etc.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Where Will Your Guns Go When You Are Gone?

Where will your guns go when you're gone? You know what I mean, when you have shuffled off this mortal coil, kicked the bucket, bought the farm, crossed the river, what will happen to your guns? Do you know? Have you thought about it? Do you have a general plan? A specific plan? Do you care?

In the work I do I've seen a lot of family heirlooms move onto the market because of one of two reasons. The most likely, seemingly most common, is that there was no planning. The owner didn't talk about his treasures with his wife, his children, his friends and that includes talking about why these things were treasured by him. If they don't know that something is important they likely don't value those things enough to either keep them around or ensure they go someplace or to somebody that will value them.

The second most likely reason is that nobody in the family cares. Not about the stuff, oh they care about the stuff, it is the person they don't care about. They don't care about what that person liked, what they did in their life, what they liked in life. They do care about the value of the items, at least to some degree, and they want the value of those things. At least what they perceive as the value of those things. We've all seen the treasures of a family including family bibles and photos go for pennies at yard sales and estate auctions.

I've met many folks who know they are nearing the end of their lives. They are aware of what will happen if they don't plan. Many know that their families don't care about some of the very valuable things they have. Sometimes, often times, that might include a firearms collection/accumulation.

I've got a few heirloom guns. I'd like to see them go to the grandchildren. But for one, my children don't care for my interests at all. The one, only because her husband is interested as I am. It is likely that her children will follow their father's lead. That is where I intend to pass on the bulk of my guns. But, I'm thinking that if I pass, my wife will want to sell some.

Now you and I both know that there are some unscrupulous folks out there that will take advantage of the bereaved. They are not above lying about market value or straight out stealing an item they desire to turn into dollars for themselves. Wives who want to get "that old thing" out of the house will sell guns for 50% (or less) of value. Husbands who "fibbed" about the cost of their guns might be looking down on a widow moving out his collection for what he said he paid when the true value is many times that. I wouldn't want that to happen to my wife.

So, what I did was to create a database (for my use) that details the guns I've got (and had) and the values of those guns I own. It lists the serial numbers so that there is no doubt which is which. Every time I get a new gun, I add it to the DB and print out a valuation report. Included in the valuation report is a comment section for each gun that specifies to whom I want it to go. I put that report in with my important "death" documents.

Now, you may only have one or two guns. You might not have any children or even a wife. Likely you do have parents, siblings, and a friend or two. If you don't you have my condolences, it must be a lonely life for you! One of those folks is likely the person to whom you would most like your collection, however small, to go. Make plans, be prepared. I am.

- Massad Ayoob, "Passengers, Prepare for Departure"

Friday, October 27, 2006

The .308 & .358 Winchester in the Marlin 336 Action

There is one topic that arises frequently on internet firearms forums/chat rooms particularly those devoted to Marlins, leveractions or handloading. That subject is the rechambering of the Marlin 336 in .30-30 (.30 WCF) to .307 or .308 Winchester and/or the rechambering of the 336 in .35 Remington to .356 or .358 Winchester. It has been encouraged by articles such as this one, Damaged Marlin 336 Restored, Rechambered for .358 Winchester by R. K. Campbell. It isn't my intention to discuss Mr. Campbell's article but rather to dispute the assertions made by many who apparently misread his article.

The goal, almost universally, is to get "better" ballistics easily and cheaply. Easily because the conversion will require "only" running a chambering reamer into the action and cheaply because the owner can do it himself without removing the barrel or using power tools. Ignored in the conversions .35 Rem to .356/.358 Win are the need, in some instances at least, to change the .35 Rem bolt for a .30-30 bolt to handle the rim of the new round. Ignored too, is the ability of the action to handle the increased case/cartridge length. Some will point out that the action can be modified to handle a cartridge up to 2.665" COL but that negates the "easy" and "cheap" part of the conversion, at least for most shooters.

