Tuesday, December 30, 2003

To be a fly on the wall

The January Guns and Ammo has an article by Jeff Cooper on the development of the Modern Technique for Pistols.

If time machines existed, one of the trips i would make is to Southern California circa 1960. I'd go to the matches where Cooper, Weaver, et. al. invented modern combat shooting.

I do most of my blogging here.

Monday, December 22, 2003

More on the WSSMs

A little more info on the .25 WSSM.

And Chuck Hawks takes a look at the .243 WSSM.

As can be seen from these figures, from a 24" barrel the .243 WSSM offers performance with all bullet weights equal to or slightly better than the .243 Winchester, and equal to but no better than the 6mm Remington. Most of the advantage over the standard .243 Winchester is lost, however, in the short barrels actually being supplied on Browning and Winchester hunting rifles.

If you have an itch for one of the WSSMs, you should read the whole thing.

Useful Product

I've been using one of these for the last year and they really do work. When you "holster" your rifle, the rear stock is held close to your body and doesn't swing or flop around when walking/climbing. It makes it much easier to move up and down steep or rough ground where you want two hand for balancing and holding on.

I usually use mine with the daypack attachment. That has the added advantage of leaving the rifle sling with just the right amount of slack for use as a shooting aid.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

The Blessing that is Google

I read this in Cooper's Commentary

There is no rule in journalism which demands that a writer must know anything about what he writes, but still we wish that editors would make some sort of effort to tidy up what their contributors set down. For example, consider this, "With a good .30 caliber Weatherby magnum, even a mediocre shot can pick a small bird off a limb at 1200 yards." Now that is really something! This is the work of a syndicated columnist whose name I will not reveal for fear of embarrassment. But really, this sort of thing is ridiculous. The author writes, ".30 caliber Weatherby magnum," is an artifact which does not exist, yet he assumes that his readers will take him seriously. This guy pretends to be a knowledgeable shooter - which gives all of us a bad name.

and immediately wondered who the smug jerk was.

Thanks to Google i know and it really is no surprise.

New Stuff

A couple of interesting things in the latest Guns and Ammo (January 2004).

1. Remington is going to produce the 6.8 Remington Special Purpose Cartridge for the military. (James Rummel discussed this a few weeks back). The round is based on the 30 Remington and functions through the M-16. specs call for a 115 BTSP at 2,800 fps.

2. Winchester is bringing out a .25 WSSM. I don't want one of them, but i expect that this means there will be a lot of 25-06s and .257 Roberts on the used racks. And i do want one of those.

3. Hornady and Ruger are bringing out the .204 Ruger based on a necked-down .222 Remington Mag. This press release says it will drive a 32 grain V-MAX bullet at 4,225 feet per second.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Smarter than the average bear

First morning of buck season (monday), hunting the same stand that came up empty in bear season, a young black bear ran by within 25 yards of where i sat. He made it through the season and now has a buffet of deer gutpiles to fatten on before denning.......

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Not that i could tell


I hunted the first two days and saw nothing. Last two years someone (not me) took a bear on the tract i hunt. This year, no one saw anything. That was a bit of a surprise since there were signs and scat all over the ridge for most of the fall as well as a couple of live sightings by our neighbors.

I'm not bummed, though. It is something of a miracle that there are bears to hunt in Somerset county at all. The Game Commission has done a great job on that score. The numbers are way up and their range has expanded out of the big timber up north to cover most of the state.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Of course i agree

If I could only have one handgun to last a lifetime, it would be a .357 revolver with a four inch barrel, adjustable sights, in stainless steel.

Just one of the many fine entries over at Shooters' Carnival.
Jeff Cooper

Dillon Precision is now offering most of Jeff Cooper's books. Check here and here.

If you like the what you read in Guns and Ammo or at the website (see blogroll at left), the books are a rare treat. I often disagree with him, but he always makes me think.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Yes Indeed

Kim du Toit features the Browning A-5 as today's GGP. A good choice.

Mr du Toit writes:

The Auto-5 still belongs in every serious shooter's safe, for its heritage if for no other reason. And some day, a Sweet Sixteen will be in mine.

Yes indeed. And carefully stored right now in my safe is an A-5, a Sweet Sixteen no less. It's a shooter, not a collector, but its there.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Nature and Myth

Gregg Easterbrook makes a good point about forest management and our perceptions of nature:

Why is Southern California burning? Because it's supposed to, as far as nature is concerned, at least.
Before people began interfering with forests in the arid Western United States by "managing" them--and research shows that indigenous Americans were engaged in significant forest management long before Europeans arrived--a natural cycle of forest fire and regrowth was standard.
When men and women settled the American West in large numbers in the nineteenth century, they began fighting wildfires. One result was that forests became denser, because the periodic minor conflagrations that occurred naturally in the West, removing brush and tinder ("fuel," to foresters) stopped occurring. When Lewis and Clark and others of the period arrived at West Coast forests in the nineteenth century, they described open woodlands through which anyone could easily stroll. Today, most forest areas of the West are so thick you can't go off-trail without a machete. Periodic small fires no longer take out underbrush and "understory," the medium-sized vegetation that dies, dries, and provides fuel to heat trees to the temperature at which they burn. Stopping periodic small Western forest fires allows fuel to accumulate, increasing the chance of an eventual fierce, uncontrollable fire that heats trees to the flame point across a large area. Stopping periodic small fires, and thus allowing the woods to grow dense, also means the condition people think of today as "natural" for Western forests--thick growth and lots of very old trees--is in most cases artificial.

A little known but important fact about the western ecosystem is that the abundance of wildlife observed by Lewis and Clark was an anomaly. Prior to Columbus, the Native-Americans held animals numbers in check through hunting. But when European diseases wiped out most of the indigenous peoples, game numbers exploded.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Losing sight of the purpose

Sometimes i wonder about rifle designers. It seems that they often lost track of how the final product will be used and create something that is neither fish nor fowl.

Case in point: Remington with their Model Seven and their Short-Action Ultra Magnum family of cartridges.

When i went to buy a compact rifle i intended to get a Model 7 in 260 Remington. I switched to the Ruger 77 Compact for two reasons. The Ruger was over a hundred bucks cheaper at retail. But the more critical factor was that the Ruger was shorter by almost four inches. The Model 7 in 260 has a 20" barrel. The Ruger is a fraction over 16". If it was worth getting a new rifle to lose four inches in OAL compared to my 30-06, then saving eight inches made a lot more sense.

One of the reasons Remington came out with the 7mm and .300 RSAUM was that the Winchester Short Magnums would not work in the Model 7. Have to put the short mag in your short rifle, i guess, even if that means inventing a new cartridge.

The only problem is that even a short magnum needs a longer barrel to really out-perform a standard cartridge. So Remington put a 22" barrel on the Model 7 Magnum. Which means the compact rifle isn't very compact anymore.

Furthermore, the short magnums still kick. The recoil of the 7mm RSAUM is only 5% less than a 30-06 (comparing 140 gr. 7MM @ 3150 to 165 gr. .308@ 2930). The 260 Remington, in contrast, kicks 30% less. So the Model 7 Magnum ends up being a hard-kicking gun only marginally shorter than a Model 700 in .280 Remington.

Recoil is a problem in the Model Seven because many people buy it as a youth gun. It is a great one in 7mm-08 or .260 Remington. But in a magnum it punishes women and kids more than would a full-sized 7mm Mauser.

Adult men don't get a pass either. Because the Ruger Compact and Remington Model Seven have shorter stocks, it is easy to creep up on the scope when shooting. With the recoil of a magnum, you will eventually get smacked by the scope because you got too close.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Why I Like Revolvers

Pharmacist Shoots at Armed Robber

The bullet missed its target, but scared the robber. Police say the man fled on foot.

