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.

Monday, October 16, 2006

At the Range with the Browning 1886 SRC

As some might know I had to install the Williams Foolproof this past spring. Well, I finally got the gun to the range at Hite Hollow to verify zero. After a bit of mucking around she and I figured it out and instead of doubles put 5 (2 Federal factory 300 gr. and 3 of my duplication reloads using the Sierra 300 g.r JHC) into the target at 100 yards. Those are the 5 inside the 10-ring. All the other shots were playing about with the sights and some other loads. This WAS shot from the bench resting my elbows on the bench and not off a bag or mechanical rest. The group actually measures 1.5" center-to-center extreme spread. I am fairly pleased to have shot this group with the Williams Foolproof issue aperture and original front sight. This load of 54 gr. H322 under the 300 gr. Sierra JHC and lit by a CCI 200 it should do ok for Virginia whitetails. This load, like the Federal factory, gives just a bit more than 1800 fps to the 300 gr. projectile.

I'm going to work up a load (probably start with the classic Keith recommended load) for the 405 gr. and see how that prints in relation to the 300s. That will be a bit later, I've some other guns to shoot!

Compare the above target to the best I could do with the open sights...

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Remington Model 8 - .35 Remington

My Remington Model 8 is chambered for the .35 Remington. I inherited it from my father. Dad inherited it from his father who inherited it from, so far as I know, the first owner/user. That was "Uncle" Dave and Uncle Dave was the gunny guy of that generation but he wasn't really an uncle. He liked the old stuff and guns like I do and like me he was willing to spend money on good guns and hunting. Uncle Dave's gun has a Lyman receiver sight, the factory rear sight has been removed, and is sighted for the Winchester factory 200 gr. Silvertip load (a box of which I still remember from my youth). My dad had to have a slip on recoil pad as the length of pull was entirely too short for his frame. Grandpa had the same slip on pad but his stated reason was that the gun kicked too hard without it. I don't know who put the pad on, but somehow I think it was Uncle Dave as he also put a pad on his Fox Sterlingworth 12 ga. I don't use it and the recoil doesn't bother me.

The Remington Model 8 is a Browning design. The first semi-auto sporting rifle produced by Remington, it was introduced in 1906. Discontinued in 1936 after 80,500 had been produced, the gun was produced in 4 chamberings, .25, .30, .32 and .35 Remington. It was also produced in 6 grades, No.1 Standard, No.3 Special, No.4 Peerless, No.5 Expert, and No.6 Premier. My gun is the Standard. The Model 8 was replaced by the Model 81 (chambered in .300 Savage, .30, .32 and .35 Remington) from 1936-1950. About 55,000 of the Model 81 were manufactured by Remington. The design was also used by FN but I'm unsure of production numbers. One seldom sees one of the FN guns here in the US.

Introduced in 1906 in the Remington Model 8 autoloading rifle, the .35 Remington is one of the few pure woods cartridges that can be considered successful. In addition to the Model 8, this excellent cartridge was once available in Remington Models 81, 14, 141, 720, 600, and 760, as well as the Winchester Model 70, Standard Arms Models G and M, the Mossberg Model 472 and a slide action rifle once made by Savage. Presently available in the Marlin Model 336 lever action, Remington Model Seven KS bolt action and the Remington XP-100 and T/C Contender handguns, the .35 Remington is still a favorite of those who believe it kills deer and black bear quicker than the .30-30 Winchester. Whether or not this is true is the stuff classic campfire debates are made of.

The Model 8 is recoil-operated has a rotating bolt and double, opposed locking lugs. The gun fires from a fixed 5-shot magazine (it is NOT detachable!) and is equipped with a bolt hold-open that engages after the last shot is fired. The autoloading action was made more revolutionary by the incorporation of a barrel that was shrouded in a full-length jacket. When the gun is fired, the barrel moves backward inside the shroud. It is a long recoil operated gun, not gas, like the Browning Auto-5.

