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.