"The gun jammed after the first shot, you know, or we could have popped off ten rounds," Hadley said with a touch of regret.

This isn't the first time their store has been robbed.

But come on.... if i ran a business that was a robbery magnet, i would make time to clean my weapon and i would make absolutely sure my ammo feeds flawlessly.

HT: Res Ipsa Loquitur

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Soon to be orphaned?

The 260 Remington came out around 1998. So it is not a good sign that ammo makers are cutting back on their offerings in this calibre. I just checked Cheaper than Dirt and they listed only four options from just two makers.

There used to be a Speer Nitrex offering that is gone now. And Remington has dropped their 125 grain Partition load.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

A Perfect Day

IMHO any day spent hunting is a good day. But looking at this picture and reading his entry makes me think that Weck Up To Thees! may have had a perfect day.
Handloading Primer

Publicola has a new post up at Shooters' Carnival called Handloading for Beginners. If you have thought about getting started rolling your own, read it. He packs in plenty of information.

As he points out, handloading doesn't actually save you money-- it just lets you shoot more for the same money. It's also a great hobby. Especially in the winter when nothing is in season. A couple hours at the reloading bench beats staring at the January repeats on TV.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003


A grizzly end for man who liked to tell bears 'I love you'

A bear-lover who would creep up to grizzlies in the wild chanting "I love you" to prove that they posed no danger has been killed by them.

What remained of Timothy Treadwell, 46 - author, filmmaker and celebrity for his unorthodox views on the animals - was recovered from the Katmai National Park in Alaska this week. His bear attacker had buried part of him in a so-called food cache.

Bear Kills Bear Expert, Companion in Alaska

Treadwell was known for his confidence around bears. He often touched them, and gave them names. Once he was filmed crawling along the ground singing as he approached a sow and two cubs.

Over the years, Park Service officials, biologists and others expressed concern about his safety and the message he was sending.

"At best he's misguided," Deb Liggett, superintendent at Katmai, told the Anchorage Daily News in 2001. "At worst he's dangerous. If Timothy models unsafe behavior, that ultimately puts bears and other visitors at risk."

Wildlife author killed, eaten by bears he loved

Treadwell's films of close-up encounters with giant bears brought him a bounty of national media attention. The fearless former drug addict from Malibu, Calif. -- who routinely eased up close to bears to chant "I love you'' in a high-pitched, sing-song voice -- was the subject of a show on the Discovery Channel and a report on "Dateline NBC." Blond, good-looking and charismatic, he appeared for interviews on David Letterman's show and "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" to talk about his bears. He even gave them names: Booble, Aunt Melissa, Mr. Chocolate, Freckles and Molly, among others.

A self-proclaimed eco-warrior, he attracted something of a cult following too. Chuck Bartlebaugh of "Be Bear Aware,'' a national bear awareness campaign, called Treadwell one of the leaders of a group of people engaged in "a trend to promote getting close to bears to show they were not dangerous.

"He kept insisting that he wanted to show that bears in thick brush aren't dangerous. The last two people killed (by bears) in Glacier National Park went off the trail into the brush. They said their goal was to find a grizzly bear so they could 'do a Timothy.' We have a trail of dead people and dead bears because of this trend that says, 'Let's show it's not dangerous.' ''

Monday, October 06, 2003

Shooters' Carnival

Two really good posts are up: both by Publicola: proper use of a rifle sling and the economics of handloading.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Big bore guys are never satisfied

Lt. Eben Swift in the Journal of the United States Cavalry Association, circa 1887:

"There are no fiercer fighters on earth than these Afghans, Zulus, and Arabs, who, armed with hand weapons entirely, were able to run over well-disciplined troops armed with breech-loading rifles. The officers were earnest in declaring that toy pistols would not do for such service; that there must be no doubt of the ability of the weapon to drop an adversary in his tracks. Many would not trust the caliber .45 and favored the double-barreled pistol caliber .577 and the four-barreled pistol caliber .476 on account of their stopping power."

In 1879 a British Major Edin Baker wrote:

"I saw Captain H. of the Bengal Cavalry, empty five shots from his revolver into the back of a Ghazi, who was running amuck through camp, at less than five yards range, without stopping him....I consider the service revolver should throw a heavy ball of .5 inch to .55 inch diameter.

The revolver they are critiquing is the British blackpowder .455 with its 250 grain lead bullet.

Both quotes from A. C. Gould, Modern American Pistols and Revolvers, 1888.

Friday, September 26, 2003

The Why of CCW

I found this in Triggernometry by Eugene Cunningham. First published in 1934.

[in El Paso, Texas circa 1858]

"The green Indianan, [W. W.] Mills, who still regarded a necktie as a more important part of his costume than the product of Colonel Colt, once burst forth upon the public street in what was- for the day and place- semi-nakedness. An acquaintance jerked him frantically to a halt.

"'Buckle it on, Mills. Go back and buckle it on!' cried this experienced citizen. 'We don't often need 'em, but when we do need 'em. we need 'em!'"

That pretty much sums it up. When we need them, we NEED them.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Interesting Gunfight Story

I ran across an old copy of Wild West (June 2000). In it was an account of a gunfight between Frank Loving and Levi Richardson in Dodge City in 1879. Neither man is famous in any way, but the fight does show what stress can do during a lethal confrontation.

The showdown did not take place outside in the street like the movies. It happened inside the Long Branch Saloon (which was not nearly as glamorous as Miss Kitty's Long Branch on Gunsmoke).

Both men initially missed. Loving took shelter behind a stove but was nicked in the hand by Richardson's second shot. He then hit Richardson twice (side and right arm). Despite his wounds Richardson chased Loving around the stove and then a billiard table but missed with all three shots. Loving then put a bullet in his chest with one of his last two shots. The wound was fatal, but not instantly incapacitating. After a deputy sheriff took his revolver from his hand, Richardson broke away and attempted to chase Loving but fell dead before he could get to him.

The local paper noted "it seems strange that Loving was not hit, except a slight scratch on the hand, as the two men were so close together that their pistols almost touched each other." (Richardson's coat caught fire from the muzzle blast of Loving's revolver-- that's pretty close).

James at Hell in a Handbasket has often emphasized the need for frequent and extensive practice with handguns if we plan to use them for self-defense. I think this incident shows why he is right. Eight shots at slapping distance and only three hits. Stress, movement, and muzzle blast will degrade most peoples abilities with a handgun. We have to start out with skill and well-honed habits if we are to be effective.
Just a reminder

I only post about hunting and shooting here. My other blog is updated more frequently and has the stuff about media, advertising, and politics.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

New Blog in Town

Check out Carnival of the Shooters . It is a group blog that focuses on shooting rather than the politics of gun ownership. There are already some great posts up on gun safety, gun cleaning, and other such. It really deserves a look.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Handguns and Self-defense

Hell in a Handbasket has an interesting discussion going with Spoons in the comments to this post. He makes one point that deserves serious reflection.

In my handgun course I have the student take part in three lessons. 1,000 rounds are fired by the student over those three lessons, and it's only then that I figure that they have a reasonable chance to defend themselves when they're going through the worst few seconds of their lives. This is good enough if the student goes to the range at least once a month and fires 100 rounds to maintain the minimum level of skill.

Monday, August 18, 2003

A Good Place

I have this picture in my mind of the perfect gunshop. It is more than a place with a good selection of new and used guns. It should have a good selection of ammo, of course, and reloading supplies. But that isn't enough. I am fortunate to have several places nearby who offer all of this. They are good, but not perfect.

