Monday, June 30, 2008

Favorite Authors - George C. Nonte, Jr.

Some people wouldn't consider a non-fiction writer as a favorite. They might point to Stephen King or James Patterson or some purveyor of the romantic pot boiler but I have different tastes. No, I'm not alone. There are many out there who count among their favorite authors, Elmer Keith, John Taffin, Jack O'Connor, Charles Askins, Skeeter Skelton, Jim Wilson, Brian Pearce, Ken Waters, John Barsness, Ross Seyfried, or Dave Scovill. I wanted to tell you about my favorites and why they are my favorites. I want you to know why I have their book(s) in my collection and why I think you should read these authors whatever title you might come across.

The first I decided to write about (but I admit that this article might not be "published" first) is Major (US Army, Retired) George C. Nonte, Jr. Why? Well, just because I was searching the bookshelf for a last minute trip to the "reading room" and grabbed his last book, Pistol Guide. I was once again reminded why I liked his style and I thought he would be a worthy first subject for this series.

To start, you should know a little bit about the man. MAJ Nonte was born on February 9, 1926 in Monticello, Illinois. That's about 9 months and 10 days before my father was born in Breakabeen, New York. It is also one reason I liked his writing. I think he had a direct and personal style of writing that was like Dad and I always wanted to meet him. I think he and Dad would have gotten along just fine.

MAJ Nonte entered the Army in WWII (about 1944) and retired 20 years later (in 1964) as a Major in the Ordnance Corps. That service included tours in Europe and the Middle East as well as in the United States.

He authored several thousand magazine articles (of which I've read more than a few) which appeared in major outdoor and gun magazines of the time. His book credits include Cartridge Conversions*, Firearms Encyclopedia*, Pistolsmithing*, Guide to Muzzle Loading, and Modern Handloading*.  For the Stoeger Publishing Company he wrote Pistol & Revolver Guide, Gunsight Guide, To Stop a Thief: The Complete Guide to House, Apartment and Property Protection, and Black Powder Guide*.  His last two books were Pistol Guide* and Revolver Guide, rewrites/revisions of Pistol & Revolver Guide.

MAJ Nonte died in his office at work June 30, 1978, that's 30 years ago today.  He was only 52 years old. 

I think his first articles I was able to read were in Shooting Times Magazine as this was about the only shooting magazine we could get in 1965-1968.  He drew me in with his articles which covered gunsmithing of the 1911, handloading, and a memorable bear hunt using the 1911 and Super Vel ammunition.  He never let me go.  Somehow, in his writing, he made all things seem possible even for me and made me a part of his activities.  I loved it and I still do.

Note:  * = I have these books.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

.32 S&W and .32 S&W Long... by Scott aka GunFan

The little .32 S&W (Short) has some interesting ballistics from a 3 1/2" barrel. 88-grain Remington-Peters factory fodder runs about 657 fps. 85-grain Winchester-Western runs about 679 from the same tube. Energies produced are about 84-1/3 fpe and 60-2/3 fpe respectively. Place this energy on a .311"-.314" diameter bullet, and - Plunk! These should stop either an enraged field mouse or put "the hurts" on most garden pests without threatening to put a hole in the neighbor's house! Moles, ground hogs and other aberrant vermin, beware! No matter what anyone says, these little loads beat the daylights out of the .22 handgun when it comes to close-range pest eradication!

When it comes to the .32 S&W Long, modern propellants make this cartridge deliver quite a "nasty-gram" at close range! If the pests, are between 25 and 50 pounds, the .32 S&W Long should get the job done. Factory loads hve a bit more "oomph." From a 2" barrel a hefty 98-grain Remington RNL runs 632 fps and provides 87 fpe and the 98-grain RNL provides 626 fps and about 85 fpe. You must bear in mind that these loads were designed with the weaker, break-top revolvers in mind.

I frequently see 98-grain RNL ahead of 3.5 grains of Unique, delivering 979 fps and about 99 1/2 fpe from a 6" barrel. While not earth shaking, it can put down many a good-sized varmint quite easily.

I want to take the opportunity today to address those that handload for the .32 S&W Long. This is where the cartridge has an opportunity to "step from the shadows" and make a statement.

