Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Black Snakes in the Wood Pile

Today I had a bit of rearranging of Mom's wood pile to do. She's tried sorting, a pretty good work out for a 73 year old, but it wasn't working for purposes of mowing and keeping the yard neat. Besides, she can't light a fire anymore and shouldn't be. One of the piles had an old tarp over it and when I pulled it back... Old Mr. Noshoulders was curled up in the semi-warmth beneath the dark tarp. The day was still cold enough that he was slow but I was not about to hurt an ally in the war on field mice and crickets. I let him go to the bottom of the pile only to uncover a second one. Great fun, I got a long rod and picked them up and moved them to a safe place. Yes, I got photos, but on film... so I'll have to wait until I get it developed and saved on CD to post here.

These are not poisonous snakes but the Black Rat Snake. I was never in any danger as they were slow due to the cold temps today. Even though I handled them, wearing gloves due to the wood I was also handling, I used a stick as this protected both of us. These snakes are incrediblely beneficial to the homeowner, removing/preventing over-populations of rats, field mice, gophers, even crickets and other snakes. These particular specimens were both in excellent health and over 4 feet in length (more than 120cm).

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Another Cobra Finds a Home

However, this 1972 manufactured .38 Special gun has the later, cheaper, smooth grips but the gun was made before the underlug design. It is a good tight gun but the fit of the grips isn't so hot and there was some wear on the frame from, I think, an ill-fitting holster.

My original intent was to give this gun to my daughter who lives in northern Virginia. Reflection on her situation has given us pause. She has roommates. She doesn't have 100% control on who enters her home (an argument for I think, as well as against). She can't and won't get a concealed handgun permit (CHP). This means she'd have to leave the gun in the house. We're considering one of those finger combination activated gun safes that we could bolt to the floor under her bed. (Any comments on experience with those would be appreciated.) It may be that a steel framed gun would be better also, for recoil "control"/mitigation. She does like that D-frame grip.

My wife liked it, too. Of course they have no idea what the recoil would be like. Heaven forbid that we should have the time right now to do some shooting. Yes, that is another reason speaking against my daughter getting this gun even if she is competent at the 0-15 foot range at which this would be employed. I suppose I'll have to think on this some more.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Ponderings of the Aging

Oh, I had a good post as I sat on the toilet last night. Now, however, I will be doing well indeed to approach the quality of reason and thought that shined so brilliantly in the light reflected from the white bead board and mirror of my bathroom just a few hours ago.

Recently, I was visiting my mother and took the opportunity to re-visit her photograph collection on the odd chance that she would remember the unlabeled people and/or places which seem to populate every old collection of photos. Once upon a time, when we weren't so inundated with varied entertainments, people looked at family photos and recited the the information about each one as though it was a catechism. Unfortunately the last time I did that was some 30 or more years ago and so I was making the effort, if late, to catch up my knowledge.

Somehow the fates intervened and the first photos I pulled from the cabinet's deep drawer were of myself, my ex-wife, our children, and our friends in Korea in 1975 and 1978. I hadn't seen these in a long time and these photos made quite an impression. It is hard to believe that I looked like that 35 years ago. Harder to believe are the choices I made vis-a-vis my personal relationships during those years. Things certainly were different then.

You see, I'd mailed these photos to my parents by way of, at first, introducing them to my friends and my fiancee. There was no e-mail, phone calls from overseas were expensive, MARS calls hard to schedule and so mail, actual written letters, hand written (hard to get a typewriter), were the method of communication. It would often take 2 weeks for a letter to wend its way from the ROK to Virginia and an answer might not be seen for 6 weeks or longer. So, I'd taken the photos, had them developed and written short descriptive explanations on the reverse before sending them to my parents.

When I saw them again the only thing that came to mind was, "just how stupid could I be?" While my handwriting (actually printing) was much better then than now, the content was inane. Particularly offensive, and soon abandoned, was the attempt by my Korean fiancee to use an "American" (i.e. English) name. In her case it was "Anne" and our mutual friend and my supervisor's fiancee's choice was "Julie". Thankfully those self-demeaning and inappropriate names were soon dropped but they were recorded for posterity on my photos.

