Thursday, September 29, 2011

Browning 1911-22

Browning 1911-22
I want one of these guns.  85% the size of the good old 1911A1 and in .22 LR.  I hear they shoot pretty well, too.  What's not to like?

Is it the same as the Llama .22 pistols?  No.   Could it be adapted to .32 ACP or .380 like the Colt Government Model or SIG 238?  I don't know.  I don't care if we get a .32 or .380, I really like the .22 rimfires.  Why wouldn't I, they are cheaper to shoot.  It will be a great training gun for the grandkids, too!  Yeah, kids.  I would have loved to have one when I was 12!

No, I haven't handled one or even seen one in the flesh.  I've read about it in magazines.  I've heard some rumors.  I've dreamed of it for years.  I want one. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Notes from the gun shop...

Well, yesterday was a busy day. Although we only did 6 background checks we sold a lot of stuff. Hunting season(s) are almost here. The big push starts Saturday with archery and people will be, and have been, out and about preparing. This is good. We are still buying guns though. Some of those are some pretty good specimens, some not so much.

The boss man does have a blued 156 series 2-3/4" Ruger Speed-Six for sale. These are really nice guns. I was considering it but I think I have enough .38 and .357 Magnum snub guns. There isn't any box, but the gun is clean and tight with not much wear and the original wood stocks.

Also, we had a Ruger 10/22 in a unique configuration. Not quite the current Deluxe Sporter configuration, but almost, this one was a limited edition for one of the big distributors and has a more rounded forearm tip than the deluxe sporter. Nice gun with metal trigger housing.

We were actually so busy we didn't have much time for talking! Great day.

PS - I forgot to mention that I did get to handle a Chiappa Rhino revolver. The grip actually feels good in my hand. The gun seems to be correctly timed. It comes with a holster because you're never going to find one otherwise.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Genealogy Mysteries

Every once in a while a genealogist touches upon a questionable family line. Sometimes the answer is staring you right in the face but current "norms" don't permit you to see it such as with the many brides of 14 +/- a year (or two) in a bygone age. Sometimes it is just so odd and the information so unavoidably sparse that only a conversation with a knowledgeable family member can clear it up, as in which of two cousins with exactly the same name and birth dates only a couple of days different is the one that you're looking for. But then, one runs into a truly odd family history and doesn't know quite what to make of it. Here is such a story...

Once upon a time there was a man named Charles who married a woman named Maggie and they had several children before Maggie died. That isn't so unusual, as many women died as a result of child birth. Then Charles married a widow woman named Mary with whom he had one child. Then, Mattie apparently dies from complications arising from child birth. Again, not so unusual.

During this same time, in Charles' neighborhood was a woman whose given name was Josephine Bonaparte. Her fraternal twin, Joseph, seems to have disappeared from the written record. Josephine however, marries a local boy, William, and they have 3 children one of whom is a daughter named Maud. William unfortunately passes. So far so normal.

Then Josephine and Charles start a family and marry and live near all their kin in rural Virginia. This is about 1897. In 1898 a son, Blaine, is born. In the 1900 census they are all shown together, a sort of late 19th century "Yours, Mine and Ours". Then in the 1910 census Josephine, Charles and all the minor children are Portland, Oregon. But something has changed. "Suddenly" we find that Maud (yes, the Maud of Josephine and William) is listed in the census as the wife of Charles and Josephine is listed as the widowed mother-in-law of Charles! Further, Blaine has "become" the child of Maud!

Right away you see we have questions. When did Maud "marry" Charles? We find out it was on 30 Jul 1909, in Oregon. Was Maud really Blaine's mother at the age of 15, with her mother's husband? Did they move to Oregon to hide the scandal? Or, did Josephine become ill (mentally or physically) and Maud take over with the family moving to Oregon to cover that up? I don't know, we've now almost got a Woody Allen sort of situation.

The next two census, 1920 and 1930, don't do anything to clear up anything. Charles is still head of household, Maud is still his wife and Josephine is still the widowed mother-in-law after 20+ years. There have been no more children. Josephine never remarried despite living in a community with a high male to female ratio and having been, early on, fairly young. Indeed she still lives with her daughter and former (?) husband but is obviously concealing the full truth of the relationship by reporting as being widowed (strictly true) but using Charles' family name! Finally, in 1932, Josephine passes. What causes her death we do not know but she is 72 when she dies. And then...

At some point the family, now just Charles and Maud, move back to Virginia. Several of Charles' and Josephine's other surviving children live from 30 to 2800 miles distant. They must keep up with them and not be entirely estranged because when Charles dies in 1945 their locations are known and reported in his obituary.

