Monday, December 31, 2018

New Rear Sight for my Hawken

Several years ago I bought a Cabela's Traditional Hawken rifle in .50 caliber. It isn't a faithful copy of the real Hawken rifles of the 19th Century, but nevertheless, it's a well made and nice shooting gun. It's more or less a variant of the Lyman Trade Rifle, but fitted with a cap box on the stock and double set trigger. Also, unlike the Lyman, it was available with a left handed stock and lock. Both the Lyman and Cabela's rifles were made by Investarms in Italy.

One thing I did not like about the rifle was the sights. The rear sight, in particular, was a poor design. The adjustable rear notch was a wide open "V". IIRC, the Lymans's have rear sights that are dovetailed in, which makes replacement with a fixed but better sight easy. Unfortunately, the Cabela's rear sight was held on with two screws and nobody made a good replacement.

So, I decided to install a Lyman Model 66SML aperture sight, made for the Lyman Great Plains Rifle, Trade Rifle, sidelock Thompson-Centers, and similar rifles.

The Model 66SML is mounted on the tang with two screws. It uses the rear wood screw which goes through the tang into the stock, plus an 8-32 screw into the metal of the tang. The tang on my rifle wasn't drilled and tapped so I did that today.

Using a #29 drill on the tang:

Before drilling the hole, I located it by mounting the sight on the tang and marking the spot with a transfer punch. I then dismounted the tang from the rifle and used a pilot drill to ensure the #29 drill wouldn't skip. Only then did I put the twist bit in the chuck.

I then tapped the hole with 8-32 threads. I used #3 Morse taper lathe center held in the mill's head to guide the tap so it started off straight:

I used a little Tap Magic on the tap, but I could probably have done it dry with no problems. OTH, there's no reason not to use a lube and save a little wear on the tap.

A closeup of the newly mounted sight:

And finally, the whole rifle:

This rifle has a 1:48 twist, so it can shoot either patched round balls or conicals like a Hornady Great Plains Bullet or T/C Maxi balls. So far, I've just shot it with PRB and it did well.

Simple work like this is a main reason I bought a small lathe and mill back in 2013. It took me about 45 minutes to do this, which included digging out the rifle and rear sight, schlepping them out to my shop, and doing the work. In contrast, to have a gunsmith mount the sight it would require locating a 'smith locally or shipping the rifle, getting onto his wait list, and probably paying about $75 to $100. Since shooting is my hobby, I will eventually do enough jobs like this to largely offset the cost of the tools.

Of course, that doesn't even account for the satisfaction of doing it myself.

Some Great Muzzleloader Videos on YouTube

I ran across Denny Ducet's YouTube Channel a few days ago. He's got a bunch of muzzleloader shooting videos that are really well done. These boys look like they are having a great time up near Kalispell, MT.

A sample: Flintlocks & Capotes Winter Shoot:

Friday, December 28, 2018

H&B Forge Medium Camp Hawk and a Neck Knife

Today I took a spin up to Dixon's Muzzleloading Shop and came home with these:

The tomahawk is an H&B Forge Medium Camp Hawk while the knife one made by a local 'smith from an old trap spring. There are usually several of them on the shelf at Dixon's.

The Medium Camp Hawk's head weighs about a pound and has a hardened hammer poll, which should be useful for hammering in tent stakes. The edge is about 3.5" wide and the handled measures 19" long. The handle is stained but doesn't appear to be sealed so I'll give it a coat or two of some oil.

It came with a usable edge but I'm going to sharpen it some more. I'm also planning to make a mask for it since it came without any cover.

The knife blade is about 3.75" long and measured 0.055" or 1.4mm thick with my calipers. It's stamped with the maker's initials, "JBG." The scales are curly maple, secured with four brass pins. Wood to metal fit is excellent.

The leather neck sheath reminds me a bit of a center seam moccasin and is nicely stitched. The thong doesn't have a quick release but if it got snagged on something I'd expect it to let go. The knife and sheath together weigh only a few ounces and hang comfortably.