Those of us that are over 50 years of age, or have made an in-depth study of handloading, are quick to realize that the .32 S&W Long, while an extremely accurate cartridge, can be loaded to some pretty respectable power levels. Now this shouldn't be seen as a license to "firewall" the cartridge, ignoring the requisite prudence and reason regarding safety. On the contrary, the very careful approach of increasing charge levels, while keeping a sharp eye for excessive pressures. (e.g. flattened primers, excessive leading, stressed cases, etc.) A 1968 copy of Handloader magazine offered the following handloads for the .32 S&W Long.

WARNING! These loads are only suitable for use in modern, solid-framed revolvers in good condition! the following loads may, or may not, be safe in your particular revolver! Use caution when approaching maximum loads!

Note: All of the bullets used were of the Round Nosed Lead variety.

Bullet Wt. Powder Charge Velocity

Lead 89 Bullseye 1.5 695
Lead 89 Bullseye 2.0 745
Lead 89 Bullseye 2.5 880
Lead 89 Bullseye 3.0 1,010
Lead 98 Bullseye 2.0 770
Lead 98 Bullseye 2.7 910
Lead 98 Unique 3.0 735
Lead 98 Unique 4.0 940
Lead 98 Unique 4.3 1,010

Both loads yielding the 1010 fps with both propellants are maximum loads. If you look carefully, you'll notice that the 89-grain maximum load yields 201.6 fpe. That, sisters and brothers, isn't the earmark of a "flyweight" cartridge, suitable only for dispatching rats! This particular load can serious medicine for a vast number of household/garden/barnyard purposes. This particular load would be an excellent choice for the elimination of skunks, nutria, large (harbor) rats, opossum and the like.

The 98-grain, 1010 fps load yields a healthy 220 fpe! Is it any wonder how so many feral dogs, foxes, bobcats, and other larger vermin can be dealt a quick death blow with this potent load. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if such a load could be effectively employed for personal defense. If the bullet were molded as a truncated cone, hollow point, a 98-grain lead bullet, loaded in the .32 Long could easily reach into .380/.38 S&W Special territory! Some of these loads should shoot well in revolvers chambered for the .32 H&R Magnum.

Once upon a time, in 1974, a gunwrter by the name of Gorge Nonte was writing for HANDLOADER magazine. It was in the January/February edition of that year, when he published an article called, "Those unloved .32's."

After discussing several of the .32 Long revolvers being manufactured in the day, he began discussing useful loads for the cartridge. On page 36, he writes,

"... If you have one of the stronger guns, and want to make your own jacketed expanding bullets, velocities as high as 1,300 to 1,600 fps are possible in 6-inch barrels. Obtaining them requires a slightly undersized, thin-jacketed bullet of 60 to 70 grains weight, driven by a hefty charge of Bullseye or Olin 230 powder. In my own 6" K-32, a 63-grain thin-jacketed soft-point bullet made up by C-H dies produces 1,380 fps when driven by 3.5 grains of Unique. These loads show no evidence of excessive pressures in the K-32 or in either a S&W Hand Ejector or a Colt Cobra. At this time, no valid pressure tests have been conducted for the above loads, and this does not constitute a recommendation for their use. We do know of a .32 S&W Long pressure barrel under construction and when it is ready - and lab time is available - we fully intend to determine the pressures of those loads.

For general shooting, which includes small game, plinking, and occasional paper-target use to 50 yards, I have yet to find a load better than Lyman bullet No. 313445, weighing approximately 95 grains and of semi-wadcutter form. It is long enough and heavy enough to retain velocity well, it cuts clean, sharp holes in paper or other targets, and kills small game nicely without excessive meat destruction. I prefer to drive it at around 1,100 fps (6-inch barrel) with either 4.5 grains of Hercules (now Alliant) Unique or 3.5 grains of Bullseye. While Unique is really my favorite powder, I often assemble this load with Bullseye because it is a bit more efficient in the two-inch barrel length - and a little 2-inch S&W Hand Ejector gun in this caliber is one of my favorites for carrying afield because of its slight weight and bulk. That little gun may look innocuous, but with the Bullseye load it will puncture beer cans out to 50 yards with a high degree of regularity if I do my part. That can't really be considered poor accuracy from a two-inch tube."

