Saturday, December 28, 2013

My Frankenstein AR15

Yesterday I received the PSA AR15 lower build kit that I’d ordered from Amazon and built of the lower receiver that I milled out from an 80% unit. The Spike’s Tactical mid-length upper that I ordered for it from AIM Surplus has arrived yet, so to test fire the lower I mated it with the top half of my Colt 6520.

Sorry for the pic in potato-vision.

I shot it this morning at the monthly Langhorne Rod & Gun Club practical rifle match. At the December match they allow for sighting in of new rifles and optics, and so they let me put a few downrange during this time to function test it. The rifle ran fine so I shot it in the match. (I brought the Colt lower just in case there was a problem but thankfully I was able to leave it in the case.) So far I have close to 90 rounds on the lower and it’s looking good. Zero malfs.

The Spike’s upper should arrive Monday and I’ll post a follow up pic after it’s all together. Initially, I’ll need to run it with irons using the carry handle from my Colt 6721. For an optic, I am pretty set on getting a low power variable such as a Burris Tac 30 or Nikon M-223.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Hobbit–The Desolation of Smaug

I don’t recall posting any movie reviews here on the blog before but there’s a first time for everything.

When it first came out that The Hobbit was being filmed it was supposed to be two movies, which made sense. "There" and "Back Again," ya know. When I heard it was a trilogy I questioned it.

For example, The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey had way too much padding that didn’t add anything to the story, IMHO.

I saw The Desolation of Smaug yesterday. IMO it's much better than the first movie, even though there is a lot of stuff in it that was not in the book.

Beorn was really well done, IMO. Smaug was fantastic. The CGI is excellent and Benedict Cumberbatch did an wondeful job of vocalizing him.

I've read The Hobbit and The LOTR 4 or 5 times. I was pleased with how faithful the LOTR movies were to the books. For The Hobbit I'm looking at them as movies inspired by the book and just enjoying them. It's not like Jackson went all Paul Verhoeven on them, the way the latter did to Starship Troopers.

I’d say that if you like fantasy movies or Tolkein in particular, go see TH-DOS. Just keep in mind that it’s not a faithful interpretation of the book.

New MacBook Pro

The MacBook Pro I’ve been using at work since 2009 has been getting long in the tooth. It’s still usable but running apps like MS Office, it has noticeable lag. Since it’s out of warranty I was able to put in for a new machine.

Of the standard builds we can order one is a 13” MacBook Pro, non-Retina model, with a 750 GB hard disk, onboard Ethernet, and a SuperDrive (DVD burner). My old MBP has a 15” screen but I use a 24” external monitor at work, so I figured I’d save a little weight and go for the 13” model to make it nicer to schelp back and forth.

Well, a couple weeks passed and I got informed that my new machine was ready. Instead of ordering the machine I asked for, someone in the purchasing department ordered me the 13” MBP with Retina display, 2.9 GHz Core i7 CPU, and a 256 Gb SSD.


This model comes with two Thunderbolt ports, two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, and an SD card reader.s

There’s no SuperDrive or onboard Ethernet. I did get ahold of a Thunderbolt to Gig-E adapter, and we have a USB DVD burner at work, so I’m OK there. I’ll have to keep an eye on disk usage, but I had a Western Digital 640 GB USB drive laying around at home that I added to my bag, so that I can offload stuff I don’t use a lot.

The new machine is fast. Really fast. Redonculously fast. A cold boot to the login screen takes about 5 or 6 seconds. Word and Excel launch almost instantly. Outlook takes a bit longer but it’s bloated compared even to Word and Excel.

It was also setup with Parallels Desktop and a Windows 7 VM, which runs much faster than the Windows 7 VM in VirtualBox on my old machine. My primary uses for the Windows VM will be accessing MSDN and running Visio, which unfortunately isn’t available for Mac OS X.

Battery life is great. I haven’t really wrung it out but when fully charged it shows about 9 hours remaining. Depending on usage I could probably go all day if I happened to leave my power supply home.

I figure it’ll last me about four years.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Kovea Spider Stove Review

Over on Survival Preps, I’ve posted a review of the Kovea Spider canister stove. If you need a compact, lightweight stove for camping or backpacking, check it out.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

New Affordable 3D Metal Printer

Remember my post about the 3D printed 1911? As predicted, 3D metal printing is coming closer to reality for home users:

Anyone with access to a welder and the Internet soon could make his or her own replacement parts or tools with a new 3D metal printer that can be built in any garage.

Now, scientists have built an open-source 3D metal printer that costs under $1,200, sharing their design and software with the maker community.

"We have open-sourced the plans," in the hopes of accelerating the technology by allowing others to build upon the design, said project leader Joshua Pearce, a materials engineer at Michigan Technological University in Houghton.

Link. Being open sourced, I expect this design to be developed rapidly. There's been a bit of stink raised recently by gun control advocates seeking to ban 3D printing of plastic guns because they are undetectable. 3D printing metal guns would make that moot.

This is a liberty enabling technology and control freaks like Schumer and Feinstein can't stop the signal.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Baikal MP-310 Range Report

Today I went with a friend to Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays and shot a round of 100. By halfway through the gun was opening up quite a bit more easily.

The gun had no misfires with  Federal and Winchester 12 gauge No.8 target loads. I did have some sticky extraction in the bottom barrel but only with the Winchesters. Both my friend and I have had problems with this ammo in the past, he in a Browning O/U, so as far as I'm concerned this is an ammo issue, not a gun issue.

I'm very happy with the Baikal MP-310. Only time will tell how durable it is, but for the occasional clays or trap shooter or hunter, it looks to be a good value. The one thing I plan to change now is get a set of extended IC choke tubes for it from Carlson's.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Baikal MP310 Ejector Tuning

After playing some more today with the Baikal MP310 over/under shotgun that I bought yesterday, I decided to tune the ejectors. Specifically, the ejector springs that are installed by the factory are much stronger than required. Here’s a good video describing how to remove the ejectors and clip the springs to reduce their strength.

Rather than a Dremel with a cutoff wheel, I just used dykes to clip 6 coils off each ejector spring, then deburred the ends with my benchtop belt sander.

Aside from clipping the springs to reduce the effort needed to close the gun, I also polished the bearing points on the ejectors and the slots in which they ride, and deburr all edges. I also polished the part of the barrel monobloc that bears on the pivot pin. Be careful when disassembling and handling the parts. I cut one of my fingers on a really sharp burr.

To smooth things up I used 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper, and gunsmith’s Arkansas stones from a set that I purchased last year from Brownell’s.

With these bearing surfaces polished up and the springs reduced, the action opens and closes much more easily.

