Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thompson Center Arms Contender and G2 Answers

I've had to deal with a number of questions about the Thompson Center Contender and G2 regarding interchangeability of parts including barrels, stocks and such.  I'm going to give it a go to have the whole deal in one place to which I can refer without having to write it all out again.

The pistol/rifle barrel interchangeability thing was addressed in a case before the Supreme Court of the United States and one can switch the original Contender back and forth, most frames have been changed so often through dealers that one can't know how they were first sold. However, there may be questions about the G2 and Encore frames because they were sold after the decision and it is possible that somebody would think they weren't covered by the decision... Yes, I know it is confusing but the only way anyone would ever know is if they get you for something else and then do an investigation to make their case stick. In practical terms it is a non-starter so long as you don't assemble a sub 16" barrel on a rifle stocked frame.

As to barrels. ALL Contender barrels will work on all frames with only a couple of caveats. First is that many years ago TC switched to the split locking bolt in conjunction with the "easy opening" frame and newer frames are SOMETIMES problematic with the old solid locking bolt.

Second is that isn't including G2 barrels which have a little stud off the bottom of the lug for some calibers (.375 JDJ and .45 ML come to mind). That stud has clearance in a little cut in the G2 frame that doesn't exist in the Contender frame. Folks are just cutting the stud off the bottom of the lug. TC did this to avoid liability issues with cleaning on the ML barrels and with frame stretching on the .375 JDJ barrels. This is because it is very easy to load the .375 JDJ to the point that pressures exceed limits of the Contender frame.

Third is that the Armor Alloy (a plating system used by TCA) barrels might not interchange. The critical dimension is the link pin hole. Carefully polish it out and voila! Many have already been so altered which is why I say "maybe". All it takes is some crocus cloth wrapped around a dowel (some folks use a pencil) and spun in the link pin hole. Not so sure about the Armor Alloy FRAMES as I can't remember anyone trying a blued barrel on the frame but I think (might, might not work) using a blue link pin on the Armor Alloy frame with the blue barrel will work. Just can't remember anyone doing that. The AA barrels are MUCH more common than the frames but not that common. TC quickly changed to stainless. I imagine that if the pin hole is too small for the blue pin it could be opened up. The problem stemmed from using mostly standard dimensions but adding the plating after final dimensions had been achieved.

The Encore is NOT the Contender/G2. It is a larger frame and will handle higher pressure cartridges. However it won't handle the short magnums because the breach thrust will stretch the frame. This is due to the larger case head on those cartridges. All Encore barrels will work on all Encores.

All CONTENDER and G2 frames have switchable hammer faces to fire rimfire, not so for the Encores. Various schemes have been concocted to put the rimfire barrels on Encores but it seems that not many have pursued that as I've yet to see a rimfire Encore barrel.

The stocks can be confusing in that it seems that forearms (which have had many different variations for the Contender) are useable on the G2 as well.  However, the changes to the frame have required a different buttstock for the G2 and these do not interchange between the two actions.

One more point, the original Contender is not referred to as the "G1".

Monday, May 30, 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

There are many who have served. Many bear scars or rest forever in foreign soil as a result of their service. Many families are forever changed by the loss of these men and women. It is for these cherished national heroes that we take time this day to mark their graves and remember their names.

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Those who have been lost in the Global War on Terror.

In remembrance of those of my own family who have served...

PVTJohn BalchAmerican Revolution
Johan Joost BeckerAmerican Revolution
CPTJonathan BixbyConnecticut ContinentalsAmerican Revolution
Smith & FarrierFrancis Boole17th Light Dragoons (GB)American Revolution
PVTLawrence BroderickCold War
CPTOrrin Lawrence BrodieWWI, WWII
Archibald CampbellAmerican Revolution
Seaman 1stJohn Elton DavisUSS PrincetonWWII
SPCJustin Lee Davis10th MtnGWOT
PVTErasmus Dortch*21st Alabama Infantry RegimentCivil War
T4John Clarence DortchADAWWII
CPLDaniel Ford6th Connecticut RegimentAmerican Revolution
Horatio GrantUS Army1823
PVTCharles Henry FlintH/194th New York InfantryCivil War
Jacob HeensAmerican Revolution
LTNathaniel HerrickFrye's RegimentAmerican Revolution
MAJEphraim HildrethChelmsford County Militia
PFCGano H. Jewell*2d Bn 116th Inf RegtWWII
PVTHiram H. Kimball10th Hvy Arty & E/69th NYSVCivil War
1LTBarney Alonzo ParslowD/134th New York InfantryCivil War
SGTDonald Fancher Parslow16th IN 1st IDWWII, Korea
PVT/DrummerHenry Parslow1st and 3rd Regts, COLs Snyder,PawlingAmerican Revolution
PVTHenry Parslow*1812
QM SGTHenry Parslow2nd NY Hvy ArtilleryCivil War
GENFreegift PatchinConnecticut & New York MilitiasAmerican Revolution
PrivateChapman R Philen*38th Alabama InfantryCivil War
ArtificerPeter V. Race15th & 50th New York EngineersCivil War
CPTGeorge Richtmeyer3rd Co. 15th Regt. Albany Cty MilitiaAmerican Revolution
PVTJacob Schaeffer15th Regt Albany Cty MilitiaAmerican Revolution
MatrossKoert Van SchaickCPT Barnes ArtilleryAmerican Revolution
Adam SwartAmerican Revolution
LTAdam ThayerMassachusetts MilitiaAmerican Revolution
PVTPelitiah ThayerMassachusetts MilitiaAmerican Revolution
2LTLeonard Boole Van Cott*119th NY Infantry Regt.Civil War
1LTTheodore Sedgewick Van Cott71st NYVICivil War
1LTWilliam Hathaway Van Cott102nd Regt US VolunteersCivil War
Jacob Van DykeAmerican Revolution
PVTJohan Joost WarnerAmerican Revolution

* - died in service

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Emma Gees - Captain Herman W. McBride

"The Emma Gees" is a classic of WWI literature by Captain Herbert Wesley McBride (b. 1875 - d. 1933) who also wrote "A Rifleman Went to War". It is a recounting of the highlights of McBride's experiences as a machinegunner in the Twenty-first Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force in France during WWI.

I thought there was much to learn beyond the recounting of his activities and actions.  There is a certain attitude of expressed indifference that seemed to prevail at that time.  Expressed not actual indifference.  I think that he was anything BUT indifferent is shown in his efforts to avenge the deaths of his fellow soldiers or, later, to mark the death place of his friend, LCPL William Emmanuel Bouchard. One thing for certain, while McBride recounts his experiences, it is not done in a way to promote himself as in the way that a certain public figure has done with regards to the death of a terrorist leader. In truth, most comments about his own actions seem intended only to show how he was there and how he knows what happened. Neither does McBride attempt to account for activities outside his immediate location except for what he heard about those actions at that time. I found that refreshing.

The book has a number of quality photos of action at the front and maps of the trenches. Unfortunately, I am read this on my Kindle and if Kindle has a weakness it is that one can't see page size maps easily. However, the book is so good that I think one should have a hardbound copy.

