Tuesday, December 29, 2015

MacBook Pro Upgrades

Three years ago I bought my wife a 13" MacBook Pro (mid-2012, MacBook Pro 9,2). For the time it was an excellent system, with an i5 CPU, 4 GB of RAM, and a 512 GB hard drive. However, she's been complaining lately that it runs slowly.

I checked it out yesterday morning and sure enough, it felt sluggish, even more so than my mid-2009 MBP with a Core 2 Duo CPU. However, my machine has 8 GB of RAM and, most importantly, an SSD. It was time to upgrade her laptop.

Based on my experience upgrading several older Macs and PCs, a solid state drive (SSD) is the single best performance-enhancing hardware upgrade for an older machine. SSD's have vastly better read/write times than spinning disk. In laptops, SSDs also improve battery life because they draw less electricity.

My plan was to first cleanup the hard disk, then upgrade the OS on the machine, clone the hard disk to an SSD, then upgrade the hardware.

To clean up the disk I ran OnyX. Next, I upgraded the machine from Yosemite to El Capitan. In my experience, Yosemite was a real turd, giving me a lot of grief on my work machine. When I was stuck with it I had a lot of instability issues that I didn't have with earlier versions of OS X. El Capitan seems to have fixed that.

While the upgrade to El Capitan was proceeding, I went to microcenter.com and ordered a few items for in-store pickup to complete the upgrade:

(The links go to Amazon. I bought them from my local Microcenter because I wanted to get this done in one day.)

I installed the RAM first and fired up the machine. It still felt a little slow so as expected, the spinning disk was the main reason.

To clone the OEM disk to the new SSD I downloaded and installed SuperDuper, which I have used previously to clone Mac disks. My wife had less than 150 GB used on her disk, but even using a USB 3.0 interface, cloning it took one hour and 16 minutes.

The physical swap was straightforward, although I had to grab my precision screwdriver set with Torx bits, because Apple used T6 screws to hold the hard disk in place.

The machine performs much, much better now. Cold boots are much faster and applications launch with very little lag. My wife should get several more years out of it.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Shot the Samick Sage A Little More Today

This morning I took my daughter to go see Star Wars Episode VII. No spoilers, just go see it. It's awesome. After lunch I took the Samick Sage out back for a little shooting.

It continues to impress, especially with how fast it shoots my 600 spine, 6.4 grains/inch carbon arrows.

The bow is noisy, though. Most of the noise seems to come from the limb pockets, where each limb is  held in an aluminum tray to the riser. I've read where this can be quieted down by lining them with moleskin.

After I was done shooting I added two nocking points to the string. This setup is like how my Samick SLB II longbow came. When shooting, you nock the arrows between the two points.

My daughter hasn't shot the bow yet but I hope to remedy that by next weekend.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Samick Sage Recurve Bow -- Initial Impressions

My 11 year old daughter was ready to move up to a "real" bow from her kid's bows. After doing a good bit of research, I bought her a Samick Sage 62" long takedown recurve with a set of 25# draw limbs.

Ever since getting back into archery about four years ago, the Samick Sage has the been the bow that I've seen recommended the most for beginners. It's reasonably priced at $139 and available in a wide range of draw weights. Additionally, since it uses ILF limbs, one can easily buy additional sets of limbs for a heavier or lighter pull. The limbs are laminated, with a maple core and fiberglass on the back and belly. The limbs are Fast-Flight string capable.

Each limb attaches to the riser with a single bolt, with a large knurled head. The bolts and the inserts they screw into are finished with a matte blue, and came bone dry. A couple of these parts had signs of surface rust. I wiped down the bolts and placed a drop of Tri-Flow on each before assembling the bow.

The riser is made from laminated wood with a radiused shelf. It has inserts for a stabilizer, bow quiver, and plunger rest.

I bought the Sage from Archery Pros on Amazon. They included a Hoyt/Easton stick-on arrow rest. This afternoon I strung the bow, marked a temporary nocking point on the string using some dental floss, and took it out back for its first shots.

At first I used several fiberglass youth arrows my daughter had. Half are rated at up to a 30# bow, while the others are for up to 40# bows. They flew quite well from the Sage, although shooting conditions weren't good due to wind gusts.

I then tried the Easton 600 spine carbon arrows I've been shooting in my Chinese takedown recurve. They also shot well from the Sage. The arrows had no problems sticking in my bag target from about 40 feet. The carbons fitted with Saunders bludgeon heads flew well, too.

The Sage draws very smoothly with no stacking at my draw length of about 26 - 27". There's a bit of twang on release, but string silencers will take care of that.

Even though it was very windy during my first range session, I shot the bow well. It's very smooth on draw and release. It's very tempting for me to buy a second one with 40# limbs and a Fast Flight string for myself.

As we get more chances to shoot the Samick Sage, I'll post follow ups.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Backyard Archery Plinking

Shooting arrows at a regular target is a lot of fun, but sometimes it's nice to mix it up. Previously, we've used plastic cups, balloons, and small cardboard boxes as alternate targets. This morning I cut up the cardboard tube that my last batch of Chinese bamboo arrows came in, and set them up downrange.

Last week I placed an order with 3Rivers Archery for several items, including a half dozen 125 grain Saunders screw-in bludgeon points. (Also available on Amazon here.) They are made of a hard rubber with a flat point, with several small cones protruding from the face. They have a metal core with a protruding threaded stud to screw into standard arrow inserts. I used them with my Easton carbon arrows and shot them from my 45 pound takedown recurve.

The bludgeon points are designed for shooting small game or stump shooting. The latter is basically wandering around in the woods shooting at targets of opportunity such as stumps, clumps of dirt, pine cones, etc. It's a great way to improve your field shooting skills.

Since I don't have woods on my property, cardboard tubes about the size of a Guiness pub can are a decent substitute. The arrows make a nice loud pop with a solid hit, and frequently the impaled tubes bounce around dramatically with a good hit.

I'm sold on the Saunders bludgeon points. They fly the same as my 125 grain bullet points, but prevent arrows from snaking under the grass. They do penetrate foam broadhead targets a few inches however, making a big hole in the process. They bounced off my bag target.

If you're shooting wooden arrows without inserts, 3Rivers has "Bunny Buster" small game blunts that slip over the end of your arrow.

Please note that these are not suitable for LARP use. A headshot with one of these from the 45 pound bow I was shooting today would result in a concussion or death. I wouldn't want to take a hit from one of these even from a 25 pound bow.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Receive My Second Batch of Bamboo Arrows

Today I received the second batch of bamboo arrows that I ordered from Chinese eBay seller arrowmaker2013. I ordered a full dozen this time. The appear to be identical to the first batch of 6, and shoot to the same POI at 40 feet (the longest distance I feel comfortable shooting at in my yard).

