Monday, December 27, 2010

Notes from the gun shop...

It was a fast paced day all day. 12 background checks, many smaller purchases, many questions answered and a couple of neat guns.

Number 1 neat gun was the sporterized (long time ago) 1884 Trapdoor. The action was original but not the barrel, sights or stock. Came to the shoulder and I was looking down the sights. Absolutely superb condition. Every bit of fit and finish was very well done. A rare gem. Not for sale, just brought in to brag on.

A good friend and her husband came in with their daughter and showed me photos of this year's deer including her 149 green scored 9-point. What a deer and just 2 miles from my family's place. Too bad we have to sell it.

Neat gun number 2 was a Colt Anaconda. 6" barrel, it was in pretty nice condition with box. Seems that a local fellow brought in several Colts to sell as he has nobody to whom it might leave them. I should have been there last week during the week as I missed these. That might have been in my best interest though, you can't own them all...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Swag

It is the day after Christmas 2010 and I'm rolling in swag. My family was entirely too generous to me but I do very much appreciate it. I hope that I remember this in my old age...

I received wool socks and an LL Bean chamois shirt. I got a shop vac, which I almost bought the week before. I also received a Kindle.

Now, I've got to say that I have been ambivalent about the Kindle with 3G service. I'm a fan of the tactile experience of reading a book or magazine and I like to see the color illustrations. Like all children, I like illustrations. After registering, my first book was Jeff Cooper's, "Art of the Rifle". One thing I like is that I am able to but the "book" down (turn it off) and come back right to where I left it. I can search for other such books from this one. I can search by author or title. Still, there is something to turning the page, smelling the ink, etc. Intangible pleasures not available in the digital version. Also, since Nana got one, I've had a bit of a problem working two Amazon accounts off one e-mail address. However, now that her account is functioning, we can let it be as she orders off the Kindle device with one-click payment. One of the biggest selling points of the Kindle for me is the accessibility of free, pre-1923, books. I am particularly interested in Theodore Roosevelt's writings. Heretofore one had to buy a print version or lug it back from the library IF you could find a copy there. This will be infinitely easier. Same for Nessmuk and some others...

In another tact I also got Gun Digest issues on CD! Now these will require my computer to read but should also have the illustrations which I should also be able to magnify to my heart's content. To find these in print and then to store them would have been a hassle so I think the CD version should suit me well.

More swag was in the form of a very neat caned footstool/seat my daughter and son-in-law got for us. We need the emergency seating and were looking for a handy ottoman for the den (which is a rather small room).

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Christmas Rifle by Ryan B. Anderson

"Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving...

It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn't been enough money to buy me the rifle that I'd wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible...

After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn't in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn't get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn't figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn't worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity. Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. "Come on, Matt," he said. "Bundle up good, it's cold out tonight." I was really upset then. Not only wasn't I getting the rifle for
Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We'd already done all the chores, and I couldn't think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one's feet when he'd told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn't know what...

Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn't going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn't happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. "I think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said. "Here, help me." The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high side boards on...

After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood - the wood I'd s pent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something. "Pa," I asked, "what are you doing?" You been by the Widow Jensen's lately?" he asked. The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I'd been by, but so what? Yeah," I said, "Why?"

"I rode by just today," Pa said. "Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They're out of wood, Matt." That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. "What's in the little sack?" I asked. Shoes, they're out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn't be Christmas without a little candy."

We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen's pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn't have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn't have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn't have been our concern...

We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, "Who is it?" "Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son, Matt, could we come in for a bit?"

Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp...

"We brought you a few things, Ma'am," Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children - sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn't come out...

"We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said. He turned to me and said, "Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let's get that fire up to size and heat this place up." I wasn't the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak...

My heart swelled within me and a joy that I'd never known before, filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people...

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn't crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. "God bless you," she said. "I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us."

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I'd never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it...

Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes...

Tears were running down Widow Jensen's face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn't want us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I stil l had mine...

At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We'll be by to get you about eleven. It'll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn't been little for quite a spell." I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away...

Widow Jensen nodded and said, "Thank you, Brother Miles. I don't have to say, May the Lord bless you, I know for certain that He will."

Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn't even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn't have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that, but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand."

I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen's face and the radiant smiles of her three children...

For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Notes from the gun shop...

Notes were a bit delayed by Christmas activity and the installation of a new water heater here at the house.

We sure did move a lot of this and that yesterday. Ammo, accessories, firearms, even a safe. There was somebody there all day except for a very short interval at about 4:00-4:15. There were no great guns there and I only saw one gun come in looking to be purchased (but it wasn't). The most notable thing was the high rate of delays on background checks. Just about 17% actually were instant returns, all others were delayed. Usually it runs about 50/50 but not yesterday. Also, delays were averaging 2-3 hours rather than 30-45 minutes. I'm supposing that the employees who do the backgrounds are further reduced in number by those taking Christmas leave.

Mostly, I'm hoping that we don't get the 6" of snow forecast for Christmas day!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Alonzo "Lonnie" Crull - Builder of Single-Six Prototypes?

I was at Gary Reeder's board and a poster there mentioned Alonzo Crull and his conversions (rebuilds) of Colt 1877 (Lightning) revolvers to Single-Action configuration as .22 LR revolvers. There was a dim memory floating around in my head and the post excited me to do a quick search on the subject and record all that I could find.  This is a down and dirty record of that info.  I'm still looking!

His guns have the appearance, from a distance, of the Ruger Single-Six. Well, we already know that these about which I'm writing are .22 LR, but don't they have that appearance? Note, too, that the gun is using an SAA's "rubber" stocks. The Single-Six prototype? I wonder if Bill Ruger knew about these, I bet he did.

Lightning such as modified by Alonzo Crull
He had come and gone long before the Internet, and is not well enough remembered for any historical work to have been done. He was rather famous in his day for taking a Colt Lightning, converting it to .22 LR, making the action SAO, and reshaping the birdshead butt into a plowhandle to produce a scale model SAA. The barrels and cylinders were relined from .38 to .22 or just remade and the sight rib and sights made from scratch. The internal action was totally rebuilt to operate like a Single Action Army. The whole shape of the butt of the gun was redone in SAA style, and new grips made. Alonzo was using guns sent by customers or if he was buying them up, converting and selling. Either way, the serial numbers and year made is pretty much at random. 2 Crull SA .22's sold for $475 each to the same buyer. The guy who's collection they came out of was there and said they should have brought $900 each. He is/was a gun dealer out of Wabash selling part of his collection to pay for medical bills. He said he knew Alonzo and had 9 more of his guns in the safe. Two of the guns he still has are single shot. He said that Alonzo "Lonnie" always said that the lightning was the strongest frame ever built but the biggest "POS" gun ever built. As far as Alonzo making a "bunch" of guns, well the guy told me that Alonzo cataloged 319 guns but he believes that there are closer to 400 around. He said that all of the barrels were turned from an old truck or tractor axle that Alonzo turned into a laithe. The guns at the auction seemed to function very smoothly but were somewhat crude to look at. From the side they look good but from the top they don't (IMO) the method that he used to matte the top of the receiver and barrel looks pretty rough. With regard to the matte finish on the receiver and top of the barrel from the previous comment, reportedly Crull did this to reduce glare while looking down the sights at your target. Another note...he had to reposition the screws in the frame due to his modifications. In doing so, he filled in the previous screw holes from the Lightning frame, which are now almost invisible. The guy knew what he was doing. Below is a response I received earlier this year from Hamilton Bowen with regard to Mr. Crull.

Dear Sir:

Thanks for your inquiry.

We do not have any information on Mr. Crull at our website and, unfortunately, I have been unable to lay hands on a file with some information about him, probabyl due to some office cleaning.

What I can tell you is he died probably 20 yrs. ago and lived in Wabash, Indiana. He was a first-rate gunsmith and specialized in building .22 rimfire revolvers, mostly on Colt Lightning frames but some on Colt SAA receivers. He made his own barrels and cylinder and, in the case of the little Colt DA guns, his own hammers and triggers. The barrels were the most distinctive feature. They were heavily tapered to cut weight but had integral ribs, one on top for the front sight and another on the side for the ejector housing so it would still fit well. Very complicated part to make.

I have a couple of his revolvers and am always impressed with their quality and thoughtful design. You are fortunate to have such a treasure. Hope this will help; thanks for your interest.

Sincerely yours,

Hamilton S. Bowen
Bowen Classic Arms Corp.

the excellent display honoring Lonny Crull's work at the Wabash County Historical Museum.

Mr. Crull did most of his conversions in the '30s and '40s. Locally, these guns are highly regarded and fetch considerable sums. I have also seen a few single shot break open target guns he made. He rifled his own barrels,and made his own fixtures and cutters to produce cylinders,triggers,sights etc. Several of these shop made tools and cutters are featured in the display, along with his rifling machine and photos of his shop. It would be well worth the drive to visit the museum, there are several other firearms on exhibit along with other war trophies/memorabilia.

This man was no "Bubba". He was a craftsman who often resurrected junkers into beautiful, useful pieces at a time when the factories had nothing similar to offer.

He scratch built high quality target revolvers. When the law required him to get a manufacturing license, he instead started basing his creations on Colt frames so they would not be new manufacture. When he got done there wasn't much left of the Colt beyond the serial number. Rod had a picture of Krull taken late in his life in his shop, his hands permanently curved by work and arthritis into the position used in holding a file.

i was a small child and my dad owned the gun shop next to lonnies. lonnie got to the point where he could not see good enough to polish and blue some of his revolvers do to bad eyesight. my dad did some of the polishing and bluing for him in those days. i would come home from school and load up six rounds in the revolver rest the gun in the crotch of our cherry tree and ring my neighbors steel fence post 6 out of 6 times. if you have the opportunity to own one never let it go. examples of his craftsmanship can be seen at the wabash couny museum in wabash indiana.

Found a little bit more Crull/Krull info in a short article in the July 1982 issue of "The Gun Report". Article states that "Crull made the hammer, cylinder, gripstraps, barrel, rifled the barrel, and even cut and dried the walnut for the grips as well as doing the bluing and other handy work"..."basically the only parts he preserved (from the Colt DA Lightning) were the frame and loading gate."
He had an apprentice who worked for him for a period of time. This person learned Alonzo's art for gunsmithing. He purportedly then used this knowledge to go home and secretly make his own firearms that he stamped my Great Great grandfather's name on and sold as authentic ones made by Alonzo himself.

