Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lyman 375166 for the .38-55

I know many who've been wanting a bullet of this weight for the .38-55 Winchester.

The remake of the Ideal 375166 will be delivered by Lyman by Friday, April 11th

Ordering Instructions:
Order By Mail, Check or Money Order …
Price of the Mold - $75
Shipping - $10.00 plus $1.70 Insurance ($11.70)
Price of Top Punch - $8.50 (Optional)
Price of the Sizing Die - $19.95 (Optional
Send a letter with your shipping information and a check or money for your total purchase to:
Lou Sellman
2003 Ewings Mill Rd
Corapolis, PA 15108-3311

Order By Credit Card
Call Lou at (412) 299-0412

Lou Sellman email address … reloadersequipmentonline.com or customcastbullets@yahoo.com
ENJOY … It Has Been a Long Wait for a mold that hasn’t seen the Light of Day for over 40 Years!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Lost Friends

Today would have been Michael Franklin Mays 55th birthday. We used to hunt together, we worked together, sometimes worshiped together and often did our physical fitness training together. Mike isn't here anymore. Neither is my dad. I considered him a friend as well as my dad, at least after I got old enough to have considered opinions unaffected by childish rebelliousness. Others, older and younger than me, have departed over the years. I remember them all and value my time with them all the more.

This morning I said a prayer for them, for their families, and for their friends. May God's good grace wash over us all and help us be as a good a friend to others as those lost friends were to us.

Shot loads for the .357 Mag using .357 Max cases...

From elsewhere came this how to. Personally, I'd rather use the .357 Maximum cases in a .357 Maximum...
357 shotshells from maximum cases:

1, 357 max cases annealed at the mouths to prevent spring back when sized ,i only use rcbs size lube.

2, size in 222rem. die as far as possible without hitting the shoulder area of die.

3, cut your cards with a formed case, regular 357 cards are too big. (i sacificed 1 unannealed case & drilled the primer hole out the size of a 16 penny nail with the point ground off then took a triangled file & cut some teeth on the rim & sharpened with a chamfer tool.
i spin these with a lee trim holder on a block of wood & a cordless drill .
note more than 10 cuts are harder to push out )

4, seat your cci400 small rifle primer & i dropped 3gr. of clays , pushed a card on top ( i take the nail head & pack it tight)

5, i weighed 145gr of #9 shot (thats almost 2x what factory holds!!)
cover with a card (pack & straighten the card with nail head) then seal with water proof carpenters glue. let glue dry24 hrs. or it will get smeared in the barrel. (don`t ask how i know!!)

5A, i use the 222die a little lower in the press to put a little roll on the mouth to help hold it all in.
this is done before sealing with WATER PROOF carpenters glue

6, these work in a GP length cyl. & shoot to POA at 20 ft. i shot both layers of a pizza box & the whole load hit it & penetrated soda cans (both sides) that were behind the box!! have not tried em in the 4" or 3 " yet!!!

Saturday, March 28, 2009


I know where I'm starting but not where I'll end up with this subject. It certainly is one for the ages. When I visited my grandfather in his old 1830s house I was afraid to go upstairs to bed (in Dad's old room) for fear of ghosts. Grandpa told me that I shouldn't be afraid because "ghosts can't hurt you". I don't know that that was a great comfort, but I think he was right. Of course I was thinking about ghosts because telling ghost stories was a great past-time when sitting around with nothing else to do.

The subject often came up and and stories were told. I suppose I should relate a couple of those stories, as best I can. I'll add to it as I have the opportunity (or desire) to do so.

My grandfather told this story about HIS grandfather...

Grandpa lived in an old two story farmhouse down near ______ creek. There was a footbridge across the creek only about 50 feet from the kitchen stoop. He had bought the place from some folks who had admitted it was haunted. Grandpa didn't believe in ghosts though and as it was a good price he'd bought the place. Very shortly after they had moved in, the "trouble" started.

After dinner, the family would sit together, talk and do some indoor stuff. About 6 PM, they would hear footsteps come down the stairs turn, go out through the dining room and out the kitchen door, accompanied by the slamming of the screen door (without actual movement of the door) and people outside on the stoop would hear steps cross the stoop and then the footbridge. Once it started it happened every night.

Grandma told Grandpa that it had to stop so Grandpa made a plan. The next night, right after eating dinner, Grandpa went out and sat on the stoop with his shotgun. Presently, the steps came down the stairs and through the kitchen, they crossed the stoop and when Grandpa heard them on the footbridge...

