Friday, June 29, 2012

Cartridge Reloading

Over on Survival and Emergency Preparedness, I've put up a post on the topic of cartridge reloading which you may find of interest.


I had planned to comment on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision yesterday but had to attend a funeral. I now feel like I should say Kaddish for the United States of America.

I am disgusted. This is results-oriented jurisprudence at its absolute worst. Roberts' opinion rewrote the law, which its backers insisted all along was not a tax. Now, it's the largest tax increase in the history of, well, ever.

Nearly as bad as the decision are comments from Republican pundits casting this either as a master Machiavellian move by Roberts to make Obama and the Congressional Democrats look bad by having implemented the largest-ever tax increase, or that Roberts was fearful of having the Supreme Court being seen as a partisan political instrument. To those pundits: Please STFU. Only morons are buying your spin.

Fine, the Dems think that despite their prior protests that it's sufficient to justify Obamacare as a tax. I say that once the Republicans obtain control of Congress and the White House, we pass the following legislation:

1. 26 USC Section 53 et seq, the National Firearms Act of 1934, is hereby REPEALED.

2. Title 10 USC Section 311, Militia: Composition and Classes, is hereby ammended:
(c) Each member of the unorganized militia is required by this act to purchase and maintain in proper working order
(i) a rifle of the pattern then currently in use by the United States Army (heretofore "service rifle", and
(ii) no less than six magazines or ammunition feeding devices compatible with the service rifle, with a capacity of no less than twenty cartridges, and
(iii) a maintenance kit for the service rifle, and
(iv) no less than five hundred cartrdiges for the service rifle.
(d) Each member of the unorganized militia who fails to comply with Part (c) of this section shall be taxed no less than $1,500.00 for each year not in compliance, and such tax shall be collected by the Internal Revenue Service.

{Hat tip to Arfcommer "NagOrzo15-1" for the idea.)

Bad idea? If justifying Congress's forcing the individual mandate down our throats under the guise of a tax is acceptable, why not this?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Marlin 1894 and Century NDS-2 Range Report

Today I was able to get to the range and shoot the Marlin 1894 that I traded for last week. I was also able to get a 25 yard zero for the Bushnell TRS-25 red dot sight that I mounted on my Century NDS-2 AK-74 last month.

I setup an IDPA target with a 3" orange dot in the center at 25 yards. Shooting with my arms rested on the bench but the rifle otherwise unsupported, I fired a 5 shot group. It was a few inches low and slightly to the left. Getting the point of impact to coincide with the point of aim required me to raise the rear sight two notches on the rear sight elevator.

To adjust windage you need to drive the rear sight to the side in the dovetail. To move the POI right you drift the rear sight to the right, and vice-versa. This isn't a precise process, and requires you to use a non-marring mallet, or a hammer and a brass or nylon punch. I had a nylon faced mallet and gave the rear sight base a couple taps to the right. I wound up going a little to far and had to drive it a little bit to the left. For now, it's shooting dead on at 25 yards.

I tried two kinds of .44 Magnum ammo in this trip. First was some of the Federal American Eagle 240 grain JHP that I bought when I got the gun. This ammo shoots OK and groups well, but does not feed smoothly. I really had to muscle the action when shooting it, which gave me some cause for concern. Having read some complaints about Marlin's quality since the Remington takeover and move to Illion, NY, I was bit worried that it might need a trip back to the factory.

However, when I switched to some Remington 240 grain JSP loads the Marlin's action worked a lot more smoothly. I figure that the Federal cases vary in some small dimension that the Marlin doesn't like.

I've picked up a good supply of the Remington ammo so I'm set for awhile. I plan to start handloading for the Marlin so I can afford to shoot it. Also, I intend to load down the .44 Mag to .44-40 velocities, which will make it more pleasant to shoot. The Marlin has a rubber butt pad but even so, after 70 rounds of .44 Mag in a 6.5 pound rifle, my shoulder was feeling tenderized.

Overall I'm pleased with the Marlin 1894. The .44 Magnum is a versatile round, the rifle is nice, compact, and quick shooting, and of course it's got an all-American cachet. I will be adding an aperture sight at some point for faster target acquisition and better accuracy.

I took a break from shooting the Marlin to zero the red dot on the NDS-2. This is the third rifle I've put a Bushnell TRS-25 on and I've come to like the design a lot. Sure, it can be considered an Aimpoint micro-dot knock-off, but for a range toy that's not a problem. The Bushnell generally goes for about $100, about 1/5 to 1/6 the cost of an Aimpoint. That said, many folks have found the TRS-25 to be a very good value, in that it tends to hold up to abuse very well, including being mounted to Ultimak rails on AKs, where it can get very hot.

My TRS-25 is mounted on a low BP-02 mount which attaches to the AK's receiver rail, and places the optic centered over the bore. I bought the mount and sight from Primary Arms, who gets two thumbs up for good pricing and fast shipping.