Brightly colored fletching would help me find them when I miss my target. I may raid my wife's makeup drawer to see if she has some really loud nail polish, and use it to paint the shaft from behind the feathers back to the nock.

There's a lot of cheap crap made in China, but you can get pretty darn good traditional archery equipment from there at modest cost, if you're willing to wait a little while for delivery.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Shot the Chinese Recurve Some More Today

I worked from home today and shot the new recurve bow some more during my lunch break.

I also tried the bamboo arrows that I got for my 50# Manchu bow in it. They are heavier and stiffer than the 600 spine carbons I've been shooting in the new bow, and it showed. They fly noticeably slower and POI is to the right. I'll stick with the carbons in this bow.

The grip needs a little work to better fit my hand. There's a spot that rubs the top of my right thumb when I shoot, that gets annoying. It should a few minutes with a file or rasp, and then I can touch it up with some tung oil.

But overall, it continues to impress.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Lever Action Carbines for Defense

Recently I was able to get some shooting in over a friend's house (he lives in the country). One of the guns I shot was my Rossi 92 lever action in .357 Magnum. It's a replica of the Winchester 1892, designed by John Moses Browning. Shooting the R92 got me to thinking about the practical application of this 19th Century design in late 2015, especially in light of current events.

Those of us who live in free states have unfettered access to modern defensive rifles like AR-15s, with full capacity magazines. However, if you live in a ban state such as New York, unless you're willing to break the law, no more standard capacity magazines will be available. If you're just now looking to get a defensive rifle, modern semiautos and acessories may be limited in availability.

In my opinion, a lever action is a viable alternative, even though the basic design is a century and a half old. If we're looking at a rifle for defense against bad guys (as opposed to dangerous animals) the ones to look at are those which fire handgun cartridges. Although there are several other options, if buying a levergun for social purposes I suggest that you choose one in .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, or .45 Colt. These are currently the most common such cartridges and are easy to reload for.

Of these three, my first pick is the .357 Magnum. Ammunition is widely available at less cost than .44 Magnum or .45 Colt, it provides effective terminal ballistics, and recoil is mild.

From rifle length barrels, magnum revolver cartridges get a big performance boost. For example, a .357 Magnum 158 grain bullet that leaves a 4" revolver barrel at about 1250 FPS will probably be doing at least 1700 - 1800 FPS from a 20" carbine. .357 loads with 125 grain bullets can exceed 2,000 FPS from a rifle! The muzzle energy of a .357 Magnum round fired from a rifle can be double that of the same load fired from a handgun.

Compared with a shotgun, lever action carbines have less recoil, smaller and lighter ammo, and greater magazine capacity (generally speaking).

Currently, the Rossi 92 is probably the most commonly available pistol caliber levergun. The Marlin 1894 is still around, but 1894s in .357 seem to scarce as hen's teeth. There are also Winchester 1894s in .357, .44, and .45 available on the used gun market, if you can find one.

Some features that I like about the Rossi 92 include:

  • The 20" barreled models hold 10 cartridges in the under barrel magazine. The 16" models hold 8, while the 24" rifles hold 12 rounds.
  • In the 20" barreled version, it weighs in at about 5 pounds. Even my 11 year old daughter is able to shoulder it.
  • The .357 Magnum carbines have very mild recoil, even with full power loads. I've single loaded .38 wadcutters, which recoil like and sound like a .22 when fired from the 20" barreled carbine. This is great for familiarization firing for new shooters, and can also be used for small game.
  • The design includes a built-in gunlock incorporated into the hammer. It is unobtrusive and is locked/unlocked with a key included with the rifle. If you want to secure a loaded rifle outside of a safe, it's one of the better solutions I've seen. IMO, it's safer than gun locks that go in the trigger guard.
  • Rossi 92s are reasonably priced and readily available, although you might need to order one through a local FFL or from an online retailer. 
  • While my rifle is blued steel, Rossi also makes the 92 in stainless steel. If you need a rifle for a boat or other humid environment this is definitely a big plus.

Some things I don't care for:

  • There are some rough edges inside the loading gate that I need to debur. They can chew on your fingers when loading the magazine.
  • Several years ago Rossi added a manual safety on top of the bolt to John Browning's original design. It feels cheap and cheezy. I removed mine and replaced it with a plug from Steve's Gunz. The gun still has the original half cock on the hammer.
  • The magazine follower is a cheap piece of plastic. I replaced mine with a steel follower from Steve's Gunz.
  • The finish on the wood was not only bland, but it didn't seal the wood well, either. I gave it a couple coats of Watco Danish Oil to better protect the stocks. Boiled linseed oil, tung oil, or a sprayed on polyurethane would also work well.
  • Browning's design does not lend itself to easy takedown. The good thing is that takedown is rarely required. Marlins are much better in this regard.

Steve's Gunz has a good DVD on slicking up the Rossi 92s.

As an aside, Rossi's quality control can sometimes be a little spotty. Years ago I had an 1892 Short Rifle in .357 made by Rossi for EMF. It had a 20" octagonal barrel, crescent buttplate, and no barrel band around the forearm. It was a beautiful rifle but when I first got it, it gave me extraction problems. Rossi had me send it in and they fixed it, but this was a hassle. At some point I traded it off but I do regret that.

The pistol caliber lever actions give you a light, fast handling rifle that fires an effective cartridge, can be operated quickly, and especially in .357 and .45 Colt, has mild recoil. It's worth a look for home or property defense if you can't have a modern rifle.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Hanukkah, Jihad, and Gun Control

Tonight Hanukkah begins, in which we celebrate not just the miracle of the one night's worth of oil lasting for eight, but also the triumph of the Maccabees over their pagan Seleucid Greek oppressors.

Today, Jews in the West face a threat far more dangerous than the ancient Greeks, namely Muslim Jihad. After the events of the past few weeks -- the terrorist attacks in Paris, France and San Bernardino, California, only those Jews with their heads in the sand can feel safe from this threat.

The United States has historically been the safest place for Jews but with the Obama administration, this safety is being compromised every day. In his quest to "fundamentally transform" the US,  he is not merely failing to protect our borders, he is actively importing radical Muslims from the Middle East. As we saw with Paris and San Bernardino, it's not just fighting age males (who make up the bulk of the refugees) that we need to worry about. Indeed, many of their women are just as committed to Jihad as their men. These people are steeped in a culture in which they are taught from early childhood to hate Jews. They don't lose that by crossing a national border.

Jihad presents an existential threat to the West. Its adherents demand submission (which is indeed the meaning of "Islam") and do not differentiate between military and civilian targets. There is no compromise with a foe who believes that we must submit or die.