This speaks remarkably well for the humble .32 S&W Long! While so many have relegated this little revolver to the status of a "relic" it appears that it can perform many chores that may consider a labored task for the .22 Long Rifle cartridge, and a bit excessive for the .38 S&W Special. It serves a valid purpose, and still carves out it's niche in the "overly full" revolver-handgun segment. Later in the same article, Nonte provides this .32 S&W Long load data:
Bbl length.
Bullet Powder Charge 2" 4" 6"

63 gr JSP Unique 5.0 gr. 990 1,310 1,400
63 gr JSP Unique 5.2 gr. 1,030 1,330 1,420
63 gr JSP 230 3.5 gr. 995 1,290 1,380
90 gr Cast Bullseye 3.1 gr. 850 1,010 1,100
90 gr Cast Unique 4.7 gr. 875 1,065 --
98 gr Cast Bullseye 2.7 gr. 830 910 --
98 gr Cast Bullseye 1.5 gr. -- 635 --
98 gr Cast Bullseye 2.0 gr. -- 770 --
98 gr Cast Unique 4.5 gr. -- 1,040 --

There's even more that this great cartridge can do! George continues to discuss this in consummate detail in this article. His propensity for good, old-fashioned ingenuity is reflected in his "kitchen table" assembly of target loads for the .32 Long. This can be readily seen when he writes,

"But the load that is really cheap fun is the old round-ball load i used in that H&R Bobby in the woods of Southern Illinois in the middle 1940's. It can be assembled without dies, without moulds, without any handloading tools or whatever. at the time, I acquired the H&R, I was temporarily without any loading gear and mighty short of funds. With the gun I got one box of mid-range wadcutters which I promptly shot up and proceeded to look for a way to reprime the cases. The traditional filed-down nail served to punch out the old primers, and tapping the decapped cases down over fresh primers laid face up on a hard, smooth counter top handled the repriming problem nicely until I could acquire a Lyman tong tool. Primers were laid face up on the counter top, and a close-fitting aluminum rod was slipped into the mouth of each case in turn and a mallet applied gently to its upper end to seat the primers. A charge cup made from a fired .22 LR case filed down to hold 1.0 grains of Bullseye was fitted with a wire handle and charges were dipped from a coffee cup half filled with Bullseye. Bullets were "O" buckshot thumbed onto the chamfered casemouth and seated flush by tapping them in their full depth with a small plastic mallet. Following that, a finger-dab of waterpump grease was smeared over the ball, partially filling the gap between the case mouth and the leaden sphere.

With this load, cases hardly ever need resizing, and loading is so simple it stinks. Cases last virtually forever if you don't get clumsy and step on them, and even at today's prices, (read: 1974) cost per shot is less than one cent if you're buying your primers reasonably right. I use this particular load regularly in the two-inch Hand Ejector, shooting in my office at a range of about 20 -25 feet. A stack of old magazines is adequate as a backstop for the slow-moving round balls. I don't know how fast the ball travels, but it really doesn't matter -- it does it's job.

All the same, this load must not be considered a harmless toy. Over the years it has killed scored of small game, and will punch easily through one-inch pine boards. It is definitely a lethal combination, and must be considered as such. In this impromptu in-office shooting, it can be relied on to produce neat quarter-sized clusters from the little two-inch gun if I am paying proper attention to the game at hand. About the only disadvantage it possesses for such close range shooting is that occasionally it sprays particles of grease downrange. The old waterpump grease I used a quarter century ago should be replaced under those circumstances by a dab of Lyman lubricant."

It should be readily apparent that the .32 S&W Long has all the versatility of the .38 S&W Special, but on a smaller scale. Upon careful consideration, that can be used to your advantage on many an occasion. Consider these facts. The .32's legendary "gilt-edged" accuracy, lack of over penetration issues, definitive "stopping power" for small game and pests, aside from the fact that a 25 pound bag of size "O" buckshot, 3000 primers, and a pound of Bullseye can provide you with months of cheap target practice is something that shouldn't be dismissed. Pest control? That's a given. A training round? It doesn't get much better than this. Fun? This round had more giggles in it than a tubful of popcorn at the movies. Its the easiest-shooting, handful of centerfire fun this side of the .22 Long Rifle. What's not to like? Rediscover the little centerfire .32 S&W and .32 S&W Long. As the old 1960's Alka-Seltzer commercial's line said, "Try it, you'll like it!"