Maud dies in 1972, she has never remarried. She and Charles are buried side-by-side in the same cemetery as his second wife with her first husband. Blaine apparently never comes east again, nor do several of the other children who die before 1932. What do you think happened?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Gun show at Expoland today...

I arrived at about 10:15 and paid my $6.00 (with discount coupon!) for entry. Saw Lewis, Vic, Mike, Ed, and several others at the show. Some greeted me warmly and some made every effort to leave me ASAP. No idea why. Looked at all the guns. Didn't see much I wanted or was interested in or much that I hadn't seen before. Several guns that I think are overpriced today are just as overpriced as they were last show with one .358 Savage 99 still on the fella's table after 2 years. I don't suppose he wants to sell it or perhaps hope springs eternal! Randy Clark of Roanoke wasn't there so I'm sure I missed out on some nice stuff. Hope he finally took a day off. Many folks who had modified guns, i.e. shooter grade, asking collector prices. Many nice NIB Colts and S&W revolvers with mostly elevated prices but within negotiable reason. However, there was one fella with a bunch of Lew Horton 2-3/4" N-frames of various chamberings all asking $1450, without boxes. Not that good a show I would say as I spent about 20 minutes talking with people and still left after 50 minutes. 50 minutes for a gun show and I think that counts time on the parking lot. I was home by 12:15 and that was after stopping for gas!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

"Land of the Free"

Just thought some might like to see this and I wanted to keep a record of it...

"Land of the Free" from John Jensen on Vimeo.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sources for Black Powder...

Black powder. Some call it "holy black" others tell you to come to the "dark side". There is a whole shooting sub-culture who think that all the other propellants are just a passing fad. It is old tech, low tech, and sometimes none of the modern smokeless replacements or substitutes will do. Sometimes, you just MUST have black powder, no ifs or ands about it. But that can present some problems.

You see, most gun stores won't carry it. Fire codes, lease agreements, insurance, location/neighbors, are all reasons cited for not stocking the easy to ignite explosive. Also, you need quite a lot of it. I use about 70-80 gr. per shot so that's only about 100 shots per pound. So, where do you get it?

Locally we have Back Creek Gun Shop in Winchester, Virginia. Yes, I said "locally" even though it is 90 miles away. Are there alternatives? Of course.

The Maine Powder House in Limington, Maine.
Powder Inc. in Clarksville, Arkansas.
Jack's Powder Keg in Marksville, Louisiana.
Upper Missouri Trading Company in Crofton, Nebraska.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hodgdon's Burn Rate Chart

I am not a chemist, physicist, engineer, or doctor of anything. I am a long time reloader. Sometimes I'm asked for advice. Sometimes that question goes something like this...

"PowderX has the 'same' burn rate as PowderY, can't I use it instead of spending money my wife doesn't really want me to have on PowderY?"

In reply I have several concerns. First, and most importantly, I made the recommendation based on published data and my own experience. I didn't just lift my hat and pull out something to get you off my back. If I don't know, I say "I don't know" and likewise if something has worked for me that's what I recommend. If you don't want to spend the money maybe you shouldn't be playing the game.

Second, and more technically, every time you change a component you change the dynamics of entire load in ways that you, also not a chemist, physicist, engineer or doctor of anything, can't predict. The writers of the manuals and the lab workers developed the manual data based on their experiences measured using equipment with which they were familiar in known conditions. They didn't pull that data out of their headgear either. There is a REASON that that data is published and data for your substitute can't be found. There is no grand conspiracy to reach into your wallet for another $25 or to deny you the ability to load cartridge A with bullet B at velocity C. As for me and my recommendations, I'm not going to start thinking that I somehow have some special insight as to why what is in the manual is or what is not in the manual is not.

All that said, can one make substitutes? Yes, if one can reason, i.e. think logically and to do that one needs information and for that one needs the manual AND experience. If you had all that you wouldn't be asking me questions.

Anyway, the burn rate chart is interesting and now that I've thoroughly alienated you I need to throw you a bone so here it is, the most recent burn rate chart copied from the Hodgdon chart.

