Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mike would have been 57 today....

My friend, Michael Franklin Mays, would have been 57 today.  I suppose that I appear maudlin, but he was a good fellow who like some other good folks I know left too soon.  This Saturday will be the opening for the spring turkey season.  I think that was Mike's favorite hunting.  He loved to call in the birds even if he wasn't doing the shooting.  Loved it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mini-CSA East Coast Postponed 'Til Next Wednesday

We were planning to go to Low Moor range near Clifton Forge, VA for our mini-CSA but the weather conspired against us.  We just didn't want to get the guns wet so we have passed till next week.

This gave me time to work on Bruce Hamlin's new Pump Rifle Forum.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Happy Anniversary to the 1911 pistol!

Posing with the 1911 Pistol
Today is the day, 100 years ago, that the U.S. military first adopted John Browning's invention the Colt 1911 pistol.  I am celebrating by including this photograph of my great-grandfather Orrin Lawrence Brodie at ROTC camp ca. 1911 with a newly issued pistol.  CPT Brodie defended the New York City water system during World War One and was forced to retire, still a National Guard Captain, in 1943.  He died in October 1943.  By that time the 1911A1s had been in production for several years and World War Two was raging.

Thirty years later I entered service and used some of those 1911A1s from World War Two.  They were good guns then and they are good guns now. 

NOTE:  It has been pointed out to me that the first pistols weren't shipped until 1912.  As this is during the summer and he has the pistol I'm wondering if this was in 1912.  As it is I can't find the original right now (in the huge stack of old photos) to check the penciled date.  He would be about 31 or 32 years old and a 1st Lieutenant here and was a Captain for a long, long time (1918 or so until 1943). 

Defending the NYC Water Supply, 1918

Monday, March 28, 2011

Notes from the gun shop...

Sad to say today at the gun shop was notable for the lack of notable things that happened or notable guns that passed through the door.

Nothing of note happened. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

An unusual sight...

I was driving got work this morning and saw something that has become a bit unusual.  I thought I'd share that and some musings that the incident aroused.

My route to my Friday place of work takes me north on US 11 into Verona, Virginia.  This is a 4-lane road with a center turn lane.  There are no sidewalks.  This morning as I drove into Verona I noticed a man (about 6-feet tall and of medium build with brown hair wearing a dark ball cap and plaid jacket, probably with blue jeans) striding south, facing traffic, with a bolt action rifle with black synthetic stock. I immediately gave him the once over and evaluated his body language.  He was walking just as many do in the woods with the rifle in his right hand grasping the rifle at the magazine.  For you guys who want to know all the details that is about all I got at 42-45 miles per hour closing speed.

One doesn't see this very often any more.  In the past, I have seen people walking the roads, usually more rural roads at that, with a firearm.  And, again usually, this was during hunting season.  We used to think nothing of it.  One doesn't do that now.  It was an unusual place and time of year for such as things are now.  However it seemed that nobody was particularly concerned.  This was only about 1/4 to 1/2 mile south of the Sheriff's department and there were no police or sheriff's deputies about.

I remembered that once, about 12 years ago, we had a National Guard soldier in uniform carrying an M60 machinegun walking about 1/2 mile from the armory to the unit training area just outside (south of) Charlottesville.  Local "authorities" had been given prior notification of the weekend's training.  The route took the soldier past a local school (not in session as it was on a weekend and he was not on school grounds).  The local police stopped him and were pretty upset about his location.  To get there, one unit came by the armory, the other unit came by the training area.  Where he was stopped you could see BOTH the training area and the armory.   This was still considered a "dangerous" situation.   Soldiers then had to be driven to and from the armory.  Such idiocy is more the norm, even in this area.

In another instance, a person dressed as a Confederate Civil War soldier in uniform was making a march along a route used during the Civil War as part of a memorial observance.  He was carrying his muzzleloading musket when stopped by an officer and interrogated about his reasons for being there.

Twice now, once in Virginia just recently, somebody has mistaken an umbrella for an assault rifle and called in a "man with a gun" to 911.  In the incident in Roanoke it was reported that the police were investigating the man with the umbrella.  They probably should have investigated the person who made the 911 call as clearly they had escaped their care-givers.

