Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Another Rimfire Day at the Range

I was able to put some more .22 LR downrange today, from both my Ruger 10/22 and my Remington 550-1. Most of my shooting was done from the bench at some NRA 50 yard small bore targets that I printed up this morning. The 50 yard target has a 4" diameter bullseye. At 50 yards, the bullseye appears to be the same diameter as bead front sight on the Remington. IOW, it looks like a black dot at that range. The rear sight on the rifle is an open rear notch.

The top left target was shot with Federal Automatch 40 grain solids, the top right with Winchester Super-X 37 grain HPs, and the lower left with CCI Mini Mag 36 grain solids. (The holes in between the top two bulls were leftover from someone else.) I figure that with a scope I should be able to get the rifle grouping in about an inch or less at 50 yards with the right ammo. It definitely likes the Mini Mags.

I also put 20 rounds into an AQT-type target at 25 yards, offhand. This target is a 100 yard target scaled for shooting at 25 yards. The lower edge of the black is about 6.5" wide.

The front sight needs to be drifted a little left to move the POI to the right, but I'm pleased with the group. The Remington has a nice balance for offhand shooting.

I wrapped up the afternoon by doing some plinking at some 50 yard gongs. The largest of these are about 8" in diameter and I was able to hit them most of the time.

The Remington has a Williams floating chamber designed to allow it to function with .22 Short, Long, or Long Rifle, so I tried some CCI .22 Short CBs in the Remington and was happy to see that the rifle functioned most of the time with them.  I did get a number of stovepipes with the CBs, though. I suspect it would function better with regular .22 Shorts, either standard or high velocity loads. The tubular magazine will hold 20 .22 Shorts, which is fun for plinking. Shooting the CBs, the Remington sounds like an air rifle and no hearing protection is needed. The CBs dropped about a foot more at 50 yards than the HV .22 LR loads I shot earlier.

Today I Met a Real GI Joe

This afternoon I was at my club to send some .22 LR downrange. While I was there an older gentleman was also on the line and I saw that he needed to be reminded of our current cease fire procedures. After he packed up his stuff I walked up to him and introduced myself, and politely went over some range rules with him.

We got to talking and I saw that he was wearing a 75th Infantry Division cap, so I asked Joe where he was sent during World War 2. He told me Europe and that he went through the Battle of the Bulge.

Joe told me that during the Bulge, his company of 182 men got down to 16 men, before they got replacements. He said that a lot of the casualties were from trench foot.

One of the things Joe recounted to me how if you qualified as Expert with one of the small arms issued to the Army, you would get a three-day pass. He was issued an M1 Garand, but he qualified Expert with an M1 Carbine.

Joe's still pretty spry at 92 years old, but it's hard to imagine this old man who is maybe five feet tall slogging his way across Europe carrying an M1 Garand and fighting the Wehrmacht. God bless him and all those who served.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Rimfire Range Day

I had a very therapeutic day at the range shooting two of my .22 rifles: a Ruger 10/22 and a Norinco ATD.

The Ruger is one that I bought in the early '00s, largely out of nostalgia. My father had a 10/22 that my brother and I shot quite a bit when we were kids in the late '70s/early '80s. I bought mine with the intention of leaving it mostly stock, sans a Power Custom hammer to improve the awful factory trigger. However, over the years it's picked up several mods:

  • The Power Custom Hammer,
  • A Volquartsen oversized left handed safety,
  • "Slingshot" mod for the bolt release,
  • An extended mag catch,
  • A Butler Creek folding stock, which has now been replaced by
  • A Choate Machine and Tool M4-style telescoping stock, and
  • Tech Sights.
So much for leaving the rifle mostly stock.

I installed the Choate stock and Tech Sights last week so that my almost-11 year old daughter could shoot it. She's been wanting to move up from her Savage Rascal single shot, but most .22 rifles have a  stock that's too long for her. She should be able to shoot the Ruger from a rest with the stock in the fully collapsed position.

I really like the Choate M4-type stock. Stylistically, it looks like a cross between an M1 Carbine stock and an M4 stock. It feels solid and the shape of the buttstock gives a good cheek weld. The stock has two storage tubes for batteries or whatever. The texture of the stock gives a good grip. It installed easily, although I did need to relieve an area inside the stock to accommodate the oversized lefty safety.

I installed Tech Sights because my daughter didn't want to use a scope or red dot. She likes peep sights. Shooting with iron sights is a valuable skill so far be it from me to discourage her. I got the TSR200 which is fully adjustable.