Captain McBride was one of those men whose life excited the young men in the past.  It was fully adventurous and exciting (before we fully understood what "adventurous" and "exciting" really meant!). An obituary for Herbert McBride from the May 1933 American Rifleman as follows:
Capt. Herbert W. McBride, Indiana National Guard, has passed away at the age of 59 years, and in his passing the shooting game has lost one of its staunchest veteran supporters. His death, which came suddenly at his home in Indianapolis, was attributed to heart trouble. Not long before, he had suffered a fractured shoulder in an automobile accident while on duty in the troublous mining area of his state. From boyhood Captain McBride, a son of the late Judge Robert W. McBride of the Indiana Supreme Court, was devoted to the outdoors and to small arms. He had a varied and colorful career. Gold mining in Alaska, logging, railroad construction work in the Yukon and northern British Columbia, exploring, hunting and fishing widely, wars - all these formed interesting chapters of activity in his life. Biology, geology, ethnology, anthropology, botany and entomology, in addition to his long devotion to shooting, all claimed his attention. As a writer, too, Captain McBride was not unknown, in which connection it might be mentioned that a story written by him "Dog Eat Dog," a narrative of one of his sniping experiences in the World War, will appear in an early issue of The American Rifleman. Captain McBride had handled about every type of small arms extant during his lifetime. His fondness for guns was acquired in his tender years, and he had shot his first deer and wild turkey before he was 10 years old. As a member of the Indiana National Guard Team he shot at the National Matches from 1905 to 1911 inclusive, and he won the Indiana State Championship in 1905, 1906 and 1907. Also, he attended six National Matches after 1919. He was the organizer of the Indiana State Rifle Association and many rifle clubs, and served as N.R.A. State Secretary for Indiana for a number of years. Captain McBride always maintained a close association with some military organization from March, 1888, up until the time of his death. He was associated with the Military Smokeless Powder Division of the Du Pont Company from 1907 to 1912, going back to British Columbia in 1912, where he ranged all along the Upper Frazer in connection with the building of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad. In 1914 he was in command of a company of the Indiana National Guard, but resigned and went to Canada where he served as captain and military instructor in the 38th and 21st Battalions until the latter was sent overseas in May, 1915. He then resigned his commission and accompanied the battalion as a private machine gunner. He served overseas until early in 1917, when he was invalided home. Reaching this country late in April, he was assigned to duty as an instructor. He served throughout the remainder of the war in that capacity. when the Small Arms Firing School was organized at Camp Perry in May, 1918, he was one of the first instructors. Captain McBride, before wounds cut short his was service, was decorated with the British Military Medal for capturing 12 machine guns at the Battle of St. Eloi in Flanders in 1916, the Medaille Militaire for invading the German lines and capturing a German flag, and the Croix de Guerre. He was wounded seven times. In addition to his service in the World War, Captain McBride also saw service in the South African Boer War. Following the war, Captain McBride spent most of his time in Washington and Oregon, returning to Indianapolis about 18 months ago.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Hopkins and Allen .22 Rimfire Vest Pocket Derringer

This vest pocket sold for $2500
A little background on the company to begin. Incorporated on June 15, 1868 by Charles A. Converse, Charles W. Allen, Horace Briggs, Samuel S. Hopkins and Charles W. Hopkins. Since most were partners in Bacon Manufacturing Co. and Continental Arms Co and both companies ceased all operations at the time Hopkins & Allen was founded one could think of Hopkins & Allen Manufacturing Company (Hopkins & Allen) as successor to those companies. Merwin Hulbert & Co. became sole distributor of Hopkins & Allen in 1871. As of 1875 H&A made several lines of revolvers exclusively for Merwin, Hulbert & Co. e.g. the XL series however, with a double action feature and with a trigger guard. Hopkins & Allen became a cash cow for Merwin, Hulbert & Co. When Merwin, Hulbert & Co went bankrupt in 1896 then so did Hopkins & Allen in 1898. The company was reoganized as Hopkins & Allen Arms Company. H & A was taken over by Marlin-Rockwell in 1914

Less than 1400 of the .22 r.f. short caliber vest pocket derringers, 1 3/4" tip-down barrel, birdhead grips, spur trigger were produced between 1911 and 1915 and it was also known as the "Parrot Beak" derringer. Value of these runs from about $950-4000 depending on condition. Obviously a .22 Short (and this would NOT be the High Velocity round) is not a man-stopper but at the time any wound was potentially deadly. This gun filled the same role as today's North American Arms .22 mini-revolvers.

I have never owned one of these little guns. In fact, I hadn't seen one until this morning at the gun shop. It is cute but one wonders just how one is supposed to hold the gun AND see the front sight much less aim. That front sight might be prominent but it is useless and there is no rear reference. While it is a small and uncomplicated firearm the impression one has in handling it is that it is precisely fit and has an attractive finish.

Below is the one from the shop. It has had a brazed repair to the frame (I'd like to hear about why that was necessary.) and the mother-of-pearl stocks seem to have shrunk a bit...

Thursday, May 26, 2011


We've been through all these symptoms with Mom (who died Jan 23, 2010). We should have known but didn't. The problem is that, while there are a number of support agencies, groups, and people there is no dissemination of this information. Also, it differs from area to area. For far too long we ascribed certain behaviors to "age" or "eccentricities" and were too comfortable with them, given our experiences with other family members over the years (none of whom we know to have had Alzheimer's). Mom exhibited each of these symptoms and she knew something was wrong. Still, it required my intervention to have her evaluated and prescribed medication to deal with it. Even though her doctor saw her regularly, he did nothing about this. Even though the nurses told me they had "been worried about Eleanor for a while," nothing had been done. As it stands now researchers apparently believe that there are both genetic and environmental reasons for the build-up of plaque on the neural receptors which is the cause of Alzheimer's. There are some drugs which do seem to mitigate the progress of the disease but no cure. Those of us who have lived with and/or cared for those who have the disease understand just how terrible it is. Fortunately, the disease doesn't directly cause discomfort or pain for the victim. With the proper care it is possible for someone so afflicted to live out their life in complete physical comfort. However, it is important for family and friends to properly recognize the signs of the disease. Here are 8 symptoms you should look for.

Alzheimer's symptom #1: Memory lapses

1. Does the person ask repetitive questions or retell stories within minutes of the first mention?
2. Does she forget the names of recent acquaintances or younger family members, such as grandchildren?
3. Are memory lapses growing progressively worse (such as affecting information that was previously very well known)?
4. Are they happening more frequently (several times a day or within short periods of time)?
5. Is this forgetfulness unusual for the person (such as sudden memory lapses in someone who prided herself on never needing grocery lists or an address book)?

Alzheimer's symptom #2: Confusion over words

1. Does the person have difficulty finding the "right" word when she's speaking?
2. Does she forget or substitute words for everyday things (such as "the cooking thingamajig" for pot or "hair fixer" for comb)?
3. Of course it's normal for anyone to occasionally "blank" on a word, especially words not often used. But it's considered a red flag for Alzheimer's if this happens with growing frequency and if the needed words are simple or commonplace ones.

Alzheimer's symptom #3: Marked changes in mood or personality

1. Is the person who's usually assertive more subdued (or vice versa)? 2 Has the person who's reserved become less inhibited (or vice versa)?
2. Does she withdraw, even from family and friends, perhaps in response to problems with memory or communication?
3. Has she developed mood swings, anxiety, or frustration, especially in connection with embarrassing memory lapses or noticeable communication problems?
4. Has she developed uncharacteristic fears of new or unknown environments or situations, or developed a distrust of others, whether strangers or familiar people?
5. Do you see signs of depression (including changes in sleep, appetite, mood)?

Alzheimer's symptom #4: Trouble with abstract thinking

1. How well does the person handle relatively simple mathematical tasks, such as balancing a checkbook?
2. Is she having trouble paying bills or keeping finances in order, tasks she previously had no problem completing?
3. Does she have trouble following along with a discussion, understanding an explanation, or following instructions?