For future reference:

Black Umbrella in Closed Position

"Evil Black Rifle" aka M16

They don't look at all alike, do they?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

M1 Carbine Stuff...

Correct M1 Carbine Gas Piston
Interesting thing I ran into today. A fellow had an M1 Carbine (not the rifle) that had been "converted to manual action". He wanted it converted back to semi-auto. It had the original gas piston nut and we couldn't, at first, get the gas piston out of the gun. A little soak in Kroil worked wonders and what we discovered was that the original gas piston had been replaced with one of the units from S&K. I'm not a huge M1 Carbine fan, and haven't ever owned one nor did I have to work with or on them while in the service. So, I learned a lot today.

It will be an easy fix. All that is needed is the correct gas piston and the gun should operate as intended.

Now, why did somebody do this? Well the owner said it was to comply with New Jersey law but I've been told that New Jersey law does NOT prohibit semi-automatic rifles. We thought perhaps it was to comply with a hunting regulation such as those in Pennsylvania which don't allow semi-auto firearms. We just don't know why this particular gun was altered.

1969 Ad for the Gas Piston Dummy
Why, you're probably asking yourself, did/do some states prohibit semi-automatic firearms for hunting? I believe it was a misguided attempt to cut the "game hogs" off at the knees and to prevent one shooter from killing all the deer a large hunting party might be licensed to kill. In other words, it was intended to reduce deer kills. I don't know why it might still be in effect, but old "traditions" die hard.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ira Harold "Bearface" Dodge

In Blackpowder Cartridge News #73 Leo Remiger's article on Ira Harold "Bearface" Dodge suggests that it is a story that Ira Dodge is buried in the Kemmerer cemetery.  It is a fact.  His year of death is given as 1920 and Sarah E. (1867-1908) is also buried there.  HOW he died I can't determine.  It is known as the Kemmerer City Cemetery and is also known as the South Lincoln Cemetery, Kemmerer.

Ira Harold Dodge and Sarah Elizabeth Slate Dodge had sons Raoul E., Harold Hazelwood, and Feron and daughters Irene and Muriel.  Son Raoul E Dodge is ALSO buried in the Kemmerer cemetery.  The daughters were living with Ira in Pocatello in January 1920.  In that same census Ira is a farmer and Irene is a Deputy Assessor employed by Bannock county.  There are a number of descendants so I'm presuming that there might still be family in Wyoming or Idaho. 

The one story was that Ira was killed in a blasting accident in Pocatello.  Apparently the family believes that Ira did die in Lander, Wyoming 30 Mar 1920.  That gives a lot of credence to Lander being the place of death.  However, Lander is a long way from Pocatello, ID which the census shows as Ira Dodge's residence in 1920.  I can only wonder at the journey he must have had if injured in Pocatello and moved to Lander (presumably for care by somebody) before dying in Lander.  It is conceivable even with 1920 roads for him to have been moved about 300 miles (road miles not as the crow flies).  They might even have traveled through Kemmerer to get to Lander.  If so they would also have likely traveled through Granger where his son Harold (single) lived in 1920.  So why to Lander for care?  I know that in 1916 (just 4 years earlier) my great grand aunt made a "circumnavigation" of the country in a car and it was considered big news.  I don't know anything about the history of the roads between Pocatello, Kemmerer and Lander.  It would be believable that he died in March where he was living in January but it isn't really believable to me that in the winter in 1920 he was moved from Pocatello, ID the 300 some miles to Lander for care.  I can believe that he went to Lander for some business or personal reasons and died there. 

This is pretty darn fascinating.

Bits and Pieces

Ira Dodge of Cora, Wyoming, for example, reported that 20,000 elk passed his place in the fall headed for the Red Desert just north of the Green River (Commission on the Conservation of the Jackson Hole Elk 1927). From " Historical Elk Migrations Around Jackson Hole, Wyoming"  by Christina M. Cromley Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Notes from the gun shop...

It seemed rather slow yesterday.  We did do about 5 transfers and sold or completed lay-aways on 6 guns.  However, there wasn't much other business.  I think I was on the register 4 times and 2 of those were for Shoot-N-C 1" Targets.  I did help repair a holster.  Interesting guns were limited to two Winchester Buffalo Bill commemoratives, one a rifle and the other the "carbine" (short rifle with saddle-ring).  The hopeful seller made much of the decorative sleeves he still had despite their rather ragged appearance and that one was taped together.  The guns were indeed NIB.  However, the seller wanted full retail and a retailer simply can't pay such prices and make money.  He left with the guns.