He fired both barrels of his shotgun directly at the footbridge. That was the last time they ever heard those footsteps.

I always thought Great-great-grandpa's response was typical for our family, direct and effective.

In 1987 we moved into our current home. Sometime in our first week there my son woke up to find an old man looking down on him as if to check on him. He wasn't scared so he just went back to sleep. There was no old man in the house.

At least I wasn't old, THEN!

Several years later, Nana had been tutoring an elementary age girl. My oldest daughter was upstairs on her bed reading. She looked up to see a little blonde boy in a sailor suit run into our bedroom. She knew her mother wasn't upstairs so she got up and went into the bedroom to see what the boy was doing. There was no little boy. This bothered her a bit and she went downstairs and asked her mother who the little boy was and why he was running around the house. There was no little boy in the house at the time. Both the front and back doors were locked and Nana was able to see both doors and knew nobody had come in the house.

When I was still married to my first wife...

My brother was killed crossing the street in front of our house. After we had returned home from the funeral both my mother and wife heard Benjamin call "Mom" at the same time. They both reacted at the same time. Neither my father nor I, we were between them, heard anything.

My father told me they had heard music playing upstairs and furniture moving. There were no radios, TVs or people upstairs and all the furniture would be where it was supposed to be. This was in a house that my father had built.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Losing a "Pet"

I was just at the vet and a couple of ladies brought in their 8, 6-week old, Springer Spaniel puppies. Because of that connection to Dad, I had to come back to this...

There are "pets" and there are "pets" and we can discuss the root word and the various popular usages and accepted definitions however, I'm talking about those companion animals who live with us, some lucky few of us, all day every day. One such is our Bailey shown at left.

Bailey is a miniature schnauzer, 6-years old (now 9) and has been with us since she was 8 weeks old. She has traveled the U.S. with us, riding hours in air conditioned comfort in her crate, sniffing her way across 20+ states. She spent nearly 2 years "on-duty" with the National Guard as I worked in my office. She visits with the neighbors, watches her "nephew"/our grandson carefully when he visits, and raises the alarm whenever a stranger approaches. She also welcomes each of us home so that the other knows we'll soon be reunited. She has even done public relations work at The Spoils of War! She is a nearly constant companion. I am not looking forward to that sad day...

What brought this to mind is that a friend lost his friend. This is common, unavoidable and never any fun at all. Nobody I know has been glad to see their pal die. If you read the various shooting/hunting forums, you know this happens most every day and that some/many have to have their buds euthanized/put-down. A sad situation indeed. That they feel a need to talk about it publicly shows just how difficult this is for them.

So it was for my father. On the day he died he had to talk about his "favorite", Donna. Donna was an English Springer Spaniel Dad had raised from birth (he'd been breeding ESPs).  Donna apparently died while Dad was in Italy in 1946 or 1947. He had a photo of Donna (when we only took photos of important things) and had a portrait painted of the dog. Even after 53 years when he spoke of that dog it was clear that Donna's passing still affected him. In fact, he spoke of Donna in much the same way he talked about my brother who died when he was 8-years old (in 1981). This seems illustrative to me of the impact a companion animal can have.

What do I believe? I believe that heaven can't be heaven without dogs (and perhaps, cats) and I'm anticipating seeing all our dogs in heaven. Some others, and not a few, feel the same way. Somebody among them authored the following.

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water, and sunshine and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who have been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; his eager body begins to quiver. Suddenly, he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together...

and there is Kipling

The Power of the Dog

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
But when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your hearts to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie -
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk you heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years that nature permits,
Are closing in asthma, or tumor, or fits,
And the Vet's unspoken prescription runs
to lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find - it's your own affair
But - you've given your heart to a dog to tear.

We've sorrow enough in the natural way
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent
At compound interest of cent per cent,
For when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short time loan is as bad as a long -
So why in Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

When the body that lived at your single will,
When the whimper of welcome is stilled
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone - wherever it goes - for good,
You soon discover how much you care,
And give your heart to a NEW dog to tear.


Rats, Lice and History

I read some odd books. I found this one at Mom's and at some point in time it made it's way to my house for me to read. My dear wife uncovered it in a pile of books in the "storage" room. The book? Rats, Lice, and History: Being a Study in Biography, Which, After Twelve Preliminary Chapters Indispensable for the Preparation of the Lay Reader, Deals With the Life History of Typhus Fever by Hans Zinsser.