I’m hoping to try a round of sporting clays next weekend with the Baikal.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Baikal MP310 Shotgun

I took today off and went up to Cabela’s to do some gun trading. I got decent prices on a couple guns, but their offer of $200 for a 1944 Underwood M-1 Carbine was ridiculously low. I therefore traded in my Stoeger Uplander 20 gauge SxS shotgun and Springfield M1911 that I haven’t shot much in years, and came home with a Baikal MP310 over/under 12 gauge shotgun.

I’ve been looking at the Baikals for awhile, since unlike most of the sub-$1000 over/unders, the Baikal has a reputation for being reliable. My guess is that they are the most common sporting guns in Russia. For example, I watched Happy People: A Year in the Taiga (which I highly recommend, BTW) yesterday, and in one scene there is a group of Russians and most if not all have some kind of Baikal over/under.

Since my expected use is a few rounds of sporting clays each year, along with some bird and small game hunting, it should serve me well. If I was going to be running thousands of rounds through the gun like serious clays or trap shooters, I’d drop the coin on a Berretta or Browning.

The Baikal is imported by European American Armory/US Sporting Guns and is made by Izhmash in Russia. They were also imported for a few years by Remington in their Spartan lineup.

The right side of the butt on this specimen has some nice looking grain.

As you can see, it’s also fitted with sling swivels unlike most Western guns. They are for a 3/4” wide carry strap.

The MP310 has a single-selective, mechanically resetting trigger, selectable ejectors/extractors, automatic safety, and comes with three choke tubes for improved cylinder, modified, and full. Compared with most other modern made shotguns that I’ve handled the length of pull is a bit short, which for me is good. At 5’6”, most modern sporting guns have stocks that are a bit too long for me. The Russian guns with shorter stocks fit me better.

As with a lot of other Russian made firearms that I’ve seen, fit and finish is a bit crude. This shotgun is sold as a hunting gun at a moderate price, so it’ll be no big deal if it gets scratched.

The one thing that may need some work is loosening up the action. It’s very tight to open or close. I did remove the butt stock and hose out the action with PB Blaster, then relube with some FP-10, which helped a bit. I’m hoping that a round or two of sporting clays will loosen it up. If not, I found some info on tuning the action.

I’m not sure when I’ll get a chance to shoot the Baikal, but I’ll post a report afterwards.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

The First 3D Printed METAL Gun

The smart guys at Solid Concepts have created the first 3D printed metal gun, a 1911 in fact. Here’s a video of it being test fired.

World’s first 3D printed metal gun

Yes, it had a few functioning issues. However, as a proof of concept they’ve done a fantastic job. Now it just needs a bit of debugging.

The technology enabling this is not yet affordable for the masses. Remember when personal computers first came out? Your smartphone has vastly more power at a faction of the cost. Or remember when the first Apple LaserWriter came out and cost around $4,000? You can now get a better laser printer delivered to your door from Amazon for around a hundred bucks. Even if 3D printers capable of doing laser sintering for additive manufacturing don’t drop to similar levels, they’ll come down in price to the point where you can go in together on one with a few buddies without breaking your bank accounts.

Combine affordable 3D metal printers with easily downloadable CNC drawings or even the G-code needed to run the printers, and the statist dream of unilateral civilian disarmament fails utterly.

Hey Feinstein, Schumer, Obama, Bloomberg, Cuomo? You can’t stop the signal!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

A Small Lathe Built in a Japanese Prison Camp

I’ve been doing some preliminary research into silencer designs prior to filing my first Form 1, and ran across this article about a small lathe made by a British POW being held in a WW2 Japanese prison camp. Link to ~1.1 meg PDF.

This lathe was quite a bit smaller than the modern Chinese lathes made by Sieg and Real Bull, and which are commonly derided as toys. Yet, the author of the article made good use of it, fabricating parts for artificial limbs, among other things.

There’s something to be said for picking up and learning how to use a lathe as part of your preps. It could come in useful in the event of an economic depression when manufactured items become hard to get and it’s a tool with which to earn some extra cash.

Sources for the modern mini lathes include Harbor Freight, Grizzly, Little Machine Shop, and Big Dog Metal Works. Also check out for more info.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Reviving an H&R Model 1900 Shotgun, Part 2

Both the metal and wood of the H&R Model 1900 that I bought last weekend were pretty grungy. The metal had a mix of grease, dirt, patina, and rust. The forearm wood had been cleaned but the buttstock was nasty, with a couple splits in the wrist.

I started cleaning up the metal first. I used Kroil, steel wool, and paper towels to clean off the active rust while leaving most of the patina. Here’s the action, showing the patent date stamps above the pivot pin, which had been completely obscured.

(If you right-click on the photos you can then view them full size in another tab.)

The top of the barrel at the breech:

The choke is probably a full choke.

The wood was filthy. I took this pic to show the contrast between uncleaned wood (the wrist) and cleaned wood (the butt).

To clean the wood I used steel wool wet with lacquer thinner, and periodically wiped off the resulting slurry with paper towels. Except for the cracked wrist it’s perfectly sound. I flushed the cracks out with lacquer thinner then let the stock dry in the sun. I then flooded the cracks with superglue.

The only way to know if the glue is enough to prevent further cracking is to shoot it. If not, I’ll wrap it with wire like you see on a lot of old guns.

After the superglue dried I gave the stock three coats of dark walnut tint Watco Danish Oil. It came out pretty nice, IMO.

After cleaning up the barrel I hit it with some Birchwood Casey cold blueing solution. I applied several coats and let it sit for a couple hours. The white scratches that were on the barrel are now gone, and it has an overall brownish patina.

The cleaned and refinished gun looks good now. It doesn’t look new. It looks like a well used, old gun, rather than a neglected, filthy old gun. It should have some life it in yet.

Reviving an H&R Model 1900 Shotgun, Part 1

Last weekend I bought this H&R Model 1900 shotgun from the neighbor of a friend. I paid $60, which considering the gun’s condition, was probably too much. However, the neighbor is a widow selling off some of her late husband’s guns, so I don’t really care in this instance.

It’s a single shot 12 gauge. After getting it home I identified it as a Model 1900, which places the date of manufacture between 1901 and 1915. It was probably made with a 2.5” chamber but I measured it at 2.75”, so it’s likely that it was lengthened by a gunsmith. This was a fairly common operation after 2.75” shells became popular.

The Model 1900 was made with either an extractor or an ejector, and a twist steel or plain steel barrel. This one has a plain steel barrel and extractor. If it had a twist steel barrel I’d relegate it wallhanger status, but this one is mechanically sound so I feel comfortable shooting it with low brass loads or Aguila mini-shells.

