Thursday, December 31, 2009

Frustrations, irritations and disappointments...

It is almost midnight and the end of 2009. It has been a bit of a frustrating year for me. It seems that even though I'm retired there are a number of things competing for my time. The lack of time and the other higher priority requirements have taken me out of the hunting field just when I wanted to get back in a big way. I haven't been able to do very many of the things I've really wanted to do but I have made some substitutions. I've done some things which I enjoyed but wouldn't have done without prodding.

I was asked what I had accomplished this year and I came up with a list:
- Nana and I took widowed friend to see Lancaster, PA
- Nana and I went for weekend to Northern Neck and Nana unexpectedly went swimming which meant she got a new cell phone
- hung out with the grand kids but not nearly enough (it is never enough, yet)
- took care of Mom and did Mom's business
- found a home for each of Mom's seven cats ( consider this a real accomplishment that took 8 months)
- Nana and I went to Phoenix for model railroaders convention and rode some more railroads
- Nana and I went to Gatlinburg with most of Nana's siblings for Thanksgiving weekend
- got some nice guns and built a new ammo shelf which is already full
- Nana met JimT (while I took care of Mom at the emergency room)
- started project of digitizing all family photos
- I did get to meet a couple of forum members

Still, it was a frustrating year. It is a difficult thing to fight frustration. Frustration makes us rush through things, often when rushing is what we must most certainly avoid. Frustration can cause us to lash out, when ill spoken words are least desirable. I have tried to avoid that and hope I've been successful.

I hope that this next year, 2010, will be one in which I get to do some hunting and recreational shooting at a level that satisfies me.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Colt Burgess from Taylor's

Taylor's of Winchester, VA is supposed to release the Colt Burgess carbine. At least one has shown up on GunsAmerica but Taylor's still doesn't have a page on their web site. These guns are made by Uberti and while the accompanying photo of the prototype that made the rounds this past spring shows some great color in the color case hardening, the photo accompanying the sale on GunsAmerica  (the receiver shot shown below) was the more usual washed out tones that Uberti seems to produce now.  These rifles which seem to have a street price of about $1100-1200.  I've not seen any yet in other than .45 Colt.  Contrasted with an original which is asking $6000, perhaps more, this is one instance where a reproduction is a viable alternative for somebody, like me, who wishes to experience shooting this design.

While these initial guns are chambered for the CAS popular .45 Colt,  I've been told that there are some .44-40 (.44 WCF) guns.  I would have to have a .44-40 carbine.  Although I don't want to load for any more cartridges at this time, I can't see getting this gun in a cartridge for which it was never chambered.   I would get this gun for the same reason I got the 1876 SRC, because it let's me experience something I couldn't afford to experience otherwise.

The 1883 Colt-Burgess rifle was designed by Andrew Burgess.  He was one of the most prolific of gun designers of the time with 894 firearm patents.  Born January 16, 1837 in Dresden, NY, he was the grandson of a Hessian deserter!  Per family tradition the family farm in Dresden was next to Matthew Brady's farm.  That explains why Burgess was apprenticed to Brady in 1855.  Although his professional career began as an ambrotypist, he was awarded his first firearms patent in 1871 for an improvement to the Peabody rifle.  Burgess appears to have left the photographic trade in 1876.  His last patent was granted in 1906 and he died December 19, 1908.

Mr. Burgess first designed the Whitney lever-action, then the Marlin 1881 and the Colt 1883 rifles.  Per Ken Waters:
The Whitney-Burgess was the first repeating rifle to appear in .45-70 caliber - not the Marlin - preceding the 1881 Marlin by at least two (and possibly three) years.
Burgess established his own company in 1892. The Burgess Gun Company manufactured slide action shotguns and rifles operated by a unique pistol grip prior to their being purchased by Winchester repeating Arms Company in 1899.  Winchester commonly bought out competing firms when possible.  However, his gun designs were produced by many companies and the guns served throughout the world. 

In the 1883 catalog the carbines were listed for $25 and rifles for $27-29 depending on barrel configuration. Only 6, 403 Colt-Burgess guns were produced. The Model 1883 was discontinued in 1884 after just 16 months in production. The story I've heard for the longest time is that Winchester trotted out its Mason revolvers and threatened to get into the revolver business if Colt didn't get out of the levergun business. A "gentlemen's agreement" was reached and neither company produced the "other's" guns.

I'm glad for the chance to shoot one of these guns.

- Colt Burgess Innards
- Classic Rifles - The Colt Burgess by Ken Waters
- Burgess Shotguns
- Uberti's Burgess

- "Lever Action Magazine Rifles derived from the patents of Andrew Burgess” by Samuel L. Maxwell

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Working for Mom, blessings and Christmas

You might have noticed that there's been a paucity of shooting posts lately. I have loads of unfinished projects but I have done nothing to advance most of them. What have I been doing? Working for Mom.

You see, my mother has Alzheimer's. She has reached the point that we need to do more for her than I can do myself. I tried. For 2 years I spent the better part of every day caring for her needs. I fed her, cleaned her house, etc. Later, as she required more continuous watching, I hired some caregivers to help. She eventually got to the point that she needed a residential solution and we opted to move her to an assisted living facility rather than have a parade of caregivers at her home. This left her house to us to care for.

To do this requires an immense amount of work above and beyond the usual maintenance. The accumulation of several generations plus my parent's lifetime of check stubs, etc. and their pets, real estate and so forth. We began with selling the car she no longer drove. We found homes for all seven of her cats and began to clean the cat hair from every nook and cranny (largely unsuccessful until recently). We began shredding all of 60 years of check stubs, medical bills, receipts, and so forth. We put the majority of the stuff up for auction. The rest went or is going to family or charity. She had started giving stuff away but apparently forgot one day. She did not want us to go through this but life is what it is.

Mom used to be quite the adventurer.  Along the path of life she got her masters degree in library science, did title research for a surveyor, was a guide for a major cave tour, worked at an employment counseling firm, had her own business, was an active member of a camera club, a railroad club, an archaeological association (was secretary for years), made some of her own furniture, sewed, knit, wove, spun, hooked rugs, crocheted, did needlepoint, was a school librarian, had children at age 22 and age 40 and in-between, read thousands of books, made hundreds of friends, survived cancer, buried the other son and her husband and hundreds of things I probably don't know anything about.

Alzheimer's is a terrible disease. Most sufferers I know are otherwise fairly healthy. Mom is. But they can't remember. It starts with "little" things. Everyone is different. Often the memories of some most familiar things seems to leave first, but not always. Some fears can be traced back to not remembering how something works or even common understandings about how things work. E.g. Mom says the traffic on the road, over 200 yards away, is "scary". Apparently she thinks the vehicles might swerve her way or maybe she's just using the first word she remembers when she thinks of the concept of "fast" or "busy". As the disease progresses you know less and less of what is understood. One day you might ask about her fingernails and she'll hold the hands up and say they are fine and the next she might look at her shoes. So despite the care she gets in the place she now lives she needs me. I'll be there.

Nearly 55 years ago she did more than just give birth to me, she started me on a wonderful life. She read to me. She took me interesting places. She was positive about everything and most everybody we saw or met. She taught me how to behave with people. She let me try things on my own. She took me to church even though Dad didn't go. She expected me to understand things big as well as small.  Yet she never belittled Dad.  If they didn't agree about something I never knew it.  Mom never let me down.

I think about this quite often now.  Every time I visit the shrunken, diminished, tired, and somewhat confused version of my mother that now exists, I think about all the blessings I've had.  Education, health, experience, and support of my family despite my sometimes foolish choices.  She and dad helped me buy my first house.  They encouraged me through my divorce and helped me keep my children even while I was serving in the military.  They helped Nana (the last missus) to keep her job.  The material blessings that have accrued from these things are immeasurable.

Now we're at Christmas.  Last year may have been the last Christmas that Mom will spend the day with us.  Last year I went and got her in the morning and took her back at night.  This year it won't be possible.  She is fighting an infection in her foot, needs a tremendous amount of attention and tires too much over a day of activities.  Of course we will visit with her on Christmas.  We have decorated her room even though she doesn't know why those things are there.  We have given her gifts which she now needs help in knowing to open.  Yet, her presence in our lives is a blessing.

You see, she has never failed to be polite.  She says please and thank you, sir and ma'am, and she welcomes every visitor with a "I am so glad you're here."  She endures correction, lack of privacy, poking, prodding and, I am certain, some boredom, with grace.  Every once in a while she breaks through the barriers of the disease to exhibit the humor she always had.  She continues to make friends who reach out to us. For those willing to learn she continues to teach.