I bought the stock and Tech Sights from E. Arthur Brown Co. They were great to deal with and I'll probably order more gun stuff from them in the future.

One mod I did to the Tech Sights was to replace the front post with a Hi Viz fiber optic unit. At 47, it's not as easy to see iron sights as it used to be, especially in low lighting. The Hi Viz fiber optic from post is an improvement over a plain black post.

I got the Tech Sights zeroed at 25 yards with Remington Golden Bullets. I figured that if the rifle shoots the cheap Golden Bullets well, my daughter can use them for plinking. I also tried Federal Automatch and Aguila Super Extra subsonics in the Ruger. They also shot well.

Along with zeroing the Ruger I was able to run plenty of rounds through my three Ruger BX-25 magazines to wring them out. The BX-25s are the mags to get if you want high capacity magazines for the 10/22. Last year I found this Rothco pouch at Amazon, which hold three BX-25 magazines and has a small pocket to hold accessories like a sight adjustment tool or basic cleaning kit. It has a belt loop on the back.

The Rothco 2-pocket ammo pouch is inexpensive but fairly well made from canvas. It's a good choice for long .22 magazines.

After I got the Ruger's sights zeroed I switch to my Norinco ATD, which is a copy of the Browning SA-22 that's been in production since 1914 or so. (I previously posted about the ATD here and here.) I wanted to try the Federal Automatch and Aguila Super Extra in the Norinco. It shoots very well with both rounds, although I had a couple failures to eject with the Automatch. Accuracy with both loads was good. Each target is 20 shots.

The sights on the Norinco consist of a bead front with a buckhorn rear. Frankly, they suck. I am very pleased with this accuracy.

Since I'm on vacation this week I'm hoping to get to the range at least one more time.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Lathe Cross Slide Digital Readout

Over on Dave Markowitz's Machine Shop, I posted a short piece on how I added a digital readout (DRO) to my mini lathe.

This should make it a lot easier to turn stock down the desired diameter.


Sunday, June 07, 2015

PA to MO on 5 Watts

Yesterday I spent some time out back with my Yaesu FT-817ND and laptop, playing with digital modes. I got a new Easy Digi interface from KF5INZ for connecting the FT-817ND to laptops and wanted to get it setup before taking it to Tioga County next weekend. I wound up having a nice rag chew with another ham who is located in Missouri, using the Olivia 16/500 mode.

I did a write up over on Survival Preps, here:

Backyard Digital Radio Practice

I also did a separate post on configuring a Mac to use the Easy Digi, FT-817ND, and Fldigi:

Configuring Fldigi on a Mac for use with an Easy Digi Radio Interface

Thursday, May 28, 2015

CZ P-09 Initial Review

Several years ago I had a CZ-85 Combat in 9mm, but it had some issues related to the slide stop and also its grip was too large for my hand. I wound up trading it off. However, I retained a desire to own a CZ handgun, and two nights ago I came home with one of CZ's newer polymer-framed models, a P-09 Duty. Price was $566 OTD.

CZ introduced the compact P-07 a few years ago, and the P-09 a couple years later. Both combine a CZ-75 type mechanism with a more modern polymer frame. This allowed CZ to cram large magazine capacities into slim grips. In 9mm, the P-07 has a 16 round mag, while the P-09 holds 19 in its flush fit magazine.

The P-09 came in a plastic case with a test target, manual, warranty info, cleaning brush, cleaning rod with patch loop, two magazines, a gun lock, replacement back straps, and safety.

As configured from the factory, the P-09 is a DA/SA design with a decocker. However, by replacing the decocker with the safety, the gun can be carried cocked and locked, like a 1911 or Browning High Power. If configured with the safety, you can also carry the gun hammer down on a loaded chamber, but you have to manually lower the hammer to do so. Both sets of controls are rather flat. I don't think this is a problem with the decocker but if I was using the safety, I'd want it to stick out a little more for a better purchase. I'll stick with the decocker.

The interchangeable backstraps allow you to modify the size of the grip to better fit your hand. Mine came with the Small backstrap installed, which I will leave in place.

Like many modern designs, the P-09 sports an M-1913 Picatinny rail under the frame in front of the trigger guard. I'm planning to mount a light there.