In my online research I found this scan of an old catalog:

When this shotgun it came into my possession it was covered in about a century’s worth of rust, dirt, and dried up grease. Also, the barrel looked like someone had taken a Scotchbrite pad to it in an effort to clean it up, but never got around to finishing it. However, it is mechanically sound and locks up tightly.

Unlike other top break single shots I’ve seen, the way you take it down into two pieces is by removing the barrel pivot pin.

Open the action, lift the toggle, rotate it 90 degrees, and then you can pull it out. Now, you can separate the barrel and forearm from the frame.

I put a few shots through it last weekend and the choked barrel throws a pretty decent pattern at 15 yards, centered on your point of aim.

The gun cleaned up OK, which I’ll detail in Part 2.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remember 9/11, Twelve Years On

On 9/11/01 I walked into the break room in our Plymouth Meeting, PA office a few minutes after the first plane hit the WTC, stopped dead in my tracks upon seeing the TV, and said aloud, "Holy shit!" A coworker repeated this about 30 seconds later.

We didn't know it was an attack yet and so I left for a job down in Philly, where I was to me one of our VPs who wanted to see a customer installation in person. We got down there and I completed most of the job before we decided it was time to leave, and I told the customer I'd come back to finish the job. Once I heard about the second plane hitting, I knew it was no accident, that this was an act of war. I recall CNN's website crashing under the load as seemingly everyone hit it in an attempt to find out what was going on.

It took awhile to get home because traffic was bad. My wife made it home OK after her students were dismissed. I spent much of the afternoon trying to find out the status of family in Manhattan, on Long Island, and down in Arlington. I later learned that one of my cousins was working downtown near the WTC and had to run for her life. Thankfully, she made it.

One thing that impressed me was how the Internet functioned as designed that day. When a large central router was taken out in the collapse of the WTC, the Internet routed around the damage and I was able to reach a cousin on Long Island using AOL Instant Messenger. Phone calls to the NYC area were basically impossible.

In the wake of 9/11 the country came together like I had never experienced, but unfortunately was soon torn apart over what turned out to be misguided foreign adventurism with the goal of nation building in a backwards shithole that we should never had invaded. Worse, IMHO, is how members of both political parties took advantage of the country's mood to ram through anti-freedom legislation like the Patriot Act, the creation of the TSA, and engage the USA in a never-ending War On A Tactic.

Having ruined the Republican brand with foreign interventionism, the American public proceeded to elect Not-Bush, thereby removing Carter from the position of Worst POTUS Ever. His signature accomplishment will give the Federal goverment control over about 20% of the US economy despite massive and increasing public opposition.

The Attorney General of the US -- the nation's highest law enforcement official -- has repeatedly refused to investigate slam-dunk cases of voter fraud. Worse, to undermine the Second Amendment to the Constitution -- which he swore to uphold and defend -- he oversaw a gun running operation to Mexico causing the deaths of hundreds of Mexicans. If another country perpetrated something like Fast and Furious on the US we'd rightly consider it an act of war.

The IRS, never a public service agency, has been transformed into a tool of oppression by targeting political opponents. The exact effect this had on the 2012 presidential election cannot be quantified but was no doubt significant in stifling Tea Party voter turnout efforts.

Under the guise of "protecting us from terrorism," the US govermnent has created a surveillance state that would have Hitler, Stalin, and Mao doffing their hats in respect and awe.

One year ago one of our embassies was attacked and four Americans, including the ambassador, were murdered. The reaction of the the administration was to launch of cover-up, making anyone paying attention wonder just what they are covering up. Could it be gunrunning through Libya to Syrian rebels?

A dozen years on we've gone from having a POTUS who at least knew the enemy was, to a POTUS who now wants to turn the US military into Al Qaeda's air force. In the face of overwhelming opposition he delivered a disjointed speech last putting on display for all but his most devoted worshippers how incompetent, indecisive, and amateurish he is.

Twelve years after 9/11/01, I feel like I stepped through a portal into Bizzaro World. Does anyone know the way home?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Trapping Feral Pigs and Other Parables of Modern Life - Matt Bracken

This article is worth reading in full:

Trapping Feral Pigs and Other Parables of Modern Life
by Matt Bracken

Professional trappers don't catch fast-breeding and destructive feral pigs using hunting dogs and guns, or in little traps one or two at a time. The wily pigs quickly learn to evade humans after such fleeting contacts. So how do the pros trap entire feral pig herds, eliminating them all, from granddads to piglets, in one go? They feed them, most generously. They kill them with kindness.

First, in a clearing in the woods, the trappers build an enclosure about twenty feet on a side and four feet high, made of stout wire mesh. There is an opening on each of the four sides of the pen. The pen is loaded with corn and other pig favorites. At first, the suspicious hog honchos will send in a few of the little ones as scouts. The scouts come and go at will, eating to their piggy satisfaction, until eventually suspicions die and they are joined by every other member of the herd right up the chain of command. The pigs soon come to believe that if nothing bad has happened to them after entering the strange wire enclosure full of corn, then nothing bad will ever happen. Their "normalcy bias" kicks in very quickly.

Soon, the pigs can't imagine any other life. Rooting for tubers? An unpleasant task of the forgotten past. Nightly the herd eagerly trots to the free corn in the pen, and they fail to notice when one of the openings has been closed off with another panel of wire fencing during the day. Pigs are said to be as smart as dogs, but neither can count to four. Nor are the closings of the second or third openings much noticed. Finally, all that remains for the trapper to do is to install a powerful spring-driven trap door above the last opening. The entire tribe of formerly wary feral hogs once again enters the pen, and with a metallic clang their miraculous corn nirvana turns into a death trap.

The moral of the story: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Don't go inside the "free corn" pen, not even when all the doors are open. Free food is as dangerous as the sirens' song to ancient mariners. It is all too easy to get used to being fed, and then to miss the exits closing one at a time.

2. The Turkeys and Farmer Brown

Pigs are Einsteins compared to turkeys. Turkeys are so stupid that care must be taken to prevent them from killing themselves by accident. For example, if incorrectly stimulated, they might stampede into a corner of a feeding lot and trample many of their brethren to death in their urgency to follow the herd.

If turkeys think at all, they think of Farmer Brown as "the food man" or "the food god." So you can imagine their simple and unreserved joy at seeing the food man arriving to dispense the daily manna. For 364 straight days they believe they are living in turkey heaven, and they worship the food man, until on day 365 he unexpectedly takes an ax to their necks. (Hat tip to Nassim Nicholas Taleb and his seminal book, "The Black Swan" If you have not yet read it, you are way behind the learning curve. It's waiting for you at your local library.)

