Saturday, June 30, 2007

Ruger Old Army

I posted when I bought this Ruger Old Army from the first year of production. There are many opinions about this gun but the consensus seems to be that it is the epitome of the cap'n'ball revolver. Would that every trooper in the Civil War could have had one of these or the newer Vaquero (fix sighted) model. They would have been happy to have had dependable coil springs, excellent metallurgy and interchangeable parts with which to work. Still, in today's world, there are some criticisms of the Ruger Old Army.

First and foremost criticism seems to be that the nipples aren't of uniform size. Correspondents and others seem to go on and on about the difficulty in settling on either no. 10 or 11 caps. Seems to me that you can just polish these down to accept #10 caps OR buy new nipples and drive on.

Well that about does it for criticism. Now to carrying the gun. I ordered a 120 holster from Simply Rugged. This copy of the Lawrence 120 which is Elmer Keith's improved version of the Tom Threepersons holster seemed to be just the ticket for this gun. See for yourself! The great thing about this holster is that it can be carried strong side or crossdraw. It looks good, too! Now how can you beat that?

Back to shooting... This gun needs .454" balls and a quick trip several minutes after the gun arrived found a box of those Hornady swaged balls at a still reasonable price (the price of all copper and lead items is steadily increasing, get yours while, when and where you can). Powder is easy, Pyrodex P and Goex 3F is available in abundance (at least now) as are other BP substitutes. Also good to go are percussion caps from Remington, CCI and RWS in #10 and #11 sizes. Lube, I've got that as well with both Wonder Wads, Bear Grease and my own preferred lube (best for Pyrodex) but I also have Wonder Lube/Bore Butter in quantity. All I really need is time to shoot!

So, off to the range we go. My old flask I use for my Lyman branded Uberti Remington 1858 .44 New Model Army I bought in 1974 is set up with a 30 gr. spout. As I use that same spout and load in my .36 TC Seneca I think I'll stick with it here and a charge of Pyrodex-P followed by a round ball and lube goes into five of the six chambers. It appears that the chambers will hold 10 gr. more powder, but is it really necessary? With the ball seated just a bit deeper and thus more lube over the ball, I think it likely the gun will shoot longer before needing a serious cleaning. Capped, hammer down on the empty chamber and we're all set for fun! Surprise, surprise, the excellent sights on the Old Army make for some good shooting. A bigger surprise is that the sights require little adjustment.

Cleaning is a snap. After many years I've got my rhythm on cleaning up after BP and Pyrodex. Hot water, into which one drops the cylinder and nipples (separated) to soak a bit and a quick thorough cleaning, followed by WD-40 to displace any water droplets, a thorough follow-up mechanical drying and then a proper touch of oil and all is done. This revolver comes apart and goes back together in a snap, just like the old Remington copy. One could use this gun daily on the old "home place" without problems. The main thing is to ensure that there is always an empty chamber under the hammer.

One other note. I've read that you can dry fire these guns. I'm sorry but I just can't get behind the idea of dry firing on any cap and ball revolver. I've images of peened and useless nipples dancing in my head. I'll get all my practice at the range with this gun.

- Old Army Front Sight Modifications
- Old Army Rear Sight Modifications
- Old Army Trigger Face Modifications
- Old Army Trigger Work
- Old Army Custom Grips

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Burn some time in the AC...

I hope this topic on Shiloh's Forum stays valid for a while. You have GOT to see it... I'm lighten' up the forge.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Paco Kelly's New Book

The truly internationally famous Paco Kelly has completed and published a new book. Rifles and Handguns, An American Freedom by Paco Kelly has been reviewed by Jeff Quinn at

The first 100 books were a Collector’s Edition, numbered and signed. It sold for $52.50 including postage in the US. Those are gone, sold out! The standard edition is $46 shipped to anywhere in the US.

To order Paco’s "Rifles and Handguns, an American Freedom", send cash, check, or money order for $46 (in the US) to:

P.O.BOX 1170

I've got my copy and boy am I excited! This is a great book that reads well and tells the true life stories of a one of the greater shooting "gurus" of our time.

FWIW, Paco's first book, An American Heritage-Leverguns has sold for $150+ and is listed for as much as $589! I'd suggest that you get this one while you can and keep your eyes peeled for An American Heritage-Leverguns in all your local used books stores.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

.45-75 Winchester Update 2

Will do. I can measure what I have now. It doesn't seem to get much bigger as I go, yet.

The 20 gr. IMR SR4759 under the 364 gr. (actual weight) ORIGINAL Winchester mold bullet was pretty light in the recoil and blast areas but still shot as high as the 300 gr. jacketed over 24 gr. of the same powder.

I'm now to the point that I actually loaded more than one at a time and I'm not too happy with how she feeds. These were much shorter and fed not quite so well. They do extract and eject ok.

