Saturday, September 29, 2007

Krag Rifle and Sights

A friend gave me a Pacific Gunsight Company receiver sight for a Krag rifle to sell for him. This is a neat bit of engineering in that the mounting point is a replacement cut off plunger (#12 in the schematic) which is part of the sight mount. Of course the sight picture is not different from any other such sight but this one avoids the need for a trip to a gunsmith for drilling and tapping the receiver.

Of course, this initiated a bit of research on this transitional (for the USofA) military weapon. Yes, it is transitional because it was with this weapon that the USofA first had a first-line general issue repeating rifle design. You might argue that the Winchester and Spencer leverguns of the Civil War and later, or Remington-Keene or Remington-Lee rifles were such but they were not an all service, across the board, general issue. The Krag was such a gun but it was also rather quickly superseded by the 1903 rifle.

I suppose it is unfortunate that even the Krag carbines never excited me enough to spend money on them. I could have had some good buys. The cartridge is a good one, mostly a US version of the .303 British or a rimmed .300 Savage. Sadly, the Krag is pretty much operating at the practical limits of the action. Even Uncle Sam, although he tried, couldn't up the performance of the .30 US (aka Krag) cartridge without causing a much increased rate of firearms failure as the single locking lug fractured under use of the slightly "improved", higher velocity military ammunition. While I don't hotrod the cartridge by any means, I don't have to worry with my Browning 1895.

Back to the sight, I have to say it is difficult to find any information on the Pacific Gunsight Company on the net. You can find catalogs, some of Pacific Tool Company's reloading tools (same company?), references to a Redfield sight that mounts in exactly the same way, and a nifty no-gunsmithing peep sight for the Russian M91 Mosin-Nagant but no real history or other information.

I have photos of the sight and will list it with the other items on unless it sells first.

* * * * *

From our friend Charles G. we have the following info...
Hobie.... I have some knowledge and experience with the Pacific Krag sight in question. There apprears to have been at least two versions.

1. The earlier version elevated by backing off the thumb screw and raising and lower the slide. It was a by guess and by god kind of situation and the dickens to remove and get back in the right place. If you are going to remove the bolt of a Krag and clean from the breech, you have to remove the elevation slide.

2. The next version has a screw on the top of the elevation slide that can be used to raise and lower. There is also divot on the top of the base that holds the end of the screw. For that reason it is easy to remove and replace the elevation slide and return to zero.

I don't know when production ceased, but it was before WWII.

My first Krag came with a type 1 (above) Pacific sight that I used for a number of years.

About five years ago I replaced it with a type 2 I bought on ebay for $15.00. Two years ago I sold the older sight to a guy on the Castboolit board for $25.00 plus shiping.

I am heavy on Redfield Krag sights (sorry none for sale) so I have not followed the price of the sights for the past few years. The prices on all of the vintage sights have risen allot in recent years.

If I was selling one, I would ask $70 and take $50. If I were buying I would not go beyond $50.00. Those may not be current market prices, but that is what I would do.

I hope this helps a mite.. Charles

Friday, September 28, 2007

.50 Alaskan Brass for Conversion to .45-75 Winchester

The .50 Alaskan brass arrived from Starline yesterday. I'm chuffed. Great stuff. Although I had Mom here for dinner last night, I grabbed a couple of minutes to trim and run one of the cases through the .45-75 full-length sizing die. Good to go. The one empty case ran slick as snot through the action.

Here's some dimensional info.
.348 Win.50 Alaskan.50-90 Sharps
Rim Diameter.603".6015".651"
Rim Thickness.0665".067".064"
Case Head Dia.546".545".5585"

This surprised me because I saw and was told that dimensions for the .50 Sharps and AK were the same. I'll have to load the cases to get dimensions on neck diameters as requested. The .50 AK case sized in one go and with the smaller case head they are noticeably easier to size than the .50-90 Sharps. Both cases will go in one go.