Although the US is not the only Western country which allows its citizens to be armed, it has the most robust gun culture. Jewish Americans should learn to embrace it. In doing so, they will find that many of its members are also staunch supporters of Israel.

I would remind you that "turn the other cheek" is not a Jewish concept. Western Jews must cast off their shtetl mentality and be willing to defend themselves with force, for Jihad may visit at any time, without warning. American Jews must get training, arm themselves, and get a license to carry so they can be armed at all times.

Jewish Americans also need to stop supporting politicians who actively work to make us more vulnerable. Even before the blood dried in California, Obama called for more gun control. His water carriers in the media, notably the New York Times, echoed this call, including for actual confiscation of those weapons most suited to home defense. Presidential candidate Martin O'Malley called for gun control via executive fiat, including confiscation. Hillary Clinton doubled down on her calls for gun control. So did Bernie Sanders (someone who I am ashamed to note comes from a Jewish background).

Thankfully, the American people have as a whole soundly rejected the idea that gun control = crime control. This past Black Friday broke all previous records for gun purchases, based on the number of background checks performed. It is past time that Jewish Americans get more in tune with their countrymen and arm themselves for defense, since it's been repeatedly demonstrated that the state cannot do it for them.

Jihad presents the greatest threat to the survival of the Jewish People since Nazi Germany. If we are serious when we say, "Never Again!," we'll need more than words to secure our survival. Jews must be armed and willing to fight for our freedom and our lives.

For my 2004 and 2010 Hanukkah posts, click here and here, respectively.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Chinese Takedown Recurve Bow

Continuing with my archery theme, I present for you consideration this 45 lb. draw takedown recurve bow that I bought from China Archery Supplies. It is their "Yellow Diamond" takedown recurve.  I ordered it on November 20th and it was delivered last night. (Actually, DHL dropped it off 4 houses down the block. Thankfully an honest neighbor brought it to me this afternoon.)

I decided to get this bow instead of something like the more easily available Samick Sage, because I was intrigued with the idea of a takedown bow that has limbs styled after a traditional Asian bow. In my experience with my Toth Magyar bow and my Manchu bow, the siyahs almost give you a let-off when you draw.

The bow came nicely packed in bubble wrap in a small box, along with the string and an Allen wrench to attach/detach the limbs.

As you can see in the closeups above, each limb is held on with two bolts with brass washers. There are threaded brass inserts that the bolts screw into, along with one on the back of the riser for a stabilizer or fishing reel, and two on the left for a quiver.

The riser and siyahs are some kind of lightweight wood, while the limbs are fiberglass covered with faux yellow snakeskin. It's kinda pimptastic but should be a decent natural camo.

I've been fighting off a cold the past couple of days but got out back today to get some fresh air. I'd shot my Samick SLB-II longbow and my Manchu bow earlier in the day so my arms were a bit tired, but after my neighbor brought me the new bow I had to give it a try. After assembling and stringing it I used my bow square to find a nocking point 3/8" above level to start with.

The arrows I used were some Beman 600 spine carbons that I'd bought awhile ago from 3Rivers, and they turned out to be a good match. I put about two dozen shots through it and was able to keep most of them on my small foam block target at about 12 yards. I'll probably set the nocking point on the string at 1/2" above level, since at 3/8" I got some porpoising.

The bow slings the carbon arrows at a pretty good clip and should make for a nice informal target shooting and field bow. As a takedown, it can fit into a nice small package, so it'll make a good choice to take car camping. At 45# it's powerful enough to take a deer with a sharp broadhead placed in the right spot.

I'll post more about it after I shoot it some more.

Monday, November 30, 2015

More Archery

I was able to get some shooting with my Mongol bow in every day over my Thanksgiving break. Yesterday I took my daughters out to a friend's place to shoot our bows. My friend and I did a little walking around and decided to take a few shots from about 12 - 15 yards at the woodpile he has out near his fire pit.

The arrows from his 38 pound target bow just bounced off the wood. That was not the case with the arrows shot from my 50 pound bow.

The one on the left buried itself pretty well, while the one on the right slid between a couple logs, blew through a half-rotten log about 3" in diameter, and then stuck in another log behind it. Thankfully, I was able to wiggle both out fairly easily and neither was damaged.

This bow continues to impress me as a great value, as do the bamboo arrows. With the string silencers I installed over the weekend, the bow is very quiet and still shoots fast. The bamboo arrows fly well and are rugged. I put them into the dirt several times yesterday but they remain in good condition. I have another dozen on order. Eventually, I'd like to build some with proper hunting broad heads.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Shooting my Mongol Bow with Bamboo Arrows

Back in 2012 I bought this late Mongol, Manchu-influenced horsebow from "handmadebow" on eBay. It draws 50# @ 28". The riser and siyahs (limb tips) are wood while the limbs are leather-covered fiberglass.

I've posted pictures of this bow before but these came out better.

Closeup of the riser. As you can see, it has no arrow shelf. You shoot off the hand with this bow.

The top siyah, which is rigid. Essentially, Asiatic bows like this one are static recurves. The small block of wood on the belly side of the siyah is a string bridge, and helps to give the arrow an extra little pop.

About 2 weeks ago, I ordered a half dozen bamboo arrows from another Chinese eBay seller, "arrowmaker2013." They are 28" long and I asked the seller to send arrows spined for a 45 to 50# bow. I don't know if he did any special selection or not, but they fly very well from my bow.

The arrows are well made and straight. They have some kind of varnish or shellac finish and are nice and smooth.

You can get these arrows with field points or bullet points, but I went for the 150 grain "broadheads," which have three edges. They are very pointy but the edges are dull, which is fine for target shooting.

These points should work well on small game. Or zombies. ;)

The feather fletching is glued on and also secured at the leading edge with thread. The self nocks are reinforced with thread. The thread goes up to the back of the fletching but is just decorative at that point.

I've been wanting to try bamboo arrows for awhile now. Some people refer to them as "nature's carbon fiber." They fly very well from this bow, at least as good as my Port Orford Cedar shafts from 3Rivers Archery. At about 12 yards, this is how far they penetrate into my block target:

Not shabby at all, IMO. Remember, this target is designed to stop broadhead-tipped arrows shot from a modern compound bow like my Quest Rogue. I have no doubt that properly placed arrow with a sharp broached fired from the Mongol bow would shoot through a deer's chest cavity at up to 20 - 25 yards.

Edit 11/26/15:

I shot the bow this morning after adding Mountain Man Beaver Ball fur silencers to the string. Since the bow normally gets unstrung after each session, I used some artificial sinew to secure each end of the silencers, which are just narrow strips of leather tanned with the fur on, that you wrap into and around the string. They got rid of the twang and now it's silent.