Alzheimer's symptom #5: Difficulty completing familiar activities

1. Has the person begun to have trouble preparing meals?
2. Is she less engaged in a hobby that once absorbed her (bridge, painting, crossword puzzles)?
3. Does she stop in the middle of a project, such as baking or making a repair, and fail to complete it?
4. Has she stopped using a particular talent or skill that once gave her pleasure (sewing, singing, playing the piano)?
5. Activities with various different steps, however routine and familiar, can become difficult to complete for a person with Alzheimer's. Your parent might become distracted or lose track of where she is in the process, feeling confused. Or she might just lose interest altogether and leave a project unfinished.

Alzheimer's symptom #6: Disorientation

1. Has the person begun to be disoriented in new or unfamiliar environments (such as a hospital or airport), 2. asking where she is, how she got there, or how to get back to a place she recognizes?
2. Has she become disoriented in an environment she knows well?
3. Does she wander off and get lost in public (or get lost when driving or after parking)?
4. Does she lose track of the time, day, month, or year? For example, after being reminded about a future doctor's appointment over the phone, she may start getting ready for the appointment right away. Or she may have trouble keeping appointments and remembering other events or commitments.

Alzheimer's symptom #7: Misplacing items

1. Does the person "lose" items often?
2. Do they turn up in unusual places (such as finding a wallet in the freezer)?

Alzheimer's symptom #8: Poor or impaired judgment

1. Has the person recently made questionable decisions about money management?
2. Has she made odd choices regarding self-care (such as dressing inappropriately for the weather or neglecting to bathe)?
3. Is it hard for her to plan ahead (such as figuring out what groceries are needed or where to spend a holiday)?

As you can see, these are not symptoms conducive to safe shooting. With the apparent tremendous increase in the incidence of Alzheimer's and the preponderance of older shooters in some disciplines it might be a good thing for us to cast a more critical eye on some of our more "eccentric" fellow shooters.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Notes from the gun shop...

Today's work at the shop appeared to be off to a slow start. The contractors have moved down West Beverly to directly in front of the store as they work to repair the sewer line. It was hard to get into the lot from either direction and not much easier to drive around and come in on Waverly Street. Also, the heavy equipment seemed to be in the parking lot much of the day. However, we ended the day with 8 background checks completed and a good bit of business done, albeit in four hectic spurts throughout the morning and afternoon.

There weren't really any interesting firearms new to the shop since last Monday. We did have some interesting conversations though.

One fellow is looking for the correct receiver/aperture sight for the Stevens 414 Armory rifle. He apparently has a tang peep sight but wants the correct sight. Lyman made a couple of sights that are correct for the gun but I believe that the one illustrated is the correct "as issued" sight.  This is an extremely simple sight completely in keeping with the price point of the rifle.  I'm not surprised that many were later replaced with more sophisticated sights of one kind or another.  Such a sight would be completely serviceable, but other sights would give many shooters much more confidence.  I'm looking, but if you know of or have one for sale, let me know and I'll get him to contact you.

Likewise interested in hard to find sights is another fellow looking for the anti-aircraft insert for the Lyman 48C sight used on the .22LR military training rifles. I noticed that Brophy's book mentions but doesn't show the aperture. I looked in TM 9-280 and you can see it there on page 106 as shown here. I'm going out on a limb and saying that I think these are going to be hard to find.  I doubt that anyone took the time or went to the effort to switch to this aperture unless given strict orders to do so.  Changing would have been a real pain for any half-day training exercise!

The only other interesting thing is that the boss man auctioned his PMR-30 on Gunbroker.  It sold for $580+!  I was astonished but a quick review of completed auctions shows that some of these guns have sold, new, for as much as $685!  That's roughly 2-times the MSRP.

PS - for the sights it was suggested that we recommend Gary Fellers.  

Friday, May 20, 2011

Time to mind the watches...

I've inherited 3 watches but never done a thing about or with them to this point as I thought it might be too much money or time or effort and not worth it. I don't know much about watches, I'm no horologist, but I do know a bit about nostalgia and sentimentality so now is the time to wind this up. I'll keep adding info as I learn...

Watch #1 Face

Watch #1 Works
Watch #1 - I have no idea to whom this belonged but it did come from my maternal side of the family.  Apparently this open face cased watch is a Waltham with a 15-jewel movement, made by American Waltham Watch Co. (AWWCo). The serial number is 23812186 and this tells us the watch movement was made in 1920.  The works diameter is 1-7/16" or size 12. 

Watch #2 Case " Front"
Watch #2 Case Reverse
Watch #2 Face
Watch #2 Inscription (presumably a former owner)
Watch #2 Case Marks
Watch #2 Works
Watch #2 - The 14K gold hunting case is marked "Gruen" but the works are, again, "Waltham".  I finally managed to open it up to look at the works.  It is marked as above,  "AWWCo" and "Riverside".  The serial is 7274502 indicating it was made 1895.  The works diameter is 1-7/16" or size 12.  It is shown with the watch chain and knife/fob as it came to me. I believe this is the one that belonged to "Uncle" Dave Fancher (on the paternal side of the family).  I was told that he bought the watch 2nd hand from somebody else and that he needed it for his work on the railroad (he was a railroad detective at one time). 

Watch #3 Face
Watch #3 Back
Watch #3 in box
Close-up of Key for Watch #3
Watch #3 Works
Watch #3 -  This one, if I remember correctly, came from the maternal side of the family.  Note the neat box.  It is key wound and has a neat key.  The works diameter is 1-1/2".The maker is apparently A. R. Schmid.  Neuchatel is in Switzerland but whether this mark applies to the case or works or both I don't know.  The case mark is "AE" and the case is 18K gold.

- National Pocket Watch Database
- Lee Feldman (WatchRepair.com)
- Swiss Straight Line Lever Escapment

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Clean up...

After years of seemingly reduced rainfall we are having a spring as wet as any in recent memory.  However, more than ever, the rain comes all at once.  None of this multi-day drizzle to reach 1", we get a 10-15 minute downpour of ½" of rain, wait a bit and then another.  In this old house, the gutters run to the sewer under the house and are linked to the basement drains.  The 4" pipe can't handle that much run-off all at once and we've got a backup of 4-5 gallons into the basement.  Very little sludge, but still a pain.  I cleaned up a bit this morning and moved more stuff away from the offending drain, just in case.  Will be going back to Mom's to mow a bit this afternoon. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Notes from the gun shop...

I was really looking forward to going to work yesterday.  Not entirely certain why, but I was, so much so I left a little early!  Let's be truthful, I REALLY enjoy working in a gun shop.  I see neat guns.  I can handle neat guns.  I can talk guns, all day, AND I get paid a little bit for doing so.  We are really starting to see some good guns come out of the woodwork.  Sad that people have to give them up, good that others are getting a "shot" at some of them.

.44 Magnum Auto-mag Model 180.  We just don't see these around here.  They are pretty neat guns. 

Conceived by American businessman Harry Sanford during late 1960s as a semiautomatic pistol, similar in power to the Smith&Wesson .44 Magnum revolvers with less recoil and more capacity. The cartridge is based on shortened .308 Winchester case moving a 240-grain bullet to velocities like 1680 fps with a muzzle energy of roughly 1500 ft-lbs. Models 160 and 260 were chambered in .357AMP cartridge.  Prototype pistols were designed by Max Gera for Auto Mag Corporation about 1970.  Auto Mag Corp went bankrupt, replaced by TDE Corp, then more Auto Mag guns were made by OMC Corp and High Standard Corp. Overall production of Auto Mag pistols is estimated at about 9,500 guns between 1971 and 1982.