A quick genealogy search shows that Alonzo Crull (b. 8 Jan 1874 Huntington, IN, d. 14 Jul 1972 Wabash, IN) was the son of Henry and Mary (Rhoer) Crull. He married Clara Munger in 1897 and they had five children. Eddie E., C. Roy, Lewis, Mary E., and Louise. According to the census, in 1900 he was an "engineer (thrashing)" (which probably means mechanic), in 1910 he was a machinist in a factory, in 1920 he was a machinist working in a foundry, in 1930 a mechanic for the "straw board" (perhaps somebody can tell me what "straw board" means). His 1918 draft card says he's a machinist for the Wabash Foundry and Machine Company and gives his address as 898 Ferry Street, Wabash, IN. Clara died in 1929 and Alonzo apparently never remarried. They are buried side by side in the Falls Memorial Gardens, Wabash, Wabash County, Indiana. They had several grandchildren and there are several descendants still living.

There is apparently some thought that Alonzo Crull was a Native American but I can't find any proof of that. His paternal grandfather came from Germany. It is possible that some maternal grandparent was of Native American descent but it can't be proven at this time.

Links:
- Gravesite
- Crull family history
- Crull blog
- Wabash Museum

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Notes from the gun shop...

We love the gun shop when it is busy and it was busy today. Christmas must be just around the corner as we sold many gift certificates and did 12 background checks PLUS sold one muzzleloader and took orders for 9 more firearms. A good day all around.

The gun of the day was the KelTec RFB. This was a hit with all the stool sitters who marveled at the engineering and had to ask me where the ejection port was. They were sort of disappointed that Jeff Quinn at GunBlast.com had already, many moons ago now, clued me in. What is the RFB? This from Kel Tec...
RFB stands for Rifle, Forward-ejecting Bullpup. Why forward-ejecting? Because it allows the RFB to be the first truly ambidextrous 7.62 NATO Bullpup ever developed. The patented, dual-extractor system maintains control of the case from the moment it leaves the magazine and upon firing, pulls the fired case from the chamber and lifts them to push them into an ejection chute above the barrel, where they exit. The Bullpup configuration and tilting-block mechanism allow the 18" model to be only 26.1" long, or as much as 14" shorter in overall length than its competitors with equal barrel lengths. Furthermore, the stock and mechanism cross-section is similar to a conventional rifle, in stark contrast to existing Bullpup rifles. The RFB is also the safest Bullpup ever developed because the breech is separated from the shooters face by two layers of 1.6 mm steel. In the highly unlikely event of a case rupture, gas expansion is directed downwards through the magazine well to protect the shooters head and face.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

Calibers: Target Carbine
Weight unloaded (no magazine): 11.3 lbs 8.1 lbs
Length: 40" 26"
Barrel length: 32" 18"
Magazine: 10 or 20 FAL
Practical range: 1200m 600m

The RFB is a short-stroke gas piston operated semi-automatic rifle in 7.62 mm NATO caliber. It accepts standard metric FAL type magazines which work "drop free" and do not need to be tilted in. One 20 round magazine is included*. Barrels on current models are 18" long, with a chrome lined bore and chamber. The muzzle is threaded 5/8x24 TPI and comes equipped with our A2-style Flash Hider*. Longer barrel lengths of 24", 26" and 32" will be available in the future. All controls are fully ambidextrous; the reciprocating operating handle can be switched to either side. The trigger mechanism is second to no other Bullpup ever built and better than nearly all commercial semi-auto rifles. The safety disconnects the trigger and blocks the hammer action. A Mil-Spec Picatinny rail is attached rigidly to the barrel. No open sights are provided, allowing the user to select from the very best new optics and sight systems available. The RFB comes with a two point sling that can be easily configured to suit the user's preference. Available accessories include a free-floating, four-sided Picatinny forend, bipod mounts, a removable bayonet lug for use with NATO style bayonets including our own Folding Bayonet, and many more.

Description MSRP

RFB $ 1880.00

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rene F. Elisar, Toni Spano, and Dr. and Mrs. Sedgewick

Rene in the Army in Korea(?)
This is Rene F. Elisar in 1953.  Clearly, he's in the Army, maybe Korea, but where I'm not certain.  That's the usual grin. 

I know that he was a forester.  That he attended Syracuse University and the Ranger School at State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and that he was in the Army.  I think that he had been posted to a district in Alleghany County, Pennsylvania before he ended up as a District Ranger in Athens, Ohio. He co-authored Portable Cone Storage Racks . He died when he was only 51.

I believe it was Rene who was in a hospital tent in Korea and awoke to find a Chinese soldier killing patients at the other end of the tent, drew his pistol and shot the enemy.  I don't know if Rene was wounded or "merely" sick.  

We visited he and his family, he was collecting old bottles at the time, in Pennsylvania. It seems that he had a daughter about 1 year younger than me and a younger son. I am now certain of the number of sons. They visited us in Bridgewater about 1969 and camped at Todd Lake. I think we all had a good time and even went in the water although it was pretty cool for that time of year (early summer I think). 

(l to r) Mom, Rene, Toni Spano at Dr. Sedgewick's
It bothers me more than a little bit that I can't find anything about him.  He always seemed to be a good person and I'd hate for him to be completely forgotten.  I'm hoping that posting this these photos will find his family.
Rene at Dr. Sedgewick's

In fact I have since heard from his daughter and I was able to put her in touch with Toni Spano. It certainly is nice to have been able to do that. Again, Rene was a nice and interesting man. He should be well remembered.

Interestingly, his daughter informs me that he had competed in shooting competitions in high school.  I believe I remembered that being mentioned but was certain enough to mention it here.  She also told me that although he was an avid hunter for many years, he ultimately gave away his firearms (and I would presume any archery equipment he might have had) and that he was not ever a member of the NRA.  That isn't uncommon for shooters now and NRA membership was actually less common among shooters then so that is unsurprising.  My own father didn't join the NRA until about 1981 even though I had first joined in 1972.

Toni, was Mom's best friend and maid-of-honor at my parent's wedding.  They were good friends and Toni visited my parents just a year or so before my father died in 1999.  Every story from Mom's college days had to include either Toni or Rene or the Sedgewicks.

Dr. Sedgewick and his wife were interesting people as well.  Although he was an academician, both he and his wife were "leg" shooters with Mrs. Sedgewick completing her leg, shot with a 1903 Springfield, first.  I only met them once, sitting outside their camper someplace, perhaps at Lake George, and I remember Mrs. Sedgewick as being a rather slight woman.  But, I also remember their obvious love of life despite the good Dr. being then suffering from Parkinson's disease.  Mom boarded with them for at least a couple of years including the months immediately prior to my birth so I guess you could say that I stayed with them as well.  In fact, Mom took a bus from their house to the hospital to give birth to me.  They were pretty close and Mom was also friends with their daughter and Dad was great friends with her husband.  In fact, we received a first hand account and photos of the 1964 Anchorage earthquake from them soon after the event.  I might still have those photos. 

Went to the gun show today...

Rockingham County Fairgrounds, a C&E show.  Nothing much to float my boat.  Some interesting vendors.  Historical Arms Corporation was there.  Not much to interest me though.  Ran into some friends, Buddy B________, Vic A______, and _______ ________ (the last shall remain nameless).  Nothing much to talk about.  Oh, there were some nice rifles and revolvers, just not for me or at prices beyond reasonable to my mind and wallet.  No sights, magazines, or ammo that I needed.  No component dealers.  Lots of jewelry and not good stuff at that.  Weather is nasty, wet, cold and with the promise of snow later if Nana gets her way.  A flop. I delivered some presents, topped off the tank, picked up some candy makings for Christmas presents and came home.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Nitro Express Forum has a Neat Feature

Nickudu has got a number of books in digital form.  Makes a great reading list as well!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

G'ma Janie's Poetry

Grandmother wrote poetry. She thought she was rather clever. We'll go with that. Herewith is a collection of G'ma Janie's poetry as I find it.

This first was written for her God-daughter, Priscilla Davis...
Accompanying artwork by G'ma Janie
Said Daniel the Spaniel
to Horace the Cat,
"What mouse is that mouse
At whose mousehole you sat?"

Said Horace the Cat
To his friend Daniel Dog,
"That mouse is a louse
Who eats high on the hog.

I've promised my mistress,
And you can help, too,
To chase him right back
To the fields where he grew."

So Daniel the Spaniel
And Horace the Cat
Chased mouse from the house,
Where he'd grow so darn fat.

And Daniel the Spaniel
And Horace the Cat
Lived long and were happy
And grew fatter than that!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Notes from the gun shop...

A busy day in the shop, we saw the Christmas buying season continue to build.  8 background checks (all of which were seemingly quicker than usual) with 9 transfers.  Unfortunately we also saw a number of guns come into the shop looking for buyers.  There were a couple of interesting guns (people needing to pay bills and feed their families), interesting to at least one of us. 

The first of those that was purchased today was a Remington 700 .222 Remington.  This was an older gun and one of the other clerks was hot on it after it was bought.  The rifle has a Canjar trigger and while used isn't abused and, as I said, is one of the early 700s for this cartridge. 

Next up was a Ruger 5½" barreled Single-Six for the .32 H&R magnum.  It is one of the adjustable sight guns and was NIB but the box didn't have the paperwork.  The box was marked "SSM" but the gun wasn't.  IIRC the serials do match.  I did let some friends know about it but the boss' $650 price tag might have given them pause.  It shouldn't as he is open to negotiation.  In this economy, who really knows what a gun will bring unless you put it out there. 

We also got a finish worn Series 80 Colt Officer's model .45 ACP pistol.  I think that the boss will be offering that for about $400.  I couldn't find anything wrong with it mechanically but the finish is well and truly carry worn.  I think it would be a good deal for somebody wanting one of these little .45s. 

Of course the boss man got another opportunity to show his generous side.  We have a husband who's buying a gun, on layaway, and his wife is buying the same model gun also on layaway.  Knowing that only one gun is being sold, to further the deception the boss is leaving both guns on the layaway shelf. 

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Some things I will never understand...

