Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Pellets from the .223 Rem...?

The .223 Rem or 5.56mm NATO is a versatile cartridge and is widely used for varminting and, in some places, for deer. However, some folks find even this relatively mild cartridge to be too much for some uses. Also, a natural tendency to frugality can encourage the adaptation of a single arm so chambered to a multitude of uses.

One of those many uses can be the elimination of the smaller vermin in and about the house. And one way to do that is to use primed cases to fire .22 caliber air rifle pellets.

Of course this isn't a new idea by any stretch of the imagination. Sub-power loads have been used since the development of firearms. So far as the .223 cartridge is concerned, soldiers have been doing all sorts of things for years. Shooting pellets loaded ahead of blank cartridges is just one "trick" soldiers use to amuse themselves. The Convert-a-pell is however a much better system. For one thing, air rifle pellets are not designed for the velocities likely generated ahead of the fast powder used in the blank cartridges. With the Convert-a-pell, the sole propellant is the 209 shotgun primer. The cases are standard nickel-plated (to make them easily distinguishable, there is no other reason I can discern) and have been altered to accept the primers by drilling out the base and counter-sinking the hole. Because the 209 primer contains the anvil this system works just fine. Loads can be tuned by changing primers by make and type.

Actually, one could could make these oneself with a bit of care. It just takes a drill, properly handled countersink and patience.

How do they work? Well, I think that they are noticeably louder than the Aguila Colibri or even the CCI CBs. They are less accurate, too. Even at only 25 yards group sizes will be twice those of the Colibri and 4 times the size of a properly set up air rifle. However they are fun.
VERY hot here today, especially for May. Reloading in the basement, setting up window AC and chilling here at the computer.
History is an abiding passion of mine. Love it. A recent discussion on the American Longrifles forum caused me to research the following books on Simon Kenton.

- Simon Kenton: His Life and Period, 1755-1836 (The First American Frontier) (Hardcover) by Edna Kenton
- Simon Kenton: Kentucky Scout (Paperback) by Thomas Dionysius Clark, Edward Shenton
- Frontier hero: Simon Kenton (Unknown Binding) by Shannon Garst
- Simon Kenton: The Great Frontiersman (Paperback) by Ray Crain
- Simon Kenton, the scout (Unknown Binding) by Jane Corby
- The violent years;: Simon Kenton and the Ohio-Kentucky frontier (Unknown Binding) by Patricia Jahns

There are several titles out of print which may or may not have been referenced in later works.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Off to a Local Gun-show

That uniquely American event, the gun-show, was a wonderful thing but now seems to be more like a fudge-flea-hotsauce-military surplus show. Anyway, despite misgivings, I popped for a fiver to attend this past weekend's Old Dominion show at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds. Held in the main exhibition hall, it loosely filled half the building where once upon a time it packed the whole building. Sellers were outrageous on most everything. One seller told me it was 5% off this afternoon. That's sales tax in VA. His prices were STILL out of line IMO. Saw a Winchester Legacy .38-55 NIB for a mere $1599. Old and not so old beat up Marlins were asking $350. Did see some Savage 99s but one was refinished and asking the same price as an excellent original. I had some money and couldn't find a thing to buy. Did get to speak to a friend and meet his uncle.

I also saw the Beretta version of the Colt Lightning, the Gold Rush, chambered in .45 Colt. No coonfingering allowed but the "color case" looked good. Don't know if it is real or applied. Has a funky Beretta inset. This was a carbine. The forward band is screwed together at a protrusion below the mag tube. IOW, the band is a clamp and the screw is in that protrusion. I thought that looked a bit odd as well. I don't remember the originals being like that AND this isn't shown that way on the web site. Price was $1200 or thereabouts IIRC which is less than MSRP. I've seen the Taurus Thunderbolt and it looked and handled good for me. I didn't get to handle the Beretta but it looked better but I don't know if it looked $700+ better. Some of that difference is in the exchange rate. I've heard that the Taurus has some teething problems. I'll wait a bit. In any case the weak primary extraction of this rifle makes me lean towards the more strongly tapered .44-40 cartridge.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

I've long had an affinity for boating/canoing and prefer the rowed, paddled and sailed to motor boats (although they can be fun...). This might be a bit of why. You see the little blonde haired boy next to that 50-something year old woman in the boat? That's me, age 5, and that's my Grandmother F and the boat is Winona late of Lake George in New York and now a resident of the Mystic Seaport Museum. However, Winona is on vacation here and on Barnegat Bay, New Jersey. Grandma F was teaching me to row and that was the beginning. We weren't far off-shore, close enough for Grandpa F to take the picture but it was fun and I often remember that day(what I can remember) as GREAT fun.