The Auto Mag pistol is locked breech, short recoil operated pistol that locks using a rotating bolt. Most parts are made from stainless steel.  Trigger is single action, with exposed hammer and frame-mounted manual safety.  Fully adjustable sights are on all of the many variations of easily interchanged Auto Mag barrels, with or without sighting rib, with various lengths and profiles.

Then we also had a Wildey semi-auto pistol chambered for the .475 Wildey Magnum. I've never gotten to hold one of these before. This is one BIG pistol. The girth of the grip frame is greater than that of the Magnum Research Desert Eagle.
The Wildey Pistol features a patented gas operating system. Six small holes in the barrel tap off gasses to power an air-hydraulic piston which pushes the slide rearward, ejecting the spent cartridge, and operate the rotary bolt. A gas regulator (see photo above) is located on the barrel just in front of the piston. The regulator can be adjusted to regulate the flow of gas allowing the pistol to shoot everything from heavy hunting loads to light target loads. This patented gas operated system greatly reduces the felt recoil. And the gas regulator is easy to adjust.

The .475 Wildey Magnum Cartridge

The Wildey pistol was introduced chambered in .45 Winchester Magnum. This powerful 45 is basically a .45 ACP lengthened .300". Both cases are the same .476" diameter. To build an autoloading pistol that would fire bigger bullets a new case was needed. The 30-06 case was no help. True the .44 Auto Mag pistol was based on this case but case diameter is .470". The .284 Winchester case caught Wil Moore's eye. The .284 is a rebated rimless case. The rim diameter is the same as the 30-06, .473" but the body of the case is wider with a max diameter of .500". Perfect! Wil cut down the .284 case to the maximum length of the .45 Winchester. After inside neck sizing the case took a .475 diameter bullet.

Ballistic testing would prove Wildey J. Moore had developed the most powerful pistol cartridge. Best of all his Wildey Pistol design was rugged enough to shoot this cartridge and the patented gas system would help the average shooter deal with recoil.

Today if you really cared to, you could convert .284 brass to .475 Wildey Magnum but the availability of commercial brass allows you to spend time on more enjoyable things like shooting this powerful cartridge, the .475 Wildey Magnum.
Then, surprise of surprises, we have one of the recently most demanded firearms, the Kel-Tec PMR30. I was beginning to think that I'd never see one. I guess I'm not as impressed as some are. It must be my mental orientation. I still carry a 6-shot revolver, Browning High Power or Colt .45 ACP for self-defense. Still it is neat to see one.

The boss man has all these on auction at GunBroker.com.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ruger Speed-Six Stainless 2-3/4"

Ruger Stainless 2-3/4"  Speed-Six
Years ago my first purchase of a center-fire revolver was a Ruger Stainless Security-Six.  It was a great gun and when I had to sell it to pay my lawyer for helping me keep my life I was pretty bummed.  Still, I was able to recover and later get another.  I got that first gun because I'd had a good experience with Dad's 4" blued Speed-Six.  I really liked the six series guns after owning my own Security-Six and so I wanted a matching stainless Speed-Six but with the 2-3/4" barrel.  One day at work, I lucked out and one walked in the door.  I got it.  It came with Hogue rubber which I think is ugly AND oversized.  I put the much smaller Pachmayr rubber on it (seen on left) that I'd taken off the 4" Speed-Six and waited.  I had to wait about 4 weeks but the former owner of the 2-3/4" gun brought me the factory stocks.  Add a Tyler-T grip adapter and we're good to go.  Well almost...

Speed-Six, Tyler-T and Speed Loader, all ready!
You see, the former owner must have had some sort of vision problem I don't share.  He'd painted the face of the rear sight with white enamel and then, he'd done the same to the face of the front sight.  How anyone sees white on white sights is beyond me.  A couple of quick blasts with Gun Scrubber and a scrubbing using an old toothbrush plus careful cleaning of the front sight's grooved face with a scribe and I had sights I could see and use.

Now what holster should I carry the old girl in?  Why a Bianchi Pistol Pocket made for the S&W 13, 65, 19 and 66 of course.  Works a treat.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Need Insurance?

Firearms collections should be insured.  Homeowners' policies likely don't and won't cover more than a certain amount.  Aside from protecting your firearms from theft with a safe or vault, you should protect your financial investment by way of insurance, just as you do with your house, car or you would with jewelery.  Below I've republished the VCDL article on insurance.


         Do you know how much your firearms are worth?  Do you know how much your insurance covers in the event of a fire or theft?  We found out the hard way when my son’s house was broken into.  The thief stole a small safe which was temporarily not bolted down due to some painting going on.  This safe held 3 handguns.  The insurance covered up to $5,000.00, which sadly did not cover the cost of replacing these guns.  That led me to my search for affordable insurance without having to provide the insurance company with an itemized list of all of my guns.

         What I found was that there are companies out there that specialize in insuring collections.  Some specifically insure gun collections.  The company that I settled on does not require that you provide them with an inventory of your guns, nor do they call for an appraisal.  It is important to note that the exception is when a single item is valued at over $5,000.00.  In that case, that one item must be listed on the policy.  In addition, this policy covers ammunition and accessories (think reloaders, holsters, scopes, safes, etc.).

         So how does this work?  You would need to make a list of all your guns that you wish to insure.  You keep the list.  I have a form in my computer that I fill out each time I purchase a new gun (or sell one for that matter).  The form lists a description of the firearm, the serial number, any distinguishing marks, the date of purchase and purchase price, the current value and date of valuation, any included accessories, etc.  It also has a place for the date sold and to whom.  When I buy a new gun I fill this form out and include pictures of the gun making sure to photograph the serial number and any special features.  You can also incorporate a scanned copy or a photograph of any receipts.  This goes into a file that is backed up off site.  Let me say that again…the file is backed up off site!  That way if there is a fire and my computer burns up with my collection I have a surviving record to give the insurance company.

         After you make your list you must do a little research to value your collection.  This can be done online pretty easily.  Once you assess the value, simply fill out the application and submit it.  The company I chose has an online application process complete with online payment options.  It is important to note that filling out the application does not bind the policy.  You will have to receive confirmation from the carrier before your coverage takes effect.  Also, as you add to your collection you must be careful that you notify the insurer if your new value exceeds your coverage limits.

