Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sears 12 Gauge Pump aka Mossberg

This gun came to me, first to sell for a friend and then, when I couldn't move this 24" slug gun quickly enough and offered to return it, as a gift to me. It came to this friend from his brother who, due to some legal problems, had to relinquish control of his firearms. Over the years those problems only worsened and my friend, more of a Zumboite, didn't want this gun in his home and certainly didn't want to return it to his brother.

It is a typical Mossberg pump produced for Sears to sell as a house brand. With the 24" barrel, rifle sights and cylinder choked smoothbore barrel it was once the epitome of the shotgun only area slug gun. It does indeed shoot Foster type slugs fairly well for a smoothbore. It also shot the old Winchester BRI type sabot slugs well. Both group into about 4" (or a little worse) at 50-75 yards. Brennekes do quite a bit better, extending this group size out to beyond 75 yards. But, to be honest, I never really thought of this gun to be any better or more long-ranged than my Pedersoli Brown Bess carbine. Unless I was truly hungry I'd be wanting to get right up within 50 yards of any deer and with shot, 25 yards is a long shot on small game with that wide open pattern.

As you can see it is drilled and tapped for a top mount scope. this would be right handy if you could get better accuracy out of the gun. Now, I'm not particularly trigger sensitive but this one likely doesn't help much. I also don't think a scope helps a lot at 50 yards but then I've done a lot of shooting with open sights. I'd lean more towards a big ghost peep on the gun and have a Williams 5D for the purpose but never got around to installation. Rifles being permissable for big game, this shotgun just hasn't seen a lot of use.

You can also see the tang safety. Now that is handy. Right under the thumb this is one fast gun to bring into action.

The Barrel marks are pretty standard. It is good to know that I can run the 3" maggie Brennekes through this gun. Those things are about as good as it gets in a 12 gauge smooth barrel. It also might help some with the low shot density due to the non-existant choke. Not much though. The recoil? It can influence your decision to pull the trigger. I've shot this one off the bench. After that, shooting from position was nothing!

All in all this is a pretty good gun, of Mossberg's usual workman quality but likely not as expensive when purchased new and capable of meeting most hunting requirements in VA. this is one I can't sell as if my friend wants it back, back it goes.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

True-Test 16 Gauge Side by Side

This was Dad's shotgun, his almost only gun, for many years. As nearly as I can tell, he bought the gun shortly after his first discharge from the army in 1947. He used it to hunt grouse, shoot skeet (what we call international style now), as a prop when on the Forest Service float and maybe hunt deer. It is virtually unchanged from when he bought it, used, from somebody in the Cooperstown, NY area. The only thing that I've done is to replace the broken bead with a Pachmayr red-dot bead. I'll likely get a proper brass bead and replace that as well. The Pachmayr unit just doesn't look right.

The gun was made for True-Test, a hardware supplier, by Savage or Stevens and as it was used (even abused as we shall see), it was probably made pre-war. Consequently, quality is pretty good even for a bottom of the line double.

The 16 gauge was once very much more popular than now. It is still popular in Europe. Great as an all-arounder where lead shot is still permissable, this cartridge can be chambered in guns lighter than the 12s and not much heavier than a 20 but with more oomph than the 20. I guess this gun served Dad well for many years and was worth every dollar he paid.

Interestingly, when he bought the gun it probably already had the trigger guard repair seen in the photo to the left. This is pretty interesting. I don't know exactly how it is broken. The Stevens guns I've seen (like my 20 gauge) have the front of the trigger guard bow screwed to the receiver. I can't see how this was attached but it is now imbedded in a wad of solder which has been painted black. If this was done before Dad bought the gun the repair certainly has held up well. Dad took it hunting for grouse, woodcock, and dove and it was moved in household goods at least 18 times!

This photo shows the "5100" mark on the right side of the receiver.This is the model number.

You can also see that the color case has survived pretty well. I think this is remarkable because Dad told me that he shot 100s of rounds of skeet with the shotgun. Apparently this was his passion right after he got out of the service. I wonder if he got interested while stationed in Italy (1945-47). I think that all that frivolity ended when he was accepted to Syracuse University in 1949 or 1950. With all the use I would have expected more wear. in any event there was no more skeet shooting until he took me to the skeet field when I was 14, in 1969. I often say that we loaded 50,000+ shotshells for skeet but who knows how many more than those 50K. He really enjoyed himself on the range. Good times.

The water table is pretty much bereft of information. Only the stamp "19JP" (a serial) which I think is no more than an assembly mark. It also appears on the forearm and barrels breach. I don't know what the "K" means. The color case is very good here on this protected portion of the gun and this level of preservation is expected.

These marks on the barrels are important mainly in that it shows that the gun is chambered for the modern version of the 16 ga. shell, the 2-3/4" version. That's a real relief. Many guns have had their chambers lengthened, most with satisfactory results, but some are a bit dodgy. I'm just glad I can pick up ammo anywhere for this gun. Well, almost anywhere the 16 isn't all that popular in the US. Still, if all else fails you can get ammo on-line.

The breech marks aren't all that telling. Surprising to me is the "19JP" is here as well. Again, I don't think this is a serial but rather an assembly mark to keep all the parts for this particular shotgun together in this lot of shotguns for Tru-Test. The lump is also marked but the I think it is an incomplete stamp. It appears to be an oval with a "P" at the top but the mark fades towards the bottom (rear of the lump). There are no other marks.

The forearm is also marked "19JP" but the mark is more spread apart which is one reason I think that this is an assembly mark rather than a serial number. The mark appears on both the wood and the iron. That is the only mark on the forearm.

The wood on this gun, like my 20 ga., was refinished about 1971. As I remember it the original (?) finish was a varnish and had worn away in some places. The Tru-Oil finish we gave it back then has held up very well indeed. The pistol grip is very full with a tight radius. It has a much different feel than the Stevens 20 ga.

I did an internet search for history on the Tru-Test but found nothing but other guns and my own blog. That's a bit disappointing. If anyone knows anything about the Tru-Test gun purchases or can point me to a reference book, please do so by writing me.

Monday, February 26, 2007

My Bolt Action Shotgun

I present for your approval one each bolt action shotgun, made for Montgomery Wards, in .410 bore and that before the 3" .410 was at all widely accepted. This gun was bought (used I think) by Grandpa and Dad used it to kill his first squirrel. There's a pic of him with the gun, somewhere.

For certain this gun will win no awards for beauty, grace, or style, but it is a dependable gun having been in use for about 80 years. Made at a time when serial numbers weren't required and guns like this were basic commodities, this gun has no serial. Never transferred, it has never needed one. Again, it has the 2-1/2" chamber but I know that Grandpa used 3" shells in it. He said it kicked a bit more and that it wouldn't feed from the magazine. Feeds just fine with the 2-1/2" stuff of course. The story of this gun is intimately involved with that of the .410 bore cartridge.

The .410 bore, often incorrectly called ".410 gauge", is the smallest commonly available shotgun shell. .410 is the only popular shotgun cartridge named by bore rather than gauge, leading to some confusion. Base dimensions are roughly similar to the .45 Colt revolver cartridge but it is up to 3 inches in length which allows many single-shot firearms (such as the Thompson-Center Contender) and some revolvers (like the Taurus) chambered in .410 to use .45 Colt ammo. Many years ago it was also called the 36 gauge, Remington boxes of these shells can be found marked "(36 GA.) .410-2 1/2 IN. (12 MM)." However, the "36 Gauge" designation was very inaccurate, as a true 36 gauge gun would actually have a .506 inch bore diameter. They are available in 2 1/2 inch length containing 1/2 ounce of shot, and 3 inch length with 11/16 ounce of shot. The high brass 3 inch shell used to contain 3/4 ounce of shot, but was reduced to 11/16 ounce a few years ago. There is also a 1/5 ounce (around 86 grains) Foster type rifled slug load available for the .410 shotgun with a velocity of 1830 fps.