That was about it.  That's a really slow day at the shop.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The past is another country...

My dear grandchildren, sometimes we have to digress a bit. Life is about more than just our personal pleasures.

I've come to the conclusion that I'm an old man. Not old in years by current standards perhaps but far removed from my past and living in another country. L. P. Hartley's opening line in "The Go Betweens", "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there," has been paraphrased as "The past is another country." It is so widely known because it is so very true and as we age we see the truth of it more clearly.

In my country a man held the door for a woman and didn't expect an interlewd in return. In my country children minded their manners around adults and listened to them because they were older, bigger, and interesting. They didn't dare be rude or see them solely as a source of prescription pharmaceuticals. That is no longer true.

I remember great adventures when I was young. Walking down the hill and across the highway to the post office in Huntersville, WV to get the mail. I was just 6 years old. I also walked to school, two rooms one above the other and that about the same distance behind the house. I've no doubt now that Mom watched me but I didn't think so at the time. I was on my own. Later, I escorted a younger boy across downtown Elkins to the YMCA for swim classes. Neither his parents or mine felt that was out of line and I was just 8-years old. We stopped once to see the toys in the Western Auto. Mom knew we'd been there and I was corrected for not following instructions. On reflection, the store must have called my mother. I would also walk across town to Dad's office on the other side of the park, near the Davis and Elkins campus to see him or if Mom wasn't home after school. Later I wandered around Menifee County, Kentucky and met a number of interesting people. Even later we'd bicycle from Bridgewater to Dayton and back, walk to and from school and so forth. We couldn't allow that with our children. What a pity.

In that other country a grilled cheese sandwich and strawberry pie at the Jerry's Restaurant in Winchester, Kentucky was a real treat. Now, it is just another, less than filling, night of eating out. I used to enjoy the rainy days of summer vacation reading a book or Reader's Digest while listening to my parents and grandparents discuss sundry happenings to family, friends and community. I could close my eyes and smell the mouthwatering smells of good food cooking in the kitchen. I could get a little closer to the pot-bellied stove and it would take off the damp. We stayed up late to watch man go to the moon and come back.

As we got older and learned to drive we asked permission to take the car to school, loaded the shotgun in the trunk and after school went dove, quail, grouse, squirrel, rabbit or deer hunting. Our teachers would sometimes ask to borrow a boy's pocket knife (and you were expected to have one). Boys might get in fights at school but a teacher would simply break it up and then scold them. Nobody ever pulled out their pocket knife or ran to the parking lot to get their shotgun. Never.

Everybody who lived in those times thinks about this now and again. Massad Ayoob even published a letter from a resource officer (as we call the police in the schools hereabouts) who talks about how the children are all too aware of the circumstances in which they live. I wish I could reproduce the whole letter here but can't and I hope you take the time to follow the link and read it. When you have a child tell you to arm yourself against the bad guys you have proof positive that we've allowed our society to deteriorate, perhaps beyond immediate redemption. Yes, the past was another country and we did things differently there...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Shotworks Pro

Need a way to keep your shooting stuff organized and accounted for? I think everyone does. I used to use Access from Microsoft after trying Excel but lost it in a computer switch. I was looking for something else and somebody recommended Shotworks Pro. I tried it. Not happy. After entering data for five firearms and trying to find the proper place to enter current values and manufacturing date I get continuous error messages. So, I've uninstalled the program. Pretty disappointing. At least there was no apparent virus associated with the program.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Musings on Weapons of War

Today's initiation of attacks on the forces of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya made me think about all the wars in which the U.S. has been involved in my lifetime. First, there's the Korean War (you can call it a "police action" but it is a war) which is still on-going despite the truce. Then, you had the "Cold" War, Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, the Gulf War, the Yugoslavic war(s), the Global War on Terror, the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, and, now, the Libyan war. As I sit and think, we've not really been at "peace" in my lifetime even though there's plenty of "anti"-war protesters (who are actually agents of all our enemies and at war with the U.S.). Heck, even the current President who campaigned against "the" war has continued and even escalated the war in Afghanistan and started this war with Libya.