What has happened to some of those depicted in the photos isn't all mystery. I do know what followed for certain. Verne H________ went on to retire as a 1st Sergeant and presumably still works in our old field or one related. His fiancee did become his wife and then 'ex' and his children are probably successful. He's remarried, happily I think, but I never hear from him. Verne was sort of an older brother and probably prevented my making of more stupid mistakes than I had done. Of his fiancee I don't know a thing. I think that ChongAe returned to Korea but I'm not certain of this.

I don't even know if any of this is important, but I can't help but think about it...

One of my fonder friends from this period was Janet Loar Morgan. Shown here in the first photo (third from the viewers left) in her final year at Grinnell College (1974). Janet was a fun person, up for anything (heck, she was living on the economy, non-command sponsored in rural Korea in 1975!). I think I got a letter from her about the time I re-married but I've misplaced it (arrrrgghhh). If I remember correctly she and Tom are divorced. This is one of those letters to which I inadequately responded. I think I must have left the impression that I wasn't interested in maintaining contact since she's never written again. Interestingly, I've never heard from her husband, my co-worker and fellow student of Chinese (Mandarin) Tom...

I have another photo. Janet is on the left in this second photo and on the right, to Janet's left, is my now ex-wife (but then fiancee) outside the apartment Janet and her husband Tom had in AnJong-ni. I am fairly certain that the photo was taken in late October or early November of 1975. I left Korea in December 1975 for Fort Ord, California and retraining. In the time since then we've both been divorced and I have been remarried for nearly 23 years. I've no idea what happened to her but I pray that she has had a good life.

I don't have a photo of my buddy through language school (Defense Language Institute-West Coast, Monterey, California) Perry Fuller, but he's on the net. I have some fond memories including one of hunting quail just outside of San Angelo, Texas and his lovely and gracious wife cooking up the one and only bird we brought to bag. Good folks there.

I thought, I'd best pause for now, too many memories at one time...

Shooting as a family tradition...

I've been searching out shooting photos from the family. It seems that our families aren't/weren't too much into documenting their firearms prowess. Some weren't too big on photography of any kind!

I have found a photo of my Great-Grandfather Orrin L. Brodie at what appears to be ROTC camp (as can be seen in another photo). When, I've not quite figured out. Whether he was attending or instructing I don't know. However, I know that he served in WWI and he did retire from the National Guard as a Captain in 1943 and I have copies of both of his draft cards. He also was a road engineer in Mussel Shoals, AL, worked for NYC's board of water supply and co-wrote a book on Masonry Dam construction. A very interesting fellow!

Not all our experiences with firearms were good. Several of family members served in the military and during wartime (as did Grandpa Orrin). One died at Centerville, VA in 1862 of typhoid, another at Andersonville and two of my great-grandfathers were maimed for life. Unfortunately, even the civilians weren't exempt from bad experiences with firearms with one brother of a 4X great-grandfather being killed by the "accidental discharge" of a musket. Perhaps somebody should have been made familiar with the 4 Rules back in 1815!

More recent is this 1957-58 (?) photo of yours truly with his first pair of matching sixguns. Ok, so that might have been my last pair, too! Maybe I'll just wish to duplicate these in the future. That I got these is probably my dad's doing. I don't know that I would bug my parents for anything. I might have said that I liked something but I'm one of those who pretty much went with the flow. Mom, due to her upbringing, would not likely have gotten these for me.

I don't know why, but Mom's family, particularly the maternal side (even including Grandpa Orrin), seems to have been very anti-gun. While her dad owned guns, as I've previously mentioned, it appears that on her Mom's side NOBODY (including Grandpa Orrin) owned guns, hunted or could understand why anyone would. Oh, they had the cabin, Pine Lodge, just south of Sabbath Day Point on Lake George but they were water people, not woods people. When I last saw her, my Great-Aunt Lovie had to give me the spiel on why guns were bad. Now this is from people who were pretty vehemently supportive of the death penalty and the military. Not a one was a vegetarian either, on the contrary, they loved their red meat! It was a dichotomy of thought that always puzzled me.

