Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Part 3: HD shotguns-last word

The shotgun we have focused on in the last two articles is at the bottom of the picture. Middle is a 870 wingmaster built as a home defense shotgun, and top is a Chinese copy of the Winchester 1893 shotgun Browning designed and later revised for use as a trench shotgun (1897). These are great examples of what could be used for a home defense shotgun though I recommend you use what you have or what your comfortable with(or can afford). If all you have is a single shot pardner in 20 gauge you got for your birthday when you were 17 then use it. But whatever you do practice with the it so using it is 2nd nature. I would just as soon use the 93 as the 870 the bump in the night can't tell the difference when you rack the slide anyways. For now I'm done with the 870 build as I did it way under budget and I don't feel the need to add too much more to it. A shell holder adds width, but its handy to have 6 extra rounds on the gun if you need to grab it and run. you can get up to 17 or 18 rounds on/in the gun if you add a stock shell carrier as well but again width is added and the use of a sling becomes uncomfortable. If I wanted to recover some of my costs I could sell the take off parts like the stock set and end cap but I think I'll save those for future projects or acquisitions. A surefire tactical light would be nice practical add on without getting too far into tacticool in my opinion. It keeps you from having to rely on the lights in the house and the surefire is a fairly blinding flashlight if your on the recieving end of one.

Below we see two folding stock versions of HD shotguns.
Great for tight hiding places and rafters. 870 and a Moss 500

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Part 2: From Doves to Defense-Finishing Touches

"Subject to change without notice" is something I always keep in mind when told something or giving information to others. I had talked of chopping the full vent rib barrel down to use for this project but I managed to acquire a factory 18" 870 combat barrel from a gentleman at the local gun show. I got a straight up trade on the 18" barrel for my 28" field barrel which would need a new bead after the chop. So I'm sorry to say you wont get to see pictures of 10" getting hacked off of the field barrel. I simply took the 870 in the gun show with me to see what kind of things I could find to help my project along. Taking the gun to the show when you are looking for parts for it is a good idea as in the majority of the cases you can make sure its the right part before you leave the table. And in some cases especially if it is a "Jesus part" (the word uttered as it springs across the room never to be found again) the person selling the part can install it properly for you for little or no cost.
Now we have something that looks a little more like a combat style shotgun we have a shorter barrel that will be handy in tight spaces and a stock that keeps the thumb out of the way from bashing the nose. The next few things are not needed but since I have access to the equipment I figured I should refinish the receiver in a parkerized finish. Parkerizing helps protect steel from corrosion and wear and is pleasing to the eye as you will see in the following pictures.

870 Receiver before being sand blasted
and parkerized.

After being sandblasted and parkerized.

We see just how much better the receiver looks with just about an hours worth of effort put into the gun. The cheap painted on finish would not have lasted very long with the rugged storage conditions and use the gun will see. The gun appears to be a new off the shelf police or military model. But in fact little over $200 has been invested into the gun so far. I understand that not everybody has the access to equipment to do these kinds of things but I feel that anybody resourceful enough can come up with ways to do a durable finish such as this. I did not bother to parkerize the barrel as it had minimal wear but I did refinish the bolt and forearm/rails. The trigger pack/guard is aluminum and does not take the parkerized finish. Along with the 870 I also parkerized the RPK a friend and I built over the summer. The key to getting a uniform finish on the gun when you parkerize it is making sure you use a good quality brake cleaner after you've bead blasted to remove all the oils and dirt. Although I took my time in doing all the prep work the right way that did not prevent somebody else from putting a part on top of my receiver while it was in the park tank. A small blem is the result but it will not harm anything in the long run.

The last two pictures also show the right side of the receiver of before and after. From this point on we are pretty much finished with the project that I had set out to do. A magazine tube extension is optional to add a few additional rounds to the gun. I happened to have a factory magazine tube on order that is only adding $20 to the whole project cost. $225 is the total investment after the tube extension shows up. Not bad when you look back at what we started with. A 3 point sling might be made but only used in combat matches where switching from the shotgun to another weapon may be required. The 3 point sling will not be on the gun for its home defense role as it has no role on a gun you might grab at 3am unless you are putting on a whole battle outfit with sidearm (rolls eyes).

Monday, October 6, 2008

Part 1: From Doves to Defense! Shotgun Alteration.

There are few reasons these days why an off the shelf shotgun with a mid length barrel and 3 or 4 round magazine would not suffice for a home defense shotgun for the average home owner or apartment dweller ( Ammo choices need to be kept within reasonable limits as over penetration can be a factor in thin walled apartments). For the average gun enthusiast an off the shelf HD shotgun would work....however we are not the average gun enthusiasts that simply purchases a ready made HD shotgun off the shelf. Now I'm not talking super tacticool with quad picatinny rails and a GPS unit with the newest bottle opener that whatever tactical unit deployed somewhere your not supposed to know where they are, but somehow you do because you have "friends", uses and swears by and as such every other armchair warrior will discuss at length as to why its better than the same tactical bottle opener made by Mall Ninja gear outfitters inc. I'm talking about something that is practical as a defense shotgun recycled out of a field shotgun that maybe has seen some better days, or something you simply picked up at a gun show or pawnshop for a song. In this case my "seen better days shotgun" is an 870 Remington Express Magnum, This version was built with a cheap finish and cheap wood or synthetic stock depending on what the customer wanted. From what I can tell it was built to compete with the Mossberg 500 line of shotguns.
Although its the Remington brand "economy version" to be honest looking over the shotgun it looks and feels like its a well built operational shotgun that just got a cheaper exterior finish and slightly rough internal workings as working the slide some things will need smoothed out! I picked up this full vent ribbed 28" barreled Express magnum 870 at a gun show for around $150 which I thought was a nice price even though cosmetically it was rough. I've owned a old Westernfield (Sears brand) Mossberg 500 clone (One of the better ones) for a few years now as a combat shotgun and have owned other true Mossberg field guns but have sold them as I've gotten away from shotgun's for occasions other than social emergency's. Any field hunting I would do would now be with a double barreled side by side that was gifted to me while I was in High School.