The TRS-25 required about 30 clicks of left windage adjustment and 30 clicks of up elevation to get POI to equal POA at 25 yards. I'll fine tune the zero later at 100 yards.

The ammo I used in the NDS-2 was Silver Bear 5.45x39 60 grain FMJ. I put 90 rounds through the AK with no problems, just as expected. I may use this combination in this year's Contagion 2012 zombie shoot.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Now He Owns It

In claiming executive privilege today, President Barak Obama took ownership of the Fast and Furious scandal. He can no longer claim that he didn’t know of it until he learned about it from a news story. If that was the case, there wouldn’t be a need to claim privilege.

For over a year, Representative Darrel Issa has been leading the Congressional investigation into the Obama Administration’s back door attempt to build domestic support for gun control, in which it ran guns to known Mexican drug cartel members. During this time the president has feigned ignorance of the operation, and the attorney general has stonewalled Congressional requests for information.

Heretofore, the administration has spun Operation Fast and Furious as a rogue operation run out of a regional office of the BATFE. In essence, they’ve pleaded, “We were too incompetent to keep control of an operation which funneled weapons to foreign criminals, resulting in the deaths of two Federal law enforcement officers, and hundreds of Mexicans.”

When pressed for documents, Holder has repeatedly claimed that the dog ate his homework.

Things finally came to a head today, when in the shadow of a vote to hold the AG in contempt of Congress, President Obama invoked executive privilege as an excuse to continue withholding them.

I guess Holder can now claim that Obama ate the dog that ate his homework.

Executive privilege is a leftover from the days when we were ruled by a king. It should be invoked only in the direst circumstances, such as when releasing information could endanger national security. It is not appropriate to invoke EP as a means to avoid being held accountable for criminal malfeasance. By doing so, he’s taken ownership of this whole sordid mess.

Obama has shown by his past conduct that he is not averse to throwing others under the bus if it advances his own interests. Take, for example, his pastor of two decades, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. I have no doubt that if indeed Fast and Furious went no higher than Holder that Obama would hang him out to dry in a heartbeat. Today’s action invoking executive privilege raises the strong inference that Obama knew about Fast and Furious while it was happening, if not from the get-go.

In the words of Senator Howard Baker, “What did the president know and when did he know it?”

Operation Fast and Furious is being called “Obama’s Watergate.” In truth, it’s far, far worse than that. Watergate involved a burglary and a coverup. Fast and Furious involved the United States government running weapons to foreign criminals and the deaths of hundreds of people.

Under common law, if a person is a major participant with others in the commission of a felony, and someone is killed during the crime, he can be convicted of felony murder.

By invoking executive privilege, President Obama has cast in his lot with criminals responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent people. He doesn’t belong in the White House, he belongs in the Big House.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pietta 1858 Remington with Kirst Konversion

Caveat: Without getting too deep into legalities, converting a percussion revolver into a cartridge firing breechloader is legal in my jurisdiction. Before you undertake a similar project please familiarize yourself with all the relevant laws.

Last week I did my first cartridge conversion of a percussion revolver. Such conversions were common in the years following the Civil War as the use of metallic cartridges became widespread, but there was still a large supply of percussion wheelguns left over from the war. Both Colt and Remington performed these conversions, as did plenty of indpendent gunsmiths. The Colt 1872 Open Top was not much more than an 1860 Army modified to use metallic cartridges. Remington even shipped New Model Armies with a .46 Rimfire cylinder and a percussion cylinder from about 1868 through 1875 or so.  With the rise in popularity of cowboy action shooting, cartridge conversions have become popular once again.

This revolver started life as a Pietta replica Remington 1858 New Model Army. As it came from the factory it was a percussion arm, taking separate powder, ball, and cap. To do the cartridge conversion I bought the cylinder, backplate, and Remington factory style ejector from Kirst Konverter

After getting the parts and reading through the instructions, I broke out every home gunsmith's favorite tool, a Dremel.

I got this Dremel and I ain't afraid to use it!

Note: Wear safety glasses when you're grinding away with the Dremel. You don't want metal shavings, sparks, or grit in your eyes.

First, I cut out and glued to the inside of the frame a template provided by Kirst. Then, I masked the frame with a few layers of duct tape to protect against the inevitable skips. Next, I used a grinding wheel and sanding drums in the Dremel to cut out the loading port in the right side recoil shield.

I also needed to slightly sand down the feet on the bottom of the cylinder backplate because they were too high, causing the cylinder to bind. This is mentioned in Kirst's instructions. I used 600 grit emery paper to polish the cylinder base pin, and some cotton patches with Flitz metal polish to slick up the center hole in the new cylinder. I also polished the front of the cylinder with the 600 grit paper, but even so, the barrel/cylinder gap is very tight.

The next major step was to cut a notch in the loading lever to fit the "flag" on the end of the ejector rod. Unlike most single action revolvers which have a spring loaded ejector, the Remington factory design is a simple rod retained in the open position by the original loading lever. To use it you need to drop the lever. Obviously, this is much less convenient than a spring loaded ejector.