Working at the other shop today and a couple comes in, after the short conversation I am supposing mother and son. Son is looking for a drill rifle. Mother doesn't want to spend the money that a purpose built drill rifle costs and WILL NOT HAVE A REAL GUN IN THE HOUSE. Now that is something I don't understand. She said they were dangerous. I asked if she had knives in her kitchen and if she had driven to the store. Rhetorical perhaps as of course she drove and of course she has kitchen knives. She said guns were evil because guns kill. I asked if she was going to throw herself out of the house because she kills. She eats meat, she drives, she walks, she won't let "bugs" in her house, she kills ergo she must be evil. Right? No, it is guns that are evil.

To my mind only people are capable of evil. Only people make choices based on whether they believe they are doing something which is right or wrong. Despite the "evidence" in a wealth of various animated classic movies, the other animals do not reason in this way. If hungry, they eat, if they must kill to eat, they do so. Inanimate objects lack even this basic ability to respond to stimulus. Heck, they can't even move. Hammers, screw drivers, rocks, canes, golf clubs, baseball bats, all share this basic inability to form thought, respond to stimuli or to move independently. I will never understand this "reasoning".

Axtell Rifleman Sights

Despite the sudden disappearance of the web site and sights from the Buffalo Arms catalog, Axtell is still making sights.  The phone number is still 406-842-5814.



I do not know what is happening with Axtell's sights. Sold out to Buffalo Arms and the former owner is now retired.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Firearm Photographer Extraordinaire Puts out a New Calendar

Kirk Durston of Canada is a multi-talented shooter from Ontario. One of his talents is photography and he's come out with a wonderful 2011 calendar of lever action rifles. Makes a great Christmas or other gift and will look great on your wall, too! Nothing better for the dedicated shooter but to have these wonderful photos of wonderful firearms to enjoy while recording the mundane passage of time.


Extraordinaire

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Notes from the gun shop...

Yesterday was a slow one.  Even the number of stool sitters has declined.  In this part of Virginia we've ended the "regular gun season" (deer season allowing "all" firearms) and moved back into bow season.  I only sold two guns, both Christmas presents.  We are seeing more high quality firearms walk in the door looking for a buyer.  The hot item yesterday was a 5½" barreled Ruger flat-gate Single-Six with 40xxx serial (1956).  No box, but in very good to excellent condition. 

Bears are still in and there are reportedly a lot of them out there this year.  I've heard it said that "bear are the new deer", i.e. as common as deer used to be.  The consensus is that the deer really suffered from the deep snows (deep for this area) we had for so long last winter.  The good news is that there is plenty of  hard mast and we should have good survival rates, depending on weather.

Back to firearms...  Sales do seem to be down now.  The manufacturers must be hurting as well because we learned that Smith and Wesson will be reducing prices on all firearms.  Sigmas will be reduced to $299 MSRP.  That's $13 less than current jobber prices!   I imagine many dealers are worried that they will have stock that can't be sold for enough to cover costs. Definitely a deflationary trend.

Ammo prices seemed to have dropped slightly, in some "cases" but I don't think this is a trend.  We continue to read that China is once again buying huge quantities of the metals used in ammunition.  This will tend to keep ammo prices high. 

I am constantly amazed at the penny-wise pound-foolish ways of some customers.  For example we had a fellow who drove 82 miles round-trip to the store to buy 4 Chicago screws.  He wanted 6 and for what he spent for gas in his truck he could have ordered on-line and had them delivered to his home and saved as much as $2!  No, it wasn't an immediate need item.   

Thursday, November 25, 2010

More Rediscovered Memories...

I didn't think I had these any longer but while cleaning we came across the photo albums which had these.  Hard to believe that was 35 years ago.
Awaiting my ride to the airport...
In 1974 I had just completed my 47-week course in Chinese (Mandarin) at the Defense Language Institute - West Coast (DLIWC) and was on orders for the Voice Intercept Operators' Course at Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo, Texas before shipping out for my first tour in the ROK (Dec-Jan 1975).  We weren't big on photographs then.  It was supposedly a security risk but here I am, just as I'm waiting for my ride to the airport to fly to San Angelo.  I'm 19-years old here.  Yes, the regs have changed a bit in that time.  You can see my TRADOC (Training and Doctrine Command) patch and I'm still wearing the little white taped on label on my name tag identifying my language (CM). That was pretty much it for photos until I went back to Korea for my second tour.
CW3 James C. Tice at his desk in the CE Shop, 125th ATC Bn
I returned to the ROK in August of 1977.  I went to the repo depot on Camp Coiner (adjoining Yongsan Garrison in Seoul) and managed to wrangle an assignment in Seoul with the 125th Air Traffic Control Battalion (Provisional).  I was then assigned as the senior PLL clerk for the Communications and Electronics shop (CE Shop).  The head honcho there was CW3 James C. Tice. Chief Tice was a fine fellow.  I liked working for him.  He told me what he wanted and I did it but he didn't really supervise, he left that to his NCOs including SSG Martinez and SSG Livingstone.  Later we had a CW3 Cosgriff (if memory serves).  I remember that Chief Tice had a family back home and a trailer home he couldn't sell but wished he could get some money from.  A very fortunate tornado took out the trailer but spared the home his family was living in on the same lot!  I think he was close to retirement but don't remember if I ever heard what happened to him. 
Along the road to Chuncheon with SP4 Lee.
I was with that shop for a couple of years.  The mission changed over that time from mostly repair of FM and avionics radios, GCA radar and voice recorders to mostly an exchange point with the section acting as the intermediary between the battalion's users and depot maintenance in various parts of Korea.  We had some interesting and fine folks there. One of those fine folks was SP4 (spec four or Specialist Fourth Class) Lee.  He was my right-hand man and handled a lot of the leg work for me as well as bringing me up to speed on the language.  He was a sort of Corporal Klinger with a knack for finding all sorts of odd things from obsolete radar tubes to gold jewelry (for the wife) and even a gig as a conversational English teacher.  He was also a veteran of the ROK Army and a black belt in Taekwondo.
NamSan, Seoul, December 1978
Also in the unit was SP5 Ramesh P. Fowser.  He was a very interesting person for many reasons.  He was Indian whose family had emigrated to Guyana and then he had moved on to the U.S., gotten his citizenship and joined the Army.  Part of his family lived in up-state New York and his brother still lived in Guyana when the Jim Jones Jonestown event happened.  Apparently it was so bad in Guyana that his brother felt it necessary to call him on the phone (which was almost never done at the time due to cost and/or difficulty) to let him know they were alive and safe.  Ramesh had been there a couple of years and his girl-friend was Korean.  I think they eventually got married.
Ramesh (foreground) and _____ at the 125th ATC CE Shop
Life was pretty good in Korea.  I managed to save up some money and live fairly comfortably (if average winter indoor temps of about 58° is comfortable) with my family even though we weren't command sponsored.
Standing at the section door in Camp Coiner...
Due to the changing section mission, the section was moved to Camp Coiner and of course we got some new faces.  Because I was married to a Korean, I had pretty much homesteaded which wasn't that unusual for soldiers with Korean wives so I made the move, too.  Now we were in one of the many Quonset huts heated with the green diesel stoves.  It was my job to come in every morning, sign for the section keys and start the stove.  I'd then go to the snack bar on main post and have breakfast.  Inevitably that would be a ham and cheese omelet prepared by Mr. Kim and read the paper.  Then I'd pick up the section mail, check the duty roster, have PT or whatever and go back to the section for a day's work.  Another soldier would usually turn in the keys in the evening.  Our OIC was CW4 Lawson (from Arkansas) and the NCOIC was SFC Godfrey Wactor (an actual veteran of the Korean war and a businessman on the side at Fort Huachuca).  It was during this time, 1979, that my daughter was born.  Chief Lawson didn't want me to take leave, even though I hadn't taken any leave in almost 3 years, and when I did he got me transferred out of his section to the motor pool.  Good folks down there, too, and I knew them all.  That was a good section but I don't think I ever took any photos.  Maybe I'll surprise myself and find some.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

DeeBee's 34-1 - A Parkerized Wonder

What a neat gun. It apparently has none of the problems my nickeled 34-1 has. The parkerization appeals to me even though I think I'll still want to get a blued and a stainless (Model 63) gun. It seems business like.

The first shooting with the gun was at about 20 feet with Aguila Colibris.  You could have covered that group with a dime.  Unfortunately it was a good 3 inches to the right.  Further shooting in better light showed that the gun was shooting to the sights.  Better light was the key here.

I like the way this gun shoots and handles.  The square grip does make a difference.  You wouldn't think so but the square grip makes it feel like an entirely different firearm compared to the round butt. 

One other good thing about getting this gun was that it pointed up a problem with my other 34-1.  It has a problem with the cylinder binding on the barrel face.  This older and re-finished gun has no such problem. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Random Act of Culture

A hat tip to Tam for this. Mom participated/performed in several productions of "The Messiah". Many special memories and a fine sentiment for these times...


... and, yes, Mom loved opera...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Notes from the gun shop...

I wish something had happened today.  Not much did.  Things seem awful slow for hunting season.

Mike Martin came in today.  He was talking about his daughter who's at Radford.  I remember when Mike was at VMI.  He's right, it made me feel a bit old.   He's put on a lot of rank since then and looking at O-5 next.

There was a neat old Winchester 1873 rifle, a B prefix serial caliber .38 WCF, and with a 30" octagonal barrel.  Somebody had replaced the rear sight with a more modern open sight and it was missing a lower tang screw.  Neat gun.

We did have some folks bring some antiques... One was a American Civil War contract musket which appeared to be made in Germany.  Another was a folding trigger pinfire revolver of about .32 caliber...  and then...  we had the fellow who wanted to complete a rifle that was...

... a conglomeration.  It used a Springfield 1863 lock and cut-down stock.  The hammer had had several notches neatly filed around the perimeter for reasons unknown.  The barrel appeared to be a piece of what appeared to be cold rolled steel that had been beaten into a rough approximation of octagonal with a hole drilled down the "middle" (very roughly down the middle at that).  The ramrod, which went by that name due to its location more than any reasonable function, was a length of brazing rod with a glob of solder affixed to one end.  The best redeeming feature was that the lock and stock hardware might be worth the $40 paid.  And so it goes...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rediscovered Memories

We've been cleaning...