About 1904 the cartridge makes its appearance in catalogs and English proof houses. No one today knows who invented it. There is a good amount of speculation that the .410 was originally a rifle caliber, similar to the .444 Marlin. This might well be true, due to the rather recent discovery of older "rook rifles" that were originally rifles that were converted to shotgun use. The .410 shotshells originally came as a 2 inch cartridge. As time went on, the shell was expanded to 2 1/2 inches and a 3 inch cartridge, which was a move to accommodate more shot. With such a small shot charge, the .410 was originally intended to be a taxidermist's gun and "pot shooter". A pot shooter was a gun used to gather meat for the family pot. Again, since the shot charge was so small, there were less pellets that would damage the meat or specimen. What changed all of this was the recreational activity of skeet shooting. Skeet shooting is a clay target game shot with shotguns. As the game became more and more popular, the .410's success was assured.

I believe my gun was made for Montgomery Wards (now defunct but a long time mail order business) by Mossberg. You will see the similarities between this shotgun and the Model 40 rifle I have. Both use the same action albeit modified for the particular application. The 25-1/2" barrel on the gun is unmodified. You can see that rust has been present in the past. The front sight is a bead and there is a rear sight in the form of a broad "U". As you can see in the photo to the left, there is a strong crack in the stock. I don't know that this comes from shooting as this is an unstressed portion of the stock.

The action is extremely simple, locking with the bolt handle root and using a single strong spring as the ejector as you can see in this photo of the action from the top. The single-column magazine holds just 2 more rounds. With one in the chamber, this is a 3 shooter, max legal capacity for shotguns used on migratory game for a long time now. As I said before it is chambered for the 2-1/2" shell. While my grandpa shot 3" shells in it I don't suggest that anyone else do the same and I've accumulated some 2-1/2" ammo specifically for the gun. The safety is simplicity, one simply turns the big knob on the striker so that the hook on it engages in the receiver for safe, out for fire as shown in this last photo.

The mythical 36 gauge
Chuck Hawks

Sunday, February 25, 2007


If you didn't get it in the last post, re-read this...
A semiautomatic rifle or shotgun originally designed for military or law enforcement use, or a firearm based on the design of such a firearm, that is not particularly suitable for sporting purposes, as determined by the Attorney General. In making the determination, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that a firearm procured for use by the United States military or any Federal law enforcement agency is not particularly suitable for sporting purposes, and a firearm shall not be determined to be particularly suitable for sporting purposes solely because the firearm is suitable for use in a sporting event.'
What gun or guns has not been used by the military or police of some country at some time? Are you getting it now?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

So Who is David E Petzal?

I was tooling around the internet and what do I find but Xavier has posted about this fellow David E. Petzal who's taken up the cause of Jim Zumbo. Mr. Petzal allegedly said this,
"Gun owners -- all gun owners -- pay a heavy price for having to defend the availability of these weapons. The American public -- and the gun-owning public; especially the gun-owning public -- would be better off without the hardcore military arms, which puts the average sportsman in a real dilemma. An Uzi or an AKM or an AK-47 should be no more generally available than a Claymore mine or a block of C4 explosive." David E. Petzal 1994
and now he's agog that we the unwashed have the temerity to demand that those who purport to represent us, officially or not, actually do so. As has been pointed out by many, shooters run the gun world now. SASS, NCOWS, 3 gun matches, sporting clays, etc, are what drive the gun market. Hunting? Not so much. The numbers of hunters is steadily declining even as the number of guns sold steadily rises.

Frankly, as a retired infantryman, intelligence NCO, and logistician, I think the equating of a semi-auto rifle with Claymores and C4 is pure sophistry. Of course, such tactics are well accepted by portions of society and this is also demonstrable in the discussions propoganda on global warming.

HR1022 is the reintroduced Assault Weapons Ban but it is so much more.

Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2007 (Introduced in House)

HR 1022 IH


1st Session

H. R. 1022
To reauthorize the assault weapons ban, and for other purposes.


February 13, 2007
Mrs. MCCARTHY of New York introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


To reauthorize the assault weapons ban, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the `Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2007'.


(a) Reinstatement of Provisions Wholly Repealed- Paragraphs (30) and (31) of section 921(a), subsections (v) and (w) and Appendix A of section 922, and the last 2 sentences of section 923(i) of title 18, United States Code, as in effect just before the repeal made by section 110105(2) of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, are hereby enacted into law.

(b) Reinstatement of Provisions Partially Repealed- Section 924 of title 18, United States Code, is amended--

(1) in subsection (a)(1), by striking subparagraph (B) and inserting the following:

`(B) knowingly violates subsection (a)(4), (f), (k), (r), (v), or (w) of section 922;'; and

(2) in subsection (c)(1)(B), by striking clause (i) and inserting the following:

`(i) is a short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, or semiautomatic assault weapon, the person shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 10 years; or'.


(a) In General- Section 921(a)(30) of title 18, United States Code, as added by section 2(a) of this Act, is amended to read as follows:

`(30) The term `semiautomatic assault weapon' means any of the following:

`(A) The following rifles or copies or duplicates thereof:

`(i) AK, AKM, AKS, AK-47, AK-74, ARM, MAK90, Misr, NHM 90, NHM 91, SA 85, SA 93, VEPR;

`(ii) AR-10;

`(iii) AR-15, Bushmaster XM15, Armalite M15, or Olympic Arms PCR;

`(iv) AR70;

`(v) Calico Liberty;

`(vi) Dragunov SVD Sniper Rifle or Dragunov SVU;

`(vii) Fabrique National FN/FAL, FN/LAR, or FNC;

`(viii) Hi-Point Carbine;

`(ix) HK-91, HK-93, HK-94, or HK-PSG-1;

`(x) Kel-Tec Sub Rifle;

`(xi) M1 Carbine;

`(xii) Saiga;

`(xiii) SAR-8, SAR-4800;

`(xiv) SKS with detachable magazine;

`(xv) SLG 95;

`(xvi) SLR 95 or 96;

`(xvii) Steyr AUG;

`(xviii) Sturm, Ruger Mini-14;

`(xix) Tavor;

`(xx) Thompson 1927, Thompson M1, or Thompson 1927 Commando; or

`(xxi) Uzi, Galil and Uzi Sporter, Galil Sporter, or Galil Sniper Rifle (Galatz).

`(B) The following pistols or copies or duplicates thereof:

`(i) Calico M-110;

`(ii) MAC-10, MAC-11, or MPA3;

`(iii) Olympic Arms OA;

`(iv) TEC-9, TEC-DC9, TEC-22 Scorpion, or AB-10; or

`(v) Uzi.

`(C) The following shotguns or copies or duplicates thereof:

`(i) Armscor 30 BG;

`(ii) SPAS 12 or LAW 12;

`(iii) Striker 12; or

`(iv) Streetsweeper.

`(D) A semiautomatic rifle that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine, and that has--

`(i) a folding or telescoping stock;

`(ii) a threaded barrel;

`(iii) a pistol grip;

`(iv) a forward grip; or

`(v) a barrel shroud.

`(E)(i) Except as provided in clause (ii), a semiautomatic rifle that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.

`(ii) Clause (i) shall not apply to an attached tubular device designed to accept, and capable of operating only with, .22 caliber rimfire ammunition.

`(F) A semiautomatic pistol that has the ability to accept a detachable magazine, and has--

`(i) a second pistol grip;

`(ii) a threaded barrel;

`(iii) a barrel shroud; or

`(iv) the capacity to accept a detachable magazine at a location outside of the pistol grip.

`(G) A semiautomatic pistol with a fixed magazine that has the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.