I know that I've learned a lot about what it is to get older.  To become weaker.  To become dependent on others.  I haven't learned these things just from my mother (or my late father before her) but from the people in the assisted living facility in which she now resides.  I was never a care-giver before this.  I was a problem solver.  I endured pain, endured prolonged effort or discomfort or separation from family.  While I looked out for my soldiers I didn't have to care for them.  I didn't have to divine their thoughts, I could just ask.  I didn't have to help them in the bathroom either!   This experience has taught me a lot about patience, my place in the world and about people. 

So, for this Christmas at least, she continues to be a blessing to us, a great gift in our lives.  We are thankful for this best of all gifts.  We hope that you have such gifts in your life and are wise enough to recognize them. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"How To" Convert a Wired Predator/Game Call to Wireless Control by OldNo7

Here is some info on how I made a wired Predator Call into a wireless unit. Gunny Reed thought this might help out some others on this website for predator or other game calls, so here it is...

Wherever you see (CAPS) below, those will be abbreviations I will use later -- just to save me some typing.

Keep in mind there are other ways to achieve the same results as I got, and this is only the way that I did it a few years back to a Johnny Stewart PreyMaster (PRMS) which typically operates using a 50 foot patch cord (PCRD) between the PRMS and speaker (SPKR). Gunny has that wireless PRMS unit now and it's still working fine for him today -- in fact, we should be seeing some "fur reports" from him real soon... (No pressure Jeremy!!!)

I take no credit at all for thinking this up -- only for getting it to work for me -- as I had first read "how to do this" over on the PredatorMasters forums. Basically all we're doing is replacing a 50 foot PCRD with a wireless set and a couple of other cables, as noted down below. Here's a very basic diagram to show what the before and after will be:

For the wireless unit, the two types most recommended a few years back were the Azden Pro or the Nady units. I used the "Azden WLX-PRO, VHF Wireless Lapel Microphone System" which I got from a web-based video store for about $75 a few years ago -- eBay shows these now for $99 and up. The Nady systems are $59 and up on fleaBay, and there are also many no-name/import sets for less money -- but like many things, you may want to spend more to get a good quality sound. I chose the Azden as it was highly rated for sound quality and volume, and I am sure that Gunny -- and his cats and lovely wife Dee -- would agree.

If you get a lower-cost unit, just make sure you get one where both the transmitter (TRNS) and receiver (RCVR) operate on 9v batteries, as you don't want to drag a 120 volt extension cord along with you or drain the power from your call... And be sure to get a set with both units -- as some sellers on evilBay are selling one or the other (hence the very low starting prices, so be careful on what you buy!) Here is a stock picture of the Azden wireless unit, taken from their website:

Note those don't look very "hunt friendly" at all, obviously not being designed or made for use in the field. So I solved that problem with the judicious application of two $0.69 green soap dishes from Wally-World. Hey, don't laugh, the covers fit on really well to protect the electronics and the size was just about perfect. Here are the before and after pictures of those boxes to hold the wireless TRNS and RCVR units:

Typically, my PRMS (or your game caller) will connect to the SPKR via a PCRD, with one male and one female 1/8" mono plug. The PRMS had a female 1/8" plug socket on top, and instead of connecting it to a 50' PCRD, instead I plugged in a male 1/8" 6 foot PCRD (male 1/8" plugs on both ends, Radio Shack #42-2420 for $3.99). The other male end plugs into the TRNS where the lapel microphone would normally plug in. That 6 foot PCRD acts as the TRNS's antenna by the way, so don't coil it up tightly when you use it. I would always wrap it loosely around the box for storage, but make sure you uncoil it for use in the field.

On the SPKR side, instead of connecting that to the female end of a long 50 foot PCRD, you simply plug the SPKR (via its own male 1/8" plug) into the female socket of the Azden/other RCVR, which would normally run the signal's output to a video camera or sound system. Note the Azden RCVR has a small telescoping antenna on it, so I just drilled a hole in the camo box which allowed it to be extended in the field. For carrying or storing in a pack, the antenna was put down -- I had also spray painted the antenna too (flat brown), and I could not detect any signal loss at all.

You will have to check what wireless units you get, but on my old setup, I would power on the TRNS first and then switch on the RCVR, otherwise the SPKR would give a little electronic "pop" if you had turned on the RCVR first. (Interestingly, my new FoxPro Spitfire does the same thing if the speaker switch is on when it's powered up, so I will power the unit up and then turn on the external speaker switch.) Not sure if that "pop" does any damage to the speaker or not, but I tend to avoid making any unnatural sounds when I hunt for predators, if I can help it.

You may also have to check on the volume control of your "new" wireless setup. When the PRMS was wired, there were volume up & down buttons on its remote which worked well and pretty fast. Once I first went wireless, those buttons became less responsive -- oops -- which was not good at all. But an easy solution was to insert an in-line rotary-button volume control between the sound unit and 6 foot PCRD to the wireless TRNS. Back then, Radio Shack sold a nice 12" patch cord with the rotary in-line volume control -- allowing for very fast volume changes, which easily simulated a "mute" (which is handy to have on a predator/game call). I secured that to the side of the PRMS with black electrical tape, and unless Gunny has moved it, it's still there today, easy accessed by his thumb. The problem today is "The Shack" gave in to the younger iPod generation, so instead of a compact 12" cable, they now only offer a 4 foot cable with volume control, ##42-136 for $9.99. That's longer than you may need, and check the plugs on the end (male 1/8" and female 1/8" plugs are needed in the setup I describe above), but it should still work OK for you.

Once the TRNS and RCVR are connected as noted, your old wired game caller should now be ready for wireless operation!


I've read this over a couple of times now, and other than the details for operation of your game call and the insertion of batteries (for whatever wireless set you get), that's about all I think you need to know on how to make your wired predator/game call into a wireless unit. For those with a wired call now, this gets you into a wireless unit for <$100 if you shop smart and select the Nady unit, or find a top-of-the-line Azden Pro for a really good price.

Just for proof that is does work, check out this photo.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Herter's is now distributed by Cabela's

Herter's is now distributed by Cabela's.
Thank you for your interest in Herter's. Recently, we made the decision to have another company handle the distribution of Herter's products. Naturally, we wanted to ensure that our customers would still be treated to the best service possible. With that in mind, we are pleased to tell you that the exclusive distributor of Herter's products is one of the most trusted names in the outdoor industry - Cabela's. Call anytime 24/7 1-800-237-4444 (U.S. and Canada)1-308-234-5555 (All Other Countries)

Herter's was an importer, distributor, and retailer headquartered in Waseca, MN from early 1960s - 1979. Herters also had additional retail stores scattered throughout the upper Midwest.

Herters subcontracted various manufacturers (mostly European) to fabricate Powermag revolvers, U-9/J-9 rifles, and shotguns which were mostly patterned after more famous original models. Most of these copies were designed to undersell the competition at the time and while quality in most cases was quite good, consumer sales were not strong enough to continue production. While many Herters models are relatively rare, collectibility to date has been minimal. Herters model values are usually under the original trademarks from which they were derived and to date have been based more on the shooting utility than the collector potential.

The famous Herter's catalog was a young boy's dream catalog, especially prior to the GCA 1968, with it's many gun listings and the over-the-top product copy written by George Herter.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Thermite always interested me. One unit had a class where we got to destroy radio equipment, fixed installation, with thermite grenades and it was cool to see a radio rack reduced to a pool of certainly inoperable and much molten metals.

Thermite is a pyrotechnic composition of a metal powder and a metal oxide, which produces an aluminothermic reaction known as a thermite reaction. It is not explosive, but can create short bursts of extremely high temperatures focused on a very small area for a short period of time.

Thermites can be a diverse class of compositions. The fuels are often aluminium, magnesium, calcium, titanium, zinc, silicon, and boron. The oxidizers can be boron oxide, silicon oxide, chromium oxide, manganese oxide, iron oxide, iron oxide, copper oxide, and lead oxide.

The most common thermite is aluminium-iron oxide. Ignition of a thermite reaction normally requires only a simple child's sparkler or easily obtainable magnesium ribbon, but may require persistent efforts, as ignition can be unreliable and unpredictable. Thermite reactions require very high temperatures for initiation.

Thermite hand grenades and charges are typically used by armed forces in both an anti-materiel role and in the partial destruction of equipment, the latter being common when time is not available for safer or more thorough methods. Because standard iron-thermite is difficult to ignite, burns with practically no flame and has a small radius of action, standard thermite is rarely used on its own as an incendiary composition. It is more usually employed with other ingredients added to enhance its incendiary effects. Thermate-TH3 is a mixture of thermite and pyrotechnic additives which have been found to be superior to standard thermite for incendiary purposes. Its composition by weight is generally 68.7% thermite, 29.0% barium nitrate, 2.0% sulfur and 0.3% binder (such as PBAN). The addition of barium nitrate to thermite increases its thermal effect, produces a larger flame, and significantly reduces the ignition temperature. Although the primary purpose of Thermate-TH3 by the armed forces is as an incendiary anti-materiel weapon, it also has uses in welding metal components.