Having a chat with a D-Day Veteran in France, June 1994
We weren't quite so old as he but nobody in the photo is less than 39 years old.  We were all there for the 50th Anniversary of the Normandy Landings, D-Day.  The Department of Defense funded National Guard "Honor Platoons" and I was fortunate enough to be selected for one and went as a squad leader.  With me is Woody Ramsey and a Platoon Sergeant from the Maryland National Guard as well as the veteran.  I think that our Platoon Sergeant, John Johnson of Wytheville, VA took this photo.

The Major of Saint-Lô's marker at Colleville, MAJ Thomas D. Howie
We visited the cemeteries and memorials...

Flanking two veterans at the memorial to MAJ Thomas D. Howie, Saint-Lô, France, June 1994
We stayed in the gymnasium at a local school in Le Molay-Littry...

Getting ready for the day's ceremonies...
And we saw the heads of state commemorate the landings...

The big wheels with Queen Elizabeth, Bill Clinton and whoever the French guy was at the time...
Security for that wasn't as tight as it is to get on an airplane today.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hunting without rain...

Went to Mom's to hunt.  Decided to sit.  Sat.  Watched.  Waited.  Came home and prepped food for Linda's "Fat Friday" treats.  Nibbled on a bit of bacon and had spaghetti for dinner.  Killed time and that's about it. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hunting without rain...

Back at it this morning after some chores, the wind was up and that made it difficult to do anything but hunt into the wind.  Unfortunately, there weren't any deer in my hunting area that were also upwind of me.  I again took the 1876 SRC and found a couple of scrapes and rubs.  Sooner or later our paths must cross...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hunting in the rain...

We have had almost 3/4" of rain which came as a steady rain fall from last night through to this afternoon. I went to Mom's but didn't find any deer traversing any of the many trails now criss-crossing the pasture bottom. About half the pasture is becoming a bit overgrown (and needs clearing out). Cedars and other brush have gotten a start and deer are using this edge as a shortcut between the neighbor's wooded area and clearcut and our driveway whence the deer cross the road to another place and more food etc.

I carried my Ruger New Model Blackhawk Flattop .44 Special 4-5/8" and the Chaparral .45-75 WCF SRC.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Notes from the gun shop...

Not much to report from the guns and ammo sales trenches...

We've seen a noticeable drop in sales. At least one major distributor has been shipping lots less product in the last 3-4 months. Prices should be coming down, but perhaps ammo prices won't decline given that the Chinese economy is already winding up faster than ours. Devaluation of the dollar will also contribute to this. Our customers know these things but simply aren't motivated to do anything about it. They are buying less since they already have supplies from the last two years. We are still selling guns to young folks, particularly in some sort of government service, who have money but haven't yet inherited family guns. We actually stood around some today, something that has never happened this time of year in the 3 years I've been working in the shop.

I almost forgot to mention that one of today's highlights was the appraisal of part of an estate's firearms. The executrix is the daughter and the auction will be held 4 December in Fishersville, VA with Mr. Craig as the auctioneer. Anyway, she brought about half the collection today. Most were run of the mill but for a Belgium produced Browning Auto 5 Light 12 in really good condition (which is one she will keep) and a Colt Trooper MKIII. Why is the Trooper interesting? Because her brother committed suicide with the gun. Now, while that is sad, that is her stated reason for "hating guns" and I don't get it. Ummmm, my brother was hit with a truck and killed, should I hate trucks? I just don't see this. However, one can't account for the stages of grief and this young lady should be blessed with adequate return on her effort. If you can, I hope you'll step out for the auction.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Jeweled Bolt & Custom Follower for a Marlin 336 Cowboy by OldNo7

A "right of passage" in my family was when you turned 16 years old, you got to go with Dad to drill the bank vaults. Sure, we could have made much more money by doing it at night in really big vaults! But we only did it during the day on small safe deposit vault doors -- always under the watchful gaze of an armed guard -- so we only made a decent living doing it. Funny thing is, our Dad always did the drilling, we were just the "lumpers". But we did get to learn some useful skills once the doors went back to the shop to be re-keyed and finished. Dad taught us how to do engine-turning, aka "jewelling", which is how we would disguise where the door had been drilled and pinned. I've done maybe 5 or 6 bolts for my guns over the years, so I decided it was time to tackle the plain-Jane bolt of my 38-55 Marlin Cowboy.

Here you see the bolt mounted in a homemade (but effective) jig, and it's been highly polished with NEVR-DULL to prep the surface. I think that results in a better/more even finish later.
 
Marlin 336 CB - Bolt 00 (Small).jpg

Here you see the Brownell's engine-turning brush has been wrapped with light wire and secured with black tape. Sometimes I don't do that, but for this bolt I wanted nice tight swirls -- almost like fishscales -- and I didn't want the brush to open up too much under the pressure of the drill press' quill. You can see the 600-grit valve lapping compound that I paint on the bolt, along with the straight-edge clamped to the table and the graph paper aligned to that, so I'd have a grid to follow. You do NOT want to do this job by eye, as it's very tedious doing dozens & dozens of "move, quill down, count to 3, quill up, move..."  repetitions. You do have to align the bolt with the brush and paper too. Having a solid setup, a good jig to hold the bolt level and with enough tension to prevent it from turning on you, and consistency on the quill pressure are the keys to this job.

Marlin 336 CB - Bolt 01 (Small).jpg

Here's the finished bolt still covered with the compound, along with the Brownell's brushes used. On every other bolt, I would always rub off some compound to "see how she looked" but this time, I was feeling pretty good about the pattern in the "goop" so I wanted to see if I could do it all without wiping. (That sounds wrong, but just go with it...)

Marlin 336 CB - Bolt 02 (Small).jpg

So without further adieu, here she is... I like it!  And I'm really happy with the smaller pattern that I was trying to achieve, although some of my other work does look good with a larger pattern of swirls.

Marlin 336 CB - Bolt 03 (Small).jpg
Here's the bolt installed in the receiver:

Marlin 336 CB - Bolt 04 (Small).jpg

And finally, with the bolt open too:

Marlin 336 CB - Bolt 05 (Small).jpg

Just in case you're curious, this is not just done "for looks", although that's a big part of it for sure. I've been told the swirls "hold lube" better. Whether that's true or not, I'm not sure, but maybe a trained machinist/gunsmith can weigh in on that.

Lastly, I've also got to give some credit to Nate Kiowa Jones (aka Steve Young) and Joe Miller for their recent info about replacing plastic followers with nicer metal ones. Joe started off and did all the plastic followers in Hoppe's tests, and Steve mentioned the nice stainless steel followers he makes for the Rossi's. He said they also work on the Marlin 1894s but guess what -- Steve and I did some measurements and found out the Rossi 44/45 that he makes works great for my 336 Cowboy too! Here's the old one versus Steve's new one:

Marlin Follower - Steves Gunz 44-45 (Small).jpg

It seems a shame to "hide" that piece inside the Marlin... I was actually thinking about jewelling just the end of it, but I really can't see enough of it once it's installed. It is a very well done part, that's for sure. I call it "custom" because it's meant for a Rossi, and I'm using it in my Marlin. But it's so shiny and of such high quality, heck yeah, it sure is a custom part!

I may have left out a few details of the setup of the press/brush and how to make a jewelling jig, but to be honest, I'd rather not be responsible for somebody trying this on their levergun without having some prior experience doing it. I'll bet I did over 300 vault doors in just one summer alone, so I got pretty darn good at it -- not rich, like if we had drilled "after hours"  -- but very experienced with the jewelling process.

I hope you like Steve's and my handiwork. Thanks for lookin'!

Tight groups!

Old No7

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Firewood

This time of year we would all like to be certain of our firewood supply. If not now (pretty warm this week despite the freezing temps overnight) then later, a hot fire in the stove or fireplace would be a great comfort. However, I imagine you need to burn a lot of wood to justify one of these...



I once heated with wood. I liked that despite the work because, at the time, it was cheap AND I stayed warm. I like being warm. Of course, I split all the wood by hand. Went through many a cord of wood with go-devil and wedge. I'd set aside the really clear (of knots) and straight pieces to split on down to kindling.

I have cut the trees myself, bought logs delivered to the house and bought firewood commercially split. No matter how you get it you will have to do some work. If nothing else, you've got to split some kindling and to stack it. Stacked wood is drier, safer, and neater. There is a lot of inner peace attached to a well stacked rick.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Marbles Tang Sight- A Picture Disassembly Guide (see steps 1-4 to tighten) by Shasta

The Marbles tang sight is my favorite as I really like the click-detent adjustments for windage and elevation. Frequently the sight they recommend for a given rifle does not offer enough elevation to suit me.

I have solved this problem in several ways. One was to simply buy a taller-stemmed sight designed for a different rifle. At about $100 per sight this is not a cheap solution. For a mere $6 (from Buffalo Arms) I bought just the elevation stem, and swapped out the one in my sight for a taller one.

This job is not complicated, but working with very tiny parts that don't always co-operate can lead to some frustration and "blue" language. Be advised and proceed at your own risk!

Start by having the right tools on hand. A clean cloth on the workbench will help prevent lost parts. A magnet is also handy for keeping track of small parts.
The first task is to remove the windage knob. Some are held on by a set screw, but most I've seen are held by a roll pin. I use a very small nail with the point ground flat to punch out the pin:

Image

Be very careful here because when the windage knob is free to slide off the windage screw, there are two very tiny ball bearings that will fall out. Keep the job close to the bench and don't let those little buggers get away!

Image

Next remove the windage screw. It has two holes in the head, and a cut-off paper clip makes a good tool for spanning the holes and turning out the screw.

Image

With the windage screw removed the elevation assembly is free. In the sight base under the elevation assembly is a square-shaped piece of spring steel with a peak fold. This is the detent spring that holds the elevation stem upright. If the sight has a loose or floppy elevation stem, this spring can be tweaked or have a shim placed under it to tighten things up.

Image

Now comes the tricky part; using an appropriate size Allen wrench remove the screw at the base of the elevation assembly. Again keep the work close to the bench as there are more of those little tiny ball bearings about to come falling out.

Image

By carefully turning the elevation base while holding the knob with the Allen screw hole facing the bench, eight ball bearings will come out one at a time. There is also a single ball bearing used as a detent between the elevation knob and stem base. You can see it in the picture still in place. It will fall out as the knob and base are separated, so be very careful. The dime in the picture gives some idea of how small these parts are.