Posters define better ballistics as flatter trajectory or more usually "more knockdown", i.e. more energy. Sometimes, those expectations are unrealistic. Posters often point to the ballistics of the wished for round ignoring the fact that until Hornady releases the LEVERevolution© bullets, the pointed high ballistic coefficient (BC) bullets used in the ballistic tables can't be used in the tubular magazine of the 336 due to safety concerns. Indeed the loaded cartridges will be too long to feed in the rifle. Larger cartridges are necessary to the concept of increased ballistic performance. If you can't fit the loaded cartridge into the gun and have it function in the gun, the whole idea is a waste of time. Mr. Campbell, although he shows factory ammo ballistics in the table in his article, acknowledges this problem of fit by only loading the .358 in the rechambered gun with pistol bullets. Only pistol bullets have the flat point, overall length, and cannelure position to permit use in the 336 as it is. Thus, the ballistics in the table are misleading and boy, are people mislead. Also ignored is that the barrel length used for the ballistics tables quoted are longer for the conversion cartridges than they are for the standard 336 carbine length of 20".

For many years the ballistics of the .30 WCF and .35 Remington were considered more than adequate. Indeed they were an improvement over older black powder cartridges providing adequate power fired from compact platforms. They were even commonly used on elk and other large game. After WWI and WWII, the bolt action and .30-06 cartridge and larger began to dominate the game fields. Marketing made many hunters doubt this well established cartridges. The .30 WCF and .35 Rem produced their ballistics, 170 and 200 gr. bullets respectively at 2200 fps, generating about 38-40,000 PSI or a breach thrust of about 4800 psi for the .30 WCF, 4900 psi and for the .35 Rem. This was well within the capabilities of the actions in which these cartridges were chambered including the 336 Marlin.

On the other hand, the .308 and .358 Winchester generate their ballistics, using 180 and 200 gr. bullets respectively, with pressures of about 52,000 PSI and breach thrust of approximately 8400 psi for the .358 Winchester. This is due to the larger case base and much higher pressure. So, as you can see, it is inevitable that a lot of the discussion concerns the strength of the 336 action. I'll talk about that a bit later.

Is there an overwhelming ballistic advantage? I don't think so. The .35 Rem can easily be loaded to move the 200 gr. RN to about 2200 fps and the 220 gr. Speer can be loaded to go about 2000 fps. The .358 is said to push those bullets to about 2500 fps but those figures come from 24" barrels. I think that 2400 fps is closer to realistic or only about 200 fps faster. The .356 will go about 2350 fps for the same bullet from the 20" barrel.

Proponents of the conversions point to the factory chambering by Marlin of the rifle to .375 Winchester which has a SAAMI average maximum or working pressure of 52,000 PSI. They ignore the fact that the .375 case is nearly straight and that it has the smaller .30 WCF case head and that the case has extra thick case walls as do the .307 and .356 Winchester. I think that perhaps the case walls have the complimentary effects of reducing the case expansion and decreasing the effective case head size both of which reduce breach thrust.

Some folks have pointed to the "fact" that Marlins don't fail at the locking bolt but the receiver distorts and then lets go as shown in the last photo. Indeed that was the context in which I found that photo. I wonder, how important is how the action fails?

In attempting to dissuade us from the breach thrust argument, some remind us of P. O. Ackley's experiments where he moved the locking bolts from guns chambered for his improved .30-30 and there was no problem, presumably because there is no bolt thrust. However, in the context of Contenders, his protege Mike Bellm has made it clear that all cartridges produce breach thrust. He also feels that the .375 Winchester's case design as well as the .307 and .356 help to mitigate that breach thrust. I would like to point out that the Winchester company modified their M94 in order to use these cartridges. Marlin did not but produced NO .307s and only some 2000 .356s. They have NEVER produced or attempted to produce guns chambered for the .308 or .358 Winchester cartridges. Methinks that there is a reason and it wasn't some perceived inability to handle rimless cases as the 336 does very well with the rimless .35 Remington.

Pressure is important. It affects shooting in three important ways. The first of course is that it pushes the bullet down the bore. So far, so good. It also bears on gun design.