What makes a good shop great is a combination of knowledgeable staff and a neighborly atmosphere that draws in knowledgeable customers and encourages conversation (OK, I mean BS-ing). The kind of place where you might stop in to get primers and some targets and end up learning something about the relative performance of Nosler Ballistic Tips versus Hornady SSTs in a .270 Win.

I haven't found a place like that yet. But blogs really help to fill the gap. Witness the rolling discussion on carbines and the bullpup design which has been going on at Hell in a Handbasket, Backroads Blog, and Coyote at the Dogshow.
Size Doesn't Matter (Much) II

Shooting Times Handgun Guide 2004 has an interesting article on personal defense handgun ammunition. What most drew my interest was the results for three short barreled guns. They tested the 38 Special in a 2" Smith, the .357 in a 2.25" Ruger, and the .45 ACP in a 3.25" Kimber. The typical ballistics table reports the .38/.357 in a 6-8" barrel and the .45 in a 5". As noted below, a short barrel used to mean lower velocities which led to poor bullet expansion.

Some ammo makers seem to have addressed that problem with their personal protection products.

For example, in the 38 Special Shooting Times got a velocity of 874 fps for the Winchester 130 grain PP. That compares to 925 fps in the 2003 Shooter's Bible ballistics tables. Federal 110 grain Personal Defense load tested at 989 fps and lists at 1,000.

For the .357 the Federal 130 Personal Protection, Remington 125 Golden Saber, and PMC 150 Starfire all tested within 5% of their listed velocity. For the .45 ACP, the Remington 185 Golden Saber +P, Federal 165 Personal Protection, and Winchester 230 SXT all tested within 10%.

All of this suggests that the personal defense offerings of the major makers will perform as advertised in snubbies and chopped autos. Which is good news for CCW holders.
Carbines and Bullet Selction

Coyote at the Dog Show weighs in on the matter and makes a critical point:

Expanding bullets are designed to work within a narrow range of velocities. Push them too slow and they don't expand, push them too fast and they explode on impact like a varmint bullet. Thus, the 357 magnum 125gr. JHP that is so very effective from a handgun frequently vaporizes on impact when fired from a carbine, failing to penetrate or cause more than superficial wounds.

This used to be a problem for the .357 Magnum. JHPs were designed to expand at max velocities which could only obtained from barrels of 6" or more. When the bullets were fired in revolvers with 2-4" barrels, they behaved more like round-nosed lead or FMJ bullets.

Ammo makers addressed that by creating rounds designed with personal protection/concealed carry in mind. They were slower and often lighter than standard rounds. For example, Federal offered a 165 grain hollow point for the .45 ACP and Remington loaded its 125 grain Golden Saber to 1,220 fps in the .357 rather than the 1,450 fps that is the norm for that weight. Most importantly, the jackets were designed to allow the hollow points to open up at lower velocities.

But as the Coyote points out, a good bullet at 1,200 fps will probably fail at 1,700 fps. Which is something to keep in mind when choosing ammo. One size does not fit all, especially in the .357.

On the other hand, just because you can shoot the same load in both your revolver and carbine, nothing says you have to. Nothing says you can't use the 125 grain Golden Saber in you CCW piece, and a 158 grain lead semi-wadcutter for the carbine. In a pinch, they are still interchangeable.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Size Doesn't Matter (Much)

The latest issue of Petersen's Rifle Shooter has an interesting article on barrel length and velocity in rifles. They look at several common calibers (including magnums) and find that the velocity loss is 15-20 fps per inch when shortening the barrel. This is much less than the common rules of thumb which estimate velocity loss at 25-50 fps per inch.

These results are consistent with Rifle Magazine's test of the Ruger M77 Compact in the March issue. This model has a 16.5" barrel yet produced velocities only 90-110 fps slower than 24" barrels.

All of which is great news if you are looking for a woods and brush rifle. The Ruger Compact and Remington Model 7 still deliver modern velocities in these short packages.

I hunted last year with a Ruger Compact. To me, it is the perfect rifle for deer and black bear. Overall length is only 35.5" and weight (with scope) is just a few ounces over six pounds. It is actually shorter and lighter than most leveractions.

In a daypack a pound or two doesn't matter much for eastern hunting. But when it is carried in the hands like a rifle, a little less weight matters as the day goes on. The length, though, is the big benefit. Compared to my 30-06, there is 6" less barrel to get snagged or caught in brush and grape vines.

The rifle is more accurate than i am. With Remington factory ammo it held to 1" at 100 yards off sandbags. I'm sure it could do better, but i am not an accomplished bench rest shooter.

Finally, in, 260 Remington, or 7mm-08, either model are near perfect deer rifles for kids. Recoil is manageable and the shorter lighter package is easier to handle for short or small shooters.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Even More on Carbines

This is a nice write-up on the Marlin 1894. It includes performance and reloading data for .357 Mag, .44 Mag, and .45 Colt.

Friday, August 01, 2003


The discussion continues at Hell in a Handbasket and Backroad Blog.
Definitely worth reading.

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Farmers and Hunters

Julie Neidlinger has an interesting post on the growing tensions between farmers and in-state hunters in North Dakota.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Handguns Suck

So says Hell in a Handbasket and i have to say i agree with him. Objectively speaking, they are underpowered, inaccurate, and hard to shoot. When things turn serious, it is much better to have a rifle. You carry a handgun when you don't expect to need it.

His discussion on carbine replacements for handguns got me thinking. In the military, it is usually either/or. You are issued a .45 ACP or a .30 carbine. Civilians can have both (and should, no point wasting space in that safe).

There is a lot to be said for having a rifle and carbine in the same caliber. Frank James, for one, recommended it. It does simplify things when it comes to ammo inventory. In some cases, you can even use the same magazine in both pistol and carbine (Ruger's 9mm and .40 S&W carbines use the same magazines as their pistols and the Marlin Camp Carbine in 9mm uses Smith and Wesson mags.)

What you won't get with semiautos is a big performance boost when using a carbine. According to my Lyman reloading manual the 9mm 125 FMJ does 1190 fps in the pistol and 1,336 from a carbine. Which means that the Camp Carbine is still less powerful than a 357 magnum revolver.

The .45 ACP is a similar story. You gain roughly 100 fps with the 230 grain ball out of a carbine barrel.

Sixgun rounds are a completely different story. Here you get a tremendous increase in velocity and kinetic energy. The .357 mag 158 grain load goes from 1,279 fps to 1,742 For the 41 mag (210 grain ) the gain is nearly 600 fps (from 1,233 to 1,816). Both of these are more powerful than the .30 carbine.

What is surprising is that mild revolver loadings become magnums out of a longer barrel. The .45 Colt for example, loaded to give a modest 845 fps in a revolver, will produce 1,110 fps from a rifle. That produces more kinetic energy than the hottest .357 load in a revolver and is close to a lot of 44 mag loadings. So you can have a mild shooting load for your Taurus or Smith revolver and still have a good thumper at 100 yds if you use it in your Winchester Trapper or Marlin 1894.

Lever actions are not ideal for law enforcement, but they do offer alot for civilians. See this article for more on that score.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Home Invasion Lessons

Here is a good article on what not to do and good advice for those who want to survive

1). Alertness and Attitude. Don't rationalize what you think might be wrong. If it looks bad, it probably IS bad. If its not, then you've lost nothing. Be alert and wise to the ways of the world.

2). Security whether personal or of the "homeland" begins with the individual and NOT with an agency. Armed people can fight and defend themselves. Unarmed people can only call for help.