The boat, Winona, was built about 1888 by George Bartlett of Sabbath Day Point on Lake George for my Great, Great, Great, Grandfather van Cott. It was one of a pair of boats but the other has long since gone to boat heaven. This boat has been rowed (as seen here but with oars in leathers), sailed (with leeboards), motored (with a 3 horse Envinrude), and rowed and sailed some more. She has two rowing stations, a stern seat backrest and (at least she had) a rudder. Many family members have spent many hours in bliss on board this 16 foot boat.

I thought it great fun to row in the bow, my sister in the middle and Grandma in the stern. Sometimes Grandma would use the rudder and sometimes she'd lounge on the backrest. Sometimes her beloved Collie, Lady, would ride with us.

With such a grand introduction, is it any wonder I so love the water? Now, I have an Old Town Pack canoe. Only 13 feet long, it is plenty for me as Mrs. Hobie doesn't much like to get on the water in something so tippy. I've been thinking that I like the old style/traditional boats so much (but appreciate new materials like Kevlar as well) that I should get a boat that my dear wife would enjoy with me.

The Adirondack Guide Boat is my choice but funds simply aren't available. Oh, well, perhaps someday... I'd love to be able to hook up the RV, load the boat on the back of the truck with the bikes and head out to see how many bodies of water can wet her hull and how many miles of logging road we can ride.

Chain(saw) of Love

Well, that is a bit weird but this is some chainsaw. A Stihl 280WB that Dad bought new over 25 years ago (30 maybe) and has run like a champ ever since, it has been good to me as well. Yesterday I was out trimming pines in Mom's "far yard" so that I can mow under them using the riding mower (lazy buzzard, aren't I?). Now for me, working alone (with Mom and her dog watching) this was some work. After trimming 5 trees and moving the limbs to the pile (for rabbit shelter) and mowing under those 5 trees I was beat and out of time. I rushed home and then, in unloading the truck, heard an odd rattle from the saw. Why, the muffler was hanging by a thread (literally!), one thread on one bolt.

Held on by 3 bolts, one was gone and one was rattling around inside the muffler. This morning I went to the Stihl dealer and got the bolts, came home and reassembled my baby. Interestingly, you have to take apart the muffler to bolt it to the saw. Anyway, with the right size allen wrenches it was a snap. Now, she's ready to get some and make my life easier.

So why am I writing about this rather minor happenstance? Well, because it made me think that I might have to get another saw and I was looking at the Stihls. My baby's counterpart the MS 280 is over $400! Whew! I appreciate Dad's wise purchase and this wonderful chainsaw all the more now!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The 2006 political season is beginning to wind up. Every election is critical to gun rights. I hope that everyone votes. The sacred right to vote was won and kept safe by virtue of the sacrifices of thousands of men and women who did their duty.

I've been reading and listening to many shooters lately. They express a wide range of opinions some of which must be based on blind hate and unreasoning distrust.

I have to admit that I'm a single issue voter. That issue is gun rights. The reason, aside from my own firearm ownership and self interest, is that ANTI-gun ownership politicians are also illogical, often self-serving opportunistic, arrogant, elitist, and racist. Just as they won't allow individual citizens to exercise the right of self-defense, they seek (actively it seems) to deny the NATION an ability to self-defense. While they say that saving even just one life justifies "gun control", they simultaneously support the abortion of millions of unborn children even to the point of late term abortion where a full-term child is actually killed as it is born. They believe that everyone has an absolute right to free speech no matter how offensive UNLESS those folks are anti-abortion OR Christian. These are just some examples of many lapses in logic these people exhibit. How can one trust people who can not reason?