Aside from shooting the bamboo arrows, I also shot some POC cedars tipped with bodkins. It shoots both types well, but so I have a larger quantity of a matched set, I ordered another dozen of the bamboo arrows today.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Networking Lab Experiments

Today I went out and got a table to get my rack of Cisco gear off the floor. I first went to Lowe's and bought a 5 foot long folding table but it turned out to be a little too long, so I returned it. I wound up getting a Husky portable workbench at Home Depot. It seems quite sturdy and I'll probably get a good amount of use from it, and not just to hold up old networking gear.

(There's a mirror on the wall behind the Cisco gear, courtesy of our house's original owners. It'll be replaced with drywall when we redo the room.)

The power strip that everything is plugged into came from Lowe's this morning. It's their Utilitech house brand and has two USB ports for charging devices. I should be able to power a Raspberry Pi off it.

I was working on switch configuration, including VLANs, so I wanted to have more than one computer so I could verify connectivity between hosts was working (or not working, depending on how things were setup). So, I dragged out my old MSI Wind netbook, running Windows 7.

Well, something is hosed up with the networking on it so I decided to dual boot it with Lubuntu Linux. Nowadays my work with Windows is infrequent enough that fixing issues is more of a PITA than it should be, so I figured that Linux would be less trouble.

All my config work was performed using the MacBook Pro, accessing the switch through ZOC and a console cable.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Some Hands-On Cisco Troubleshooting Today

Today I got to put into practice at work some of the stuff I've been reading up on. I was configuring the integrated lights-out management ports on some HP DL360 servers, but could not access them over the network. The network engineer I work with gave me access to the Cisco 4948 switch that the servers are connected to, and I experimented with port speed and duplex settings to no avail.

I pulled up the running config and noticed that the VLAN trunk port from the switch back to the Juniper MX480 router we're using was misconfigured. The original port config looked like this in part:

interface TenGigabitEthernet1/49
 switchport trunk allowed vlan 100-103
 switchport mode trunk

It should have looked like this:

interface TenGigabitEthernet1/49
 switchport trunk allowed vlan 100-104
 switchport mode trunk

Difference in bold.

In other words, van 104, which carries the iLO traffic, wasn't being trunked back to the router, so it wasn't accessible from anywhere else on the network. As soon as I added vlan 104 to the trunk port I was able to ping the iLO ports from outside that vlan.

I have to say, I feel pretty good about myself for catching that.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Cisco Lab

The equipment I ordered to use in my CCNA studies arrived yesterday. As expected, the switches and routers show some wear but overall, they look to be in good shape. The 12U rack is new and went together without too much trouble. It came with a bag of 8x32 rack screws.

I mounted the three Catalyst 2950 switches at the bottom. Incidentally, the auction description said that they would be 24-port switches, but as you can see from the picture, I was shipped 48-port units. I suspect that's what the seller had handy.

Because of how Cisco designed the 1841 router case, I mounted them backwards in the rack so that I have easy access to the ports. I decided to leave 1U between them for routing the power cords. I still have room for a couple more devices such as a server or a 1U power strip.

ASSuming I get the CCNA, if I go on towards my CCNP I'll probably replace at least one of the 2950s with a Layer 3 switch that can route traffic between VLANs. That's a little while down the road, however.

I plan to fire up everything after work tomorrow.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks

One of the challenges of a career in IT is keeping up to date and learning new skills. For the past 14 months or so, I've managed the primary lab/data center at my employer's corporate HQ, but have relied upon a couple other guys to handle the network. I'd like to take over the network, which mostly runs on Cisco equipment. So, I decided it's time to get my CCNA certification as a way to get my feet wet.

For texts, I went with Wendell Odom's CCNA Routing and Switching 200-120 Official Certification Library. Additionally, the Free CCNA Workbook site has a variety of lab exercises to do.

Although I'll be able to work on real equipment I felt it would be prudent to learn on gear completely separate from my lab network. My first step was to download and install the GNS3 router emulator on my laptop. I was able to find some usable Cisco images by exercising my Google-fu.

But I also wanted physical hardware to bang on. eBay is full of used Cisco gear. This post on Reddit was helpful in deciding what to buy (and what to avoid). Using that, I ordered a kit off eBay containing three Catalyst 2950 switches and three 1841 routers, plus various cables and T1 WICs, and a desktop rack.

One thing you need when working on initial device configuration and sometimes for troubleshooting is a console cable. Most laptops no longer have a serial port, so I and my coworkers have been relying on USB-to-RS232 adapters, mostly the Keyspan USA-19HS. However, I recently found FTDI chipset based USB-to console cables and got one of them. So far, it's been working fine in OS X Yosemite and El Capitan.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The Framers of the Constitution Accepted Private Ownership of Fully Armed Warships

One of the canards trotted out by anti-gunners after every mass shooting is that the Framers could not have envisioned the power of modern weaponry, so that the Second Amendment does not protect civilian ownership of "assault weapons." All you need to refute that argument is that the Framers did indeed accept the private ownership of military weapons is to point out Article One, Section Eight, Clause Ten of the Constitution:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

Emphasis added.

So what is a Letter of Marque and Reprisal? Essentially, it was a government license to attack, capture, and sell enemy ships. The letter of marque is what distinguished a privateer from a pirate. In order to do that, you need an armed ship yourself. Letters of marque weren't issued to US Navy ships, they were issued to the private owners ships who would outfit them for privateering, including naval artillery.

In the 18th and 19th Centuries, an armed warship was the closest thing extant to a weapon of mass destruction. And we haven't discussed the private ownership of artillery on land or inland waterways, which was common through the 19th Century. E.g., flat boat-mounted swivel guns used by fur traders in the West.

So can we agree that the Second Amendment does protect the right to own military weaponry, just as the First Amendment protects your right to spout uninformed bullshit on the Internet?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Free Book Download from Sparks 31

I've been following Sparks 31's blog for awhile now, and bought his book Communications for 3%ers and Survivalists. He's decided to make the full text of that book and his other tome, The Modern Survivalist available as one PDF, for free.


It's worth a gander.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Shot My Cabela's Traditional Hawken Today

The last couple of times I've gone shooting it's involved charcoal burning and I've really been enjoying it. So, today I hit the range with my Cabela's Traditional Hawken, which I haven't shot in awhile. The rifle was made by Investarms in Italy, and is basically the same thing as a Lyman Trade Rifle with the addition of a cap box on the stock, double set triggers, and availability in lefty persuasion, which mine is. Checking the Cabela's website, it looks like they now carry a similar rifle made by Pedersoli, but not the same one I bought several years ago.

My load today was a .490 round ball, pillow ticking for a patch lubed with T/C Bore Butter, and 80 grains by volume of 2Fg Goex black powder. My rifle is a caplock, and I used CCI Number 11 caps.