The moral of the story: If somebody is feeding you every day and asking for nothing in return, give an occasional thought to his motives and his possible end plans. Not everybody that feeds you loves you. The normalcy bias can kill you.

3. The Buffalo Jump

Native American Indians hunted on foot before the arrival of Spanish horses in North America. Bows and arrows and spears were not showstoppers against stampeding herds of bison, each weighing up to a ton. The Indians understood bison much better than the bison understood the Indians, however, and so the bison repeatedly failed to discern that all the pesky humans waving flags and setting grass fires were funneling them into a narrow draw and then to a yawning cliff, with squaws and children waiting below to commence the butchery.

The moral of the story: If you are being stampeded and funneled, it might be toward disaster, not away from it. Take any exit and go another direction. Read about the then-Greek city of Smyrna in 1922 to see a human Buffalo Jump in action. Wiki link to the "Catstrophe of Smyrna"

4. The Lemmings

The lemmings we are interested in are the small furry rodents that live on islands around Norway. For most of history, their mass charges into the frigid waters were seen as some kind of group suicide. Today, they’re understood to be the result of the little rodent's rapid gestation period kicking into high gear during rare periods of abundance of seed grasses sprouting madly during particularly mild arctic summers. In a matter of months the lemming population explodes, but eventually every last seed is eaten, and not another seed will appear until after the passage of the long arctic winter. The starving rodents packing the small islands can either die in place or undertake a desperate swim to greener pastures on other islands beckoning in the distance.

The moral of the story: There doesn't need to be a pig trapper or a turkey farmer in the equation to cause a mass die-off event; nature can do it all on her own. And nature doesn't care about your schedule, or your personal problems.

5. The Land Crab Massacre

One day in Puerto Rico a platoon of Navy SEALs had to drive in a few trucks and vans to an isolated rifle range way out in some swampy corner of the Roosevelt Roads Naval Base, now sadly closed. A few miles of gravel road paralleled the Caribbean shore, with mangrove trees close on both sides of the narrow track. You had to access this rifle range at certain times during the daily tidal cycle, or the road might be under water. The frogmen spent the day shooting guns and blowing things up, then at sunset packed up the trucks for the quick run back to their beloved NavSpecWar Det Caribbean.

Truck headlights illuminated a moving sheet of land crabs, migrating from the ocean toward the land for the night. Land crabs have a body about the size of a fist, and one claw as big as a Maine lobster's. They were so tightly packed that you could not toss a hat into their midst without hitting two or three: a near solid mass of them covering a mile of gravel road and the mangrove swamps on both sides. All the SEALs could do was drive over them in their government trucks, pulverizing thousands of them, maybe millions, leaving two wide swaths of crushed crab, crackling and squishing beneath our tires for a mile.

On the return trip to the range the next day, not a sign remained of the land crab holocaust. The smashed crustaceans had been immediately devoured by their erstwhile kin, who were probably happy that the hard work of shell-cracking had already been done by Goodyear tires. A mile-long crab massacre was followed by a cannibal feast that left no trace, overnight.

The moral of the story: Don't be caught in the middle of a mass migration where you have no room to maneuver independently. Any outside force, or your neighbors, can smite you at will. Like Desert Storm's "Highway of Death," refugee columns attract warbird attention the way that honey attracts flies. History is full of refugee columns being strafed, on purpose or through mis-identification. Or like the bison, refugee columns can be herded into traps, and the individual refugee can do nothing to prevent it. This is a paradoxical case where the normally presumed “safety in numbers” is a deadly betrayer instead of a savior. Given a choice, going it alone beats The Buffalo Jump every time, but it’s very hard to bolt from the herd.

Read the whole thing here:

Friday, August 16, 2013

Cheap Gear Test

Walmart grease pot and hobo stove, over at Survival and Emergency Preparedness. Check it out.

Friday, August 09, 2013

AR15 80% Lowers -- At AMAZON

I think this pretty much cements the notion that AR15s are in "common use" per Heller.

80% AR15 lower receiver at


Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Raspberry Pi Light Sensor

Today I brought my Raspberry Pi into the office and got the GPIO connectors working, then followed this tutorial to setup a basic light sensor using a photocell.

One of my goals is to come up with an RPi-based system that measures, logs, and reports temperature. Once I get it prototyped I want to setup several of these systems in our 3100 square foot data center so we have a better idea of how each part of the room is being cooled.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Shooting My Chinese Horsebow Again

For the first time all year I flung some arrows downrange with the 50# Chinese horsebow that I bought in 2012 from eBay seller "handmadebow." I remain impressed with the bow, which shoots as well as my much more expensive 40# Toth Magyar horsebow from Seven Meadows Archery. (The Toth bow is better finished, to be sure.)

Much of my shooting today was with some Easton carbon arrows that I bought last year on closeout from 3Rivers Archery. The carbons are a lot lighter than my cedar arrows, and of course much straighter and more consistent. They fly much faster from the horsebow, flat as a laser out to 12 yards. The speed comes at a price in the form of greatly increased hand shock. The lightweight carbons are much less pleasant to shoot than wood arrows, and I enjoyed shooting the bow more after I switched to my cedars. They fly noticeably slower but the bow is quieter with less hand shock, and they still hit with an impressive thump.

Even though I had not shot the bow since last Fall I was able to keep most of my shots in a group the size of a paper plate at about 12 yards. I plan to practice more with it and hopefully take it hunting this year.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Pietta 1873 Millenium Single Action Revolver

Yesterday at Cabela's I bought a Pietta 1873 Millenium replica of the Colt Single Action Army revolver. The gun is chambered for .45 Colt, has a 4-3/4" barrel, and a matte blued finish with a brass grip frame and wood grips. Cabela's also sells them in .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum, with the same matte blued or a nickel finish.

Overall the Pietta is a pretty faithful copy of the Colt SAA, with the obvious exception of the utilitarian finish. The other way in which is diverges from the SAA's design is the presence of a safety that works by pushing the cylinder base pin back towards the hammer, to prevent it from dropping all the way and striking a primer. IMO it is neither easy to operate nor very robust, so I intend to treat the gun as a traditional single action, and keep an empty chamber under the hammer if I carry it.

Out of the box the action was very smooth and the trigger was very crisp, with absolutely no creep or takeup. It's a couple pounds heavier than I'd like, however, so I will do some careful stoning to lighten it a tad.

I already had a few boxes of Black Hills .45 Colt cowboy loads at home. They feature a 250 grain hard cast RNFP bullet at about 750 FPS. I wanted to pick up another box or two of ammo but the only .45 Colt that the store had in stock was Buffalo Bore +P, which shouldn't be used in SAAs or clones. However, they did have one box remaining of Ultramax .45 S&W Schofield with a 180 grain bullet at 650 FPS, a real mouse fart load. (For those unfamiliar with .45 Schofield, it shares the same case dimensions as .45 Colt, but is shorter. It can be safely fired in the Colt chamber.)