1 NORMA R1 73 VihtaVuori N120
2 Winchester WAALite 74 Hodgdon H322
3 VihtaVuori N310 75 Accurate Arms 2015BR
4 Accurate Arms Nitro 100 76 Alliant Reloder 10X
5 Alliant e3 77 VihtaVuori N130
6 Hodgdon TITEWAD 78 IMR, Co IMR 3031
7 Ramshot Competition 79 VihtaVuori N133
8 Alliant Red Dot 80 Hodgdon BENCHMARK
9 Alliant Promo 81 Hodgdon H335
10 Hodgdon CLAYS 82 Ramshot X-Terminator
11 Alliant Clay Dot 83 Accurate Arms 2230
12 IMR, Co Hi-Skor 700-X 84 Accurate Arms 2460s
13 Alliant Bullseye 85 IMR, Co IMR 8208 XBR
14 Hodgdon TITEGROUP 86 Ramshot TAC
15 Alliant American Select 87 Hodgdon H4895
16 Accurate Arms Solo 1000 88 VihtaVuori N530
17 Alliant Green Dot 89 IMR, Co IMR 4895
18 Winchester WST 90 VihtaVuori N135
19 IMR, Co Trail Boss 91 Alliant Reloder 12
20 Winchester Super Handicap 92 Accurate Arms 2495BR
21 Hodgdon INTERNATIONAL 93 IMR, Co IMR 4064
22 Accurate Arms Solo 1250 94 NORMA 202
23 IMR, Co PB 95 Accurate Arms 4064
24 VihtaVuori N320 96 Accurate Arms 2520
25 Accurate Arms No. 2 97 Alliant Reloder 15
26 Ramshot Zip 98 VihtaVuori N140
27 IMR, Co SR 7625 99 Hodgdon VARGET
28 Hodgdon HP-38 100 IMR, Co IMR 4320
29 Winchester 231 101 Winchester 748
30 Alliant 20/28 102 Hodgdon BL-C(2)
31 Alliant Unique 103 Hodgdon LEVEREVOLUTION
32 Hodgdon UNIVERSAL 104 Hodgdon H380
33 Alliant Power Pistol 105 IMR, Co IMR 4007 SSC
34 VihtaVuori N330 106 Ramshot Big Game
35 Alliant Herco 107 VihtaVuori H540
36 Winchester WSF 108 Winchester 760
37 VihtaVuori N340 109 Hodgdon H414
38 IMR, Co Hi-Skor 800-X 110 VihtaVuori N150
39 IMR, Co SR 4756 111 Accurate Arms 2700
40 Ramshot True Blue 112 IMR, Co IMR 4350
41 Accurate Arms No. 5 113 Hodgdon H4350
42 Hodgdon HS-6 114 Alliant Reloder 17
43 Winchester AutoComp 115 Accurate Arms 4350
44 Ramshot Silhouette 116 NORMA 204
45 VihtaVuori 3N37 117 Hodgdon HYBRID 100V
46 VihtaVuori N350 118 VihtaVuori N550
47 Hodgdon HS-7 119 Alliant Reloder 19
48 VihtaVuori 3N38 120 IMR, Co IMR 4831
49 Alliant Blue Dot 121 Ramshot Hunter
50 Accurate Arms No. 7 122 Accurate Arms 3100
51 Alliant Pro Reach 123 VihtaVuori N160
52 Hodgdon LONGSHOT 124 Hodgdon H4831 & H4831SC
53 Alliant 410 125 Hodgdon SUPERFORMANCE
54 Alliant 2400 126 Winchester Supreme 780
55 Ramshot Enforcer 127 NORMA MRP
56 Accurate Arms No. 9 128 Alliant Reloder 22
57 Accurate Arms 4100 129 VihtaVuori N560
58 Alliant Steel 130 VihtaVuori N165
59 NORMA R123 131 IMR, Co IMR 7828
60 VihtaVuori N110 132 Alliant Reloder 25
61 Hodgdon LIL'GUN 133 VihtaVuori N170
62 Hodgdon H110 134 Accurate Arms Magpro
63 Winchester 296 135 Hodgdon H1000
64 IMR, Co IMR 4227 136 Ramshot Magnum
65 Hodgdon H4227 137 Hodgdon RETUMBO
66 IMR, Co SR 4759 138 VihtaVuori N570
67 Accurate Arms 5744 139 Accurate Arms 8700
68 Accurate Arms 1680 140 Hodgdon H870
69 NORMA 200 141 VihtaVuori 24N41
70 Alliant Reloder 7 142 Hodgdon H50BMG
71 IMR, Co IMR 4198 143 Hodgdon US869
72 Hodgdon H4198 144 VihtaVuori 20N29

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Walgreens Pharmacy Robbery Gone Wrong

A few months ago now, a Walgreens pharmacist defended himself and his customers and employees by shooting back at two men attempting an armed robbery of his store.  Walgreens fired him as a result.  Whether they are concerned about liability if one of their employees shoots somebody or if they don't give a damn about the lives of their employees or customers I don't suppose we will really know until we have audio and video of the board meetings concerning this.  What we do know is that armed resistance to aggression works as it did here. 