They should make nice additions to my bushcraft kit.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Burned Some Charcoal Today

I'm off this week and made it to the range today with my GL Dech longrifle and my Cimarron 1860 Henry.

I've probably posted this picture before but what the heck.

The rifle started out as a left handed Dixie Gun Works Tennessee Mountain Rifle and then was redone as a Lancaster, Pennsylvania style rifle by George Dech. I bought it off the shelf at Dixon's about 10-1/2 years ago. Aside from the new wood and fittings, the barrel was turned to a half-round configuration, which makes it balance a lot better than a stock TMR.

My load today was 70 grains of Swiss 3Fg propelling a Hornady .480 roundball patched with pillow ticking, and lubed with mink oil tallow from Track of the Wolf. The .480 balls seat much easier than the more typical .490s and still provide minute-of-deer accuracy at 50 yards. AAMOF, I was able to shoot 10 shots without wiping and the smaller balls can be thumb seated. This will make reloading in the field much easier.

My flint broke on the first shot. My first inclination was to replace it but then it occurred to me that it would be interesting to see how it would work as-is. It turned out that I was able to fire nine more shots. All 10 shots went off quickly with no misfires or hangfires.

Now, generally speaking, I do not recommend shooting more than a few shots with a flint missing about 1/3 of it striking edge because it will lead to uneven frizzen wear. But I was curious to see how it would work and the experience reinforced my impression that the Miroku lock is really good.

I'll be replacing the flint tomorrow morning. I'm planning to go out for PA's late flintlock deer season in the afternoon with my brother.

After I cleaned up the smokepole, I put 50 rounds through my Cimarron Firearms 1860 Henry Rifle. They were my .44 Henry Flat-equivalent handholds of a cast 219 grain bullet, 28 grains of Goex 3Fg black powder, with 0.5cc of cornmeal as a spacer. Recoil in the nine pound Henry is about like a .22. (Full power loads with 35 grains recoil more but it's still pretty mild.)

I forgot to bring a .44 caliber cleaning jag with me to the range so I ran a couple wet patches through the bore using a slotted jag, to let it soak on my drive home. After getting home, only another 3 or 4 wet patches were required before they started coming out clean. Cleaning up after shooting black powder .44-40s in a rifle really is no big deal.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

A Few Cool 1860 Henry Rifle Videos

These videos were posted by InRange TV last year but I only saw them tonight. I thought they were worth sharing.

The first one is an operator's guide. The one thing I would have added is mentioning the use of a glove on your support hand. In my experience with my Cimarron Firearms 1860 Henry Rifle in cool weather, it doesn't get too hot, even with black powder loads that generate more heat than smokeless powder. On the other hand, if the weather is warm, the rifle can get uncomfortably warm to hold in extended shooting.

I especially like his PVC speed loader. It's a modern equivalent to the Blakeslee Cartridge Box produced in limited number for use with the Spencer Rifle. (Link to replica.) With such a speed loader, reloading is faster than an 1866 Yellow Boy or 1873 Winchester.

The next video shows Karl running his Uberti Henry in a 2-gun match. (tactical lever guns, anyone?)

This video is valuable for a couple reasons. First, it demonstrates why lever actions are difficult to operate from prone. Second, it shows that you can deliver quite a lot of accurate lead on target with a manually operated rifle in a short time, and that they can still be a viable weapon 158 years after the debut of the Henry Rifle.

I'd be lying if I said the final video didn't make me cringe. In this one, Karl and Ian subject the Henry to a mud test.

Given the open slot on the bottom of the magazine and the lack of an ejection port cover, it did surprisingly well. The 1866 Yellow Boy and later Winchesters with wood forearms, ejection port dust covers, and fully enclosed magazines were definitely a step up, even without King's Patent Improvement loading gate, but it appears that the Henry's magazine with a full length slot for the magazine follower tab isn't quite the weakness that it's historically been made out to be.

My Cimarron 1873 Sporting Rifle is my favorite rifle and I would feel well armed with it should I ever need to rely on a rifle for self defense. It's about a pound lighter than the Henry, has a wood forearm, a loading gate, and less drop in the stock, thus fitting me better. I've put both the 1873 and the Henry through lever action rifle matches and find that I'm faster with the '73 because of the stock design.

