Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Picked up another Mini-14

It was cold and windy today so I didn't feel like hitting the range. I did however, go up to Surplus City with a couple of guns which I haven't shot in quite awhile, and did some trading. In exchange for my EMF/Rossi Hartford Model 1892 and my Ruger GP-100, plus some boot, I picked up a used stainless steel Ruger Mini-14 GB. It's a 186-series piece. It came with one Ruger factory mag (stainless, no less) and I bought two more Ruger factory mags, both used. (I figure I should get as many evil high capacity magazines as I can while the getting is still good.)

The GB or Government Model differs from the standard Mini-14 with the addition of a flash suppressor screwed onto the muzzle, and a winged front sight several inches back. The front sight block also has a bayonet lug, and the gun will accept standard M-16 bayonets. (Raspberries to Senator Feinstein and her partners in crime.) The GBs were never intended to be sold directly to the public by Ruger, but a fair number of them have become available as police or prison guard trade-ins, as many departments "upgrade" by replacing their Mini-14s with AR-15s.

I really like Mini-14s. They are not as accurate at AR-15s (at least without serious tuning) but they are very simple, ergonomic, and reliable little rifles. Mini-14s are accurate enough for their intended purposes -- potting varmints around a farm or as a social carbine out to a couple of hundred yards.

Getting back to the reliability aspect -- Mini-14s are much less finicky when it comes to maintenance or quality ammo than AR-15s. For example, Wolf .223 doesn't run well in my Colt AR-15A3, but runs just fine in my 182-series Mini-14. I expect it to work fine in the GB. A couple of features which help the Mini-14's reliability are (a) the fact that it taps more than enough gas from the barrel to work the action, and (b) fouling stays out of the action. IOW, it doesn't have the "shits where it eats" problem of the AR-15. Note that the AR-15's direct-impingement (DI) gas system can be reliable, but it demands more cleaning, and that more recent military rifle designs all use pistons, not DI.

One of my online friends used a stainless Mini-14 in Alaska for many years, taking a large number of deer and other game with it. It stood up to harsh conditions well and he still has the rifle, now that he's retired to WV. .223 isn't really a deer caliber but it will do if you take your time and place the bullets right. Perhaps surprisingly to guys in the lower 48, but the Mini-14 is one of the most popular bush guns in AK. It and it's ammo are light. It's reliable and easy to maintain, and has minimal recoil, so a lot of Alaskan natives like it. A stainless Mini-14 in a plastic stock would be a heck of a good choice as a defensive carbine, especially if you need one to keep on a boat.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Vacation

I hope that you all had a Merry Christmas. I'm on vacation this week.

Being Jewish, I went shooting yesterday along with my dad. I brought along my Ruger Police Service Six and my two inch S&W Model 15 (I also have a four inch Model 15, that was the first good handgun I ever bought). Ammo was a box of Ultramax .38 Special 158 LSWC commercial reloads. It's very dirty but goes bang every time, and shoots well in my experience.

As it turned out, we met a fellow MOT* at the range and joked around a bit about how the only people you'll see at a shooting range on Christmas day are Jews.

Later, we had the traditional Jewish Christmas dinner of Chinese takeout.

Today after making everyone breakfast I went out and ran a few errands. One of them was to ship the Lyman receiver sight I got last week back to Brownell's. In its place, this afternoon I ordered a Williams FP-336 FireSight set from MidwayUSA for my Marlin 336. The set consists of a Williams FoolProof receiver sight which uses the Marlin's scope mounting holes, plus a fiber optic front sight (they actually include two). One of my friends has a Marlin 1894 in .357 so equipped, and the front bead really stands out under field conditions. I should've just gone this route to begin with.

Aside from the sights, I also ordered a tube of Flitz metal polish, a surplus .30 caliber ammo can, and a Pro Mag 20 round steel Mini-14 magazine. Flitz is great for polishing stainless guns or removing rust spots on blued steel. At only $2.99 I couldn't turn down the .30 caliber can. They're just too good for storing things. And I've read good reports about the post-AWB sunset Pro Mag Mini-14 magazines, so decided it was time check them out. If it works as I've been lead to believe, the Pro Mags will be a cheap alternative to the Ruger factory mags, at about half the cost.




* MOT = Member of the Tribe

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Marlin 336 Update

My Brownell's order with things for my Marlin 336 arrived yesterday. I got the sling mounted, the scope mounting holes filled, and the replacement rear sight elevator installed. I also used the Birchwood-Casey cold blue to cover up the scratched areas on the metal -- a spot on the receiver and a fairly large scrape on the magazine tube. It looks like the scrape was caused by the front sling swivel base (which clamps to the tube) got knocked.

I couldn't mount the Lyman Model 66 receiver sight, however. According to the box it's the right unit but the mounting holes in the base do not match the holes drilled and tapped on the left side of the Marlin's action. Grrrr.

I'm debating whether to return it and just get a Williams sight which attaches to the scope mounting holes, or take a drill to the base of the Lyman. No matter which, as long as the weather cooperates I'm taking the 336 to the range next week while I'm on vacation.

MS Vista First Look

Earlier this week I installed Windows Vista Ultimate Edition on one of the Dell Latitude D600s in my lab. I need to test Vista for interoperability with our commercial gateways. I'm not anticipating any major surprises but don't want to be complacent.

The minimum requirements to run Vista are an 800 MHz CPU, 512 MB of RAM, and 15 GB hard disk space. The Dell has a 1.8 GHz Pentium M and a gig of RAM. Unfortunately, the shared video prevents it from running the much-touted Aero interface. Rather, I'm limited to the "basic" interface. I do like the look of the basic interface. It reminds me of recent versions of KDE. The basic UI is sufficiently similar to XP's that most users shouldn't have too much difficulty in adapting. I can't speak to Aero yet, however.