To carry it one step further, the Democrat Party is now owned by these folks. The few Democrats like Zell Miller are not supported by their party (and one has to wonder what sort of optimism makes them think this might change). Because the Democrats are also so good in forcing even the moderates to vote the party line, one simply can't trust ANY Democrat to support any "pro-gun" vote.

The Republicans, despite the best efforts of the Democrats to portray them otherwise, have mostly supported gun ownership and led the way in social reform including being President Lyndon Johnson's main supporters of the voting rights act. It was Republicans under Teddy Roosevelt who integrated the Civil Service and Democrats under Woodrow Wilson who reversed integration. It was Democrats who opposed, violently in some cases, integration in the 1960s.

In short, there is a direct correlation between the major party that most supports gun ownership and also supports all other forms of political and economic freedom. Support of gun ownership is a viable indicator of every other proper political thought. That isn't to say that there aren't aberrations like Howard Dean who is pro-gun (or was) and about as far left as Lenin or John McCain who's apparently worked extra hard to get along with all sorts of socialists...

So it always puzzles me, why are there gun-owners, rabid pro-gun rights folks, who ALWAYS vote for the socialists, aka Democrats? I just don't get it.

Now, we see that while Al Queda has been communicating within that they are losing the war in Iraq, we have quislings in this country obfuscating by any means but most recently using the NSA foreign phone intercept and phone call patterning projects as invasions of privacy. Those same folks call making English the official language "racist" and oppose making our borders secure against unauthorized crossing.

I suppose there are some out there who don't see that when these illegals get in this country and rob it blind, terrorize it or what have you these circumstances will be used to erode our gun rights. That is sad as it has already been attempted. ONLY the Republican control of the House and Senate has staved off this assault.

Now some of you aren't happy with GW because he hasn't been fiscally conservative, too liberal on the immigration issue, too long in Iraq, etc. You want to sit out this election to "punish" the Republicans. Well, I suppose that we can count you in on the Dems side. Not voting for a pro-US and pro-gun candidate is just like voting AGAINST the US and for the Democrats. May God help us all if these vituperative, self-serving, opportunistic, socialists get back into power.

Please, PLEASE vote this November, even if you have to choke it down when you stand in the voting booth, VOTE.
Trail Cameras

My recent attempts to bring deer close enough to Mom's front porch that she can watch and enjoy them has had the side benefit of getting me interested in recording her visitors and thus in trail cameras.

I found out that there are a wide range in both price and quality, there are digital and film, and the method of sensing the game can vary. Unfortunately Consumer Reports hasn't done an article on Trail Cameras! I'll have to go looking on my own.

Well, the internet search first turned up CamTrakker who sponsor TrailCam.com. Then there's Hags House where they give you instructions on building a trail camera yourself. Not so sure I want to go through the effort and still have just as much money in one so I kept looking. Then there are TrailMAC, FieldPix, Primal-Vision, the Bushnell Trail Scout & Trail Sentry. As you might imagine there are numerous on-line articles on trail cameras as well such as this one from BigGameHunt.net or ChasingGame.com's hints & reviews. You can even find collections of trail camera photos such as these from Minnestota Bucks.

My conclusions? Well, like anything else you can spend all you have and there is too much info to absorb in an afternoon of reading. I think I'll study on this subject a bit longer...
Attracting Deer (for viewing)

My mom wanted to see more deer and I kinda would like to encourage the deer to stay in the area and not be so eager to go elsewhere. So, first thing, I established a lick just off a trail (see photo at left). My next step is to put out some feed and move the feeding station by degrees to where Mom will be able to watch the deer. One concern is that the deer not be seen from the road. We have some local folks who would only see it as an opportunity to kill rather than watch deer.

I'm also going to plant a food plot that will bring in the deer when I can't get feed out. BioLogic has been recommended. I might even have some spots in openings on hard to access neighboring woodlots in which I could plant some of this.