It is a quirky book described in the linked Amazon review as a "delight". Yeah, right. It was a drawn out read at times. The author was attempting to be humorous about typhus and the effect it had on history. He falls short though as many or most readers will fail to grasp his extremely dry sense of humor. Certainly the title is accurate in that you must wade through 12 chapters to get to the meat of the subject. Frankly, it was like waiting 40 minutes for the perfectly cooked 4 oz. steak.

Can't complain though. I can read and there are more books out there!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The .357 Mag in a Carbine

Probably the best single gun a person could buy. It is good enough to do many jobs, is light in recoil (very light with .38 Specials), light to carry and easy on the budget. One can choose a Winchester Model 92 clone or the Marlin 1894C. The Winchester 1894 was made in .357 Mag but has been discontinued. Likewise, one could go with the Timberwolf pump gun or any of the 1873 clones. I am somewhat leery of the later for continuous use as .357 Magnums but they've been around for a while and much used. I'll confine most of my comments to the Winchester 92 clones and the Marlin 1894C.

Ammo isn't a problem. Just about any commercially available ammo for the .38 Special or .357 Magnum will work in these rifles. The only exception in the Marlin 1894C is the .38 Special wadcutter but some of the Winchester 92 clones will feed these without problems or alterations. However, the wadcutter ammo can be singly loaded and is a wonderful small game load. Recoil of the most powerful of these loads will be in the very mild range of about 7.3 fpe compared to the 14.3 fpe of the .30-30. The Winchester 1873 guns are very sensitive to cartridge overall length.

As I've said before, I do have some favorite loads to cover the gamut of use for me. #1 is the Federal full wadcutter load. This load shoots to point of aim at 25 yards when the gun is sighted at 100 yards with my .357 Magnum 180 gr bullet load. One can duplicate the factory load with 2.7 gr. Bullseye and a 148 gr. wadcutter.

#2 favorite load uses either the Hornady 180 gr. XTP or Remington 180 gr. SJHP over 15 gr. of L'ilGun. I prefer to use CCI's small pistol magnum primers for this and load #3.

#3 is the Hornady 158 gr. XTP-FP (emphasis on the FP which is designed for these velocities while the HP is not) over 18 gr. of L'ilGun. This load gets an honest 2000 fps from my carbine. It would be an about perfect all-around load for deer and varmints. I don't use it on squirrels or rabbits though!

The weight of these two carbines is a very portable and usable 5½ to 6½ pounds maximum with the Marlin 1894C being the heavier of the two. The 1894C is what I have. The major advantage the Marlin has is being drilled and tapped for and readily accepting a telescopic sight. The 92's major advantage is in weight. Either are more than strong enough to handle any factory .357 Magnum load.

A short aside about the guns. First, if you decide you want a 92 clone you can do no better than to visit Steve's Gunz and get one of his Rossi guns already slicked up with all the negatives mitigated. That would include his slicking up of the action, replacement of the plastic follower with one of metal and removal of the stupid bolt top safety. He'll also install a peep sight on that gun to fully exploit the cartridge.

Second, if you're going to get a Marlin and don't want one of the current cross-bolt safety guns, you're going to have to look around for one. The good news is that you probably won't have to pay a premium for the pre-safety gun. That's a good thing!

Sights are a flexible option mostly because the legitimate operating range for these rifles maxes out at about 150 yards and that is due more to energy levels at that range for deer size targets and the practical limits of accuracy for the smaller game. I prefer the Williams Foolproof receiver sight because it adds precision while remaining as compact as the factory open sights. However, I compact 4X or 1-5X variable is about ideal for this platform. I understand that some folks are using scout mounts to put IER and EER scopes on the 92 clones. For those that can utilize them or NEED them, scope sights are doable and usable.

So, you might say, just what is such a "light" carbine good for? Well, using .38 Special loads of your preference it is an excellent small game gun. Back before the turn of the 19th to the 20th century cartridges (both rimfire and centerfire) with the ballistic output of the .38 Special wadcutter load were considered outstanding small game guns. The .38 Special roundnose (yes roundnose) is an excellent plinking/training round for the gun. It does or can be made to slickly feed through the .357 Magnum guns, the recoil is about nil (actually around 3-4 fpe) and it is plenty accurate (oh, and still relatively CHEAP, too). The .357 Mag 125 gr. load, often recommended for revolvers used for self-defense, is a hot self-defense load and much easier on the ears from the carbine than from the revolver. Lots of folks find a shoulder gun easier to use accurately under stress and it has the added bonus of being legal where a handgun might not be. Move up to the 158 gr. and 180 gr. loads (personal preference & locale might have a lot to do with the choice) and you have a viable big game rifle. At least it will be suitable for deer, eating sized hogs, and certainly larger varmints like coyotes. One might even use it on bear, in a pinch, maybe not, without being tremendously undergunned. With forethought one could single load CCI's shot cartridges for eliminating poisonous snakes around the homestead. Again, this is a tremendously versatile firearm.