I've shot her enough that I need to take her apart and clean a bit and inspect for possible problems.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Blue Dot in Reduced Loads

Here is a formula for rifle cases that holds true for blue dot..

Fill the case with Blue Dot until it overflows then level it off until it is just filling the case mouth and weigh the powder on your scale. That is 100%. Blue Dot can safely be loaded anywhere between 10% to 50% of that amount with safe pressures. Of course it is important to have a bullet appropriate to those velocities.

This is a convenient way to make .22 WRFM loads in your .223 Rem. However, It is easy to double charge a case and that can be BAD. One should work up, be careful and verify this info elsewhere. If something goes wrong with ammo you loaded you can presume that you did something wrong.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Coyote Report

I nearly hit a coyote with the truck this morning. I was tooling north along US 11 Business from downtown Staunton (aka North Augusta Street just below where it joins Lee Highway) just past Cross Street when a coyote suddenly crossed from right to left going up the hill. He appeared to weigh about 50+ pounds and was well furred and looked healthy. This is in the city limits but there are a couple of large pasture areas bordering the roads here. Sorry, but no photos.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Do you like simulators?

I thought I'd post this shooting simulator and if I find others I'll add them to this post. Might add them to the side as well...

Euro Simulator

Friday, June 15, 2007

.45-75 winchester Updated, Again

Well, I've got 23 cases ready to final trim to 1.88" and with which to do load development work. I've really learned a lot in the preparation and fire-forming of these cases. I've gone ahead and counted out enough .348 Win cases to make a full 50 and formed those. Unfortunately, I lost 4 cases to split case mouths. On these cases I neither annealed nor dipped the case mouths in powdered graphite to lube the cases over the expander plugs. This is my current process.

1 - Start with .348 Winchester unfired brass.
2 - Run .348 case just far enough into .348 Win sizing die to round out the case mouth.
3 - Chamfer case mouth
4 - Dip case mouth in powdered graphite (lubricates inside of case neck)
5 - Expand in .38-55 (.375) expander.
6 - Expand in .444 (.429) expander.
7 - Expand in .45-70 (.458) expander.
8 - Full length size in .45-75 sizing die.
9 - Trim to 1.90"
10 - Load with fireforming load (in fact, any smokeless load can be used without modification for this purpose, BP or Pyrodex loads must be modified to work with the unformed case capacity).
11 - Fire
12 - Clean, size, expand in .45-75 dies and
13 - Trim to 1.88"
14 - Load and shoot to taste.

It is likely that some lots of .348 Win brass will require annealing. I've not run into that, yet, but I've a couple of hundred cases to make.

While my rifle will apparently use, just, cartridges loaded to an overall length of 2.306" a shorter overall length of 2.25" is likely better to ensure functioning. I've found that either the Sierra 300 gr. JHP or Hornady 300 gr. JHP are usable and loadable at this length in the 1.88" cases. This is useful info for those without access to suitable cast bullets. However, they do not feed easily through the action. If one has nothing else or is willing to single load them, they will work. Otherwise, look for the correct bullets. Mt. Baldy Bullets has the Lyman 457122 for sale...

I'm really looking forward to loading the Lyman 457122 HP cast bullet. It seems to me that this will be the best all around bullet for this rifle. Now, I've got no grizzly bears with which to "interact", so, my performance demands aren't too difficult. I've no idea which powder to use and will likely try several. One goal is to reach original velocities with black powder, Pyrodex and smokeless powders. I'm waiting to see if I'm going to use mostly BP or not.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

.45-75 Winchester Update

I've just come back from Mom's place where I tried 24 gr. IMR SR4759 under the Sierra 300 gr. JHC in both previously fired cases and needing fireforming cases with excellent success. Measuring COL 1.91" (average) after fireforming they now have the distinctive .45-75 appearance. Tried one Coyote Nose's way. The case is fireformed (but not the .348" neck part) so that the base part is blown out. Run it through the foruming steps and trimming and you have a .45-75 case fireformed. Done this way the Pyrodex fouling is a pain to clean up. I'm going to try yet another sequence seeking to minimize problems/irritations.

So, I only have to finish fireforming and trim this lot to 1.88" and I'm off to the serious development races. Oh, I do still need to cast up a bunch of the 457122s and lube/size them. If I need another mold to break up the casting cycle I've got the flying trashcan .30 cal to do the honors (thank you Junior).

I need to find suitable boxes for ammo and a good cartridge belt (woven, Mills style) to haul the ammo to and from the truck (I do intend for this to be my truck gun for a while). I've got a lot of cases to convert as I'd like to have about 300 rounds put together.

All that said, it appears that one can load the Sierra 300 gr. bullet to crimp in the cannelure on properly trimmed cases and that the COL will be short enough to run through the action. For those interested in such in these modern steel barrels, that might be good info to have at hand.