Disclaimer - Virginia law prohibits hunting over bait and I will strictly abide by that law.
It is unlawful to occupy any baited blind or other baited place for the purpose of taking or attempting to take any wild game bird or wild game animal or to put out bait or salt for the purpose of taking or killing any wild game bird or wild game animal, except for the purpose of trapping furbearing animals.

Of course this made me want to record some of the animals coming into our little area and thus created a greater interest in Trail Cameras...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

"Collar Button" Bullets in the .45-70

I'm always looking for some lighter "fun", small-game or gallery loads for my rifles. This includes my two .45-70 Government chambered rifles. The subject bullet is the bullet shown on the right.

The first of these was a "custom shop" 24" bull-barrel for my Thompson-Center Contender. Produced by the Thompson-Center Custom Shop and sold in bulk to MidwayUSA, this barrel came without front sights. I mounted a Weaver 2½X rifle scope with heavy duplex reticule and it works very well indeed. It certainly gets ones attention with 400 gr. bullets at 1700-1800 fps, after all the rifle only weighs 6 lbs! Seems a natural for the lighter, fun loads.

The second was my Browning 1886 SRC. This rifle was bought nearly NIB from a forum member at Paco Kelly's Leverguns Forum. It is a wonderful rifle and even with the issue original form ladder sight is fairly accurate shooting into 3 inches at 100 yards with all factory ammo. Now, in accordance with my prejudices, I've got a Williams Foolproof FP-71 installed. This rifle weighs 1½ pounds more loaded than the Contender and so recoil isn't quite as bad but it would be nice to have a light load for fun small-game hunting or plinking with the grandson (sometime in the future, he's only 2 years old...).

The Lyman 457130 is a bullet weighing approximately what a roundball would weigh but in the form of a conical. This is made possible with the BIG rounded groove in the middle of the bullet. Intended for indoor use, Frank of Mt. Baldy Bullets recommended 9 gr. of Unique with these bullets. Lube is liquid Alox, I recommend two coats for the longer barrels. If loaded with blackpowder, liberal use of SPG might just be a good idea!

Still, other projects and family needs had put off range time. Oh but that was frustrating. Then, as soon as the ammo was loaded, the rains which had been sadly lacking came for several days. No Chrony operation in those conditions. More waiting...

And then I got to go. It was a beautiful day to shoot. The Chrony went up without a snag and I had my Contender with the scoped 24" .45-70 barrel to do the testing. Velocities averaged to 888 fps and 525 fpe but the SD was 115! The max difference was 174 fps!! Heck I had one load that flamed out the barrel. I held my breath and then saw the bullet impact the backstop. It must have crawled out there it took so long.

I think I have lots of work to do here.

Browning 1886 SRC Finally has a Foolproof

Well, I finally got around to taking my Browning 1886 SRC to a local smith for drilling and tapping the two holes necessary for installation of the Williams Foolproof sight (FP-71).

This gunsmith, Jon Ritenour, has been a fair friend for over 40 years. He was working as a gunsmith at least 10 years prior to our meeting and his family has farmed and lived on the land on which his shop stands for nearly 100 years (at least). A solid member of the community he serves on several boards and works with many sportsmans' groups such as the local Friends of the NRA. In all his years as a gunsmith he has worked on nearly every model of gun made and earned a reputation for honesty and fair pricing.

Unfortunately he is about 35 miles from the house and I do little business in his community. I could never find the time to get the gun up there. I wasn't really motivated though. I hate to take unnecessary risks and this rifle was a substantial investment/cost to me.

Finally, about 8 weeks ago as I write this, I took my Browning 1886 SRC to him to drill and tap the two small holes in the left receiver so that I could mount the Williams Foolproof FP-71 sight. This is a simple job for a smith with the proper tools (which I lack) and I took the gun to him in the traditional down-time of spring. Yesterday, I finally was able to pick it up. Cost $30.

I was wound out and now feel better. He had problems getting to it with all his other responsibilities and then couldn't get it back together. He spent far more time on it than $30 would cover. I suppose this is how it goes with all gunsmiths! But the worst thing of all was that I'm so darn impatient.