  • The first way is that the gun must have sufficient hoop strength to contain the pressure generated in firing. This is why a minimum thickness of any particular metal is required over the chamber and bore. Obviously, a margin of safety, extra strength if you will, is necessary. I submit that there is no margin of safety or that it has been seriously reduced by use of cartridges generating 52,000 PSI with a case diameter the same as the .444 Marlin (limited to about 42,000 PSI).
  • The second consideration is breach thrust. That is the pressure that bears against the bolt and through the bolt to the locking lugs or bolts on a rifle action. You can figure that by dividing the pressure in PSI by the internal area of the case base. In my mind this is the important issue. How this will wear the gun, stretch the parts to the point of unserviceability, accelerate other wear, and so forth is a genuine concern for me.
Some shooters are unconcerned because they rationalize wear/stretching in this way. "I don't shoot that many rounds on game." What about practice? What about the next person to own the gun? Will you not practice? Can you guarantee the safety of the next person to own the gun and that they will be as knowledgeable as you are about any limits of the gun? Or will they, as most do when they look at a chambering mark, assume that the gun marked .308 or .358 Winchester is suitable for all .308 or .358 Winchester ammo?

Debate also rages about whether or not the 336 actions were heat treated differently for the various cartridges, TomRay (a Marlin employee) has stated that he isn't aware of different heat treating for the different actions. This makes sense as it is a costly thing to have to produce actions which are cartridge specific. TomRay has also mentioned that the .356 rifles (the 336 ER) that Marlin produced required tighter than normal breaching to work correctly and that the locking bolt must fit the action to produce a very tight lock up. How many shade tree gunsmiths are going to be able to do this? Why would you want to produce a rifle with no ballistic advantage and lower resale (if you can sell it) value? NOTE: TomRay also says not to take his "speculation" as true.

Tim Looney at Marlin is quoted as saying that the differences between the .35 Rem and .356 Winchester barrels are:
  • .35 Remington barrel: Bore: .3500" Groove: .3570" Grooves: 6 Twist rate: 1 x 16 RH
  • .356 Winchester barrel: Bore: .3515"Groove: .3577" Grooves: 6 Twist rate: 1 x 12 RH
How much the difference in groove diameter may have mitigated pressures in the Marlin is unknown. One thing for certain this is a complicated issue made more complicated than it should be by the lack of information of definitive limits on action strength from the Marlin Firearms Company. Of course they have liability concerns but it should be noted that they have never chambered the 336 action for the .308 or .358 Winchester cartridges. As these would be big sellers, I would bet a dollar to a donut that there is a reason.

Mr. M. L. McPherson has contemplated what can be done with the Marlin action. His article, "What is Possible with the Marlin" is an excellent read which will likely interest anyone struggling with my poor writing here.

1895 Action
With all that information do I think the Marlin 336 will suffer a catastrophic failure with a few rounds of .308 or .358 Winchester ammo? What I think is that you can ruin the rifle without it coming apart like this one.  I also think that such a re-chamber job does a disservice to all after the original owner who might want to use the gun.  I don't think that is responsible or right. 

Monday, October 23, 2006

Aguila 60 gr. SSS .22 Long Rifle

Once upon a time I bought a couple of boxes of the much hyped Aguila 60 gr. Sniper SubSonic .22 Long Rifle ammo. The ammo is basically a 60 gr. swaged lead bullet loaded in a .22 short case. I tried the round in many rifles and pistols. Accuracy in my Winchester 62A, 1906, 72, and 320 was poor even at 25 yards because the bullets wouldn't stabilize. Likewise in the Ruger and S&W .22 semi-autos. Feeding wasn't an issue.

However, in the Marlin 39A Mountie made in 1956, the bullets not only stabilized but were actually accurate. Accuracy was improved after running the ammo through the Hanned Line SGB die (now discontinued). With the rifle zeroed at 25 yards using Winchester PowerPoints, the Aguila SSS is right on the money. This could be a valuable circumstance. Unfortunately, I've yet to actually use these on any game. Perhaps afterwards I'll be motivated to buy more of this unique product.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tyler-T Grip Adapter Arrives

About six (6) weeks after ordering I received my black anodized #1 Tyler-T Grip Adapter. This is for the J Frame S&W M-36. All is forgiven...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Ruger New Vaquero and Rust

Just a note that about the New Vaquero and rust. Today, after a summer's rest, I pulled the New Vaquero from its box in the safe. There was a patch of fine rust on the frame along the sight channel, again on the left recoil shield, and on the left flat below the cylinder. A quick visit with a wad of 0000 steel wool and Breakfree removed the rust without apparent damage to the finish.