Here we see the painted stock and barrel and get an idea
of the overall condition of what we're starting with!

I couldn't help but pick this 870 up with the idea to resurrect it as a Defense shotgun for a easy project. Wanting to keep the conversion as cheap as I could but using components I know have been proven I first decided to change the stock and forearm out. I hunted around online stores and auction sites for a set of Choate (Choate machine and tool) stock and forearm as I know their older version fits me well as my dads combat shotguns sports their stocks. They are slim and the length of pull fits me well. I picked up a set of Choate's older version of their pistol grip stock and forearm for around $55 after shipping. Installation was easy but did require a little tool to install the forearm nut. Now the gun fits me better and the pistol grip keeps my thumb away from my nose, Buck shot and Slugs had beaten my nose up in the past with the shorter pull of traditional stocks and the subsequent placement of my thumb. ( pics of stock set up to follow in part 2 as I've deleted all the pictures from my camera at this time on accident.)
We have a nice start dressing the gun up for slightly more social occasions other than the old dates it used to keep with turkeys and dove. The next step in the project is to smooth out the action as it still seems rough like it came from the factory and seeing the lack of wear on all the internal parts this would lead me to believe that the gun might have been carried for a decade in the truck but only a few boxes of shot have gone through it. There are several ways to go about honing the internals to smooth out the workings of the Remington 870 but my method was a bit course yet very effective. Using the finest sand paper I could get my hands on (from my tool box) I rubbed the abrasive off into the action and worked it several times. Yes it wears the finish down but we're going to refinish the whole thing so no worries there. I was careful not to take things too far with this process as it does not take much. After I had done this a few times I took the entire gun apart and gave it another good cleaning. Even before I applied a light coat of oil the gun cycles much smoother and did not require as much force to pump forward as the bolt used to stick towards the rear. After this process is complete I made sure to get all the remaining grit out of the action and trigger pack as long term damage can result from it being left in.The next step will be to alter the barrel and get the gun ready for a Parkerized finish which will include sand blasting the whole works.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Did you know WD-40 was developed for missile parts? (random sorry)

Summer has come and gone...again. I spent 2 months of my summer working with the FEH (First Year Engineering) Program here at OSU moving offices around for them and doing a little paper work (yuuck) as well. On top of that I kept working my normal job at UPS so I was working 9-9 day in and day out with little downtime. But I can't complain I got paid well for all of it and I have lots of money saved up. I just gotta remember where all I put it ( most of it I think is wrapped up in new toys in the safe...opps)! Also this summer I moved closer to the OSU campus which will benefit me in many ways...However the space I moved into is rather small compared to where I moved out of (pics to follow later). The reloading set up is still the same though I will have to revise a few things to get the best use out of the space. I was lucky enough to get out and do some shooting and testing this summer esp with Brittany who is really picking up on this whole gun culture thing. It's actually really fun to watch her develop her skills. Here is a peak at some articles I have planned and hope to publish on a more regular basis. Bullet swaging for the 41 magnum, more case conversions (woot), Building a combat shotgun out of a field gun, building a varmint rifle in the workshop and much much more.. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not hesitate to comment on articles or ask me to clarify things I've written about. This whole blog is here to help you and the comments you leave help me to become better at writing these sorts of things.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The case of many calibers : or : Why you should give all your range brass to me!

Brass, In this day brass is rising more and more in price. Formed brass, as in what we shooters use and pick up at the range is no exception. So to this I'll admit that I am a brass rat.....and damn proud of it! I go to the local range and scrounge every bit of brass I can lay my hands on...but its not to turn it into the recyclers but to recycle it myself. My father taught me the importance of picking up brass before and after a session at the range. I even pick up Berdan primed cases WHY? because they have infinite uses in the many tinkerings I do. Practicing/testing case forming methods in dies, annealing experiments and for the possible use as jackets for bullets down the road. One case (pun intended) is the 7.62x25 which is a hot loaded brother to the 7.63x25 (30 Mauser). I have 100's of these cases I've picked up at the range for several years and continue to do so. I didn't know why until just a few weeks ago when I read on a idea to convert them to boxer primed brass for 30 Mauser (a lathe comes in handy for this project). The big problem is getting that primer out of the case. A simple lathe project is making a hydraulic piston you insert into the mouth of the case after filling it part way with water. The water can not be compressed and it blows the berdan primer out. Another operation you can do with this piston is "water forming" the case by inserting it into a sizer die and whacking the piston with a mallet the same way you would to decap it. However instead of having a void under where the primer would pop out the spent primer would seal up the case and cause the case to fill to the die it has been placed in. I have lots of brass cases for which I don't even have a gun for yet 50BMG, S&W 500 (I don't officially own one of these yet), 375 H&H, 378 Weatherby, 38spl, 9mm, 270 Winchester, 243 Winchester, 30-30, 357 sig, 22-250 and the list just goes on and on. Its a good idea for any serious reloader to stock up on all sorts of brass "just in case" they obtain a firearm in that caliber. Or need to load some ammo for a friend.