"O" size Buckshot is .32 caliber. Each pellet weighs 49 grains. There are 9 pellets per ounce, 144 pellets per pound and 720 pellets in 5 pounds. There are 3500 pellets in 25 pounds. There are 7000 "Gallery" loads in one pound of Bullseye gunpowder. Your biggest expense will, indeed, be the lead shot and primers. Lyman bullet lube shouldn't be too costly. Cases will last for over 25 loadings. Their cost is relatively low.

Aren't "Gallery" loads for the .32 S&W Long inexpensive, easy to assemble and fun?

This was distilled from a neat topic on the S&W Forum with permission of the author.

For more on the .32 S&W Long see "The .32 S&W Long: A Handgun Hunter's Perspective" by Glen E. Fryxell

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I remember once-upon-a-time when —

12 year olds were expected to baby-sit younger kids. Since I was 12 and the oldest of this particular assemblage of kids, I was entrusted with their care AND because there was a big old deer that came out in an adjoining field, a 1903A3 as issued and a box (not just a mag full but a BOX!) of .30-06 ammunition. The home in which this rifle resided (and I hope it still does) was that of a WV game biologist. Now that is the good old days for me.

No, the deer never came out and yes, all the kids survived my dictatorship.



The U.S. Model 1903 Springfield Rifle replaced the Krag-Jorgensen and was the primary U.S. battle rifle until 1936, when it was replaced as the primary battle U.S. battle rifle by the M1 Garand. In 1942 Remington Arms redesigned the 1903 rifle using some stamped parts and that model was designated as the U.S. Model 1903A3.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

CHP Reciprocity for Virginians

From the VCDL:

Here is the correct list of states that honor Virginia CHPs:

Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
Florida
Idaho
Indiana
Kentucky
Louisiana
Michigan
Missouri
Montana
New Mexico
North Carolina
Ohio
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont (no permit required)
West Virginia

It has been noted that a New Hampshire permit covers those states not covered by Virginia and is inexpensive. Application here.

Paco Kelly's Acu'rzr

Paco has been making his Acu'rzr for a while. Neat tool, that works, and well worth the $58 or so he charged. Materials costs have upped his expenses and instead of simply passing on the cost he's got a new an improved version. You should read the product test at GunBlast.com but here's what Paco says:
I'LL GIVE THE SHORT EXPLANATION... 2 YEARS AGO OR SO A ROD OF 7071 BRASS (THE STRONGEST MADE) WAS $90, MY LAST PURCHASE THE SAME ROD WAS $333 I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IT IS TODAY. THE LAST THREE RODS I PURCHASED 6 MONTHS AGO COST WELL OVER 1000 DOLLARS. ALSO EVEN THOUGH THE U.S.MAILS HAVE GONE UP A FEW CENTS PER STAMP... PACKAGES HAVE DOUBLED IN COST... SO HAS PACKAGING MATERIAL.... I JUST CAN NOT MAKE AND SEND OUT TOOLS AT $58 POSTPAID ANY LONGER.... AND THAT BOTHERS THE HECK OUT OF ME BECAUSE WE HAVE ALWAYS TRIED TO OFFER AN EXCELLENT TOOL AT A REAL LOW COST. SO STUCK WITH THIS COST PROBLEM, I DECIDED TO ALSO TAKE CARE OF ANOTHER PROBLEM... AND MAKE A WHOLE NEW DESIGNED TOOL. OVER THE YEARS MANY FOLKS HAVE HAD TO PURCHASE MORE THAN ONE TOOL BECAUSE THEY HAD A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT FIREARMS IN 22 RF. EVEN 22 SHORTS. THE NEW TOOL CALLED THE PHASE FOUR DELUXWILL HAVE FOUR CHAMBERS INSTEAD OF THE USUAL TWO. SO A PERSON CAN GET THE NEW TOOL IN .222 THROUGH 225 WHICH TAKE CARE OF 98% OF AMERICAN 22 RF GUNS INCLUDING SLOOPY CHAMBERED REVOLVERS. OR IF THERE IS A CUSTOM OR EURO BARREL INVOLVED .221 THROUGH .224. OR ANY COMBINATION OF CHAMBER SIZES, INCLUDING THE 22 SHORT IF NEEDED... ALL I NEED TO KNOW IS THE FIREARMS INVOLVED... I HAVE ALL THE BORES SIZES FOR MOST GUNS... EVEN THE CHINESSE AND RUSSIAN ONES. THE NEW TOOL IS $75 DOLLARS POST PAID... THE FORMING RODS HAVE ALSO BEEN REDESIGNED USING ANGULAR RINGS SO THAT AFTER A SHORT TIME OF USE THEY FIT THE TOOL VERY FIRMLY. SINCE I COULDN'T HELP BUT RAISE THE PRICE, I ADDED MORE MACHINING TIME AND MADE THE ACU'RZR EVEN BETTER THAN IT WAS... THE WRITE UP ON THE NEW TOOL WITH PICTURES WILL BE POSTED ON JEFF AND BOGE QUINS' SITE GUNBLAST.COM SOON... ALSO WE ARE VERY CLOSE TO FINISHING OUR NEW 22 MAGNUM RF TOOL... LET YOU KNOW WHEN THAT IS READY. A NASTI-NOSE FORMED 22 MAGNUM RF WILL CUT A RABBIT IN HALF... THANK YOU ALL WHO HAVE BEEN SO KIND TO PURCHASE MY TOOLS.... PACO P.O.BOX 1170 CORTARO AZ. 85652