`(H) A semiautomatic shotgun that has--

`(i) a folding or telescoping stock;

`(ii) a pistol grip;

`(iii) the ability to accept a detachable magazine; or

`(iv) a fixed magazine capacity of more than 5 rounds.

`(I) A shotgun with a revolving cylinder.

`(J) A frame or receiver that is identical to, or based substantially on the frame or receiver of, a firearm described in any of subparagraphs (A) through (I) or (L).

`(K) A conversion kit.

`(L) A semiautomatic rifle or shotgun originally designed for military or law enforcement use, or a firearm based on the design of such a firearm, that is not particularly suitable for sporting purposes, as determined by the Attorney General. In making the determination, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that a firearm procured for use by the United States military or any Federal law enforcement agency is not particularly suitable for sporting purposes, and a firearm shall not be determined to be particularly suitable for sporting purposes solely because the firearm is suitable for use in a sporting event.'.

(b) Related Definitions- Section 921(a) of such title is amended by adding at the end the following:

`(36) Barrel Shroud- The term `barrel shroud' means a shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles, the barrel of a firearm so that the shroud protects the user of the firearm from heat generated by the barrel, but does not include a slide that encloses the barrel, and does not include an extension of the stock along the bottom of the barrel which does not encircle or substantially encircle the barrel.

`(37) Conversion Kit- The term `conversion kit' means any part or combination of parts designed and intended for use in converting a firearm into a semiautomatic assault weapon, and any combination of parts from which a semiautomatic assault weapon can be assembled if the parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.

`(38) Detachable Magazine- The term `detachable magazine' means an ammunition feeding device that can readily be inserted into a firearm.

`(39) Fixed Magazine- The term `fixed magazine' means an ammunition feeding device contained in, or permanently attached to, a firearm.

`(40) Folding or Telescoping Stock- The term `folding or telescoping stock' means a stock that folds, telescopes, or otherwise operates to reduce the length, size, or any other dimension, or otherwise enhances the concealability, of a firearm.

`(41) Forward Grip- The term `forward grip' means a grip located forward of the trigger that functions as a pistol grip.

`(42) Pistol Grip- The term `pistol grip' means a grip, a thumbhole stock, or any other characteristic that can function as a grip.

`(43) Threaded Barrel- The term `threaded barrel' means a feature or characteristic that is designed in such a manner to allow for the attachment of a firearm as defined in section 5845(a) of the National Firearms Act (26 U.S.C. 5845(a)).'.


Section 922(v)(2) of title 18, United States Code, as added by section 2(a) of this Act, is amended--

(1) by inserting `(A)' after `(2)'; and

(2) by adding after and below the end the following:

`(B) Paragraph (1) shall not apply to any firearm the possession or transfer of which would (but for this subparagraph) be unlawful by reason of this subsection, and which is otherwise lawfully possessed on the date of the enactment of this subparagraph.'.


Section 922(v)(3) of title 18, United States Code, as added by section 2(a) of this Act, is amended by striking `(3)' and all that follows through the 1st sentence and inserting the following:

`(3) Paragraph (1) shall not apply to any firearm that--

`(A) is manually operated by bolt, pump, level, or slide action;

`(B) has been rendered permanently inoperable; or

`(C) is an antique firearm.'.


Section 922(v) of title 18, United States Code, as added by section 2(a) of this Act, is amended by adding at the end the following:

`(5) It shall be unlawful for any person to transfer a semiautomatic assault weapon to which paragraph (1) does not apply, except through--

`(A) a licensed dealer, and for purposes of subsection (t) in the case of such a transfer, the weapon shall be considered to be transferred from the business inventory of the licensed dealer and the dealer shall be considered to be the transferor; or

`(B) a State or local law enforcement agency if the transfer is made in accordance with the procedures provided for in subsection (t) of this section and section 923(g).

`(6) The Attorney General shall establish and maintain, in a timely manner, a record of the make, model, and date of manufacture of any semiautomatic assault weapon which the Attorney General is made aware has been used in relation to a crime under Federal or State law, and the nature and circumstances of the crime involved, including the outcome of relevant criminal investigations and proceedings. The Attorney General shall annually submit the record to the Congress and make the record available to the general public.'.


(a) Ban on Transfer of Semiautomatic Assault Weapon With Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device-

(1) IN GENERAL- Section 922 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by inserting after subsection (y) the following:

`(z) It shall be unlawful for any person to transfer any assault weapon with a large capacity ammunition feeding device.'.

(2) PENALTIES- Section 924(a) of such title is amended by adding at the end the following:

`(8) Whoever knowingly violates section 922(z) shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.'.

(b) Certification Requirement-

(1) IN GENERAL- Section 922(w) of such title, as added by section 2(a) of this Act, is amended--

(A) in paragraph (3)--

(i) by adding `or' at the end of subparagraph (B); and

(ii) by striking subparagraph (C) and redesignating subparagraph (D) as subparagraph (C); and

(B) by striking paragraph (4) and inserting the following:

`(4) It shall be unlawful for a licensed manufacturer, licensed importer, or licensed dealer who transfers a large capacity ammunition feeding device that was manufactured on or before the date of the enactment of this subsection, to fail to certify to the Attorney General before the end of the 60-day period that begins with the date of the transfer, in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Attorney General, that the device was manufactured on or before the date of the enactment of this subsection.'.

(2) PENALTIES- Section 924(a) of such title, as amended by subsection (a)(2) of this section, is amended by adding at the end the following:

`(9) Whoever knowingly violates section 922(w)(4) shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.'.


Section 922(x) of title 18, United States Code, is amended--

(1) in paragraph (1)--

(A) in subparagraph (B), by striking the period and inserting a semicolon; and

(B) by adding at the end the following:

`(C) a semiautomatic assault weapon; or

`(D) a large capacity ammunition feeding device.'; and

(2) in paragraph (2)--

(A) in subparagraph (B), by striking the period and inserting a semicolon; and

(B) by adding at the end the following:

`(C) a semiautomatic assault weapon; or

`(D) a large capacity ammunition feeding device.'.


(a) In General- Section 922(w) of title 18, United States Code, as added by section 2(a) of this Act, is amended--

(1) in paragraph (1), by striking `(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2)' and inserting `(1)(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B)';

(2) in paragraph (2), by striking `(2) Paragraph (1)' and inserting `(B) Subparagraph (A)'; and

(3) by inserting before paragraph (3) the following:

`(2) It shall be unlawful for any person to import or bring into the United States a large capacity ammunition feeding device.'.

(b) Conforming Amendment- Section 921(a)(31)(A) of such title, as added by section 2(a) of this Act, is amended by striking `manufactured after the date of enactment of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994'.

So my question of Mr. Petzal is, "would you support this bill?" and if so, "why should we support you or your magazine?"

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Jim Zumbo Broohaha continues...

Jim is supposed to show at the Nugent forum and has here. You tell me, has he saved himself? Can he? Remington, Gerber, Outdoor Life, the NRA, etc. have dropped him like a hot potato.

So far he's said:
The last few days have been an educational experience, to say the least. My ill-conceived inflammatory blog, as all of you now know, set off a firestorm that, I’m told, has never before been equaled. I’m not proud of that.
Let me say this at the outset. My words here are from the heart, and all mine. No one can censor me, and I answer to no one but myself. And I have no one to blame but myself. Outdoor Life, a magazine that I worked for full-time as Hunting Editor for almost 30 years, fired me yesterday. My TV show was cancelled yesterday. Many of my sponsors have issued statements on their website to sever all relationships. This may cause many of you to do backflips and dance in the streets, but, of course, I’m not laughing, nor am I looking for sympathy. I don’t want a pity party.