I know the average shooter in where a box of 50 rounds will last them a year might not reload and that is understandable. To some reloading is a mysterious event that takes place in dark basements and backyard shops. Modifying brass for the rifles in your collection to some is even more mysterious. "Why take the time to make brass when you can get 20 pcs for $X" I've heard numerous times. And I've often wondered why I alter brass from one caliber to another however I take a huge amount of joy in learning along the way while making brass for rifles I have no brass on hand for. A close friend who recently purchased a .308 Remington 700 Sniper rifle wanted me to make up some reloads for him. I have .308 Winchester dies on hand here at my place in Columbus but no unprimed brass (I have 20 or so primed cases all from pull down ammo). I went through my "Rifle brass range pickup" bin that sits near my reloading bench and pulled 50 pcs of 30/06 brass that had badly deformed necks from actions closing on them etc. I trued them up with a pair of pliers as best I could and ran them through my .308 die without the decapper. This is an important step as you will have to pull the decapper, neck expander through that long tube you are making out of all the excess material the neck is being formed from ( you NEED the neck expander if you are necking brass UP! as you will see in the pictures bellow). I try not to anneal before I do this kind of major reforming via dies as the shoulder tends to fold and collapse on itself. If you are simply expanding the neck out on a case put the case into a pan of water so as only the neck is sticking above it and anneal the neck. If you anneal the shoulder and you attempt to expand or shrink the neck diameter the downward force on the now softer shoulder most likely buckle it and fold it into itself (if you annealed correctly). I start with the die out half way ( so as to work in the rockchucker's "power zone") and take it down in steps running the case up backing it out and turning the die perhaps 1/3 of a turn or so, taking the time to remove the case every three or so strokes to re-spread the lube so as not to create any dimples from hydraulic pressure caused by excessive lube in that one area. This also helps if you are doing major reforming so as the shell holder does not start to bend the rim and deform the base from constantly pushing and pulling on one area (This is important as to keep the rim from becomming weak and breaking resulting in a stuck case, I'm just trying to keep all the dust that has built up on my stuck case remover box intact).

So back to this .308 project out of .30/06 cases at hand. After we have made a goodly sized handful of reformed cases we need to trim the excess off the neck. A plumbers tubing cutter works well for this as does a trim die though I admit I have limited experience with the trim dies. I prefer to cut with a tubing cutter, anneal the shoulder and neck, Install the decapper and sizer ball back into the FL sizer die and carefully start the case slowly as the inside diameter is greatly reduced and will need to expand a great deal to slip over the neck sizing ball. After this function is performed the first time you might notice the neck looks a little funny not a straight and true profile you would expect. Chamfer the mouth of the case so as to get rid of any fold overs from the case mouth and run the case through the die several more times till it looks more uniform and measures more closely to what its supposed to. Remember we have work hardened the brass a great deal at this point so annealing is a critical process if you don't want to loose those cases during the final loading stage or perhaps the upon the first firing. I promise I will write a article in the near future on annealing and explain the process a little further!

Left is a case that was formed in 6.5 jap dies out of a 30/06 case the base was lathe turned and then after I noted a slight flaw in the neck I decided to grind a profile of the case to make sure I still had subtible wall thickness which you can tell is spot on.

Center is a 22-250 case formed in 6.5 jap dies and the belt lathe turned off. ready to be fire formed.

Right is a 22-250 case after fire forming to 6.5 Japanese. slightly undersized but still works very well.

(ABOVE) All of these are 22-250 cases that were run through the 6.5 japanese dies without neck annealing. Since these were being necked UP the expander ball had to be left in Would annealing the necks of these cases saved them? Most likely NOT as they were ridden hard by the previous owner that left them at the range.

we see a 22-250 case that was annealed at the neck before it was sized up. A collapse resulted in that attempt

#2 It is rather hard to tell but the rim is badly deformed from being left in the same position after each stroke. The case kinda sits higher, Also you can see the formed belt that would be lathe turned off.

#3 We wee the same thing as the first case but with an atempt using 30/06 brass. Note the shoulder on both of these were annealed. My next attempt will be JUST the neck.

#4 we see a badly oversized case that was run through the die. The ring at the neck resulting in excess material not cut off before hand. It is possible with time and effort to salvage this case although running it through a 30/06 FL die minus decaper/expander might help the base form more easily.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Loomis Battery Michigan Historic Artillery Match : or : And you thought $1 per shot was expensive !

*Note- I'm sorry this is not so much of an article as just pictures and captions.