I think that the writing is on the wall with raw material and fuel prices driving costs up. It might just be that soon, the ammo you shoot will be what you can get and not necessarily what you want. Such a tool can improve substandard ammo and make it perform better. This could be invaluable. I've got my order in, you should, too.

To reiterate, order by sending a USPS MO for $75 and your address to PACO P.O.BOX 1170 CORTARO AZ. 85652. Include a letter telling him for which guns you'll be using the altered ammunition.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Want to "Letter" a Gun?

For A. H. Fox:
John T. Callahan
53 Old Quarry Rd.
Westfield, MA 01085

If a model number is not known, please include a photo, the ser. no., gauge, barrel length and style, stock and forearm style, markings, patent dates, inspector stamps, etc. The charge for this service is $30.00 for the Sterlingworth Model, and $40.00 for graded models A-F and single barrel trap guns. Please allow 6 weeks for an adequate response.


For Colt:
COLT'S MANUFACTURING COMPANY LLC
Office of the Historian
Mrs. Kathleen J. Hoyt, Historian
P.O. Box 1868
Hartford, CT
06144-1868 U.S.A.
Tel: 1-800-962-COLT
Fax: (860) 244-1449

For Smith and Wesson:
Request the history of your S&W handgun
IMPORTANT NOTE:
Due to a high number of requests, the current turnaround time for a history letter is 8 - 12 weeks.

Prior to requesting the history of your handgun, first determine that you have an authentic Smith & Wesson handgun. If the barrel is not stamped Smith & Wesson, Springfield, Massachusetts or Smith & Wesson, Houlton, ME your handgun is not a Smith & Wesson. Many handguns are stamped with the caliber, i.e., .38 S&W. This indicates the caliber and does not necessarily mean that it is a Smith & Wesson manufactured handgun.

Letter of Authenticity (See sample)

If you desire an in-depth response we can provide a formal letter of authenticity. There is a fee of $30.00 to cover our research, administrative and postage costs.

To order the history of your Smith & Wesson, print this form (requires Adobe Acrobat), fill it out and return it along with a photograph or sketch of your handgun and your check or money order.

If you decide to obtain a history letter, please provide a complete description of the firearm that includes all markings, barrel length, finish, single or double action, exposed or concealed hammer and a photograph or outline sketch. If you do not know the exact caliber of the revolver please measure the length of the cylinder and include that with the description. This will aid in the identification of the handgun. If your revolver is marked with the Model Number it is not necessary to include an outline sketch or photograph.

For L.C. Smith: See Winchester
For Marlin: See Winchester
For Parker Brothers guns:
The PGCA Research Letter program is available to all owners and collectors through mail inquiry. We have completed indexing for all serial numbers in the existing Parker records. The cost for each search will be $40 for PGCA members and $60 for non members. An individual check, payable to PGCA, should be included for each gun to be searched. The check will be returned if no record is available for the specified gun. It will take about 30 days to process a request, and the reply will be in letter format.