I have another photo showing Dad with a shotgun which I need to scan before I can post it here. He's riding a float in the Elkins, WV Forest Festival parade in 1960 (I think). I remember this parade as I sat with a "neighbor lady" on the curb near the Episcopal Church. She was so nice, she bought me a box of Cracker Jacks. I hated peanuts (and still do) but I dug the prize right out! I think I politely held onto the box until custody of me was transferred back to my parents. Life sure was good back then!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Woodchuck Frustration

"Mom's" woodchuck is still there but he won't go in the trap. I've blocked this and that, fiddled and so forth. I guess I'm just going to have to sit up there close to dark and shoot him on the lawn. Should be great fun explaining to Mom how I've been there for so long and didn't come in or maybe why there is a dead animal on her lawn. She's not too discriminating any more and likes all animals, even the ones that might be compromising her foundation. The bugger has to go, just sayin'...

Addendum... Mom will sit at the dinner table and watch the groundhog for quite a while when eating or visiting.  She calls it a cat, not being able to remember "groundhog" or "woodchuck".  After one season he left when she did and we haven't seen him since the day we moved Mom to Birch Gardens. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Thoughts on the AR-15

One of the most popular rifles in both monthly firearms literature (aka the gun rags) is the AR-15 in any/all of its many permutations. From cal .22 to cal .50, with barrels from 12 to 22 inches, direct gas impingement or gas piston, fixed and telescoping stocks, and all sorts of sight combinations. They even have rails on the forearm on which one can mount just about anything one can think of, sort of like a Swiss Army Knife gone wild and, as you see, you can get a bit crazy.

These rifles are now highly developed. The industry has a lot of experience in manufacturing these guns and users have a lot of experience with the most popular cartridges such as the .223 Rem/5.56mm NATO. There is also a lot of support for add-ons and these guns are nearly perfect choices for those who like to mix and match and build their own custom guns.

It seems that most of the new/younger shooters in the 20-35 year age group see these guns as the norm and only us old fogies prefer the more traditional guns. One sees the high-tech look carry over into the bolt-action rifle market as well with the many offerings of stainless and stocks of various synthetic materials. I think that the AR-15 "craze" has forever changed the firearms market. More than simply changing styles, the high-tech look (so-called military look in some circles) has drawn many new shooters into the sport. They love these guns just as we loved our Springfield bolt actions or Winchester leverguns. New shooters are necessary to the sport and the availability of these guns is bringing them in in droves.

Because of this one can now get these guns in most any shop. This wasn't always true. We saw a vestige of this anti-AR prejudice in the Zumbo incident. Indeed, Mr. Zumbo got zapped pretty much by all those new shooters I previously mentioned. With these guns in every shop, accessories and ammunition can also be found everywhere. Accessiblity helps further improve market penetration and might help prevent an all encompassing ban.

I once owned one of the early, semi-auto only carbines. Mine was early enough that it didn't have the forward assist feature but late enough that it had the later flash suppressor. I still prefer the aluminum collapsable butt-stock that came on this Colt rifle to those plastic copies which seem to be the norm now. Of course mine was not a flat-top and I had the Colt 3X scope that had an integral mount which screwed together to clamp itself on the carry handle. That was a fine gun and because I kept it clean it never needed a forward assist! I used my gun for hunting groundhogs, foxes and other small vermin. It worked a treat whether the load was 40, 55 or even 70 gr. Sierra SMP bulleted. Functioning was never a problem and neither was accuracy despite the warnings I'd had that the carbines weren't as accurate. I liked the gun but sold it at the beginning of the '94 ban to fund my TC Contender interests.

I also used the gun as an M16A1 and M16A2 while in service and never had a lick of trouble from those issued to me so long as they were fairly clean. I did have one that wouldn't cycle issued to me for a MILES controller class but a thorough cleaning fixed that problem right up. In its defense one could use it as a repeater by manually slinging the bolt back for every shot. In fact that is how I survived one whole day in practical exercises using the MILES equipment. I liked the guns well enough.

Do you or I need one of these guns? Well, yes. Of all the firearms out there, these are closest in technical specifications to fulfilling our responsibilities as members of the unorganized militia. They are eminently useful guns for purposes other than those for which the designers intended. However, it is their intrinsic interoperability with military arms (despite their semi-auto only rather than full-auto operation) that is valuable in the militia role. They can use the same ammunition, same magazines (these are no small considerations) and the most likely needed repair parts will be readily available (in my experience it is the extractor spring, forearms and buttstocks that will most likely need replacement).