Today I brought the Pietta to my gun club and fired it at 25 yards, then 10 yards. At 25 yards it shot about 8" low and 8" left with the Black Hills .45 Colt loads. At 10 yards it was about 6" low and 6" left. The Schofield rounds impacted closer to center, but still low. This 10 yard group of 12 shots was fired before I started filing the front sight to raise the point of impact. I was aiming at 6 o'clock on the bullseye.

The two flyers were my fault.

The gun digested 100 rounds today, mostly trouble free. I did have a problem after the first three shots, because after playing with the safety last night I apparently failed to properly seat the cylinder base pin catch in the correct detent, and the pin started walking out. This prevented the cylinder from rotating so I had to dismount it from the gun. This goes in the operator error column.

The other issue I had was ammo related. One empty .45 Colt cartridge case was very tight in the chamber after I fired it, and I couldn't eject it until I again dismounted the cylinder and smacked the empty out with a mallet, using the base pin as a drift. Most of the remaining empties actually fell out if I elevated the muzzle, even without using the ejector rod. So, that one gets chalked up to an ammo problem.

If you want a Colt Single Action Army replica that won't break the bank, the Pietta 1873 is worth a look. As a copy of the SAA, it is not suitable for heavy loads, but the original ballistics for the .45 Colt round are nothing to sneeze at. A 250 grain .45 caliber bullet going about 900 FPS will take game up to deer size cleanly, or prove effective for self defense.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Crosman 2300T Improved Front Sight

Over the weekend I used my new lathe and my mill to make a nicer front sight for my Crosman 2300T. Details here.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Crosman 2300T Air Pistol

Back in January and February I posted a few times about using airguns for cheap, quiet indoor marksmanship practice. While I have a couple of suitable air rifles, I was lacking a good air pistol. My old Benjamin has mediocre sights and pumping it up 2 or 3 times between each shot gets old quickly. The Crosman 38T revolver that I bought back in the 80s and that I had hoped to use will no longer hold gas, and nor will the late 90s vintage RWS C225.

So, when I got a $100 Amazon gift card for Father's Day, I decided to put it towards a Crosman 2300T CO2 powered air pistol. I ordered it Monday morning and with Amazon Prime, it arrived on Tuesday, even though I did not pay extra for overnight shipping. This is a photo from Crosman's website:

The .177 (4.5mm) caliber 2300T is one of a series of CO2 powered pistols from Crosman. The .22 (5.6mm) caliber 2240 is on the low end, with the 2300S at the top. You can also order custom variants from Crosman's custom shop. The key features of the 2300T are:

  • .177 caliber
  • Single shot bolt action
  • 10.1" barrel
  • Single stage adjustable trigger, with overtravel stop
  • Adjustable rear sight and blade front sight
  • Steel breach, grooved for optics (as opposed to the plastic breach of the 2240)
  • Crossbolt safety mounted behind the trigger.
  • Weight of 42.5 oz.
  • MV up to 520 FPS
  • 40 shots or so per CO2 cylinder
The first order of business upon unpacking the pistol and verifying that it wasn't loaded, was to install the rear sight. To do so I had to turn in the large screw on the rear top of the breach, to provide more clearance for the rear sight, then slide the sight into a dovetail and tighten two set screws with a provided Allen wrench.

I then noticed that the front sight was canted a bit to the right. Using a pair of slipjoint pliers with a couple layers or duct tape padding the jaws, I was able to straighten it.

Before shooting any pellets I dry fired the gun and determined the trigger pull was adjusted too high. Following the instruction pamphlet, I removed one of the grip panels and turned the brass trigger adjustment dial to lower the pull. It's down to a couple pounds now with minimal takeup but a fair amount of creep. I haven't tinkered with the overtravel adjustment yet.

The ambidextrous plastic grips are comfortable for me, but I have fairly small hands. A shooter with large hands may want beefier grips.

The LPA rear sight is shaped a bit like the Novak rear sights found on many modern service pistols. There are white dots on either side of the notch. The front is a plastic blade on a barrel band. I'd rate the sight picture as acceptable for plinking but mediocre for target shooting. I plan to use a Sharpie marker to blacken the white dots. The rear sight notch is a little too wide, IMO. The front sight is too shiny, but since it's plastic you can't smoke it with a match or candle.

The balance of the pistol is neutral. It could use a bit more weight towards the muzzle. I am considering making a replacement front sight/muzzle brake unit out of aluminum to improve the sight picture and add a little more weight towards the muzzle end.

I put 10 rounds through the pistol Tuesday night, plus another 40 or so tonigh. The target below was shot from 25', one handed, with RWS Meisterkuglen pellets. Power was from an old Daisy CO2 cylinder. I put a drop of some Air Rifle Headquarters silicone spring cylinder oil on the tip of the CO2 cylinder before I put it in the gun; Crosman recommends using a drop of their Pellgun Oil. I received a tube of that today.

Point of aim was at 6 o'clock on the orange bull.

One oddity was that on shot number 6 the valve stuck open and gas started to leak. I recocked and snapped the gun, which stopped it. I regard this as a fluke and probably due to a burr.

Despite the canted front sight and the stuck valve, my initial impression is favorable. As long as no more mechanical issues arise, it should make a good pistol for indoor marksmanship practice. It's nice to shoot and accurate.

The Crosman 22xx series is sort of the Ruger 10/22 or AR15 of the air pistol world, in that they are modular, easily customizable, and there is a large variety of aftermarket and Crosman-branded parts for modifying the gun to your own preference. For example, Crosman sells a shoulder stock to convert it to a carbine. Longer barrels are available, including in .22 caliber, and even valves which enable more CO2 per shot for higher velocity.

Shooting a CO2 powered air gun isn't as cheap per shot as a spring piston or pneumatic gun, but at most it's on par with a .22 rimfire.

Overall, the Crosman 2300T is a good choice for target practice, but it can be made better with some modifications.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Updates to The Shooters' Bar

I made several updates this morning to The Shooters' Bar(SM), the Internet's oldest freely-available list of pro-Second Amendment attorneys. Today's updates are in CA, IL, MO, and MS.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Machine Shop Update

On Saturday I completed the installation of digital read outs (DROs) on my Grizzly G8689 mini mill. Previously, I'd installed a belt drive conversion from Little Machine Shop. The DROs will enable me to make much more precise cuts, while the belt drive conversion made the mill a lot quieter, smoother running, and increased the top RPM to 4300 should I ever need it. Both are worthwhile mods, IMO.