I put around 20 shots through the gun. In the past I've alway wiped between shots: 2 sides of a wet patch followed by both sides of a dry patch. Today I decided to try just one side of a wet patch followed by one side of a dry patch. The wet patches were cut from T-shirt material that I'd moistened with water ahead of time and kept in a Ziploc bag. The dry patches were flannel patches sold as gun cleaning patches. This combo worked well to keep the fouling in check and I was able to load the gun easily, and allowed me to get more rounds downrange in less time.

I did experience one failure to fire. After about 10 shots the cap failed to set off the main charge. I tried a second cap but no dice. Thinking I'd dry balled, I removed the nipple and used my flintlock priming flask to dribble some 3Fg down into the bolster, put the nipple back in, and capped the gun. When I shot it, it recoiled the just like there was a full powder charge. The patent breech must have gotten really fouled, which was a first for me with this gun. (This is an example of why having a flintlock priming flask can be handy, even if you're shooting a percussion rifle.)

I shot OK today, nothing to write home about. All shots were offhand and I kept them in about a 6" group at 50 yards. I made my last shot count -- at an 8" gong which I hit squarely.

After I got home I finished cleaning the rifle by dismounting the barrel and putting the end in a bucket of hot water with a drop or two of dishwashing soap, then pumped the water through for a few minutes. This was followed up with some dry patches, then I sprayed WD-40 down the bore to make sure it was dry, wiped that out, then left it with a coat of FP-10. Petroleum-based lubes don't belong in a black powder gun's bore when you're shooting, but they are good to protect it in storage. I don't buy into "seasoning" muzzleloader bores. They are steel, not cast iron. As long as you get the petroleum products out before you load, you're good to go.

One thing I'm not happy with on this rifle are the sights. The front is a plain bead, which I could live with. However, the rear sight is awful. It's adjustable for windage and elevation but there is some slop in both the windage and elevation. Worse, the rear blade is shaped like a shallow "V" express sight. I am going to replace them with a Lyman set from Track of the Wolf that includes a fiber optic front sight and adjustable rear, also with fiber optics. Far from traditional, but now that I'm in my late 40s seeing plain metal sights isn't getting any easier.

After dinner tonight I removed the rear sight. This involved removing the elevation screw, driving out the roll pin on which the sight leaf pivots, then removing the two screws that attach the base to the barrel. One of the screws stripped so I had to drill it out and use a screw extractor. I used my mill for this. Here is how I used the drill chuck to apply downward pressure on the screw extractor held in a tap wrench.

I ordered the replacement sight set along with several other items from Track, and expect to get them towards the end of next week.

Sunday, August 09, 2015


Back in April I e-filed a Form 1 to turn my TNW Firearms M-31SA Suomi into a short barreled rifle. BATFE approved the Form 1 on July 19th, but never emailed it to me. I logged into atfonline.gov last week, and lo and behold, it was sitting there in approved status.

Friday night I engraved the receiver and then cut the barrel to 12.4”. I used a hacksaw to cut it off a little on the long side, then put the barrel in my lathe where I faced and crowned it. The Suomi barrel is about 19.5mm in diameter, so it just fit through my lathe’s 20mm spindle bore.






I touched up the muzzle with some Birchwood-Casey cold blue, and it’s a pretty close match to the TNW phosphate finish.

Aside from looking correct, it now balances much better. It’s not nearly as muzzle heavy and actually handles pretty well, even though it’s heavy.

I was going to shoot it today but about 2/3s of the way to the range I realized that I had forgotten my range badge and key. Hopefully I’ll be able to put some rounds downrange through it next weekend.

Ted Cash Capper

One of the challenges of using a caplock muzzleloader in the field is finding a convenient way to carry your percussion caps. If you keep them in the original tin you need to handle individual caps every time you load. This risks dropping the small caps and spilling the tin.

Shortly after percussion caps came into use in the 19th Century, people developed cappers, which hold a number of caps. They can be as simple as a piece of stiff leather with holes punched in them to hold the caps, or can be elaborate spring-powered affairs.

This brass capper by Ted Cash Mfg. is simple and holds up to 75 caps.


In the picture above you can see a cap ready to be placed on a gun’s nipple. To get it into that position you press the L-shaped button sticking out the bottom.

To open it, slide the catch on the lid down so it disengages from the pin. This allows you to put in up to 75 caps and shows the simple mechanism.


I’m planning to keep this one in the Finnish gas mask bag that I’m setting up as a hunting pouch to go with my Euroarms Magnum Cape Gun. It’ll also be useful with my Cabela’s Traditional Hawken and Thompson-Center Renegade.

Note that this style capper cannot be used with percussion revolvers because it can’t fit into the nipple recesses in the back of the cylinder. An inline capper or other capper made for revolvers would be required. E.g., this one.

The workmanship is very nice on this capper, with a nice polish. I’m planning to let it develop a natural, non-glare patina. You can find them at various black powder suppliers or on eBay, which is where I bought mine.

Desktop PC Upgrade With SSD

This weekend I upgraded my desktop PC with a 500 GB Samsung 850 EVO Solid State Drive. (I bought the SSD locally at Microcenter but Amazon has it cheaper.)

The PC is a Microcenter PowerSpec B707 that I bought 4 or 5 years ago. It has a Core i5 CPU and I’ve upgraded a few components over the years, including the RAM to 16 GB, the video card, and the power supply (to handle the video card). The last remaining component to upgrade to improve performance was the hard disk.

Aside from the excellent reputation of Samsung SSDs a major reason that I chose one of their disks instead of a Crucial SSD is that Samsung includes a nice disk cloning software. I wanted to migrate my existing system over rather than rebuilding it from scratch, which would take days. After installing the cloning software, I used a USB-to-SATA adapter* to connect the SSD to the PC, then let it run for about six hours, finishing up after I went to bed last night. This morning when I checked on it the clone was complete.

Note that if you want to upgrade a Mac to an SSD, you can use SuperDuper! or Carbon Copy Cloner, both of which are free. There are free Windows disk cloning tools, but other than CloneZilla, I don’t have any experience with them. Samsung’s clone app was easier to use and better for less technical people. It’s very pointy-clicky.

To install the SSD in a desktop you’ll also need a 2.5” to 3.5” drive bay adapter, in order to mount it in the case.

With the drive cloned and the SSD installed, I booted the machine, which went a lot faster than before. It did require a reboot to install the Windows drivers for the SSD. Then I installed the Samsung Magician software, which helps you monitor the health of the drive and optimize its performance. One thing it suggested to do was put the drive controller into AHCI mode by going into the BIOS. Unfortunately, that’s something you need to do before you install Windows. Windows blue-screened before booting fully when I tried this, so back to IDE mode it is.