But, it's bloated. Seriously bloated. Aside from the fact that to install the OS you need 15 gigs of space, my first impression is that you don't want to run Vista on a machine with less than a 2 GHz CPU and you better have 2 GB of RAM if you want to get any work done. Just sitting there with no apps running, Vista sucks down anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 of the gig of memory. Opening windows in Explorer is not as snappy as it was under XP Pro. IOW, there's a noticeable degradation of performance in the system's file manager.

Internet Explorer 7 seems to run a bit slower than it did under XP. Ditto for Firefox 1.5.

When opening things that access system files, you get prompted for your approval, but the way it's done is more intrusive and less elegant than the way OS X prompts you for your password when modifying system files. E.g., you get an "ARE YOU REALLY SURE" box when you try to run Defrag or Scandisk.

So far, my impression is that unless you're running a powerful machine capable of running Aero, there's no reason to upgrade to Vista. Aside from that, as a new MS operating system, it makes more sense for you to let other people be the guinea pigs and find the nasties lurking underneath the shiny new paint job.

Better yet, get a Mac or run something like Kubuntu Linux on a PC. Either is a far superior OS from the standpoint of security and the features are either comparable to or superior to Windows.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

New-to-me Marlin 336

I made my first post-election rifle purchase today at the Valley Forge gun show, but it wasn't a black rifle. I picked up a used, pre-safety Marlin 336 in .30-30. Sometime recentaly I developed a hankering for one of these, specifically one made before Marlin added the cross bolt safety.

It's in basically good shape with a few dings on the wood and some blueing wear. (So I also bought a bottle of Birchwood Casey cold gun blue.) I may strip and refinish the stock to make it a bit darker. We'll see.

It came with sling swivel studs but no swivels or sling. It also had a Weaver scope rail mounted on the receiver, and a hammer extension for use when a scope is mounted.

After getting it home I field stripped and cleaned it. It's pretty clean inside and the bore looks new.

I got two boxes of Wolf Gold (Prvi Partsan) .30-30 150 grain JSPs since there wasn't a wide variety of .30-30 at the show.

I placed an order with Brownell's for a few things:

* Plug screws for the scope mounting holes in the receiver, since I removed the Weaver rail.
* Replacement elevator for the rear sight. I didn't notice until after I got home that it was MIA.
* Lyman Model 66 receiver sight. I like aperature sights and up until 2000 or so Marlin drilled and tapped their leverguns' receivers for them.
* Uncle Mike's QD swivels with 1-1/4" loops. My plan is to use a Lee-Enfield sling so I need the wider loops.

Hopefully I'll get to shoot a deer with it next year.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Happy Chanukah

Chanukah starts tonight. Here's my relevant post from last year.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Redundant Entries in Finder "Open with" menu

I had the problem where when right clicking on an file in the Finder and then selecting "Open with" gave me a menu with multiple, redundant entries of suitable applications. E.g., if I right clicked on a Word doc, Word and OpenOffice.org appeared multiple times. This was rather annoying.

I couldn't find the fix but I consulted with a coworker who's a Linux and Mac guru and he found the solution here, along with a number of other good Mac tips. Just in case that page disappears I'm reproducing the fix here. You need to open a Terminal and run the following command:

System/Library/Frameworks/ApplicationServices.framework/\
Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Support/lsregister \
-kill -r -domain local -domain system -domain user

This forces LaunchServices to rebuild its database.

Meanwhile, check out the link provided for many other good tips.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Mac Word Processors and Text Editors

My main word processor is Word 2004 for Mac. I also have OpenOffice 2.0 installed on my Mac as well. I use OO.o occasionally, but on my G4 iBook, it's pretty pokey.

Other word processors I've tried on the Mac include NeoOffice, Abiword, and Nisus Writer Express.

NeOffice is dog slow. Even though OO.o requires X, it's faster on my hardware than NeoOffice. One of my coworkers runs it on his Macbook and tells me its reasonably fast, so once I get myself an Intel Mac I'll give it another shot.

I've run into significant formatting problems with documents imported from other apps, or exported to other apps with both NeoOffice and OO.o.

Abiword has a decent UI and runs quickly but has constant formatting issues with RTF files generated in other apps, in my experience.

Nisus Writer Express (on which I've previously posted) is quite nice. It's fast with a good UI and the formatting problems seem less significant than with the other WPs. However, it's $69 and I'm cheap.

The only word processor that doesn't give me formatting problems is Word 2004. Word on theMac is nicer than Word for Windows, in my opinion. Since at work I'm in a Microsoft shop, the ability to seemlessly interchange documents, whether word processing, spreadsheets, or presentations is critical. I have neither the time nor the inclination to troubleshoot and fix formatting. So for the most part I just stick with Word.

However, a lot of times there are docs that I know I won't need to forward to others. They'll either be for my own use, or just jotting down notes, or drafting a blog post. So I'll use a text editor. I've been using TextWrangler for some time now but today I installed Vim. Yes, THAT Vim. I'm writing this post in it, AAMOF.

Oh, OS X comes with VIM already installed, but it doesn't include the GVIM graphical mode. But if you go to macvim.org/OSX/index.php, you can download the latest and greatest Vim forMac, including the graphical mode. After you download it, use unzip the archive and copy the vim70 folder into /Applications. To launch it from the Finder, doubleclick the Vim (not the Gvim) icon.

If you've used Gvim on another platform, it's pretty much the same on OS X. I may be using it more instead of TextWrangler. It's light, responsive, and because I can do a lot of stuff without the mouse, can be really fast to use. In fact, what I may start doing is writing long documents it in, then once the content is finished, open them in Word to do the formatting and insert stuff like screenshots.

I feel so geeky. :-)

Monday, December 04, 2006