Sixgun Shorty reports
MY 'pet' load for the 45-75 smokeless is 28 gr IMR 4198, 300 gr Meister LFP bullet;no fillers....
But i prefer to shoot a full case of Goex FFg, 2 .030 vegetable fiber cards over powder(card under bullet lubed with SPG), Lee compression die, seat and crimp 300 gr 3 lube groove bullet lubed with SPG
I have found best accuracy in my 45-75 to be with real BP.

Monday, June 11, 2007

COL for the 1876 .45-75

The apparent maximum cartridge overall length in my gun is 2.306". That is right at the longest that will feed through the gun. Some folks have been talking about 2.25" as a working max, which might be reasonable, and Venturino talks about 2.15" (if I remember correctly) as the max COL. We'll work on it a bit with properly trimmed cases and appropriate bullets.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Finally, A Loaded .45-75 Round

Being impatient and persistent I finally got the brass sorted out and decided to try some jacketed bullets. Those used are the 300 gr. Sierra JHCs I use in the .45-70. I am trying these over 20 gr. of IMR SR4759. Should do to try the gun out. My main problem now is finding the time to do some casting of the Lyman 457122 HPs. Once I get a quantity cast I should be good to go and it will only be a matter of finding an effective powder charge (smokeless first and then a Pyrodex and a BP load). I'm liking this gun more and more. It is very similar in handling characteristics to the 1886 SRC. I may get the tang peep for this one.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Nifty Illustrations of Firearms Operation

I'm just trying to keep these in one place for reference. As I find more I'll update the post and push it to the top.

1 - Genitron S&W M66
2 - STI International 1911

AND sword parts

1- Katana parts


I'd be posting if I had time to get photos and/or could get to shoot or reload some. I've a number of semi-prepped articles/entries but just can't get them done. What I have been doing is mowing (about 3 acres total 12 miles apart), planting, mulching, ramrodding a bathroom renovation (and you KNOW why this is important), and taking care of some admin stuff for my mom. While I'd like to put shooting first (well, except for the bathroom), it just isn't right.

I have learned that while a bathtub was a fun place when I was 6 years old, it is a tiny torture device in my 50s. I've learned that people actually notice if your yard starts to look as though there's suddenly a jungle there. I've learned that nobody thinks your discomforts are particularly important. I've learned that the dog will never accept women other than your wife unless she's there (that might not be a bad thing).

So, I hope you'll bear with me.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

My Friend Mike and Hunting

You might remember that I posted about the passing of my friend Mike Mays of Stokesville, VA. I miss Mike and find I've got less zest for hunting now.

Mike was an interesting fellow and I certainly don't know all the various things he did in his life. I do know that he, like me, went into service soon after graduating from high school. Mike chose the Marine Corps and he was proud of his service. Some time in that service he was at the USMC HQ near Arlington (where he is now buried) and heard the daily or near daily rituals of remembrance and memorial that are conducted there. Now he is buried at Arlington. Later, he left the USMC and came back to Staunton to work and live with his wife and children. While Mike worked hard to fulfill his duties to God, family and country, he still made time to hunt, he loved to hunt and he was good at it.

Mike hunted everything he could hunt, everywhere he could hunt. He even took his bow to FT McClellan and went hunting while attending a course there. I would have been trying to be Honor Graduate. I think Mike did both!

I think Mike tried just about every deer cartridge there is. You might think that he was an inveterate trader but he was just as likely to give away his gun. I know he's done that for several fellows who either admired his gun or whose homes were burned out or endured some other calamity.

Deer hunting was one of his passions, but he often hunted just for the meat rather than for horns. Putting meat in the freezer was a priority with the last deer of the season being the big horns for which he was looking.

As I said, he'd tried a lot of deer cartridges. He told me that he'd tried the .357 Mag in a rifle. Likely, although he didn't say, he was using fairly common and inexpensive Remington or Winchester 158 gr. hollow point loads. Mike was put off the cartridge because he needed to shoot twice. He didn't often need to shoot twice.

I know that he also used several other cartridges including the old stand-bys like the .30-30 with the various factory loads and handloads. When he died he'd settled on the 7mm Rem Mag in an Encore. He had used a .338 Mag but it was only really an improvement when he shot deer out at 450 yards or more. He only had one place where he could make such shots so it wasn't all that important to him. He also held the .25-06 in high esteem and had used it for several years before giving it to somebody with no rifle and getting his first 7mm magnum.

Mike went for years with a positively negative attitude about handguns. He didn't hunt with them and couldn't understand why anyone would. He thought they were inaccurate. One day I had him over to Dad's to shoot some and brought my Combat Commander. There was a stump out at about 115 yards and I was just chewing it up with the .45. He was convinced when he managed to hit it a couple of times as well.