A classic military use for thermite is disabling artillery pieces, and has been used commonly for this purpose since the Second World War. Thermite can permanently disable artillery pieces without the use of explosive charges and therefore can be used when silence is necessary to an operation. There are several ways to do this. By far the most destructive method is to weld the weapon shut by inserting one or more armed thermite grenades into the breech and then quickly closing it. This makes the weapon impossible to load. An alternative method is to insert an armed thermite grenade down the muzzle of the artillery piece, fouling the barrel. This makes the piece very dangerous to fire. Yet another method is to use thermite to weld the traversing and elevation mechanism of the weapon, making it impossible to aim properly.

Thermite was also used in both German and Allied incendiary bombs during World War II. Incendiary bombs usually consisted of dozens of thin thermite-filled canisters (bomblets) ignited by a magnesium fuse. Incendiary bombs destroyed entire cities due to the raging fires that resulted from their use. Cities that primarily consisted of wooden buildings were especially susceptible. These incendiary bombs were utilized primarily during night time air raids. Bomb sights could not be used at night, creating the need to use munitions that could destroy targets without the need for precision placement.

One should take the following with a grain of salt (not literally). Provided for entertainment purposes only.
Obtaining the Aluminum
1) Go to a machine shop. They will usually give you aluminum powder for sweeping the floor or something.
2) Break open an Etch-A-Sketch, the stuff inside is pure aluminum powder.
3) Go to a paint store, they usually have powdered aluminum that people use to mix into paints to give it pigment.
4) Get a grinder, and something made of aluminum. Good ideas are soda cans, bike frames, and lacrosse sticks. Start grinding the aluminum and collect the sparks in a container.
5) Search eBay, they sell it for pretty cheap.

Obtaining the Iron Oxide (Rust)
1) Take some steel wool then put it in a jar and then cover it wool with water. Use a magnet to make sure the steel wool doesn't float during the reaction process. Next, put in 5 tablespoons of regular bleach into the water and 5 tablespoons of regular vinegar. Wait a day or so and then filter the brown paste with a coffee filter. Leave it out to dry overnight.
2) Go to a paint store, they usually have powdered iron oxide that people use to mix into paints to give it pigment.
3) Connect wires to a direct current (9-volt battery), strip both ends and put them into a saltwater solution. Let them sit for five minutes. One of them will start bubbling more than the other. This is the POSITIVE(+) wire. Put a nail tied to the positive wire into the jar. Now put the negative wire in the other end. Now let it sit overnight and in the morning scrape the rust off of the nail & repeat until you have a bunch of rust on the bottom of the glass. Let it dry out, and crush it into a powder.
4) Search eBay, they sell it for pretty cheap.

Mixing the Stuff
Thermite is 8 grams of iron oxide to 3 grams of aluminum. The formula is by weight but because aluminum is very light, it will appear to be approximately a 50-50 mix. Put them together in a container and mix them until it is an even mixture. If you want, mix four parts thermite with one part clay or Play-Doh and knead thoroughly for moldable thermite.

Thermite needs a lot of heat to light, that means magnesium. Find some magnesium ribbon, or a sparkler that contains magnesium and put it into a pile of thermite. Light it with a torch, and run!

I'm gonna repeat myself. You and you alone are responsible for your use of this information. I'm not responsible for anything stupid that you or your children do.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pig Cull

Pig culling operation in Texas using a helicopter. Wild pigs are becoming a real problem and some game managers believe that most states will have populations of wild pigs by 2015 according to one account I read. I thought the video was interesting.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Guns & Ammo Mag on Uberti's .50-95 1876 Rifle

I have rushed this to "print". You might say this article is currently in draft form. While I want to put up the article, time limits require me to return to the subject later.

I never expected to write about this. I was in the grocery yesterday and stopped by the magazine rack to see what was what and after noticing the general dearth of magazines saw that Guns and Ammo magazine finally had enough articles to warrant buying a copy. This magazine has really declined in volume and quality over the past few years and is now owned by the same people that own Shooting Times magazine.

One of those articles that attracted me enough was the article, Uberti's 'Big .50'. While I didn't read it in the store, it seemed to have a lot of column space and some good photos. Unfortunately, in reading I found myself very disappointed and a bit worried for those who might read the article and misinterpret it. I feel there are enough mis-steps in the article to warrant concern. The article is written by Ken Kempa. I don't know Mr. Kempa and I can't say that I've ever read anything else he has written. None of my comments or my observations could possibly be colored by a prejudice for or against Mr. Kempa.

Before I begin, I must point out that I don't have a .50-95 but do have the Chaparral NWMP SRC in .45-75 WCF. I feel that what I've learned in studying my rifle and loading for my rifle is applicable to the "Uberti 'Big .50'". I'd also like to point out that there are others with questions about this article.

I had to note that Mr. Kempa starts the article thusly,
I am a modern shooter and hunter, hooked on scope, stainless actions and barrels, and synthetic stocks. Having used black-powder muzzle-loaders on and off over the past 35 years, I would rather be shooting smokeless cartridges.
That pretty much lets us know just what experience Mr. Kempa brings to the table in loading BP cartridges or in dealing with rifles designed in this period.

One of the first errors he makes is that, as he says,
... many sources I checked with indicated that loads up to 29,000 psi would be a reasonable upper limit.

I don't believe this is true. Based on what I've read and the discussions I've had with other shooters the true upper limit is 20-22,000 PSI for this cartridge. In Lyman's Reloading Handbook, Brian Pearce does say that he thinks that the reproduction rifles are capable of handling 28,000 PSI loads but this isn't 29,000 PSI. Mr. Pearce's is the only such opinion I've read. So, I have to wonder if the "29,000" is a typo or editing error. This is particularly important for the Winchester toggle-link action as they aren't particularly strong. However, Mr. Kempa also says that he doesn't exceed 20,000 or 26,000 PSI according to QuickLOAD in any of his loads. Which loads had which calculated pressure the article doesn't say. I wish this hadn't been omitted.

If I may repeat myself, produced from 1876 until 1886 approximately 63,871 1876s of all types were built. The last 1876 rifle left the factory in 1897 and was likely made up of various unused parts. Most popular among collectors (and bringing the highest prices) are the SRCs and the Express rifles. Some of this is due to the relative rarity of the two types. E.g. only 1600 SRCs were produced for the NWMP and at one point they reported only 970 some were functional! The English Express rifles (those in .50-95 often referred to as "cat guns") are even more rare.

Longer (and heavier) than the 1873 but still using the same basic action design, the 1876 (called the Centennial because it was introduced in the 100th year of the USofA) couldn't handle the .45-70 Government cartridge. Winchester's fix was to use a fatter, bottle-neck cartridge of .45 caliber using a lighter bullet to nearly match the .45-70-405 cartridge's terminal ballistics. This it did. Winchester later produced the 1876 also chambered for 3 other cartridges as shown. One of those cartridges is the .50-95 WCF.

According to Cartridges of the World, the .50-95 is essentially and improved repeating rifle version of the .50-70 Government cartridge which was popular with buffalo hunters at the time of introduction. It is a necked up version of the .45-75 WCF. Built on the Express Rifle concept of using lighter bullets at higher velocities to flatten trajectories, the .50-95 had a degree of popularity with hunters after thin-skinned dangerous game such as leopards and tigers. One particular configuration of the rifle with shotgun butt, button mag and 22-24" round barrel in .50-95 is even known as the "cat" rifle.

The .50-95 was loaded with bullets of approximately the same weight as the .45-75 WCF, i.e. 300-350 gr., in deference to the action strength. Perhaps this is the place to point out that Mr. Kempa uses jacketed bullets, specifically the Barnes .510" 300 and 450 gr. Originals for his loads. In one case the jacketed bullet will increase pressures and the 450 is not only jacketed but a heavy bullet for this cartridge. The jacketed bullets are not a problem in-so-far as the barrel steel is concerned. I wouldn't want to ever use jacketed bullets in an original barrel as they are much softer and wear could become a problem.

As to lead bullets, only those 350 gr. bullets (actually weighed at 339 gr.) as loaded in the Ten-X ammunition Mr. Kempa acquired for the test were used. While he states,
No leading ever appeared when shooting 60 rounds of Ten-X's ammo.
the accompanying photo clearly shows a lead ring at the muzzle and lead in the rifling grooves at the muzzle. I am thus lead (pun intended) to believe that Mr. Kempa doesn't shoot cast bullets enough to recognize leading when he sees it.