         I have included a link to three different insurance companies, but I encourage you to go online and do your own research.  There are several companies out there that insure collections and you may find that another firm better suits your needs.  Here are some sample rates for Collectables Insurance:

                     Stated Value               No Safeguards                   With Safeguards

                     10,000                         $56.00/year                 $56.00/year

                     25,000                         140.00/year                 140.00/year

                     75,000                         420.00/year                 380.00/year

         These are just a few figures off of a rate chart that goes from $3,000.00 to $200,000.00 in value.  As you can see, these rates are pretty affordable.  From what I have researched, these prices are much more reasonable than adding a rider to one’s home-owners policy.  Requirements about the safeguards can be found on the web site listed below and individual quotes will likely vary depending on circumstances.  Here are the links:



Collector’s Insurance
11350 McCormick Road
EP #1 Suite 700
Hunt Valley, MD  21031
(888) 837-9537 toll free
(410) 876-9233 fax

Another alternative is ArmsCare Plus, an NRA endorsed company.  They require scheduling any one item valued at over $2,500.00, but do not require serial numbers.  There contact info is:


Individual NRA Members Insurance
1-877-NRA-3006 (Option #3)

Club Affiliates & Business Affiliates

NRA Endorsed Insurance Program
Property & Casualty Plans
PO Box 410679
Kansas City, MO 64141-0679

               The third company is Core-Vens Insurance.  Their rates begin at $300.00/year, but they specialize in larger collections and also insure big game trophies and so forth.  They tell me that if your collection is over $60,000.00 in value that they are usually very competitive.  They can be reached as follows:


Core-Vens Insurance
Post Office Box 1028
2301 N. 2nd Street,
Clinton, Iowa  52733-1028

800-796-9907 phone
5633-242-5242 fax

Email:  GunInsurance@corevens.com

         Again, I urge you to do your own research.  Whatever company you consider, ask them to provide you with a sample policy to look over.  Also review your homeowner’s policy, life insurance policy and auto policy.  It would be a shame to have a claim denied because your policy doesn’t cover you in a self defense situation!  This is a time when you most need your insurance. The important thing to keep in mind here is that you need to read and understand your policy.  If you don’t understand it, ask your agent for clarification.  In addition, when you renew you need to read and compare the renewal to the old policy.  Insurance agencies can change terms, covered items and exclusions.  When done during a policy period they must send you notice, but when done at renewal it is a whole new contract and they can easily slip things past you if you are not alert. I hope you never need to file a claim, but if you do I hope you have found this information helpful.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Merwin Hulbert Comeback?

I hope they are! These guns are some of the neatest, most intriguing frontier era revolvers I've ever laid eyes on. I'd like one but have to admit to myself I could never afford an original much less one I'd dare shoot all the time! Click on the pic to go to the company web site.

12/28/07 2135


Today we have an update. For those who are really eager for the gun, drop some cash on them now. For myself, I'm waiting until they are actually in production.
Hello to all our M&H Faithful.

I guess after 18 months of getting to this point I was more jubilant than specific in our email release. Also, it seems to have gone out with our poor webmaster's email as the header, so he's been drowning in responses last night and this morning.

First, let me respond to several of the comments, concerns, and questions received in the last 24 hours.

1)The first Serial number sold will be SN 101. First come first served.

2)All deposits will go to our accounts which are held with Bank of America and or our backup accounts at Wells Fargo. Both of these banks are as stable as any in the country at the moment.

3)Use of deposits: The deposits will go towards expenses relating to production,sales, and core costs, and NOT salaries, vacations, corporate jets, million dollar pool parties with playboy bunnies, etc.

4)When? Good question. I believe in being open and honest with our customers so do I have an X date? No, but 12 months is the farthest out we are looking at currently for standardized production. I am looking at a date much sooner then that, but I don't want to over-promise and under-deliver.

5)Who? Who will be making these? Our production plan is the best, most reliable one we could think up. We are working with proven current manufacturers. Some of which I guarantee you have made the products you own currently, either directly or through R&D. So as we don't swamp them with emails, calls, etc. I'm not going to release their names, but they have a history of success and they are helping us to get up and going and when we are these partnerships will continue and most of the manufacturing equipment they are designing will be shipped in-house to a central location. This way we can start quickly and cost effectively, but your guns will be made on the same machines be they early production or one 5 years from now.

6)Movies? Yes, we have SEVERAL movies that have caught wind of this and requested immediate samples.

7)Pictures? Yes, more pictures are coming shortly. The top strap 4th model is very close in appearance to the S&W Top Break and the open top is the one in our logo.

And finally, a direct link to the order site follows. It is secured and also goes directly through Authorize.net to Bank of America, so secured straight through to the account.


We'll be in touch soon!


It has been just a little over a year since my original posting.

12/31/08 1700


Today we received an update from the company via a posting at Paco's Leverguns Forum. We appreciate Mike's willingness to communicate with his potential customers. The news about the Savage 99 is interesting, too!

I'm always happy to see discussions about the company. We had a few internal reasons for the deposit, but I'm happy to say we aren't counting on them as the funding source for our production. For those of you out there that don’t want to drop a 20% deposit, emails stating thoughts and intent to Sales@MerwinHulbertCo.com would be appreciated. I definitely understand the skepticism as I've heard about Merwin's coming from all sorts of sources and I've been personally told by the Italians that they are almost impossible to make. We are taking the approach of working with the folks in the industry that really do the design work for the major companies out there. Of particular interest, through our larger operation we are finishing up the project to help Savage bring back the 99 which should be at next years shot.

Happily we've had several folks come out of the blue with fixes, updates, etc. that should help us avoid issues like the Black Powder lock ups that have been reported here and most famously by Mike V, but not cause major issues with the look of the historic models. Speaking of historic models, yes, that does mean we have modern models on the way. One finally teaser here, after 3 years of extensive research we are pretty close to a good formula or two for real black powder, not that stuff out there these days. That too should help with the fouling as well as helping you actually get 40 grains into a 44-40 case without having to scrounge for questionable balloon head cases.

357 Mag in the open top will be thoroughly tested and we are considering out options there, S-7 steel being one of those. We have a few open tops that have had catastrophic failures. The barrels survive, the cylinders survive, but the center pin/rod fails at about the same point, where the cuts are deepest, every time we've seen along with the front lip of the frame bending. The top strap models don’t have any issues of this type. It is interesting to note, we’ve never seen a scalloped cylinder that has shown any signs of stress cracks, even on the blown revolvers we’ve examined.

Well folks, again, I appreciate all the discussion about the company, and I look forward to keeping in touch with all of you as things progress. I’m hoping to get these out as soon as possible as I’ve got Hollywood on me as well, so with the silver screen calling, over a 1000 buyers, 2 dozen dealers, and 3 exporters calling, we’ve got all the incentive to get going and get it done.
and this
Our order system is pretty easy, if you want 15 different barrels with 3 different calibers, order it and we'll make it. Part of the beauty of the design is that we don't have to caliber the revolver until the order comes in the door. So you tell us what you want, we pull the right frame size, the cylinder(s) you need and the barrel(s) you request and out the door they go. Same will go for the new revolvers. Dealers will be provided with cut-a-way example, on loan from the company, so that we can be sure they always have a test gun on hand. Ideally we'd like to drive most of the orders to an on demand basis so that the customer gets what they want and the dealers don't have to tie up capital in inventory. When production is in full swing we should be able to get delivery down to less than 10 days and hopefully down to significantly less than that.


"If you haven't been keeping up with the far more frequent updates in www.merwinhulbertco.com's Forum section, here's the facts:

"1. The Merwin 2nd Model Open-Top (1876-1880) Pocket Army and Frontier Army are completely designed in SolidWorks CAD (same program S&W and Ruger use for their pistols) by the engineering team, have had plastic prototypes run from the CAD to test their fit with the original revolvers we laser-scanned and hand-measured, and are being checked over by our West Point-educated Weapons System Engineer of 40 years gunmaking/ammunitionmaking experience. The parts can start running from that CAD at the team of shops (mostly in Montana) in our supply chain across March-May with the revolvers assembled, finished and tested at our riflemaking plant in Wyoming this summer.

"2. The Third Model top-strap double action Merwin Pocket Army & Frontier Army are mostly designed (we standardized on the best Merwin solutions across the models so there's really not a lot of changes) and CAD will wrap up in March so we expect those to be finished guns in the Fall. Not sure when or if we'll make the 4th Model TopStrap, that'll depend on sales and serious requests.