But what interests me for the moment and what I want to talk about here is the changes in weaponry that have occurred over that time period. Some call them improvements but...

First, there's the pistols. We've gone from the 1911A1 to the Beretta M9 (or is it M9A1?), from .45 cal to 9mm because you can carry the same ammo as our enemies and more of it (but you don't really) and because the leadership thinks close combat isn't influenced by how quickly your enemy hits the dirt and that you don't.

Second, we've had like improvements in rifles, switching from the M1 Garand .30-06 rifle to the M14 7.62mm NATO to the M16 and its derivatives in 5.56mm NATO. That was so much of an improvement that there are efforts within and without the military to modify the 5.56mm cartridge to come closer to equal-lying the old .30 caliber rounds in terminal ballistic performance.

Grenades and other individual explosive devices haven't changed that much except in shape and size with some improvement in quality or uniformity of fragmentation. We have had improvements with grenade launching moving to the M79 then M203 systems for the individual soldier and the Mk19Mod3 40mm grenade launching machine gun.

Likewise we've seen some improvements in light and general purpose machine guns with the M249 and M240 being fielded replacing the M60 and older M1919A4 guns. Some soldiers would disagree, but their just grousing as soldiers do, right?

The biggest changes have been in targeting systems for munitions delivered by artillery and  aircraft.  Those big changes are in Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and with the remote controlled aircraft for targeting both stand-off distances and accuracy are greatly enhanced protecting the lives of American servicemen and women.  For those instances where targets are moving operators can light them up with a laser and ordnance can be flown directly into the target. These systems have been revolutionary and are THE reason that the U.S. has been militarily pre-eminent. How long this might last is in question, but for now...

People of the Gun

I'm not late in recognizing People of the Gun, I did so on another blog several years back, but this is new to me here as it usually isn't something I post about because this is really a journal for the grandkids. Still, it is important that we recognize that people from all parts of the country, of all ethnicities, of all professions, of all formal education levels are gun owners and advocates for the righteous ownership and use of firearms.

I started my interests at a young age, as you can see, but such things run deep in my family. As farmers and citizen soldiers, firearms have been a tool for survival for my family from the earliest days of colonial America.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Need a Contender Barrel?

As of now, these are the best sources...

- Bellm's TCs
- Bullberry
- Dave Van Horn
- David White
- E. Arthur Brown
- Ed's Contenders
- RJ's Guns
- Stratton Custom took over from Virgin Valley
- SSK Industries

I've dealt with everybody but Stratton. Foxridge aka TC Custom shop is no more. Neither is OTT LLC who did EDM chambering of barrels.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

From Ingot to Target: A Cast Bullet Guide for Handgunners©

If you cast your own bullets you've probably got a couple of references. There's the Lyman loading manual for cast bullets and then maybe you've got the NRA compilation by C. E. Harris on casting. Well, here's a reference you probably need! From Ingot to Target: A Cast Bullet Guide for Handgunners© by Glen E. Fryxell and Robert L. Applegate.

If there is any fault with From Ingot to Target: A Cast Bullet Guide for Handgunners© it is that there isn't a paper/print version you can have down at the loading bench for reference or to carry to the reading room for entertainment/diversion. Yes, I have a Kindle, but I still have a place in my home for the old fashioned printed work.

Mr. Fryxell and Mr. Applegate have joined forces to produce an genuinely useful reference lacking in the old wive's tales one used to read in magazine articles on casting. There is plenty of clearly and concisely presented information which, if acted on, will allow anyone to produce accurate, useful, quality bullets.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Somebody asked and I tried to list all I've owned...

I had a:
- Suzuki GT185 (sold)
- Citroen ___ (sold)
- 1973 Datsun Pickup (sold to Dad)
- 1979 (I think) Subaru 4WD Wagon (traded in)
- Honda Civic (went with the ex-wife)
- 1985 Nissan Pickup (traded in)
- 1986 Aerostar (wrecked and never ran right again)
- 1987 Aerostar (a lemon)
- 1990 Aerostar (traded in)
- 1990 Mazda B2000 pickup (died after 150K+ and abuse by son and gone to the scrap yard)
- 1990 Subaru Sedan (bought from Mom for daughter and sold)
- 1995 Dodge Dakota (son is still driving it)
- 2001 Nissan Xterra (wife still driving it)
- 2004 Ford F150 (current vehicle)

I had a 3½-year hiatus from vehicle ownership.  One can get by without in Seoul but I'd never try it in California.  