It apparently bothers the company that the pharmacist who was dismissed for not allowing his own murder or an influx of hillbilly heroin into the local economy decided to release the video of that incident. David Hardy has a link to the incident but I couldn't view it using his link so tracked the video down and here it is. Please note that the electric doors were an obstacle for the criminals and they had problems breaking contact.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Whip it out, jump and shout...

Sometimes bloggers will come up with the darndest things about which to write, other times they touch on the very practical. I think this rush to post a photo of the knife in your pocket is more about the practical.  I thought I'd include something else that was in my pockets at the time...

I have carried a knife since I was 7 or 8 when Dad gave me a Case boy scout knife for my birthday.  Sadly, that treasured companion is in a rocky crevice at the bottom of Lake George in New York.  Since then others have tried to replace it.  The two shown here have done that.

The first in daily duties performed is the Leatherman K2 Juice.  I don't think there's a day that goes by that it doesn't come out of the pocket for a necessary chore.  Every once in a while I sharpen the un-serrated blade.   The serrated blade is seldom used but cuts like the devil when it is used.  The saw blade has even parted a 2x4 but that did take time.  A smaller piece of wood suits it better.  The pliers are used all manner of things not suited to fingers be they hot, sticky, small or simply disgusting.  The screw drivers are of useful sizes and temper and also see a lot of use.  The small straight blade can be used in eyeglass repair and this alone makes them useful. 

The next is a stainless Spyderco Delica.  It replaced a Zytel handled Delica that lept off my pocket at the movie theater never to be seen again.  It hasn't cut much but it is always ready.  In some ways it is a back up for a bigger friend.  I did once carry an Endura but Virginia law is such that I thought I'd stick with the shorter bladed Delica.

That bigger friend is a S&W 642.  Sans lock but with the MIM parts, this is a good gun and rides every day in the Simply Rugged pocket holster.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Notes from the gun shop...

A bit of an odd day I think.  Not so many guns sold, one transfer was flat out denied.  Why we don't and won't know.  Lots of shooting related stuff sold though and several guns ordered with a couple put on layaway.

Ammunition shortages continue to be felt.  Ok, you can get some sort of loaded ammo for most things but for what are now nearly obsolete cartridges (can we use the term obsolete for the .32 WCF, .25-20, .218 Bee, etc?) there is apparently no relief and ammunition is unavailable.  Today a fella brought in a neat Stevens single-shot in .32-20 for which we could find no ammunition in "the supply line".   Disappointing for the customer, frustrating for us.  Considering all the recently produced guns for the cartridge (Marlin rifles, Ruger Blackhawks and Thompson Center Contenders) you'd think the manufacturers would want to supply them.  There can be only one reason they don't and that is that they can't.

Then too, ammo prices haven't declined by much since the "shortage".   It isn't because the military is taking production, not now.  It isn't because the raw materials used are being sucked up by China, not with this cruddy world economy.  It is because those materials are being bought with devalued American dollars.  Dollars devalued by a government who has "printed" perhaps an extra trillion dollars to cover debts incurred by an administration intent on paying off those to whom they are beholding.

Ruger SP101 .22 LR
I almost forgot to say that I got to handle one of the new Ruger .22 LR SP101s yesterday. Not to shoot it mind you, just to look at. It seems to me that the gun is a good solid piece with a heavy hammer spring (seems heavier than the .357 SP101s we've had) but the front sight dovetail gave me pause. It was correctly formed on the right side of the ram but squared off on the left side and looked like this... └─┘ DPris told me his gun's dovetail was correctly cut, so, I guess I'll wait until I get a correct dovetail. I intend to replace the front sight with a proper blade and a proper dovetail would be necessary.  I must be one of the relatively few who don't like the Hi-Viz sights.  By the way, that gun was test fired in mid-July.

- Ruger SP101 8-Shot .22LR by DeadDuck357
- Ruger Eight-Shot 22 Long Rifle SP101: Stainless Steel Kit Gun Perfection by Jeff Quinn at

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Rimfire Silhouette

I participated in my second rimfire silhouette match today.  I used my Contender with .22 LR Match barrel and 4x Weaver scope sight and my Ruger blued MKII with 10" barrel and factory sights.  Ammunition used was late 1980s vintage Winchester HV 40 gr. copper-washed.  I shot a 31 with the rifle and a 7 with the pistol.  The former score was good enough, today, to get me "in the money" and I won back half my entry fees. 