However, a lathe is still the basic machine tool to have in a machine shop. After much additional online research today I ordered a Big Dog 7x14 benchtop lathe. Unlike most of the benchtop hobby lathes on the US market, this one is made by Yangzhou Real Bull, rather than Sieg. Included feature and accessories are a digital RPM display, lever lock tail stock, a steady rest, a follow rest, tail stock chuck and a live center, 4" four-jaw chuck, and metal transmission gears. I still have the lathe tool kit that I ordered when I placed my original order with Grizzly, so I should be able to get up and running with it immediately.

Delivery should take 5 - 10 days, after which I'll post a review.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Home Machining Website

I decided that the format of a blog isn't ideal for documenting the work I'm doing in my home machine shop. So, I created a site using Google Sites, Dave Markowitz's Machine Shop. I will be documenting various projects there. So far, these include doing a belt drive conversion on my Grizzly Mini Mill, and adding digital readouts, which is currently a work in progress.

I hope you'll check it out.

Remington 550-1 Shell Deflector

The shell deflector for the Remington 550-1 that I ordered last week from Numrich Arms arrived today.

Here's a closeup of the receiver without the deflector:

And here it is with the deflector mounted:

As you can see, it covers up the ejection port well, and should keep unburnt powder granules out of my face when shooting the rifle.

Before installing the deflector I degreased the mounting hole in the receiver with some lacquer thinner that was sitting on my workbench, then put a drop of blue Loctite on the mounting screw to keep it in place.

Considering that the 550-1 has been out of production since 1970, I feel fortunate in that Numrich still has some spare parts on hand for it.

Musket at the Betsy Ross House

Yesterday I chaperoned my daughter's class trip to Philadelphia. Among the places we visited was Betsy Ross's House. In the basement, they have displayed a musket and information on how paper cartridges were made during the Revolution.

The musket is either a French Charleville, as supplied to the Continental Army during the Revolution, or a US M1795, which is nearly a direct copy. This page also has a good description of how paper musket cartridges were made.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Remington 550-1 and Range Day

I picked up another classic .22 autoloader today at Surplus City. It's a Remington 550-1. AFAIK, the 550 was made from the 1940s up until the early 1970s.  It has the floating chamber designed by Carbine Williams so it can shoot .22 S, L, or LR. I tried some CB Longs and while it will eject the empties, the bolt didn''t come far back enough to pick up the next round. The floating chamber may need to be pulled and cleaned. The tube mag will hold 15 .22 LRs.

The rifle was made before 1968 and has no serial number. The date code on the barrel indicates that it was made in March 1948. I'd rate it as NRA Very Good with an excellent bore. I put over 200 rounds through it today with only a couple failures to feed. One was with a CCI Mini Mag and one was with a Federal Champion. Incidentally, comparing the two types of ammo side by side they look identical except for the headstamp. They sound the same and shoot to the same POI at 25 yards. So, AFAIC, the Federal Champion is the equal of CCI Mini Mags. I also shot a bunch of Federal 550 bulk pack and it ran fine with them, too. (ATK owns both CCI and Federal.)

I ran a couple patches through the bore and applied a generous amount of FP10 to the bolt before shooting it. It hasn't been cleaned in a long time. For all I know there's four decades' worth of gunk inside the receiver. Fouling started working its way out of the action and some funk actually fell out the trigger slot. I took the stock off and removed the bolt, tonight and hosed the action out with Kroil, letting it soak for a couple hours. A fair amount of yucky stuff came out.

The 550-1 is a tackdriver. I shot it from the bench at 25 yards where it would keep the Mini Mags and Champions inside ~1.5" which is about as good as I can do with an open rear sight and a front bead. The receiver is neither grooved nor drilled and tapped for a scope. I plan to drill and tap the receiver with my milling machine. I have an extra Nikon 4x32mm Prostaff rimfire scope that will go on it.

The varnish on the stock shows some dings and chips, so I'll probably strip and refinish it. It's also missing the brass/gas deflector that Remington shipped with the rifles. Numrich has spares and the mounting screw, so I'll definitely get one. It does spit a little out the ejection port. I'll also probably swap out the recoil spring for a new one.

Compared with more recent .22 autoloading rifles the Remington feels a lot nicer. It's definitely a product of a bygone era when American gunmakers shipped rifles made from high quality blued steel with nice wood stocks. It feels a lot more solid than my Ruger 10/22 or the Marlin Model 60s I've handled.

I also shot my Remington Nylon 77 with the extra mags that I had to modify. (The 4 spare mags that I got from Remington would not lock into the rifle. I had to grind away part of the locking lug. Worse, 3 of the 4 needed the metal reinforcing clip bent out so I could load them.) They worked well today, so now I'm happy with them.

Here's a pic of the two Remington .22 autoloaders:

Older blued steel and walnut .22s like the 550-1 make excellent additions to any prepper's battery. They were made very well and in many cases are extremely accurate. Older Remingtons in particular have a reputation for being very, very accurate. The tubular magazine is much less likely to be lost than a detachable box, although if you aren't careful you can damage it.

Finally, I also put a box of WWB .45 ACP through my Springfield M1911A1 using two new Chip McCormick magazines, which worked perfectly.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Milling Using a Chuck vs. Collets

The Sieg X2 Mini Mills like my Grizzly G8689 come with drill chucks. The Grizzly and some other brands also come with collets for holding end mills, while the Harbor Freight version comes only with a drill chuck, as far as I know. Today, I tried doing some milling using the chuck to hold an end mill, because I wanted the extra reach it provided.

Compared with a collet, the chuck is noticeably less rigid and watching the mill rotate, it also looks like it hold the end mill less concentrically. I.e., there's some noticeable wobble.

Based on this brief experience, collets are much better than the drill chuck for milling. End mill holders are another option, but I have no experience with them.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Forbes: Why 3D-Printed Untraceable Guns Could Be Good

Forbes is running an op-ed about why untraceable guns created on 3D printers could be good for the US.

Although the technology is still in its infancy, Wilson’s innovation has already sparked heated debate. Some gun rights advocates (including Wilson) argue this means current gun laws will soon be obsolete. They welcome the fact that home hobbyists may soon be able to build functioning firearms without any background check or government record. Others are alarmed, concerned that this would enable criminals to more easily obtain firearms. Congressman Steve Israel has already stated his intent to modify current laws to ban such guns.
However, Congressman Israel may be too late. Once thousands of motivated hobbyists start downloading open source gun designs and posting their refinements, we’ll likely see rapid technical advances. But Cody Wilson’s real impact on America may not be technological but political — and in a good way.

Read the whole thing.