"3. The website is getting a long awaited overhaul including the order form which has driven us nuts even more than it's bothered you. We assumed too much Merwin Hulbert knowledge of customers and gave too many confusing options. It'll be a lot clearer. We're also adding more Merwin history and other useful content as well as making it far easier to update (it was taking 6-12 months for no good reason.)

"4. While we'll be adding video down the road, there's a good intro to Merwins already on www.YouTube.com from the NRA Museum's Curators Corner with longtime collector/auctioneer/Museum Director Jim Supica lucidly explaining and demonstrating the Merwins.

"5. It's taken way longer than folks that have never manufactured anything seem to think it should take (or assume manufacturers fill up a warehouse or two with finished products before trying to sell any, assuming there's a real and ready demand.) In real terms it's gone pretty fast as we're bringing back a proven design made in the hundreds of thousands for roughly 20 years. Which leaves us puzzled at the demand for working prototypes as though this was a new untried design. We are prototyping for assuring measurement errors didn't creep in from the originals (a few did, 2/1,000ths of an inch for fit of the grip panels) but are going straight to final parts from the CAD. We've made some subtle strengthening choices to a few parts but it's all original Merwin designs...the 9 designers or more who came up with this series of big .44 revolvers were very smart guys we're not going to second-guess. Metallurgy and precision are of course better given this era's choices. We make the proof ammunition for many of the large gunmakers as well as some of the biggest rounds in the world for rifles (up through .700 Nitro Express which has a 1,000 grain slug) so we're more obsessive than most about strength and reliability.

"6. Calibers (this has changed between feedback and engineering): .38 Special, .44 Special, .44-40 Winchester, .45 ACP, and we're still debating how to chamber for .45 Long Colt but not allow the smallest version of the .454 Casull to be used (while the top strap would likely be strong enough, we don't want to stress the open-top design with magnum loads since we assume you'll shoot these a lot.)

"7. Barrels have been designed so all of our models can have a set of 3 interchangeable barrels (or just 1 or 2, your choice) at 3.5", 5", and 7" lengths. Those were both historically accurate (well 5.5" is actually more historical for Merwins, but more of you wanted shorter than longer barrels so we went to 5"). You really can change the barrels in a few seconds and without a tool, a feature still basically unknown with only a few semi-automatics like the SIG and Glock offering barrel switches or the long out of production Dan Wesson revolvers. Barrels have been one of the most significant challenges to this since a Merwin barrel isn't just a steel pipe with 5 lands and grooves threaded on one end but part of the whole front of the gun and rifling revolver barrels is a mostly lost art. That's a step we're having revolver barrel rifling experts do (you already probably own some of their pistols) even though we have our own Pratt & Whitney cut rifling and button rifling inhouse
for rifles.

"8. When the new order form on the website goes up in the next few weeks, I urge you to place your orders (we'll honor your place for what you sent in already but want to confirm with the new specifications and your own interest.) Like anything ordered over the web (shipped to the FFL dealer you use), you'll pay by credit card for it, satisfaction is guaranteed (as you know Mastercard and Visa help you on that too) and we're offering a 5 year warranty on parts and workmanship. Service and repair will be available at our factory in Wyoming (but Merwin parts vary so much even within the original series of big .44's that new parts fitting your originals will be more varied than any of us expected, even with all of the parts on the new Merwins coming from original parts.

"9. We've lined up a few dealers that really focus on the CAS market in the U.S. and Europe but we expect that 98% of the Merwins will be sold directly from the website and then shipped to your favorite FFL dealer for whatever transfer fee he charges for that service and in compliance with local and federal laws since these are fully functional modern guns that happen to be 1876-1886 designs unlike say cap and ball revolvers.

"We appreciate your continuing interest and helping us figure out what to make. Let us know if you still want one or two, what you want (from what we're making above, we're past wish lists but those were quite helpful early on.) You'll be seeing these in a lot of magazine and television coverage (far more than we expected early on) but not a lot of ads-this is a small, craftsmanship project of one of our divisions rather than the next major handgun maker in the world roll-out. We expect to sell 1000-2000 of these a year and would rather make them right than often and durable rather than cheap. This confuses a lot of folks but not you. If you're ready for the revolver that most police chose back then as well as the one many of the West's top pistoleers adopted after years of shooting everything else in mortal combat, let us know. "

Al Jones
VP Marketing & Sales
Merwin Hulbert & Co.
This message was sent by: Merwin, Hulbery & Co., 6209 Mid Rivers Mall Drive, 315, Saint Charles, Missouri 63304

The referenced video: http://www.nationalfirearmsmuseum.org Merwin Hulberts forgotten six-gun of the Old West. Jim Supica, director of the National Firearms Museum, joins John Popp to showcase the Colt Single-Action Army, or the classic six-gun, and similar Remington and Smith & Wesson models. Supica also brings a lesser-known gun from the 1880s that was manufactured by a company called Merwin Hulbert.


Now another update...
It's been awhile and as the Merwin Hulbert & Co. revolvers go into the later stages of production, with shipping deposited orders starting in November (we solved the barrel-making problems finally, that was a logjam for everything.)

Obviously the economy is quite a bit different from when you placed the order and everyone's circumstances change.

We've also clarified and changed what the initial Merwin line is from the very broad questions on the old order form you responded to. Base pricing though remained in tact as did additional barrels, we've got a lot more finish options worked out, black rubber grips are standard then as now, calibers are .45LC, .45ACP/AutoRim, .44 Special/Russian, .44-40WCF, and .38 Special, barrel lengths are 3.5, 5.5, and 7 inch, and the 4 frame styles are open-top Pocket Army, open-top New Army (sometimes called Frontier, like an 1860 Colt), solid-frame (sometimes called Third Model, it's the slimmer top-strap like a Colt SAA or S&W K-Frame) Pocket Army and New Army. All single action right now, double action versions of the solid-frame will be out in the first half of 2011. We're making 4 revolvers a day so it'll be awhile, and each gets proof-tested, functionality-tested, and accuracy tested before shipping. If you want to upgrade to real elephant ivory grips installed at the factory, that's $395 and no hassle.

We'll be sending you an 8-page catalog on the Merwins that explains what's available and other stuff of interest about them in greater depth than we've gotten onto the website yet.

You can decide what you'd like with what you know now and place an order by mail, fax, e-mail, etc. (and shortly the new website order form will be up) along with payment (unless it's a double action, then just send a deposit.) We've been developing and building these on our money, just like any other made-to-order product, it's not COD. The Merwins are Satisfaction Guaranteed, if not return the gun for a full refund (if it's been used normally, i.e. blowing it up with hot hand-loads or driving over it with a loaded horse trailer, nope, but we can repair it and replace what's damaged. 5 Year Warranty on parts and labor, like I keep saying we're a gunsmith-driven company and focused on making them right before they go out the door to you.

The Merwins are entirely made in the USA, not just assembled, renamed, or reboxed here. These are made literally on the Oregon Trail used by the covered wagons headed to California, Oregon, and Utah. The factory in Glenrock, Wyoming is about a two day ride from Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid's Hole in the Wall hideout..smack dab in the middle of the Real Old West. It's two days ride from Fort Laramie. The cattle drives that inspired "Lonesome Dove" came through here from Texas to Montana. Range wars right through here (SW of the Johnson County War, Tom Horn was a range detective hereabouts.) Fetterman Fight, Wagon Box Fight, Hayfield Fight, Red Cloud's War, that's all hereabouts. You take Old West authenticity differently when it immerses you every day.