They say hindsight is golden. Looking back, I can’t believe I said the words “ban” and “terrorist” in the context that I did. I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote that. I can explain this as sheer ignorance and an irresponsible use of words. What I’ve learned over the last few days has enlightened and amazed me. As a guy who hunts 200 days a year, does seminars on hunting, wrote for six hunting magazines, had a hunting TV show, and wrote 20 books on hunting, how could I have been so ignorant and out of touch with reality in the world of hunting and shooting?

But I was. I really can’t explain it, maybe because I just summarily dismissed the firearms in question in my mind when I saw them in magazines and catalogs. I saw one “black” firearm in a hunting camp in all my 50 years of hunting, and I shot one last year off a boat when fishing in Alaska. To tell the truth, it was fun and I enjoyed it immensely, but I never considered one for use in hunting. I have to tell you that I have had a revelation. I’m learning that many of my pals own AR-15’s and similar firearms and indeed use them for hunting. I was totally unaware that they were being used for legitimate hunting purposes. That is the absolute truth.

My biggest regret is not the financial impact of all this. I’m almost 67 and retirement is an option. The dreadful impact here is that I inadvertently struck a spear into the hearts of the people I love most…America’s gun owners. And, even though this huge cadre of dedicated people have succeeded in stripping me of my career, I hold no grudges. I will continue to stand as firm on pro hunting as I’ve ever done. But what’s different now is that I’ll do all I can to educate others who are, or were, as ignorant as I was about “black” rifles and the controversy that surrounds them. My promise to you is that I’ll learn all I can about these firearms, and by the time this week is out, I’ll order one. The NUGE has invited me to hunt with him using AR-15’s, and I’m eager to go, and learn. I’ll do all I can to spread the word.

I understand that many of you will not accept this apology, believing that the damage has been done and there’s no way to repair it. You have that right. But let me say this. I mentioned this above, and I’ll repeat it. I’m willing to seize this opportunity to educate hunters and shooters who shared my ignorance. If you’re willing to allow me to do that, we can indeed, in my mind, form a stronger bond within our ranks. Maybe in a roundabout way we can bring something good out of this.

Jim Zumbo

There are many, many questions here that I'll attempt to answer. Please be patient with me. Right now I'm reeling from the shock of what's happened and am trying to get my feet back under me.
But I want to share a phone call I just received from one of America's oldest and most prominent gun writers. He was absolutely amazed at all this, and had no clue of the misunderstandings on both sides. That leads up to the issue that some of you have brought up regarding "preaching to the choir." Let's think about that. I disagree that we are preaching to the choir. I believe that within America's gun owners, we can be classed into three groups: hunters, hunters/shooters, and shooters.

It's become obvious throughout all this that in order to strengthen our position to take on the Sarah Brady's and others, we must first be unified -- ALL of us. And the best way to unite is to first begin to understand our viewpoints as hunters and shooters. I believe that talking together will help enlighten us all.

Ok, poor choice of words again. I offered my resignation to Outdoor Life because I figured the axe was coming. Technically, I wasn't fired, though I believe I would have been had I not resigned.
Hey folks, give me a break. Many of you are demanding instant replies and answers. I'm just getting the hang of this. If I had been a newspaper reporter instead of a magazine writer all those years, maybe I'd be trained for rapid-fire chat. I'm plugging along as best as I can.
Someone asked if I'm an elitist hunter, wondering how I feel about hound hunting. I hunt with hounds as much as I can, I hunt bears over baits, deer over corn.
Someone said that I didn't explicitly mention the words "I'm sorry". I thought those words rang throughout my statement. If not, here it is: I AM SORRY!
Let me put it this way. I am sorry that I said the words "ban" and "terrorist" in the context that I did.

I called myself ignorant and irresponsible. If you want to keep kicking me in the butt, go ahead. I AM sincere about this, despite what some of you might think to the contrary.

Go and read the whole topic but be prepared to spend some time as it was at 16 pages when I left. UPDATE it is now at 35 pages AFTER a number of posts unacceptable to the moderators were deleted. Also, David Hardy has put me on to these comments by The Martialist which sum it up nicely. Now MSNBC has weighed in.

Made "The Rounds" Today - Another Shop Closes

Today was the day for making the rounds and visiting all the local shops, well most of them. First up was Hunter's Paradise in Harrisonburg. I was surprised to discover that they were selling everything at cost and will be closed, likely by Monday. That's pretty sad as one of my high school classmates is one of the owners. I wish I'd had some money though as I could have gotten about 6 guns. Yeah, that's embarassing as I shouldn't be so lustful for inanimate objects. I did pick up some ammo and a knife.

Then I went to Runion's. The only thing there really of interest to me was a Winchester 94 flatband. In the lower range but without the rollmark on the tang, this was a pretty good gun, but not great. What was great was that it is chambered for the .32 Winchester Special. I only bought some Federal .22 WRFM.

Stopped by Valley Surplus, just back down the road a bit, and got 4 .50 cal ammo cans for storage. Spray painted black they'll keep "things" well until I die.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Bought Some More .22 LR Today

With metal prices rising and the Dem/S seemingly hell-bent to give Iran all the time they need to destroy us I feel like this is what I need to concentrate on for the time being. That is, accumulating ammo and practicing. This "old" man might be in a panic but I think that the terrorists coming to these shores with a nuke from Iran and destroying our economy is tremendously more likely than humans affecting global climate change. I am worried about it and taking steps to mitigate likely negative effects on my family.

Meanwhile, Winchester rimfire ammo seems to be becoming non-existent. I wish Winchester would get their new Oxford, MS plant up and running.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Handloads for Self Defense

There is an interesting topic at the Sixgunner forums Handloads For Self Defense.............

So, after reading all that, what is really at the crux of the matter is the defendant's pattern of behavior IOW, if you walk like a duck, quack like a duck, you might just be a duck. One way or the other (good or bad), civil or criminal, this is really what it comes to, i.e. proving the pattern of behavior that shows that you are innocent or not. To beat the horse further, the ammo is only a portion of the whole.

For me the concern is that factory ammo is statistically more reliable than my reloads. So, that is generally what I carry. If I'm in a sporting circumstance I'll use what I've got knowing that it is likely that I'll be at a disadvantage in a planned attack. That's just how it is.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Price of Sight

I can see a way to make Lasik surgery a cost effective option. I just ordered my first pair of bifocals (progressives) today. I hope I am forgiven what I was thinking. $485 to see. Amazing. I paid $200 2 years ago and was shocked then. Of course the wife needs new specs, too. $450. That's 2 guns of modest value, 4 cases of Winchester PowerPoint .22 LR (20k rounds). Amazing. Did I already say that? In shock I am. Forgive me while I go veg in front of the TV.

Jim Zumbo Broohaha

Ok, so I suppose I should comment on this writer/editor for Outdoor Life (once a respected outdoors/hunting/shooting/fishing magazine) who made comments about certain semi-auto rifles and their use in hunting. The professionally deceased Mr. Zumbo aroused the ire of the shooting community with his comments which equated the owners and users of such firearms with terrorists. Rightly so. Much has been written on this and you can do a search to find it all. I can only add these few comments which apply to life in general.

1 - Don't allow yourself to get lazy and lose track of what is happening in your chosen field. Mr. Zumbo apparently did do exactly that. His ignorance allowed him to make such a comment.
2 - Don't allow yourself to get arrogant and think that your elevated position permits you to make outrageous, unsubstantiated comments derogatory to more than 50% of your customers or to broad portions of the population at large. Mr. Zumbo apparently did exactly this.
3 - Don't give your enemies comfort by disparaging your friends (or yourself). Mr. Zumbo did that.
4 - Don't denegrate your employer(s). Mr. Zumbo did that.
5 - Apologies don't count for much when you are clearly just trying to save your job, keep you money, or your life. Folks can most often easily tell the difference. They will trust and respect you even less for backing down.

