Jun 30, 2009

Murphy laughs...

I have sold (traded) the Mini-14. A fellow on a forum I frequent offered me a pre-lock post-64 Winchester 1894 in decent condition, along with some ammo and cash ... I snagged it. The ammo went to a buyer in Texas.

In any case, we made this trade face-to-face at a gun range roughly midway between us. Conveniently, it was near the shop where I am buying my 647. Unfortunately, the coupon I need to pick up the 647 hadn't arrived at the sheriff's office yesterday so I could combine trips.

True to form, I'd barely met the fellow I was trading with and my cell rang. I answered, and it was the sheriff's office calling to let me know my coupon was available. I'm on a first-name basis with the pistol permit clerk over there, so I gave her an appropriate ration of teasing and told her I'd be in later to pick up the coupon.

Completed the trade, talked guns and work with the guy I traded with, and headed over to the nearby Gander Mtn to look for anything interesting. They had plenty of 209 primers, but the real catch was some Federal Gold Medal Match Small Pistol Magnum primers. I took 1,000 ($40) and left a couple thousand more for some other luck soul. Now to tweak some loads for those in the 28-2... they may also prove more useful in Dad's .25-20 as well, although I'm loading that with creampuff plinking loads and feel OK using small pistol primers.

If I find some free time tomorrow I'll grab some pictures of the new levergun.

Jun 29, 2009

To refinish or not?

I've been lax in posting; the pace of life has been insane and involved a tremendous amount of overtime in the past week.

I posted a bit ago about the S&W 647 I'd put a deposit on... that has yet to come to fruition. New York's cumbersome pistol permit process requires me to register each pistol I purchase; my county requires a judge's signature for each registration... and my county's judge has been less-than-prompt about signing recently. My first few pistols were usually four to six business days. My most recent was two weeks. This has now been just over three weeks, and there is no way to find out the status of the process. So be it. Meantime, I will be making a face-to-face trade for my Mini (for a Winchester 1894) tomorrow - completely legal and no extraneous people necessary.

In other gun news... Most gun collectors, serious or not, know what a "Grail Gun" is. Not the magnetic-acceleration particle rifle, that's a rail gun. A grail gun is The One Gun... it may change, and once one is acquired, another grail may be determined. In my case, the Grail is a non-mixmaster Ithaca 1911A1. There are a fair number floating around out there, but as they age (only produced for a few years in the 1940s), more and more are being retrofitted with new parts and losing their character. It takes a good eye and good grasp of history and serial numbers to pick out a non-mix gun; it's not uncommon for a slide to get slapped on a different frame and be sold under the slide's label.

On top of the mixed-parts problem comes another: refinishing.

Don't get me wrong: I have no inherent issue with someone paying the money for a careful refinish of a piece that is important for sentimental reasons, or even simply because "I want it"... but dammit, be careful when you're picking your finish and who's doing it.

Case in point... I was poking around an auction site last night and came across two items listed as Ithaca 1911s. One is an obvious veteran - there is an honest patina of wear and use, and this is a look that I love and appreciate. The numbers match and the proof marks all appear to be correct. Without stripping it I can't be sure, but it's probably a legit Ithaca 1911.

The second... well, it was originally listed as an Ithaca 1911. It's been refinished (from an original parkerising to a satin blue), and in the process, the sharp edges have all been smoothed. If this were a carry gun, it would be described as a "light melt"... but this isn't a carry gun. It's a piece of history. In all likelihood, it saw holster time in one war or another - if not WWII, then quite probably Korea or Vietnam. Combat? Possibly. The original grips are long gone, replaced with cheap plastic "stag" grips. A sharp-eyed observer must have emailed the seller, as there is a note in the listing that by serial number, it's a Remington-Rand frame, with an Ithaca slide. (See: Mixmaster.)

I've no doubt it's a functional 1911 - it has plenty of history attached to it - but my own sense of propriety and aesthetics says this is a sham... the firearm equivalent of slapping some Bondo on that stone-chipped hood and then spraying it with a can of Rustoleum.

I'm sure you can gather which is which:



PS: If anyone reading this does happen to have a gin-yoo-wine Ithaca 1911A1 that they'd like to part with, please let me know ... I'd be willing to move a lot of mountains to get to one.

