Friday, May 22, 2015

Notes from the gun shop...

I know it has been some time since I posted any notes from the gun shop but today was somewhat unique. I don't know if there was a connection to the Memorial Day weekend but today seemed to be a day for military type firearms.

First was a byf 41 Luger that came in on consignment. The owner is convinced that she should get $5000.00 for the gun which is about a $2500.00 gun. However, this gun was mentioned to a good customer who got excited and brought in 4 guns as trading material to see what he could get for them. They were a P90, a Steyr AUG, a Colt 1991A1 and a Colt 100th Anniversary 1911, all unfired and NIB, genuinely NIB. During negotiations another good customer was called in search of a lower priced Luger and brought in a 1917 dated DWM (which I personally think is more desirable than the byf 41) which he promptly sold to us. At about the same time we had a retired soldier come in with a US Postal Meter M1 carbine, a 1911A1 (I think it was a Colt but I didn't get to see it) and ANOTHER Luger (which I also had no opportunity to see). Coming into the shop as a transfer was a Valmet M76 with the folding stock. I hadn't seen one of these in a long time and although I have long wanted one of these "AKs with the aperture sight" I was reminded of why I'd never bothered to spend the money on one many years ago.

PS - got to look at the guns I didn't get to see yesterday. The 1911A1 is a nearly mint condition Remington Rand and I was told it was made in 1942. It was issued to the seller's father and then the seller carried it through HIS army career. BEAUTIFUL. In addition, he sold a 1903A3 which is in "darn good" condition, truly. I don't think it was carried or shot much and while the wood is kinda rough as that is the way it was issued the stamps are clear and sharp. NICE gun.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Smith & Wesson customer service, repair service and a Model 34...

Hard to believe but about 8-years ago I bought a nickeled, Smith and Wesson Model 34 2-inch. While I shot it a bit I held back on my posts as I tried to work out some problems I had with the gun. It may have extracted a bit harder than it should with a couple of different loads but more importantly, to the point that any other problems were completely overshadowed, was that after a couple of cylinders full the cylinder was almost impossible to turn at one point. A not so close examination of the outside of the cylinder showed that there was one point on the outside circumference of the cylinder face was just rubbing the barrel root and this was exacerbated by the buildup of powder residue. After some pondering and the natural distractions of life I decided it would be best to have Smith and Wesson do the repair. I contacted them and got some information on how to send the gun and packed it. Then something else came up and I was further delayed. Another attempt was in order and so off went another e-mail to verify the previous instructions which were now a couple of years old.

I had been trying to get S&W to communicate with me for a couple of weeks on how to get this revolver repaired before finally receiving a message that indicated that they would send a call tag for it. I followed up with S&W on March 3 but didn't hear back from them for a couple of weeks. On my birthday I got the gun shipped to Smith and Wesson via FEDEX. April 25th I received a bill, in the mail, for the charges for evaluation of my revolver ($58.00). Saturday I got notice it had been shipped and they tried to deliver it today but I'll have to wait until Thursday to get it. Communication has been pretty much non-existent on their part unless asking for money. The folks at S&W never bother to let me know what was wrong, work that needed to be done, etc. It was 2-days shy of 2-months since I sent the gun to them.

The gun was FINALLY delivered today after a week of missed meetings, etc. The crane definitely has a changed relationship to the frame and the cylinder has the same relationship to the barrel through a complete rotation. I'm betting I was right about the bent crane. Of course I had to test fire the gun. Then, aw heck, cases stick! Out comes the chamber iron and all is now well. Well, except it shoots a bit high at 21 feet. We'll work that out later. Some of that is probably the nickeled front sight against the particular target. I'm breathing a little easier now. 2 months from first contact with S&W to having the gun back in my hands. No charge aside from the evaluation.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Range day...