The machine boots much faster, and I get a usable desktop much more quickly after I login. Even large applications like Word and Excel open very quickly from the SSD. I expected all this, based on my previous experience upgrading my mid-2009 MacBook Pro with an SSD.

Another nice thing is that the PC is a little quieter without the spinning disk.

If you have a PC that’s a little older and in need of a performance boost, replacing the spinning hard disk with a solid state drive is probably the best bang for your buck.



*Mine is a Newer Tech USB-to-IDE or SATA adapter that I got from Macsales.com several years ago. One of the cheaper USB-to-SATA units should work fine, if you never  have need to read IDE disks.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Ball Bag

{Insert Beavis and Butthead huh huh here.}

In setting up a Finn gas mask bag as a possibles bag to go along with my Euroarms Magnum Cape Gun, I needed a small bag to hold the .690 round balls I'll use for deer hunting. You can buy ball bags fairly cheaply, but I decided to make one using some pigskin I had laying around from my last visit to the Allentown, PA Tandy Leather shop.

The base is about 3" across, and it's a little less than 4" tall. I had the lacing from a past trip to Dixon's Muzzleloading Shop. I sewed the base and sides together using artificial sinew. It'll comfortably hold 25 .690 balls, far more than I need for a day in the woods.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Euroarms Magnum Cape Gun Range Report

Today I got the chance to shoot the Euroarms Magnum Cape Gun percussion shotgun that I picked up last week at Dixon's. Like last week, I shot it over at a friend's place, this time after we installed a trailer hitch on my Nissan Xterra, so I can mount a bike rack or cargo carrier. That took about 45 minutes and afterwards we drove to the back of his yard where he has a short range for pistols and black powder guns.

Earlier this week I'd ordered some .690 cast lead round balls, 0.020" thick patches, and a few other items, from Track of the Wolf. I'd also ordered a 10 lb. bag each of Lawrence copper plated No. 5 and No. 7.5 birdshot from Rotometals, via their Amazon shop. Both orders came yesterday.

I patterned both sizes of shot at ~15 yards. The birdshot loads were 80 grains of 2Fg Goex and an equivalent volume of shot (i.e., a "square load"). On top of the powder I put a corrugated cardboard wad and a 1/8" thick lubricated felt wad. The shot was secured in place with a second corrugated cardboard wad. The wads were punched out using a 3/4" arch punch that I got from Amazon, which I chucked in my mill, with a piece of wood held in the mill vise under the wad material. I put the mill on a low speed, and the wads were cut out easily. Beats using a hammer!

We used IDPA paper targets for patterning. I put some blue painter's tape in the middle for a well-defined aiming point.

First, the No. 7.5s, used for informal trap shooting:

I pulled that shot a little to the left.

Next, the No. 5s, which I'll use for upland birds and small game:

(The bullet hole in the top right was from my friend's .45 caliber Euroarms Kentuckian flintlock carbine. The hole in the left of the -1 ring is from a wad.)

We then took some shots with patched round balls on the above target from ~25 yards, but I forgot to take pictures. My load was 80 grains of 2Fg Goex, a 0.020" patch lubed with Bore Butter, and a .690" lead round ball. At that range, the gun shoots a couple inches high but is easily minute-of-whitetail.

I took three more shots, recycling the target I used when I patterned the No. 7.5 shot.

You can really see the difference in the .45 and .69 caliber holes. I yanked the first shot, which is the one to the left of the tape. Point of aim was 6 o'clock on the blue tape, so it shoots a little high with this load at 50 yards.

I recovered a couple of my patches, which show a perfect fouling pattern with no cutting, as expected.

This load looks like a winner for close range deer hunting. It's accurate enough to 50 yards and even after 11 shots with no wiping, seated easily. In fact, the balls can be started in the muzzle with only thumb pressure.

I noticed that fouling was starting to build up in the breech after about 9 shots. I could've continued shooting after 11 shots if I wiped the bore, but by then it was lunchtime and we called it quits.

One thing that helped make loading easier was that last night I'd measured out all my powder and shot loads, and put them in speed loader tubes from TOTW. Likewise, I'd prelubed my shooting patches, which saved a lot of mess, since Bore Butter gets runny when it's 90 degrees out.

Aside from preparing my powder and shot charges and lubing my patches, I'd prepared a Ziploc bag of cleaning patches by soaking them in water with a little Windex squirted in. I used a few of these after shooting, then completed cleaning once I got home. At home I took advantage of the gun's patent breech and dunked the breech end in a bucket of hot soapy water, so I could pump it through the bore. I then followed up with some dry patches, and then a few with WD40 to make sure that there wasn't any water left inside. Finally, I left the bore with a good coat of Ballistol to prevent rust.

I am really looking forward to carrying the Euroarms Magnum Cape Gun afield this fall.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States

Edit: Welcome Twitter users! Please poke around the blog. If you came here because of this post, you'll probably find something else of interest.

Back in 2004, I posted Percentage of Adults With Carry Permits in "Shall Issue" States. It's been probably the most popular post on this blog, and several times I've been asked if there's an update. Well, now there is.

Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States is a new scholarly paper by John R.Lott, John E. Whitley, and Rebekah C. Riley. Here's the summary:

Since President Obama’s election the number of concealed handgun permits has soared, growing from 4.6 million in 2007 to over 12.8 million this year. Among the findings in our report:

  • The number of concealed handgun permits is increasing at an ever- increasing rate. Over the past year, 1.7 million additional new permits have been issued – a 15.4% increase in just one single year. This is the largest ever single-year increase in the number of concealed handgun permits.
  • 5.2% of the total adult population has a permit.
  • Five states now have more than 10% of their adult population withconcealed handgun permits.
  • In ten states, a permit is no longer required to carry in all or virtually all of the state. This is a major reason why legal carrying handguns is growing so much faster than the number of permits.
  • Since 2007, permits for women has increased by 270% and for men by 156%.
  • Some evidence suggests that permit holding by minorities is increasing more than twice as fast as for whites.
  • Between 2007 and 2014, murder rates have fallen from 5.6 to 4.2 (preliminary estimates) per 100,000. This represents a 25% drop in the murder rate at the same time that the percentage of the adult population with permits soared by 178%. Overall violent crime also fell by 25 percent over that period of time.
  • Regression estimates show that even after accounting for the per capita number of police and people admitted to prison and demographics, the adult population with permits is significantly associated with a drop in murder and violent crime rates.
  • Concealed handgun permit holders are extremely law-abiding. In Florida and Texas, permit holders are convicted of misdemeanors or felonies at one- sixth the rate that police officers are convicted.
Well, that sure doesn't fit the president's or Bloomberg's narratives, does it? Especially the points about women and minorities.