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kahr Arms

Kahr has been pretty successful. In fact, so much so that since the company's founding by Kook Jin "Justin" Moon (son of the Unification Church founder) in they have been acquiring other firms such as Auto Ordnance in 1999 and Magnum Research in 2010. Its headquarters is in Blauvelt, New York and it has a manufacturing facility in Worcester, Massachusetts. I have never seen one of these guns returned for repair. If you've been interested in seeing how these guns work, there's this animated view and now there's also a video!

- Kahr Arms Facebook Page
- Kahr Arms

Monday, March 14, 2011

Notes from the gun shop...

A slow day, we only did 4 background checks and two lay-aways. However, we did have a 4" Python that walked in the door at 10AM and was sold at 2PM. We also got an old 1873 .38 WCF rifle working. I'm always amazed at how well fit the links and pins are in those old rifles. The boss man also brought his dog in to work this afternoon. Nice old golden retriever, Harley is a good old girl. She is good at begging cheese and leaning. Now that I write about it I can see that it was a really slow day. Not as slow as the $212.00 day, but pretty darn slow.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The 9.0 Earthquake in Japan

To my grandchildren,

Likely you don't, won't, remember this day or you might and that may be for reasons other than the images or for the sympathetic memories of earthquakes in other places and at other times.  This morning we awoke to news of an horrific earthquake in Japan accompanied by an even more horrific tsunami which together likely killed thousands.  We watched on TV as people unable to move their cars further from the flood, stepped out to meet the wall of water.  We watched the mass of debris of every kind swept through town and farm, over every obstacle penetrate miles inland.  We saw how little notice we get of natural disaster and how pervasive and absolute it can be.  In this we saw and thought of you.

All we do and have done has been to put you in a place where you can thrive.  We can only hope we have succeeded.  We hope that you will honor our efforts by attempting the same for your grandchildren.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Kindle

Originally 12/28/10, updated 3/8/2011

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.

The 3G Kindle would seem to be a bargain as one doesn't pay for the service but can surf the net using Google and Wikipedia (which is neither awful nor exemplary but is useful) as a starting point.

We have had a problem with Nana's  Kindle cover.  A patent leather looking folder with what appears to be a felt lining and a hook system to secure the Kindle to the cover, it certainly doesn't have a high-tech appearance but it must be.  You see as soon as I put the Kindle in the cover the device kept rebooting.  Finally, it locked up and had to be manually reset.  I called customer service and as soon as I explained what was happening the tech on the other end told me to take the cover off.  It has worked perfectly since.  We tried re-installation of the cover with the exact same problem.  Another call to Amazon and I was told that the cost of the cover would be reimbursed to Nana's account and to order another cover.  I did so.   Knock on wood.

The new Kindle cover worked just fine, for me.  Nana had it in hand for about 10 minutes and it started to reboot.  I took off the cover and it worked fine.  I think I've discovered the problem.  It is in how she holds the Kindle when in the cover.  She holds it in such a way that the power switch on the bottom of the Kindle is pushed to the right and held for over 15 seconds which causes it to reboot.  She doesn't hold it the same way out of the cover and so doesn't get this effect.  She's now using it without the cover but my use with the cover shows that it doesn't reboot.

My kindle reading list...