That said, the 1860 Henry Rifle remains a formidable weapon in the right hands. The modern replicas hold up to 14 shots of either .44-40 WCF or .45 Colt ammunition in a reliable, easy to shoot package.

Inside My 1860 Henry Rifle

I removed the right side plate from my Cimarron Firearms Henry tonight. This was the first time I’ve done so after buying it back in March.

Side plate removal required loosening the screw which acts as the pivot for the lever, then tapping the plate out with a mallet, toward the top of the receiver. It was snug, but I was able to remove it pretty easily, unlike when I tried to get into my 1873 Sporting Rifle for the first time. (That required the use of my mill and a broken screw extractor.) Likewise, putting it back on also required the mallet to tap it back down into the dovetail. The machining is very precise.

The side plates and matching receiver recesses on Uberti Henry rifles are known to be razor sharp. Despite being careful, I still sliced my left thumb on the receiver recess. Managed to NOT bleed all over the rifle, though.

I have put a few hundred black powder handloads through the gun, both full power .44-40 WCF and reduced, .44 Henry rimfire-equivalent loads. There was zero BP fouling inside. .44-40 cases seal the chamber really well, especially with full charges.

It was dry inside so before reassembly I lubed it with FP-10 and put Kroil on the ends of the lifter spring screws, which don’t want to turn. They can be adjusted to reduce the amount of effort required to work the action but it’s already easy so I’m not going to worry about them.

Seeing how clean it was inside I don’t plan to remove the side plate more than once every several years.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Polymer 80 Range Report

I shot the Polymer 80 "Glock 19" last night. My dad and I put about 150 rounds through it, mostly Herter's 115 grain ball (made by Sellier & Bellot), along with around 25 rounds of my handloads. They were 115 grain Berry's plated bullets on top of 4.5 grains of Universal Clays in mixed brass.

The gun had one malfunction, a failure to fully go into battery with one of the handloads. Previously, I had some issues with this batch in my CZ P-09. AFAIC it was an ammo issue, not a gun issue.

Accuracy was OK, nothing to crow about. Most of the rounds went into a palm-sized group at 7 yards. The limiting factor for me was the trigger. Even with my fluff and buff job it is still pretty bad -- heavy and creepy. I'll see what it feels like after 500 rounds but if there isn't a marked improvement I'll look into getting something like an Apex trigger.

The other mod I have tentatively planned is a set of Heinie Straight Eight night sights.

After I finished shooting I field stripped it and saw no signs of unusual wear.

So far I'm very pleased with the gun.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Polymer 80 Build Complete

I finished up the Polymer 80 "Glock 19" today. Impressions:

  1. "Milling" the frame is easy. I used end nippers to remove most of the excess rail material, then filed and sanded them smooth.
  2. Assembly gave me some issues but mainly because this is my first "Glock." In particular, I had issues getting the slide stop in correctly so that it would either turn the gun into a single shot, or fail to raise at all. But I got it squared away.
  3. The "$0.25 Glock trigger job" is worth it. Before I polished several parts in the mechanism, the trigger pull was really heavy and gritty. Now it's a lot better and should smooth up with use.
  4. The Polymer 80 grip is an improvement for me over the stock Glock 19 grip.

I am left handed and found that the magazine catch rubbed on my middle finger uncomfortable, so I beveled the offending corner.

Not being a fan of the hole in the bottom of the grip behind the magazine well, I added a Strike Industries grip plug, which holds a combo flat head screw driver/punch, and a small oil vial. It had to be sanded a bit to allow magazines to drop free. Speaking of which, I bought four MagPul P-Mags from MidwayUSA to go with the gun.

I'm hoping to shoot it tonight on an indoor range. Range report to follow.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Rehydrating Dried Out Pipe Tobacco

I am an occasional pipe smoker, which means that sometimes my tobacco dries out before I use it. Hence this video from a friend:

I had a couple tins of tobacco that were several years old and rather crunchy. One tin was about half full, and after adding 6 to 10 drops of whiskey to it and letting it sit overnight, it was smokeable. It could have been a little moister, so I added a few more today.

