Saturday, March 28, 2015

Winchester Model 1902 Thumb Trigger Rifle

I ran across this video by MidwayUSA showing the Winchester Model 1902 Thumb Trigger .22 rifle. This was made in the early 20th Century as a boy’s rifle. The video nicely explains how the rifle works including a close up of the mechanism.

It looks like it wouldn’t be too difficult to make one of these on a mini lathe and mill, and you could get by without the mill as long as you had a drill, some files, and patience.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle

One type of rifle missing from my arsenal has been a centerfire bolt action with a proper southpaw bolt for deer hunting and informal target practice. I have a slew of military surplus bolt actions, but of course the bolt is on the wrong side for me. My club has an annual World War II-themed practical rifle match in which I usually shoot my 1944 Fazakerly No.4 Mk.I, with which I can hold my own against the Garand shooters, but reaching over the top to work the bolt gets tiring after awhile.

Therefore, back on March 5th I ordered a left handed Ruger Gunsite Scout rifle from Bud’s Gun Shop, specifically the stainless model 6821 with an 18.7” barrel. It finally arrived at my FFL yesterday so this morning I played hooky from work to go pick it up, then took it to the range.

To me the Ruger GSR is sorta a 21st Century No.5 Mk.I Jungle Carbine -- a short, full power bolt action rifle with a detachable mag, and a flash hider. Additionally, it has a threaded muzzle to allow you to attach your choice of flash hider, muzzle brake, or suppressor.

I have a No.5 Mk.I (a real one, not a converted No.4) and while the concept was great, the execution was horrible. The stock design is an absolute abomination. I don't know what kind of dope the designers were smoking, but the recoil pad acts as a recoil enhancement pad, because its dimensions are smaller than the wood part of the buttstock. The No.5 handles superbly but recoil is vicious.

The Ruger’s workmanship is good and the checkering on the laminated wood stock is well done. I like the look of the stock and while it won't be quite as rugged and weatherproof as one made of plastic, it'll do for my needs and is much better than a wood stock in that regard.

The rifle came with a single 10 round metal magazine, a thread protector for the muzzle for if you want to remove the factory flash hider, two extra spacers for the stock, a set of Ruger scope rings to fit the receiver's integral bases, and a gun lock. Along with the rifle I'd ordered one each of Ruger's 5 and 10 round polymer mags. Here it is with all three magazines and still wearing the factory rail and rear sight:


In the pic, the rifle is also wearing the M-1907 sling I used on my Garand, when I shot Service Rifle back in the ‘90s.

The bolt is still a bit stiff and will never be as smooth as a Lee-Enfield, but it's nice to have it on the left side. Unusually for a Ruger, the trigger pull out of the box was quite good. I'm guessing it's about 4 pounds with no creep.

Close up of the factory rear sight and rail:


Close up of the right side of the receiver with the XS rail mounted, showing the XS ghost ring BUIS:


The stainless barrel is medium weight with a step, reminiscent of military Mauser barrels. The rifling twist is 1 in 10 inches, and from what I've read in several online reviews it tends to shoot heavier bullets (e.g., 168 to 175 grain) best.

The Gunsite Scout doesn't quite meet Jeff Cooper's criteria for a scout rifle. It's a little overweight and a few inches too long. It's also missing the ability to load using stripper clips, but makes up for that IMHO by using detachable box magazines. Regardless of whether it fits Cooper's definition, the Gunsite Scout is a very handy rifle and I wouldn't want it any lighter. (As an aside, I'm not sold on the scout rifle concept, particularly the intermediate eye relief scope. I found a good critique here.)

Before taking the GSR to the range I brought it home, snugged up all the screws, and ran a couple patches through the bore.

The factory iron sights are very serviceable and the first 10 shots through the gun were with the OEM rear sight in place. However, I'm going to mount a scope in the conventional position over the receiver, so after shooting 10 rounds, I replaced the factory rail and rear sight with an XS Sight Systems rail meant for the GSR. It has a ghost ring peep sight built in, so you don't lose the BUIS functionality of the Ruger rear sight.

I got the sight on the XS rail zeroed at 100 yards and managed to whack a torso-sized gong a few times at 200 yards (all shooting from the bench with my elbows supported. I think one of my friends has my Hoppe's rifle rest).

In total, I put 40 rounds of 7.62 NATO M-80 Ball through the rifle today. With temps in the the upper 30s, 20 to 30 MPH gusts, and a crappy rest, I was doing good to keep them in the 8 ring on an SR-1 target.

Recoil is brisk but nowhere near as bad as a No.5 Jungle Carbine. The Ruger recoil pad is pretty good. I like the ability to change the length of pull by adding or removing spacers. Since I'm short, I removed the spacer installed by the factory. Ruger provides with the rifle an Allen wrench that fits the two screws holding on the recoil pad and spacers.