It is said that the best way to get one relatively inexpensively is to build it yourself. This isn't always possible but if you can do this, or have a friend who can, you can save a significant amount of money. You can, then, spend that money on ammo and gas to go to the range.

For those who can't or prefer not to build their own the very best seem to be the Colts, Bushmasters, Lewis Machine & Tool guns with many others being available.

Colt 1911 Differences (A Basic Overview)

Thanks to Dan S_____ who posted this. It is info many will need...
Series 70 vs. Series 80

There have been a lot of questions posted by new members and 1911 owners as to what the difference is between Series 70 and Series 80 Colts. This question is best answered by giving the following history:

Colt is the original manufacturer of 1911 pattern pistols, having made versions for both the military as well as commercial market since regular production began in January 1912. The commercial versions were nearly identical to the military ones, differing only in markings and finish. Following World War Two military production ended, but the commercial guns remained in production with only minor changes such as deletion of the lanyard loop and a larger thumb safety shelf. These pistols are known to collectors as "pre-Series 70" guns, as they pre-dated the Series 70 guns introduced in 1971. It was during this year that Colt introduced the first major design change to the Government Model in nearly 50 years. In an attempt to improve the accuracy of production guns the barrel bushing was redesigned, along with the barrel. In this system the bushing utilized four spring-steel "fingers" that gripped the enlarged diameter of the muzzle end of the barrel as the gun returned to battery. By tightening the fit of barrel and bushing in this manner Colt was able to improve the accuracy of the average production gun, without going through the expense of hand fitting the older solid barrel bushing to the barrel and slide. Models using the new barrel/bushing setup were the Government Model and Gold Cup, which were designated the "Mark IV Series 70" or simply Series 70 pistols. It should be noted that the shorter 4 1/4" barreled Commander pistols retained the use of the older solid bushing design and thus were never designated Series 70 pistols, although one hears the term erroneously applied to Commanders from time to time.

The new "collet" bushing (as it came to be known) worked quite well, however it was prone to breakage if the inside diameter of the slide was too small as it caused the fingers to buckle, then later break from the stress of being wedged between the barrel and slide. On pistols with oversized slides the bushing didn't grip well enough, and accuracy suffered. Because of this the collet bushing was eventually phased out sometime around 1988, with the older solid barrel bushing design being reinstated for use in production guns.

The single biggest change to the 1911 design came about in 1983, when Colt introduced the "MK IV Series 80" pistols. These guns incorporated a new firing pin block safety system, where a series of internal levers and a plunger positively blocked the firing pin from moving until the trigger was pressed, thus eliminating the possibility of the gun discharging if dropped onto a hard surface or struck hard. In this instance however, ALL of Colt's 1911-pattern pistols incorporated the new design change so even the Commander and Officer's ACP pistols became known as Series 80 guns. With the previous paragraph in mind, it is important to know that from 1983 until 1988 the early Government Model and Gold Cup Series 80 pistols used the Series 70-type barrel and bushing as well, although they were known only as Series 80 guns.

There was one other design change made to the Series 80 guns as well, and that was a re-designed half-cock notch. On all models the notch was changed to a flat shelf instead of a hook, and it is located where half-cock is engaged just as the hammer begins to be pulled back. This way the half-cock notch will still perform its job of arresting the hammer fall should your thumb slip while manually cocking the pistol, yet there is no longer a hook to possibly break and allow the hammer to fall anyway. With the notch now located near the at-rest position, you can pull the trigger on a Series 80 while at half-cock and the hammer WILL fall. However, since it was already near the at-rest position the hammer movement isn't sufficient to impact the firing pin with any amount of force.

Regarding the "clone" guns (1911-pattern pistols made by manufacturers other than Colt), only Para Ordnance (SIG, Auto Ordnance, Taurus have since adopted it also) adopted Colt's Series 80 firing pin block system as well. Kimber's Series II pistols and the new S&W 1911s have a FP safety also, but it is a different system than Colt's and is disabled by depressing the grip safety. No manufacturers aside from Colt ever adopted the Series 70 barrel/bushing arrangement, so technically there are no "Series 70" clone guns. What this means is that design-wise most of them share commonality with the pre-Series 70 guns, using neither the firing pin block NOR the collet bushing. Because of this it is important to remember that only Colt Series 80 models, and a couple of "clone" 1911 makers use a firing pin block. Older Colts and most other clone guns lack a firing pin safety and can possibly discharge if there is a round in the chamber and the gun is dropped on a hard surface, or if struck a blow hard enough to allow the firing pin to jump forward and impact the primer of the loaded round. By the way, Colt has just recently reintroduced new custom pistols lacking the S80 firing pin safety (called the Gunsite models) as well as a reintroduced original-style Series 70 to appeal to purists. Interestingly, the latter uses a solid barrel bushing and Series 80 hammer, so it is somewhat different mechanically than the original Series 70 models.