The second tin was almost full and 6 to 10 drops wasn't enough to revive it, although I could tell the difference. I added another 10 drops today and will check on it tomorrow.

Monday, September 03, 2018

80% Glock Build

We've done 80% AR15s, so now it's time to build a Glock 19 from an 80% lower. Like with AR15s, this isn't about saving any money, it's more about flipping the bird to the man. You can pick up a perfectly serviceable used Glock for the same or less money.

I'm on a zillion lists already so blogging about this isn't going to make a difference for me.

Aside from that, it will be a great learning process so I know how Glocks work from the inside out. Glocks are among the most common handguns available so that's a good thing.

What's really neat about this is that because the receiver is plastic, it can be done entirely with hand tools. I've read of guys completing one of these in a half hour. That said, I plan to take my time and get it right.

Another nice thing from my perspective is that the Polymer 80 frames fix the uncomfortable-to-me Glock grip angle (the main reason I don't own a Glock).

The frames are compatible with OEM Gen 3 Glock parts, or aftermarket Gen 3 Glock parts. Gen 4 or 5 parts do not fit. Gen 1 or 2 may fit but Gen 3 is specified for these frames.


The Polymer 80 kits and assorted parts are available from various online vendors including MidwayUSA and Brownells. However, I didn't want to have to source all the parts to complete the build separately, so I went to 80P Builder and ordered a "Ruiz Package" which includes the 80% frame, lower parts kit, and an assembled barrel/slide assembly. This package was a special and is now out of stock. (Fred Ruiz is a pro shooter/ex-SEAL sponsored by 80P Builder.)

Pic of the kit I ordered:

(Picture borrowed from 80P Builder.)

The kit does not include a magazine and 80P Builder only has ETS mags in stock, so I ordered 4 MagPul Glock 19 P-Mags from MidwayUSA. (I don't know how good the ETS mags are. They may be just fine.)

Note: The frame has a metal plate molded in so that if you want or need to add a serial number, you can do so. E.g., California builders can request a serial number from the CA DOJ for their gun to stay within the bounds of state law. This is not required on a Federal level. In my opinion, putting some kind of serial number on the gun is a good idea if for no other reason than identification if you need to file a police report for a stolen gun.

Polymer 80 also sells frame kits for Glock 17 and 26 size guns. While mine will be in 9mm, AFAIK you could build one in .40 S&W or .357 SIG as long as you get the correct parts. They also work with Advantage Arms .22LR conversion kits. Polymer 80 is supposed to be introducting G20 / G21 sized frames later this year, for those interested in a 10mm or .45 ACP build.

I got a shipping notice from 80P Builder this morning. They are located in Charlotte, NC, so I expect to have it by the end of the week.

Updates to follow.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Shooting a Smith & Wesson Model 2

In this video, I shoot a Smith & Wesson Model 2 revolver, made in the 1870s. It is chambered for the .38 S&W round, not to be confused with .38 S&W Special. The ammo was from Buffalo Arms and was loaded with black powder.

Shooting it well was very difficult, because the sights are terrible. Still, it was really fun to play with this bit of history.

The revolver belongs to my father, who got it from Simpson, Ltd.

Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener Review Video

Sunday, August 05, 2018

CAD Files for 3D Printing and Machining Guns

Chaga Tea

As I write this I'm on my second cup of chaga tea, made from the stuff I got from I had to do some googling to see how to brew it, since the packaging was entirely in Russian, which I don't speak.

To brew the tea, I put about a tablespoon in a tea infuser, put it in my mug, then poured boiling water over it and let it steep for about 10 minutes.

The taste is very mild, maybe a little earthy. It would be pleasant on a cold day out in the woods.

Here's an article on potential health benefits of chaga.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

There's Russian collusion in my kitchen!

On July 26th I placed an order with (located in Brooklyn) for a few items:

  • Bulgarian Brand "Filet Yelina" dry-cured pork tenderloin.
  • Jewish Brand salami.
  • Kharcho or Harcho soup mix.
  • Hungarian style smoked pork fat back AKA salo.
  • Chaga tea.