Image

This is what the elevation knob and base look like when separated. Note the pin passing through the bottom of the sight stem. It rides in the slot cut in the elevation base and this is what keeps the eyepiece always facing the correct way.

Image

Using a needle-nose pliar remove the pin. The eyepiece stem can now be un-threaded from the elevation knob.

Image

Here are the eyepiece stems I had on hand. You can see there is quite a difference in length. The shortest one is from the sight pictured. The center one is the replacement.

Image

Here I have the new stem threaded throught the elevation knob and the alignment pin back in place.

Image

As they say in all the manuals "Reassemble in reverse order".

I find it helpful to use a speck of grease to hold the detent ball bearing in place when putting the elevation knob-stem assembly back onto the elevation base. With the detent in place, hold pressure to keep the components tightly together while feeding the eight ball bearings back in one at a time through the Allen screw hole. They fit in a groove on the elevation base and may require a bit of assistance from a piece of wire or a nail to work their way all the way around. Don't force them! They will all fit with a bit of manipulation. Once all the bearings are back in, reinstall the Allen screw.

Now we are back to the basic components ready for final assembly.

Image

This is a good time to be sure the square spring for the elevation stem assembly is working properly. Place the spring back in its recess in the sight base. Holding the elevation assembly in place, thread the windage screw back in all the way. Now flop the sight stem up and down a few times. It should have good resistance and be free of play in the upright position. If not, remove the windage screw and tweak or shim under the square spring as needed. Once everything is working, hold the sight on its side with the detent surface facing the bench. Carefully place the two windage detent ball bearings onto the windage knob and slip it back in place. Replace the roll pin (or set screw) in the knob and the sight is ready to install on the rifle. Simple, EH?

This is the sight back on the rifle. Because the stem is long for the elevation knob, some of the threads show even with the sight all the way down, but now I have plenty of elevation to play with.

Image


Good luck!! SHASTA

Monday, November 08, 2010

Notes from the gun shop...

I love working n the gun shop. Yes, I'm on my feet all day but, I get to see some really interesting guns and meet some really interesting people.

Had a guy who has just moved here with his wife who is from Nana's home town. Boy was he surprised! Prior service as well. Neat.

Another fella brought in a drilling, a F. R. Jung and Söhne 16 ga. over I-don't-know-what. Couldn't get the time with it to puzzle that out. Looked to be about .375-.45 caliber. Looking down the chamber it seemed to be a tapered like the 9.3x72Rbut I wasn't able to confirm that.  Shotgun barrels were pattern twist (i.e. damascus) and looked to be in fine shape. It had the tang peep and extensive carving on the stock. There was an old crack repair.

We had a Winchester Model 100 semi-auto rifle come in so dirty that the gunsmith had to take it apart to clean. So I learned a bit about how it goes back together. Interesting but I doubt I'll remember all the quirks.

Sales of guns are down though. The boss man bought more than he sold today. The economy has finally impacted the gun store!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Holster from Wrangler Leather, Cody, Wyoming

Many moons ago, it seems longer due to the anticipation, in November 2009, I "ordered" a holster for my Uberti forged-frame 1858 5½" barreled revolver from Wrangler Leather.  Between then and now, Buck/Dave has had a rough time of it.  Now, it seems, he's starting to catch up on his work and it was a big surprise when I came home from work today to find the holster in the mail. 

The whole thing oozed "professional" and quality.  From the packing in a canvas bag stamped with the maker's mark inside a protective sealed plastic bag inside the perfect size shipping box with the right size foam ball to maintain holster shape and the carefully printed shipping label to the quality of the holster itself this is one class act.

The holster is quality through and through.  Leather used is without blemish.  The dye is even without spotting or fading or darkening.  The stitching is even, and correct.  The tooling is without error.  The holster fits the gun perfectly and it hangs correctly.  I had looked long and hard for a quality holster for this revolver and I got it.  I couldn't be more pleased.

If you find that you want such a holster (or other leather goods), write:

Wrangler Leather

1108 14th Street
Cody, Wyoming 82414-3743



Thursday, November 04, 2010

Restoring Anvils

Blacksmithing has been a long term interest of mine but I've never been able to get the stuff together or a place to pursue the interest.  Some folks have gone back to the roots and set up some sort of backyard forge.  Lots of interesting approaches out there.

I recently read about a fellow who got a well used/abused anvil for free and he had linked to Doc's Alaskan Forge.

I'll post more such as I find them...

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

1876 SRC Sight "Improvement"

The front sight on the 1876 SRC repro is way too low making the gun shoot way too high.  It might be correct but it isn't usable, at least for me. 

Ok, so after much consideration and reasoned examination of the various options for permanent, semi-permanent and genuinely temporary fixes I decided to try the JB Weld method. After all, it has the seal of approval from the local red-neck crowd (some actually suggested using carefully applied and folded duct tape!).

The end result was higher front sight that resembles a mid-19th century bayonet lug more than a front sight HOWEVER I took it out today and I was able to bust head size rocks at about 90-80 yards with it and the TEN-X ammo I took with me. FWIW, 2 Pyrodex loads I also tried seemed to strike about 2-3" lower at the same range. Kinda hard to see through the smoke though.  As long as the sight stays on, it is good enough for this years deer hunt!

So, I put the rifle up and went squirrel hunting with a .32-20 revolver (sorry Mike) but was skunked except... I had a single doe come down the trail and past me. I did nothing (not in season here) and enjoyed watching her trying to figure out what I was. It does bother me that there were no others around.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Rossi Scout Mount for 92s

Rossi makes a scout mount for their clone of the Winchester 92.  Some dealers are claiming that the mount is "unobtanium".  While the hole spacing is the same as for the TC Encore (Contender) the barrel taper is different and so that mount would require reshaping along the bottom.  Fortunately that's not necessary as the Rossi folks have them in stock.  Just call Rossi Customer Service @ 305-474-0401-1 and order one.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Notes from the gun shop...

Business is picking up with the muzzleloading season and approaching "regular" gun season. Lots of ammo sales today.  In fact it seemed that there was at least one customer in the shop all day and we had customers driving up right up to closing time. 

Interesting guns? Well, there was a drought of sorts. We started the day with a 5" Smith and Wesson 27-2. Then we had to wait a while but we found a Browning Mountain Rifle which is of minor interest as it is only the second one I've ever seen. Then we discovered an impressive bit of ordnance in the back room.


The Armalite AR-50, a bolt-action .50 BMG chambered rifle was resting on its bipod in the "back room". Ostensibly slated for the Staunton Police Department, the rifle made me first wonder "why?" and then "why not?" The PD has been told they need something to defeat barricades. I'm wondering, how they will know what is behind a block wall?








The next unusual visitor was a BSA Model 2 Standard Air Rifle.  This is a spring air gun with about 8 lbs cocking effort for 12 fpe ballistic energy (at the muzzle).  It has a classic, early 20th century stock design and uses a under-barrel lever rather than the barrel for cocking.  The guns in either the No. 1 or No. 2 bores (.177 and .22 respectively) have an excellent reputation for accuracy.  They have adjustable triggers as well.
BSA Standard Air Rifle Cross-section

The problem this one has is that it will not cock.  The problem we have in repairing it is how to get it apart and back together.  Except for the above cross section, there is a dearth of repair information on the internet.  Even W. H. B. Smith's excellent book "Gas, Air and Spring Guns of the World" fails to give sufficient help in this even though it mentions the BSA guns. 

For those users who are willing to invest in their investment (and isn't any shooting purchase an investment?) Cornell Pubs has a BSA Air Rifle Catalog.  I doubt that the catalog provides information on the "how to" of lubrication or repair but I think one is ahead to have any information at all.

One might get some support from:
- Knibbs International
- Chambers Guns
- Protek Supplies

Books which might be of help are:
- "The Golden Century" by John Knibbs (out of print)
- "Exploded Airgun Drawings, Second Edition" by John Groenewold

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shooting the Garand, a very short story...

I managed to take my M1 Rifle, aka the Garand, to Mom's and roughly zero it. No bench, I shot from sitting, but I could hit what I aimed at. We'll take it to the range and shoot from the bench to ensure it is properly zeroed. Ammo was LC69 ball.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Notes from the gun shop...

It started off quick and was mostly busy from 8:00 AM on. When I got there, there were 5 cars in the lot and it mostly stayed that way. Not many backgrounds today, only about 5, but lots of ammo buyers.

I never cease to be amazed at the people who are interested in and own guns. Gun owners are a diverse group. We had people from 18 to 80, from millionaires to some who saved their lunch money for this year's deer hunting ammo. We had blacks, whites, men and women. Why this doesn't help the conservatives at the polls is something I haven't figured out as nothing says personal responsibility like a firearm.

It is an unfortunate fact that nothing puts good guns on the market like a downturn in the economy. We saw some more good guns come in the shop to change owners. ALL the former owners were in economic distress.

However, so far as neat or unique firearms we didn't really have much of anything come in the door. We did have some great storytellers though and also got to talk with some old friends. Made for a great day.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Squirrel Hunting

Went squirrel hunting at "Mom's" place today.  Took the .32 WCF Smith and Wesson as weapon of choice.  Saw no squirrels out and about in winds gusting to 25-30 mph.  Walked the new back line fence though.  Looks good!  Got to think about the place some.  I'm going to miss it.  Did some shooting at walnuts floating in the pond.  Jim Taylor's loads sure do smoke!  They will shoot though, even in this old gun.  Great fun. It was a relief to get out of the house and loaf.

I carried my Smith and Wesson revolver in a Shawn Hagler made pancake holster from Big Loop Leather in Lacombe, Louisiana.   Rode comfortably and safely in the well made holster. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Browning Lever Action Rifle (BLR), By - Bruce Hamlin


The Browning Lever Action Rifle  (BLR)
By:  Bruce Hamlin

The Browning BLR did not really grab my attention until a few years ago.  I knew about it and had handled a few, but I was more into the Winchester lever action collecting/shooting phase.  One day (actually a little more), I woke up to find that the Winchester Model 94 was going out of  production.  I had been a loyal 94 follower and had tried most of the calibers and variations.  Something struck me wrong about the closing of the plant and I was soon out of the Winchester ownership program.  Not a problem I thought, there are some good Marlin’s out there and I have not really gave them their chance.  I dove into the Marlin lever action collection/shooting phase and had a year or two of fun.  One day I heard about the new .308 Marlin cartridge/rifle combination coming to the market soon and I had to have one - or two as it turned out.  I was soon the owner of both a blued and a stainless steel model of the new rifle/round.  Upon firing both, I found the chambers to be to rough and actually had fired rounds (brass) seize up in the chambers.  Both had to have the chamber polished out!  I did a little research and found others who had the same problem.  I then began to notice some quality issues with the newer LA Marlins on my main dealers rack and thought to myself - it is happening again.  I am sorry to see that it has now happened and the Marlin 336  production has stopped for the moment.