Frankly, I don't see how anybody serious about a cost effective firearms collection could avoid getting a .357 Mag carbine.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Finland Winter War

Sometimes we forget that the firearms we now collect were used to defend freedom (or in an attempt to take it). The Finns have made their stand(s) and used rifles we collect today...

- "The Battles of the Winter War"
- "The Finnish Winter War"

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gun Shop Treasures Found, Again

Waiting for my daughter to come in from NOVA I finally succumbed to boredom and went to the gun shop to hang out a bit. Found all the strap hangers in attendance. Then I went in and discovered a real treat. Just having come into the shop was a Simson MOD625A rifle. A .22 LR trainer produced for the German government before WWII, this rifle was in fine condition. You just don't see these very often. They are purported to be very accurate rifles but I've never had the pleasure of firing one.

The Simson firm has an interesting story.
In 1854 the brothers Löb and Moses Simson bought one third of a steelhammer works in Suhl (Germany). The production of carbon steel began and the firm Simson & Co. was founded in 1856. The factory produced guns and gunbarrels in the years following.

In 1871 the first steam engine started its service and the enterprise established production of bicycles in 1896, which was followed by the start of automobile production in 1907. The racing car Simson Supra is famous.

During World War I, Simson produced Mauser Gewehr 98 rifles for the German Army. In the aftermath of the war and the Treaty of Versailles, the reorganized Reichswehr was allowed to buy new handguns from only one company, so as to limit the ability of the German arms industry to recover. Larger manufacturers such as DWM were passed over in favor of Simson precisely because of its lower production capacity, and as such Simson was the sole producer of military-contract Luger pistols from 1925 to 1934.[1] Simson produced approximately 12,000 Lugers during this timeframe.[2] Simson also was responsible for repairing and refurbishing existing firearms of the Reichswehr, though DWM was employed in the capacity as well, in contravention of the Treaty of Versailles. In addition to Lugers, Simson also repaired and refurbished Gewehr 98 and Karabiner 98b rifles, MG08 machine guns, and MP18 submachine guns.[3]

During the 1920s, Simson also produced .25 ACP vest pocket pistols, or Westentaschenpistolen, for commercial sale. Until 1989, this was Simson's only venture into commercial handgun production. These pistols were available in two almost identical models, the first known as Model 1 in German and Model 1922 in the United States, and the second as Model 2 in Germany and Model 1927 in the US.[4]

Adolf Hitler's dictatorship forced the Jewish family Simson to flee the country in 1936. Under the framework of dispossession of Jewish industrialists a trustee took control of the firm, and so by merger with other factories the Berlin Suhler Waffen- und Fahrzeugwerke (BSW) was formed.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Observations on working in a gun store...

As you might know I work part-time (actually just 8½ hours a week) at a local gun shop. It doesn't pay much at all, you might put it down to charity if the place was tax exempt! One thing for certain, it is interesting. One gets to see and speak first hand with many different folks on the subject of guns and hunting.

The current shortages, aka the "Obamanation Buying Spree" (OBS) is one such topic. MOST people buying AR-15s and similar EBRs (Evil Black Rifles) are first time buyers of such and are doing so ONLY because of the election. Most of those are men. Women who are on the OBS are buying pistols or rifles for their granddaughters. Men AND women have come in buying ammo but that has really trickled off. The primary motivation was supposed taxes. Now, however, ammo buyers are shooters who want to get ammo before others buy out the store OR people who think the ammo simply won't be available. Interestingly, .380 ACP (aka 9mm Corto/Short) ammo is harder to find than even .223/5.56mm and .308 Winchester. Our shop is now able to keep EBRs in stock for a bit, usually a week. Ruger LCPs and Keltec P3ATs go to the waiting list! I heard a judge say he's signed twice as many CHPs (concealed handgun permits) as before the election. But there is also a continuing shortage of reloading supplies...