His dad had given him a .38 snub, I don't know the make, he sold it to buy another gun. Before he sold it I cast some HPs for it and he came to the house and used my set up to load them. Said they were actually accurate in the revolver that he thought couldn't hit anything.

That was the start and he and I got a team up for the 1993 National Guard air pistol competition. Our team placed third nationally as did Mike. Unfortunately, I didn't make the cut (due to a really crummy first target). He came home and eventually got a Keltec 9mm and a Ruger Super Redhawk (sold after retirement to fund his business). The Keltec was his CHP gun and he didn't care much one way or the other about it but he liked the SRH. His load, after much load development, was 23 gr. of H110 under the Hornady XTP loaded out to crimp in the lower/second cannelure. he thought that load was quite a penetrator.

He also owned a Ruger MK II 10" (.22 LR of course) which he'd bought for turkey hunting. However, despite the gun's accuracy he wasn't much impressed with it fitting his needs and traded it to my dad for Dad's leather working tools. Now I have the gun and to say that I'm pleased that I have a great gun once owned by both my good friend and my dad would be a great understatement.

As I said, Mike loved to hunt turkeys and it was often his conversation topic of choice. He hunted turkeys with bow, rifle and shotgun and he tried a number of shotguns. I think he tried, at some point, the 20, 16, 12 and 10 gauges. While he mostly stuck with the 3" 12 gauge, he tried the 3½" 12 and 10. He tried the 10 in both the Ithaca semi-auto and the H&R single-shot. Apparently he found no advantage to justify the limited utility of the gun and went back to the 3" 12 gauge. He also tried all the actions and preferred the pump. I know he owned owned one before he died but I've no idea what it was or where it went. His favorite load was a maximum charge of #6 shot and he took only head shots.

But, as I said, Mike also tried other than shotguns on turkey. With the SRH, he used BullX 240 gr. hard cast SWCs loaded over 17 gr. of 2400 in the .44 Magnum case. Placed at the wing butt he felt this was the best balance of effectiveness vs meat damage. Remember, he was justifying his hunting with meat. He also used the bow and he had several bows in the time I knew him.

One was a custom long bow. I don't remember who made it but Mike always thought he'd over done it on the pull weight. He'd bought a 60 lb draw (at his draw length) but felt that a 50-55 lb draw would have been more than enough. I once saw Mike put two consecutive arrows into a gallon milk jug at 80 yards (laser measured after the two shots). He was good and he certainly didn't need the high tech stuff.

Sometimes I just didn't understand Mike's reasoning and in compound bows that was very apparent. Oh, I understood why Mike had a compound bow with sights, stabilizer, etc. He always wanted the best available within his budget and felt that the compound was just that. But while he thought the 55 lb draw stick bow was sufficient and to be preferred, he was all into the heavy draw weight, over-draw bow for hunting. He also converted to the graphite arrows early on. Mike thought that speed was everything in the compound bow and so that was the goal he was chasing. After VA changed the law, he would often get all his deer with a bow and not bother to buy a muzzleloader license.

Oh, yeah, Mike hunted with muzzleloaders, too! He once told me that he'd given up on flintlocks after one season. I guess he'd had a bad experience. But he hunted caplocks and finally an in-line. Again, the best available in his budget is what he bought. He'd owned Traditions, CVA, Thompson-Center and Knight products (that I know of) and I think he'd settled on the Knight in-lines. Of course, as soon as it was legal that gun had a telescopic sight. Mike was like a lot of folks, including my son-in-law, who feel that the muzzleloader season is just another opportunity to kill deer. If, by some dint of hard luck or missed hunting time (we were active duty at the time), he used whatever was most likely to collect meat and during the last two weeks of December that was an in-line muzzleloader.

Yep, aside from everything else Mike was quite a good shooting and hunting buddy. I hope he's got a chance to enjoy, somehow, that which he enjoyed here. But he really enjoyed spreading the word of Jesus Christ, too, and I know that he's doing whatever God's work is where he is.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Butt Cuffs

Butt Cuffs are a common interest among levergun shooters. I recently received one from Rob Leahy of Simply Rugged. I think I'm going to put it on my 336T. A review will follow.

.45-75 Saga Continued

Without time to do much in the way of pursuing shooting or reloading I've only a few things to report.

First, Grizzly Adams returned my now formed .348 brass plus some bullets and Ranch13 sent me some .43 Spanish brass. I ordered a sizer and top punch for my lubricator/sizer and received the mold for the Lyman 457122 HP. I was about to prime my formed cases for fireforming loads but ran into a snag.

I use a Lee Autoprime for priming and had the correct shellholder. Unfortunately, the base of the .348 Winchester case is too big for the throat of the Autoprime. Not a long standing problem as a quick modification/opening of the throat now allows the big case base ready entry into the Autoprime. Now to try a couple of loads.