My big problem with the rifle was psychological.  I was rushing the shots.  EVERY miss was me rushing the shot.  If I took control of myself, I got hits.  I knew where to hold this time and it worked every time.

My big problem with the pistol is that I mostly could not see the targets.  I wear bifocals (the "progressive" lens) and it seems that in the Creedmore position I was often looking through the reading portion of the lens.  On top of that I have color deficient eye-sight which I've mentioned before.  Lying down on the ground the targets (painted a dark red at this range) are against a dark green background and I can barely distinguish them from the background.  Blurred up by looking through the wrong part of my glasses and you have nearly invisible targets.  I still managed to get two turkeys though!  However, when I did get the right vision the gun seemed to shoot where it should.  This one is not drilled and tapped for a scope mount.  I have an old pair of glasses (I think) that aren't bifocals that will do well for distant vision that should work.  We'll see.

However, I had a great time.  There's something about wacking steel from the off-hand position that is very satisfying. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Dunbar Press

I had never heard of it until yesterday.  I then discovered that our gunsmith owns one, worked with the inventor to help produce them, and that one of the inventor's sons is a customer at the shop.

The Dunbar Press
What is the Dunbar Press?  Well I hope to find out more when the son, a regular, comes in at the same time I'm there.

Dunbar, West Virginia is just west of Charleston. Dunbar Glass began in 1923 with the formation of the Dunbar Flint Glass Corporation and produced glassware for nearly 30 years. Dunbar produced a variety of glass products starting with glass chimneys then specialized in glass pitcher and tumbler sets, kitchen items, vases, barware, and tumble ups. That they could survive the depression says a great deal about the popularity of their glass. Dunbar prospered and in 1932 they featured designs by John Held Jr. These were sold in both Bloomingdale's and Macy's. In the 1940s Dunbar was a major competitor. In the late 1940s Dunbar was producing lighting fixtures, private mold glassware, heat resisting cookware and vases for florists. By 1956 Dunbar was struggling. They were trying to find a profitable product. Competition from overseas made producing glassware difficult. The board of directors decided to concentrate on on machine drawn tubing development and cut back on the more expensive glassware they were noted for. Soon after this decision Dunbar closed its doors. It was about this time that the Dunbar Press was produced. The press was developed by a Mr. Thomas William Cook (1918-2001) of West View, VA, who sold the production rights to Dunbar Glass.

USS Rich after striking the magnetic mine off Normandy
Mr. Cook worked for Dupont before the war and had been moved from the valley to Wilmington, Delaware which he did to keep his job.  Knowing that the draft would eventually get him he chose to enlist to ensure he could do what he wanted and what he believed would be the best contribution to the war effort.  A Machinist's Mate 3rd in the U. S. Navy during WWII, Mr. Cook was on board the destroyer escort USS Rich (DE695), a Buckley class vessel, on D-Day+2 (June 8, 1944)  when it struck several mines and was severely damaged and sunk.  Mr. Cook was at his battle station on the fantail AA gun when the second mine detonated and he was blown approximately 150 feet into the water.  Although he survived he was disabled and nearly lost his legs.  Several years were needed for recovery and for the rest of his life the military provided him with special shoes but he did walk again. 

Finally on the mend and with a young family, Mr. Cook had his own shop and did precision, small scale, special work for many local companies and even NASA.  He continued to make some press parts in his shop for the press maker even after press production moved to Roanoke, Virginia.  Mr. Cook loved machine work and shooting so much that he built a single-action .22 LR revolver from scratch except for the barrel blank. 

His son, Benny, still has one of his dad's presses which is dated 1958 and on which he has loaded many thousands of rounds.  Former employee, Lewis Gough, also has a press.  It is said that the press made Mr. Cook some "good money".  Mr. Cook's son tells me that press production continued through at least 1960. 

Modern-Bond "Type D"
The press is very strong and threaded for the now standard 7/8-14 thread so it is compatible with current dies.  However, a shell holder adapter from CH Tool is required to use current shell holders.  This would be an excellent press for reloaders using 2-die sets for bottle-neck cartridges.

As I've been researching this press I've been curious about the value of these presses.  One recently sold on eBay for $242.00.  That would make it well worthwhile to restore one as Mr. Kevin Rohrer did.

There was an earlier and very similar press, the single-station Modern-Bond "Type D". Apparently this press was only produced from 1935 to 1938. It is likely that the depression and then WWII killed it off.

Herter's of Waseca, Minnesota apparently made/marketed the Herter's Super Model 9 press which is a "copy" of the Dunbar.  I'm not quite sure how long it was on the market but I seem to remember the press in the late 1960s although I can't be certain. There was also the Hollywood and Texan presses.  CH-Tool made the 333 press and now produces the 444 press (which does not require shell holder adapters).