Every father and son who get along reasonably well should have a annual road trip/ pilgrimage that they embark on with other males to "bond" and have fun. The road trip that my father, our family friend Roger and myself embark on once a year trip such as this that also happens to involve live fire cannon matches, field guns, mountain howitzers, siege mortars and coehorn mortars. The annual Loomis battery civil war artillery match which takes place in Grayling Michigan is a one of a kind shoot that holds the famous "bacon creek" match for rifled guns (3" bore) at 1000 yards (might have been at 1200 yards this year but I'm not sure) Where competitors attempt to place 3 shots onto a sheet of newsprint at that distance. Its been done on several occasions which is really something when you think of these overbore muzzle loaders and the technology of the day back then.
This year my father finally finished building (still needs painted) a 24 pound coehorn in which we shot in the coehorn match with. Seven shots and the closest five are scored via string method from a pegged flag down range. Every year I learn something new and interesting about all the guns at the shoot and how they were utilized, how their sighting systems work and the different types of projectiles they fired.
During the 600 yard smooth bore gun match on Saturday competitors shot at a block house demo target with round balls 3" on up to show just what solid shot could do. This was not nearly the destruction could have been would they have been shooting bar shot or chain shot but the demo block house and some trees behind it took a severe beating.
This is what my dad does, he studies the history and a few weekends every year he lets loose with guys that every time they pull the lanyard they are letting $20-$50 fly downrange. Although this year I think dad let loose a little to much. As I was directing him to reposition our gun onto the target we had our first casualty of the match dad put a little too much UMPH into moving the gun and his pants couldn't take it.
My favorite gun at the match this year was a 3.2 Span Am cannon that was being restored to its former glory. Its a breech loading gun that has a interrupted thread locking system for the breech. The breech plug is a newly manufactured one by the match host and I was lucky enough to see the testing shots. Along with the 3.2 span am gun there were little hotchkiss cannons that are also breech loading. One of these would round out my collection very well if I could save up the money for one. All in all its a great way to spend a weekend if your a history buff, gun nut or just want to see some really unique. Check with the Grayling tourist info center for future match dates.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Born of fire and Vodka! ; or ; 12 ton press and Mt Dew!

Gunsmithing as I mentioned earlier is a practical hobby and skill (kinda) I enjoy. You definitely have to have a feel for it. Though I'm not a master at it I'm fairly in tune to the workings of a firearm and what makes them work and tick. I've worked on a goodly amount of firearms in my short time on this earth but there is one gun that no matter WHO is using it....It will never FAIL TO JUST SIMPLY WORK. The AK-47 Family of firearms has been a popular gun for the home builder lately. For about the same price as buying one off the shelf (so to speak) you can build a legal semi auto AK-47 (so long as you have the pre required tools to do so....we did....and then some) In the case of the RPK I have $254 in it exactly

Usually to build one of these AK's or its clone one needs an assortment of punches and hammers. Cold chisels, a good anvil, leg vice or LARGE table top vice, welder (optional), large case of Mt. Dew, hydraulic press, $0.23(0_o) in pennies or so to use with the press to protect the barrel and perhaps an adapter for a air hammer to rivet rivets in.

The above picture shows my very good friend using a tig welder to weld up the front sight on the RPK after I atempted to remove it to install the new bipod (one was not installed when I got the kit). I gave up and simply busted the rivet out of the bipod to install it.

This being the 3rd AK clone that we've built we tried something a little different when it came to the receiver. In the first place it was the wrong receiver it was in fact one that was intended for a folding stock AK however it was on sale and I needed a receiver for the project (cost was $40). To fill/patch the large holes we cut and ground patches out of the old receiver which was actually a little thinner than the new receiver...not sure why. But after the receiver was patched up I had Anthony just weld the rear trunnion in as I did not want to mess with locating and drilling holes for the rivets that had to be put in!

The RPK's actually had the front and rear trunnion spot welded to the reciever so I had my friend spot weld the front after I drilled holes in the receiver. It serves to stiffen up the receiver being the RPK was built as a LMG( in theory). Now you gotta remember this was a Russian design made for the dumbest peasant to use. These things JUST FREAKING WORK. I've yet to have a jam in any of my builds, however we did run into a problem with upper rail length in my friends Romy G but that was fixed with a buffer welded in front of the rear trunnion so the bolt would not pop itself out of the reciever.

These builds are fun and if you have the few tools that are needed it can be a relativly painless build. The first one I did (the Yugo underfolder) proved to be a hard first build as the folding stock assembly had a lot of jesus parts (JESUS....small part springs across the room)

Friday, June 20, 2008

NRA convention 2008: or : Tactical Road Trip with Dad!

Awhile back the NRA held its annual Convention. This year it was in Louisville Kentucky and well within a tactical day road trip for my dad and I from the mid Ohio region. We get there and the size of the show is just enormous. I enjoyed meeting and shaking hands with industry leaders as well as famous faces. The convention is a great place to get Q's answered and handle and get a close up look at firearms you've always been curious about or interested in. My wish list grew a little bit as I looked over a few big bore rifles and reproduction's that really caught my eye.
Here we see my dad taking a close look at a Trapdoor Springfield reproduction by Uberti. As you can see by his hat and shirt he is a Artillery buff (watch for future articles on his heavy weight hobby this summer). The convention did not offer a lot for sale although I did purchase a book or two that have been on my wish list. All the big names in the firearms industry was there. Sig, S&W, glock (with the gunny)...and all sorts of poster girls going through sharpies like dirty underwear signing posters. I got to handle some very unique weapons as well as classics like a Merkel Double rifle, Thompson's and sharps rifles. As well as view a display of older S&W revolvers. The various CZ 550 models on display really caught my eye. They seem like a good solid rifle with lots of options including express sights. My focus was mostly on the Big bore magnums. Here we see ones chambered in .404 and .500 Jeffery. Impressive to say the least!

The whole convention was a very worthwhile trip. But I would not go out of my way to travel long distances for it more than once a decade. It's nice to see what is out there and see famous faces in our culture. But unless the convention showed up in my backyard again I won't make a point to go. Though if you get the chance please do go. Take the kids, a Camera, backpack and a notebook. There is something there for everybody and you will have fun. Take somebody who is just slightly interested in firearms. They will enjoy themselves. Here is My Dad again with a marlin guide gun in 45/70....we ended up seeing the whole show and getting back to my apartment in less than 12 hours.