3). Whether the home owner could have drawn a concealed gun or not is a moot point when you have a gun in your face. Nevertheless, a gun man CAN be disarmed and smashed into unconsciousness if you know what to do. If he's within arm's reach, he is more danger from you than you from him.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Daily Stop

You have to love a blog that announces "I'm a slut for a pretty gun." So, make sure that Coyote at the Dig Show is one of your regular reads.

Monday, July 14, 2003

348 Winchester

Both Guns and Ammo and Handloader have articles in their August issue on the .348 Winchester. An odd coincidence given that rifles for this cartridge have been out of production for over 45 years except for a limited reproduction run in 1987.

The .348 is a big-bore, lever-action cartridge. It drives a 200 grain slug at 2,520 fps (2,820 ft.lbs). This makes the .348 the rough equivalent of the 30-06 for close-in work. Reloaders can also get 220 grain and 250 grain bullets from Barnes. The 250 grainer can be loaded to over 2,200 fps and that is a lot of oomph out of a levergun.

The cartridge is the odd man out in many ways. Even though it was introduced in 1935, the case was based on the .50-110 black powder cartridge. The .348 WCF is the only factory round that ever used bullets in .348 caliber. The only rifle it was ever chambered in was the Winchester 71 and that rifle was a available only in the .348 WCF.

So one reason to own the .348 is to have something a little different.

The second reason is that the .348 WCF is one of the most powerful leverguns ever produced. It is a fast handling rifle for hunting big game in heavy cover especially if the rifle is to be carried in a saddle scabbard. This is part of the reason the Model 71 remains popular in Alaska to this day.

A third reason is aesthetic and historic. The 71 is an updated version of John Browning's Model 1886 lever-action. As such it represents a milestone in rifle heritage. Moreover, the rifles have a fit and finish that is beyond the normal factory offering. Nearly every writer who has commented on the Model 71 has noted its smooth workings, comforting heft, and inherent strength.

If the bears were bigger in Pennsylvania, the .348 would be my choice for hunting them in the brush and laurel tangles. As it is, it is a little too much gun for most of our game. BUT, if i ever draw one of our elk tags, or go after wild boar down south, the .348 will be ideal.

Thursday, July 10, 2003


Just saw a copy of Guns and Ammo Handguns (not online yet) and on the cover they have a nickle finished (i think) 1911 IN 38 SUPER. Apparently, it will be a new offering from Springfield Armory.

I mentioned before that i'd like a 1911 in 38 Super. It was a safe item on the wish list because they were basically unavailable.

But now they might be out there soon.

(How much is in the checking account again?).......................

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Pet Peeve

I heard a network news report on one of the wildfires out west. At the conclusion of the report they said "the fire has destroyed 22,000 acres."

Another victim of Smokey Bear propaganda.

The fire may have burned 22,000 acres of forest but it surely did not destroy the land itself. Fire transforms wild areas and that is often for the better. It releases nutrients back to the soil and promotes new plant growth.

Those new plants provide much more food per acre than tall forests. Deer and turkey love burned-over areas. Quail plantations use fire regularly as part of their habitat management. Without regular burns prairie grasses get squeezed out by lawn grasses and other invasive weeds.

Fire, in wild areas, is just part of the natural order.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

The Wrong Compromise

The 41 Magnum is not a popular cartridge today. It hangs on because there are a few fans, but new firearms are comparatively rare. (Currently Davidson's only list seven models with a total of 29 guns in inventory.)

It was probably doomed from the start. Marketed as a compromise cartridge, it was hard to get excited about. Sure it was more powerful than the 357,but it still played second fiddle to the 44 Magnum. And unlike the 357, the 41 came only in heavy revolvers like the S&W N-frame and Ruger Redhawk.

The 41 does have less recoil than the 44 Magnum. But that was a weak selling point. The 44 was "the powerful handgun in the world" and Dirty Harry carried it. Choosing a 41 seemed like an admission of wimphood. (Even though most 44s are fired with 44 Special ammo at the range).

The energy/recoil compromise was a nonstarter from a marketing perspective.

There was another compromise, however, that was made to order for the 41. That was "stopping power."

There are two churches when it comes to this concept. High velocity and high kinetic energy like the 125 grain 357 magnum load. Or big bore momentum, Taylor Knockout factor, the church of 230 grain 45 ACP.

In 1965, in revolvers, these were antithetical choices.

The 357 125 grain load left the barrel at 1,450 fps and generated 583 ft-lb But its TKO value was only 9.2.

The 44 special 246 grain load clocked 755 fps with only 310 ft-lbs. But its TKO was 11.4. (The 45 ACP 230 grain rates a TKO of 12.3 @ 835 fps. Energy is 356 ft.lbs.)

The original plan for the 41 split the difference nicely. A 210 grain lead bullet at 950 fps and 434 ft. lb also generated a TKO of 11.7. Better energy than the 44 special, better TKO than the 357. And a superior sectional density of .178 compared to .140 for the .357 or .162 for the 45 ACP.

Plus, where the 357 round is maxed out at these numbers, the 41 was capable of being loaded up to much higher velociities if such was needed. A max load 41 generates 788 ft. lbs. with a 210 grain JHP at 1300 fps..

This sort of compromise-- between light fast bullets and slow, heavy ones-- later proved to be a winning ticket for the 40 S&W.

The 41 never caught on with the police market, and ammo makers soon dropped the milder load as they chased the 44 mag. It is now a moot point since the autoloader has become standard for the police market. The wheelgun is for civilians.

I shoot a handload that mimics the original specs Elmer Keith and Bill Jordan laid out. It is as easy to control in a heavy frame Redhawk as 38+P loads are in a medium frame Smith. If I could get my hands on a 4 inch model 57 i would scarf it up quick and it would become a regular working gun. (The Redhawk is for hunting given its weight

Monday, June 30, 2003

More on the '06

James Rummel has an excellent discussion of the 30-06's versatility over on Hell in a Handbasket . He is absolutely correct that the '06 is the best choice for if you only have one hunting rifle. The load selection is unmatched so even a non-reloader can start with low recoil rounds for practice. And, as Col. Townsend Whelen said, the 30-06 is never a mistake for any North American game. Those were some of the reasons why i bought my 30-06 back in the days of disco and Jimmy Carter.

The "problem" is that, for many of us, the gun safe refuses to stay empty. Even at a modest rate of acquisition-- say a new rifle every 5-10 years- we end up with a selection of calibers. Often, one of new rifles is better suited to the task at hand than the 30-06. It's more pleasant to shoot varmints with a 243 than an '06. A Model Seven in 7mm-08 is a more compact, lighter rifle that is a better adapted to rough country hunts where more hiking and crawlingtakes place than long-range shooting.

I am not immune to the attractive spartan simplicity of using one gun for everything. I see Col Jeff Cooper's point that after buying a 1911 in 45 ACP and a bolt in 30-06 everything else is just shopping. Yet, even the Colonel didn't stop there since he also worked on the Scout Rifle concept in .308, the Steyr rifle in .376, and the Bren Ten autoloader.

A friend of a friend went the consolidation route with pistols. Except for a .22, he got rid of everything that wasn't a.45 ACP. He has several different models, but he only has to worry about one caliber of ammo and components. He likes the lack of clutter and simplified inventory management.

While i see his point, i don't want to follow it. As much as i like the .357/38 class revolvers for self-defense, i see no need to give up my Ruger Blackhawk in 45 Colt. Just because i like DA revolvers best, i still want a single action to plink with sometimes. And while the .357 magnum is the best all round choice, the 41 mag still has advantages for hunting.

Moreover, i don't think i am done buying guns. Another 1911 would be nice, but not in 45 ACP. I want one in 38 Super, with ivory grips. Makes no pragmatic sense, but it would be neat to own one and shoot it sometimes.