For Savage:
Mr. John Callahan
53 Old Quarry Rd.
Westfield, MA 01085

The charge for this service is $15.00 per gun - please allow 2-4 weeks for an adequate response.

For Winchester:
The Cody Firearm Museum Records Service has rare access to the select serial number records of the following companies:

Winchester Marlin L.C. Smith

Cody Firearms Museum Records Service provides Cody Firearms Museum members with information from original factory records based on the make and serial number of the firearm.

What is a Factory Letter?
What is a Serial Number Search?

Factory letters may contain the following information on your Winchester, Marlin or L.C. Smith firearm:

Warehouse Date Type of Firearm Caliber
Barrel Length & Type Trigger Stock
Sights Magazine Butt
Shipped Date Additional Remarks Checkering

It takes approximately four (4) weeks to process a factory letter request.

The Cody Firearms Museum Factory Letter Pricelist

Effective January 1, 2008

Winchester Lever Action and Marlin Letters - $60 (Firearms Members $35)
Model 21 and L.C. Smith Letters - $75 (Firearms Members $50)
Model 21 Letter with Build Sheet Information - $100 (Firearms Members $75)
Firearms Member 5-Letter Package - $150
Firearms Member 10-Letter Package - $250
Additional Research - $50 per hour (one hour minimum)


Members of the Cody Firearms Museum are part of a unique group, and receive free or discounted factory letters and serial numbers searches. These are special benefits that are not included in other Buffalo Bill Historical Center membership categories.

2008 SPECIAL EXTENDED HOURS
The Cody Firearms Museum Records Office is open on the following Saturdays during these 2008 shows:

March 15, 2008 - Baltimore Antique Arms Show, Baltimore, Md.
April 5, 2008 - Wanenmacher's Tulsa Arms Show, Tulsa, Okla.
May 17, 2008 - Colorado Gun Collector's Assoc. Annual Gun Show, Denver, Colo.
June 14, 2008 - Winchester Club of America, Cody, Wyo.
June 21, 2008 - The Winchester Arms Collectors Association (WACA), Cody, Wyo.
July 26, 2008 - Missouri Valley Arms Collector's Association Annual Show, Kansas City, Mo.
Sept. 20, 2008 - Dallas Arms Collectors, Dallas, Texas
October 4, 2008 - WACA Annual Eastern Show, Springfield, Mass.
November 15, 2008 - WACA Annual West Coast Show, Reno, Nev.
Anyone calling from these shows receives free serial number searches and $25 discounts on memberships (new or renewal).

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Little Hatchet in Need of Handle

This neat little ax or hatchet is in need of a handle. I remember using it with a neat little fawn's foot on the end of the handle just like a really small hatchet. As you can see from the photo (the multi-tool is there for scale and is 3-1/4" long) this really is a little thing and the eye is likewise diminutive.

I'd like to get it set up and make it available to my grandson and granddaughter as a tool with which they can learn to use the hatchet at a young age (parents permitting). It is just such a neat thing. Unfortunately, I don't know the maker and don't think that I have the skill to make a handle from scratch as my paternal grandfather would have done.

In my research I have found at least one really neat source for tool handles and that is the House Handle Company of Cassville, MO. You really need to look at this company's wares.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

My Comeuppance

I haven't been recording much here and thought perhaps I should catch up a bit. So this first story in catch-up phase is about my comeuppance. But to have a comeuppance you must first have pride and this I had, in spades.

You see for years I've been telling everyone how "immune" I am to poison ivy. Yeah, I've been "immune" since I was a child. My first experience was exploring the banks of the Tygart River which ran behind our house. I wasn't supposed to be back there, wasn't supposed to be fishing but I was with some older boys (heck, I was only 5) and since I could go one city block away to the store for my mom, I guess she thought I'd be fine. Well on that exploration we came across some poison ivy, at least that's what the oldest boy said the waxy 3-leafed plant was and he was loathe to touch it. Of course he'd mentioned it because I'd just about gotten it all over my body wading through it. However, there were no ill effects and my life's journey of immunity stories had begun.

Now, you have to understand that in my childhood in West Virginia, Kentucky and western Virginia kids went everywhere and did everything from dawn to dusk, year round with breaks inside only due to extreme cold, thunderstorms, or police intervention. Many was the time that our "gang" of kids would come home from a day of running amok only to have some show up the next day virtual walking ghosts because of a head-to-toe coating of calamine lotion (the preferred remedy for the burning and itching of poison ivy). I never had such problems and my legend grew.