Digging into the data, the state with the largest numbers of permits is Florida with about 1.4 million, followed by Pennsylvania with about 1.1M. C'mon PA folks, we're slacking.

If you look at percentages, the top five states are
  • Alabama 12.64%
  • South Dakota 12.3%
  • Indiana 11.62%
  • Pennsylvania 10.64%
  • Tennessee 10.21%

From my post of 11 years ago, the top five states in 2004 were :
  • 7.45% South Dakota 
  • 6.79% Indiana 
  • 6.76% Pennsylvania 
  • 5.23% Connecticut 
  • 5.12% Washington

If the Democrats are upset by this I have two things to say:

  1. Good.
  2. You have only yourselves to blame. You've been simultaneously beating the drum for more gun control, fanning the flames of racial tension, and tearing down our country's institutions. Don't be surprised when people decided they need to take affirmative steps to preserve their own security.

Monday, July 27, 2015

First Shots With the EOA Magnum Cape Gun

Yesterday I was able to shoot a few rounds through the Euroarms gun at a friend's place. I don't know where I have my stash of 12 gauge wads and shot leftover from when I had my Pedersoli 12 gauge double, so I just tried some of the .662 balls I'd bought when I got my MVTC .69 caliber M-1717 musket. I used 80 grains of 2Fg Goex and pillow ticking patches lubed with Bore Butter. At about 20 - 25 yards I kept 6 shots inside an 8" bull, with POI = POA.

Not bad for a way undersized ball and a gun with only a bead front sight.

For 3 of the shots I used a single patch, while the other 3 I double patched it due to the small ball. POI at that range seemed the same but I was definitely getting a better gas seal with the double patch, based on slightly more recoil. For my last shot I retrieved a patch, relubed it and shot it again.

While I was reloading in between a couple shots, a fawn came barreling out of the woods and screeched to a halt about 15 feet away. We stood still and he hung out for about five minutes, trying to figure out what we were. Eventually, he took off and we went back to shooting.

Tonight I put in an order with Track of the Wolf for some .690 balls, .020" cotton shooting patches, a 12 gauge jag to fit my cleaning rod, a spare nipple, and a few other accessories.

This looks like it'll be a really fun gun to shoot and useful for anything I can hunt in PA.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Muzzleloading Single Barrel Smoothbores

One of the most common (possibly the most common) types of civilian arms from the 1600s up through the beginning of the 20th Century was some kind of single shot smoothbore gun. They were highly valued as meat getters and weapons for both defense and offense. Such guns were traded in large quantities to the Indians as well as other indigenous peoples around the globe. Probably the best known of these guns in North American was the Northwest or Hudson's Bay gun.

(Pic found on the 'net.)

Another well known muzzleloading smoothbore was the French Fusil de Chasse. I have one in 20 gauge from Middlesex Village Trading Company.

(Pic borrowed from MVTC.)

Being smoothbores, they can shoot birdshot, buckshot, or a single ball, making them useful for any game from birds and squirrels on up to moose. They also saw a lot of use as fighting weapons. The modern equivalent would be a single shot shotgun like my old H&R 20 gauge.

When the muzzleloading single barrel shotguns were state of the art, most were produced in smaller gauges -- 24 to 20 gauge. They were cheaper to load, requiring less powder and shot, important when you are weeks or months away from resupply.

Most of the currently produced muzzleloading shotguns are 12 gauge doubles, and most of the single barrels are flintlocks. Pedersoli lists a percussion version of their Mortimer 12 gauge shotgun.

One percussion single barrel smoothbore that was imported for awhile but is no longer was the Euroarms of America "Magnum Cape Gun." Normally, a cape gun is a double with one rifled and one smoothbore barrel, but I guess EOA thought the name sounds cool. The gun was made by Investarms* and is still listed on their website as the "Gallyon," but doesn't appear to be imported into the US at present.

One of the Magnum Cape Guns has been on my want list for awhile and I found one in excellent shape yesterday at Dixon's for a reasonable price, so it came home with me.

Closeups of the lock and breech area:

It's a 12 gauge percussion smoothbore shotgun with a cylinder bore, i.e., no choke. The bore appears to be chrome lined, which will help cleanup. The barrel is fitted with a hooked patent breech, so if you remove the ramrod, drive out the barrel wedge, and put the hammer on half cock, you can lift it out of the stock. You can then dunk the breech end in a bucket of water and using a wet patch, pump water through the bore to clean it.

The Magnum Cape Gun is very well made with a nice polish on the metal parts, and a deep, beautiful blueing job on the barrel, but, and trigger guard. The lock was left in the white. The wood is fairly plain but serviceable, and the checkering was well executed. The inletting of the buttplate could have been better, though. This specimen was well cared for, with only some wear on the buttplate where it rested on the ground while being loaded, and only a few handling marks on the wood.

My plans for this gun include small game, upland bird, and maybe even deer hunting. For deer I'll use a patched round ball. For shot, I plan to get a punch and make felt wads from the same felt I use to make wads for my percussion revolvers. (According to this article, felt wads perform better than card and fiber wads.)

Once I get the chance to try the gun out I'll post some more thoughts.

*Investarms makes the Lyman Great Plains Rifle, Lyman Trade Rifle, and Lyman Great Plains Pistol. They also make the Cabela's Traditional Hawken, one of which I have.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Pole Lathe

This morning I went up to Dixon's Muzzleloading Shop in Kempton, PA, for their annual Gunmakers' Fair. Among the more interesting things I saw was this pole lathe, which was being used for turning the wooden ends for powder horns.

Back of the lathe, showing some of the linkage:

Closeup of wooden spring:

Closeup of the mandrel, which holds the piece being worked on. The wooden block visible behind the work and the mandrel is the tool rest. You can also see the wooden bar the operator steps on to run the lathe.

And finally, a gratuitous shot of some old farm machinery.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Gun Training in Nasty Weather

Over on gundigest.com, Dave Morelli has an article in which he advocates gun training in bad weather.

I see nothing in the article with which I disagree. The author isn't advocating going out in crappy weather to learn the fundamentals. He's telling you to get out there in sub-optimal conditions to learn what your gun does -- and what you do -- when it's windy, rainy, or cold.

Based on my own experience in shooting practical rifle matches at my club, operating your gun in extreme weather conditions stresses the shooter in ways not experienced when it's 75 and sunny. If it's humid, lenses (both eye glasses and scope lenses when you accidentally breathe on them) get fogged. If it's snowing ice can form on your gun while you're waiting to shoot, rendering it slippery. When it's hot, your sweat gets in your eyes and on the gun.

Or step in a 10" deep puddle of ice water while your waterproof boots are only 8" high, then go on to finish the stage.