I feel the same way about the 10mm. But if i but one, it will be based on a CZ-75 action like it was originally intended.

Browning Hi-Power- check. Don't have one; often think i want one, though i don't need one.

The list of wanted items can get to be very long.

I guess there are three facets to gun ownership: the pragmatist, the collector, and the tinkerer. Anyone who was ruthlessly pragmatic would pick a weapon, choose a suitable load, and devote all available time to practice and efficiently reloading that one load (if they reloaded at all.)

But shooting, for most of us, is a hobby, so why should pragmatism be the sole standard? Collecting, tinkering, trying different guns and loads, they have at least some value.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Is the 30-06 Too Much of an All Round Cartridge?

The 30-06 is still America's favorite big game gun. It's versatility is unmatched since it can take anything from varmints to moose/elk/bear. And it does so with manageable recoil.

But the versatility of the 30-06 now works against it. The concept of an "all-round gun" no longer fits how most of us hunt today. We live in the age of specialization and this is true for hunters as well. No matter what we hunt, there are better choices than the '06.

For eastern white tail and black bear, the 30-06 is more gun than required. The 260 Remington or 7mm-08 will get the job done just as well and can do so in a lighter package with less recoil. For long range shooting, there are calibers that shoot flatter whether the game is deer-sized (25-06 or 270) or elk-sized (338 Mag).

A compromise rifle makes sense when rifles were expensive but hunting was cheap. Today, most of us no longer live where the game lives with jobs that let us hunt intensively at low cost. If we hunt a variety of big game we will travel to find most of it. At the same time our prosperity allows us to buy more guns than our grandfathers could afford.

In terms of the total cost of an elk hunt or even one for pronghorn, the rifle is a small fraction of the total. Yet, a compromise choice here can spell failure. Why drop $5,000 or more in permits, travel, vacation time and lodging and then have to pass up shots because the rifle is not suited to the hunt and the game?

A compromise rifle also makes sense when the same hunt encompasses multiple game animals. But outside of Africa that type of hunting is largely a thing of the past. We hunt one species at a time in its specific season and with carefully procured permits. Most of us will never knock-off a cow elk for the freezer while out looking for a mule deer.

I have owned a 30-06 for over twenty-five years. It was the first rifle i bought with my own money. And it is still my favorite rifle. But that is nostalgia and tradition speaking, not logic.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

In Praise of Packratness and Other Reloading Confessions

You can never have too many reloading manuals. While most of the basic information is the same from one to the next, there are enough differences that i learn something from each one. Plus, given the variety of components, no single manual is going to have all the information necessary for even the casual reloader.

Sometimes even manuals don't have the answer for a particular question. For instance, I've been looking for a compromise load for the 45 Colt. Something a little stiffer than the typical commercial loads or standard loadings in the manuals. At the same time, i was not interested in the magnumized velocities found in the special sections for strong Ruger revolvers. Basically, i want to see how a 255 grain slug at around 1,000 fps would shoot and what kind of recoil it would generate.

And i wanted to do it with H4227 or 2400 since i have those powders on hand.

The Hornady manual does not list Ruger velocities below 1150 fps. I could estimate down, but i don't like to do that: powder behaves predictably only over a narrow range. At a point going up pressure becomes dangerous. At a point going down, the bullet can't clear the barrel and pressure becomes really dangerous on the next shot.

Reloading sissy confession #1: I have no desire to go where no reloader has gone before. I like to work in areas where more experienced men have trod.

The other problem with the Hornady data is that it was for jacketed bullets and i am using cast lead. The two do not perform the same with a given powder charge.

The solution turned up in an old copy of Handloader from 1975. Ken Waters was looking at the 45 Colt and its possibilities with newer powders and stronger guns. Right in the middle of it were several loads using 4227 and 2400. A couple of them were just what the doctor ordered: 250-255 lead bullets driven at 950-1050 fps. His results with jacketed bullets showed that his velocities with 2400 were consistent with the Hornady manual.

The 4227, OTOH, was inconsistent with current manuals. He got much lower velocities for a given powder charge than modern H 4227. That is the risk of old manuals and articles-- over time powder makers can "change the recipe" and old data doesn't apply. In the same way IMR 4227 is not identical to H(ogdon) 4227 and cannot be substituted for it grain for grain.

But in the end a reasonable load was found. I made up a few rounds and will try them out on the next trip to the range.

[Hard earned reloading advice-- only work up a half-dozen rounds the first time. No point having a box full of cartridges you don't like that have to be disassembled.]

The moral of this story is that it really does make sense to keep old magazines around as well as books like Waters's Pet Loads or Wolfe Publishing's Big Bore Rifles. If you reload much at all, you eventually will want a load that isn't covered in most manuals. The more resources you have, the more likely you are to find what you want.

Friday, June 13, 2003


The Chicago Tribune has a list of the 50 Best Magazines here.

Field and Stream was number 44.

Which baffles me because it would pick it as the worst of the magazines that cover outdoor pursuits and especially hunting. It is the one i am least likely to buy when i check out the rack at Gander Mountain. It just never seems to have a compelling article.

Go figure. Maybe no one doing the choosing actually hunts.

[Found at A Nickel's Worth of Free Advice]

On my other blog, i have a long post about sports statistics. It has some applicability to shooting. Gunwriters often make the same mistakes that sports commentators do.

Both subjects share the same drive to reduce everything to a single number which picks the "best" cartridge or bullet for a given purpose. Sometimes it is expanded diameter, other times it is foot-pounds. For self-defense purposes Sanow and Marshall will give you "one shot stop" percentages that purport to make distinctions between 77% and 78% based on a relative small sample of events.

One key assumption in all this is that there in a clear-cut "best" and that it matters. It is as though the hierarchy of choices is shaped like Pike's Peak, with some loads or calibers towering over all others. But what if the better analogy is a plateau with multiple calibers having relative similar performance and none being the one best.?

Seyfreid referenced the records of a moose camp in Sweden which tracked the performance of rifles which ranged from 6.5 Swede to .375 H&H Magnum over many years of hunting. The surprise was that there was not any clear difference in performance across this wide spectrum of cartridges on what is a very large game animal. Most animals required on one shot, and most ran the same distance after being hit. Amazing, but that was what the records of hundreds of hunts showed.

Maybe, by 1910, gunmakers completed their mission-- they packed enough power into metallic cartridges to do the job and everything else has just been refinement.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003


That's the title to an interesting article by Gabriel Suarez.

But make no mistake friends, as a fighting (anti-personnel) weapon, the lever action is just as useful and deadly today, on a lonely stretch of highway in the bad part of town, as it was in the dusty cow towns of the Kansas Territory more than a century ago.

Our findings were that there is very little that a realistic rifleman (acting as an individual - not a member of a military rifle squad) can expect from his weapon that the lever action cannot deliver.

He also notes that leverguns are more jury-friendly. They just don't scream "Rambo wannabe" like an AR-15

Saturday, June 07, 2003

Breaking-In Rifle Barrels

Ross Seyfried in the most recent Rifle magazine.

"Let's Kill and bury the barrel-break-in business first. To me, barrel break-in is one of the worst snake oils perpetrated on shooters since the inception of gunpowder. One might make a mild argument for it in a competition rifle. Where sporting rifles are concerned, it is in my opinion, a purely fallacious way for barrel makers and custom gunsmiths to duck off when their rifles/barrels do not shoot for the customer."

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Time Well Spent

This weekend my oldest friend brought his son (my godson) over so he could learn about handloading. Between explaining each step and trying to show him everything from start to finish, we loaded a grand total of 17 rounds in just under 2 hours. After they left, i finished loading the box of 50 and made much better time.