I agree with Hsieh. If there is one thing we can learn from 20th Century history, it is that governments cannot be trusted with a monopoly of force. While it has always been legal for Americans to make untraceable guns for their own use, 3D printing lowers the entry bar, especially since traditional shop classes have been on the wain in American schools, while a larger number of people have developed computer skills. 3D printing will make home manufacture of firearms more accessible to the masses, especially as the technology matures.

That said, for those like myself willing to learn basic machine shop skills, fully functional firearms can be made at home with equipment within reach of most of the middle class. Small milling machines and lathes are available at prices under $1,000 each. For a modest additional expenditure, they can be made more precise with digital readouts, and for another grand or so can by CNC-enabled.

To would-be tyrants like Steve King, Charles Schumer, and Dianne Feinstein: You can't stop the signal.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Belt Drive Conversion for Grizzly Mini Mill

Now that I've been using my Grizzly G8689 (Sieg X2) mini mill for a few weeks, I've decided to do a belt drive conversion on it. The plastic gear drive system on the mill has two main disadvantages:

1. It's very noisy.
2. It's prone to breakage, from what I've read in many places.

Little Machine Shop has a belt drive conversion kit which remedies both issues. I ordered one, along with a spare belt this afternoon. They should arrive some time next week.

The next improvement to the mill will be adding digital read outs for all three axes. I bought the DRO plans from Fignoggle Designs, but I'm still debating whether to use them or go with a cheaper solution. E.g., just get a set of iGaging scales with remote readouts. Comments and suggestions are welcome.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Lawyers, Guns and Money

Student of the Gun discusses how to find a pro-RKBA lawyer in the event you need to use a gun in self defense in their April 25, 2013 episode, below, and discusses my website, The Shooters' Bar.

As I mention on TSB's home page, I started the list back in 1997 as a way for gun owners to help keep their money within the shooting community. That said, if you are looking for a lawyer to represent you after a defensive gun usage, the most important thing to remember is that you need someone who is a good criminal defense attorney. If you go to the TSB and don't find such a lawyer in your locale, you could call someone listed who is near you but practices in other areas of the law and ask for a referral.

Remember, too, that every attorney listed on TSB has asked to be there. I don't go adding folks on my own. If there isn't someone listed in a particular state or locality it means that nobody from there has contacted me. Links to TSB are always welcome, and if you inform pro-RKBA lawyers of the site to help me fill in the gaps it's appreciated.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Dem Rep Lets the Cat out of the Bag

In this video, Democratic Representative Jan Schakowsky openly admits that the Democrats' end goal is not just an assault weapons ban, but a ban on handguns. So, for those of you who insist that "nobody is trying to take away our right to bear arms," or that they "respect the Second Amendment," how do you explain this?

This is why opponents of gun control cannot compromise and we will fight infringements of our rights tooth and nail. The collectivist gun banners have been using incrementalism for decades in their quest to disarm the American people. Thankfully, the Internet has given us a powerful tool to circumvent the mainstream media and expose their agenda.

We won't be the frog in the boiling pot.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

You have to start somewhere

Last night I used my new milling machine for the first time. Since I'm new at this I am starting with the basics. I cut a couple inches off the end of a scrap 2x4 and milled it so that the adjacent sides are perpendicular and opposite sides are parallel.

On the way home from work last night I picked up a piece of 1/8" thick aluminum, and a piece of 1/8" thick hot rolled steel. If I have time tonight I'll look into making a flat square and/or slots in the material.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Follow Up on the DIY Speedloader for .22 Tube Magazines

Back in January, I posted about the speedloaders I made for my Norinco ATD. I finally got the chance to try them on Saturday night. They work well as long as I held the rifle almost vertically, with the muzzle down. There appears to be some roughness inside the loading port on the rifle's stock which can interfere with dumping rounds into the mag. Once I fix that, the speedloaders should work better.

New iPhone 5, and iPad Follies

I had an Apple iPhone4 since the end of April, 2011. It was a great cell phone -- really a pocket computer -- but lately I've noticed that it's been getting slower and slower, and I was feeling cramped with the 16 GB of storage space. I have been eligible for an upgrade since December, so this past weekend I decided to take the plunge and got a 32 GB iPhone 5. No doubt,  Apple will now introduce the 5S or 6 next week.

So far it's a noticeable improvement, speed-wise. I haven't tested the LTE connection, since where I spend most of my time Verizon's network is 3G-only, or I'm near a wifi access point.

The iPhone 5's larger screen is nice while not being obnoxiously large, like some of the Android-based smartphones available today. (Hey, if you like having something not much smaller than a tablet as your phone, more power to you. They won't fit in my pockets comfortably.)

The major downside with the change to the new device is that I had to setup my Gmail account using IMAP, not using the Exchange ActiveSync protocol, because Google discontinued ActiveSync for new device access for free accounts.  Syncing Gmail works better via ActiveSync. For one thing, contacts are synced without having to create a separate CardDAV account on the iPhone.

On the way home from the Apple Store I plugged the phone into my old USB car charger, using the new USB-Lightning cable. It worked with the old charger, so I ordered a couple USB-Lightning cables from Amazon which should be waiting for me at home today. I don't have any docks, radios, or other devices with the old Apple Dock connector, so I don't need any other adapters. I do wish, however, that Apple would get with the program and use Micro-USB connectors on the iPhone and iPad. Fat chance, I know.

Since my data plan changed with the phone upgrade, I figured that I'd just add my iPad2 to it using either a shared plan, tethering, or adding the iPad as another line on my account. As it turns out, it is actually cheaper for me to just keep the $20/month prepaid plan that I've been using with the iPad. Of course, I figured this out after I discontinued 3G service for the iPad, so I had to go back in and set that up all over again. Derp.

Monday, April 08, 2013


I decided awhile ago that metalworking would be a good set of skills to pick up. A couple friends have some metalworking skills and one has been doing some CNC work. We're planning to build some AR15 lowers from aluminum bar stock (perfectly legal for our own use, we're not planning on selling them).

The last time I did any metalworking was back in junior high school shop class in the early 80s, when we did some sand casting, forging, and soldering. I looked into taking some classes at my local community college but they are not offered on a schedule that works for me, so I'm going to take the same approach that allowed me to change careers from law to IT, and teach myself.

Aside from books and just trying things out, there are a lot of instructional videos that are available online for free. For example, I've been watching a series of videos from MIT Tech TV.

I downloaded them to my iPad and have been watching them during my commute on the train. Along with this I read through Audel's Machine Shop Basics.

After doing a lot of reading and subscribing to the Yahoo 7x12 lathe group, I ordered a Grizzly G8688 last week from Amazon (at the time it was $30 cheaper through them vs. ordering direct). It won't handle big stuff like a friend's lathe that weighs in at 1800 lbs., but this will actually fit in my shed and I can cause less damage with it.