Mr. Zumbo, to you I say that I think you are an honest man. You honestly believe what you said about the use and users of AR-15s and I believe you were honestly sorry that you said those things. But, I believe you still think you're right. I know you are not only wrong, that you have denigrated every serviceperson, every owner of an AR-15 who target shoots or hunts with his gun, every user of every semi-auto firearm, rifle and pistol, every person who knows that the right to keep and bear arms is what defends every other right. I believe that you honestly believe that freedom and liberty can be compromised in the interest of security. But you are wrong as has been and is being proved in many countries today including the USofA. Your words are already being used against those of us who had thought we were your friends, your compatriots. We were wrong to think that you could see and understand and would work for our freedoms.

Ultimately, Mr. Zumbo may be forgotten for anything he's done other than this statement made in a blog. I know he will be departing from the public shooting scene. Many, including myself, will now go out of our way to avoid his product and those that publish him. We can only hope that he hasn't damaged the cause of freedom too severely.

You see, the Brady Bunch has already seized on this statement. Ironically, they are also prosyletizing against Mr. Zumbo's beloved scope sighted, military cartridge chambered, "sniper" rifles, even before he opined on the suitability of a popular firearms system.

The whole thing began with this post:
As I write this, I'm hunting coyotes in southeastern Wyoming with Eddie Stevenson, PR Manager for Remington Arms, Greg Dennison, who is senior research engineer for Remington, and several writers. We're testing Remington's brand new .17 cal Spitfire bullet on coyotes.

I must be living in a vacuum. The guides on our hunt tell me that the use of AR and AK rifles have a rapidly growing following among hunters, especially prairie dog hunters. I had no clue. Only once in my life have I ever seen anyone using one of these firearms.

I call them "assault" rifles, which may upset some people. Excuse me, maybe I'm a traditionalist, but I see no place for these weapons among our hunting fraternity. I'll go so far as to call them "terrorist" rifles. They tell me that some companies are producing assault rifles that are "tackdrivers."

Sorry, folks, in my humble opinion, these things have no place in hunting. We don't need to be lumped into the group of people who terrorize the world with them, which is an obvious concern. I've always been comfortable with the statement that hunters don't use assault rifles. We've always been proud of our "sporting firearms."

This really has me concerned. As hunters, we don't need the image of walking around the woods carrying one of these weapons. To most of the public, an assault rifle is a terrifying thing. Let's divorce ourselves from them. I say game departments should ban them from the praries and woods.
Then Mr. Zumbo discovered, as did his bosses, that there were some mighty peeved folks out there so he wrote this.
I was wrong, BIG TIME

Someone once said that to err is human. I just erred, and made without question, the biggest blunder in my 42 years of writing hunting articles. My blog inflamed legions of people I love most..... hunters and shooters. Obviously, when I wrote that blog, I activated my mouth before engaging my brain.

Let me explain the circumstances surrounding that blog. I was hunting coyotes, and after the hunt was over and being beat up by 60 mph winds all day, I was discussing hunting with one of the young guides. I was tired and exhausted, and I should have gone to bed early. When the guide told me that there was a "huge" following of hunters who use AR 15's and similar weapons to hunt prairies dogs, I was amazed. At that point I wrote the blog, and never thought it through.

Now then, you might not believe what I have to say, but I hope you do. How is it that Zumbo, who has been hunting for more than 50 years, is totally ignorant about these types of guns. I don't know. I shot one once at a target last year, and thought it was cool, but I never considered using one for hunting. I had absolutely no idea how vast the numbers of folks are who use them.

I never intended to be divisive, and I certainly believe in United we Stand, Divided we Fall. I've been an NRA member for 40 years, have attended 8 national NRA conventions in the last 10 years, and I'm an advisory board member for the United States Sportsmen's Alliance which actively fights anti-hunters and animal rights groups for hunter's rights. What really bothers me are some of the unpatriotic comments leveled at me. I fly the flag 365 days a year in my front yard. Last year, through an essay contest, I hosted a soldier wounded in Iraq to a free hunt in
Botswana. This year, through another essay contest, I'm taking two more soldiers on a free moose and elk hunt.

When I started blogging, I was told to write my thoughts, expressing my own opinion. The offensive blog I wrote was MY opinion, and no one else's. None of the companies that I deal with share that opinion, nor were they aware of what I had written until this firestorm started.

Believe it or not, I'm your best friend if you're a hunter or shooter, though it might not seem that way. I simply screwed up. And, to show that I'm sincere about this, I just talked to Ted Nugent, who everyone knows, and is a Board member of the NRA. Ted is extremely active with charities concerning our wounded military, and though he's known as a bowhunter, Ted has no problem with AR 15's and similar firearms. My sincerity stems from the fact that Ted and I are planning a hunt using AR 15's. I intend to learn all I can about them, and again, I'm sorry for inserting my foot in my mouth.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Winchester and .22 Rimfire Ammo Non-Availability

I suppose that I am pretty dense. I only recently discovered that there was little Winchester .22 Rimfire ammo available out there, most of it stuff I don't want. Availability date of new stocks unknown. Why? Because Winchester is relocating .22 rimfire ammo production from East Alton, IL to Oxford, MS. Unfortunately they have apparently neglected to actually set up production at the new site before leaving the old site. Thus, no new ammo. Oh joy. Let me get all my .22s sighted for something other than the .22 Powerpoint HP and just see if I come back to you.

Friday, February 16, 2007

MT Baldy Bullet Order Delivered Today

500 bullets from Montana in this short a time. Wow! Wish I'd had money for 5000...

Colt's 1911 "Repro"

Colt is making a 1911 just like the 1911s were made. I got to see and handle one today but not even the owner, who carefully unwrapped it after opening the box, has shot it. Good thing it isn't mine. I'd have blasted a few mags through it.

Metal work was beautiful except, the US Property marking stamp apparently bounced producing a shadow effect, like a light double stamp.

The sights were a bit tiny. The stocks were a bit light for my taste. Otherwise, well I quit drooling about 30 minutes after he left.

Colt only plans to make so many and they should be finished about June or July. Better get while the getting is good.

PS. Same friend scored a Triple-lock .44 Spec 4" nickel for $360. Not sure if the the nickel plate was factory but there is flaking on the forward edge between the flutes.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Cleaning Out the Parts Bin

While I've been on enforced house residency this week I've been going through the parts bins looking for stuff to sell to raise money for other stuff to buy. No, I can't help it.

I have found at least 2 old Winchester leveraction rear sights, a rear sight for the Winchester M1906, a couple of generic open sights, and a couple of Marlin open sights, all with elevators. Also, I got out the Lyman #2 coded "B" for the 1892 Marlin and one mounting screw (I'm looking for the other) and a generic type tang sight I originally got for the 1886 SRC but decided against mounting. Several grips, rubber, Pachmayr make for S&W N, K and J frames, Colt DS, along with wooden stocks for the Colt PPS and some un-identified Phillipine made grips for some revolver, possibly a Colt NS or 1917. Also found was a 10-round mag for a Taurus. Of course I've got those never fit to a revolver Herrett Shooting Stars for the post-66 PPS or Detective Special (or Cobra or Agent if it floats your boat).

All of this stuff is for sale and if you are "lucky" enough to read my blog you might as well make me an offer.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sporterized Swede M96 and 6.5x55mm Cartridge - UPDATED

The story of how this gun came to be in my collection is convoluted. While stationed in the Republic of Korea (ROK) from 1977 to 1981, reading about firearms was one of my few retreats from service and being a dad to my son and daughter.