Yep, all sorts of things. I feel vindicated in my prognostication of January 2008. While the initial shortage was in primers, it now is in powders as well. Least available primers are the small rifle magnums (to reload .223/5.56), large pistol, large rifle, and small pistol magnum. Other than the Federal Gold Medal primers, the match primers and small pistol have been fairly available. Everything else is iffy. Primers have taken a real hit with customers citing rumors of taxes, "arsenal" laws, primer muddling (such as "time sensitive" priming mixtures), and government interference in production as the reasons they are hoarding.

One needs powders, too! First to be sold out and have orders go unfilled was W748 and Varget (again, very popular for the .223/5.56) but now most popular powders are sold as soon as they come in, Unique, H110/W296, H or IMR 4350, IMR 3031, etc. Valid "substitutes" are then taken.

Of course, everyone who doesn't already have them needs dies. As one might expect, dies for the .223/5.56, .308, .40 S&W, 9mm Parabellum have been intermittently difficult to get.

I left brass (cartridge cases) for last for a reason. Recently there was a real kerfuffle with DOD's (the Department of Defense) property disposal of fired brass. Many remanufacturers as well as reloaders buy fired 9mm, 5.56mm and 7.62mm NATO brass from the DOD or through resellers. Georgia Arms apparently started this by publishing a letter they received from DOD stating that in future all brass would be demilled, i.e. rendered unusable for reloading before being sold for scrap. That policy, whether or not it was misinterpreted by some middle manager, has been reversed for the small arms cases (.50 BMG and smaller). The DOD (and other Federal agencies) use large amounts of ammunition for training purposes and this policy could have cut ammunition availability to civilians (private and police departments) by as much as one-third! However, I need to make this clear, THAT POLICY HAS BEEN REVERSED!

That hasn't stopped brass being sometimes difficult to get. This is particularly true for the "seasonal" production items, i.e. those that are only made in annual or bi-annual production runs. As one might expect, .223/5.56 and .308 Win brass have been in shortage and very noticeably so. Also noticed as hard to find/get are 10mm Auto, .41 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 Colt, .357 Maximum (see a trend here, seasonal production) and real rarities such as the .45-75 Winchester. Brass production has wisely been concentrated on the big sellers, .223/5.56 and .308 Win.

Of course, people are hoarding .22 LR and other rimfire cartridges, too. Regional, sometimes shortages have been reported. I've found it hard to get Winchester's .22 LR PowerPoint. Most of these shortages have occurred in the bargain brands as many are trying to put back the plinking ammo. Another thing that has driven this hoarding has been the threat of lead bans in various states. Based on some ridiculous interpretations of a CDC study and/or pseudo-science, the California ban has made such a thing seem very possible and helped to drive sales.

In general the shortages are NOT the fault of the dealers or distributors. These folks MUST have product and SELL it in order to make a living (and pay their employees). The shortages are due to the extreme demand and manufacturers (who are often working around the clock to attempt to meet demand) reluctant to expand production facilities because they know there will be a "bust" later. They know that either: fears will abate and the glut will cut sales drastically; the economic situation will get so bad there will be no money to support continued sales; the government will indeed drastically alter/affect legal sales of their products. While some dealers seem to be raising prices, most aren't doing so drastically and apparently even the AR-15 manufacturers have only raised wholesale prices $100 or so. That is hardly price gouging.

In handling a portion of these gun sales since the first of December, I've personally entered data for Virginia's version of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). About one-half to one-third of these are delayed. I've never had one that I've done that has been denied. Of the 50 or so I've input, most who were delayed expected it. Two of them KNEW they would be delayed because of relatives who committed violent criminal acts. Others were apparently delayed because of their immigration status, DUIs, or very common names (i.e. similar to John Smith). Delays can vary from 30 minutes to several hours. There doesn't seem to be any attempt to delay purchases to harass buyers.

We've seen some neat guns for certain. To me, these aren't necessarily the expensive ones. I was able to finally acquire a Colt Commander because I worked there and walked in to work immediately after the gun was purchased. That's a benefit! It is also fun to watch and sometimes help the resident gunsmith. Lots of my friends who I wouldn't see often otherwise come through the shop (I KNEW there was a reason I liked those guys!). I've heard a lot of stories as well from those who struggle to kill one deer a year to farmers who cull hundreds a year (and yes, I do wish I could get these guys together) or have great hunts all around the country. We have customers who collect and those who are constantly trading. One other thing one notices from behind the counter is that gun buyers/owners are truly representative of the community. Rich & "poor", educated & barely literate, young & old, male & female, community leaders & "not". I have seen a lot of police officers, firemen, judges, and businessmen as well as farmers.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Lipsey's Ruger Blackhawk Flattop .44 Special 5½"

As previously reported Lipsey's negotiated the long awaited production of New Model Flattop Blackhawks in .44 Special. To be produced in both the 5-1/2 and 4-5/8 inch barrel lengths it appears they've got some appeal. I'm not surprised. People have been making a living from converting both the old model .357s and the 50th Anniversary guns to .44 Special.