In the photo, all 6 of my levers are pictured. You might notice some similarities. From top to bottom, Marlin 39A Mountie .22S-L-LR, Marlin 336T .30-30, Winchester M94 .30 WCF, Marlin 1894C .357 Mag., EMF/Rossi M92 "Hartford" .45 Colt, and the Browning 1886 SRC .45-70. Note the difference in bulk between the M92 and 1886.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Recreated .30 WCF Small Game Load

The topic on Leverguns forums, "An interesting .30-30 cartridge used back in the 1930's - 1940's by trappers in the north country" posted by John Kort really interested me. To whit,
From John Witzel's collection

Legend has it that these special .30-30 cartridges were loaded by the PETERS Cartridge Company for the Hudson Bay Trading Co. located in the Yukon and possibly the T. Eaton Company in Alberta, Canada.

It was loaded with a full patch 85 gr. bullet used in the .30 Mauser pistol cartridge. One trapper, recounting his adventures of long ago, said that he had used the .30-30 cartridges with the little nickel jacketed bullet and found that they were great for dispatching Wolverines and Wolves in traps and for shooting wolves on the ice in the winter and beavers in the spring.

The question then was what velocity did PETERS load this cartridge to? John had one example of this cartridge in his collection and donated the powder charge from it to me for testing purposes.

Several years ago Hornady made a run of 86 Gr. full patched .30 Mauser bullets for The Old Western Scrounger. I purchased a box to run some tests. I loaded one of these bullets over the powder charge that John had sent to me and it clocked just over 2,000 f.p.s.

I then loaded 10 rounds using the Hornady 86 gr. bullet with 27.0 grs. of 3031, which appeared to be the same type powder. (The powder sample could well have been DuPont 17 1/2 the predicessor to 3031.) When tested, they produced pretty much the same velocity.

Accuracy at 50 yards was very good with groups of around 3/4" if I did my part. Further testing indicated that 170 gr bullets loaded over 30/3031 impacted within 1 1/2" of the 86 gr. bullet.

Hunters / trappers could use both cartridges without having to change their sights. PETERS knew what they were doing when they offered a .30-30 catridge with a bullet that was ½ the weight of the standard 170 gr. and loaded it to the same velocity.....60+ years ago.

from "The Venerable .30-30....100+ Years Of History" to be published by Sept. 2006.

Because of this post I determined to find some of the bullets in question and duplicate this load for my own tests in my own .30 WCF/.30-30 Win. rifles. It was a hard row to hoe as the bullet was temporarily out of stock everywhere. Apparently it is a seasonal production item and gets cleaned out soon after shipping to distributors. However, some 72 of these bullets were provided in the form of a generous gift from some fine folks, Gordon Taylor and his father of Buffalo, SD. Further, these are the soft point variation and likely more useful to most because softpoints are required by law in most places. Thanks again gentlemen.

The first thing I did was pick out 20, once-fired, Winchester .30 WCF/.30-30 Win. cases from my stash. These had already been through the vibratory polisher and were now lubed, sized/deprimed, trimmed, chamfered, de-lubed, and primed. 27 gr. of IMR-3031 was added to each case and topped off with the Sierra 85 gr. JSP. Please note that although the COL is the same for both the old Silvertip shown and the new cartridge, the Sierra 85 gr. JSP has precious little bullet inside the case. Take care as to how you handle your cartridges. Now to the range!

Oh but that was frustrating. As soon as the ammo was loaded the rains which had heretofor been sadly lacking came for sure. No Chrony operation in those conditions. More waiting...

And then...

Well, I finally got my test loads to the range today. Average velocity was 1877 fps using the Sierra 85 gr SP (the SP version of the FMJ made for Huntingtons) giving 665 fpe. AD and SD were pretty high, about 60 each. That is, I think, because bullet release consistency is so dependent on consistency of the case mouth in each case. About 1/8" or less of the bullet is actually in contact with the case neck. However, it shot to the sights (Marlin M336T, Lyman 66LA) at 25 yards. Recoil is extremely light, about 2 fpe, but you are lighting 27 gr. of IMR 3031 and this makes some noise. I can see how this would be a useful cartridge within certain limits.

6 shots off-hand 25 yards, 2 called flyers (lower right), Marlin 336T