Slow speed and all, it was a good time. You can always BS while your doing it since most of the process is repetitive and doesn't require thought or concentration.

I like reloading and not just for the money i save. It is almost required if you shoot the 41 magnum since there are no light loads available for it commercially. Plus, you don't find cheap practice ammo for the 41 at gun shows the way you do with 38 special or 9mm.

The big thing is, reloading is something i can do with my hands that doesn't take remarkable skill or dexterity. I can't tie flies (and i don't fish anyway). Woodworking is beyond my ability and requires a huge investment in equipment.

My total outlay when i started reloading again three years ago was just around $100 or so. (Lee Hand Press, scale, one die.) I've upgraded and expanded since then, but i still have a fairly small investment and my reloading area takes only a small space in my garage.

The best thing is, reloading is the perfect off-season hobby. In deep winter, after deer season, when there is nothing to hunt or scout for months, i reload the basics and tinker with some new ideas. It beats TV hands down.
Rifle Combat

Great discussion over at One Hand Clapping on combat distance. Turns out that there has been very little change since WWI-- with nearly all individual small arms combat taking place under 100 yards.

Which adds validity to the point made by Jeff Cooper that was discussed here.

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Check out this post on a new 2d Amendment blog

Is the Government Responsible for Your Protection

Saturday, May 31, 2003

Great Read

Stephen Hunter's Pale Horse Coming is now out in paperback. It is a great read if you like hard-boiled detective stories with lots of action.

Hunter's books are notable because he knows guns. You won't find the common laughable mistakes-- men bowled over 380 automatics, etc. Hunter is careful with the details-- it is not just a sniper rifle, it is a Model 70 in 30-06 or a Model 700 in 308.

The most interesting thing about this book is that Hunter fills his posse with gunwriters who are only slightly disguised versions of the real thing: a big bore revolver man from Idaho named Elmer Kaye, a tall Border Patrol officer from Texas named Bill Jennings, etc. Since i grew up reading the real life models, this conceit was a bonus. (And he seems to handle it pretty well).

Wednesday, May 21, 2003


I'm well past the first gun/one gun stage of life and I'm not immune to the charms of the big bore and 1911-- i own several and plan on owning more in the future. But for home defense and general field use I've come to rely exclusively on DA revolvers in 38 SPL/357 Mag.

I don't have to make one handgun serve for all purposes-- a shrouded-hammer snubbie where it is the best choice (see here), four inch carry gun with adjustable sights where i am more interested in groundhogs at 50 years than goblins at 12 feet.

But the great thing is-- they all work alike no matter who makes them. If they are loaded they are ready to go; there is no safety to worry about operating. The DA trigger pull is smooth but heavy so there is little chance of a accidental discharge.

To choose an auto for some self-defense purposes introduces non-trivial risks if i should have to use it. Under stress, would i remember the safety or would i try to shoot it like a revolver? since stress impact fine motor control , a light single action trigger pull could go off accidentally and i don't want that. Practice can minimize these risks, but i don't know if it can eliminate them. As it is, my current practice with any revolver carries over to any of my self-defense pieces.

At the small end, no auto can fill the niche of the shrouded hammer snubbie, For field use, the 357 shoots flatter than any of the common service autos. So i'm going to use and practice with revolvers anyway. Using them as my primary self-defense choice just keeps things simple.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Isntapundit has a fine post

on the gun-grabbers at American's for Gun Safety.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Libourel and the 38 Colt

In the June Gun World Jan Libourel tackles one of the most famous stories in handgun lore and says it ain't so. In his telling the 45 Colt did not perform much better than the 38 Long Colt against the Moros in the Philippines during the fighting there after the Spanish-American War.

I think Libourel has too much fun being a debunker and overstates his case. But then we big bore lovers probably overstated the effectiveness of the 45 Colt in our telling as well. I'll grant that the 45 is not the Hammer of Thor. And I'm on record as liking 38 caliber revolvers. But all else being equal i think i'd rather tag a goblin with a 45.

That said, the Brits, who learned alot about CQC in Ulster, Flanders, and the colonies, eventually dropped the .455 Webley for the 38 S&W (not the 38 Special) with a slow (610 fps), heavy (200 grains) bullet.

I think this is an interesting concept for a snubby-- high SD, low muzzle blast. It is sort of the anti-magnum and contra-Glaser since it substitutes penetration for hydrostatic shock.

The key point is that all else isn't usually equal. There are times that a smaller. lighter, or more controllable handgun is required even if it lacks the bore size or kinetic energy of "better" options.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Looking for a 1911?

Then head over to Gunblast--- the guys test eight models head-to-head.
The End of Marksmanship?

The Esteemed Col. Cooper recently wrote:

Having been involved with marksmanship all my life, I am made uneasy by the idea that personal marksmanship may no longer be relevant to modern war. Today the rocket propelled grenade bids to replace the rifle, and with an RPG you do not have to hit an enemy, you just have to plant a bomb in his close vicinity. At present these gadgets are too cumbersome to replace the infantry rifle, but miniaturization may eventually alter that. This is very bad news from several directions, but because of this 21st century Age of the Wimp, it may be indeed the wave of the future.
(It's in Vol. 11 No. 2)

Now, I tremble to disagree with a man whose experience on these matters dwarfs my own. And I'm not saying he is wrong. But here are a couple of points that I think argue in favor of the continued maybe even the growing importance of marksmanship for the US military.

Admittedly, in a short-range slugfest between poorly trained conscripts or militia members, the RPG is more effective than an AK-47 or AR-15. At night, in a city, the RPG does give a larger margin of error when the shooters aren't very skilled or have no time to aim. (Those were the same conditions that prompted the Germans to invent the assault rifle in WWII.)

But the US doesn't relish short-range slugfests. It negates our technological advantages and increases casualties. The American Way of War is embodied by the M-1 Abrams tank which can see, hit and destroy targets at long range and on the move.

A battle rifle will always have an advantage over RPGs in terms of range, weight, accuracy, rate of fire, and speed into action. The RPG wins in terms of terminal effectiveness and margin of error.

If the world is moving to RPGs (which i do not doubt), that could be an argument for dropping our current AR-15 with its .223 poodle shooter cartridge. This is a great assault rifle but it seems that a good RPG may be better than a great assault rifle. If we were to focus more on longer-range aimed fire, a larger caliber round would do a better job.

Chuck Taylor-- who once worked with Col. Cooper-- has long argued that a battle rifle in 6.5mm is a better choice for an expert than the .223. It provides superior long-range performance in terms of accuracy and terminal effects. (The commercial .260 Remington would seem to fit the bill, although Kim du Toit might argue for the .243 Winchester).

One of the reasons that the US Army adopted the assault rifle was the research of S. L. A. Marshall which argued (based on WWII and Korean War battles) that only a small proportion of infantrymen fired their weapons in combat. Training was changed to promote area fire ("spray and pray") instead of aimed fire in order to get more soldiers involved in firefights. This in turn argued for a round which was smaller than the 30-06 of the Garand so that the soldiers carry more ammo and could fire their rifles at full-auto.

Later researchers have raised questions about SLA Marshall's research and the lessons drawn from it. Further, whatever the facts were in 1944 or 1951, it is hard to argue that they are applicable to the modern American infantry soldier. He is a volunteer with intensive training at state of the art facilities, not one of a million draftees nine months out of civilian life.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Good Primer on Holsters

Read it at Hell in a Handbasket

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

When Deer Rifles Were Elephant Guns

Just received the latest Successful Hunter and was happy to see that Ross Seyfried has an article with the above title. It deals with the use of small caliber (.264 to .318) rifles on very large (even dangerous game) by the likes of WDM Bell, etc. It makes the point about the effectiveness of the high SD, small caliber round even more emphatically.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Knockdown Power

The Taylor Knockout factor (TKO) is a metric that big bore proponents prefer to the more common kinetic energy number found in ballistic tables.