What I wanted was a 4-5/8" gun but that's not what was shipped to my dealer. he got a 5-1/2" gun. I took it anyway, a bird in hand and all that. I hope to get a 4-5/8" gun later and continue to bug him to bug Lipsey's to send it out.

These guns seem nicer than your average Blackhawk. Fit seems a bit better, finish is plain but good and the action seems smoother than most other recent Blackhawks I've handled. Certainly, it is far better than my Redhawk. I'm very pleased wit the quality of the revolver.

Ammo can be an iffy thing right now. Ammo of all kinds seems to be in short supply and quality performance ammunition for .44 Specials has always been an iffy thing to find at the local gun shop. I suggest you load for your gun. For me the load to use was always going to be the 250 gr. Keith bullet over some powder charge for about 900 fps. I've tried and will be using 7.5 gr. Unique for the near future. The bullets are from Mt. Baldy Bullet Company of Cody, Wyoming. Good bullets!

This load hasn't had an extensive workout yet. I haven't had a chance to chronograph it either. But, it seems to shoot well at 90 yards on my impromptu range at Mom's. It has a good record in other guns, too. I think I'll go with it for a while.

To carry this gun I felt an example of El Paso Saddlery's Tom Threepersons would be a good thing. So, a holster was ordered for the 5-1/2" gun. We'll see when it gets here!

This seems to be a great handgun with a lot of potential. I'm looking forward to giving it a good workout.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ruger Old Model Single Action in .41 Remington Magnum

I had wanted a .41 Mag since 1973 but competing wants and needs plus non-availability of cash or gun at one time intervened. It seemed so much better than the .357 Mag but not so intimidating as the .44 Mag and the .41 Mag ammo was available in the "police" load of 210 gr. at about 900 fps.

I had been thinking that while I preferred the XR3 grip frame of the early Ruger Singe-actions, I could take or leave the Old Model lockwork. However, use of the OM Ruger Bearcat and the USFA SAs has endeared the clickety-clack lockwork to my soul. So when I saw this OM .4-5/8" .41 Remington Magnum on Gunbroker.com with a $500 minimum bid I had to try for it. Well, I "won" it and for only $5 above the minimum bid! In short order I found the money (selling some unusable by me brass and other stuff) and sent the MO and FFL off. This gun was manufactured in 1969 and had the appearance of being unfired but unfortunately, it didn't come with a box. The stocks are odd in that they do not match and so I won't have any difficulty in replacing them, but with what I don't know. It certainly deserves better.

Fortunately, because of a previously owned .41 Magnum Thompson Contender barrel, I had dies, brass and ammo for the gun. What was my first load for this gun? Why 7 gr. of Unique under the Mt. Baldy provided 220 gr. Keith bullet for about 900 fps. Just what I wanted. How good is this load? Well the first 10 were capable of staying on the face of a 12 inch cinder block at 75-80 yards with no sight change. I'm really pleased. Of course, it will handle the load I use in the Contender, I just don't care to shoot that.

So, how to carry. It does fit my Simply Rugged Sourdough I got for my NM Ruger Vaquero and in which I've been carrying my USFA 4-3/4" SA but it wasn't really satisfactory with this gun. It demands a classier carry and that is what it got in the Richard Gittlein carved Tom Threepersons holster.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Colt 1862 Police by Uberti

In the redesign of the Colt pistols in the 1858-1861 time period Colt came out with stream-lined versions of the .44 "Army" caliber, .36 "Navy" caliber service pistols and moved on to the pocket guns such as the 1849. The other major design feature of these guns is a ratchet loading lever designed to ease loading of the bullet. Improvements in materials had also permitted the smaller cylinder and overall lighter gun in the .44 1860 "Army" revolver by means of using the rebated cylinder on the basic 1851 sized frame. This technique was applied to the 1849 in increasing the caliber from the rather anemic .31 to .36 caliber. Thus the 1862 Police and Pocket Navy were born.