As to sizing, the shoulders in my chamber seem to be forward of those in the sizing die. This could result in working the brass excessively. I'm thinking that the rifle manufacturers used the original chamber dimensions from original rifles and the die makers used the cartridge dimensions as published by Winchester and, as with many BP cartridges of the time, there's some slop to allow for reliable functioning despite fouling. I will probably partial full-length size these cases. If you look at the 2nd and 3rd case from the left in the below photo you can see just what we are talking about here... (click on the photo to go to a larger version) The fired cases have a different shoulder configuration.

It is a trick to find the right pre-fireforming trim length when sizing this case up from .348 Win or down from one of the big .50s. Some good news is that .50-95 shooters will only need to trim the .50 Alaskan case to length, size and load.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Season

The hunting season is upon us. Another year of wandering about with gun (or bow) in hand and enjoying the few hours available to be away from modern cares.

Years ago, I did this mostly with my dad or some friend like Mike. Now it is just me by myself. What I miss is being able to share the experience. I hope that I'll have several experiences to share here.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Study of the Colt Single Action Army Revolver

I just received my copy of the Thirty Year Anniversary Edition of A Study of the Colt Single Action Army Revolver by Ron Graham, John Kopec, and C. Kenneth Moore. It is inscribed to me by Mr. Kopec.

I'm afraid this won't be a book review, exactly. Surely, any serious collector knows of the previous editions and so no review by me will be of any help to them. The book is $129.95 plus $10 shipping from Kopec Publications which makes it pretty darn expensive. Kopec Publications does not have a web site so I can't link you to them. There is no on-line photo of the book, so I'll have to photograph mine.

I'm telling you right now that no photo I take of this book can do it justice. This is a tome of incredible quality and well worth the money spent. Not only is the book well made, but there is seemingly endless info and photos of guns. Oh goodness, such photos! Absolutely marvelous. A feast for the eyes. This book is, in a single word, luxurious.

I'll have to find the time to read it. Actually, I'm thinking it will be savoring. This book invites savoring. I might wear a bib as well...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

.50 caliber cases to .45-75 - UPDATED

Well, I received both the .50-90 Sharps cases I ordered from MidwayUSA and 6 .43 Egyptian cases (converted from .50-70 cases) from Don in Fort Laramie, WY. Thanks again Don. Of course these cases have the same rim diameter but are too large for the .348 Winchester and .45-75 shell holders. I went to my dealer and bought a RCBS #31 shell holder for these cartridges. First I tried running the already partially reformed to .45-75 .43 Egyptian case and found another problem. That .50-70 base is just too much for the Lee full-length sizing die. Can't get far enough down the base to fully form the cartridge. I'm for sure not going to try this with the .50-90 as the case heads are the same diameter. Best not to waste more cases than necessary! More thinking is required.

UPDATE 9-18-07

I finally hit upon a lube method that did permit me to both insert the trimmed .50-90 brass in the full-length sizing die and to remove it but the case necks had horrible lube folds. Annealing is next, I didn't want to do that but can't afford not to with brass at these prices!

UPDATED 9-19-07

Man, I'm just so excited! As so often happens a thing isn't impossible to do but one has to hit on the technique to make it possible given the tools available. I knew that I could reform the .50-90 brass but hadn't hit on the technique necessary.

As can be seen in the above pic, I can now reform the .50-90 (and this means the .50-70 and .50 AK as well) brass to .45-75. What's best NOW is that I can do it in a single lever stroke in the full-length resizing die. I think the base is still a bit of a problem, but with differential lubing (and some folks with good lube to begin with won't need to do this) a trimmed case can be run into the die in one stroke and go get 'em. This is without annealing!

So what is differential lubing? Well, what I'm doing is lubing the trimmed .50-90 case with my usual RCBS lube on the lube pad. Then I'm shielding the top half of the case with my fingers (one could use paper if doing a number of cases at once) and spraying with the RCBS spray lube. That lube on the whole case produce the lube dents seen in the case second from the right in the below photo (labeled "with lube dents").  (NOTE: The only thing with .50-90 brass is that the rim diameter MUST be reduced so that the cartridge will enter the magazine tube.)