Where KE uses the square of velocity, TKO is the simple product of bullet mass, velocity and bullet diameter. However, there is an anomaly which makes TKO suspect as a measure of big game cartridges.

The 6.5x55 Swede with a 160 grain bullet at 2400 fps has the same TKO as a 158 grain 35 caliber bullet moving at 1800 fps. But the Swede is a legendary big game round. It is commonly used in Scandinavia to hunt moose and had a good record in colonial Africa on large plains antelope. No one would recommend a 357 Magnum carbine for moose or zebra. Yet the TKO equates the two rounds.

The Swede's performance is due to its use of heavy for caliber bullets (i.e. high sectional density) which deliver superior penetration. (Similar performance shows up in the 7mm Mauser with 175 grain bullets and the 30-06 with 220 grainers.)

TKO treats high SD, small caliber rounds as an equal to low SD, large caliber rounds. Yet, we know that SD matters.
Sports Afield is back

It had been on a hiatus and redesign. It is now put out by the people who own Safari Press which is very positive-- i own a couple of shelves of their books and they are terrific.

The new look is upscale and the story focus of the April issue was hunting and adventure-- Grizzlies, sheep, African game. All in all, a great read.

One interesting thing, the new Editor in Chief is a woman--- is this the first time a female ran a major hunting/outdoor magazine?

Thursday, April 24, 2003


In the March/April Successful Hunter, John Barsness wrote:

"I have tried many products designed to reduce hunter odor, including sprays, "cover scents," and scent-blocking clothing. Most do reduce the ability of wild mammals to smell us- if we forego chewing tobacco or drenching our rifle with Miracle Oil."

That's what i like about Barsness-- he is no diplomat and he doesn't get caught up in advertising hype.

But the thing i really like about him is that he is a hunter. Some gunwriters are not-- they are just tourists with rifles. They tell you what they shot and what rifle and ammo they used. Barsness tells you how he hunted, how he read the territory, how he expected the animal to behave and what surprised him. He is not afraid to tell you about unsuccessful stalks because he knows that there are no unsuccessful hunts for a true hunter-- the experience is the big part of the reward.

He is a big reason why I subscribe to all three Wolfe Publishing magazines: Handloader, Successful Hunting, and Rifle. His books are on sale here and are highly recommended.

Friday, April 18, 2003

An Ingenious solution to a nonexistent problem for a hostile market at the wrong time

Kim du Toit recently posted the Winchester Model 88 as a Gratuitous Gun Pic.

In many respects it may have been the finest lever action ever designed and yet it was discontinued in 1973 after less than twenty years of production. It is one of those puzzles: a good gun which never found traction in the market. Among the reasons shooters never took to it:

Caliber choice-- There were no old favorites (like the 30-30) to appeal to traditionalists. The 284 was a new, breakthrough design that did not look like a big game cartridge. (In truth, the 284 never won wide appeal on its own and its fame really rests on the many wildcats it spawned). Plus, it was 7mm and that was not a popular size here in America before the Remington 7mm Mag came out in 1962. The 308 in the 60s and early 70s was seen as the 30-06's weaker little brother. Traditional lever guys preferred bigger, slower bullets (like the 35 Remington's 200 grain) and so were leery of the 243's fast 85 grain as a deer round. And except for the 243, there was no beginner whitetail cartridge-- the 284, 308, and 358 were thumpers when shot by a 90 pound twelve year old.

Tradition-- A lot of the appeal of the Winchester and Marlin models rests on their heritage (real and cinematic). They are cowboy guns. The sleek modern Win 88 did not tap into that.

Wrong differentiator-- The 88 was a lever that was supposed to possess bolt-action accuracy. No one denies that it was more accurate that a Marlin 336 or Winchester 1894. The action and one-piece stock helped as did the box magazine (permitting the use of spitzers) and the caliber choice. HOWEVER, levergun guys are not accuracy freaks. They are more concerned with handling characteristics for quick shots. For that type of shooting the 88 was a little lighter at the muzzle than traditional tubular magazine models. For me, that translates into a less handy rifle.

On the other hand, the 88 usually disappointed accuracy freaks, because they tended to compare it to their hot bolt-actions. No matter what the inherent accuracy of the Winchester, the rounded stock makes it harder to shoot consistently off sandbags. So you almost always got tighter groups with the bolt actions of that era which tended to have wide flat-bottomed stocks. Further, while the 308 was flatter-shooting than a 30-30, it still came up short compared to the 270 or 30-06 out of a 24" barrel of a Remington 700 or Winchester 70.

Timing-- Fashion plays a role in the gun biz. And the 60s and early 70s were the high tide of Roy Weatherby. The ultimate in rifle fashion used exotic wood inlays, ebony and rosewood caps on the fore-end, rakish Monte Carlo stocks and white spacers. The Model 88 looked boring in comparison.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

An Instalanche could not make me feel more honored

Coyote at the Dog Show just said some very complimentary things about this blog. To be recognized by those you respect is one of the greatest things that can happen to you.

And let me say, that i agree whole-heartedly with his ideas about the .22. Every trip to the range includes my Ruger Mark II 22/45. After every 12 or 18 rounds of center fire, i shoot 6 or 12 rounds from the .22. (The range limits handguns to no more than six rounds in clip or cylinder). That way my form stays true and no flinch develops. And it is cheap. I can't reload 38s as cheap as i can buy bricks of rimfire.
In Defense of the 38 Special

The 38 S&W Special is just so out of date: it's all crewcuts and tailfins without any of the nostalgic glamour. It doesn't even get old school points like the 45 Colt or 44-40.

Read much of the literature on "stopping power" and you soon wonder if any one was ever hurt in a gunfight when the police carried the 38. After all, it is underpowered and slow and not a big bore. No one in their right mind would carry a 38 for self-defense.

Most of the Special's image problem comes from three sources: 1) Our fetish with the newer and faster, 2) misapplication of the police experience to civilian defense purposes, and, 3) a narrow focus cartridge performance when analyzing defense needs.

To take the first point, new cartridges are usually better than old ones for some purposes, and, in some cases, they may be much better overall. But we tend to stop thinking in terms of good and better and switch to new/good, old/inadequate. Since the 357 Magnum is faster, the 38 gets relegated to the obsolete bin.

Yet the performance of the 38 towers over that of the .375 caliber Colt 1851 Navy percussion revolver. The Special can easily push a 158 grain slug at 850 fps without exceeding standard pressures. The Navy send a 76 grain ball out at around the same velocity. The Colt was a favorite Civil War pistol and saw action on the frontier in all sorts of roles. More telling is that the Navy was the favorite revolver of Bill Hickock who carried it as a scout and lawman. Hickock kept his Navies even after Colt brought out the 1873 Peacemaker with metallic cartridges in 44-40. Since Hickock saw enough CQC for three exciting lifetimes, his decision to stay with the Navy counts for a lot. If its performance was adequate for Abilene in the riotous years, the 38 Special should do for our use today.

Smith and Wesson developed the 357 Magnum because the 38 Special had several weaknesses for law enforcement use. But those weaknesses are rarely relevant to home defense and civilian concealed carry. For example, when criminals began to use cars instead of horses, the police sometimes needed to shoot through steel car bodies and tough window glass. The 38 Special lacks the velocity to do this. BUT, as a civilian, I do not need to shoot through car doors. In fact, in almost any conceivable situation where I do so, I am guilty of a crime: a fleeing felon is no longer a threat to me.