The order arrived on July 31st.

The dry-cured pork tenderloin is reminiscent of prosciutto. It would go really well with some cheese and crackers. My wife already told me that I should order more when it's gone.

The salami is excellent. I don't think it'll last long, either.

I tried the kharcho soup mix for dinner with some rye bread. It's quite good and spicy. It reminds me a bit of the broth in my wife's crab soup which uses a lot of Old Bay seasoning. I'm going to have to try it mixed in with buckwheat, a la Lars.

This morning (Saturday, 8/4) I tried the salo/fatback. As I understand it, because it is cured, in Eastern Europe salo is frequently consumed without cooking it first. However, the packaging warns to thoroughly cook it, so I sliced off four pieces and fried them up like bacon until the edges were browned and crispy.

Damn it was good. The inner, unbrowned parts just melted in my mouth, while the browned edges were crunchy. The paprika seasoning was mild, while the pork taste was subtle. I can see why Ukrainians love this stuff.

I still need to try the chaga tea, which I'll write up in a separate post.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Some Facts About 3D Printed Guns

My G-d there is a lot of utter rubbish being spewed about 3D printed guns in the media over the past couple of days. Some facts:

1. You cannot "download a gun."

1a. On a related note, you cannot legally buy a gun off the Internet and avoid a background check. You can buy a gun over the Internet but it has to be shipped to a local, Federally-licensed firearms dealer, and you need to pass a background check before you take delivery. There is no "Internet loophole."

2. You can download plans, including 3D CAD files for various guns. Think of these as blueprints that can be turned into code for use by a 3D printer or CNC milling machine, which can be used to make a gun.

3. Speaking of which, it has always been legal under Federal law to make a gun for your own personal use. If you want to manufacture them for sale, that has been regulated for decades.

4. Some states do make it illegal to make a gun for your own use.

5. Most 3D printed guns are not undetectable. For example, if you 3D print the receiver for an AR-15 (the part that in the USA is legally the gun), you still need a lot of metal parts to have a functioning firearm. E.g., the barrel, bolt, firing pin, springs, etc.

5a. The exception to #5 appears to be the Defense Distributed Liberator, which is a single shot .22 pistol. Do you really think that a criminal is going to spend a shitload of money on a 3D printer so he can make an untraceable single shot .22 pistol? It's cheaper, easier, and faster to buy a stolen pistol like a Hi Point 9mm or even a Glock on the street.

6. For the most part, this hysteria about undetectable plastic guns is reminiscent of the BS spewed about Glocks in the 1980s. Despite what you heard in "Die Hard," Glocks are made largely of metal and stick out like a sore thumb if you try to pass one through a metal detector.

7. Even after Defense Distributed pulled their CAD files from the Internet in 2013, the cat was out of the bag. If you had a clue, they were not difficult to find. As per John Gilmore, the Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.

Finally, gun controllers lie. That's what they do. They cannot make arguments based on facts, so they lie. For example, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) recently gave a speech about undetectable firearms with a picture of an AR-15 next to him. A rifle with a few pounds of steel and aluminum in it is going to be undetectable? Not hardly.

Think about any topic in which you have in depth knowledge. Then consider how the mainstream media covers said topic, and how inaccurate they usually are.

This is just the latest in the American left finding something to be outraged about and stir up shit.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Old Gun Day at the Range

Today was old gun day at the range.

First up was my Wartime Commercial Mauser C96 Broomhandle, in 7.63x25 (.30 Mauser). I wanted to see how it would do at 50 yards when shot with the stock attached.

(The empty clip is in the pistol in lieu of a chamber flag.)

As you can see from the target, it's nothing to shout about. The short sight radius coupled with a front sight that's hard to see hinders accuracy. I fired this 20 shot group with my elbows rested on the shooting bench. (The hole on the right side of the target is from when my kid accidentally shot at my target instead of hers.)

It's nothing to write home about but if I needed to use this gun for defense (which has a probability approaching zero) it would work out to 50 yards.