Designed in a day when travel by train or bicycle was common, the 8-pound, 41-inch carbine was built on a take-down design for ease of transport and cleaning. Take down is accomplished by removing the forearm to access an integral barrel wrench. Once loosed, the wrench releases the barrel. As the barrel, including chamber and the open sights, remain in one piece, this feature does not negatively affect accuracy.

Even today the .35 Remington is second only to the .30-30 in popularity among those who prefer to head for the woods with a short lever action carbine hanging from their shoulders. Many years ago the .35 Remington was used on bigger game, but it is seen at its best when used on deer, black bear, and wild boar at ranges not exceeding 150 yards or so. At greater distances, the little .35 is handicapped by its moderate velocity and moderate accuracy from most of the rifles in which it has been available. However, when fired in a bolt action rifles such as the Winchester Model 70, Remington Model 600, and Remington Model Seven FS, the .35 Remington is as accurate a cartridge of similar caliber.

- The Great Model 8 & 81

Friday, October 13, 2006

Winchester 1200/120/Ranger/1300 Shotguns

A recent request for info by a forumite prompted me to write this response.
Well, I have a 120 (aka Ranger) on which I've mounted a 1200 riot barrel. The difference? The ejector, a spring which rests across the left inside receiver with a portion held by a cut in the barrel assembly, is longer. I had to deepen the cut in the 1200 barrel a bit to let the ejector spring work properly in both barrels. Works great. The action is pretty good and these guns are so similar to the semi-auto version that one can swap the barrels between them. The semi-auto barrels work fine on the pumps but the pump barrels make the semis into a sort of straight-pull bolt action.

Dad used to have a 1400, the semi-auto, in 20 ga. and it was a killer on the skeet range and in the dove field.
Of all the guns of that period, those 290s and such were a part of that period, these seemed to require the least support. We had a 1400 in 20 which we bought USED. Choked skeet, we put nearly 30,000 rounds through it and the only problem was the vent rib which had to be re-attached after 20K of our shooting. This was bought from the operator of a skeet range so there's no telling how many rounds were through it.
I got the 120 used as well (for $60), bought the 1200 barrel used as well for $25 and have put probably 2000 rounds through this gun. No problems.

They can be a pain to work on. Just take out the trigger group one time and look at it.
The guns were designed and manufactured during Winchester initial modular phase and they have "that look" about them what with the metal and wood finish being identical to that of other guns of the period and the really ugly impressed "checkering". The smooth wood on my gun's stock is preferable despite being of an inferior hardwood and not walnut.

Like the .22 rimfires of the period, such as the lever/pump/semi-auto guns, these do have the reputation of being gunsmith's friends for all the repair time they logged. I've not experienced that, as I noted, but others no doubt have and it got a lot of press. Most people, especially the really gunny among them, with the apparent decline in standards/quality and the dropping of the revered Model 12 for this stamped/pressed/extruded thing. I think this rejection of all things post 1964 from Winchester is what is behind that and it certainly wasn't helped by those lemons that made it out of the factory.

In any case I like my gun, have made it a home defense gun (showing how reliable I think it is) and modified it some. I tried the Pachmayr (when I was going through my rubber phase) Vindicator grips along with the matching forearm. I retained the forearm but realized the butt-stock would be necessary to shooting by anyone in the family other than myself and it was reinstalled. I then installed a Side-Saddle shell carrier.

Tac Star, the maker of the Side-Saddle, is now a division of Lyman Products. This is hardly a new concept. The Russians fitted the 1866 Berdan single shot breechloading rifles with a block holding cartridges like this a way back when. The new iteration is a springy sort of rigid, high impact, plastic that bolts onto the side of several models of pump and semi-auto shotguns using existing screw holes. The concept is good, works and provides an additional 6 rounds immediately to hand on the gun.

Tac Star also produces a magazine extension. As the normal, as issue, shotgun holds 5 rounds with the plug removed, having the option to load 8 is a big increase in capacity. Add that to the side-saddle and 14 rounds, this of 12 ga. buckshot, isn't to be taken lightly. Certainly it is sufficient to repel most home invasions (provided you can access the shotgun when it happens). It is certain to give one some measure of confidence. My wife likes seeing it standing guard in the corner of the room or by the door whenever there is an escape from the local prison or jail.