What got into my head was a project involving a early Mauser, preferably a 1895, set up as a light 7x57 rifle with peeps and turned down bolt handle. The intent to use that gun as a truck gun and the constant planning kept me entertained for hours. I did manage to buy a Brazilian 95 action for the project and get it rebarreled to 7x57. But, anything you do long distance (especially at that time pre-internet) is bound to be full of pitfalls and the action itself seemed to hold most of them, it was pitted beyond belief. The well-known company that rebarreled and blued the gun hadn't bothered to say that it was unsuitable, they just did the work and took my money. It is not something I would have done if it was my company but they did and the result was I had only a good barrel.

This is my stock disk. As you can see, the 3 in the smaller sector has the triangle over it indicating that the bore was "acceptable". The gun shoots very well but it did take a bit of cleaning. It would also have shot a bit higher than many with the 1941 ammo. This is the earlier type disk which doesn't give the actual bore diameter. Frankly, I think the value of this is negligble but it does fill the hole in the stock.

So, what to do? Well, the project was put on hold and the barrel sold when I returned to the states and was between assignments. Short of cash, I didn't feel that I could invest in another gun and didn't but made do. About 1986 there were a number of 1896 Swedish rifles on sale at a local department store. I bought one and shot it some. As a full length rifle, complete with 29" barrel. It was simply unhandy.

Now I like the small ring Mausers. Those guns, obsolete as they are, and the Lee-Enfields are the only bolt guns to come close to floating my boat. But the 29" barreled infantry rifles are too much of a good thing and there were plenty of them, right? So the rifle got bubbaed. The barrel was bobbed to 22" and a Williams Shorty ramp and post front was installed together with a Williams Foolproof Receiver Sight. The stock was then cut down and Uncle Mike's sling swivel studs were installed fore and aft. Extra holes exposed by the "surgery" were filled with AcraGlas and the stock sanded and a filler and stock finish applied. Reassembled the rifle went to the range and did passably well with Norma factory 6.5x55 139 gr. bulleted loads, some Century Arms FMJ stuff and some surplus FMJ. Define "passably well" you say. How about 1½" or better at 100 yards? Yep, it was doing very well. But, that military stock was ugly and the bolt still stuck out at 90 degrees to the action. Something had to be done.

That something came in the form of the Ramline injection molded stock. I wasn't so persnickety that I wouldn't try this marvel of modern technology and it would be good for a truck gun, right? Yes and no.

Yes because the accuracy of the gun was the same or better in the Ramline stock. I shot several sub 1" groups at 100 yards from the sitting position. This astonished the Brigade Chaplain! Yes because the stock was pretty much impervious to anything and suffered the area behind my truck seat without complaint. Yes, because the rifle was low threat in appearance. ...and no.

No because the stock was ugly as homemade sin. No because the stock was hollow and if you struck it the noise could be heard to quite a distance. No because the stock was seemingly dimensioned for a fellow bigger than me and it didn't feel handy. So, I went back to the original stock and sold the Ramline on eBay, at a profit... This is how it looks now.

Now the rifle was as it would be, for a while anyway, let's go back to the cartridge...

The 6.5x55mm Swedish Mauser cartridge was developed by a joint Swedish/Norwegian commission in 1893. It was officially adopted as the military cartridge of Sweden and Norway in 1894. Original military loads utilized a 160 or 159 gr. roundnosed bullet at a starting velocity of about 2300-2400 feet per second (fps). After the German move to the spitzer bullet this was changed to a 139-140 gr. spire point bullet at about 2600-2700 fps. Of course, as a military round, ammunition has been produced in blank/non-bulleted and gallery load (for training) versions as well as with different bullets for different applications. A lot of development of the round was done for use in precision rifle competition and it is considered by many to be one of those "naturally" accurate cartridges. The Scandinavians have used it for moose. On paper it is very similar to the .30 Winchester Center Fire (WCF, aka .30-30) but many think it superior due to the much improved sectional density of the long, lean 160 gr. bullets. It is generally recommended to hold pressures in the small ring Mauser actions to 45,000 PSI. This holds the cartridge back compared to the much more modern .260 Remington but not by much. 120 gr. bullets can be driven to 2900 fps. Suddenly the 6.5x55 seems to shine.

I'm a member of the heavy slow division and never could get excited by the bullets lighter than 140 gr. I prefer the 160 gr. Of course, the Swedish rifles are throated to accept the 160s and do their best work with bullets 140 gr. and heavier. The twist rate is 1-7½" more than adequate to stabilize the long 160 gr. bullets.

I started with the various 140 gr. bullets. At the time I was interested in cost over any cachet a particular bullet might have. The good thing is that this cartridge doesn't produce velocities requiring something more sophisticated than the common cup-and-core bullet. That helps keep costs down. It also helps with availability. Those 140 gr. bullets seem to be the most widely available of any 6.5mm or .264" diameter bullets. This may be because this weight is indeed near perfect for the cartridge giving good performance with simple cup-n-core bullets while also allowing good velocities and sufficiently flat trajectories.

I did finally find some 160 gr. bullets (pre-internet) and bought 2 boxes at a clearance but didn't have an opportunity to load them for several years. I ended up trying them with H4831 and H4350. For some reason that doesn't seem clear to me as I write this, I just wasn't happy. Oh, accuracy was acceptable. Velocity was within expected parameters and the trajectory wasn't an impediment to good shooting. I have to revisit this.

Related Links of Interest:

- Berdan Primers in the 6.5 X 55 Swedish Mauser

Book Review - Guns of the Gunfighters

Title: Guns of the Gunfighters
Author: "Doc" O'Meara
ISBN: 0873494334

The old west has long been a fascination for many of my generation raised on tales of high adventure and romantic depictions of cowboys, Indians and soldiers on the American frontier. "Doc" really manages to address both the real and the reel cowboys and their guns in this book. Even my wife was interested in looking through this book (as she was by the Hollywood related displays at the Cody Firearms Museum). Every boy who loves the "old west" whether he's a history or movie buff will love this well illustrated book.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Book Review - Big Bore Handguns

Title: Big Bore Handguns
Author: John Taffin
ISBN: 0873494636

Mr. Taffin starts with a well presented history of the large bore handgun from the beginning of the repeating era. He then continues to address nearly every large caliber handgun including semi-autos and single-shots. THEN he has info on leather, hand loading, and some interesting anecdotes. All of this is written in Mr. Taffin's uniquely direct, informative but interesting style. Profusely illustrated with many excellent black and white photos, the only improvement would be that the photos were in color. A marvelous reading experience for the firearms enthusiast. "Big Bore Handguns" is one of those books any newcomer to the sport must have. Not quite as broad in subject matter as Keith's "Sixguns", "Big Bore Handguns" deserves a place on the bookshelf next to Keith's classic.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

My Old Springfield Stevens

Here is she is, short, ugly, dirty blond, 20 gauge, and ready to do her duty. She was given to me by Grandpa, Dad's dad, and had once belonged to, been used by my Aunt Ginny. I used her to hunt crows, dove, quail, grouse, squirrel, deer, turkey, pigeons, and even groundhogs. This was also my skeet gun and put many rounds out at the little clay targets at Quail Run Skeet Range. Once I got my driver's license and started driving to school she was always in the boot of the Renault 10 that was Mom's car but that I drove.

That car was the first I drove. 4 on the floor, the seats lay all the way back to make a bed (if I got to my hunting spot too early or came back too tired). The boot was in the front, the engine in the back, you could start it by cranking (if I left the lights on), and our Golden Retriever Belle loved to ride in the back seat. It would go like a bat out of Hades, corner like a sports car (in my mind), and was narrow enough to ride down the sides of ruts it couldn't straddle. It could go anywhere in snow or mud. And it washed up easy (I got good at that). A dark green with tan vinyl upholstery, it just seemed to fit my self-image. Best of all, I didn't have to pay to use it, only to put gas in it and it didn't take much. Although these two were inseparable, I do digress...