Jun 22, 2009

Appleseed - New Bremen

This weekend was our third Appleseed this year. This time in New Breman (Bremen?) NY - a speed trap about 30 miles from Watertown NY, and about 90 minutes from Syracuse NY. We'd shot there last fall and had a great time on a nice if somewhat simple facility.

I spent Friday packing the truck and getting things ready so we could leave when MrsZ got home from work. Rifles - check. Ammo - check. Tent - check. Sleeping bags - check. Air mattress - check. Food - check. Etc etc. MrsZ got home around 4:45, we tossed the last few things in the truck, took a shower, and headed out the door. One stop for ice and gas, and we arrived at the range around 8:30. Set up the tent and scooted back into town to grab some fast food for dinner. Came back and talked with the other instructors for a bit, then crawled into bed and passed out.

I woke up to the sound of something snuffling around the edges of the tent while it was still early - light, but early. One hand reached for my glasses while the other went for the (holstered condition 3) 1911 - this is the edge of the Adirondacks and legitimate bear country. No food in the tent, of course, but who knows what may get attention from a critter. As I sat up in bed whatever it was snorted and gallumphed off into the woods. I laid down to sleep again and the whippoorwills in the trees started in. So much for a restful night...

I got up and got dressed, started the coffee (camp percolator on a propane stove on the tailgate), and started nosing around looking for tracks. Found ... nothing. Damp sandy soil showed my boot prints easily, and I expected anything heavier than a squirrel should make decent impressions. Nothing. Hm. *shrug*

Drank coffee and watched the world lighten up in the mist, other shooters and instructors stirring and rising, and went in for breakfast.

We ended up with six shooters on the line for the weekend - four individuals and a father-son pair. Six instructors. Can you say "lots of individual attention"? Scores were all over to begin with, then we got folks settled down and zeroed and started going through the instruction. By the end of Saturday we'd knocked out about 380 rounds and one rifleman.

Sunday morning we got going again, and kept up the grind. By 2pm we'd punched out another rifleman, and about 500 more rounds. Yeah, that's right, 880 rounds in two days. It's a northeast thing. We wrapped up the "official" instruction at that point and swapped to full-distance. Checked zeros on the 25m line for the centerfires, and then moved folks over to 300/375yd. Seeing people makes consistent hits - just awesome. Wrapped up, packed up, and headed for home.

I've got to do some paperwork in the coming week, and they're going to take away my orange hat (Instructor in Training) and give me a red hat (Instructor). Eep.

Side note: I brought out my AR for some work at 25m initially to check zero, and had a nasty little malfunction. Cruising along and it suddenly stopped working - bolt locked halfway open. Looked and there was a round that wasn't feeding. Slammed the FA a couple times, no change. Worked the charging handle, no change. Looked closer, and sure enough, there was already a chambered (live) round... fidgeted out the half-fed case (now bent too far to feed), run the bolt forward - won't extract. Extractor looks ok, but try a couple more times. No joy. Pop the takedown pin - rifle won't take down.

Popped the pivot pin and yanked the upper off... round still stuck in the chamber. Grabbed a dammit stick, dropped that, and the live round dropped right out without a fuss. Put the bolt assembly back in, but it won't seat. Examine bolt closely. Looks fine. Locking lugs on chamber look fine ... wait - what's that shiny spot? A bit of quick work with a Leatherman tool and out popped ... a blown primer. Dug through my pile of brass to confirm, and sure enough, there was the primerless case.

I've heard of blown primers. Never seen one on my own equipment. The standard place for them to lodge is in the trigger assembly or charging handle slot. This one was waaaaay up there and was not obvious until serious close inspection - and the rifle was completely non-functional. Ammo was Federal XM193BK (bulk packaged instead of 20-round boxes). Crimped primers, LC09 brass, 55gr FMJ. I have the case and primer and will send it along to Federal for their information... in the slight hopes they might send me a box of love. :-)

After clearing that, rifle went through two mags without issue - although it needs to be hosed out. Trigger was full of grit and crud.

Jun 21, 2009

She's everywhere!