I will be continuing my research...
Herter's Super Model 9

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Notes from the gun shop....

Business seems to be picking up as we get into the hunting seasons.  Dove hunters are bringing in guns for repair as are the muzzleloaders.  It seems that many folks just hope their guns will clean themselves between seasons.  We did 7 background checks yesterday.  I taught a mini-class on reloading.  Had an interesting phone conversation with a person who really irritated me at the time.

What happened was that he called and asked if we had bullet molds.  Then he wanted to know what molds.  Despite my repeated requests for what he was looking for he wouldn't say.  He finally allowed that he wanted a mold to cast for the .32 WCF (aka .32-20).  I use Lyman 3118 (311008 now) and told him so.  Didn't want to hear about it.  When the conversation ended and I hung up the phone I learned that the same guy had been in the shop on Saturday and already KNEW what we had as they had laid every mold on the counter for him to look at. 

Learned that a regular customer, and fellow gun club member, is the son of the fellow who invented the Dunbar reloading press.  More on that later.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Pearl Harbor

When I was a kid my mom would tell me about where she was and how she heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Pretty much the same story they were working in the yard when her mother came out to tell them about the attack and everyone knew this meant war.  Mom was 8 but she never forgot that singular moment. 

Now, I'd lived a while before a certain 11th of September.  I'd seen the Cuban Missile Crisis, the whole war in Vietnam (some of it from a vantage point in the Republic of Korea), and the assassination of John F. Kennedy and Pak Chung-hee.  Still, as I sat at my computer semi-watching the new-to-me Fox News Channel I was more than a bit disconcerted to hear of the plane crash into the World Trade Center. 

They only told us about it at first. Many recalled the B-25 that had crashed into the Empire State Building during WWII (July 1945). However, that had happened in fog/heavy cloud cover and it was a clear day in New York City. The impact of the 2nd plane immediately put to rest any ideas of there being any accident. Everybody knew what and why. Only fools expected any other perpetrators to be named. Although we'd been attacked many times before, this act is what started the war against radical Islamists.

Now 10 years later people have apparently been working hard to put the facts of the case out of their minds. There are still conspiracy theorists, so-called "truthers" (some of whom have actually been in the Obama administration), and apologists for the terrorists who say it was our egregious behavior which is at the root of their antagonism. The truth is though that 10 years ago a radical Islamist group attacked us, again, because we are not like them and they wish to destroy us. History tells us this will never end for them unless they are dead. We aren't working hard enough to make that happen so, perhaps, 10 years from now we will still be in conflict with these people. Whatever happens we shouldn't forget those of us who have died in this war.

Friday, September 09, 2011

More thoughts on hunting ethics...

My dad was from the northeast, upstate NY near Cooperstown, and where he grew up on a farm the sighting of a single deer was quite the treat.  Later, he became a forester and part of his job involved game management.  He moved first to WV and then to VA.  He often commented on the many different methods of hunting used in the various areas and he and his professional buddies would discuss the whys and wherefores of the various seasons, limits/bans on various methods in various areas and the cultural preferences of the various regions in which they worked or had worked.

Based on all that it is my opinion that if you think you can judge another hunter who is acting within the law you're all wet.  99% of the law and regulation is written as a management tool or due to the personal ignorance and prejudices of the author and the government has done a wonderful job of establishing some of these laws as "traditional" and/or the most moral/ethical practices.  One of the reasons this is done is that in some places and for many years in many places, deer "tags" were oversold just as airlines overbook flights to get the income.  This was done by management looking for funds.  There had to be a way for the actual managers of the game populations to sneak in a control so that too many deer wouldn't be killed.  Limits were set per hunter so that all got an equal "shot" at getting their deer (for a long time that was a shot at A deer).

Deer in many areas are a pest and in others are getting pretty rare again.  All this comes down to habitat and food.  Here in Staunton the police have actually culled deer while in the National Forest the eco-religionists have prevented all cutting to the extent that there is no food for the deer and deer are much more rare than they were 40 years ago.  Deer ARE pests, vermin even, in some areas with so many that they cause tremendous damage to crops and are regularly hit by vehicles on roadways.  Now, is it better for police "sharpshooters" to kill these deer or would you prefer that hunters have an opportunity to do the culling? Which is more ethical?