Next up was my Winchester 1892 sporting rifle made in 1895. It's chambered for .38-40 WCF, which is a nice mild-recoiling round that will work for short-range deer hunting. Ballistics from a rifle are similar to a 10mm handgun.

Anyway, I am seriously considering having the barrel relined. The bore has quite a bit of pitting, and worse, the crown has a lot of cleaning rod wear. No pics of the target, but it was a 10-shot group of about 8". If I have it relined, I'd expect it to shoot as well as my Cimarron 1873, being able to hold the 10-ring at 50 yards.

Vinpok Bolt "MagSafe" Power Cord for MacBook Pro

If there's one thing I hate about the most recent MacBook Pros, it's that Apple replaced the MagSafe power connector with USB-C AKA Thunderbolt 3 ports.

My MBP sits on my coffee table when not in use, and I've been worried that eventually someone would trip over the power cord. It happened with my previous machine but because of the MagSafe connector, it wasn't damaged.

About a week ago I went looking for a MagSafe-analogue that supports the 87W power supply of the 15" MBPs and found a couple. I ordered a Vinpok Bolt USB-C Magnetic Cable on July 15th and it arrived yesterday the 27th, from China.

The magnetic adapter that plugs into one of the USB-C ports:

It adds virtually no bulk. The matching cord that replaces the factory USB-C cable from the Apple power brick:

My first impressions are generally positive. However, it should be noted that the magnets in the Vinpok Bolt are much weaker than those found on the Apple MagSafe connectors. Moving the laptop is frequently enough to dislodge the Vinpok Bolt. The overall size of the Bolt is smaller than the MagSafe connector, so that's to be expected.

That said, as long as it continues to work as advertised, it's worth it IMO to regain the safety feature of the Apple MagSafe connector.

Monday, July 23, 2018

New Sights for the Rossi 92

My 14 y/o daughter wants to join me deer hunting this year so I needed something she could shoot well with mild recoil. The Rossi 92 in .357 Magnum I bought several years ago fits the bill, but I wanted to improve her hit probability, which meant mounting an optic.

As a copy of the Winchester 1892, the Rossi 92 is a top-eject design, which complicates optic mounting. You need to either find some kind of a mount offset to the side or use something with long eye relief mounted on the barrel.

Rossi drilled and tapped the barrel for a scope mount. The holes are covered up by the open rear sight, which must be removed to use them.

NOE Bullet Molds makes a very nice Picatanny rail that fits the Rossi. I ordered one and received it in a few days. Before installing it, I degreased the mounting holes in the barrel using denatured alcohol, and put a drop of thread locker on each screw.

The optic I chose was a Bushnell TRS-25 red dot sight. Since my Rossi is in .357 I view it as a 75 yard deer rifle. A non-magnified optic is fine for such ranges.

I have a few other TRS-25s and they've all been very good, with clear lenses, a well-defined dot, and rugged. As a micro-dot sight the TRS-25 hardly affects how a rifle feels. Finally, they are low-priced. I got this one for $45 shipped on Amazon Prime. (I just checked Amazon and it's now listed for $43.24.)

Because the NOE rail required removal of the rear sight the gun is left without backup irons if your optic tanks. So, I ordered a bolt-mounted peep from Steve's Guns. When I first bought the carbine I installed one of his safety replacement plugs. I wish I'd just gone straight to his very slick peep sight.

The resulting package is still light and handy with plenty of firepower, but vastly improved low-light shootability.

Last weekend I took my kids camping and my daughter got to put 50 rounds of Fiochi .357 Magnum 158 grain JHPs through the Rossi. Without zeroing the RDS on paper, she was easily able to keep her shots on a 10" gong, shooting rapidly offhand at 25 - 30 yards.

We're hoping to get to the range next weekend so she can get some more practice in and so we can zero the Bushnell.

The final touch to ready the Rossi for hunting season will be to add quick-detach sling swivel studs and a sling.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Your Very Own Dictatorship

The following essay was Posted by an online acquaintance. I didn't write it. But I agree with it.

