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.