You all know the Mighty Librarian? Well, apparently she's ticked off a few more circles around the sun than it appears.

At the Appleseed this weekend, there was an old copy of "American Rifleman" on a table... September 1952, to be particular. And there in the pages was this bit:


A few key points:
- BREDA captures the imagination of true sportsmen...
- Lightweight ... BREDA 12-gauge weighs less than average 16-gauge.
- INSTANTANEOUS TAKEDOWN, without tools - can be completely stripped in 20 seconds. (Mike? Verify?)

Jun 17, 2009

Search term round-up II

Here we go with another set of terms...

gunporn pretty pretty please blogspot

You want gunporn? I'd strongly suggest swinging over to either of the following:
Oleg Volk
Cosmoline & Rust
There are plenty of folks with some beautiful hardware out there.

filling in roll marks on a pistol

On a pistol? Why would you fill in rollmarks on a pistol? I filled the rollmarks on my AR lowers as a matter of personal preference. Not terribly difficult - use paint thinner or acetone to make sure ALL the grease and oil is removed, then thin out some model enamel (I used Testors). Use a toothpick to put a TINY bit in the roll mark - it'll fill mostly by capillary action. Let it dry some, then use a q-tip and some thinner to clean off any overflow.

panem et circenses wikipedia

Wikipedia this ain't. Panem et circenses is latin for "bread and circuses". It is nearly an epithet, referring to the practice of politics wherein handouts and media shows are of greater concern to the populace than, you know, "issues". I think this is what you were looking for.

crossman 2100 remove front sight

If I remember right, Crosman uses a sleeved barrel design; there is a thin aluminum barrel floating inside a blued steel pipe, in order to reduce production costs. Also going from vague memory here, the front sight blade and muzzle crown are one piece, held in with one screw through the rear of the blade. It's not meant to be removed.

for sale/smith-wesson performance center model 647

There were two variants of the 647 produced, the "no dash" and the "dash one". The no-dash is the original version; it's an 8-3/8" K-frame round butt 6-shot DA/SA .17HMR revolver in stainless. The -1 is a product of the Smith & Wesson Performance Center, renowned for semi-custom and tricked out handguns. The 647-1 was a fluted 12" barrel with a bi-pod and (I believe) a scope rail. It's a target and bench shooting gun; certainly not practical for woods carry. *If* you can find one, expect prices well into 4 figures.

BTW, I see you've searched for this several times and clicked here several times. My 647 isn't for sale. Ever.

plumbum cmp

Plumbum is latin for "lead". It's a soft, silver-gray metal, and very dense. In addition, it has a low melting point, making it an excellent candidate for molding and casting. It can be alloyed with several other metals (most commonly tin or antimony) to adjust the hardness to a desired level. Pistol shooters, some rifle shooters, and most blackpowder shooters use a lot of lead.

The CMP is the Civilian Marksmanship Program. It allows civilians to purchase surplus retired military rifles for a very good price in the hopes of fostering riflery skills in our unorganized militia. Best known for the M1 Garands that they carry, there are also often M1 Carbines and sometimes various training .22s, as well as 1903 and 1917 Springfields. They require membership in a shooting organization and demonstration of participation in marksmanship activities. My personal recommendation is a membership in the RWVA and attending an Appleseed shoot. If you're going to buy the rifle, you might as well learn how to shoot it, right?

That's it for this edition... keep coming up with those goofy searches, and I'll keep making light of them!

Jun 11, 2009

Clutter reduction sale bleg

MrsZ and I are moving in about a month (bought a house). I'm trying to both increase fundage and decrease clutterage.

Two items that I desperately need to get rid of, and would love to see to a good home:

Sony PSP:

Adult owned, well taken care of. Includes AC charger, battery, 1GB memory stick, hard case with sleeves for 4 games, Sony headphones with remote (never used), and instruction manual.

Nine games as follows:

-- Archer McLean's Mercury - puzzle game similar to the old tabletop labyrinths.
-- Burnout Legends - smash 'em up driving game.
-- CapCom Classics Collection - collection of classic arcade games.
-- Field Commander - strategy combat game.
-- Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories - part of the GTA series.
-- Lumines - puzzle game similar to Tetris.
-- MediEvil Resurrection - sidescrolling arcade game.
-- Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters - continuation of the classic series.
-- Sega Genesis Collection - collection of Sega classics, including the Sonic games and several more.