Then I went into the service. I bought a H&R Topper 12 ga. and had it modified to better suit my supposed military adventures and travels. I left home and pretty much didn't come back for 8 years. My tastes, interests, and circumstances had changed a lot in those 8 years. I was married, a father, and blissfully unaware of pending divorce. My brother was 8 and I thought that I'd pass the shotgun to him. Then he was killed, hit by a truck while he crossed the street. Change in life accelerated. Sometimes this old shotgun fed us. The divorce came to pass, and still, she provided some meals. Then, I was remarried. Things started to look up for us financially and an old article in Gun Digest started to weight heavily on my mind.

"Poor Man's Double" by Harold O. Davidson was a classic wherein the author described his lust for a classic double rifle and how that lust was assuaged by virtue of the shortening of a Parker Trojan 12 ga. to 20" barrel length and installation of the WGOS sight. I was smitten. Unfortunately, perhaps not, I had yet to receive the Parker VH you've already seen. So, when I did get it, I wasn't so lustful that I immediately attacked it with my handy hacksaw. Good thing. That gun is as it should be. But, old faithful, well, she fell under my gaze at the wrong time and her 28" barrels have indeed been shortened as you can see in the first photo. I also installed, rather roughly I'm embarassed to say, a thin rubber "recoil" pad. I even had sling swivel studs including the one that screws to the bottom rib but never installed it.

Yes, all choke is gone. As you can see in this photo of the muzzle, I got the muzzles square and clean and filled the space between. She patterns evenly with most ammo but you'd best get close with the 2-3/4" loads (she has a 2-3/4" chamber). #3 buck at the end of the hall shooting distance is a force to be reckoned with but the weight that is in those 8 inches of barrel now missing it is clear that those 8 inches were instrumental in holding the chambers clear of the standing breach. One must now hold the gun open to load her. So, let's do a review from stem to stern...

This is the receiver left. Springfield is model and this is one in the long line of 311 type shotguns. Made by the J. Stevens Arms Company of Chicopee Falls, Mass. U.S.A. According to the verbal history, this shotgun was bought used for my Aunt Ginny during the 1940s. That's a 10 year span though and I'm thinking it was about 1944-46. At the time there was no other shotgun in the house.

Unlike the water table on some shotguns, this is fairly devoid of information. There is, of course, the serial number. You can also see the original case color pretty well. I would have liked to have seen the gun new. I always liked the colors on this gun. There is an "8" on the other side. I've no idea what that means. There is also a funny "c" looking thing or open-sided square. Don't know what that is either. I looked, too. Since I got the gun I read everything that came to hand. Unfortunately, that was precious little. Then again, as I said before, Stevens apparently didn't see a need for guns at this price point.

On the bottom of the receiver is this one lone mark. "24" in a circle. I've always wondered at the meaning of this lonesome mark. Maybe another assembler's mark? You can also see how the finish has been worn away here. Still, you can see a hint of the color case further to the rear. I'm afraid I'm responsible for at least some of that wear! The gun is a 20 gauge frame and it is easy to carry held in the right hand right here.

Neither does the barrel breach provide a wealth of information. Perhaps none was considered necessary for this portion of the market. Again the serial number is given in full. At least you can't lose the serial number on this gun very easily. It would be a full on effort to get rid of it. On the lump there is a "4" with no meaning known to me. Next to it is a poorly done oval stamp that has something inside which is illegible to me. You can't see it here but there is a "K" on the forearm stud. Assembler's marks?

On the barrels near the breach are stamped "Selected Forged Steel" and "Proof Tested 20 Gauge". This is pretty self-explanatory. It is pretty clear that there was no attempt to come up with some sort of fancy name for the steel used, neither are the chamber lengths given. It seems that in the past a gunner was supposed to and assumed to know something about the sport and his/her gun. You can see the rib well here and in the photo of the muzzles. This is a solid rib and the grooves, while not as pretty as the matting on the Winchester 21s, is effective.

The final photo of the gun is this of the forearm and beneath the barrels. Both the forearm wood and iron are marked with the firearm serial number. This is a snap on forearm and so the iron contains a spring loaded lever which pushes the forearm back against the receiver and snaps it on to the barrels. One of the two screws which hold the forearm iron to the wood are missing. At first I didn't remember ever having seen it there. Then I thought, I've got that screw in my parts box. Indeed it was there and now it is safely back on the gun. Why or how I came to have it in the part box and not on the gun is a mystery.

The wood wasn't always as blond as this. I refinished the gun with Tru-oil soon after receiving it and it still looks good. I recently bought a spring set from Wolff that is supposed to make the gun open more easily (necessary now due to the shortened barrels) but have yet to install it. Maybe when I do the sling swivels...

More Bullets Ordered

I just ordered another 500 of the 250 gr. Keith bullets from Mt. Baldy Bullets. I would have ordered more but don't have the money in the gun fund to do so right now. As metal prices are just going to keep rising, precipatously, I need to get more such ASAP.

Book Review - Classic Colt Peacemakers

Title: Classic Colt Peacemakers
Author: "Doc" O'Meara
ISBN: 0873492714

The wonderful, detailed, color photos in this book are worth the admission price. Mr. O'Meara isn't all about the photos. His is a well researched history of Colt and the Single Action Army development. Mr. O'Meara discusses the art of engraving these guns. Well written, this is another book from this knowledgeable fellow that every sixgun aficionado will want to own.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Book Review - Single Action Sixguns

Title: Single Action Sixguns
Author: John Taffin
ISBN: 0873499530

The well-known, knowledgeable Mr. Taffin has stepped up and given us a book that is not only a erudite explanation of all things "sixgun" but a visual feast of fine firearms. Well written, illustrated, and printed, this is a book that every person seeking knowledge of revolvers should have.

Mr. Taffin picks up where the great Elmer Keith left off. He thoroughly covers the history of the single action revolver, common & not-so-common, modern & antique, as well as accessories such as leather, custom stocks (grips) and reloading information. He does this with a warm, inviting writing style unencumbered by wasted stlystic prose. The book has benefited from high production values with most of the 300+ superb photos in color and the publisher is to be applauded for not having taken the cheap route. This is a reference work that will go next to my copy of Sixguns by Elmer Keith.

The book, "SINGLE ACTION SIXGUNS" may be ordered direct from Mr. Taffin for $44. Mail to JOHN TAFFIN, PO BOX 45072, BOISE IDAHO 83711. You will NOT regret buying this book.

Parker Brothers 12 Gauge

The Parker Brothers shotgun is another inherited from my maternal-grandfather. If I remember correctly and if I was told correctly, this was his father's gun (my great-grandfather). As I pick through this one as I did with the Ithaca I might find I am wrong. I believe this gun was made in 1915 and that would be consistent with great-grandfather's attaining some economic security. He might well have bought the gun new. All things considered, I take it easy on the old girl using lower pressure loads which are all I need for dove or grouse about all the game birds that I can hunt locally.

Like my Ithaca Flues, this gun rested in my grandfather's attic for over 30 years before it came to me 20 years ago. It was covered in fine rust and spots of white paint. This was so bad that Dad didn't realize it was a Parker and expressed great disappointment saying he'd always wanted a Parker. This is what I have after many hours of work with oil and 0000 steel wool. Fortunately, the angle of the bores was such that they were untouched.

This is the left side of the gun. Clearly, it is a Parker Brothers gun. Both sides of the receiver are fairly free of rust and color case. I think this gun was used much more, perhaps by both father and son, and in the pursuit of ducks in and around Boston and South Braintree, MA where they lived. However, my grandparents were so uninterested in shooting or hunting that they would actively avoid discussion of the subject. I've no certain knowledge of the use of this gun.

This is the water table for the Parker. As you can see the serial number and grade are clearly indicated. I'm not surprised that Great-Grandfather got a gun without ejectors and the next to lowest grade as this fits with the family MO of buying quality while avoiding unnecessary extras. At the top, you can also read that it is a Parker Bros gun and the patent dates, the latest of which is 1905. I believe the "V" below the serial number is for the Vulcan steel barrels.