This really makes using the .50 AK brass more cost effective. With the .348 brass being about 1/2 to 3/4 the cost you can save in a lot of time in converting a lot of brass. I want to have a lot of one load loaded because I want to use the gun as I would any other gun and that means having brass to have ammo loaded for everything from plinking to groundhogs to deer. That's a lot of case forming. I'm not going back to reforming .348 Win unless I run out of everything else. I will have to try the Jamison if it comes back on the market or Starline if they ever produce it but I can see being able to have enough ammo to truly use the gun. I'm really chuffed about it!

I now have 250 of the Starline .50 Alaskan cases on order. These are enough longer than the .50-70 to give me full-length .45-75 cases but cost $.07 less each when compared to the .50-90 Sharps case. Oh, if somebody only made a form and trim die for the .45-75, now that would be usable with this brass. Just as with a .30 Herrett, one could simply lube the .50 AK case, run it up in the die, cut it off with a hacksaw and file, remove, chamfer and load. Wouldn't that be sweet?

Ok, to summarize the steps...
1 - trim .50-90 or .50 AK case to 1.88" using tubing cutter. Be careful because technique is required here as well.
2 - differentially lube the case.
3 - run the case into the .45-75 full-length sizing die.
4 - remove lube (I use alcohol pads, I like ALL the lube off my cases).
5 - final trim
6 - LOAD!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Fast Shooting

It doesn't take Rob Leatham long to clear several targets.

Who says you need the repeat function...

Some are noticeably faster than others...

And some guns are designed to shoot a lot and fast. As to usefullness?...

But then entertainment has some value...

Misc Videos - DeLisle Carbine & M2 Carbine

DeLisle Carbine - not a great video but you get an idea of the degree of suppression. These guns shoot .45 ACP and are built on No. 1 MKIII or No. 4 actions.

US M2 Carbine - slightly better quality and editing. This video gives you a good feel for the rate of fire of these guns. They are firing the .30 M1 Carbine cartridge. The snow shots remind me of some of my time in Korea.

Swedish M94 Carbine cal. 6.5x55

I am a fan of the Mauser carbines. Well, not those on the 98 actions. I'm a small-ring action fan. I particularly like the M91 and M94 carbines. They have a sort of transitional-modern-bulldog look that I just like. They handle well for me, too.

Pictured here are several Swede M94 carbines as illustration of the type. This is because I recently came across a sporterized M94 at a local gun shop. The gun is all correct but for the stock which was altered to remove the handguard and give it a schnabel forearm tip. Of course all the iron forward of the receiver is missing as is the handguard (Numrich has one) and it would need a stock. The price? $180.

Of course these guns are selling for about $400 for an unmatched or kinda grungy example to over $700 for a very good example. Add a bayonet (about $50-100 depending on condition) and an original sling and the price starts to climb. It will go even higher with certain marks.

In my younger, less sophisticated days, I wanted one and was going to put an FP-98 on it. In fact this is what I did with my M96. But it isn't a M94 with the short 17+" barrel and military iron. I did run into one about 1983 when Jon Ritenour had one on consignment. This gun had been well done up with the FP installed and original rear sight removed. The handguard was still there and the cut-out for the rear sight had been filled with a spliced in bit of nearly matching wood. Looked very good and the price was $135. Unfortunately, that was $135 I didn't have!

So, for all of you who have read this far in my tale I'll let you know that I can't get this gun at this time. I'll probably regret this one as well but the gun is at:

Nuckols Gun Works
1801 W Beverley St
Staunton, VA 24401

(540) 886-3061

Ask for Chris or Ernie. Tell 'em I sent you.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Shooting Back - the Charl van Wyck Story

See what terror attack on church looks like - And find out what happens when a Christian shoots back from World Net Daily...
WASHINGTON – In the same week WND celebrates its fifth anniversary as a book publisher, the company announces the release of its first major documentary – "Shooting Back," the story of an armed man who returned fire at terrorists attacking his church, driving them off and saving the lives of hundreds.

Earlier this year, WND Books published for the first time in North America Charl van Wyk's literary version of the story – a biblical case for the right and duty of armed self-defense wrapped in a unique and personal account of what it's like to come face to face with an opportunity to exercise that right and duty.