We're only considering the orders received with a deposit as dead serious orders (and first in line,) and the orders without a deposit we're considering you telling us what you would buy but not having committed to it, essentially a market survey. We hope you've been checking the Forum section on www.merwinhulbertco.com for updates and look forward to hearing from you at sales@merwinhulbertco.com as we do from so many every day (it's a highlight, not a hassle.)

We look forward to hearing from you, especially after you've had a chance to look at the catalog, and appreciate your continued interest and patience.
23 Sep 2010

More info...
Dear Merwin, Hulbert & Co Customers, Collectors and Friends,

Before we get into the progress in production, I want to address the change in the leadership of the Merwin, Hulbert & Co project. As some of you may or may not know, I started this odyssey back in 2006. After receiving almost unanimous discouragement from most folks in the manufacturing industry and the experts in the collector world I decided I had hit upon an idea worth following up on, for if one thing is almost certain in the world its if all the insiders and experts think something is a lousy idea, its probably worth its weight in gold. Along the line, Al Jones joined the project and for the last 3 years has been involved in the company and for the last 2 years did a lot of the heavy lifting and communication building. In fact he help setup this service that I'm using to talk to you now. Merwin's return definitely owes a page or two in the history books to Al. Another almost universal truth to go with the one above is that things change and teams change and as many of you may have heard, Al has left the team. I know this is concerning to many, perhaps borderline scary if you've got a full paid order in place, however, I wanted to contact you all to reassure you that Al's departure doesn't effect manufacturing in anyway. Al is a jack of many trades, however he wasn't involved in running the machines, handling the fitting, or engineering, so production is unaffected. I'm going to step back in to direct control over this division I started so hopefully I can fulfill Al's roll without much interruption. As time goes on I'll introduce other members of the team that have been in the background during this time that you can speak with as well.

Now on production, perhaps the biggest mistake we've made to date, and as the CEO I have to step up here and say the biggest mistake I permitted to happen for lack of more definitive intervention was the setting of delivery dates. This was never permitted under company policy. I've been around this industry my whole life and the one thing that gun companies are unilaterally guilty of and perhaps notorious for are unkept delivery dates. How long was Ruger suppose to come out with a 10/17 in 17 HMR? How about the Winchester 94 takedowns? How many times did that not happen? I even have the 2006 Catalog with lovely pictures of that one. Add to it that we are a small "new" player and up pop onerous images of other companies like Dan Wesson that failed multiple times, Wildey who was eaten alive by his own investors a few times, Fletcher-Bidwell Spencers and the list continues. So, I thought I was clear as to why we wouldn't do the same damn thing, yet here we are. The only fix to this that I can see, and I have to say I've been "test marketing" since yesterday in the 50 or so emails I answered directly before getting this system back online is to tell the complete truth of where we are at, what's take up our time and where we are going.

Many of you have already seen pictures of our frames, side plates, trigger guards, hammers, triggers, etc. Yes, we have all of those done. Cylinders are done as well. Barrels forgings are now in as well. Where we are at, at this very second, is the center Cylinder pin/post. In the Merwin this is a fairly significant part as it attaches via threads directly to the frame and holds not only the cylinder, but the barrel as well. Finally, the rim that extracts the cartridges is part of the back side of this pin and through that same shroud the hand that advances the cylinder passes in a vertical slot in the circular ring that contacts the rim of the cartridges. A lot of machining for what on something like a Colt is just a simple pin you could substitute with a nail if you had to. So this would seem fairly simple still, just machine it and thread it and thread the frame and screw them together. However, the issue here is the timing. Like that vertical cut for the hand, if that is off by a tiny amount the hand will bind and wear and the cylinder won't advance properly. Don't forget the cuts under the cylinder or out along the barrels travel area, those have to be oriented as well. Okay, so a simple solution would seem to be to thread it, tighten and mark it, then unscrew, machine and re-attach. Yes, this works, but what if your center pin breaks. We are using a far stronger alloy than the originals, but still this is one area, especially on open tops that we've seen a lot of damage as after all its a long thin post with cuts out of it. with the barrel unlocked its unsupported. Trip midway through an ejection cycle and hit in the right spot and it could bend or break no matter what we make it out of. If we used the process I just described the only option is to have it sent in and have a new part mated to it as the process above only makes a custom part, so no center pin is interchangeable with any other center pin. Don't like the sound of that? Neither do I. I'd much rather know that the center pin on a revolver made today could be replaced by one made 10 years from now. This requires that the threads in the frame start at the same point with in a few thousands and that the same happens on the center pin, with the added difficulty on the pin of all the other cuts having to be timed to the threads. As we have two parts that means the tolerance or "slop" on each part is additive meaning both have to be held to a very tight range or it won't work. Add to this it must be torqued down or "crushed" in so we have to know how much both the pin and/or frame will give with the required torque so it doesn't go out of alignment when we apply the torque. So we've got timing in the threads which is a machining and setup problem, the other machining on the pin having to line up with the other cuts in the frame, the deflection of the metal under torque, etc. So basically this simple process of threading the pin into the frame becomes a complex item in and of itself. Sure we could go the quicker way I first described, but I haven't been pouring everything I have into this and making you fine folks wait for just what works or what is good enough. I think you are all here because you want the best, and I'm here to make the best. Unfortunately, the best takes time, frequently in ways and delays that can't always be predicted.

So in conclusion, I can't give you a firm delivery date. In fact, the next delivery date I want anyone of you to hear is the one on the shipping invoice with tracking number that you'll receive when its sitting on the shipping counter ready to go out to your dealer, or your shop if you are a dealer. What I do plan on doing is using this service that we pay for monthly anyway and actually use it as often as is practical to communicate to you exactly where we are at, what is going on, and what is or isn't done. I apologize to those of you that were given a delivery date as it shouldn't have happened and I hope I've shown can't happen with any accuracy. Once we have all the bugs worked out of the system and are in continual production, then we'll be able to give rough delivery dates followed by certain dates at time of shipping, until then anything I'd say, even with the full picture on my desk here is nothing more than a guess. I'd rather tell you where we are and leave the guessing up to you. I will tell you from here, even having a completed piece doesn't mean we are a go. We have testers who will ring them out for us and I'll be doing that myself. When I have one with about 5,000 rounds through it without fail, then I will announce we are in full production, until then we are in production line testing. This is a bit different then prototyping as prototyping allows you to use any method you wish. Production line testing is what it sounds like, basically you are testing the manufacturing methods with no cheating allowed.

I'll end now by thanking you all for your patience, your enthusiasm, and of course your business. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I look forward to talking to you all again in the near future. I am going on the road to check in with the facilities and suppliers, so if you do write, I'll do my best to get back to you as soon as I can, but I might be delayed a bit over the next week or so. Until then, we'll follow Bat's advice and take our time as quickly as possible in getting these done and ready for you.



Michael H Blank
Merwin, Hulbert & Co., LLC

Recently found on the net, this is the configuration of Merwin & Hulbert I'd like to have...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Carry in State Forests

Ron Jenkins, the Assistant State Forester for Virginia, has confirmed that, barring anything unusual from happening, gun owners can BEGIN legally carrying sidearms in State Forests ON JULY 7, 2011.  The NRA and the Washington Examiner, both of which said that the regulation was effective immediately, have it WRONG.  Please help spread the word on the various chat groups and gun lists so that no one gets into trouble for carrying in Virginia State Forests prematurely!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Another Ruger Alphabet Bearcat...