Made in Japan! : or : Buy one get the 2nd one cheaper!

My good friend who purchased the 6.5 Carcano I mentioned earlier on this site has also been longing for a Japanese rifle as well after seeing his grandfathers WW2 war bring back in his relatives small gun collection. I kept half an eye out for a rifle that would suit him and me being a rather patient person I happened upon a listing of a small Japanese rifle collection that was being sold. I called and inquired about the different models and such but the seller didn't even know all that much about them other than one was "big jap" and the other two rifles were "little jap". The prices given to me on the phone seemed reasonable so I told my friend to get out of bed and that we were gonna go look at some guns today!

I looked the 3 Japanese rifles over as well as the other WWII circa rifles that the gentleman had up for grabs but I was focused on the 7.7 jap type 99 rifle for my friend. We agreed on a price for it and then I looked the little type 38 6.5 carbine over..."I have no use for it, and I don't need another groundhog gun" But I put down a offer thinking he would pass on it but he took. We walked out of there paying $140 for the two rifles and me thinking...."I really shouldn't have done that"

I don't know what possessed me to randomly purchase a rifle of such vintage and origin but I did. And like most people who do random things they try to rationalize their decision "it will make a great groundhog gun" I told several people who asked why I had purchased it. Then upon reading "Bolt Action Rifles" by De Haas I came to the conclusion it was a perfect plains game rifle round and barrel length. And that it is indeed one of the strongest rifle actions ever made! Bullets I have as they will be cast from the mold we got for the 6.5 Carcano project. Brass will be made with anything with a base diameter that is appropriate for the 6.5 jap and is long enough. pretty much anything that uses the 30/06 as a parent case will work. .270 winchester being the top pick from what I can tell. Run it in steps through the sizer die and turn off the remaining belt in the lathe at home. I have a goodly amount of range pick up brass to make both 7.7 jap and 6.5 jap brass from though I should think no more than my friend shoots that 50 pcs should be sufficient for him and I think 50pcs should do for me as well.

Above you can see a 6.5 Cast bullet and a 6.5 that is lubed loaded into a modified 22-250 case that has been run through a 6.5 carcano sizer die to form a belt that has been roughly hand filed off. The Carcano head diam is only .001" larger than that of the 6.5 Japanese. Next to the dummy round is a 6.5 Japanese round by Norma then a 7.7 Japanese round. 30/06 brings up the end to show case size comparison and conversion feasibility.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Ruger Blackhawk 45 long colt follow up!

-Above picture Lyman 454424 , 452423 , 452389 Note nose profile and meplat of first two

After having the Ruger Blackhawk out to the range a few times since its been getting warmer and warmer and trying the 252gr lee mold, 454424 lyman 255gr and the 185gr 452389 mold as well as already cast 200gr SWC's and 230gr RN I've come to some conclusions.

The lee 252gr Mold has too much body/shank and not enough ogive/nose. It therefore does not stabilize enough from what I can tell in the tests I have run. it seems to just tumble out of the barrel which ends up as poor results and keyholes on paper. I'm not sure what is causing this but my guess as stated before is the nose to body proportion.

The 200gr SWC's offer a nice plinker load and the 230gr RN is a nice bullet as well. The king of the crop so far is the 454424 Keith style 255gr mold with its generous meplat and sensible size of driving bands lube grooves and ogive. It is accurate with 2400 powder but non of the Unique loads I loaded and tried seemed to work all that well. The slower 2400 powder worked just fine and gave a good performance. Though further testing will be done until a all around load is settled on I imagine it will resemble a load right out of Sharpes book ("The complete Guide to handloading" of which I now own several copies). Black powder loads are a thought though but will be given no serious place outside of the accuracy testing and general range work. My goal is a accurate load that will have stopping power suitable for anything in North America...yes I may be guilty as being another person trying to magnumize the 45 Long colt but I think its a not so much of a question as can it be magnumized as a challenge.

Shot loads are something I plan on working on as well. Though #12 shot is ideal for any handgun or revolver shot load...I have access to only the shot I have from breaking down range pickup shotshells that were discarded (So anything between #6's and #8's I'm guessing). A 45 gas check will be used as the top wad and if I can get away with it a cardboard wad will be used as the lower. Although my concern is the fit of the lower wad keeping powder from working by. Perhaps a 45 wad punch should be invested in as I would use it for wads for the sharps as well as for punching out wads for this beast.

I am not the greatest shot with this Ruger BH yet. My natural point of aim and hands are so used to S&W grips and balance that this is a whole new horse I have to learn. It really seems to like the heavier bullets though I have not been able to go any heavier than the keith 255. A lighter Keith style 454423 mold has shown up at my door and bullets have been cast, lubed and sized. I need to get some serious target work done to compare the lighter bullet to the heavier Keith although I'm thinking the heavier bullet will outperform this slightly lighter brother. But only burned powder and punched paper will be able to tell.

So far I've been going over just caliber and bullet follow ups. The gun itself seems to be getting better with time. Grips are still going on and off of it until I find something that really feels natural to my hands. The sights are ok and what little midrange shooting I did with it last range trip I was happy with the results. 4 out of 6 shots hit the clay pigeons I was aiming at at just under 50 yards.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

#1 way to be disowned by your history buff father : or : Trade a live horse and $100 for a dead horse?