Of course the .50-95 was originally loaded with black-powder but the cartridge was provided with smokeless powder loads as the world transitioned from black-powder use in the early 1900s. I've written my views on loading smokeless powder in this action. Suffice to say that I think smokeless is ok, but you can't exceed pressures for which the action was designed. I don't subscribe to the pressure wave form concerns some have. Mr. Kempa uses AA5744, AA2015, H4895, IMR4227, IMR4198, IMR3031 and Vit N133.

Even the rather conservative Mike Venturino uses AA5744. IMR4198 has long been used at 40% of the BP charge to load cartridges originally loaded with black-powder. However, once again, Mr. Kempa doesn't say which loads produced what pressures. This is vitally important. Some correspondents have pointed out that one or two of the loads might actually approach 40,000 psi.

One of the things that make me wonder at Mr. Kempa's reasoning in loading is his constant comparison with his .50 Alaskan rifle. The wording used makes me think that he doesn't realize that this .50 isn't like his 50 just because it is a .50 and that he is making no allowances for the rifle action even though he says he is. The loads used reinforce my unease.

He is also testing all these loads for accuracy at 50 yards. A small point, but I have to wonder why. These rifles in other chamberings have been successfully used on courses of fire including targets at 300+ yards.

His one photo caption says,
Big gun, big game: Suitable quarry for a .50-95 Model 1876 lever action would include species up to the American bison in size.
I wouldn't use the low sectional density bullets of the .50-95 on bison. These bullets are the same weight or lighter than those used in the .45-75 which also uses light for caliber bullets but which have better sectional density in .458" caliber. Penetration is what one needs on bison and I don't think you'd get what you need from a 300 gr. .50 caliber bullet.

I find how he talks about recoil to be curious, too.
Due to the weight of the rifle, recoil wasn't an issue at all. I would rate the top loads as being comparable to slug loads in a 12 gauge; all other lesser loads wouldn't give most shooters anything to worry about.
I find it hard to believe that he equates these loads from a 10½ pound rifle as the equivalent of 12 ga. slug loads fired from your typical 7-7½ lb. 12 ga. shotgun. Perhaps he's thinking perceived recoil as he's somewhat abused by the crescent buttplate.

I'm going to clip this article but for once it won't be for the information I can glean from it but for use as a necessary reference when I'm questioned about it and need to refute some point or another.

That said, if a .44 Magnum 1873 "reproduction"/copy is being produced, I'm thinking the author is thinking the 1876 will handle these pressures just fine.  I think that's a leap of faith but what do I know.  

It is my opinion that the 1876 is the equal of the Trapdoor in handling pressure. That said, SAAMI standard for the .45-70 is 28K PSI/CUP (same in this one cartridge) but the industry loads to about 18K PSI. Since long ago tests showed that the bottle-necked cartridges produce about 2K PSI more than the otherwise same straight case we have THE reason and explanation the ORIGINAL developers of the 1876 and .45-75 WCF reduced bullet weight. BUT, we now have one company making a .44 Rem mag on the basic toggle-link action. What does this tell us? Not much.

There are smokeless powders with which we have long-term experience in use as replacements (not substitutes) for smokeless. IMR & H 4198, AA5744, IMR SR4759, and IMR 3031. We also know that Winchester produced smokeless powder loads for most every BP cartridge EXCEPT the .45-75. However, Winchester's experience would seem to support the idea that such loads can be safe while providing identical external and terminal ballistic performance. This is important because at any time any one of us may find ourselves unable to acquire BP for any number of reasons. Railing against the use of other than BP is useless. Those who have the rifles will be trying to shoot them. Better to have safe data available than not. I think you agree with that.

The oft repeated rule on use of IMR 4198 seems to be valid. Old tests in other cartridges consistently show that the pressure curve as well as the spike using charges based on this formula are not as severe as with BP. I intend to experiment with that, finally, but I sure wish my "insider" could confirm the data!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Notes from the gun shop...

I thought I might post some of the neat (at least to me things) that come into our shop that might also interest those of you on this board. While I work there I make nothing on the sale.

2 ea S&W M49s, nickel. One has some aftermarket stocks. Both have boxes but they are the wrong boxes. I didn't see any flaking.

Remington 722 in .257 Roberts. It has been restocked with a Bishop or Fajen monte-carlo. Has Weaver two-piece base. No rear sight but the front sight is still there.

1948 (F serial prefix) Marlin 336 with Williams FP. Has had era correct sling swivels installed. .30-30. I did look at the bore on this one and it is good.

Contact Chris at Nuckols Gun Works, 540-886-3061

It seems to me that primers and some powders are more available than they have been. We're getting some supplies. However, producers have to get around to producing some high demand items and that might take some time. Different manufacturers have different scheduling on certain products and you might have to accept a different brand if you must have, say, .380 ACP ammo now. .25 Auto and .380 ACP seems to be hardest to get in our area. However, hunting rifle ammunition is pretty much unavailable to us as it has already been spoken for.

Pressure has really eased on the so-called black rifles. S&W seems to have product out there (but they are having some problems of their own). SIG and Ruger both had promotions. You can still get in on the Ruger/Carhartt promotion.

Some dealers might not have gotten the word. We had one employee of another shop bring his father to us to buy a gun because we beat his employer's price, with employee discount.

We are starting to see more of the higher quality guns being brought in for sale as the owners decide they are willing to give them up for Christmas or gotta-eat cash. A year ago NOBODY seemed to be selling anything but junk. Unfortunately, there are a lot of used guns, particularly shotguns, in our racks. Handguns are a pretty sure bet to sell for a relatively good price. Hit it on the right day and even if you can't sell to the boss man one of the employees might be willing to buy at much closer to your price. Remember, dealers have to make a profit to stay in business and pay THEIR bills.

That said we are seeing a run up in Christmas purchases. Some lucky people are getting some good guns for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Insure Those Firearms

Homeowners policies usually have special limits on firearms that are $2000 to $2500 total value. That might just be one or two collectible guns!

I suggest that you photograph them, record the serials, and note the replacement cost. Then purchase a policy extension ("rider") for that amount. One might factor in an additional 20% for appreciation. Optics and accessories normally do not count as firearms usually covered under the standard policy. The NRA offers both Armscare Plus (application here) and a Gun Collectors insurance.
This insurance covers your firearms for their rarity, historical value or artistic merit. Accessories include scopes, rings, mounts, slings and sling swivels, which are attached to the insured firearm. Items covered under this plan cannot be fired or discharged and used only for exhibition, collection and/or display purposes. This specialty policy insures against direct physical loss or damage to your gun collection including theft from a vehicle that resulted from breaking and entering a locked vehicle or locked portion of a vehicle.
One can apply for the Gun Collectors insurance here.

However, you don't need to go through the NRA for insurance. Joe Reikers of recommends Sportsman's Insurance Agency in Ormond Beach, Florida.

I now have a record of all firearms that pass through my hands (ownership) and take photos of them as well. I'm going to redo all my photos very soon. I suggest this anyway, as I'd be very upset if I were to die and Nana were to be snookered by some "good samaritan" buyer.

Some of you have written asking for an inventory software to help you with this task for firearms and other valuables.  Clint Bryant found a free inventory program that State Farm offers (I am NOT a spokesperson for State Farm Insurance and am NOT compensated by them for this mention).  They also give advice on how to do the inventory and document the values. 

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

We had an interesting Thanksgiving weekend.  Nana had been planning a family get-together for quite a long time.  The seed had been sown at our niece's wedding back in April.  Everyone was on board except for the youngest sister who called in October to let us know that she wouldn't be able to come due to her finances.  We understand. After a lot of preparation, the day to depart arrived.

On Wednesday morning We got up early enough to leave in time to make lunch time in Pigeon Forge at the Old Mill Restaurant.  Unfortunately, we and, more importantly, two sisters had a rendezvous on I-81 at mile marker 168. 

As we were driving south on I-81 Nana was napping.  I was looking ahead at the next vehicle, a full-sized extended cab pick-up when it suddenly seemed to change lanes and then turn sharply back into and across the right lane, slam into the guard rail and go airborne flipping 360 degrees in two planes to land on top of the guard rail facing back into traffic.  In that flip we could see the driver come out of the truck.  We stopped to assist and I ran back to the vehicle as Nana dialed for help.  In just seconds (it seemed) many more motorists including a nurse and 2 EMTs stopped to render assistance as they "happened" to pass by at that critical time (just what are the odds that this would happen?).  Within 40 minutes the driver, a young lady of about 21 years, was on her way to a hospital.   I don't know what other injuries she may have had but she had a wicked scalp cut that bled for a bit.  We all had checked and there were no other apparent injuries.  When I got to her she was lying face down on the ground with her arms beside her as if she'd been laid there.  She was just 2-3 feet from guardrail (and parallel to it) and on the flattest bit between the guardrail and the bank.  It seemed to us that she had come out of/through her seatbelt but we can't be certain.  I think it was miraculous that her sister/passenger had no apparent injuries.  I'm sure you'll read into this what you will but I think something else was at work here. I'm not shown in the photos because I was in Trooper Price's vehicle giving my witness statement when the victim was evacuated.