Had the Single-Seven to the range this afternoon and put 4 cylinders full through it (I was kinda pressed for time). The first cylinder was all over the place. I shot that first cylinder from the bench, then I stood up and shot from the standing leaning against a range shed supporting post to steady myself and the gun would actually group but still, it is more like several groups in different places as if each chamber is shooting its own group. Further, the firing pin strikes every primer off center. I wonder how much that might affect accuracy. Ammunition today was the Federal 100 gr. load instead of the 85. Both bullets are the flat point soft nose. You can't tell them apart looking at a loaded round. Maybe handloads will be better...

I am not very found of these Federal loads. Some rounds seem to have a "bottleneck" in the case about 3/8" above the rim. When you drop them in the chamber, some will just drop in and some will "hang up" right at that point. Also, when shooting, the cylinder will sometimes drag and I am pretty certain this is a primer dragging across the recoil plate.

The club president was there this afternoon and he thinks the trigger pull is pretty darn heavy. I think I will take it in and measure it tomorrow at work. I didn't think it was all that bad.

I also took the CCI A17 ammo to try in the Contender .17 HMR barrel. It shot quite a bit higher than the standard .17 HMR ammo I was trying earlier but grouped inside of 1 inch at 100 yards despite my use of my old Weaver 1.5-4.5 scope on a standard small-bore target.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

White privilege, etc...

I recently read about a sociology professor at Boston University who tweeted, "white masculinity is THE problem for America's colleges," and "Deal with your white (expletive), white people. slavery is a (asterisk)YALL(asterisk) thing," and "Every MLK week I commit myself to not spending a dime in white-owned businesses. And every year I find it nearly impossible." I can't say that I am offended but I am disappointed and, unfortunately, I am not surprised.

Saida Grundy, who is described as a "black sociology professor", is an example of racism. Not reverse racism, but racism. Simple, straight forward all-encompassing racism. This from a sociology professor, i.e. somebody who has supposedly been educated in the how, why and when of human social behavior. So much training that she's been made a professor and supposedly has earned her doctorate based on her extensive knowledge on the various human behaviors, the motivations/causes of those behaviors and the results of those behaviors. All this education and she still finds it impossible to control her base impulses to exhibit and promulgate her own racism.

She does not know most "white" people. She can't. Certainly there are people all over the world who hold prejudicial views about other races, adherents of other religions and other nationalities and then act on those prejudiced and racist views. There are also those people, all across the world, who choose to or naturally judge others by the content of their character dealing with individuals as individuals.

In my own family I had a great-great-grandfather who enlisted as soon as possible to go to war in opposition to slavery. His father followed some few months later, not to defend liberty for the disenfranchised but for what he thought might benefit himself financially as he apparently care very little one way or another about slavery. Such widely divergent opinions are not uncommon in families of any race.

Professor Grundy should know this and it disappoints me that she either does not realize this or chooses to ignore it. It disappoints me that she was awarded a doctorate despite her obvious inability to learn the subject matter. It disappoints me that she so quickly dismissed as sub-standard any number of her future students. Why would anyone take a class taught by someone who dismisses you. I am disappointed that a college or university would hire somebody who is so obviously unable to teach.

I am unfortunately unsurprised that such has happened. We have converted our schools to instructors of dogma rather than fact. We have set one group upon another for the benefit of the political class. We failed to educate our children about the past or to equip them to think for themselves.

What else can we expect in such circumstances? (that is a rhetorical question) I don't see any good coming from this. History tells us that this is the beginning of our self-destruction as a nation. This country, for all its faults, has been the one continuing exemption to the human condition throughout all the rest of history. That this one shining light of liberty will be extinguished is sad to contemplate but it would seem inevitable.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Range day...

Wasn't all that exciting today. No rain, thunder, lightning, etc., in fact it was a beautiful day, not even very windy. Checked the zero on a rifle and shot the Webley with some odd lot cartridges given to me. Had 4 duds, all OLD Remington-UMC. Had one RWS cartridge that turned out to be loaded with blackpowder! THAT was a surprise but I have to tell you, its performance was somewhat underwhelming. One wonders how those S&W lemon-squeezers did any good. There were also 3 "near"-squibs, i.e. the bullet made it out of the barrel but not very far, certainly not to the target which was 25-yards distant. However, a quantity of brass to load as .380/200 was made available.