After obtaining the 1874 Sharps Long Range Express rifle only a few days ago I had it in my plans to sell the H&R 1871 45-70 that I started with. A mentor friend (Doug) who was at the same gun show that I purchased the 1871 at told me if I ever wanted to sell it to let him know. So last weekend when I went home I caught up with him as he was still interested in the rifle. But he didn't have any cash handy though he offered up a partial trade. What did he have to trade? A Original Trapdoor Springfield either model 1878(73?..stamp is in question..see pic) or 1884 (I'll get to this in a bit). I looked the rifle over as best I could with a bore light and such. Doug never shot the rifle as he was afraid to after hearing stories about the weaker actions. I was well aware of the stories myself but have never heard of any specific cases only that the trapdoor action failing. For some odd reason I actually traded the H&R 1871 and $100 for the Trapdoor Springfield that Doug was afraid to shoot...this all makes sense so far right? trade a working rifle and $100 for something that was more than 100 years old and people are afraid to shoot...hehe. So I take the rifle home to take a closer look at looks like somebody took a pipe wrench to the rear of the barrel at some point in time though there was still life left in the 3 lands and grooves in the barrel. Then my dad saw the rifle....."You got a Trapdoor son is an idiot" was pretty much what came out of his mouth. I was taken aback greatly at this comment. My father #1 called me an idiot on a choice of firearms.....that just does not happen. And #2 my dad who is a Civil War Expert/all around History buff looked down on the Springfield trapdoor so much as to call his son an idiot who had just obtained one (eh maybe those 2 reasons go hand in hand...I dunno). Now what have I done?...did I make a mistake? Looking over the rifle the front sight is very thin and the Rear Buffington adjustable sight looks like something a target shooter would greatly appreciate but perhaps not a foot soldier. The action locks up just fine and the big 16 ton hammer is that of the 3 click tumbler model. First is the safety I assume then the notch that allows the action to be opened then one more back and the hammer is ready to strike the firing pin and fire the rifle. The only thing missing so far as I can tell after taking the rifle down is the ejector spring and pin that helps the ejector kick a fired case out (lathe project). Right now all I have is an extractor instead but thats not going to hurt me anytime soon. I figured I would go ahead and slug the barrel to see what I have to work with. I started the first of the 3 round balls I usually run through a barrel to get bore and groove measurements. 3/4 of the way down the barrel was just fine the slug went in and on its way down with little force after taking the initial shape at the muzzle. Then about 5" left till the breach it stopped....dead....I gave the 1/4" brass rod that we use for slugging rifle barrels and gave it a good "ram rod" motion and the slug pushed its way down and out of the action. I took a look at what I had and I was dumbfounded. A good sized groove was carved into the slug at 6 o'clock and at 11 o'clock. We thought it must have just hit the ejector ramp or something so we pushed the other 2 lead balls through the barrel carefully. Same thing. I then took a closer look down the muzzle with a small flashlight and saw the culprit. A solid burr about .03" high was sticking straight up near the throat of the chamber....The very LONG chamber I realized. The burr at 11 o'clock was very hard to see but it was much smaller than the 6 o'clock burr. Were these related to the tool marks on the outside of the barrel? and perhaps the long(er) chamber? which is over 3" long by the way. I really would like to get this rifle back into working order. I think it still has life in it but I will take the same precautions with this as I did with the Damascus double barreled shotgun I cut down due to a flaw in the barrel. No need to rush things but Depending on further observations we will see if the burr will shoot out or not. Though I think if one can be had and done at a reasonable price a barrel liner will be in order if things do not play out well for this fine old rifle. Also the tang needs some attention due to some seperation from the breach plug.

Now on to the model of the rifle. In the little time I've had to research the rifle I have narrowed it down to 3 years though most likely I'm thinking its a 1884 due to the rear sight and serrated trigger. The breach block appears to be dated 1878...however...the 8 looks a bit like a 3 further research is needed on the breach block to determine its year. However it will not dictate the year of the rifle overall. since parts were made standard and could be swapped around. Follow up articles to come!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

You tell them....Valdez is coming :or: Sharps Long Range Express 1874... Buffalo not included!

I've been burning for a Sharps rifle for a spell now and after somebody on one of the online forums I'm on gave me the name and a email address of his friend that had a Sharps along with a good size package of gear for sale I jumped on it. At 12 pounds and some change it is a weighty rifle though almost the same as my .22 match rifle it balances a little different. With a 34" half round half octagonal barrel and a 1:18 twist and a overall length of just under 51" it's not for somebody who likes light short rifles. It is chambered in 45-70 for now (possible re-chamber down the road to 45-90 at least,for that little extra velocity) and slugs out to 457 grooves and 447-448 lands (bore daim, which is important for paper patching) there seemed to be a tight spot near the chamber throat when pushing the slug muzzle to breech. Right now I have got things figured out to paper patch boolits up to .450 but until I have a chance to take a chamber casting of the rifle I have reason to believe the throat will not accommodate patched boolits all to well without a little lapping to knock imperfections out of the throat...i.e. sharp angles. The rifle is fairly new with few rounds down the tube. It came from an older gentleman who wished to thin out his collections to just bench rest rifles. At 74 years old and the presence of the thick recoil pad on the rifle when I got it I do believe he might have had issues with the recoil. However this I can not be sure of as I've known many older gentleman who will shoot anything you hand them. The rifle also has a Pedersoli mid range sight 2" staff along with an adjustable hadley eye cup. A raised cheek piece, double set trigger and shotgun stock were all things I was looking for in a Sharps and this fulfills them all. The Rifle is Pedersoli made and was sold through Cabelas as per the stamp on the barrel. My plans for the rifle right now will be shoot the loaded ammo that has come with it and try some of my patched and grooved bullets in it. I would like to have a 550gr or slightly lighter postell/creedmore bullet mold obtained or made for it as well as something comparable for paper patching. The fitting of the wood to metal is rather good on both forearm and stock. The only thing that I might alter down the road is the butt piece with has a little metal overhang on the toe of the stock and could cause premature wear on shooting clothing, mats and cases....its not that big of a deal but is rather something that I might do to make it just that much better. The lock up of the action is like that of a bank vault. Though one must get used to re-cocking the hammer after each shot to prevent damage to the firing pin and wear on the case base. Along with the rifle I was supplied with a goodly amount of brass, loaded ammo, dies and other things. I'm not sure how well the 500gr grooved and patched boolits I have on hand will perform but I do believe a heavier projectile will be subtable for all around use in this long barreled big bore.