Regarding the controversy involving getting a decent trigger pull on a Series 80 gun, it is only of importance if the gunsmith attempts to create a super-light pull (under four pounds) for target or competition use. In defense/carry guns where a four-pound or heavier pull is necessary, the added friction of the Series 80 parts adds little or nothing to the pull weight or feel. A good gunsmith can do an excellent trigger job on a Series 80 and still leave all the safety parts in place, although he will probably charge a little more than if the gun were a Series 70 since there are more parts to work with. But any gunsmith who tells you that you can't get a good trigger on a Series 80 without removing the safety parts is likely either lazy or incompetent.

1991 vs. 1911

For those wondering what the difference is between these pistols, the fact is there really is none. Back in 1991 Colt decided to market an economy version of their basic Series 80 Government Model. The polished blue was changed to an all-matte parkerized (later matte blue) finish, checkered rubber grip panels were used, and the serial number sequence was a resumption of the ones originally given to US military M1911A1 pistols. The resulting pistol was cleverly named "M1991A1", after the year of introduction. Mechanically however they are the same as any other Colt Series 80, 1911-type pistol. Around 2001 or so Colt upgraded these pistols with polished slide and frame flats, nicer-looking slide rollmarks, stainless barrels, and wood grips (blued models only). The newer ones are commonly called "New Rollmark (NRM)" pistols by Colt enthusiasts, to differentiate them from the "Old Rollmark (ORM)" 1991 pistols. The earlier guns are easily identified by having "COLT M1991A1" in large block letters across the left face of the slide. The NRM Colts will have three smaller lines of text saying "COLT'S-GOVERNMENT MODEL-.45 AUTOMATIC CALIBER", along with Colt's rampant horse logo.
D. Kamm

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Gary Reeder El Diablo Helping Christian Mission in Mozambique

Gary Reeder has donated this gun being auctioned to support Christ Chapel's mission (Jim Taylor, pastor) to Mozambique. These folks are working hard to raise the money necessary to execute this mission to help needy folks in another part of the world and, in their good work, to spread the word about our Savior. Visit the Gunbroker.Com auction and make your bid and help the devil do God's work!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ruger SR9 Recall

Ruger has recalled their new SR9 pistols... Best to check it out if you have one of these guns.

Cliff Sophia - Upperville, VA

I think you need to make a trip to Upperville this spring and visit Mr. Sophia in his shop, C. S. Arms. Take a towel, you'll be drooling...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Von Steuben's Continentals

Lionheart Productions has a number of interesting historical films of which "Von Steuben's Continentals" is but one. The musket used as it should be...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Speed Strips for .44 Mag Revolvers

I have to admit that this isn't my idea but comes to me from jhrosier on the Leverguns Community Forum. Simple to the extreme, one simply uses the British SMLE stripper clips/chargers to carry 5 .44 Mag rounds. This is as close as one can get to the Bianchi Speed Strip for the .44 Mag guns like my S&W 629. I'm going to have to try this!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Linebaugh Seminar Schedule for 2008

From JimT at Leverguns.com...

I just spoke with John Linebaugh. He has cut his schedule back some. These are Seminars he will be holding this year.

To attend, the price is $200.
Bring LOTS of guns and ammo! These are Hands On Seminars.
They are not just about big-bore pistols. There are lots of leverguns, bolt guns and other types. You WILL come away with more than you thought possible.


May 9 -10
Contact Ronnie Johnson 806.273.9355 or John Linebaugh 307.645.3332 for more information.


May 16 - 17 - 18
Contact Todd Corder 309.458.6464 or John Linebaugh 307.645.3332 for more information.


This is the Grandaddy of all the Seminars!
June 12 - 13 - 14 - 15
Contact John Linebaugh 307.645.3332 for more information.