After trying the three different magazines, I like the 5 round polymer mag best. The 10s stick out too far, especially the metal mag. I'll pick up another 5 rounder. Ruger also sells a 3 round polymer mag that is almost flush-fit. The polymer mags are easier to load than the metal magazine and seem to feed more smoothly.

Here’s the GSR with the 5 round magazine after I installed the XS rail:


It will be getting a scope in quickly detachable rings shortly, and I'll be getting setup to handload .308, especially some reduced loads for less recoil. My father gave me a box of several hundred (at least) .308 150 grain FMJ flat base bullets originally intended for a Garand, but I also plan to try some heavier cast bullet loads.

The scope I’m planning to eventually get is a Burris Fullfield 1-4x TAC-30 in QD mounts. I have on one of my AR-15s and I’m very pleased with it. Light transmission is good, the glass is clear, adjustment clicks are precise, and the reticle is illuminated. The 4x max magnification is plenty for my needs. Plus, it’s $299 on Amazon Prime. (As an aside, why are the only scout scopes with illuminated reticles a $600 Leupold and a cheapy from NcStar? WTF? It’s 2015 fer crissakes.)

Some folks have criticized the GSR as not meeting the strict definition of a Scout Rifle as propounded by Jeff Cooper. For example, it’s a little too long, a little too heavy, and can’t be loaded with stripper clips. However, whether it meets Jeff Cooper’s definition of a scout rifle doesn’t matter for me. In fact, given Cooper’s description of a scout, one may wonder if the whole idea isn’t based on some kind of romantic fantasy of the role of a rifleman.

The likelihood of me emulating Sir Richard Burton or Daniel Boone is minimal. Regardless if the scout as envisioned by Cooper a real thing, the GSR is a compact, easy handling, and powerful rifle suitable for putting lead on target out to reasonable hunting or defense ranges. It would serve well riding in the gun rack of a ranch truck, as a hunting rifle in deep woods, or a patrol rifle for a game warden or wilderness cop.

Overall I'm quite pleased with the Ruger Gunsite Scout after one range trip. Once I get a scope on it I'm looking forward to finding out what loads it likes, and hopefully taking a deer with it this Fall.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

"Officer Safety" and the Second Amendment


"A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

These words have meaning and purpose for the citizens of the United States. They also are vital to the continuity of our nation as a bastion of personal freedom in a world fraught with danger. The “security of a free State” by allowing the citizens to possess firearms seems counterintuitive to many people. These people believe that only the State should possess the implements that can make one person or a few people powerful enough to exert their will and desires over a much larger group of individuals.

There are many people that assume that the State behaves in an altruistic manner and gladly compromise their own personal freedom for guarantees of security provided by the State. The framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights were conscious of the fact the State is comprised of a small number of people, governing a massive number of citizens with rules and regulations written by people. The framers understood that human behavior has remained very much the same for thousands of years and would continue on into the future. Their primary concern was that worst of human flaws: hubris. When given the power to rule over their fellow citizens, many politicians fall into the trap of hubris. This leads to a belief that one’s own ideas and agendas are so valid that they should supersede the rights and freedoms of the individuals they are purported to represent.

The Constitution and Bill of Rights are meant to protect the citizens of the United States from a government comprised of normal humans that are no more immune from the temptations of power than their constituents.

Today, government officials relish talking about “security” in regards to the security of the State, both the bureaucracy that has been created and those in its employ. To this end, not only does the military, National Guard, and Department of Justice have arms and armament, so do most of the large regulatory agencies. The IRS, FDA, DoE, NOAA and almost 70 other agencies now have armed agents. Yet, when these same officials speak of the Second Amendment, which clearly uses the word “security” preceding the use of the word “people”, those officials reference hunting and “sporting purposes”. These elected and appointed people are suffering from the human condition that many would term ego or pride; that somehow they and their political constructs are the only people in our nation worthy of the right to armed protection. The mere citizens they govern over should only be allowed protection from danger as provided by the state. They are infringing upon the right of the people (or individual citizen) to the same security they give themselves.

District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008) affirmed the individual’s right to lawful purposes, including the right to self-defense. This was also the decision of the Supreme court in McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 742 (2010). These decisions make some restitution to the eroded rights of the citizens of the United States. However, they do not address the current situation in regards to ammunition, armor, “sporting purposes” and the right of citizens to own specific variations of ammunition.