The Parker's breach is shown here. The "HT" and "JG" in oval appear to be inspectors or makers/assemblers marks. "3" with superscript "9" refers to the weight of the barrels which I believe would have been 3lbs 9 oz. One thing you can't see here is the mark indicating frame size. This is a 1-1/2 frame. I am not certain about the "V", "V" in circle, or other marks. Any assistance in deciphering these marks would certainly be appreciated. The barrels measure exactly 28" in length, are 12 ga. and apparently choked modified and full.

Here are some other photos of the gun. Top to bottom are the serial on the grip tang, the rib inscription, the forearm latch and the right side of the receiver.

- Parker Gun Collectors Association Forum
- History of the City of Meriden, CT

Here's a bit about this shotgun's predecessor...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Ithaca Side by Side 20 Gauge

I have an Ithaca shotgun. That's a photo of it overall at the top of this article. I got this shotgun by means of inheritance from my maternal-grandfather. Whence it came to his hands I've not much information. My mother, if she ever knew, can't tell me. I believe that he got it to use around his "farm" in Warren County, New Jersey, near Plainfield about the time they moved there ca. 1930. Manfactured in 1920, it must have been purchased used. Not a lot of history there except it was Grandfather's and he used it.

Grandfather graduated from MIT and started working for the telephone company (there was only one at the time) as a lineman. He was trained as an electrical engineer and moved on up to management at AT&T (ma Bell) before retiring. Grandfather was not a hunter. He shot as a practical exercise in controlling vermin in his garden. This was important because they subsisted in large part on the produce from this garden. Grandmother canned what Grandfather grew on their 12 acres. It was a pretty rocky bit of land and I think Grandfather was mighty careful with all that came from that land. He was almost notoriously tight with money but he came by it honestly. His parents having lost nearly everything in the "crash" opened a small store in South Braintree, MA and made a living from it.

What Grandfather did love was sailing and boats and sailing and the water and sailing. Before the "crash" his family had owned a yawl. With cabins and amenities I remember looking at the photos and wondering why they no longer had it. I didn't understand about the "crash". So, when Grandfather could put together some money, his money went to boats, to sailing, to traveling to where there were boats and sailing. That's about all, other than Grandmother and my mother, he cared about. The guns were not at the top of his priority list.

Grandmother also loved sailing. Her family was solidly upper middle class and a long line of government servants and civil engineers. She had summered on Lake George from the time she was a very young girl as her Grandfather had built one of the first summer places on the lake, in the bay just south of Sabbath Day Point. She too loved boats and sailing and the water. She cared nothing for hunting or shooting and despite her other rather right wing views she and her four sisters were stolid anti-gun people.

It was because of Grandmother that, when the garden no longer loomed large in their life of plenty, Grandfather retired the guns to the attic. There they rested for at least 40 years. I don't think much thought was paid to them except when I, learning of their existence, was denied a chance to look on this aspect of familial history. It was an incongruity that stuck in my mind and never let me forget about those guns, whatever they were.

When Grandmother died, several years after Grandfather, my parents retrieved the guns from the attic of her home and delivered them to me. Of one you have read, it is the 1906 Winchester which needed to be completely refinished due to the fine rust all over the outside of the gun. So the Ithaca is in the worst condition of the other 3 guns (of which I will write later) and so the first I've now taken from the case with the hope that she can be rejuvenated.

To lay it out for any who wish to see the before and might also wish to comment on how best to approach the problem, I will now post a few photos with comments. The photos may be small but if you click on them, you can see them full size (as with any other photos in this journal).

The gun is an Flues model Ithaca side by side 20 gauge shotgun, "engraved", colorcased, double triggers, and nitro prooved as shown by the stamp in the photo. It has 2-3/4 inch chambers and is apparently choked modified and full. The gun has extractors as opposed to ejectors. I have fired it. I have taken game and 1 crow with it. Being about average in height and proportions, it fits me fairly well. Grandfather was about my height (5' 8"). I imagine it fit him well, too. Apparently his father had a 12 ga. shotgun (of which more later) and he didn't like the "kick" which is why he got the 20 gauge. He might have been thrifty but he believed that quality was a better value than the simply cheap. I imagine that there were a lot of blackpowder guns out there for less money but he didn't buy one of those.

As you can see in this photo of the left side of the gun, it is clearly marked as an Ithaca Gun Company product. I don't know if this is really engraving though. It has the appearance of just enough to be marketed as engraving. They weren't casting receivers at this time, I don't think, so I don't think this is cast. If you look closely, you might see some of the color case.

You can see the case colors much better in this photo of the receiver bottom. I love color case and I can imagine that this was a glorious gun when new. Oh, how I wish I'd been more persuasive 35 years ago. If only I could have gained access to those guns. What beauties they once were. What a waste! Still, even now, I don't want to write the old girl off as a lost cause and want to know more about her.

Here is the water table. The serial is shown in the upper left and to the right of that is "PATD" for patented. The only other marks are in the lower left, "1" over "20". "20" is obviously 20 gauge, the "1" for grade. This is the standard layout for an Ithaca shotgun.

The underside of the breach is a bit hard to read in the photo and I apologize for that. For some reason a good photo was very difficult to get with my camera. The first thing to note is the 6-digit serial number. Then forward of the serial, under the left barrel is the numeral "4" and below it in the photo, on the right barrel, is the numeral "2". I presume that these are designations of choke with "4" being "full" and "2" being "improved cylinder" but I've tested and it patterned closer to modified. Then again, I was using modern ammo with a shotcup as opposed to papercased ammo with only wadding as would have been used when the gun was built. Further forward on the left barrel (upper barrel in the photo) There is a "1" with a "6" over a "M" or is it a "9" under a "W"? On the right (bottom of photo) barrel you see a "3" in that position. The only other mark is a 1 very near the left barrel extractor. I would be happy to hear/learn what these marks mean.

As you can see the buttplate has some wear but is in pretty good condition except near the toe of the stock where a bit of the plate has been worn or chipped away. I personally love the old style buttplates such as this. They have so much more character than a simply flat piece of plastic or rubber. This buttplate still fits the stock well. Only one screw, the top one, has suffered from the rust. Fortunately, in spite of or because of how the gun was treated the buttstock is in condition with no chips or cracks and only a few scratches. It does have some paint spatter here and there. One can only wonder how that got there.

Now this is the truly sad part of the reveal. This is the worst of the rust that was on any of the four guns. It looks horrible and while it doesn't go all that deep into the metal it may go deep enough to preclude an easy restoration. One can only hope. Certainly, I've long thought that this gun, despite being in a rarer gauge, was not worth the expense. This gun as is is worth about $150-200 and even if fully restored to the point that one couldn't see any of the damage wouldn't be worth the $1000-1200 that a pristine example would bring. Still it would be closer to the condition in which Grandfather bought it and used it before beginning the many years of neglect when he abandoned it to his attic.

For anyone interested, here's just a bit of history of the Flues model Ithaca.
The Flues model Ithaca gun was built on a 3 piece lock invented by Emil Flues. It was introduced in 1908 and produced until 1926. Offered in 10, 12, 16, 20, and 28 gauge this model had the longest production life of any Ithaca double. The serial number range is approximately 175,000 to 399,000. Grades offered were field, 1, 1 Special, 1-1/2, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and Sousa.
Again, there is nothing really special about this shotgun. Apparently there are some who simply don't like to work on the Flues model. The value of the gun, as is, isn't very high. However, the enormous sentimental value to me might make it worthwhile to restore. Any suggestions and/or comments will be welcome. If you have any such, or information or corrections, please e-mail me at any time.