We shall see. I bought the gun despite warnings about the applied "color case" finish. My intent is that if the finish fails I will have it refinished. I'm not going to worry about it even though I will record the success or failure of the finish here.

Customer Service (continued, still, again)

Despite requesting that my backorder be canceled and my money refunded Ajax sent me the grips. The arrived yesterday. First thing I noticed was that they are much thinner than issue grips. They I put them on the gun. I was so very disappointed. If this is what passes for custom, well, you might as well make something of Bondo and Acraglas and be done with it. It was bad enough that the grips stand proud of the grip frame by a good 1/8" front and back (I suppose they might be INTENDED for custom fitting) but they also do not mate well at the bottom. In other words there is a gap between the two halves/grips at the bottom. They fit worse than the grips I got used shown elsewhere. Much, much worse. Today I called for a return authorization number and sent them back. The policy is for CREDIT to be given, not a refund. If I must I'll get other products sold but not made by Ajax.

Meanwhile, I've yet to see my paid for Tyler-T grip adapter. All they have to do, per my last conversation, was to anodize it and it was going out in the next batch, but I've yet to see it. I will note again that they denied that there was a problem getting the parts anodized. It has been quite a while now. 2 weeks for a polished part, 6+ weeks for the anodized. Do YOU think that maybe they DO have a problem getting the anodization done?

Found at the Range

One finds many things at the range. Shooters, certainly, and their trash. Brass, too.

Brass I like. I pick up all the rifle brass that is Boxer primed. I also get the .45 ACP, .38 Special, .357 Magnum and 10mm Auto (rare). I keep my eye out for .32 S&W (short and long) and any oddities like the .50 AE, .460 S&W, etc. Brass is nearly an obsession with me and I wonder why it is that so many leave so much of it behind. How can they? Brass is rife with potential. Brass is the most expensive part of the cartridge (unless you're using premium bullets). Brass can be modified to other uses as well as other cartridges. Brass is difficult if not impossible for a reloader to make. Some brass can be very expensive. Still, it litters the ground. Worse yet, some actually police up their brass and throw it away! At least they clean up after themselves. I can't even toss brass for cartridges I don't shoot!

Everyone has seen the vegetables, paper in the form of boxes and targets, plastic from all sources, metal plates, even TVs and appliances brought in as targets by some. Simply amazing and requiring constant vigilance by Range Officers (where they exist). The worst, it seems to me, is the large quantity of loaded ammo left behind. I've collected more than 400 rounds over the past 2 years at ONE range. Everything from .22 LR (about 2/3rds of the ammo) to 12 buckshot. Of particular concern is that sometimes the Forest Service brings in state prisoners to perform maintenance work. That ammo is just lying on the ground waiting to be picked up by the inmates and smuggled back inside the prison. It seems to me that a little care can be taken. But some are apparently too lazy to even bend over to pick up a dropped box of ammo. Several times I've found 6 or more rounds close together on the ground. Amazing.

But I've found other things as well. Magazines (of both the cartridge holding and reading variety), coats, hats, flashlights, screwdrivers, and MONEY. Not to complain, but I have to wonder at the mental process that drops a fiver at the public and FREE range.

Ah well, I doubt it will stop me from going but I do carry a 30 gallon garbage bag.

My Thompson-Center Contender Collection

Once upon a time I'd invested in a Colt AR-15 Carbine. The gun was in excellent condition, came with a Colt 3X telescopic sight and was so old it didn't have the forward assist. I had a collection of 20 and 30 round magazines and filled them with 5.56/.223 Rem ammo. I had a duplicate set of web gear loaded with ready to go magazines. I used the gun for practice, familiarization (I was still serving in the Army), for the TEOTWAWKI rifle, and sometimes took it to the armory during alerts (with the approval and at the request of my full-time supervisor).

In 1994, the Democrats showed their hand and passed the assault weapons bill which banned certain combinations of features on firearms as more dangerous than the basic gun. Moronic and a brilliant first step at the same time (and now gone when it sunset) created the class of pre and post ban guns and magazines. Suddenly my AR-15 was worth a lot of money. I had a couple of really good guns for TEOTWAWKI should that ever occur, wasn't a nut who believed in spray and pray, and had other interests which needed funding. I sold the AR-15 and bought a Thompson-Center Contender with scoped .223 and .35 Remington 21" barrels.