Van Wyk was just an ordinary Christian man until July 25, 1993 – the day that would become known in South Africa as the St. James Massacre. It was on this date that van Wyk shot back at the terrorists who were attacking an innocent congregation gathered in prayer, and saved many lives in the process.

You need to see this DVD, you need to share this DVD, you need to buy this DVD.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Impressive Handling of a Musket... 3 shots 46 seconds and more...

The land pattern musket, and variants, were used by the British Army from the early 1700s until the 1800s. The gun weighs 9 lbs and fires a .715" lead ball over approximately 80-100 grains of blackpowder (gunpowder). What follows is a video examining the last model of these muskets used by Britain.

And we have the 7th Battalion of the Line demonstrate the firing by a formation.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ruger MK II 10 Inch

I've got to thank both my dad and my friend, Mike Mays, for this gun. Mike was the "original" owner (so far as I know) and he traded the gun to Dad for leather working tools Dad was no longer interested in using. Then Dad (and I) enjoyed the gun for a few years before Dad passed and now I have it. So, now I have a gun that really has a connection to a couple of people that I really liked. Makes every time I take it hunting a very special experience.

The Ruger .22 pistols are great guns. Bill Ruger had a great idea and his execution is nearly flawless. These things, in any configuration, are more accurate than most shooters. The 10" guns were intended for silhouette shooters but they are the bee's knees for squirrel and rabbit hunters, too.

Mike got the gun to hunt turkeys. Yep, turkeys. I'm not exactly sure why he abandoned the idea but at about that time he was not a good handgun shot and was semi-convinced that handguns were pretty much useless. One day I took him to Dad's and we shot a few handguns along with the deer rifles and he had his outlook altered by the experience. Soon after all things were possible but I think this was stretching it a bit. Anyway, he then traded the gun to Dad for a potful of leather working tools.

Dad really liked this pistol. I got him some Pachmayrs which better fit his big hands and then one of those swinging metal disk targets. For a while he'd sit on the front porch and shoot at the disks out at about 25 yards. He was doing pretty good until macular degeneration caught up to him and he couldn't see well enough to shoot (or to see what was downrange in the impact zone).

After that he let me take it out squirrel hunting a couple of times and it was a treat. One day he asked if I could find a buyer and I told him he had a buyer, me. He refused! I didn't see the gun again until after he'd died. We, all three of us, Dad, the pistol and me, went squirrel hunting and had a heck of a time. Well, I do believe Dad was there in spirit. If possible, I just don't think he missed that.

I've now removed the Pachmayrs and re-installed the factory grips. These fit my hands just as well or better and I don't find them slippery as some do.

Favorite loads? Well, most anything shoots well in this gun which is pretty interesting but my favorite loads are Winchester Dynapoints run through my Hanned Line SGB tool and the Winchester 40 gr. PowerPoint load. Both rounds are dependable killers out of handguns.

Over the years many squirrels have fallen to this gun and I've always felt camaraderie with my dad and Mike when I'm hunting with this gun. What surprises me is how many folks don't think that you can hunt anything with a handgun.

One day of squirrel season in 1999 (the year Dad died) I was hunting up near Elkhorn Lake. I'd snuck around for about an hour including the 15 minute walking time and bagged a couple of squirrels with the MKII and Winchester PowerPoints. While I love to squirrel hunt nobody in my family is big on eating squirrel and two will make a plenty big stir fry for me. So, I headed back to the truck. I came out on the road about 1/2 mile from my Dakota and started down the road, pistol in one hand (I didn't have a holster yet) and squirrels dangling from the other. I heard a vehicle coming and hied over next to the ditch and it comes by me really slow and both guys in the car were just a staring at me. That was enough to make me a bit cautious as they were headed towards my truck which I could see. Then they pulled in right next to it and didn't move! Well, I just strolled on up there (the pistol was still loaded) and they clambered out of their compact sedan.