An Autobiography of Buffalo BillCOL Cody, William F.
American Rifle: A BiographyRose, Alexander
A Rifleman Went to WarCPT McBride, Herbert W.
Art Of The RifleCooper, Jeff
Broad-Sword and Single-Stick With Chapters on Quarter-Staff, Bayonet, Cudgel, Shillalah, Walking-Stick, Umbrella and Other Weapons of Self-DefenceAllanson-Winn, Rowland George Allanson
Common SensePaine, Thomas
GOD DOES NOT FORGET: The Story of a Boer War CommandoReitz, Deneys
Hero Tales from American HistoryRoosevelt, Theodore and Lodge, Henry Cabot
Hunting the Grisly and Other SketchesRoosevelt, Theodore
Hunting with the Bow and ArrowPope, Saxton
Letters to His ChildrenRoosevelt, Theodore
Red Eagle and the Wars with the Creek Indians of Alabama - Famous American IndianEggleston, George Cary
Roosevelt in the BadlandsHagedorn, Hermann
Sailing Alone Around the WorldSlocum, Joshua
Sailor's KnotsJacobs, William Wymark
The Art of Fencing The Use of the Small Sword L'Abbat, Monsieur
The Bible
The Colt 1911 Pistol a Mechanical Engineers PerspectiveWerner, Malcolm J.
The Emma GeesCPT McBride, Herbert Wesley
The Rifle and the Hound in CeylonBaker, Sir Samuel White
The Rough RidersRoosevelt, Theodore
Through the Brazilian WildernessRoosevelt, Theodore
With Axe and RifleKingston, William Henry Giles
Wild at HeartEldredge, John

- Note on Kindle Cover Problem

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Notes from the gun shop...

I went to work dragging from my bout with "the crud" a severe cold with some flu symptoms that started at Bob Monast's funeral and progressed apace until I was puking on Friday, breathless on Saturday and unwilling to eat until Sunday evening.  Things started slow but, as predicted by a co-worker, picked right up in the afternoon.

The state police must be experiencing "the crud" as well because delayed backgrounds are much delayed, commonly taking more than a day instead of about 1½ hours to clear.  This started last Monday and continued over this Monday.  When we opened we had 7 backgrounds awaiting completion from Saturday.  This takes up work space and otherwise complicates things for the dealer.  One only hopes that the buyer(s) aren't unduly inconvenienced.  Firearms ownership is a RIGHT not a privilege and if a background check is so darn important they should allocate the funds to do it correctly and protect the right rather than denying the right to legitimate buyers.

We did have a couple of interesting guns show up.  The first was this engraved Smith and Wesson Model 36 (no dash) built in 1970 (most likely judging by the serial number with information from the Standard Catalog of Smith and Wesson) and has been engraved with some gold inlay.  It appears to be "signed" on the left side near the rear bow of the trigger guard.  The grips appear to be some sort of after-market fake ivory, but they are better looking than most such.  I think it is a very handsome piece but then I'm only comparing it to what I know which isn't much. Some of the mistakes have been pointed out to me and now I can see them. It is still ahead of the game compared to some roll-marks which pass for decoration!

Chicago Palm Pistol
The other was a relatively rare Chicago Palm Pistol, all blue and in very good to excellent condition.  I'm afraid I didn't get a great photo of this one.

Antique Arms and Antique Associates at West Townsend had this description of one such in their catalog...
...This variety has no engraving around the barrel or on the frame. Most examples observed are engraved…this example is quite scarce. Peter Finnegan of Austin, Illinois purchased the patent rights for the Protector Palm pistol from the Minneapolis Firearms Company in 1892 and established a new company…The Chicago Firearms Company instituting design improvements making the gun more reliable. The improved pistol is slightly larger, the safety functioned better and the sideplate was more secure; the entire gun was sturdier. He contracted with Ames Sword Company of Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts to manufacture the weapons and deliver them to him in time for the opening of the Columbian Exhibition (The Chicago World's Fair of 1892). Ames defaulted and did not deliver until after the Exhibition had closed and even then, only a small percentage of the contract was delivered. Finnegan sued Ames eventually winning cash settlement with the Ames Sword Co. becoming the owner of 13,000 Protector Palm pistols that they sold from 1894 through 1910 although the guns themselves were all made prior to 1898.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Black Powder Loading the .45-75

To quote Rick Bachman of Old West Reproductions,
I've been shooting and reloading the .45-75 for over 40 years. I've used all of the granulations in blackpowder and always come back to 2F. I always load to original factory specs and the 350 grain lead bullet with 72 grains of 2F black works extremely well. The 2F black is what UMC and Winchester used in manufacturing factory ammunition of this caliber. I have experience only with original '76 rifles and carbines and I reload with original Winchester bullet molds and reloading tools. The only brass that was available years ago was .348 Win., and that is what I still use today. These cases are heavy and will only hold about 72 grains of 2F when weighed on a scale, but I load by volume and slightly compress my loads under a card wad. I have never had a cartridge failure and I've never had a gun that wouldn't shoot this ammo with great accuracy.
Does one need to go any further? I don't think so.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Italian Black Powder Arms Manufacturing Codes...