Hobie's Winchester M120 ready for Home Defense.

More on Customer Service - AJAX Grips

Well, since I received the backorder notification and in turn declined backorder and requested a refund I've heard NOTHING. Linda Farris, I'm disappointed in you. Someday you'll google your name and here it will be, a record of a dissatisfied customer of Ajax Grips because you couldn't respond to a customer e-mail. Sad, isn't it. Let's see, that's 2 weeks now, nary a word.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Detective Special Seems, Well, Special

Finally got to shoot the DS today. Ammo was Federal Gold Medal 148 gr. wadcutters. I went down to Mom's pond and shot at walnuts floating thereon. Lots of fun and rapid feedback. Shot about 48 rounds, one-handed, two-handed, weak-handed, SA, DA, and centered 5 of the slightly-smaller-than-a-tennis-ball walnuts and tore chunks from the sides of several others. Range was 10-25+ yards. This is what I love about 3" guns. They are a major step up in sighting ease over the 2" guns. The gun seems to give a bit more bounce than the M36 but nothing one can't handle with a little training. I like this gun more and more.

Monday, October 09, 2006

2nd Set of Grips for the Detective Special

Received the second set of grips for the Detective Special. Herretts but not what I expected. In other words, not what was shown in the photo. Oh, they are worth what I paid, and new as represented but they aren't compact as the others would have been. I think I'll be staying with the current set.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Concealed Carry and the Auto (or Truck)

I read a topic in a forum which questioned how best to carry in one's favored mode of transportation. The premise was that the normal, on the body, carry method was both uncomfortable in the car (and not sitting at your desk, behind a table eating?) and the gun was inaccessible so where and how does one carry in the car? Rather how does the CAR carry your "concealed" handgun? Of course, I've got some thoughts on this.

First, let us acknowledge that the reason one has a Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP in VA) is to permit one to carry without unduly alarming the average person and without alerting the criminal to your extra ability for self defense. The surprise factor that one can use from drawing a concealed and heretofore unknown weapon on a criminal can in and of itself cause cessation of the crime without the necessity of shooting the criminal. This is an advantage that shouldn't be willingly or easily discarded.

Lets move on to concealed carry on the body. Every body is different. Different shape and measurements of length, girth, etc. Each person needs to find the most comfortable AND secure method of carry for their body. Trends, fads, status and fashion have no place. You either want to carry a handgun concealed or you don't. It is either considered a necessity or it isn't. Now, presuming you've done that, i.e. found the most comfortable and secure method of carry for you, let's move on...

Let's go out to the car. What's the first thing you notice about your car/truck/van/SUV? It is big, much bigger than you and it weighs more than you do, many times more. Likely it weighs many times more than an attacker who is outside the vehicle. That's pretty important to my view of the situation posited. You see, once you get in the vehicle and the doors are locked it becomes a weapon. One with the advantage of mobility. You can flee in the vehicle. You can push aside an attacker who isn't in a vehicle of his/her own. You may be able avoid injury simply by rolling up the windows although that depends on the attacker and on what vehicle you have. In any case a gun becomes even more of a last resort for self defense. So, lets move to those scenarios in which the vehicle is breached, stopped, and the attacker is in the vehicle or somehow forces you from the vehicle.

Well in any scenario in which the last circumstance is true, that you've been forced from the vehicle, you are simply out of luck (SOL) if you've unholstered and let the car carry for you. You likely will not have access to gun and will have to use other more inventive and improvisational methods of self defense. The "car carry" is looking pretty bad at this point, isn't it?

OK, so you're still in the car but so is the attacker. WHICH of you is closer to the gun? Which has easier access? Can you employ the gun on the attacker? Would it be better for you to flee the attacker (and now of course you're out of the vehicle, with or without the gun). Look at your vehicle. Imagine the attacker in every seat position. How would it actually play out? Be honest. Would you be able to maintain control of the gun and employ it against your attacker?