Produced concurrently and apparently in the same serial number range with the Pocket Navy (with it's octagonal barrel and old style loading lever), this 1862 Police revolver set the standard for quality. Approximately 28,000 were produced. Barrel lengths were 3½, 4½, 5½ and 6½ inches. You might not think of this as pocket size but pockets were different then. Still, the 5½ and 6½ inch guns might have been better carried in a holster. I'm sure some few found their way into various hiding places in the home. Originals can now sell for $2,000+ depending on condition and provenance. A reproduction is a much better choice for a shooter.

Finding a shooter isn't much of a problem. Colt's guns are all so popular that reproductions have and are being built by several companies including the world renowned Uberti firm. This particular revolver is an Uberti and has the 6½ inch barrel. It seems a good copy of the Colt. I would have preferred a 4½ inch barrel but that length is no longer in production. The guns are petite. Very much so. In grip size they are comparable to Ruger's Bearcat and, in today's world, they can serve much the same functions. I think it is about ideal in size for a trapline gun, for training young shooters, or for introducing young shooters to blackpowder/percussion revolvers. As things are now, it is pretty cheap shooting but gives a young shooter familiarity with slightly greater recoil (which can be managed by adjusting the powder charge) and with how the components interact.

Of course, some accessories are necessary with a "cap 'n' ball" revolver. First, one must have a nipple wrench. The Uberti guns no longer ship with a wrench (as I believe they once did) and you have to get it separately. You can get the appropriate wrench from Dixie Gun Works (among others). Another need is some method of carrying and measuring powder. A flask does this in one go and works well in loading the revolver. Cleaning tools and materials for the .38 Special will work and are no great trick to find. A holster can be a different story.

Every handgun needs a holster and this was really the first thing I went looking for. It wasn't hard to find a maker for a flapped holster. However, I didn't want a lot of excess bulk and feel that a California or Slim Jim style would be both very usable and very period appropriate. Unfortunately, they aren't easily found. Nearly every possible maker is a custom proposition. However, Dixie does have a Slim Jim for the 1862.

Loading the guns is no great bother. Despite the trouble Rooster Cogburn had (and he should have known better as "cap 'n' ball" guns were much more common in the west than you might have been led to believe) it is easy peasy so long as you follow some rules.

#1 is to thoroughly clean the gun of oils. It is particularly necessary to remove any possible petroleum products from the nipple, chamber and barrel. Again, thoroughly clean to avoid contamination of the powder charge.

#2 is to use only blackpowder or proven substitutes in these guns. I often hear stories of shooters using smokeless powder and wrecking guns. I'll be using Pyrodex P to save my BP for another gun but Triple 7 is usually easy to find.

#3 get the proper size cap. Remington #11s fit my pistol right well.

#4 use the proper size ball. For .36 caliber percussion revolvers a .375" or .380" ball is correct. These are the guns in which our .38 cartridges began their evolution and the groove diameters make them .38s. Hornady makes a swaged ball which I prefer since I can save my casting time for other things. However, one can get molds and cast your own bullets if you prefer. Given today's political climate, you might want to have that option.

Once you have the readies in position, loading is, really, simple. I fire a round of caps through the gun to ensure that the nipples are clear and dry (from the last cleaning). The revolver is brought to half-cock and the cap residue is removed from the nipples. Each chamber is charged and a ball then seated before moving to the next chamber. One chamber is left empty to provide an empty nipple on which to rest the hammer. Then, all chamber mouths are filled with a lubricating and protective grease. There are many products which can be used including Wonder Lube. Whatever you use, be aware that many appropriate lubes will melt in summer heat. That usually isn't a good thing. The revolver is now ready to fire.

These guns use a notch in the hammer nose as the rear sight and it can move around a bit. I believe Elmer Keith shimmed the sides of the hammer to prevent this in his guns.

As one would expect, ballistic output isn't all that great. Still, the guns have their uses and they are certainly interesting.

Perhaps I'm in the minority but I consider cleaning these guns a snap. Every step presumes an UNLOADED gun. First, push the barrel wedge out, right to left. It will be prevented from falling completely out by the wedge screw. Pull the barrel off the front of the frame. You might have to wiggle it a bit, particularly on a new, tightly fitted gun. Place the hammer on half cock and slide the cylinder forward off the base pin. Remove the nipples. This is all the disassembly required for normal cleaning.