I would like to mention that all the fire, rescue and state police who responded were extremely effective and professional.  They're performance was really commendable.  Addendum: Unfortunately, I have discovered that the young lady died of her injuries. Our prayers go out to the family and friends of this young lady.
Victim dies of injuries from Nov. 25 wreck

A woman seriously injured in a wreck in Botetourt County last month has died, according to Virginia State Police.

Amy E. Langford, 21, of Winchester died Wednesday at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital of injuries she suffered in the Nov. 25 wreck, said state police 1st Sgt. John Noel.

Langford was driving a 2007 Chevrolet Silverado south on Interstate 81 when she ran off the left side of the road near mile marker 168, Noel said. She overcorrected and drove across the road, hitting a guardrail and rolling the pickup truck.

Langford was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the truck, Noel said. He did not know what caused her to lose control of the vehicle.

A family member was in the truck with Langford, but Noel said he did not know whether that person was injured.
and her obituary...
Amy Elizabeth Langford, a resident of Winchester, VA and formerly of Dale-ville, AL passed away on Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital in Roanoke, VA from injuries sustained in an automobile accident en route to the Alabama/Auburn football game. She was 21. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 7, 2009 in the Sunset Funeral Home Chapel with Dr. Roy Stewart officiating. Burial will follow in Sunset Memorial Park with Robert Byrd directing. The family will receive friends from 1-2 p.m. on Monday at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers the family requests that memorial contributions be made to the National Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City, Nebraska, 68410. Robert Byrd of Sunset Funeral Home (334) 983-6604, is in charge of arrangements. Please visit Sign the guest book at
Amy's FindAGrave Memorial

We continued on to Pigeon Forge met my sister and brother in law and their spouses and had a wonderful lunch.  We then checked into our cabin at Sherwood Forest and made plans for the rest of the week.  On Thanksgiving (and I gave thanks believe me!) we had dinner at the Old Mill again.  A wonderful spread of turkey, ham, prime-rib, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn fritters, corn chowder, and pumpkin pie was the first course to the day.  Then the ladies went to the craft show and the guys went on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.  It is hard to see here but you might just make out the 8-point buck we saw as he was clearly on the trail of a lady deer (click on the pic to enlarge).  This experience emphasized my need for a better camera.  That evening we took the tour of the Gatlinburg Christmas lights.  We capped off the night by playing Apples to Apples until 2 in the morning.  That is some wild living.

On Black Friday the ladies went shopping at the malls.  For details you would have to ask them as the men went to Bass Pro Shop, Smoky Mountain Knife Works, and Golf and Guns before returning to the cabin for a well deserved snack and to watch the Alabama/Auburn game.  That night the ladies returned to join us for dinner and a show at the Smith Family Theater.  The food is delicious and plentiful.  The show was entertaining and enjoyable.  We all had a good time. 

On Saturday we went to the Apple Barn for breakfast.  As always the food was delicious (are you seeing a pattern here?).  Then the ladies left to do some more shopping.  Again the details are sketchy but I did have more stuff to put in the car than when we left home.  The men went to Cades Cove.  We saw maybe 100 or more turkey (LARGE birds) and many deer in many flocks and groups.  Here are just two does who crossed the road in front of us.  We stopped at the Cades Cove Visitor Center and walked around a bit as well.  We then went back to the cabin to watch some more football before going out to, you guessed it, eat dinner.  That night we ate at the Wood Grill.  I am afraid that by this time we were plumb full and couldn't do a buffet justice.  However, we were well fueled to return to the cabin and play Apples to Apples until bedtime.

Today was packing and leaving.  Traffic was so bad on I-81 that we had to leave the interstate in Lexington and drive US-11 the rest of the way home.  As it was, there were several accidents and the normally 6-hour drive took almost 8-hours.  It was great to see the family although we wished Nana's other sister could have come.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

No Hunting

I haven't been hunting and am out of the loop.  I'll let you in on why on Sunday.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Picking a Gunsmith

I have tried and tried to figure out how to start this post. It is an important subject. How, exactly, does one pick a gunsmith? What do you look for in a good gunsmith? What should you avoid? What should you tolerate in what might essentially be an artist who's conserving the aesthetics of your gun in trying to make it the best it might be? What to do and what not to do when giving your valuable guns to a gunsmith is something a lot of people don't consider. It sometimes is simply astonishing how little thought is put into who works on some rather valuable guns.

Lets face it folks, not all gunsmiths are what they seem. I know one guy who was an expert. He knew all about guns, the history, the loads used, etc. but he couldn't use a screwdriver without bunging up a screw head. Some are business savvy and some don't care, they only do the job because they love it or some aspect of guns. Others are artists and have the souls, and internal clocks, of artists. Some are talkers and some are more than a bit taciturn. Some are machinsts/metal workers of superb skill without an artistic bone in their bodies.

A little due diligence is called for so that one can avoid becoming part of a horror story. It probably isn't the wisest thing to choose as your gunsmith somebody whose sole qualification to you is a listing in a phone book. If he has a sideline, that's not a good sign as really good smiths are swamped with work and consequently lack time for sidelines requiring personal attention. It also isn't the best of ideas to dump a bunch of guns and/or work on somebody with whom you've had no experience or, to leave that work with them once you know they've messed something up.

Gunsmithing is at the same time a relatively simple and very difficult job. Most guns have not nearly as many parts as a modern internal combustion engine and they are fairly similar to one another in that the parts must accomplish certain tasks. However, there is an incredible diversity in design and each and every one of those designs must be taken apart differently as well reassembled with a trick or two to keep from marring the finish. The relationship of those parts to failures and the trouble-shooting from a customer's description requires a bit of experience. A good gunsmith can balance the need for rapidity of repair with the need for precision and care of the customer's firearm.

So I does one pick a gunsmith for a particular task?
- Ask around. Ask friends, fellow shooters, and at gunshops (who might have a repair jockey in the back room). Try to choose somebody who has consistently had a good reputation, not just a couple of years ago, but recently.
- Look around. Look at the shop, look at the work. Look at how he works and how he cares for the firearms entrusted to him. Look at whether or not screw holes are square, burred, etc. Look at the fit and finish.
- Look at OTHER people's work, old work, new work, all work. Get a feel for what good work really is. Try it if at all possible. Read and understand what is possible and what is necessary. Know how to identify faults and describe them to a professional. In other words, learn the jargon.

You might do all the right things and still get a smith who has a bad day while working on your gun. A legitimate businessperson (in any business) will make good on the loss, a thief will not. There's nothing wrong with giving a good smith who had a bad day another chance IF he made good. It is pure stupidity to do otherwise.

I'm seeing a lot of specialist work nowadays. It seems that many shops have a "repair jockey". To me (and I must emphasize that this is my opinion) a "repair jockey" is a person who has some mechanical skill, an ability to understand the schematics and books on the subject, the necessary tools & knowledge to use them, and the nerve to do so. He isn't necessarily a gunsmith, he probably has limitations in that he doesn't do bluing, stock repair/checkering/refinishing, soldering, welding, brazing, etc. He likely farms out these jobs. In our area we have several people who specialize in one of these tasks. One guy does hot dip bluing (but I don't think he does the polishing), another will drill and tap holes, another will rechamber a barrel, one will repair and checker stocks, one only does checkering, and so forth. It seems to me that most communities are served by this level of gun repair.

There are many, very skilled, gunsmiths out there who can do it all. Some, maybe most, have specialized to some degree. For example, Steve Young of Steve's Gunz in Port Arthur, Texas has made a name for himself in the cowboy action shooting fraternity doing work on the guns used in that game, most notably to me, on the Winchester Model 1892 and clones. Many have heard of Doug Turnbull but Mike Hunter of Hunter Restorations does work that's fully as good.

Many people have taken to doing much of the minor work themselves. With understanding of what's required and with the proper tools, even rather involved tasks can be successfully done by the DIYer. I would only caution you to have the necessary references and tools at hand and a complete understanding of what you are going to do before jumping in. You'll be much happier in the long run if you take a bit of time to prepare for the job.

To summarize, you can get what you want done but you have to use due diligence in selecting the craftsman to do what you need done. If you cut corners you shouldn't be surprised if the person you select to do the work cuts corners, too.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

While the Cains might be living the good life...

...the rest of us have to deal with "civilization". Here's some cogent words on how to do just that.

Refreshing and Simple

Just thought you might like to take a peak at a couple of lives well lived.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Powder Rules

There are some "rules" for using certain powders in certain roles. Just trying to keep track in one location... Remember, you and you alone are responsible for your reloading and the results therefrom. I can't be there to do it for you and won't be responsible for your mistakes.