I am now looking for some quick turn levers for Weaver type Warne scope rings.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

The "Union Pacificator"

Lorenzo David Sibert
I recently received a call from Wayne F_________ asking me to help another friend, Gary S______, to find out some more information about a rifle invented/manufactured in Staunton called the Pacificator or some such. This repeating rifle was supposedly invented and/or built by Gary's 2 or 3X great-grandfather.  But for this request I might never have known of this gun.

An immediate search of on-hand reference materials (books) in my personal library yielded no results. Fortunately, the internet was a bit kinder in that regard.

Lorenzo David Sibert was born about 1804 in Virginia to Charles Francis and Mary Ann (Riddle) Sibert. His father ran the Van Buren iron furnace in Shenandoah County and it was there he learned the trade. He must have been pretty sharp because he had several patents in that field. When the coal-fired Van Buren furnace closed Lorenzo was forced to move and settled in Mount Solon, in Augusta County. A civil war was nearly at hand and that likely motivated his development of the "Pacificator" rifle. The rifle was actually built by William Shaffer (who is more than likely Gary's ancestor) from North River Gap near Mount Solon and Lorenzo was in partnership with J. Marshall McCue. Interestingly, the patent drawings are signed by J. D. Imboden and John Johnson (witnesses) and W. D. Baldwin (Lorenzo's attorney). All of these people are important in Staunton and Augusta County at that time.

Patent drawing of the "Pacificator"
The rifle took a unique approach to the repeating dilemma and combined an 8-chambered cylinder with the magazine approach by utilizing 6 cartridges in each chamber of the cylinder giving a total capacity of 48-rounds. Lorenzo announced in the gun about Apr 1860, exhibited the gun in July, had a patent by September and by November of 1860, a factory to make the gun was supposedly being established.  While the New York Times thought this must be something similar to a roman candle, i.e. firing continuously from the trigger pull until empty, the patent application specifically says, " rapidly as the gun can be cocked and fired...", which implies manual operation while other descriptions are more akin to fully automatic fire.

However, his cartridges were more like the breech sections of ancient breech loading cannons, becoming, as they cycled, an extension of the barrel. "... the cartridge shall be exploded in an open chamber and form a continuation of the barrel of the gun, in contradistinction to those devices in which the cartridge is either inserted into the barrel itself or into a tight breech-chamber, or into both combined..." This means that each cartridge would have to have been able to independently contain the pressure of the gas created by the exploding gun powder. This would have made a pretty heavy cartridge in standard .58 caliber.  For reference look at the cartridges Gatling created for the early versions of his gun. Perhaps this is why the caliber of the gun is reportedly .24!  That was a very small bore for the time. 

These guns, of which one (the original?) still exists in the holdings of the Virginia Historical Society, was mentioned in at least one article in the New York Times. Receiving national attention, it was considered an important invention given the political atmosphere.

Lorenzo David Sibert died in Staunton, Virginia of "paralysis of brain" on 25 September 1881 and was buried in a supposedly unmarked grave in Thornrose Cemetery. 

William Bell Shaffer
As I mentioned earlier, the gunsmith who built the "prototype" rifle was William Shaffer (shown as "Shaver" on many census documents and the spelling has changed over time to "Sheffer" for some branches). William was born 25 Dec 1807 in North River Gap (now Stokesville), in Augusta County, Virginia near Mount Solon son of Daniel Shaffer, also a gunsmith. In 1850 he was enumerated on the federal census as a blacksmith but as a gunsmith in succeeding census. He died near his place of birth 9 Jul 1891.

Of course there is a back story, it seems that the Shaffer family tells the story that Sibert stole the credit for the rifle from William Bell Shaffer and then John D. Imboden and John Marshall McCue (both witnesses on the patent drawings) stole it from Sibert. On 23 Jan 1861 legislation passed the Virginia legislature incorporating the Virginia Arms Manufacturing Company in Richmond. More to follow!