A range report will follow soon I hope as the weather here in central and N.W. Ohio has finally started to warm up. I'll attempt to do some gong shooting this weekend at various distances up to several hundred yards if things show promise.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Gun shows, Cigar boxes and leather :or: It takes a tri state gun show to raise a boy

I started going to gun shows way back before I can even remember. I'm sure my first gun show was the tri-state area show held at our fair grounds which was only a short drive from our home. My dad used to take me on his weekends off and I always looked forward to it. I remember walking the rows with my dad and listening to his words of wisdom on different subject matters. Some things made sense others would take years to understand and some will take even more years to understand.

Going to a gun show is the most natural thing in my life. The treasures one can find at a show is limitless. I've purchased most of my firearms and accessories at sometimes ridiculously cheap prices. Complete RCBS reloading die sets for $10 or $20 with multiple shell holders, $5 pistol grips I've wanted to try but refused to pay the $25 retail price tag ( my friend Anthony is the grip guru, always buying grips to try). Ammo cans that we get in bulk at a great price. My top favorite past time that is not shooting related is haggling.....95% of the time I can talk a guy down on price or have them throw in something to sweeten the deal. Its just my nature. Some times its just walking around and talking to friends that make the shows worthwhile. A few of the vendors know me by now at the various gun shows we haunt. Its nice to go home on that first full weekend every month bright and early Saturday morning roll into town, wake up my friend Anthony and head on out to the show. If you're on a time crunch you can go through in about 1 hour and 15-30 minutes...but we usually do it in 4 hours+.....we take our to the vendors and the other people walking the show. This is how you just shut up and listen. I learn something new every time I go. While walking the rows however things start to catch your start seeing things you would like to have. Like a 32" leather belt rig and Holster for a single action 45 revolver.....I've been looking for one now for about 6 months...finally found it at the gun show...ticket price was $25...and the guy who's granddaughter I went to high school with let me walk away with it for $20 mostly I think because there are very few 32" waist guys who like big bore revolvers. Later on in the show I found myself picking through a Cigar box of cartridges putting one or two aside every so often. Talking to the vendor the collection was from a guy who had passed away and enjoyed collecting such things...about 80 or so pieces in all some I recognized some I flat out did not. The vendor who admitted he was only a hunter and did not care for such things seemed to be impressed with my knowledge of such things and the history behind some of the cartridges. Though I was saddened when he told me the really big ones had already been sold. Non the less I paid him $5 for a good sized handful of the cases and was off again. About 10 minutes later I came back put down $20 and asked him if that was enough for the rest of the collection. Seeing as how I was young and ambitious he took my money and gave me not only the cigar box of cartridges but several other boxes containing pistol rounds like the 44 and 45 Webley and rifle rounds like the 264 winchester magnum and 11mm Mauser. It was a great find for somebody with a interest in such things like myself. There is a small handful of shotgun shells in the collection as well but these have little interest from me. I hope to sell them and recoup the cost of the collection I purchased and maybe the cost of the holster I picked up as well.

The things that can be had at gun shows is seemingly limitless however there is always a certain etiquette that MUST be had when going to any event like this. RESPECT the vendor and those around you and ask permission to look at things. Please don't just grab things off the table like I see so many people do. Don't walk around the show like you are the only one there standing in the middle of a row, walking around with your finger in the trigger guard of a firearm is another one of those things where I just wanna whomp the person upside the head. Be friendly to those around you as this is one of the few forums where all types of shooters can converse under one roof. Some good things to take to gun shows by the way. A recent price list of reloading components, small tape measure, bore light, index cards, pens, zip tie cutters and a shoulder bag instead of a book bags get in the way and you can't get into them with out having to take them off. Shoulder bags are much better IMHO.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Beware the man with one gun because he probably knows how to use it : or : Admiting the fact I bit off more than I need