For Trail Boss: take a case, measure where the bullet base would be in the case, fill to that point, dump and weigh, and use 75% of the weight of Trail Boss powder. A good crimp and good neck tension is a must.

For Blue Dot: take a case, measure where the bullet base would be in the case, fill to that point, dump and weigh, and use 30-40% of the weight of powder.

For IMR 4918 use in Black Powder rifle rounds take 40% of the BP charge by weight.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gun trading terms...

I got this from JNYork but I think it has been floating around for a while. Pretty accurate...

Just in case you were not sure what some of these terms really meant:

Mint - the previous owner thought that Scope mouthwash was the perfect bore cleaner.

Patina - a red dust-like substance that forms on ferrous metals in the presence of oxygen.

NIB - ( New In Box ) translation: “this weapon was the ‘hangar queen’ of the gun shop, thank God we kept the box”. The only one who might want this one is a hitman because it sure has thousands of fingerprints on it.

Stock has the usual dings - yeah, and face of the moon has the usual dings too.

Low serial number - if you advertised a car with this as the mileage and referred to it as “low” the authorities would be after you.

85% bluing remains - translation: “Only 15% of this rifle is not covered with wood so what I can’t see I figure is okay”.

Rifling is pronounced - pronounced DOA.
Some pitting - Chubby boy Michael Moore’s face has less pitting after a 40 year diet of pizza and Ho-ho’s

All matching - translation: “I’ve been up nights with the electro-pencil”

Not import marked - Support firearms smuggling.

Should clean up fine - translation: “I have no idea what’s under all this crud. I could be selling you a gun-shaped lump of dirt for all I know.”

All original - original if the Japanese during WWII mounted Weaver scopes and left the mounting holes, that is.

Bore shows some frosting - Betty Crocker doesn’t have this much frosting.

All correct - yup, it’s got a trigger and a stock and a barrel and sights, yeah, it’s all there.

NRA Good - Handgun Control Inc. bad.

Rare - nobody wanted these when they were first offered as surplus either so most of them are now Miatas.

Unusual - this firearm euphemism is the equivalent of a girl saying her girlfriend, who she wants you to date, has “a good personality”.

The wood has a warm hue - because it was in a fire.

Custom - translation: “I took a perfectly good rifle that a collector would give his left cajone for, threw away the stock with the great cartouches on it, tore off the sights with vice grips, replaced them with a scope I got at Kmart, sanded off bluing that had lasted twice as long as I will and slapped on some cold blue that looks like toilet bowl water. All this cost me three times what a comparable new rifle would but I’ve got the satisfaction of knowing that I ‘made something’”.

Very clean - translation: “not a speck of oil has touched this gun since I’ve owned it”.

Re-arsenaled - if this was a car, the word would be “recalled”.

Supplies of these are getting low - translation: “We are buried in these pigs. If I don’t get rid of them the boss is going to fire me for buying them in the first place. Never negotiate a deal in
Eastern Europe when they are supplying the vodka”.

Ammunition for these is plentiful and cheap - not to mention old and corrosive and dangerous.
Great for plinking - these things couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn from the inside. Why do you think they lost the war?

Locks up solid - this gun is rusted shut.

War Trophy - translation: “My grandfather spent the entire war guarding a pier in the U.S. and confiscated this off a returning soldier who was actually in combat”.

Still in cosmoline - translation: “Cosmoline hides a plethora of things that I’d rather not tell you about”.

One of a kind - translation: “I bubba’d this”.

European craftsmanship - built just like a Yugo.

Original markings - someone carved their initials in the stock.

Bore is shiny - none of that nasty rifling remains to spoil the smoothness of this bore.

Stock has been lightly sanded - apparently “lightly” is redundant when used with “sanded” in the
world of firearms auctions. You never see the term “sanded” without “lightly” preceding it. You’d never guess that anybody involved in firearms simply “sanded” or, God forbid, “sanded well”.
I’m not an expert on these - translation: “Now that I’ve made this disclaimer, I’m free to tell you whatever wild baloney I think will get you to buy this. If you find out it’s not true well hey, I told you I was no expert”.

Hairline crack, might be repairable - by this description it has a equal chance of not being repairable.

I don’t have any pictures - translation: “If you are stupid enough to buy a firearm without even seeing pictures of it, check out my auction of magic beans”.

Arsenal Wrapped - If you are the kind of person who buys cans in the supermarket without labels on them, this baby’s for you!

Sporter - translation: “I REALLY bubba’d this one”.

Arsenal New - the arsenal where these were made closed 99 years ago. This must be some kind of Bill Clintonesque definition of “new”.

Unissued - even the soldiers of the third-world country they came from refused to carry them.

Laminated stock - the ex-Eastern bloc factory that was making these burnt all the real stocks to keep from freezing so these were made out of pressed floor sweepings and rat droppings. Don’t fire this one if the stock’s ever gotten wet.

A good shooter - these come personally recommended by BOTH Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder for their accuracy.

Vintage - so much rust that the date is obscured.

With accessories - translation: “The exporter told us if we wanted the deal on the rifles we had to take all this other stuff off his hands”.

Collectable - what’s being offered has the same intrinsic value as Elvis memorabilia from the Franklin Mint.

Ammunition will soon be available - buy this if you want a wall hanger.

Don’t let this one get away! - translation: “Please, please buy this, they’re gonna break my thumbs”.

An early example - it took them a while to get this model right. This one was made before that.

I’ve never seen another one like this - translation: “Someone bubba’d it before I got it”.

California Legal - this is not a weapon. It has been rendered so it doesn’t even look threatening. It is no more lethal than Michael Moore’s underwear. Okay, so his underwear is lethal. Alright, it’s a WMD.

Pride of the French Officers Corps - this is why people with no historical background should not be in the milsurp business.

Tanker model - this rifle was bubba’d by someone cutting several inches off the front of it.

Rare wire wrapped version - the stock is being held together by wire.

NAZI markings intact - the previous owner of this weapon was a skinhead living in a trailer in Idaho who carved sayings peculiar to his philosophy in the stock.

Russian Mummy Wrap - last time I checked, Russia didn’t have any pyramids. This seller is obviously trying to say that the weapon is held together by Soviet-era duct tape.

Minor scratches - translation: “Zeigfried’s partner Roy has less scratches on him”.

Has a strong action - translation: “You’ll need a couple of friends to get the bolt on this rust bucket open”.

Ones in this condition are hard to find - yeah, most of them in this condition went to the scrap heap.

Standard three day inspection period - translation: “We ship only on Fridays at the close of business before the start of three day weekends. Our couriers have special instructions to hide your purchase in your FFL’s bushes when they deliver”.

Double heat treated - this was also in a fire.

Nicely refinished - the previous owner slapped on whatever left over wood finishes he had lying around. The gloss on this stock would do a bowling alley proud.

A nice example - this looks like what people mean when they say “We’re gonna make an example out of him”. - or what people mean at a funeral when they say “Doesn’t he look good”.

Difficult to find - we used this one to prop open a window at the shop and forgot about it.

Free floating barrel - the screws that hold the barrel in are missing

Bore is a little Dark- rust/corrosion has not completely closed the hole in the barrel

Will make a nice custom sporter- Yeah a year later and after spending a $1000..... you can bring it to the gunshow and get $150 for it

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Nostalgic Reading Begets Questions

As I age I find myself a bit more nostalgic every year. Before Mom lost her wit but after Alzheimer's took her inhibitions she once called me a simpy fool. I guess that is true to at least some degree. I find that I like to accumulate those things I remember from my early years. Along with firearms I accumulate books.

Books are something that was a constant for me as a kid. We moved. A lot. We lived in New York in Syracuse and Fly Creek. We lived in West Virginia in Durbin, Bartow, Richwood, Huntersville, Elkins (twice), Beckley (for 2-3 weeks), and Huntersville. We lived in Kentucky in Winchester and at Frenchburg Job Corps Camp in Menifee County. We lived in Virginia in Bridgewater. All before I turned 11. I was almost always the new kid. In consequence I was pretty adaptable but even adaptable people need some constant in their lives.

That constant for me was books. Lots of them and early on. The first "big" book I ever read on my own was The Navy Boys with Grant at Vicksburg by James Otis. That was at the age of 6. After The Navy Boys, no book intimidated me.

Somewhere along the way I ran into this series of magazines or books that brought me to write this post, "The American Gun". This was a large format "magazine" bound like a book with detailed articles about historical firearms and related subjects without advertising.

The stories contained therein must have had a lasting effect on me. Some 40+ years later I instantly recognized them as a "must have" when I accidentally spied them on Ebay. With the books purchased separately and back in my clutches, I opened them to read of all the things that had helped to excite me about firearms and history.