I have actually gotten a little ahead of myself.  While going through my different lever action phases, I always found myself wanting something else.  I wanted different calibers, different stocks, different and more easily adjustable sights.  I sometimes think I tried them all - calibers, stocks, sights, barrel lengths.  I labeled myself a lever gun junky.  I thought of my habit as an exploration through the different makers - but underlying all of this, I had a few wants/needs that had yet to be addressed.

I was raised in the south (north Florida) where hunting and fishing is more than a tradition.  It is a way of life and all social things seem to relate to it.  Go to an annual festival and there is game meat and/or fish to eat.   If you have a political event, the same applies.  If there is talk about someone special, it is usually the hunter who bagged the biggest buck, the old wise gobbler or the one who catches the largest catfish, bass or the most bream.  We don’t talk about movie stars and glamor, although there is a tradition towards certain ball games.

Now let’s get back to guns.  Our history here relates to some lever guns and quite a bit to double barreled shotguns.  To be honest, these woods and hammocks are so thick that the shotgun truly has earned its reputation as the all around hunting weapon.  I have bird hunted and squirrel hunted a little with the shotgun, but I never liked them.  I have thought a lot about my preferences and have come to accept that I feel the shotgun allows me to be less precise in my aiming and I can not accept that.  I want and need precision, reliability and one shot performance.  My preference for squirrels and turkeys has always been the .22 LR and I can attest to the effectiveness of the .22 magnum on other (larger) game.   If I had to choose one rifle caliber to survive, it would be the .22 magnum, closely followed by the LR round.  I have killed many hogs with both and have a confidence that I can get by with either.  I have had a BL-22 for awhile and it is not going anywhere.  It is accurate and how can anyone not enjoy that short throw lever.

Now, let’s get back to that need for precision, reliability and one shot performance.  We had a family/friend tradition concerning the night before hunting season opened.  Everyone would come to my parent’s home and there would be a lot of story telling, a good meal and if the truth must be told a few cold ones.  It was something to be involved in and I only wish that I had the magic to make it happen again.  It was an exciting event.  On the opening night (before) in 1973, a friend of my family who happened to own a hardware store/gun shop showed up as usual.  His name was Ronnie and I could write a book on Ronnie and his hunting adventures.  One thing Ronnie definitely had was class and respect.  My family was very poor and we did not own much, but we were always well fed and the coffee was always on.  That night Ronnie brought my father a NIB Browning BAR in 30-06 caliber and gave it to him.  I have been told it was from the last days of Belgium production and my research supports that.  It had a Weaver 4X Wideview scope and it was magnificent. 

My father was a dog hunter who was well known all over the south.  He cared more about the dogs than ever killing a deer.  He was not a marksman and he favored the shotgun over a rifle.  Let’s just skip many years and say that he killed some deer with that BAR and I killed a lot with it.  My first deer fell to that rifle in 1973.  It was one shot, running at well over 100 yards away from me.  Through the back of the head and out the nose.  That started my obsession with accuracy and performance and leads us to the purpose of this article.  BTW, I am a retired Game Warden (LT. Colonel) and have heard it all when it comes to hunting and fishing.  Let me safely state that this BAR has resulted in the harvesting of  a few hundred deer and quite a few hogs.  This particular rifle has a reputation of never needing over one shot to harvest any game animal.  My father passed away in January 2009 and I inherited that BAR rifle.  It was a sign of change to come.

Now to the future.  When all this stuff was happening with Winchester and Marlin, I got to seriously thinking about my needs and preferences.  It all came down to the acceptance that I was looking for something that was right in front of me.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with any model or caliber of those rifles previously mentioned, but what I was looking for was already there.  I trusted the 30-06, it was a good caliber for anything I would ever need and most of all, it was available anywhere.  My daddy always said that you should pick something (caliber) that was available at any store.  The 30-06 sure fits that criteria.

I woke up one morning feeling pretty sad over my father’s passing and thought about my inheritance of the BAR.  I then remembered everything I have already expressed and  I thought,  I already have the start.  I have the BAR and the Browning BLR’s have quite a few options.  I quickly acquired a BLR 30-06 takedown, a Stainless BLR takedown in 450 Marlin, a 270 Win. BLR, a A-Bolt in 30-06, a early steel .308 BLR and two BPR’s (Pump Rifle) in 30-06.  I got rid of everything that was not a Browning.  I hunted with most of them this past hunting season and made the final decision that I would go a little further and totally switch to the 30-06 only, other than my trusted BL-22 for small game.  As I write this article, I have converted my entire rifle collection to only 30-06 rifles.  I do have an early model Belgium Sweet Sixteen shotgun that I had bought for my father and I do have a mint condition original Smith Corona 03-A3.  I have ended up with the BAR, the BPR’s and BLR’s.  I think I may have settled into my secure spot.

What About the BLR

The BLR is a lot like many bolt action rifles because multiple locking lugs on the head of the bolt rotate into the breech end of the receiver/ barrel to create a very strong action. On the first models, the bolt lugs locked into grooves in the receiver, but the later grooves are part of the barrel.  More on that later.  It also has a very smooth short throw lever which incorporates the trigger system into the lever assembly, thereby eliminating finger jams.  I must admit I have never had a problem with finger jams when working a lever action , but it must exist for some.  The BLR also has a unique rack and pinion lever system for actuating and moving the bolt and completing the loading/unloading and cocking cycle.  If there is a draw back to the BLR, it is this system, which requires extreme knowledge to remove, replace and time for safe and proper performance.  It can be done at home, but I do not recommend it for the faint at heart.   I will get into this issue later, but I encourage you not to do it.

The receiver on earlier models is steel and on later models is a light weight alloy.  For the sake of easy writing, let’s call it an aluminum alloy receiver.  The early steel version is drilled and tapped for scope mounts and the later version has steel inserts press installed for the same purpose.  The early models have an exposed bolt head, the later an enclosed bolt head.  The later models also have a folding hammer system which could act as a backup safety system.  The trigger system has sometimes been criticized as being to heavy, but I must admit that I have not encountered one that I can not adjust to.

The BLR has been made in many configurations including straight stock and pistol gripped models.  There is one feature however that distinguishes it from most lever actions and that is it’s detachable magazine.  Most lever guns have a tubular magazine. For many years we only had short action caliber choices, but since 1991, we have had long action caliber choices.

The Browning BLR is a very dependable, accurate and easy to operate lever action rifle. If there is a second draw back, it is the availability of early BLR magazines and the cost associated with any extra BLR magazine.  I am very surprised that no outside company has picked up on producing the early model magazines (pre-81).  If you have a pre-81 BLR, start gathering a few extra magazines.  If you have a BLR 81 or later model, get at least one extra for the comfort.  On the plus side, the detachable magazine feature does allow for pointed bullets and some impressive calibers.


History

Production of the BLR as we know it, which had the magazine that extended below receiver, began in 1970.  Now I know this will raise some questions and retribution from some who have researched Browning BLR’s, but I challenge you to show me a pre-70 Belgium BLR.  I will change my article and give you credit if you can.  Almost everything that you read/research states they started the production in 1969, but there are no BLR’s from that year that I can find and/or verify.  I will also note that all of my research shows that “all official” references for determining “early 69-75” Browning BLR years of production using the serial numbers are also somewhat wrong. Go to the Serial Number portion of this article to see what I am writing about.

The original BLR’s receiver were made of steel and they had an extended magazine.  The first two calibers were .243 Winchester and .308 Winchester.  They were straight stocked and as best as I can tell, all the Belgium produced models all had oiled finished stocks.

Next came the move to have all of the BLR’s produced by Miroku in Japan.  This change was needed because of production costs.  Again, my research has found that “official records” are probably wrong.  Almost all references state that the “Japan” produced BLR’s began in 1971/72.  I can absolutely show you “Belgium” marked BLR’s from 1973 and I have some very good backup sources that will support me in this statement.
I should also note very early on in this article that the Japanese made BLR’s are every bit as good as any earlier produced FN Browning BLR.  Miroku produced BLR’s have a polyurethane type finish to the stock and forearm.

The BLR 81 started in 1981 with some minor changes including a flush magazine. The long action calibers came on the scene in 1991 and this is when the fluted bolt and fluted receivers started. There was also a change to the lever mechanism during this change over.  There was additionally a recall associated with the long action calibers of 1991, which was apparently the rifle could fire from a half cock position.   It may also have something to do with dissimilar metals in the lever system which can expand/not expand in very cold weather causing parts to bind.  The Lightning BLR (aluminum receiver) came on the scene in 1996 and the Lightweight Model 81 came on the scene in  2003.  The Lightning started out with a pistol gripped stock w/ a rounded knob and had a flat knob w/grip cap variation.  The BLR 81 Lightweight started the trend back to a straight stock and lately we have options of either the straight stock or pistol gripped models including a takedown version which began in 2007.  The last 2 models had the nose of the hammer that pivoted adding a safety feature.   The latest versions also offer stainless steel variations and laminated stocks.  There have been some Commemorative Models and some special factory issues that we will cover later.

For now, lets go to the design and early production attempts with the BLR.  Some sources give the credit of the BLR design to Karl R. Lewis  (http://rareguncollection.com/), and some to Bruce Browning, the grandson of John Browning.  I think it was probably a combination of both, including a few design and production engineers.  For a complete review, I recommend you acquire and read an article published in the 1992 46th Annual Gun Digest Book, titled “The U.S.-Made Browning That Almost Was”, authored by William G. Fohrman.

The basics of my research and the related articles that I have found indicate that Browning wanted to get into the center fire lever action market and they found Mr. Lewis and were interested in his design capabilities.  They also entered into a partnership with TRW (Thompson Ramo Woolridge) to finalize the design and produce the BLR sometime around 1966.  The partnership with both produced some interesting designs and prototypes, but both failed to come to a happy ending and the partnerships concluded around 1968.