In the introduction to this whole blog I stated that I enjoyed collecting various actions and firearms. Though with both national economic trend and my ability to utilize my rifles to their full advantage with the time and space I'm given now. I sometimes wonder if I should drastically thin out what I have spent years collection to get something I would truly enjoy instead of having a dozen or two firearms that sit in the safe making dandy paper weights. For a while now I've been thinking about getting a Black Powder rifle to replace the W&H 1871 45-70 I've been shooting with for a while now. Though due to my limited if not non existing income I would have to sell a goodly amount of what I have to finance such a dream. A 1874 Sharps Long range express has been tantalizing my dreams for a while though they are somewhat expensive from $1,200 on up easily. But such a move would force me to become highly proficient with it. A sharps rifle is unrivaled in the firearms world....the finer versions are the Roles Royce of firearms. I never cease to amaze myself at how often my tastes in firearms is so very much backward to the trend that is popular now esp with others my age. Here I want something that has been around for more than 100 years and others around my age have to have the aimpoints with rails and lasers on their assault rifles. Please don't get me wrong I like a good AR any day. Though the paratrooper AK does things just fine for me. Its just that the way life is right now I'm not enjoying the vast collection I have acquired and a small part of me is saddened that they are nothing more than just paper weights in their current condition. thoughts?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Putting Out The Red Carpet for New Shooters.

Note- This post has been edited from its original version.

I recommend revolvers to start those who want to learn to shoot handgun for several reasons

*They do not have any safety's-Which if you think about it is beneficial for our use. We want to keep everything simple here. including the amount of functions the firearm has like various levers, switches and buttons on some makes of guns can be daunting to the uninitiated. The more you try to throw at them the more they might get frustrated.

They are safer than automatics-After a round is fired the action must be cycled in order for the next round to come into battery. In a automatic all that is needed is a slight release on trigger pressure and reapplication of pressure to fire again. This could result in accidental double or triple taps...I did it the first time I shot my dads .45 1911 when I was young. Its just not a good idea. The obvious option to this is to load 1 round at a time. This is a good idea as it will familiarize the shooter with the weapon and its workings fast. But a standard revolver is just impossible to accidentally double tap with normal target loads and a new shooter. Or any loads for that matter.

*Smoother action- Firing single action a revolver has a much smoother trigger pull than 95% of the Semi auto guns I've handled and shot. There are very few times double action is required in firing. Being charged by a bear or the occasional zombie is the exception.

*Super reliable-A revolver can handle light loads up to red line loads without fail of action. In a semi auto the ammo must be in good condition and powerful enough to cycle the weapon without being too powerful to crack frames and break parts. The revolver will eat anything you throw at it and more. you can load the cylinder of a revolver with full wad cutters, Semi Wad cutters, Round nose and bird shot loads and it will shoot one right after another without fail. Try that with a semi auto and you will give up in short order.

*Takes time- A revolver forces the shooter to slow down esp when shooting single action. It isn't a race...seeing who can throw down more lead never makes for good practice. Though speed loaders are made for revolvers its not the same as a auto shooter blazing one mag away after another. Also have the new shooter remove their finger from the trigger after each shot after they are acquainted with the weapon. this helps burn in good finger placement on the trigger. You can take this one step further and have them set down the gun or just remove it from their strong hand grip after each firing. Load 1 round in the cylinder at a time perhaps. This will cause them to make a habit of how they place the revolver in there hand. As well as getting used to loading and unloading to the point it is second nature.

*Ergonomics- Revolvers tend to have a better selection of grips available than with auto loaders. Look at your hand, its not shaped like the grip of a 1911. The small grip I have on the 63 works well esp for female hands. The magazine wells of pistols tend to dictate grip size and shape. Revolvers do not stick to this rule at all. This is why rounds like the .45 GAP emerged as a way to make a smaller slimmer grip for females in guns like the Glock.

Some additional tips I would like to add. Don't force a new shooter to shoot any particular gun. They loose interest if they are not having fun! DO NOT I REPEAT DO NOT give a new shooter a large caliber firearm. I keep seeing these videos online of guys given new shooters esp girls large guns like 12ga loaded with slugs or .50AE Desert Eagles. They end up hurting themselves /create a dangerous situation. Guy with the camera almost always laughs. yeah ok its funny if you get a guy who thinks he can handle a .375 H&H after shooting some .22's but thats a ego thing. Its just not cool when you are putting it on the unsuspecting and telling them to just "HOLD ON". Thats the kind of thing that turns them away from the sport. (end rant) At the end of each range session ask them what they learned today. I've been asking this for 2 years now whenever I'm acting as yourself can learn a lot from feedback. It also allows the trainee to reflect on what they have learned.

Monday, January 21, 2008

I have something to put in the broom closet now I guess

I went home for the weekend a while back and picked up this C96 broom handle Mauser pistol. Originally in 30 Mauser (The 30mauser was the most powerful pistol round until the .357 Magnum came out, It is a longer 9mm necked down to 30cal). Upon closer examination of the weapon the barrel is shot out....bulged and no rifling, Extractor...gone..along with the rear sight..Other than that its all there and matching numbers as well..woot.. ( I did notice all of this before I put the money down...just so you know). The grip seems bent but that isn't gonna hurt anything any time soon.

I plan on lining the barrel to 9mm luger as many of these guns were chambered in that round and little work will be needed on the full conversion. The case head is near if not the same dimensions for the bolt as the 30 Mauser. The internal magazine will work just fine with 9mm luger. If it does not I can mill some extra followers and mess with those. Do not want to alter the frame too much unless I deem it needed for function/reliability. The gun NEEDS a good cleaning along with a chamber casting to make sure there are not any greater flaws inside that I can't detect at this time. The C96 is the first truly reliable auto loading pistol and I hope to get this one back into working order in short time. Theres a lot of history behind these and I might post some more on the gun and its model history down the road.