The P-09 is pretty thin at a ~1.5" thick, but the height (~5.8") and length (~8.1") make it a full size pistol. It weighs 27.35 oz. unloaded without a magazine.

The sights are typical modern service pistol sights: fixed, well-defined, and have a three-dot pattern. The dots are actually photo-luminescent paint and will glow in the dark if charged by exposing them to light. To me this is a gimmicky substitute for tritium night sights or even fiber optics. I may swap out the front sight for a FO unit.

The DA trigger has a long, creepy takeup but feels less than 10 pounds (I don't have a trigger scale). The SA pull also has some creep and is probably around 5 pounds. Not great but not horrible for a new gun. It will smooth up with use, and I won't think of replacing any parts or doing a trigger job until the gun has a minimum of 500 rounds through it.

For a person like myself with small hands, the P-09 has a very ergonomic grip. The trigger reach is short enough that I can get the pad of my index finger fully on the trigger without stretching. Also, the decocker (or safety if it's installed) are both ambidextrous, and the magazine catch can be reversed for lefties. Even though I'm a southpaw, I'm leaving the mag catch as-is. Long ago I learned to use the middle finger of my left hand for mag catches.

The back of the grip has a nice beavertail that spreads recoil out across the web of your hand.

Before I shoot a new gun for the first time I always field strip it. This is to ensure that everything inside is in good shape, that it's properly lubricated, and it's a good way to familiarize yourself with a new gun. After getting the P-09 home last night I took it out to my shop and following the instruction manual, took it down. Takedown is simple, similar to that of a Browning High Power. The slide stop is still a bit stiff coming out so I needed to use a dowel to get it started. The other things of note were that the gun was bone-dry, and that the recoil spring is captured on its guide rod, so removing and reinstalling it was a snap. After oiling the gun with FP-10 and running a patch through the bore, it went back together easily.

Yesterday I took the P-09 to Langhorne Rod and Gun Club and put 125 rounds of Herter's 9mm 115 FMJ through it. The Herter's ammo was made in the Czech Republic by Sellier & Bellot for Cabela's, so it was only fitting to use it in the CZ.

The magazine springs are very stiff, so I was glad that I had my Butler Creek MagLULA with me. (Seriously, don't leave home without one if you're shooting an autoloader with a double stack magazine.) Getting the 19th round in was very hard, so I called it good at 18. After the mags see some more use I suspect they'll get a bit easier to load.

Accuracy was good. At 10 yards I was able to keep most of my shots inside of a ~3.5" hole, except for called flyers caused by me. There were no malfunctions.

The first 36 shots:

89 more shots:

CZ autoloaders have relatively low bore lines, so muzzle flip wasn't bad at all. And, even though the gun is fairly light, recoil was mild.

Today provided a good test of the P-09's grip stippling. It was hot and humid, so my hands were sweaty. Despite this, I had no problems hanging onto the gun.

With only 125 rounds through the gun so far, it's not even broken in or proven. However, my initial impression is VERY favorable. The reviews I've found online by actual owners have all been favorable, so I'm expecting that I'll remain pleased with it. The CZ P-09 looks like a good choice for range duty and home defense. If I was buying a similar pistol with concealed carry in mind, I'd look to the smaller CZ P-07. That said, one should be able to CCW a P-09 with a good holster, gun belt, and cover garment.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Redneck Lathe DRO

Having digital read outs (DROs) on my mill has spoiled me, so I've been wanting to add them to my lathe. One idea I've seen has been to adapt inexpensive digital tire depth gauges bought on eBay for under $10. I tried this out tonight. Here's my proof of concept redneck lathe DRO:

I setup the lathe with a 3/4" diameter aluminum rod in the chuck and the DRO affixed to the saddle and cross slide with magnets. My goal was to turn the rod down to 1/2", which would require advancing the tool 1/8". (When turning down stock in lathe, since you're cutting a rotating piece, you divide the amount you want to remove in half, then move the cutting tool that amount. E.g., 0.75" - 0.5" = 0.25" to remove, thus you move the cutter in 0.125", or 1/8".)

Unfortunately, it's not going to work, as it's not accurate enough. I turned the stock down until the DRO read that I'd moved the cutter in 0.125", but when I measured the rod, I got 0.490". It was off by 1/1000" over such a small distance, which in metalworking terms is too coarse.

I'm going to go ahead and try the iGaging DROs, which a lot of mini mill and mini lathe owners have had good results with. I'm planning to install one for the cross slide and another for the compound.