It has been speculated that around 250 TRW prototypes were completed and parts for more produced, but the relationship between Browning and TRW never resulted in a partnership which produced marketable rifles.  This adventure between the two corporations can be a complete article by itself and I recommend the previously mentioned Gun Digest article if you are seriously considering collecting TRW produced BLR’s.  There are fakes and lunch box produced “American Made” TRW versions out there and the buyer must be informed and beware.

From my research, Browning had FN (Fabrique Nationale of Belgium) start producing the BLR in 1970.  For those who are not informed, Browning firearms have for the most part always been produced by FN.  Supposedly, FN produced around 27,000 BLR’s and then production was transferred to Japan (Miroku) in 1971/72.  I have a slight problem with this information, as I have uncovered Belgium marked BLR’s over the serial number of  30,000, which is supposedly the first Japanese made (serial numbered)  BLR in .358 Winchester.  As I stated previously, I can show you a 1973 Belgium marked BLR (Browning Model BLR 308 Win Ser.#390xxK73) and it has a serial number above the 30,000 range.  You can be the Judge, but I think the “official time-lines and serial number ranges” are not correct.

Serial Numbers

You can visit Browning's website - to determine the year of production of your rifle.


I can tell you that the website is absolutely wrong with the early (pre-1975) serial numbers, as far as the order goes.

The website states:

In 1969 Browning started using two digits for the date of manufacture:
K=BLR Lever Action Rifle
This was then followed by the serial number beginning with 1000.
Example: 69M1000 = A 1969 BAR High Power rifle with a serial number of 1000.

Actually, it is the reverse:

A true example is: 1001K70= A 1970 BLR with a serial number of 1001

The serial number comes first, followed by the model designator, then the year.  After that (1975),  they get it right.  This one mistake has caused some buyers/sellers/ collectors a little problem, but you can trust me - they (Browning) have it wrong on their website!

Just for your information, I have seen references that state that Browning started each year’s serial number sequence at the number 1000 for all models.  I think that information is correct, and if so, the above BLR serial number would indicate that it was actually the first BLR produced in 1970.

Models

From my research, the main versions of the BLR's are:

A)  The BLR, mfg. 1970 to 1981.  (70-73 in Belgium) - had the extended magazine.

B)  The BLR 81 Short Action, mfg. 1981-1995 (the flush magazine came in 1981)

C) The BLR-81 Long Action, mfg. 1991-1995.

(1991 saw the change in the new fluted bolt/receiver, a change in the lever/cam/pinion system and the folding hammer).

D) The New Model Lightning BLR, mfg. 1995-2002.  Alloy receiver.

E) The BLR Lightweight 81, mfg. 2003- present.

F) The BLR Lightweight Takedown, mfg. 2007- present.

(Note - the difference between a Lightweight and a Lightweight 81 is the LW is a pistol gripped stock and the 81 is a straight gripped stock).

G) The BLR Lt Wt Stainless and Stainless Takedown, mfg. 2008 - present.

The DOB can be determined from the two numbers following the letter code (K) in 1975 and earlier models.  The DOB can be determined on post 1975 models by the two letter code (ex. RT which is 1976) which are right before the last three numbers, which indicate the BLR type (LA, SA etc..)

1991 also saw the introduction of the firing pin inertia system.

All Browning BLR rifles produced between 1970 and 1980 are correctly referred to as Browning BLR’s.  All Browning BLR Rifles produced between 1981 and 1994 are correctly referred to as Browning BLR Model 81’s and could be purchased in either short action, or long action after 1991.  All BLR Rifles produced from 1995 through 2002 are correctly referred to as the Browning BLR Lightning Model (Alloy receiver).   All Browning BLR models produced after 2003 are correctly referred to as Browning BLR Model 81 Lightweights or BLR Lightweights.

Keep in mind that the Browning BLR made changes on the receiver tops in 1995/96. The older receiver tops on pre-1996 BLR rifles were flat. The new BLR's made from 1995/96 on, have a semi-round top receiver. So make sure when your BLR was made. Older pre-1996 mounts from any other manufacturer can't be used on the newer BLR's either.

The primary difference between the original BLR and the '81 BLR is in the receiver shape and, consequently, the magazine. The original BLR (1970 - 1980) has a concave-shaped receiver - it is wider at both ends (flared out), where it attached to the stocks, than it is in the middle. Consequently the magazine is narrower and thus had to be made longer in order to hold an adequate number of shells. The 81 BLR's receiver is straight-sided, which allows a wider and thus shorter magazine which is, more or less flush with the bottom of the receiver. The Lightning has a flare in at the front of the receiver. The Model 81 Lightweight has flare in at the front and rear of the receiver.  The Lightweight Takedown has a flare in at the rear of the receiver.

Having owned both, I have not developed a preference over the extended or flush magazine.  Some people dislike the extended magazine, but I remain neutral on the issue. The only advantage is that the flush magazines are readily available, and they are the same and interchangeable between model changes since the Model 81’s became available.

Another difference I can mention is that original BLRs have a front sight hood, while '81 BLRs do not.   I think they were removed/deleted around 1980. 

Most BLR’s have been produced with a walnut stock, but lately some stainless models have a Dura Touch (Mossy Oak Brush) camo pattern stock, some have a regular walnut stock and some have a gray laminated stock. (pistol gripped or straight stocked).  Some stainless models have a fluorescent front sight.

Early BLR models have the serial number on the bottom of the receiver, behind the magazine.  Model 81’s and newer models have the serial number on the right side/rear of the receiver.

The White Gold Medallion has a black/white/black butt plate and a black over white pistol grip cap.  It has a dark brown w/ white spacer fore end cap (Schnabel type).  It is engraved w/ upgraded wood.  It was made in 2009.

Lightning’s are marked on the right side of the barrel.  “Lightning BLR Caliber 270 Win. Only”.

Model 81’ are marked on the right side of the barrel. “ Model 81 BLR Caliber 270 Win.”. ONLY also.

Lightweights are marked on the right side of the barrel.. “ BLT LT WT 81 Caliber .270 Win Only or BLR LT WT Caliber .270 Only”  Stainless models have “Stainless Steel” marked on the right side of the barrel near the receiver.

Model 81’s had the exposed bolt head (two sets of four bolt lugs - opposing at 90 degrees and locked up in the top and side of the receiver) until the Long Action was introduced in 1991.  In 1991, they got the new type of bolt (current one - 6 lug which locks up inside the barrel), changes to the lever (bolt assist) and a cam spring on the lever gear.

BLR’s and early Model 81’s had the steel receiver.  Lightning’s (1995/96) started the alloy receiver.

Metal receiver models have pins for retaining the lever etc..  Alloy receiver models have screws.

Alloy receivers have steel inserts for the four scope base screws.

Some Lightning models have a pistol gripped stock w/ a squared grip cap w/ a black grip cap.  Most have a rounded knob type of pistol gripped stock.

Early BLR’s had an oiled stock - at least by 1974 (Japanese models) they had a polyurethane type finished stock.

The gold trigger shows as early as 1978 - It was not on 1976 models and no 1977 have been found with it.

Timelines

May, 1969
BL-22 Lever Action 22 rifle introduced.

1970
BLR Lever Action high-power rifle introduced in .243 Winchester and .308 Winchester.

1976
B-78 in 45-70 and 7mm, and BLR 358 introduced.

1981
Model 81 BLR lever rifle introduced with the flush magazine.

1982
The .22-250 was introduced into the BLR calibers.

1983
The .257 Roberts and 7mm-08 were introduced as BLR calibers.

1985
The .222Rem and the .223Rem were added for a total of 8 different BLR calibers.

1989
The .284 Winchester was added to the BLR calibers.  It only lasted a short time.

1990
The BLR caliber .222-Rem was dropped.

1991
The BLR long action calibers were introduced (30-06, 7mm Rem Mag and .270 Win.).

1993
The .257 Roberts and the .358 were dropped from BLR production

1995/96
BLR Lightning (pistol gripped stock) with fold-down hammer introduced and the .284 Win. BLR caliber was discontinued.  M-1885 BPCR in 45-70 and 40-65 calibers introduced.

1997
BPR (Browning Pump Rifle) in long and short action. Six calibers in long action 270, 30-06, 7mm Rem. Mag., 300 Win. Mag. and short action in 243 and 308. M-1885 Traditional Hunter in 30-30, 38-55 and 45-70 calibers introduced.

2003
The BLR 81 comes back out in a new straight-grip style stock.

2005
The BLR 81 is now available in a new Lightweight, short-action, long action pistol grip model.  The BL-22 rifle has a new caliber: the 17 Mach 2. Called the new BL-17, it has new looks and an octagon barrel as an option. The 325 WSM  caliber is added.

2007
The BLR 81 is offered in two takedown models, one with a pistol grip and one with a straight grip.  New WSM calibers added.
Calibers

The BLR is or has been available in the following calibers:

222 Remington
223 Remington
22-250 Remington
243 Winchester
25-06 Winchester
257 Roberts
284 Winchester
7mm-08 Remington
308 Winchester
358 Winchester
270 Winchester
30-06 Springfield
7mm Remington Magnum
300 Winchester Magnum
300 WSM
270 WSM
7mm WSM
450 Marlin
325 WSM
Standards

As a standard, the short action BLR’s have 20” barrels, the long actions have a 22” barrel and the magnums have a 24” barrel.  The WSM calibers have a 22” barrel.  There have been some exceptions and special runs.

Below is an example of one BLR specification for the current 30-06:

Specifications and features:
Browning BLR take-down lever-action rifle
.30-06 Springfield caliber
22" button-rifled barrel
1:10" twist
4 Round detachable box magazine
Long, lever-action
Hammer block safety
Fold-down, 4-position hammer
Full-cock, half-cock, folded & dropped & fired
Multiple-lug breech bolt
Recessed bolt face
Rotating bolt
Side ejection
Gold bead raised ramp front sight
Low profile adjustable square notch rear sight
Lightweight aluminum receiver
Gray Laminated stock
Schnabel forearm
Crowned muzzle
Flush-mounted, detachable box magazine
Recoil pad
4-1/2 lbs. trigger pull
14-1/4" length of pull
19-3/4" sight radius
7/8" drop at comb
15/16" drop at heel
43" overall length
7 lbs. 4 oz.

