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