Certain of those from the so-called high moral grounnd would likely approve of my use of a flintlock smoothbore during muzzleloading season (and sometimes during the regular "gun" season) but it was only recently that these were allowed while at the same time the regs permitted scoped in-lines with jacketed bullets in sabots.  A bit of a disconnect there, right.  And how many have hunted where it is shotgun only but you can use rounds that are accurate to 100-150 yards but ricochet like crazy because it is "safer"?

Let's face it.  If hunting is a management tool then it shouldn't matter how one kills a deer as long as it is done safely and, I think, the meat isn't wasted.  If management is the concern, the departments should set quotas for deer to be killed and when that number of deer have been killed the season should be closed.  You should be able to hunt with an atlatl, bow, gun, even knife or your bare hands if you like.  I think too, there are many legal things which are immoral/illegal and that there is much that is moral/ethical which is illegal.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Industrial Genealogy

We often think of companies as individual entities.  This isn't quite true.  The founders came from some place and worked with somebody to learn and develop to the point of being the founder of a company.  So it is in the microcosm of Hartford, CT, important to me for the arms making that flourished there once upon a time. 

In searching for other information I ran across a neat article, "The Miracle on Capital Avenue" by Ellsworth Grant. Neat stuff showing how companies of the 1850s are linked to those of today and to our country's former great economic strength.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Notes from the gun shop...

Had a great time at the gun shop today.  7 background checks.  Neat guns abound.  Among others there is a slightly ratty but functional S&W New Departure Safety Hammerless .38 S&W, a .38-56 Winchester 1886, a .348 Winchester Model 71, and the following Sharps in .45 2-1/10" aka .45-70 Government chambering.  So what follows are photos of that last gun with my comments.  What do you think?
Rifle overall view
I had to take photos inside the shop today, it was raining, and so I had to work with our rather nasty indoor fluorescent lighting.  I'm sorry to say that this was as good a full-length photo as I could get and it doesn't show the part of the barrel with the front sight.  The barrel interests me.  It is pretty pedestrian.  It measures 32-1/4" long and tapers from 1-1/8" across the flats at "collar" to 1" across the flats at the muzzle.  There doesn't appear to be any finish, i.e. it was finished "bright".  Well, not all that bright as there isn't a high polish to this barrel at all.

Top view of rifle and breech-block
Here you can see the action (to the right of the frame) and barrel.  Note that the action has all the finish gone, apparently worn off, and pitting from use.  It seems to me that this is OLD pitting and the barrel has less "patina".

The rear most barrel marking. 
This is the rear-most barrel marking.  If you look closely at the previous photo you can see exactly where this marking is on the barrel.  For those who may not be able to read the photo it says, "C SHARPS PAT" on the top line with "SEPT 12 1848" centered below it. 

The other barrel marking, closer to the muzzle...
This is the other barrel marking, much closer to the muzzle a little more than half-way to the muzzle from the breech.  Again, it says "SHARPS RIFLE" over "MANUFG CO" over "HARTFORD   CONN".

The front sight...
This next is a photo of the front sight.  I've never seen one exactly like this.  It currently has an aperture insert. 

Into the breech...
I tried to get a photo of the breech of the gun and up the barrel which appears as clean as a whistle.  It is immaculate.  If original, I can only imagine that the odds are against a rifle having had such good care for over 120 years of BP and years of corrosive primers.  There does appear to be a "cinder" or something hanging in the chamber.  I don't know what that is, I don't remember seeing it while examining the rifle and didn't notice it until I got home to look at the photos. 

The right side of the receiver...
 This shows a bit of the butt and forearm as well as a side view of the sight and receiver.  It seems to me that the gun's action saw a bit of rough use before being converted to center-fire and re-barreled and has been taken care of since.  There is pitting on the hammer (re-blued over the pitting) and the receiver and lock plate are now in an "in the white" condition.  I notice that the lock plate looks a bit rusty in the photo but it doesn't look that way in hand.  Not sure why but sometimes the photograph shows us what the eye misses. 

Left side of the receiver...
This shows the left side of the receiver and you can clearly see what I mean by pitting.  

A bit more detail of the sight...
 I think this is a modern sight.  No maker's mark that I can find.  Seems to be of high quality.

The butt stock...
 I wanted to show the figure in the butt.  If not original it certainly appears to have been refinished. 

The butt plate...
The butt plate has no finish but shows use.  

What else do I know about the gun?  Well, I think that the owner had used it for silhouette shooting.  I was unable to weigh the gun but I think that Sharps-wise shooters will have an idea of what it weighs.  In the hand it appears to be a very nice gun.  The Lawrence priming mechanism seems to be as much there as one would expect from a conversion to center-fire but I don't know about such details.  I didn't have an opportunity to actually measure the chamber either and am going on what I was told about the chambering. 