Let's look at it a different way. Remember, this is concealed carry. It isn't sometimes concealed or open carry. It is carrying a weapon/handgun such that nobody knows you have it. Now, when you get in the vehicle you have to unholster the gun and put it elsewhere. Can somebody look into your vehicle to observe this? Do you have to do it outside the vehicle in order to reach the selected stow point on the vehicle? And then when you get out of the vehicle you have to reholster. Another opportunity for somebody to see that you are carrying concealed. Remember, it doesn't have to be a "bad guy" that can burn you and make your day a pain in the rear. Any concerned citizen could report your behavior to the police. You can bet that a "man/woman with a gun" report will be promptly answered. Do this outside a commercial building, bank, store or some such and you might have a very unpleasant experience despite your CHP permit/license. And remember, that this public (VERY public) exposure "makes" you as well. Who knows who will stop and gawk at the sight of the police taking down the man with a gun? You don't and it could be a bad thing indeed. Remember, if the criminal knows you carry he's now got an advantage that was formerly yours.

The other thing that bothers me is that every time you unholster the gun, every time you load, unload, or manipulate the gun, you increase the possibility that something will go wrong. I don't care who you are, if you handle a mechanical object often enough you will make a mistake. Making a mistake with a gun can have some irreversable consequences beyond mere embarrassment. Add to this that you might be in a hurry to get in, or out of, your vehicle to get wherever it is you must be going and you increase the odds of something unpleasant happening.

So, what do I recommend? I recommend that you learn some evasive driving techniques, that you carry on your person from before you leave the house until you walk back into the house, and that you never unholster your gun unless you absolutely must to go into a prohibited zone or to turn your gun over to a police officer. If this means that you need to change holsters (even expensive holsters) and how you dress and how comfortable you are when driving, I think you should do so. Or, you can give up concealed carry...

Customer Service Continued

Given that I'd received the backorder notice, I emailed Customer Service (an oxymoron?) at Ajax to cancel my order. That was yesterday about noon EDST and I've not heard a word in reply. I wonder why... This isn't customer service. I should know, I've answered 5 such e-mails for the business at which I work and processed 2 orders. It should be a simple thing to do, unless of course, a single order doesn't get the attention that a wholesale order receives. Here, the individual gets EXACTLY the same attention and care that a wholesale buyer receives. A customer is a customer and VALUED. I don't feel valued by Ajax right now.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Customer Service in the Gun Accessories Business

Does it exist? Ummmm.

Anyone reading my blog/journal of my shooting experiences will note that I've bought/traded into a few guns since retiring and that I've gotten some accessories for them. Recently, I've acquired two revolvers, a S&W M34-1 and a Colt Detective Special. Both guns required product support of one kind or another.

One product I "required" was a Tyler-T grip adapter. I had already ordered one, via mail, for my M36 3" (it has yet to arrive 6 weeks later) and had heard that they were having a problem getting the anodization done and the products were delayed. I called in an order (and finally got somebody on the phone) for a polished Tyler-T which arrived within a week! While they deny it, apparently they ARE having a problem getting their anodization done. Let me ask you, is this company giving good customer service? On the one hand they CAN ship a part quickly. On the other hand they can't be truthful about supply of some parts (anodized in this instance) and won't change the order...

The other products required were grips for the 34-1. S&W factory "banana" grips ordered via internet from CDNN arrived within a week. Grips purchased on eBay from an unknown to me seller likewise arrived within the week. I think that this is good customer service which I think is characterized, in part, by rapid accurate shipping of purchased items.

Then I got the Detective Special. Those ugly Pachmayr Compacs have their place but in this case they have to go! Unfortunately, a detailed search for vendors of factory or factory like minimalist grips turned up very little. This may be a case of having to have it custom made despite the large numbers of these guns which were produced. I asked, on several forums and among friends, for recommendations. Now we're talking mixed results! For any given vendor there is no unanimous opinion. All sellers will elicit a range of response.