Then I went into the U.S. Army. Most of you know that almost all the training posts are in the southern United States. Poison ivy is endemic there and so are the demands by Drill Sergeants for low crawling, pushups and other down in the dirt exercises for mind and body. In one instance our whole company was brought to an assembly area and, in the dark, ordered to lay down in column and get some sleep. We all did so, many in a bed of poison ivy. Yours truly was one of the few who was not affected. Yes, the legend (at least in my own mind) grew!

Then, about 5 days ago, I realized that I had to do some "weed eating" using a motorized string trimmer, at Mom's place. Particularly bad was the area along side her two stairways from the garage to the house level. I was in a hurry, it was hot and so I took off my long sleeve shirt. Fortunately, I always wear long pants when "weed eating". Now this trimmer throws a bunch of stuff everywhere when it trims. My legs (in pants) are covered with plant material when I finish. This is especially true with fresh, succulent spring growth such as I was trimming. I did the chore put away the trimmer and went inside to clean up and fix Mom some lunch. Fortunately, I'm a clean guy and thinking that my arms felt a bit odd, took extra time and water to get them as clean as possible. They didn't bother me at the time but later...

My left arm started to itch. Then I noticed a rash. At first I was puzzled, you see I am sensitive to spruce sap and I'd been trimming a spruce tree with the chain saw but had my shirt on most of the time. I was careful, and couldn't understand how the "spruce sap" had gotten on my arms. Then I recalled just where I'd trimmed and went back for a closer look. There was the poison ivy.

As you can see the rash was pretty good. I had a few blisters, a real rash and yes, I scratched. Application of Cortisone cream only made the rash "weep". That's something Nana did not want to see! What had happened is that the trimmer's little whip cord had chopped the poison ivy leaves and stems into a fine puree which it then sprayed on my exposed upper arm. If I truly had immunity, this is about the best one could do to overcome that immunity. It worked and I did it to myself. I don't think I'll consider myself exempt from the poison ivy curse any longer.

Now treated with Roundup©, the poison ivy plants look as though they might be dying. However, I think a second treatment is in order. Also in order is a little more care with the trimmer and I think I'll also nix any further descriptions of the "legendary" immunity to poison ivy. I've been humbled.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Colt Official Police .38 Special

I wanted an Official Police in .41 Colt but finally went with the flow and picked up a 1929 5" OP .38 Special gun. External finish isn't great. The gun is clean, but blue worn, the bore is good, it locks up tightly and is timed correctly. Should shoot well with good ammo. This gun was made in 1929.

I have a load in .38 Special cases of a 200 gr. bullet over 2.5 gr. of Bullseye. Used in my .357 Maximum rifle this is a cat-sneeze load but in a revolver it is the duplicate of the old Super Police, with a slightly better shaped bullet. I'm going to try it out in this gun as well. This would give very close to .41 Colt performance.

I know the grips look wrong for the gun. The grips had the checkering re-cut and they look pretty good condition wise even though they are way better than the rest of the gun.

A former police department issued gun, the butt seems to be marked WPD No. 38 (I think, it is really hard to read and this is my 4th or 5th version of what is stamped there!). Look at this photo to the left to see what I mean. The PD wasn't the last interesting duty this gun had. Somebody electric penciled a name or initials on the butt OVER the PD mark and then somebody (the same or later?) tried to obscure the whole thing. It has the appearance of being deliberated rusted to obscure the marks but the "pitting" doesn't extend to the front or back straps of the grip frame.

For those that don't know, in 1928 the Army Special (introduced in 1908) became the Official Police because armies didn't buy the guns but police departments did. Barrels were made in 2, 4, 4½, 5 and 6 inch lengths. The guns were chambered for .22 LR, .32-20, .38 Special and .41 Colt. Calibers .32-20 and .41 Colt were discontinued in 1935.

The gun has a smooth but heavy double action trigger pull and a clean, sharp break when used in single-action mode. Fairly heavy for a .38 Special, recoil shouldn't bother anyone. I like the gun but haven't fired it enough to come to any conclusions. Now wearing a Tyler-T grip adapter, this one might spend most of its time bedside!