All games are in their original case with instruction manuals.

Only game questionable for kids is the Grand Theft Auto - all others should be fine - but I'm not your kids' parent! :-)

For my fellow bloggers, $150 shipped in the US.

Canon 35mm camera kit:

Professionally and gently used Canon Elan 7e (eye-controlled focus selection), with vertical battery grip, 28-90mm lens, camera bag, several rolls of Fuji 35mm color film, and a set of spare batteries. Shutter count is ~3,000.

Excellent condition, well-maintained, never abused. Great camera for a photography class or someone looking for a backup film camera.

Also $150 shipped in the US.

(I'm asking $150 on the local Craigslist as well. If you know someone who'd be interested, please have them comment here. Reasonable offers considered, as well as interesting firearms trades.)

One more item that I really do NOT want to get rid of, but finances dictate that I must...
Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle, stainless/synthetic, one five-round factory mag, two ten-round stainless aftermarkets, two pre-ban 20-round blued mag. Includes the Ruger scope rings. Approximately 1,900 rounds of .223 ammo, mostly Wolf 55gr FMJ (black box), some Barnaul, some Brown Bear.

Gently used and always cared for. No mag dumps, ever. I've owned it since new, about three-ish years now.

$1100 FTF to NY residents with ID - will drive a reasonable distance to meet - or shipped to your FFL for $1150.



Jun 8, 2009

IDPA results

I try to shoot the monthly IDPA match at the local club. Last year I was somewhat irregular because of wedding planning. This year I've been a couple times and missed one due to forgetfulness.

I was reading back in my old blog and found my results from the first match I shot - one year ago. Shall we do a comparison?

June 2008:
Brian C
Catgeory: UNC[lassified]
Stage 1: 61.94s
Stage 2: 75.70s
Stage 3: 53.50s
Stage 4: 61.74s
Stage 5: 54.54s
Pts Drop: 77
Total: 307.42s

June 2009:
Brian C
Category: UNC
Stage 1: 27.47s
Stage 2: 33.14s
Stage 3: 44.09s
Stage 4: 26.07s
Stage 5: 20.55s
Pts Drop: 43
Total: 151.32s

The top two shooters in my class (Custom Defensive Pistol, mostly 1911s) had times under 100s. Obviously, I'm not exactly competitive with them yet... but I have a hell of a lot of fun, and my shooting is improving markedly. Switching from my Galco "Fletch" retention holster to a simple Yaqui slide shaved a second or two off each stage.

Beyond that, I really have no easy explanation. I've adjusted my grip a little (when I remember to), put a dab of white paint on my front sight blade... I'm still shooting my Springfield 1911A1 "GI". Low dark sights, loosey-goosey construction - it's no match gun, never will be, and was never designed as such. I can generally ping 8" steels at 15-20yd with one or two shots, and keep CoM out to 25yd without trouble. Headshots ... well, not so much my strong point with this gun.

A couple months ago we did a bit of show'n'tell after the match and I got to try a couple other folks' pistols. A match 1911 (IDPA, not IPSC racegun), which was slick and accurate. And then the S&W M&P9L (long slide). Had a worked-over trigger and a new front sight "BigDot". Holy crap. Dumped the mag into headshots at 15yd without even thinking about it. Yeah, smaller cartridge with less recoil, but still, HELL of a nice gun.

One of the guys was selling its twin this past weekend for a VERY good price. If I hadn't just dropped my wad on the 647, I'd have jumped on the M&P. Just a VERY nice pistol.

Next match is the first Saturday of July ... the 4th. If anyone is local and interested, feel free to join me. Good friendly club match.

Jun 5, 2009

A New Emporium of Delight

One of the forums I frequent is the S&W Forum. Good folks who enjoy great guns. One of them posted a tip a few nights ago about a shop in his area with a new haul of used S&Ws, along with a few highlights from that list.