This can't be good. It doesn't help the sellers/vendors distinguish themselves from their competition, it doesn't help the buyer make a choice and it certainly doesn't engender any confidence on the part of the buyer. I know that I delayed my purchase order because of those conflicting reports.

Finally, I submitted an order for grips to 2 sources. Gun Parts Corporation got an order for an Agent grip which appears to be correct for my grip frame. Also getting an order was Ajax Custom Grips. Now, due to some strongly conflicting reports I'm on pins and needles waiting to see what I'll get. Ajax has been raked over the coals in some forums. I've got my fingers crossed! Note that I've received a backorder notice from Ajax for a 2-3 week wait.

NOTE: I also found that Eagle Grips makes a series called Regular and will do these in Rosewood or Ebony and checker them for $20 extra. Perhaps this is where I'll end up...

Now these are my current and on-going experiences but one reads, in various forums, of the experiences of others. Most of the time the firearms related companies give excellent customer service. Sometimes they seem to have failed but we later discover that the customer was doing something they shouldn't or not doing something they should. Sometimes we find that clearly a particular company is making every attempt to defraud the customer and the small business that does this goes out of business shortly thereafter. I don't think that is the case with either company named, but such business practices are at the very least irritating.

New Grips on the Detective Special

Due to the kindness of strangers, namely one Greg G. of Louisiana, I have these grips which appear to be for a late model Detective Special but which Greg apparently had on a Police Positive Special (PPS). They fit my gun (I didn't realize they also shortened the grips on the PPS) and well. They fit my hand well, too. The HKS speedloaders pictured are correct for the DS and not the equally usable speedloaders marked for the K frames.

These grips also greatly improve the appearance of the gun. I like the gun so much I'm actually thinking of sending it to Colt for a refinish. It does have some slight damage to the blue where it apparently rested on a it's side in a dresser drawer.

I like this gun. It is lighter and feels more compact than the 3" K frame but also gives one the feel of a full size gun. I may need to find one of the 3" .22 LR Cobras...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

How do You Define Hunting?

You need to see this about a "game" rancher and game ranching in general. Visit also the Real Hunters home page. Is this how you define hunting?

The behavior shown in the video is just about as bad as it gets in how one treats wildlife. It disturbs me that Jimmy Houston allowed himself to be associated with such things but I can't say I'm surprised. My cable company no longer provides the channel with such shows for free so I don't watch them any more. When I did, I noted several such things. Cameras set up to use terrain to mask feeding/bait sites, deer coming right by the stands in unnatural behavior, and even the arrow bouncing incident. Can you believe that the fellow turned and said what he said with a straight face? My least favorite is Jackie Bushman.

If you know some other sketchy hunting shows, send me an e-mail about it and I'll post them here.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Waiting, waiting...

If anyone cares (do these folks care about customers?), I'm still waiting on my black anodized Tyler-T grip adapter for the J-frame S&W. MAYBE only a couple of more weeks. I think that would make 9 weeks for delivery. Oh, they said they had it but they had to get it anodized. At the same time they denied there were delivery delays due to problems getting these things anodized.

Not to say that Ajax is any better. Got a backorder notification today. Apparently the grips must be made. 2-3 weeks there.

I'm hoping the Herretts I bought from a fellow in New City (not NYC), NY will get here soon and I can continue with my plans and use of the Colt Detective Special. I'm supposing that I'll be ordering a Silver Dollar holster from Simply Rugged with the inside-out option and third belt slot for cross-draw carry. I hesitate to order a Tyler-T for the gun...

Also a book seller failed to tell me that they had cancelled an order and there I was wondering when the order would arrive. Ordered from another seller. Fool me once... It is one thing to have to cancel an order, it is another to fail to tell the customer. That is NOT good customer service. Well, I did find another copy and now I'm waiting on that...

Meanwhile, my wife is STILL waiting for me to become bored with this hobby! Me, I'm just hoping they have shooting in heaven.