I used a hacksaw to rough in the notch, then finished it with a flat and a square needle file.

Once all the parts were fitted I polished the areas where I'd cut and then touched them up with Birchwood Casey cold blueing solution. All told, I have about 8 hours invested in the project.

[B]One thing that's very important to note is that any of the cartridge conversions are rated for black powder or factory cowboy loads only, and lead bullets only,  with a MV of under 1,000 FPS. The guns are built for use with black powder and soft lead bullets. The forcing cones are not designed to handle jacket bullets. Running hot loads, or God forbid Ruger-only .45 Colt loads runs the risk of catastrophic failure.[/B]

I'd hope to take it to the range today to try it out for the first time, but I had to work on my washing machine instead. {grrr}

I’ll post a range report after I shoot it.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

What is best in life?

To crush the progressives, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the Democrats!

Well done, Wisconsin!

It will be interesting to hear the spin from the left today in the wake of their failed attempt to recall WI Governor Scott Walker. We're already hearing that the only reason Walker prevailed was that the Republicans outspent the Democrats. Nevermind that (a) Walker did not accomplish several major goals which he campaigned on the first time around, and (b) in light of the amount the Dems spent in the 2008 election it's awfully ironic for them to bitch about campaign spending.

Last night also points to the continued strength of the Tea Party despite MSM protests to the contrary. First, the Tea Party helped unseat Dick Lugar (RINO-IN). The the Tea Party also had a hand in last night's win.

The productive people in this country are sick and tired of the Free Shit Army mooching off of us. We need to maintain this momentum through November.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Saturday Night Range Report

Tonight I was able to get out to the range with my dad and get some pistol shooting in.

Dad brought his Beretta M-9 and S&W Model 67. He got the M-9 pretty recently and so far its proven to be a pretty good pistol. The trigger on it is awful – heavy and the DA pull is long – but it’s been reliable and is quite accurate. To me it has all the ergonomics of a slightly rounded off 2x4, so I’m not a fan.

The Model 67 is the stainless steel version of S&W’s classic Model 15 Combat Masterpiece, built on their K-Frame. There are few handguns nicer to shoot than a K-Frame loaded with .38 wadcutters, IMHO.

As for me, I started off with my Ruger LCP, which due to it’s light weight and thinness, has become my main carry gun. I shot the 6 rounds I had loaded in the gun, Federal .380 90 grain FMJ, then put a few magazines of CCI Blazers through it. I’d wanted to try the Blazers because they are the cheapest American made .380 ammo I’ve seen. As long as the gun worked OK with them I planned to buy a few more boxes for practice. I also wanted to try the extra magazine I bought for the LCP.

As expected the new magazine and the Blazers worked fine in my limited testing. Because the LCP is so light, it’s no fun to shoot. Once I put about 3 magazines through it in one session I get shaky due to the recoil. Tonight I ran 3 mags full shooting left handed and 1 mag shooting from the wrong side. No malfunctions tonight.

Incidentally, the reason that I carry FMJ in my LCP is because penetration with .380 ACP jacketed hollowpoints is marginal. If a manufacturer develops a .380 JHP that can penetrate 12” in ballistic gelatin, I’ll reconsider my choice to carry ball.

Pietta .36 Remington

Much more enjoyable to shoot was my Pietta 1858 Remington “New Army Police” .36 caliber percussion revolver, shown above. I put the model name in quotes because Remington never made such a gun. Rather, they did make .36 revolvers during the percussion era, but they were referred to as a “Navy Model” and built on a slightly smaller frame than the .44 caliber New Model Army. Pietta builds the NAP on the NMA frame, which results in a really beefy gun.

I loaded the Pietta with 28 grains of Swiss Schuetzen FFFg black powder, a lubricated felt wad, and a .380 cast lead ball from Rush Creek. Ignition was from Remington No.10 caps.

I put 30 rounds through the wheelgun, pulling the cylinder pin after 18 rounds to put some more Ballistol on it to keep the cylinder turning easily. The Pietta suffered no malfunctions in this range session. I’ve found the Remington replicas to be much less prone to cap jams than the Colt repros.

Accuracy at 7 yards was pretty good with most of my shots in one hole a couple inches across. Unlike most cap and ball sixguns it shoots a bit low, so one of these days I need to bring a file with me to the range and take a little off the front sight, to raise the point of impact.

One thing which has continued to impress me is just how good the Swiss black powder is. I remember back in the 1990s when Elephant brand black powder was imported from Brazil, and people complained about how weak and dirty it was compared to Goex. Well, comparing Goex black powder to the Swiss stuff is like comparing Elephant to Goex. It burns much, much cleaner and is also more powerful than Goex, almost on par with Hodgdon Triple 7. I took me only four patches wet with Windex to get the Pietta’s bore clean after firing 30 shots. Unfortunately, Swiss BP is about as expensive as Triple 7.

Overall, it was a nice Saturday night.