In cold weather your clothing limits your movement and makes working fine controls more difficult.

Get the basics down in good weather. Then go see what happens when it's shitty out.

It was about 12 degrees out when this pic of me was taken back in January.

Under stress you will default to the level of your training. If you train easy, you will fail get life gets hard.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

New Scanner

This week I got a Uniden BC396XT scanner from Amazon. I have a couple posts up about it over on Survival Preps, here and here.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

"Technical Glitches." Uh huh.

Unless you were under a rock, you know about the following three things:

  1. The Chinese stock market dive.
  2. "Technical glitches" grounding all United Airlines flights in the US yesterday.
  3. "Technical glitches" causing all trading to be halted for several hours on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday.

Unless the network and system admins at UAL and the NYSE are totally incompetent, they have major redundancy in place to prevent shutdowns like this from happening. There's simply too much money at stake to have single points of failure.

Now, was Anonymous responsible? Perhaps it was someone looking to divert attention from the Chinese stock market meltdown. Whatever really happened I doubt that the powers that be would share the truth, for fear of upsetting the apple cart.

My tinfoil hat feels a bit warm. It would be a good time to revisit your emergency preparations.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Rimfire Range Day Number 4

Amanda and I hit the range again yesterday. She shot her Savage Rascal and my 10/22, while this time I brought my Remington Apache Nylon 77. Here's an older pic of it with my Remington 550-1.

Amanda mostly shot Aguila Super Extra SV loads from the same brick we'd tapped into earlier. This time, however, she had several rounds that failed to go off the first time they were hit by the firing pin. This happened in both rifles she shot. All went off when loaded back into the gun but rotated so that a different part of the rim was hit. After blowing through a couple hundred of the Aguilas she shot some Federal Automatch, which didn't give her any problems.

In the Nylon 77 I mostly shot Remington Golden Bullets from a 550 count box that I bought several years ago. It functioned perfectly with them and accuracy was good. I also tried some Federal Automatch, which did not shoot as accurately as the GBs, and with which I had a couple stovepipes.

I have to admit that after shooting at least 500 Golden Bullets in a few different rifles this week, I am reassessing my opinion of it. I do know that my Ruger 22/45 Lite and Norinco ATD do not like it, and my Beretta Jaguar isn't as reliable with it as with CCI Mini Mags, but it does work well in a few other .22s I own. I'll keep buying it when I run across it at a reasonable price, since it's one type of .22 LR ammo that seems to be more available than CCIs, and generally cheaper.

On the other hand, I'm underwhelmed with Federal Automatch. It's one of the .22 LR loads that I've noticed becoming more available, but I get more malfunctions with it in several of my guns than other loads, and accuracy is nothing to get excited about. Also, the waxy lube gets gummy if it's over 90 degrees or the gun is hot. My daughter's Savage Rascal will start getting stuck cases if she shoots a lot of Automatch when it's hot. The remedy is a quick chamber cleaning using a Q-Tip with some gun oil on it, or running a Boresnake through the barrel.

.22s in general tend to be finicky as to what loads they shoot accurately, and semi autos often function better with some loads than others. The only way to find out what shoots and functions well in any given .22 firearm is to try a variety of loads in it.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Another Rimfire Range Day

I made it to the range again today, this time with my 11 year old in tow. This was her first chance to try shooting my Ruger 10/22 fitted with Tech Sights and a Choate M4-style stock.

She did well with the Ruger. With the stock fully collapsed, it is short enough for her to shoulder and get a proper sight picture.

We shot the Ruger with Aguila Super Extra standard velocity .22 LR. It runs well in the Ruger but the powder does have a funny smell, similar to that of a lot of Russian ammo that I've fired. We had a few failures to feed but I tracked them down to an old 10 round magazine we were using. It also caused FTFs with CCI Mini Mags. That particular mag dates to the late 1970s and belonged to my father. Considering how much my brother and I shot his old 10/22 when we were kids, G-d only knows how many rounds have been through it. I'll try taking it apart and cleaning it to see if that'll make a difference.

I also brought my Remington 550-1 again, and this time grabbed a half-full brick of Winchester Xpert .22 LRs to try in it. I bought the Xperts the year before my daughter was born. The reason it lasted so long is because it was the worst, gummiest, dirtiest .22 LR I'd ever tried. The last time I tried it in the 10/22 the rifle choked on it. I'd shot it in my Old Model Ruger Single Six and a S&W Model 18 (both revolvers) and it gummed them up.

However, the waxy lube seemed to have dried out a little over the years. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Remington 550 fed them with only a few hiccups. I did get a few stovepipe failures to eject, but for the most part it functioned OK with the XPerts, and shot them fairly well. I wanted to burn up the rest of XPerts so when I noticed the FTEs starting to increase I added some additional FP10 to the bolt and inside the action, and the rifle kept going.

That Remington 550-1 has become my favorite .22 semiauto rifle. It's accurate, reliable, and handles even .22 CB Shorts as a semiauto.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

The Williams Floating Chamber

Yesterday, I mentioned shooting some .22 CB Shorts in my Remington 550-1. The rifle is designed to feed .22 Shorts, Longs, and Long Rifles interchangeably. The mass of the bolt and the strength of the mainspring are balanced for .22 LR, so in order to feed .22 Shorts as a semi auto, they need a boost.

This is accomplished by the inclusion of a Williams floating chamber in the breech end of the barrel. When installed and shooting .22 Longs or LRs, the seam between the end of the floating chamber and the rest of the barrel is sealed by the cartridge case. However, it's uncovered when shooting Shorts, so some of the gas from the cartridge goes into the gap and floats the chamber, allowing it to recoil a short distance, giving additional impetus to the bolt. If you go over to Numrich Arms' website and look at their exploded diagram of a Remington 550-1, the floating chamber is part #50.

I thought it would be a good idea to give my Remington a thorough cleaning, since I'd never removed the floating chamber, and since I bought it about 2.5 years ago it's seen close to 1,000 rounds through it, including 60 or so CB Shorts yesterday. It was filthy inside. After I got the floating chamber out and cleaned up I took some pics, here are a couple that came out halfway decent.

There was a fair amount of lead buildup on the shoulder of the piece, which I was able to scrape off with a small screwdriver.

Before being used in the Remington 550, the Williams floating chamber was used in the Colt Ace and .22 conversion kits, which were designed to mimic the recoil of a M1911 in .45 ACP.

It's a really clever solution to a couple interesting engineering task: make a semi auto that can feed .22 S, L. or LR interchangeably, and make a .22 pistol recoil more like a .45.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Another Rimfire Day at the Range

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today I Met a Real GI Joe

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 29, 2015

Rimfire Range Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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