In volume 1 number 1 we find:
- "Cold Harbor: Crossroads of Warfare" by Clifford Dowdey
- "Artillery on Land and Sea" by Robert Bruce
- "Bareback Gunfighters" by Paul I. Wellman
- "The Repeater Lincoln Tested" by Harold L. Peterson
- "A Personal Reminiscence" by Vesta Spencer Taylor
- "Swords from Ploughshares" by Foster Harris
- "The Collection of William O. Sweet"
- "The Passion for Pocket Pistols" by James E. Serven
- "Badman Harry Tracy" by Alan Hynd
- "Some Made It Hot" by Ken Purdy
- "Safari in the Rockies" by Larry Koller (who edited the series)
- "The Commotion on Balsam Ridge" by Wallace Grange
- "Great Guns of the Sixties"
- "The Winchester Model 100" by Ken Janson
- "Waterfowl of the Outer Banks" by Raymond Camp
- "The Final Protective Line" by Marshall Andrews

No wonder this was intended as a quarterly! In volume 1 number 2 we find:
- "Fred Kimble and the Chokebore Shotgun" by Charles B. Roth
- "Target: The Distant Buck" by Larry Koller
- "The Rugged Grouse" by Harold F. Blaisdell
- "The Day of the Marksmen" by Clifford Dowdey
- "Berdan's Sharpshooters" by Marshall Andrews
- "Fuzes, Flints, and Pyrites" by Robert Held
- "The Target Guns of Bill Ruger"
- "The Long, Long Rifle" by Herb Glass
- "Backwoods Shooting Match" by Norman B Wiltsey
- "The Death of Gentlemen" by Aaron Norman
- "They Never Miss" by Janet Graves
- "Frank Hamer - Texas Ranger" by Harrison Kinney

By now you're wondering how they maintained the pace of producing a quarterly with this many quality and lengthy articles. They didn't. Volume 1 number 3 was the last issue and contained:
- "Why I Like Real Meat" by J. Frank Dobie
- "A Page from Larry Koller's Cookbook"
- "The Deadliest Weapon" by Joseph E. Doctor
- "Deception at Bushy Run" by Paul I. Wellman
- "The Antique Gun as a Work of Art"
- "Brant: Harvest on the Marsh" by Van Campen Heilner
- "Ducks: A System of Identification" by Clayton Seagears
- "Woodcock: Shooter's Challenge" by Larry Koller
- "Shooting for Science in Nepal" by Edward Migdalski
- "On to Canada" by George Tilden Orick
- "Book Bonus: A Rare Document from the Pen of the Man Who Prosecuted Bill Ryan and Frank James"
- "Live Pigeons and Clay Birds" by James Rikhoff
- "Goshawk: Killer in the Forest" by Pieter Fosburgh
- "Ernst's Bayonet Guard"

Among the many authors are some still recognizable today and some you might have never heard of before. All were pretty good writers though. They held my attention, even after 40 years. I know because the first thing I did after the books arrived was read them, cover to cover. I think Mr. Koller was a good editor, he certainly chose some good articles! By the way I discovered this about Larry Koller:
During his career, Larry Koller was Outdoor Editor of Argosy, Editor in chief of American Gun, and, at the time of his death, editor and columnist for Guns and Hunting.
He also wrote several books. Unfortunately Larry Koller died in 1967.

I think Mr. Koller's effort on "American Gun" made a big impression on my life. I appreciate that and now that I once again have the three issues available I will be able to share this with my grandchildren. Maybe someday their mother will call them a simpy fool.

So what happened to the rest of the authors? I think Herb Glass is still working in the field. Clifford Dowdey died in 1979 and is appropriately buried in Richmond's Hollywood Cemetery. Paul Iselin Wellman died in 1966. Harold L. Peterson was Chief Curator of the National Park Service 1963-64 until his death January 1, 1978. Vesta Spencer Taylor was the daughter of Christopher Miner Spencer and died in 1971. Who do you know?

Where are the guns mentioned? I've been told that Bill Ruger's collection went to the National Firearms Museum.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Getting older and the shooting sports...

I guess I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. My latest ruminations concerned aging and the shooting sports.

When I was young, I was fascinated by guns, shooting and hunting. I loved the associated history, military and sporting. Unfortunately, I was limited in my pursuit of my interests by money, availability of resources like books, and my age.

Between the ages of 16 and 18, I was fortunate enough to have the means (a car and license) to go and do and did a lot of hunting. I was too young to buy guns, but I could hunt and I did. Indeed all my free time was devoted to hunting and fishing.

When I turned 18, my age was no longer an impediment to purchasing firearms, money was less so because I was working, but time and availability of a place to shoot or hunt was a problem. After all, I had to earn money to live but I'd also made a commitment to serve. Then, I had a family and their needs of time and money came first. Moving constantly all my life meant that I didn't have the contacts (pre-internet age) to make the acquisitions I would have wanted. It didn't provide the hunting access I might have had either.

When I reached middle-age the commitments to others didn't change but control of my time did and I was able to again spend significant amounts of time in the field. The best part was that I had a friend with whom to do at least some of this. Having somebody to bounce ideas off of, with whom to share & exchange access to certain areas made for more success and more fun. I was in good condition and wasn't intimidated by long hikes into the back country or pulling big game from those areas.

When I retired I had a period of full-freedom and a burst of "success" in hunting because of the sudden availability of time. Unfortunately, my time again became committed to others, mostly my mother. My hunting partner/friend died and I was cut off from some good locations as well as losing my one companion. It wasn't all that enjoyable to go by myself. I just can't seem to get an opportunity to go with my son-in-law. I've had some joint issues and am generally not in top condition any more. With no partner and nobody knowing where I'd be, I'm reluctant to go back too far. This is a big concern for Nana. I guess she wouldn't want me to die because I didn't have help.

I have sort of mixed feelings about it. I don't feel that I'm in particularly bad health (don't they all say that?) but I would like to see my grandchildren get married. Then again, if it is going to be, wouldn't sitting in a stand on a glorious fall day with deer crossing in front of you be a wonderful place to keel over? Certainly better than being found naked in the bathtub!

It is also a bit more like work. Some of the wonder has worn off. Oh, I try new guns and such, carry the camera along for the shot of the odd interesting thing but... You see, climbing the mountain just to see what's on top isn't all that it used to be. It is a looong way up the side of that steep hillside. There's no game up there. Heck, the trees probably even block the view! If I do get a deer, well now there's some real work. I can't tell you the number of people I know who shoot deer not based on the size of the rack but the proximity of the animal to truck or 4-wheeler access. Dragging/packing a deer 2 miles just doesn't have the same allure it once did.

This past week was the first week of our muzzleloading season. My one day out hunting I carried a the Remington 12CS to do some squirrel hunting. Even then I was soon working on the fence line. Priorities had changed a bit.

Friday, November 06, 2009

USFA Color Case and Dome Blue Single Action

A few years ago, United States Firearms company decided to have a "sale" in which they'd offer this model revolver together with a .45 ACP cylinder for $875.00. At the time they announced the sale, this was a good price for the gun with the extra cylinder. I took advantage of the sale and ordered this gun. By the time it was delivered they announced that $875.00 was the new, lower, price of the revolver (it had been $950.00) because they'd made changes in production that had reduced costs. The gun was still a good deal but, not quite so good. The price of the revolver has now gone up again to about $975.00.

I was really excited to get this gun. However, coincidentally I'd worked a deal to get two others, the Henry Nettleton and an earlier 7½" barreled version. Suddenly I had a whole collection.  I haven't carried any of them very much, there's been too many other things going on but I can look forward to a time when it will be possible to fully enjoy this accurate, quality revolver.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Colt Python Internals...

d.r.e. on the Colt forum has an excellent post on the internals of a Colt Python. Full of photos as well as easy to understand commentary. I know some who visit will be interested but I don't know how long the photos will be up.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

I wrote this on the 3rd of November or yesterday.

When you have to take a family member, any family member, to the emergency room it is a moment at which you might consider all that is truly valuable to you. Once again, that was begun by taking my mother to the emergency room on Sunday morning. Because of that unexpected necessity I missed seeing my friend JimT. I think he understands that it was somewhat more important that I look after Mom than to see him and fortunately there was nothing to be found that was wrong with Mom. These things happen when the person needing care can't communicate and can't remember what has happened. Still, it gave me pause...

I had to call Jim and apologize. We were interrupted as he traveled into a "dead" zone in the West Virginia hills. I remember when the landline in West Virginia might not be trusted. We've come a long way since then.