I thought I'd published this here earlier.  Copied from elsewhere I can find no attribution.

When you purchase either a 2nd or 3rd Generation Colt Blackpowder Arms revolver it bears the Colt patent stamping on the frame and the Colt address on the top of the barrel. There is also a serial number stamped on the bottom of the frame, again on the bottom of the barrel lug, trigger guard and buttstrap. The serialization indicates the year or period of manufacture, and this is as straightforward as model identification gets. Even though many of the Colt parts for the 2nd Generation, and all of the Colt parts for the 3rd Generation were cast in Italy, the guns were finished and assembled in the United States by Colt or the Colt Blackpowder Arms Company, and Colt pistols, regardless of the origin of their components, bear only Colt markings.

The same model gun, an 1860 Army for example, manufactured in Italy and sold by Uberti or F.LLI Pietta, is stamped with a variety of markings – Italian Proof House devices, manufacturer's symbols and an encoded date of manufacture. It is usually a combination of heraldry and letters, which need to be decoded. The same is true of flintlock and percussion lock pistols and long rifles manufactured by Uberti, F.LLI Pietta, ArmiSport, Davide Pedersoli, Armi San Paolo SRL (Euroarms), and Palmetto, which comprise the major Italian manufacturers currently in production.

The Italian proof houses in Gardone and Valtrompia have been around for a very long time but as far as reproduction black powder arms are concerned, the dating begins in 1954. Prior to 1954, the year of proof was indicated in full Arabic numerals.

Following is a chart displaying the year of proof symbols used from 1954 to 2003. These are traditionally found within a box next to the individual proof house symbols. From 1954 through 1970 Roman Numerals were used. Roman Numerals and Arabic Numerals were combined in 1971, 1972, and 1973, and Roman Numerals were used again in 1974. Since 1975 two capital letters have been used exclusively.

As to the placement of proof house symbols, it depends upon the model of gun, and the level of embellishment, the latter often dictating a discrete location on the underside of the barrel or frame on highly engraved examples.

There are two standardized proof house marks. The first is the provisional Gardone proof, consisting of a star surrounded by eight lands and grooves over a coat of arms featuring a hammer and anvil and crossed bayoneted rifles; the second is a star surround by eight lands and grooves over the capital letters PN. All firearms produced in Italy since 1950, regardless of type, receive the first stamping. The second, also instituted in 1950, is the first black powder proof for Gardone and Brescia, and is only used on black powder arms. Thus all black powder arms must bear both proof house symbols.

Finally, there is the manufacturer's mark. This is often confusing unless one is familiar with the manufacturers' insignia. Most use their logo, while some combine their name and logo, or use an abbreviation as their logo. Earlier guns generally bear only their manufacturers' mark, while more recent production has been seen using both an emblem and company name.

Davide Pedersoli, one of Italy's oldest manufacturers has had three logos since 1957. The earliest was a diamond inside a circle. This is rarely seen. This mark was followed by the image of an anvil with PEDERSOLI above it in capital letters and the initials DAP inside the anvil. This again is rarely seen, except on very early models. The company logo, a lowercase dp within an oval, has been used for more than 40 years. This logo is often followed by the DAVIDE PEDERSOLI or PEDERSOLI name in capital letters. In short, there is no mistaking a Pedersoli product!

The same is true of Aldo Uberti, S.r.l, which has used the same logo since its founding in 1959 – a capital U contained within an octagonal barrel device. For Fratelli Pietta, another of Italy's leading manufacturers of black powder pistols and long arms, the initials FAP contained within a horizontal diamond identify F.LLI Pietta; often followed by F.LLI PIETTA in capital letters.

Palmetto, which manufactures a variety of black powder arms distributed primarily through Dixie Gun Works, uses a very recognizable palm tree within a circle as their company logo.