This initial purchase began an obsession, albeit not as bad as some folks, which resulted in the purchase of a second frame and a total of 21 barrels, 19 of which are "carbine" barrels and 2 are 10" pistol barrels. Nearly every barrel is scoped and I also have a supply of ammunition and reloading dies for nearly every barrel. The barrels I own are (with notes on each barrel sighting, etc.)...

1. .22 LR 21" Factory Match - Weaver 4X scope in Weaver rings and mount. Favorite load is the Winchester PowerPoint HP.

2. .22 Winchester Rimfire Magnum (WRFM) 16" Factory - Simmons 3-9X in Weaver rings and mount. Shoots very well with either the Federal Supreme or Remington 30 gr. loads.

3. .22 Hornet 21" Factory - Simmons 4X in Weaver rings and mount. Loves 13 gr. of Lil'Gun under the 35 gr. VMAX lit by a CCI small PISTOL primer.

4. .218 Bee 22" Bulberry Bull - 4X Swift in Weaver rings and mount. Great accuracty with 14 gr. Lil'Gun under the 40 gr. VMAX lit by a CCI small PISTOL primer.

5. .223 Remington 21" Factory - 3-9X Simmons in Weaver rings and mount.

6. .25-35 Winchester 21" Custom-Shop - 1.5-4.5X Swift in Weaver rings and mount. Highest velocity with 28 gr. BL(C)2 under the 75 gr. VMAX but this load requires radical resighting compared to the standard load of 117 gr. RN at about 2200-2300 fps.

7. 7mm TCU 21" Factory - 2.5X Weaver in Weaver rings and mount. Has single forearm dovetail. The 7mm TCU has a reputation for accuracy and this doesn't disappoint. Accurate with everything. In the same class as the .25-35 but usable with a wider range of bullets, 115-175 gr.

8. 7mm TCU 10" Factory - factory open sights.

9. 7-30 Waters 21" Factory - 2.5X Weaver in Leupold rings and mount.

10. .30 Herrett 14" Factory with Choate extension - 2.5X Weaver in Weaver rings and mount.

11. .30-30 Winchester (.30 WCF) 21" Factory - 2.5X Weaver in Leupold rings and mount.

12. .357 Remington Maximum 21" Factory - 2.5X Weaver in Leupold rings and mount.

13. .35 Remington 21" Factory - 2.5X Weaver in Leupold rings and mount.

14. .38-55 Winchester 22" Bullberry Bull - Williams Foolproof or 2.5X Weaver in Weaver rings and mount.

15. 10mm Auto 14" Factory with Choate Extension - Thompson-Center aperture sight.

16. .41 Remington Magnum 16" Bullberry Bull - 4X Simmons in Weaver rings and mount.

17. .44 Remington Magnum 10" Factory - 2.5X Weaver in Weaver rings and mount.

18. .44 Remington Magnum 21" Factory - 2.5X Weaver in Weaver rings and mount. Has single forearm dovetail.

19. .45-70 Government 24" Custom-Shop - 2.5X Weaver in Weaver rings and mount.

20. .410 Shotgun 21" Factory - vent rib with beads

21. 28 Gauge Shotgun 26" Dave Van Horn - front bead only.

My guns have all Rynite furniture. Even the Choate folding stock is the Rynite. By the way, Choate was the supplier of the Rynite stocks to Thompson-Center. Note that most don't have exceedingly high power scope sights. These are the first rifles that I've scoped. Heretofore I've almost exclusively used aperture sights. Most cartridges for which my barrels have been chambered were also used in leverguns. Most of these barrels will shoot into 1-1.75" at 100 yards. With most barrels, the carbines weigh no more than 6 lbs (scope included!).

I also have the Choate folding butt stock but I only use it with the 16" barrels and not necessarily so. I had to do a bit of modification on the latch cut so that it would lock in the closed position. However, the stock is a quality product. It now locks in the closed or open position without slop and is comfortable for shooting up to .41 Mag or .30 Herrett ammo. I've never tried it with the .45-70 barrel, the big kicker, because it seems dumb to bother with a folding stock when using a 24" barrel.