The term “officer safety” is being heavily used to provoke emotional responses and make any opposition to ammunition restrictions seem to be arguments against the health and well-being of sworn police officers. This is not the case. People that care about police officer’s actual safety are not the ones that would injure a police officer with a bullet of any kind, regardless of how effective the round is against armor. These people also follow laws and regulations already in place; ones that are in place against bodily harm of any sort towards their fellow citizens, of which police are a part of.

Those who would harm police and choose that course will use whatever implement is handy to accomplish their vile task. There have been officers killed in the line of duty with everything from fists, to pipes, to their own guns or even run over with vehicles. The decisions and actions of the individuals committing those heinous acts are the reason those officers perished. Regardless of the implement, criminals like that need to be punished and kept apart from law-abiding society.

Restricting specific ammunition because of a perceived danger to one subgroup of citizens, important as they are to the function of society, is a logical fallacy. Using the same reasoning, with everything from fists to cars having killed officers, the use and possession of those items should be restricted also.

The biggest danger to “officer safety” is criminals who will ignore not only the laws in place, but also common human decency towards others.

This raises the question as to why government officials are so driven to restrict those who pose the least risk to society in general and police officers specifically.

No one likes to mention the ultimate reason the framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights wrote the Second Amendment. The framers were people who had lived under the tyrannical rule of a despot and his minions. Minions who controlled armed groups of people who regulated the lives of the citizens. When the citizens finally could no longer stand the oppression enforced by the arms of a government that was only interested in its own preservation, the citizens took up the only tool that could cut the metaphorical chains that bound them. Firearms and ammunition were used to release a nation from political bondage. The framers understood that people being people would lead government to evolve to tyranny again and only by giving citizens the same power as the government, could freedom be retained in this country.

So ask yourself, why would government officials want to limit the ability of law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights?

Originally posted on March 13, 2015 by "phatmax" on at

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Marschal Grips for my Polish Tokarev

There was a package from Magyar Post awaiting me when I got home, the wraparound Marschal grips I ordered last month for my Polish Tokarev. They are designed to duplicate the wraparound grips put on the Hungarian made Tokagypt variant of the TT-33, and also seen on some Chicom production Toks. In fact, before buying the Marschals I first looked for Tokagypt grips or the Chinese copies, but couldn't find any online.

Since the ones I got were built for a Norinco Tok, I had to relieve some of the left panel to accommodate the safety that Century added to my gun. (Tokarevs were not originally made with a manual safety. One needed to be added so that they could be sold as surplus in this country.)

The Marschal grips are nicely finished. They greatly improve the feel of the piece. With the original grips it feels like you're holding a machinist's square, causing it to point low. With the new grips the pistol points more naturally. There is a gap between the panels of about 1/10" in the back. Since they were made for a Chinese gun and mine is Polish, I'm not complaining.

It still fits in the original military full flap holster with the larger grips.

At some point I'll touch up the left panel where I had to sand it but I wanted to try them out tonight. Here’s what it looks like:



In contrast, here’s what it looked like with the original grips. Note the grip angle.


The Tokarev shoots 7.62x25, which is a hot little round.  It pushes an 85 grain bullet at 1300 to 1500 FPS, depending on who made the ammo. FMJ will penetrate most soft body armor. Recoil is moderate, about like a 9mm, but muzzle blast is much sharper.

I may not get to shoot the pistol with the new grips until next month, but I am really looking forward to it.

A 3D Printed Ruger 10/22 Receiver


Some cleanup work was done on a mill, but given that the receiver is plastic it could probably be done with hand tools.

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Saturday, March 07, 2015

Saturday Night Range Time

Tonight I went to the range with my dad. I brought along my Beretta 71 .22 and my Browning High Power Practical. I got the chance to try a couple Triple K brand mags in the Beretta. They feed fine but don't hold the slide open after the last round. Considering that OEM Beretta 71 mags are basically unobtanium, I won't complain. The Beretta functioned well with both Federal Automatch and Champion HV Match ammo.

Out of curiousity I ran a couple magazines full of CCI Quiet .22 LR through the Beretta, but had to rack the slide between shots. The CCI Quiet ammo is a 40 grain LRN at only 710 FPS, so I'm not surprised nor disappointed that it didn't cycle. From a rifle length barrel it sounds like an airgun and can be shot without hearing protection.

As always, the BHP ran like a top. If I could have only one semiauto pistol, it would be the one. I shot a mix of PMC and Herter's (made by Sellier & Bellot) 115 grain FMJ though the Browning.

Dad brought a couple recent acquisitions, a Gen 4 Glock 17 and an HK VP-9. The VP-9 is HK's entry in the striker-fired Glock-like pistol realm, and it's a decent gun. However, while it feels good in the hand my reaction when actually shooting it was "meh." The trigger is spongy and I found it top heavy. OTH, accuracy was very good and I actually got better groups with it tonight than my BHP.