Armi San Paolo S.r.l., established in 1970, uses the last names of the original founders Grassi, Doninelli, and Gazzola as a symbol, DGG, usually contained within a circle. Beginning December 31, 2001, Armi San Paolo officially became Euroarms Italia S.r.l. The same logo is used on all Euroarms models.

Armi Sport, which produces an exceptional line of single shot percussion pistols like the French Le Page, Sharps rifles, and the popular Spencer rifle for Taylor's & Co., uses an AC within a circle, (AC for Armi Chiappa founder Rino Chiappa's last name).

Aldo Uberti S.r.l. was founded in 1959 and has always used a capital U surrounded
by an octagonal device, which is actually the muzzle of an 1851 Navy (their first gun) with six lands and grooves and the front sight. This photo of a Paterson barrel has a boxed AZ indicating a manufacturing date of 1990.

These are the three standard stampings on every Italian-made black powder revolver, pistol, rifle and shotgun. From left to right: year of manufacture, Gardone V.T. black powder proof house stamping, and Gardone proof house stamping. Armed with this information it is now possible to identify the maker and year of manufacture on any black powder rifle, shotgun, pistol, or revolver produced since

SymbolYear of Proof

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Notes from the gun shop...

A little late with the report because I had some other stuff in the queue...

Monday was a lot busier than I expected. I had to leave the house early to get Bailey's dog license at City Hall. You see, I'd misplaced the rabies certificate back in November when I paid the city taxes and forgot to go back and get the license. I just received a letter threatening to send the dog catcher to the house to get my unlicensed dog so with that "pleasant" reminder I had to get that done.

Back at the shop we were busy there, too. The boss man had a booth at the Annual Western Virginia Sports Show at Augusta Expoland and it generated a lot of interest. The big seller? Smith and Wesson Sigmas. S&W has cut prices this year and we are able to offer these guns at very good prices. They don't have the cachet that others, including S&W's own M&P might have but they are good solid guns at an excellent price point. I would personally rather have one of these than a Taurus.

Anyway... we processed 11 background checks, did about 7 lay-aways and sold some ammo and other stuff. There were two notable guns. One was a pristine Remington Model 700 in .250 Savage. The other was a Springfield 1903A3 with an M15 grenade launcher sight.  That's a consignment gun and both the sight and gun and in excellent condition.   The price?  $700.00.  Unfortunately, there is no carrying case for the M15 sight with this package.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Interesting things at work...

I don't just work at a gun shop, I also work at a place called "The Spoils of War". We began as a gallery for the work of James Dietz whose works our parent company publishes (We now also publish Larry Selman). We have expanded, and now the store also functions as the headquarters for a minor empire of military fine art prints including those not published by ourselves. Our storefront has, since I started there in October 2001, sold a variety of military collectibles. The only thing in which we don't deal is functional firearms of newer than 1898 manufacture. Let me repeat, we don't sell firearms there...

However, we do sometimes have non-functioning, dewat, replica and reproduction arms as well as pre-1898 originals. We also keep our ears to the ground and are often aware of individual sellers who have firearms appropriate to our interest. It is a unique benefit of this job to have access to some wonderful things because sometimes people bring things by just to show off.  Among those things recently were those items shown following.

The Model 1941 Johnson Rifle

The 1941 Johnson Rifle was an American made, short recoil, 10-round rotary magazine, semi-automatic rifle designed prior to WWII. The designer was Melvin Johnson. Made in .30-06 and 7x57mm Mauser, the rifle was used by the U.S. Marines, who used rifles originally ordered by the Netherlands for issue to the KNIL in the Dutch East Indies and by the anti-Castro Brigade 2506 in the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. Only about 20,000 of these were produced and an unknown number were lost in combat. I have personally only seen 5 or 6 of these and only had an opportunity to handle two of them including the one here which recently passed by the shop.

The Johnson rifle competed with the Garand but lost out for various reasons. It has some faults and in some ways is better than the Garand. I'm sure that the Marines liked that it could be loaded with the same clipped ammunition as the M1903 rifles that were so prevalent in the Corps until later in the war. Some liked that it held two more rounds than the Garand.

There is, as one might expect a web site dedicated to the rifle,

The German MG-08

The German MG-34

The Luger or German P-08