Well, long story short, they recognized me from high school. No, I didn't recognize them until they started talking about families and such. You see, at the time, I hadn't put on the weight they had. We sat and talked hunting and such for about 20 minutes and they just couldn't get over the fact that I had killed those squirrels with a handgun. About that time another fairly big old gray gets up in a tree about 35 yards from us and was hanging upside down on the trunk scolding us for disturbing his afternoon reverie. One of the fellows suggested that I demonstrate how it was done by taking him.

Now, I was looking at a full plate already but I couldn't help showing off and without moving from my seat on the tailgate I picked up the Ruger and nailed that old boar squirrel at 35 yards. At the shot he just fell right off that tree. Of course the distance had to be paced off and another 20 minutes was spent ooohing and aaaahing as the bullet had entered his head just above and between the eyes! No, I can NOT guarantee such a shot. I wish I could but it made for a great day and I know those guys told that story 'round and about.

Now the Ruger handguns I have didn't all come with boxes, or at least boxes I felt were suitable for storage in the crowded safe, so I started getting boxes for the guns including this one. The first box I ordered was the correct cardboard box but the fellow sent me a box for a stainless gun. That just bothered me so I bought a plastic box from Ruger for the gun. That box is NOT correct for this gun but it does a good job of protecting the gun.

I've also got a couple of extra magazines for the gun and one of the HK tools to make loading them easier.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Winchester Model 62A and 06 (1906)

These guns have a lot in common. Both are developed from the Model 1890, Winchester's premiere pump action rimfire rifle. Both are chambered for the .22 Short, Long and Long Rifle rimfire ammunition. Both are operated exactly the same way. Both now have the same type of sights, notably the tang peep sight. Both came from grandfathers albeit different grandfathers. Both spent most of their service lives dealing with garden pests. Both are now mine and both will likely be passed to my grandchildren. That would be 5 generations of service for these guns.

The first which I became familiar was Grandpa P's M62A. Every summer we would trek up from West Virginia or Kentucky to visit him near Fly Creek, NY and I would be sure to get a shooting lesson and later to help keep the woodchuck/groundhog population down. We did a lot of shooting with .22 Shorts because there was a real economic advantage to using the little cartridges. However, Grandpa used LR hollowpoints on the groundhogs. What I can't say for certain now but I remember more of the H headstamp for Winchester ammo. Grandpa used that same ammo to keep the rabbits out of the garden but I think it was "Uncle" George who taught Aunt Gigi and Dad to shoot.

Dad taught me to shoot with this gun and that was the highlight of every summer trip, for me. I think for Dad as well as he only hunted woodcock and grouse a couple of times while I was growing up. It wasn't until I was 12 that we got a bird dog and Dad took the time to get a license or go hunting. He started me on coffee cans at about 20 yards and we moved up from the cheap .22 shorts to using the .22 LR on game. By the time I was 10 I was allowed to take Grandpa's gun out woodchuck hunting on my own. I killed many with that gun to Grandpa's delight. He hated woodchucks so much I've seen him swerve, near to running off the road, trying to hit them with his car.

Dad told me once that this was the only new gun that Grandpa ever bought and I believe he had the Lyman #2 tang sight on it from the beginning. It is a great combination and if you miss it is some problem other than the sights. The serial dates this gun to 1949 and I think that Grandpa was making good money on the farm at that time with all the kids gone and out of college so he had extra to spend.

The 1906, made in 1920 was Grandfather F's gun. I think that he most certainly bought it used and he spent no more on it than he needed to. I'm the one who mounted the Marble's tang peep. He didn't take care of the rifle either. Once upon a time he decided that the open sights weren't helping him kill the garden pests easily enough and he borrowed his veterinarian's scoped Mossberg rifle for that job. The 1906 was put away and never again brought out. My Grandmother F was a virulent anti-gun person and she banned the guns from the house proper. Grandfather put them all in the attic where they remained, apparently untouched, for nearly 40 years. Unfortunately, Grandfather wasn't as serious about house maintenance as he was about boat maintenance and the guns had various amounts of rust damage. The 1906 had quite a bit of rusting over all of the outside, apparently from condensation. I stripped it and had it fine bead blasted and reblued so the finish is not original but it won't deteriorate further.