Newest Bearcat
Once upon a time, ok, about 4 years ago, I managed to glom onto a long desired gun, a Ruger Bearcat.  I thought I was very fortunate to get an old model.  It was only coincidental that it was first year, "alphabet" gun.  They are called "alphabet" guns because Ruger, after producing the first thousand, made the next thousands by numbering them with a letter pre-fix and 001-999, changing the letter as each 3-digit number hit 999.  I know a couple of people who only collect these looking to have examples A-Z as it were.  I thought this one was neat because it is an "M" gun and M is for Madeline, my grand-daughter.  I hope she wants and I have the opportunity to give her this gun. Since I already have a "B" for myself I suppose that I now "need" to find a "K" for my grandson!

The condition is better than my other gun with only some slight bluing wear at the muzzle.  The loading gate spring tension is noticeably less than the earlier Bxxx gun.  However, when I got it it had every appearance of having been stored in a sheep shed.  This is one of those things that I was able to get by virtue of working in a gun shop.  A coworker needed money for another gun and had brought it in hoping to lure in another coworker but I was there first.  I'm glad of it, too!

I've got a nice little Simply Rugged sourdough pancake holster for the Bearcats.  Rob even included the neat inside out straps for it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Notes from the gun shop...

Yesterday was a good day at the gun shop.  We were pretty busy despite the construction in the street out front (West Beverly Street).  Usually when the weather is good nobody is coming in, they are out doing something else.   When the weather is bad they come in.  But, yesterday was busy all morning, and the later half of the afternoon.  Great day. 

Chris is taking in some neat guns as they surface due to the economy.  Folks need money and are selling "treasures".  We have a refinished (very nicely so) Mauser C96 which should make a good shooter for somebody who's wanted to try these out.  I think it is an OLD re-blue job, the bore is blued as well, but the polisher didn't even break any sharp corners much less buff out any marks.  He also just took in a Heckler & Koch (H&K) G91 (not a CETME or Century Arms) which is a 7.62 NATO/.308 Win chambered firearm.  This one also has the telescopic sight mount.  One seldom sees these on the local market. 

The highlight of the day was that I was able to get a nice first year Ruger Bearcat, albeit without the box, and I'm not into it for much.  More on that later. 

We did have a bit of a puzzle yesterday.  Lewis was working on a S&W M586 on which the hammer would "stick" forward after every double-action trigger pull locking up the action.  Neither he nor I could figure this one out.  He had and tried replacing several parts without effect but exactly what he did I cannot say as I was busy for much of the time he was working on it.  One of the major attractions to working in the shop is that one gets to see such things without having to make a purchase!  I'm going to try to figure this one out...

Monday, May 09, 2011

Chamber Casting on the Cheap by Tim

A friend has an old 1885 Winchester High Wall that was original a 38-55, but someone in the past has relined to a center-fire .22 caliber and the new caliber is not marked anywhere on the rifle. I decided to make a chamber cast to find out what it was.

Ordinarily you would use Cerrosafe, a metallic substance that melts at the temperature of boiling water and is designed for the job of chamber casting. But if you don't have any Cerrosafe, wax can make a cheap substitute if done carefully. In this case I used refined beeswax.

Here you see a picture of the muzzle showing the .22 liner that was epoxied into the barrel:


I started by giving the breech area and bore a good cleaning. Then everything was given a light coat of oil, :


I needed a tight oiled patch placed in the bore just ahead of the chamber. I first closed the breech block, ran a rod down the muzzle to determine overall bore length, then backed the rod out enough to clear the chamber and marked the rod with a piece of tape. The patch was then run in from the muzzle, stopping the rod at the tape mark. I did it this way because it presents a smoother surface for the wax to stop against as opposed to a patch run in from the breech, but I suppose it really doesn't matter much how it gets in there as long as it is there!


Next I used some automotive body caulking to build a dam around the bore breech so as not to get wax into the action:


I used an old metal cigar tube cut at an angle and pinched to form a pouring spout for the melted beeswax. A Vicegrip was used to handle the hot tube:


Here you see the rifle clamped barrel down in a vice with the action tilted slightly uphill to let any wax that overflows go away from the action:


Now the wax has been poured. It will shrink and pull down into the chamber slightly as it is poured, so I keep dribbling in hot wax until it overflows slightly:


While I waited a half hour or so for the beeswax to completely harden, I cleaned up the overflow and removed the caulking from the action area:


Lastly, the cleaning rod was run down the muzzle and the casting pushed out:


Using a caliper to check dimensions, and referring to the book "Cartridges of the World", I determined that the rifle appears to be a R-2 Lovell, a famous old wildcat caliber designed in 1937 and based on the 25-20 Single Shot case. I know a fellow who has a rifle in that caliber, so the next step is to borrow a round from him and see if it fits.

This wax chamber casting method will get you by in a pinch, but having used Cerrosafe in the past, I think it does a much better job, and the cerrosafe casting does not require the delicate handling that a wax casting does. Still, I found out what I needed to know, and it was kind of fun going through the process!

Tim (Shasta)

Friday, May 06, 2011

Smith and Wesson Model 624

S&W M624
A stainless steel version of the S&W Model 24, all 624s are .44 Special. In 1985 Lew Horton, having noted the popularity of the Jovino snub gun conversions of various N-frame guns, contracted with S&W to produce these 3" barreled guns (mine actually measures 2-3/4"). 5000 of these were supposedly made, however, one seldom sees these come on the market. Also, these guns have the N-frame dimension round butt, not the slightly smaller K-frame round butt of the Jovinos. This is important when looking for aftermarket stocks. S&W did make a few of these AFTER the Lew Horton order.

This makes my 5th .44 Special revolver but it is the only double action gun in which I would feel comfortable using the Skeeter load. I think the smaller L-frame 696 should be preserved with a slightly lighter load and it is certainly more pleasant to shoot that way.

I didn't get the box or papers with this gun but it should still hold its value well. I don't yet know whether or not I like the finger groove grips but they are original.

All of the Lew Horton guns had the serial prefix of "AHW" and this gun is an "ALV" which, interestingly enough, isn't listed for date in the 3d edition of the standard catalog. However one can easily see that this gun has no lock or MIM parts and uses the hammer mounted firing pin.

S&W 624 in Galco Holster
There was an issue with incorrect heat treatment of some cylinders for the 624s and there was a recall. After a number of cylinders were replaced, S&W ran out of cylinders and would offer to replace the guns with 629s (if I wanted a 629 I'd have bought a 629 would be my response). The prefix for the guns in this range is "ACH", I think. I'd like to get confirmation. Guns which were repaired were not marked but guns which were correct had their boxes marked with a 3/4" red circle with a "C" in the center of the circle.

I did get to shoot it some a couple of days ago and it did pretty well with the Winchester Silvertip load (which was very mild in recoil) and the "Skeeter Skelton" load of 7.5 gr. Unique under the 250 gr. Keith bullet.  That last was clearly not a pussy cat but the recoil is very manageable and will be even more so with practice.

M624 with new shoes, Skeeter load and Silvertips
After a bit I came upon some different stocks for a round-butt N-frame and thought I'd try them out.  I like these so put them on and put the factory stocks in a safe place to preserve them.

A bit of an addendum... The following information was provided by a very thoughtful reader:
According to Skelton's ST article (10/85), here are the recall SN ranges for the Model 624 recall:
ALVXXX (the “V” is not a typo)
N910000 thru N953000