I was thinking about what was important in my life when I voted. For each person for whom I voted I had carefully considered what they would do to/for/against what is truly important in my life, God, my family and my freedoms. One has changed from supporting those freedoms to supporting one who opposes God and wishes to do things that will hurt my family (Mom first) and my freedoms. One is naively willing to follow the party line to do the same. Others have steadfastly & unapologetically supported what is right and good about our country and our freedoms.

I then went and visited Mom. She wanted to go out so I helped her with her coat and we went out and walked about a bit. It is good exercise for her. She said she was cold and it was chilly so we went back inside and watched the staff erecting the Christmas tree. I thought that it might be a bit early for me to put up a tree but for those whose life was coming to a close it might never be too early to remember and celebrate in any small way the birth of Christ. Several of the ladies came to sit near us and watch with us. I think they were eager for a new face and someone with whom to talk. I wondered if their children came to talk to them.

One of the residents is Cecil. I've been told that Cecil was a mail carrier. He now has some form of dementia. All the time we sat there Cecil was standing by the window peering out. Even walking over and saying good morning didn't phase him. He was clearly fascinated.

Cecil is a "runner". It isn't safe to let him go outside unobserved. In the past I've set outside with my mom, Cecil and a couple of other residents for a couple of hours. This gives the staff time to catch up on other things. Cecil clearly enjoys being outside.

After about 2 hours of sitting and talking and watching the tree and Cecil I had to leave. Like Cecil I was feeling a need to get outside. I went home and had some lunch and then picked up my Remington 12CS and went to Mom's house to check on things and maybe do some "hunting". When I got there I took the rifle and went walking. Only one squirrel came within range and offered an unobstructed shot which I missed, the bullet striking just above his head. I need to practice more with this rifle but it didn't really matter.

I followed a cow path left by Mom's neighbor's wandering cows through her "pine" plantation (now more of a poplar plantation) down to the fence line on her pasture. I found several tree tops had been blown onto the fence and I cleared the fence as well I could. Then I wandered back to the house.

There is a small bank just down from the house. Grassy, it is the perfect angle on which to recline. The sun was shining, there was a breeze, the oak leaves were rustling and I had my rifle across my lap. There was no sound of man except one intermittent and distant chainsaw which only occasionally interrupted my thoughts. It was wonderful.

This time of year is what I used to count the days to see. It was the time to go hunting. A time when no matter who was controlling my life I could justify time outdoors and alone. I wondered if the person who had bought my rifle in 1914 had felt the same way. I wondered if he was with us enjoying this marvelous creation. I remembered all the people with whom I'd shared such things in the past. My dad, brother, grandfathers, Mike, my children, the dogs Belle and Pi and my father-in-law. It seems almost too much to enjoy by oneself.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Smith and Wesson Bodyguard Airweight (pre-38)

The Bodyguard Airweight (aka pre-Model 38) was introduced in 1955. That's when I was "introduced". It has the built-up frame to shroud the hammer. This was intended to minimize hammer spur snags on clothing when drawn while allowing manual cocking if desired. I don't suppose that, given the intended use, it is surprising that the airweight/alloy frame version was introduced before the all steel version. The 5-shot cylinder is steel. Most barrels are 2-inches.

My gun came to me from a local collector who was moving it on and was accompanied by its original box.  It doesn't have the tools.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


However you feel about politics, the President, the Congress, the War, gay marriage, taxes, gun control, the speed limit or whatever you need to vote. You MUST vote. This is too important to let "the other guy" make the decisions for you.

Oh, you can complain about either party. You can be upset that "they" haven't listened to you. You can show "them" just how mad you are by not voting. Yes, you can do that. The result is that "they", "the other guy", will make the decisions for you. Opting out of the process just means that those who stay will control the process. You have to participate to have your 2 cents worth out there. You have to vote.

Please vote. Vote for this country. Vote for the men and women who have died in military service so that you CAN vote. Show your family, your friends and your neighbors that voting, that participating, that having your say is important to you. Vote.

Note: This post will remain at the top until the polls close on November 3, 2009. For newer posts, look below.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wildlife can be more than mildly amusing

but I am just as amazed at those who might know just what tune to match up with animal antics. Jim Taylor put us on to this fella. I hope you enjoy.

Smith and Wesson 49

Produced after the Model 38 or Bodyguard and the same as that gun except for the heavier steel frame, this round-butt, J-frame, shrouded-hammer 5-shot .38 Special revolver is an excellent concealed carry revolver. These were produced from 1959 through 1996.

Mine is the blued steel version (they were also factory nickeled) and has the usual 2-inch barrel (3-inch barreled guns are rare).

Friday, October 30, 2009

An Alternative to PayPal?

I just got a link to via a notice by Perhaps we finally have an alternative to PayPal.

If anyone here has some insight on this I'm sure we'd all appreciate hearing/reading about it.

Colt Combat Commander

The Combat Commander is an all steel version of the Commander, a 4-1/4 inch barreled version of the Government model on an aluminum frame. Whatever I've said about Colt's .45 ACP semi-auto pistols applies here including that this particular gun has the Colt Series 80 modifications. As has become my usual course of action, the main spring housing was replaced with a flat version. I simply prefer the feel of the flat MSH.

I bought this .45 ACP chambered gun about 1985 or 1986, I'm not exactly certain now. I got it from LBW Shooter's Supply in Staunton. I had an opportunity to buy a Lightweight Officer's Model but got a good deal on this one so bought it instead. I wish I'd gotten the other as well!

I used this gun for concealed carry for several years. While a lighter pistol might have been more comfortable I was in good condition and much thinner than now and it didn't bother me at all. It did take a while to find the best way to carry concealed but once I did nobody knew and I carried all the time.

For a long time the gun wore Pachmayr rubber stocks but there was really no reason for this. The factory wood was entirely satisfactory and I shoot equally well with either. The wood does have the advantage of not "grabbing" at clothing the way the rubber does.

It is sufficiently accurate with any number of combat capable loads and feeds most with the necessary reliability. However, I always felt most comfortable with the standard ball or Remington's 230 gr. +P Golden Saber. That is what has become standard for my carry use in .45 ACP guns.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Notes from the gun shop...

The hunting season rush has officially begun. It seems to me that we only had a month's break from the election rush to the hunting season rush. In any case we were full up this past Monday. Here in western Virginia it is the early muzzle loader season that is causing all the excitement and just around the corner. One can learn a lot from serving folks in a rush to get ready for this or that season.

For instance, many folks don't unload and clean their guns from one season to the next. I can't tell you how many breech plugs for in-lines we've sold. Still, we've sent many away empty handed or with new guns. Many don't even clean their guns if they do unload or fire them. They bring them to the gunsmith for cleaning. I find that amazing. I thought everyone cleaned their own guns. They buy cleaning supplies. What do they do with all that stuff?

There's a side-bar to this. Knight Muzzleloading (not to be confused with Knight Armament) has closed shop.
We would like to thank all of our loyal customers: past, present and future. Knight Rifles is no longer producing or selling any guns. However, we will continue to produce and sell parts and accessories for your Knight Rifles. We plan to continue in this role for the foreseeable future.

To express our appreciation for being Knight customers, we would like to announce that ALL ORDERS PLACED ON THE WEBSITE will receive a 10% discount over retail prices. This will take effect immediately and will continue until further notice.

We would also like to restate that our Technical Support and Warranty departments are still fully operational.

Customer service can be reached at or (641) 856-2626.
Unfortunately, many owners of Knight in-lines don't know that. They are surprised, disappointed, and a bit upset about it. I'm surprised at how many bought what were fairly expensive rifles and never cleaned them. This small effort would have ensured a life-time of use even if there was no spare parts supply. Apparently they couldn't be bothered. If you are a shooter of Knight's product(s) I suggest you get all the shooting needs you can forsee using now, while still available.

Another continuing (from last year) situation is the lack of a favorite bullet or bullet/sabot combo. Many is the tale told of 200 yard sub-MOA groups with the favored combo and their trusty 2 or 3 50-grain Triple-7 charge. Of course this sacred load wasn't so wonderful that they laid in a supply of the projectiles. Nope, I guess they thought it would always be there and they only bought one blister pack of 20. Right now the Shock Wave and Power Belt are dominating the market. If you want anything else they are tough to find. Shops just don't sell enough to make stocking them worthwhile.

Primer deliveries are up. The shop now has nearly 30,000 primers of all types on hand with one exception. Large rifle. We have no large rifle primers of any make except for Remington 9½M.

.380 ACP ammo is also in short supply. I think all of it in the supply chain has been bought up. All that remains are forgotten cases here and there around the country. Perhaps as demand for other ammunition dries up manufacturers will be able to make a run of .380 ACP.

My dealer says he can't get new supplies of CoreLokt (Remington) ammo. I don't know why. Of course, that is what the customers suddenly want. I think that price (it having been among the lower priced brands) is the key. As the economy goes down the tubes the lower price point product will get the demand.

And so it goes...