So I've two of Winchester's pump guns and this has got me wanting an 1890, preferably in .22 WRF. But I'm glad for what I have. The 62A has not been rezeroed and I use Winchester PowerPoints in it and it does go squirrel hunting now and again. The 1906 is currently zeroed for the Aguila Colibris and it is used for light, no hearing protection plinking with Dad's old swinging metal target. Great fun, the both of them.

Winchester pump-action rimfire series began with the Browning designed 1890. The 1890 became the quintessential gallery rifle and many thousands were made for that purpose as well as for field use. The 1906 was an attempt to make a lower price-point firearm for the younger shooter. Stocks were shorter and the gun lighter. Perhaps most importantly, this is when the design of the lifter was changed so that the guns could operate with .22 shorts, longs and long rifle cartridges interchangeably. The Models 62 and later 62A were the result of slight alterations to facilitate manufacture and reduce production costs. Like the Marlin 39s, all these (except for some early solid frame guns) are "takedowns". This makes them convenient for transportation and storage. However, I don't think ours have ever been taken down except for cleaning. According to Schwing Winchester originally intended to chamber the rifles for .32 caliber cartridges and to make a lever action version. Although there wasn't the market demand to move Winchester to do that, Taurus has seen fit to produce the lever action version. It would be great if they followed up on Winchester's earlier vision and actually produced the .32 H&R version.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

In Memoriam - Virginia Dawn Parslow Partridge

I'd like to take a moment to say a few words about my aunt, Virginia Dawn Parslow Partridge.

Aunt Gigi was a wonderful aunt. It was she who took us to Frontier Town, bought us books like "Wood Craft" by George W. Sears. For years she was docent and more at the Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown, NY. It was ALWAYS fun to go visit her at work there or at the Fenimore House. She was the "fun" aunt. The one who cracked jokes, liked her beef rare, drove her Plymouth Roadrunner fast, and generally was a good time for all of the nieces and nephews, male and female, good or bad. I've never seen enough of her all my adult life. Family, military, time, space, and poor letter writing habits I think we shared all conspired to mostly keep us apart since I left home for the Army in 1973. I think in all that time we only saw each other 2 or 3 times.

Gigi was the genealogist of the family (before me and more so). She was the first person (or first woman?) to get a Fulbright Scholarship sans college education. This to go to England and study early textile methods. I think this was about 1935 or 1936. While in England she took advantage of the circumstances and did quite a bit of genealogic research. Gigi collaborated on "Made in New York State : handwoven coverlets, 1820-1860 : a traveling exhibition", "Transcript of the 1830 and 1840 federal census of Schoharie County, New York", "Weaving and dyeing processes in early New York with a description of spinning fibers", "The story of flax" and obviously was a well known expert on dying and weaving techniques making many presentations at seminars on the subjects. I hope I haven't forgotten anything.

It wasn't until fairly late in her life that she married Edward L. Partridge who was a fine person, as I remember it. They bought and began renovations on a house in Mount Vision, NY but it was never finished as Uncle Ed died of lung cancer within a year or two. I'm not sure of the dates...

She was a shooter, too, killing groundhogs who dared to enter her or her neighbors' gardens. She used a Marlin .22 Mag bolt gun and in the village of Mount Vision. Of course, back then we thought nothing of it. Of course she was safe. She loved gardening and she and Uncle Ed had extensive lighting put in to sprout seeds for the incoming garden season (no, not those kinds of seeds!). In later years she concentrated on orchids and built a sunroom/greenhouse on the side of her home in Lansdale to house them.

Born September 3, 1917 she was getting on in years and had chronic lymphocytic leukemia and some sort of senility (who knows if it was Alzheimers or something else) and last year she fell and broke her hip. She made 90 years and a day before she died the evening of 4 September 2007. She is survived by her son, John Hatch, his wife Sue and two grandchildren, Beth and Zack as well everyone in the family who knew and loved her. I know I did and I am very thankful for all the wonderful things she did for me and all the knowledge to which she exposed me.

Photo: This photo is from one of Aunt Gigi's books, the first I believe, published in 1949.