Looking only at ballistic tables, the 357 can out-do the 38 Special in every way. But not everything that is important in a self-defense confrontation is captured in a ballistic table. In a snubby a 357 has vicious recoil and tremendous muzzle blast. A fast follow-up shot is easier with the Special.

Snubbies are one place where the 38 shines. Small and light, they are easy to carry, which means that they get carried when a larger handgun gets left behind. This is not just a question for CCW. With the rise in home invasion attacks, having a gun on you when you answer the door makes a lot of sense. At the same time, in many localities, greeting the kid selling Girl Scout cookies with a full-sized Glock on you hip is no way to win friends. A snubby in your back pocket becomes the perfect compromise. In addition, concealed and internal hammer models like the S&W model 649 provide the unique option of firing from inside a robe or coat pocket. No auto can duplicate this and in extremis this option can save your life. Finally, the compactness of a J-frame and similar models are better suited to the tight confines of a car interior than are full-sized handguns.

The other place the 38 Special shines is price. Quality revolvers like Smiths, Rugers, and Colts wear out slowly. There are plenty of police guns on the used market that have decades of useful life remaining and sell for less than $300. This makes it possible to meet the first rule of a gunfight ("have a gun"). Their low cost also makes possible the "stash" method of preparedness preferred by some people for homes and high risk businesses. Instead of carrying a single handgun on their person, loaded revolvers are placed throughout the building so that one is always at hand. That way, no one who lives or works there can ever be caught unarmed.

Saturday, April 05, 2003

Must Reads

Kim du Toit's Rough Men.

And if you haven't read A Nation of Cowards it's here and continues on the theme Kim explores.

A thorough fisking of Bowling for Columbine.

In addition, i just read Wiley Clapp's Concealed Carry and think it is the best primer i've ever seen on choosing a CC handgun.

Finally, back in the days when the web was young and search engines fairly inefficient, i came across this site. There still are a lot of useful links to while the time......The Gun Guy.

Friday, April 04, 2003

First Handgun

Like most people who shoot a lot, I get asked for gun recommendations by new shooters and potential shooters. Usually they are interested in something for self defense. Also while hanging around gun shows and guns shops i get to hear the advice others give out.

Most of it is bad advice. Mine used to be bad, too, and for the same reason: i recommended my personal preferences and did not think about it from a newcomers perspective.

The 1911 and 45 ACP is a combination which is hard to beat for those who practice and become proficient with it. But i don't think it is a good choice for most people to start out with as a self-defense piece.

Col. Jeff Cooper agrees. As related here he remains committed to the 1911 as the best weapon when in the hands of the accomplished shooter. However, he suggests that the DA revolver is the better choice for those who are not expert and lack the commitment to become so.

"We conclude after years of careful study, that the best service sidearm for a policeman is a double action revolver."

Note, that Col. Cooper is talking about the police. So if the high priest of the "cult of the 45 auto" recommends DA revolvers for law enforcement, i do not feel right recommending a 1911 to a civilian who is just starting to shoot.

The most common objection i hear from knowledgeable friends is that revolvers hold fewer rounds and are slower to reload. True enough, but Col. Cooper says that is of no import. When he was interviewed by TV's American Shooter, they noted that he doesn't think tactical reloads should be a major element in training. In his view, if you cannot solve the problem with five or six rounds, you have probably already lost. For civilians, certainly, this is true. Two or three rounds will be enough, if we do our part. And if we cannot hit with six, will we have time to shoot 20? Plus, the typical newcomers doesn't carry extra clips anyway.

Psychologically, most people find it easier to carry a loaded revolver than a cocked and locked 1911. I know that John Browning designed it to be safe that way and it is. BUT, for a beginner, it is disconcerting to see that hammer pulled back. Often they opt to carry it loaded but not cocked, or unloaded with the magazine in. In either case, their weapon will be slower into action when they need it.

The other big advantage for the DA revolver is cost. At my local gun shop they have a Kimber Pro Carry for $799 and a Browning Hi-Power for $610. In contrast, a Ruger GP 100 goes for $420 and a Taurus 85UL is only $325.

Those are prices for new guns. You can get used revolvers in great condition for well under $300. Moreover, i am more confident buying a used revolver than a used auto. There are too many ways an auto can be temperamental (feeding various brands of ammo, for example). A good deal can turn into a bust.

In future posts i'll get specific about what i recommend, plus i'll discuss why i have come to take my own advice.
Buy a Gun Day

I just hit the tip jar over at Aaron's blog as my contribution toward "Buy a Gun Day." For me, it was a better use of money than heading to the gun shop myself.

First, my available range time is barely sufficient for my current inventory-- have to get ready for summer ground hogs, tune the deer rifle for November, stay sharp with my handguns, and test two or three reloading ideas. So what would be the point of adding something new to the safe that will mostly sit there?

More important, Aaron is getting his first gun. He has a family. He lives in LA. He needs one more than i need another one.

And finally, in the long term, we gun owners are all better off when more households join our ranks.

So please, if you decide not to buy a gun on 15 April, consider contributing to Aarons gun fund.

You will note that the blogroll here is short. This site is devoted only to shooting and hunting. The blogs on the left are the cream of the crop for that subject area -- i learn from all of them.
My Other Blog

It is here.... that is where i post on politics, business, etc.

Monday, March 24, 2003

I can wholed-heartedly support this

In the spirit of Meryl Yourish's "Eat an animal for PETA day" I'm starting the official Buy A Gun For Michael Moore Day.

He is a man with a plan.

Plus Kim du Toit (who else?) is ready with suggestions on what to buy...

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Pondering holsters

I really like the Backpacker Dual Loop. I've seen his work and it is amazing. I think it could be just the thing for a Ruger GP100

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Wisdom and temptation

The Coyote at the Dogshow offers some thoughts on close-quarters defense that were an eye-opener. The use of a knife in conjunction with a handgun had never occured to me, but he makes good sense.

So i now have a reason to order that Cold Steel Bowie I had my eye on.......

Now if he could just come up with a reason i need a kukri.......

I can also thank him for dropping this den of temptation onto my screen.....

Beautiful grips at good prices. But I've decided that this is really a money saver. When i get the overpowering urge to buy a new pistol or revolver, I'll just order something for one already in my safe. That should help get me past the urge.
Shotshow 2003
The guys at Gunblast have three pages of pictures!.

I wager that there is something there for everyone.
Savage 99

Kim du Toit
shows off his new purchase here. Everyone should have at least one lever-action in the safe and they don't come much better than a Savage Model 99.

I began hunting in Pennsylvania over 30 years ago. Back then, a lot of hunters carried lever-actions-- usually Winchester 94s in 30-30. It was a good gun and caliber: it was fast-handling (critical given the limited visibility in the brush and bottoms we hunted), it had ample power, and the guns were economical. A lot of good hunters carried the 94.

However, when you met some one with a Savage 99, you knew for certain that they were serious hunters. The Winchester 94 was the default option. Guys who bought a 99 had thought about what they wanted in a deer rifle and were willing to pay a little extra to get it.

What they got was a gun that shouldered quick like the 94, was better-balanced (IMHO), and shot flatter. The 250 Savage and 300 Savage were faster at the muzzle than the 30-30 and because they could use spitzer bullets they increased that edge down range.

The guys who carried 99s were not the type who jumped to the next new thing either. If they were, they would have eventually moved on to the 7mm Remington Mag or the 300 Win Mag. Instead, having found the right tool, they stuck with it.
My Other Blog

It's here.... that is where i post on politics, business, etc.