I also got a copy of the book Metal Lathe for Home Machinists which has a bunch of exercises to do to learn manual lathe operations, some which are tools to improve the lathe itself.

Once I have some practical experience with a lathe under my belt I  eventually may build a .22 rimfire suppressor on a Form 1.

I got my order today from Grizzly Industrial. However, somebody up in Muncy, PA got confused because they sent me the G8689 Mini Milling Machine instead of the G8688 Mini Lathe that I actually ordered. This was not evident until after I opened the shipping crate and the delivery truck had already left.

After I opened the shipping crate I called Grizzly to inform them of their error but that I would keep it. The CSR I spoke with told me that he'd have to talk to a supervisor and then call me back so I could pay the extra $30, but it's been several hours and they haven't called back.

I'm actually not really upset. When I first got interested in taking up machining my first inclination was to buy a mill. After some online research I changed my mind to getting a lathe first, but thinking I'd get the mill later. No big deal if I do it in reverse.

I do need to get a milling vise and end mills now. A friend has some end mills that he's offered to me to get started.

Here's a pic of the mill sitting on the new bench I built this weekend to hold the lathe and my drill press:

I cleaned off the packing grease with kerosene, but it still has to be shimmed level and bolted down. It weighs 101 pounds, and getting up on the bench was a cast iron bitch (pardon the pun).

Naturally, I'll be doing different kinds of project on the mill vs. a lathe. An HDPE AR-15 lower receiver comes to mind. I’m also interested in doing some kind of a single shot rifle, perhaps in a caliber like .38 Special or .32 S&W Long, either of which would easy and cheap to load for, and be good for small game.

The mill and a lathe should be complementary. It remains to be see, however, if the mill will render my benchtop drill press redundant.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Some Data on the Current State of the Panic

Surplus City Guns in Feasterville, PA is the shop that I've bought most of my guns over the past 10 - 15 years. Yesterday afternoon, they put this on their Facebook timeline:

This is got to be a record for our store for one caliber ( 5.56/.223 )
13,360 rds in bulk in under an hour today
50,000 rds in bulk in under 3 hours Wednesday
21,000 rds in bulk in under 2 1/2hrs Tuesday
and another 2000rds sold by the 20 rd box sprinkled thru-out the week
The crazy part is we could have easily sold 2 to 3 times that amount if we had it......Thank you for your patronage and we will do our best to keep you supplied at a reasonable price . Keep an eye on Facebook for any upcoming announcements .

Surplus City isn't some huge store. It's your average sized gun shop. Now imagine this going on at every gun shop in the country. This points out a few things, IMO:

  1. DHS contracts are not solely to blame for the ammo shortage.
  2. This is just 5.56/.223. Other calibers like 9mm, .45 ACP, and .22 LR are flying off the shelves as fast or faster. Ditto for reloading components and magazines.
  3. A large part of the American people are arming themselves to the teeth. They are stocking up on guns and ammunition. Kind of like 1775 or 1860.

Anyone with two neurons to rub together knows that the current crop of politicians in Washington -- whether Republican or Democrat -- is incapable of or unwilling to address the problems rending this country in two. In fact, they and their willing accomplices in the mainstream media are doing everything in their power to feed the divisions.

This will not end well.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

LRGC WW2 Practical Rifle Match

This morning I shot in the World War 2-themed practical rifle match at Langhorne Rod and Gun Club. In order to officially place in the standings, you had to shoot a World War 2 service rifle. The most common rifle for LRGC’s WW2 match is the M1 Garand, with a sprinkling of M1 Carbines, but this year we did have one shooter with a German Karabiner 98k bolt action, another with a Swiss K-31 Schmidt-Rubin straight-pull bolt action, and one guy with an M1903-A3 Springfield. We also had a few people shooting AR-15s, but the match was primarily for WW2 arms.

In last year’s WW2 match, I shot my 1944 Rock Ola M1 Carbine. This year, I brought my No.4 Mark I Lee-Enfield bolt action, made in 1944 at the Royal Ordnance Factory, Fazakerly for the British military. The rifle was later FTRed (Factory Thorough Repaired) at Fazakerly in 1948. It came into my possession in 1985, when I bought it at Woolworth’s at the Plymouth Meeting (PA) Mall. It was the second centerfire rifle I ever bought, the first being an Iver Johnson M1 Carbine that I traded off many years ago. This Lee-Enfield is a keeper, though.

The ammo I shot today was South African surplus .303 Mark VII Ball that I purchased from MidwayUSA about 10 years ago. I wish that I had bought a lot more, since .303 surplus dried up several years ago.

The first three strings were fired from atop the 100 yard berm at the yellow steel plates hung at the 200 yard backstop. We did 8 shots each prone, sitting or kneeling, and offhand.


We then did drills at 15 yards on paper, starting at the low ready, then bringing the rifle up and firing two shots after the match director blew a whistle, then going back to the low ready.

Next we moved back to 50 yards where we did 8 shots each on IDPA targets from standing, sitting or kneeling, and prone.


Finally, we moved back to the 200 yard firing point and shot again at the steel. This time, standing and sitting/kneeling were at the yellow-painted steel, but prone was at the smaller pink-painted plates. Here’s a somewhat better view of my rifle.


The yellow plates were roughly the size of a human torso. At 200 yards through iron sights they are pretty small. The pink plates were maybe 2/3 the size of the yellow plates. I did best from the sitting position. During the standing part I tried using the micrometer sight and I was off. I changed back to the battle sight for the sitting and prone, and got 7 out of 8 sitting. Unfortunately, my shots were impacting right below the plate for the prone stage.

Overall, I tied for 5th place out of about 20 shooters; or 4th if you discount the top shooter, who used an AR15. Considering that I handicapped myself by shooting a right handed bolt action I am pretty pleased, if a bit sore.

Running a bolt action rifle (especially from the wrong side, since I’m left handed) through a practical rifle course really makes one appreciate what an advantage a semiautomatic rifle is in a military or self defense context. Not only are repeat shots faster with the semiauto but operator fatigue is much less with a semiauto.

Also, when compared with more modern military cartridges like 5.56x45, 5.45x39, or 7.62x39, the full power rounds like .30-06, 7.92x57, 7.5x55, or .303 recoil a lot more, slowing down accurate rapid fire and wearing you out sooner. That said, the big bores really smack targets around, and penetrate cover a lot better than the smaller rounds.

Interestingly, the No.4 Lee-Enfield is so reliable under adverse conditions, that it remains the issued rifle of the Canadian Rangers to this day, even if a replacement is in the works.