Early BLRs had a straight stock, front sight hood and sling swivels. Red ventilated recoil pad w/ black and a white spacer.  Stock and forearm were checkered and they had an extended magazine.

BLR 81s have a black recoil pad and sling swivels and a flush magazine.

The difference in receiver length between short actions and long actions is ¾” (6 ¾ vs. 7 ½).

Repairs

I can not verify this, but my research shows that Browning depends on a natural product called Kanabe to coat its stocks.  Citristrip has been reported as one of the better ways to remove the Browning epoxy type finish.  For minor repairs on the polyurethane finished Browning stocks, try Lemon Pledge or something similar.   The only source of aftermarket stocks that I have found for the BLR’s is MPI http://www.mpistocks.com.

If you ever have the stock and forearm off, I highly recommend that you apply a good coat of wood oil to the interior of both.  There is no finish on the inside.  If you want to strip and refinish the stock, here is a link to a process that results in a beautiful finish.  http://www.24hourcampfire.com/ubbthreads/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=2702095.  It is the third post down and make sure you take heed of the checkered area warnings.

Additional information has been found that will give hope to those who would like a lighter, cleaner trigger - if their BLR needs one.  Sources state that gunsmith Neil Jones (http://www.neiljones.com/) can do an excellent trigger job on them.


Besides the information on Browning’s website concerning repairs and parts, I have found that Midwest Gun Works seems to be the best source for getting what you need.
http://www.midwestgunworks.com.  They also have a good selection of parts diagrams and some repair manuals.  Brownells has a good schematic and some parts also.  WWW.Brownells.com.  There is a link on MGW;  http://www.midwestgunworks.com/field_service_manual/browning_blr_pre_81_field_service_manual),  that allows you to review the Field Service Manual for the BLR.  If you choose to take one apart, at least review this manual first.  Another source for the disassembly/reassembly of the BLR 81 is the Gun Digest Book of Firearms Assembly/Disassembly - Part IV: Centerfire Rifles (2nd Addition) by J.B Wood.  This one is an absolute must read for working on the BLR.

I do not recommend that the average homemade gun repair specialist attempt to take apart and reassemble the BLR.  There are some timing issues involved with the lever, gears and the bolt that can cause potentially hazardous headspace problems if they are not reassembled correctly.  There are also quite a few gun smiths that can not do it correctly.

JFYI

The following has been found on forums on the internet:  It is just additional information and is not intended to be a guide to reassembly.

Some of the older models repair information states that when the action is properly timed, cocking the hammer will allow the breech bolt slide to move to the rear a maximum of .015.

Headspace trick - It has a bull pinion that the large gear meshes with the bolt and the small gear meshes with the gear segment in the lever.  It has fewer teeth than the big gear. Don't put your pins (screws on some models) in tight until you get the timing set correctly. First close the bolt making sure the bolt carrier is all the way forward and the bolt head turned and locked. Now take a piece of duct tape and tape the rear of the bolt where the hammer strikes the firing pin so it can't move out of the receiver. What you are going to do now is strictly trial and error.  Fit the bull pinion in and out until the lever is all the way closed and the large gear is meshed with the rack gear in the bottom of the bolt carrier and the hole in the center of the gear is in line with the hole in the receiver. I don't remember how many teeth are in the small gear but that is how many chances you have of getting it right. One gear has a even number of teeth and the other gear has an odd number of teeth and that gives it the option of being adjustable.

Recall

There is documentation of a model recall of the 1991 Browning BLR’s in long action calibers only.  I have not been able to factually verify what the issue was/is, but it did happen.  Some sources state that the rifle could fire from a half cock position.

After much research, I have heard that some earlier models of the BLR (maybe the 1991 LAs) had some particular components (gears/pinions) that were made of a different metals and their rate of expansion during extreme cold temperatures was considerably greater than that of their surrounding metals, causing them to bind.

BROWNING
MODEL BLR, LONG ACTION, RIFLES

RECALL: Browning has identified a potential safety hazard on its BLR Long Action, and is recalling all of these rifles for repair. This recall does not include the Short Action BLR Rifle.
Long Action BLR owners should NOT load or shoot their rifles until they have been returned to Browning and the problem has been corrected. The problem is easily corrected but the affected rifles must be sent to Browning for the correction to be made.

The rifles in question have the following inscription on the right side of the barrel: Model 81L BLR followed by one of these calibers: CALIBER 270 WIN., 30-06, or 7MM REM. MAG.
To arrange shipping and service, call Browning’s service facility at (800) 727-4312. Browning pays the freight and provides the container.

Source:
·       Shooting Industry, July 1991; page 1
·       Shooting Times, August 1991; page 8
·       Shooting Times, October 1991; page 106
·       AFTE Journal, July 1991; Volume 23, Number 3:802
·       American Rifleman, July 1991; page?


Commemoratives - Specials

This is going to surprise some Browning collectors, but there are some fairly rare and special BLR’s out in the market just waiting for you to purchase them.  Here are a few and if you know of more I would like to have the information about them.

For starters, there is the M.D.H.A (Minnesota Deer Hunters Association) Habitat Commemorative BLR Takedown in.  There were reportedly 50 made.

Next is the BLR Lightweight 81 Browning Canada 50TH Anniversary Commemorative in 308.  There were reportedly 100 made.

There is also the BLR Canadian Company President issue.  I have seen pictures of one, but do not know how many were made.

There is currently a 24” barreled 25-06 being produced for Kones Korner.  They report that only 150 will be made.

My internet research has found a 308 Browning factory prototype (custom) with a  24” barrel.  It has a factory letter.

I have also found the Browning BLR Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation 2002 Banquet Edition, in 7MM limited rifle.  There were 500 reportedly made.  These specials have an octagon barrel.

Also, don’t forget about the TRW prototype BLR’s, but be aware of fakes.

Caliber Interchangeable Magazines

JFYI many of the BLR magazines (model specific and action “long vs. short” specific) are interchangeable.  Many are marked as being multiple caliber.

Another early BLR magazine note was provided by forum member Tycer on the Lever guns (www.lever guns.com) site.  Apparently the early Belgium magazines have a slightly different follower that the Miroku BLR magazine and feeding problems can be encountered if they are interchanged.  Here is a link to the information.  http://www.levergunscommunity.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=27486&start=0

BPR

Well, I  am going to go out on a small limb here and make a big statement.  I like BLR’s - a lot.  But I really like the Browning Pump Rifles (BPR’s) in the center fire calibers, especially the 30-06.  I did not get into the BPR’s until recently, but I plan to acquire every BPR in 30-06 that I come across.  Reasonably priced of course.

The BPR Pump Rifle was introduced in 1997 and they were produced through 2001.

1997
BPR (Browning Pump Rifle) in long and short action. Four calibers in long action .270, 30-06, 7mm Rem. Mag., 300 Win. Mag., and two in short action in 243 and 308.  The two regular long action and two short action barrels are 22” long.  The magnum barrels are 24” long.  BPR barrels are free floated and the rifles weigh around 7 ½ pounds.

The BPR uses the same scope mounts as BAR II’s and later BLR’s.  The BPR uses the same magazines as BAR II’s.  The BPR’s magazine capacity is four rounds for standard calibers and three rounds for magnum calibers.  The safety on the BPR is reversible for left hand operation.

The BPR was dropped from the line only 5 years (2001) of production.   As previously written in the BLR section, Browning has the serial number sequence wrong (backwards) on their website.

The Browning Rimfire BPR was produced from 1977-1982.
Browning Dualis

This is basically a European BPR variation . The mechanism, manual safety, and magazine catch are all identical except for some cosmetic differences. The operation is also identical, including the unusual pump action pattern. The standard barrel is 20 inches, but the same barrel is used for magnum rounds and is therefore shorter than the barrel used on magnum BPR rifles. The Dualis has a Express type sighting rib that also has a folding leaf sight; this rib can be removed, revealing drilling and tapping for a telescopic sight. The front sight has a bead with fluorescent plastic. The receiver housing is made from light alloy, but other metal parts are of high-strength steel. The stock and fore-end are of walnut; the pistol grip of the stock is unusually deep and is checkered. There are reports that the Dualis only has a magazine capacity of two rounds to satisfy European requirements, but I have seen videos of the Dualis being shot and they all appear to have the same magazine capacity as USA model BPR’s.  The Dualis was introduced in Europe is 2001, but was not sold in North America until 2003.  Note: I have not found the Dualis was ever available in the United States.  If you find one in 30-06,  in the U.S I would greatly appreciate the information.


BL-22

The BL-22 was introduced in 1969 and continues in production.



JBMR

The following information was found on the internet concerning the Jonathan Browning Mountain Rifle.  It is included in this article for informational interest.  I have not verified any of this information.

JBMR - Weighing in at 9.6 pounds, the rifle has a trigger reach of 13-3/4". They were made from 1977-1981 and offered in .45, 50, and .54 caliber. The .45 was recommended for deer, the .50 elk, and the .54 for moose. The percussion lock has a crisp action, and strong mainspring, for fast lock time and sure-fire reliability. This lock has a fly detent, allowing the use of the single set trigger. The trigger may be latched, or the hammer cocked, in any sequence. The single trigger has a unique hidden set trigger feature. Press the trigger forward to latch the trigger over-center, under the cam roller spring. A tiny adjustment screw controls the hair-light trigger release when set. The hooked breech has the traditional snail bolster, except this breech is decorated with an embossed ram's horn, in an attractive curl.

The .54 saw the least production and are very hard to find, so I'd say hang on to the one you have. The .54 had a 1 in 66 twist and was recommended for patched round balls only
Browning no longer has parts or services these guns, although owners manuals are still available. Deer Creek Products in Waldron, Indiana 765-525-6181 has all available replacement parts except for stocks. They even have different barrels (in the white) so you can change calibers if you like.

They were made by Mark Cheney under contract to Browning in the late 1970's  and the early 1980's.

Conclusion

I will conclude this article by saying that the past years research into the BLR has been very challenging.  I hope I got everything right and I really strove to verify any information that has been presented.

I would ask that if you find any new information or conflicting information, that you contact me through the Leverguns site and let me have an opportunity to review your sources and make additions or corrections as needed.



Links:
- The Browning Lever Action Rifle (BLR) By: Bruce Hamlin on Paco Kelly's Leverguns Forum