Friday, September 02, 2011


I like trains. They are 1) mechanical 2) big (huge even) 3) noisy/loud 4) require little or no physical effort (i.e. work) on my part. I really like the steam engines which is just more of the same.  What's not to like?

I've ridden a few:

I need to ride some more:

If you have some suggestions I hope you'll share those with me.

I think riding the trains is fun.  The very first train I can remember riding is the Cass Scenic Railroad in 1961.  The state of West Virginia had just bought the property including cars and engines and the log cars had just been converted to carry passengers but hadn't been covered to protect passengers from the cinders.  Great FUN!   I can't remember which engine was used but I remember being given a ticket and allowed to ride unaccompanied by my own adults (although there were other adults on the train).  That was great fun, too. The train swayed, it clicked and clacked, it rumbled, there was the steam and whistle and cinders and I thought it was grand.

Here's just a taste...

Thursday, September 01, 2011

I read Deneys Reitz's book "Commando: A Boer Journal Of The Boer War"on my Kindle and now I'm reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's book "The Great Boer War".  There's some interesting lessons to be learned there both from the war itself and from the two tellings of it by members of each faction involved.

Boer Guerrillas during 2nd Boer War
While the iconic image of this particular war (1899-1902 or the earlier conflict in 1880-1881) is the stolid Boer rifleman defending hearth and home from the British interlopers the truth is something a bit different.

We discovered in our reading that it was true that factions of the Boers had pushed for the second war and manipulated events to that end and so too, had factions within the British Empire.  The motivation was the immense wealth in the gold and diamonds within what is now South Africa and Zimbabwe (Rhodesia).

While I was aware of the "policy" of apartheid and that this had really begun early in the colonization of the Cape Colony/South Africa, I was not aware of the intense segregation of the Dutch and English colonists.  We might also note that while the English presented themselves as the world's light leading men from slavery, English interests worked with the Dutch to preserve apartheid until only recently.

What had really interested me for some years was the Boer military system.

The Boer 'commando' system evolved from the early defence system at the Cape. Each district was divided into three wards or more, with a field cornet for each ward and a commandant taking military control of the entire district.

The burghers elected these officers, including the commandant-general of the Transvaal. When mobilised, a burgher had to be prepared with his horse, rifle and 50 (later 30) rounds of ammunition and food enough to last for eight days, after which the government would provide supplies. Assembled burghers formed a 'commando'.

Except for the artillery and the police in the second Boer War, no uniforms were worn, the burghers preferring drab everyday clothes. The Boer force is the classic example of a citizen army, because virtually the entire white male population of the republics between the ages of sixteen and 60 was conscriptable for unpaid military service.

This apparently worked well for the first Boer war but it proved lacking during the later 1899-1902 war. Indeed, the British eventually overwhelmed the Boer forces with superior manpower, artillery and industrial capacity. Even though the Boers resorted to guerrilla action in order to continue the war they were combat ineffective once their capitals were captured. While the loose system of command and control enabled a rapid switch to guerrilla operations it was also the cause of several defeats and ill-chosen tactical and strategic decisions which resulted in the need for it. For example, the British were able to provide good, rapid and continuous medical care for their wounded (for that time period) while the Boers could not. Such was the disparity that it was normal for the Boers to abandon their wounded to the British knowing that they would receive care they couldn't provide.

This is readily apparent in the photo of the Royal Munster Fusiliers.  The soldiers are well supplied and there are a number of medical personnel caring for soldiers taken from the firing line.

From the beginning the Boers lost the initiative or failed to exploit weaknesses on the part of British forces.  While the Boers launched their pre-emptive invasion of Natal to exploit the known weakness in British manpower, they allowed themselves to be bogged down in the Seige of Ladysmith.  In effect, British forces in Ladysmith fixed the Boer forces so that there was sufficient time to bring in reinforcements through Cape Town.  There are a number of other vignettes which illustrate the Boer weaknesses (despite their excellent artillery gunners and the supposed advantage given them by their use of the charger fed Mauser rifles).  One of those is the Siege of Mafeking.

Baden-Powell (L) w/artillery built during siege
Commander of the British forces was Colonel Robert S. S. Baden-Powell (yes, the Boy Scouts' own Baden-Powell).  He was widely lauded as the "Hero of Mafeking" and promoted for his defense of the town.  However, for me, the lesson learned here is that Boer command and control wasn't up to taking this town defended mostly by other citizen soldiers but led by career British officers.  Military discipline and leadership won the battle here.  I think the lesson might well be applied to other circumstances as might be promoted by dissidents in diverse places.