I like to use HOT water for cleaning but some BP substitutes such as Triple 7 purportedly don't require it. I have a small bucket of hot water into which I place the cylinder and nipples. With a tight fitting jag and patch combination, I place the the barrel into the bucket muzzle first and swab from the breech end. After thorough cleaning I place the breech end of the barrel about 1-2 inches into the water and scrub all exposed surfaces clean using a toothbrush. This usually only takes a minute or two. I lay the parts on an old towel (do NOT use the wife's best towels for this!) and spray with WD-40. I then put the bore swab and toothbrush to work on the cylinder and nipples. The nipples also get the flash hole scrubbed with a pipe cleaner. All parts get laid on the towel and sprayed with WD-40. The receiver is scrubbed with the wet toothbrush and then wiped clean with a towel or T-shirt and WD-40. All parts are then wiped dry. The base pin is greased (do not use a grease containing a petroleum product) and the gun reassembled.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Hypocrisy? - What Should We Do?

Gun control/2nd Amendment rights aka the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (RKBA) is a critical issue with me. In many elections it is the one issue on which I base my vote because the candidates' stands on other issues are so similar.

Here in Virginia we were on a slide down slope from the ideals of liberty until the Virginia Citizens' Defense League (VCDL) was formed. This is an outstanding organization primarily because the founders were able to build a base of hard-charging, self-sacrificing, intelligent people to do the work. They made Virginia a shall issue state but that was just the start for them. As a group they've managed to use tact as well as the intimidation of numbers to turn Virginia around and make us one of the better states in which to own and use guns.

But today I was reminded of an issue that's been bugging me for a while.

I attended the Harrisonburg Gun Show today. I believe the promoter is C&E/Showmasters. Once again I noted that they disarm everyone, CHP included but we have a booth. I was told the space was donated. I'd been thinking about their policy as I drove the 33 miles to the Rockingham County Fairgrounds.

When I got there I "secured" my CHP firearm in my truck and moved towards the door. I was greeted by the absolutely no loaded firearms, no exceptions sign. I went inside and counted out my $6 and turned to get stamped. The fellow with the stamp asked me, "do you have any loaded firearms?" to which I responded, "no, do you?"

Now, that might not have been the very BEST way to approach this but I'd been thinking about their policy for a while and I truly wanted to know. His response, "YES! I DO!" to which I said, "well good for YOU." I have to admit, his tone struck me as confrontational, not as a businessperson dealing with a customer (which is exactly what an attendee is!). He asked again (apparently thinking I thought it was a joke) to which I told him no.

Forgive me my ignorance but how is this different than restaurants/bars banning firearms or carry by persons having a CHP? How is it different from any government owned, i.e. public place, banning concealed carry.

Yes, this has been going on a while. Apparently a DEALER had a negligent discharge (not a CHP) and this policy was enacted shortly thereafter. Apparently, this is an insurance concern to the promoter. But today, for some reason, this is really irritating to me. It seems the height of hypocrisy.

I'll be frank. I quit attending Old Dominion gunshows because they couldn't get good vendors in. C&E/Showmasters is better but for this one issue. This one issue is likely to cause me to cease attendance at CE/Showmasters shows. Why?

Look, C&E/Showmasters makes money from promoting gun shows. They entice gun dealers to go to the shows and many of those big dealers are catering to either the EBR (evil black rifle) or concealed carry crowd. So, C&E/Showmasters is making money from people they are effectively banning. Makes no sense to me on any level.

Well, there have been some responses. As I read it the upshot is that there are lots of guns AND ammo at a gun show and it is all about guns. A CHP or somebody carrying concealed could lose it and whip out their piece to try a new holster, ask for magazines, show off or something and shoot somebody. There was an anecdotal reference which doesn't mean much to me. It is much the same ridicule of CHP holders as the anti-gunners have been repeating. Anyway, there's some support for the C&E/Showmasters view.

I can understand supporting private property rights but these shows are conducted on PUBLIC property. We fought that fight about a mall owned by a city government (in part) and I see no difference.

I understand about insurance coverage. It is inevitable that somebody (and at least once it was a dealer) will make an error. Liability has to be addressed. Unfortunately, as we see in Illinois, this has been considered as a limitation on individual owners as well. The person I spoke to told me he did have a loaded gun. I see nothing wrong with that on the face of it but it violates their own policy. I suppose that they know this individual (or others) and are willing to trust them but not others who are customers.

I also know that a number of people are simply lying to the handler(s) at the door. They know they likely won't be searched and there is no penalty for lying other than being asked to leave. I'm not into lying.

You can't have it both ways. You destroy your arguments that CHP holders are safe, reliable, non-criminal and worthy of carrying anyplace including bars if you say they can't carry at gun shows. Since I won't get any traction on my argument I'll simply not attend any further gun shows. I guess I've finally found a point on which I disagree with the VCDL leadership. I'm disappointed.