One of them was a grail-shaped-beacon-gun. (You know, it kinda looks like a grail but it isn't. My official grail is a matched US Property Ithaca 1911.) This was high on my list of desires: a Smith & Wesson 647. The 647 was a very low-production model, produced from 2003-2004 and removed from the catalog in 2005 (according to SCSW 3rd Edition). There was also a 647-1 which was a Performance Center variation.

So what's so spiffy about the 647? It's a stainless, K-frame round-butt, 8-3/8" full-lug barrel ... in .17HMR. A gun of these dimensions is more typically seen around a cylinder full of .38s or even .357 (S&W Model 19). Empty weight is 52oz - roughly the same as my 21-4 .44Spl which I stoke with 240gr Keith loads. Recoil from this should be essentially zero.

Why? Because I wanted a small-game-capable revolver. I have a .17HMR rifle that is wonderful for squirrels, crows, and woodchucks... now I'll have the appropriate pistol to go with it.

I've made a deposit on the gun and the receipt is with my local sheriff's office awaiting a judge's signature. When it comes home (probably in 1-2 weeks) I'll have pictures.

(And for what it's worth, the last two to sell on Gunbroker went for $740 and $750. I paid significantly less. I can likely flip it for a profit if need be.)

Jun 3, 2009

A shooty evening...

I took yesterday off of work. It was nice out, I had things I wanted to get done around the house, and maybe just maybe spend some time with MrsZ. I finished my various projects, showered off, and we debated evening plans. Called a few friends, and none of them were available.

MrsZ finally said, "Well, how about going shooting? I still haven't tried your new pistols, and the new trigger is in my rifle."

I liked this idea. I threw together range gear while she made sandwiches. Headed out and plinked away for nearly two hours... MrsZ was mostly shooting her 10/22, which I had just installed a Volquartsen hammer in. It's now an insanely-light trigger, if a hair soft. I didn't feel like bothering with a sling, so I slapped the bipod on my Savage MkII and burned some ammo with that.

MrsZ had yet to try my Thunder380, S&W 21-4, and my 22/45. It was starting to get dark, so we switched to pistols at 7yd. A couple magazines through the 22/45, then a magazine though the Bersa. She did quite well with both. Didn't get around to the 21-4, sadly. The fireball from a 22/45 at dusk is pretty cool; the fireball from the Bersa is downright nifty... should've brought the AR for sampling. *g*

I also had the opportunity to try the .22CB Shorts in my Savage and the 22/45. It was absolutely eerie shooting them in the rifle. I pulled the trigger on the first one, heard *click*, and then saw the puff of dirt. No report. I asked MrsZ if it had actually gone "bang". She said yes, so I cycled the action and pulled out one of my earplugs ... sure enough, it went bang, with about as much zip as the little plastic-ring cap guns I used to play with. Nifty! Tried in the 22/45 and they're a fair bit louder, but still much quieter than any .22LR I've used. Not enough oomph to cycle the action.

I should see if I can find some of the Aguila 60gr subsonics, and some .22CB Longs as well. I'm intrigued by quiet!

Side note: the 22/45 is a hell of a nice gun to shoot. Mine has a great trigger, which seems to be abnormal, and while the sights aren't great, they're tolerable. Nice plinker. It's manual of arms is very similar to the 1911 I shoot competition with, so it's good for practice in that regard. However - there is a big difference. When the slide lock backs on an empty mag, my usual practice with the 1911 is to drop the mag, then gently lower the slide by hand. I tried to do that with the 22/45 last night. It doesn't have a slide, only the rear bolt... so I promptly dropped the extractor at full speed into the fleshy part of my left-hand middle finger. It bled. I cursed. I won't make that mistake again. :)

Jun 1, 2009

I'm A Bad Man

CNN has one of their user-submitted "news" stories on the site right now.

Beached Pilot Whales Euthanized

It's got a few pictures of people trying to "return the whales to the water".

"About 35 whales that had stranded themselves on Kommetjie beach have been euthanized after efforts to rescue them failed.
As we were walking away, we heard the shots - a sound that will stay with me for a long time."

So ... what's an appropriate caliber for whales? (According to Wikipedia, adult males are up to 20ft and 3 tons.)

I'm thinking rifle caliber starting with .3 or higher...