Your very own dictatorship.

Two or more sides disagree on who runs the country. And they can’t settle the question through elections because they don’t even agree that elections are how you decide who’s in charge.

That’s the basic issue here. Who decides who runs the country? When you hate each other but accept the election results, you have a country. When you stop accepting election results, you have a countdown to a civil war.

The Mueller investigation is about removing President Trump from office and overturning the results of an election. We all know that. But it’s not the first time they’ve done this. The first time a Republican president was elected this century, they said he didn’t really win. The Supreme Court gave him the election. There’s a pattern here.

What do sure odds of the Democrats rejecting the next Republican president really mean? It means they don’t accept the results of any election that they don’t win. It means they don’t believe that transfers of power in this country are determined by elections.

That’s a civil war.

There’s no shooting. At least not unless you count the attempt to kill a bunch of Republicans at a charity baseball game practice. But the Democrats have rejected our system of government.

This isn’t dissent. It’s not disagreement. You can hate the other party. You can think they’re the worst thing that ever happened to the country. But then you work harder to win the next election. When you consistently reject the results of elections that you don’t win, what you want is a dictatorship.

Your very own dictatorship.

The only legitimate exercise of power in this country, according to Democrats, is its own. Whenever Republicans exercise power, it’s inherently illegitimate. The Democrats lost Congress. They lost the White House. So what did they do? They began trying to run the country through Federal judges and bureaucrats. Every time that a Federal judge issues an order saying that the President of the United States can’t scratch his own back without his say so, that’s the civil war.

Our system of government is based on the constitution, but that’s not the system that runs this country. The Democrat's system is that any part of government that it runs gets total and unlimited power over the country.

If the Democrats are in the White House, then the president can do anything. And I mean anything. He can have his own amnesty for illegal aliens. He can fine you for not having health insurance. His power is unlimited. He’s a dictator.

But when Republicans get into the White House, suddenly the President can’t do anything. He isn’t even allowed to undo the illegal alien amnesty that his predecessor illegally invented. A Democrat in the White House has “discretion” to completely decide every aspect of immigration policy. A Republican doesn’t even have the “discretion” to reverse him. That’s how the game is played. That’s how our country is run. Sad but true, although the left hasn’t yet won that particular fight.

When a Democrat is in the White House, states aren’t even allowed to enforce immigration law. But when a Republican is in the White House, states can create their own immigration laws. Under Obama, a state wasn’t allowed to go to the bathroom without asking permission. But under Trump, Jerry Brown can go around saying that California is an independent republic and sign treaties with other countries. The Constitution has something to say about that.

Whether it’s Federal or State, Executive, Legislative or Judiciary, the left moves power around to run the country. If it controls an institution, then that institution is suddenly the supreme power in the land. This is what I call a moving dictatorship.

Donald Trump has caused the Shadow Government to come out of hiding: Professional government is a guild. Like medieval guilds. You can’t serve in if you’re not a member. If you haven’t been indoctrinated into its arcane rituals. If you aren’t in the club. And Trump isn’t in the club. He brought in a bunch of people who aren’t in the club with him.

Now we’re seeing what the pros do when amateurs try to walk in on them - They spy on them, they investigate them and they send them to jail. They use the tools of power to bring them down.

That’s not a free country.

It’s not a free country when FBI agents who support Hillary take out an “insurance policy” against Trump winning the election. It’s not a free country when Obama officials engage in massive unmasking of the opposition. It’s not a free country when the media responds to the other guy winning by trying to ban the conservative media that supported him from social media. It’s not a free country when all of the above collude together to overturn an election because the guy who wasn’t supposed to win won.

Have no doubt, we’re in a civil war between conservative volunteer government and a leftist professional government.

That is how WARS START from within.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Made a Stropping Block

Today one of my friends on Facebook posted a link to an article on the A.G. Russell Knives website,
How to Make a Finishing Paddle.

Coincidentally, yesterday I put together my first stropping block/finishing paddle with a piece of leather glued to a piece of wood. Even though I've been sharpening knives for close to four decades, I only started using a strop in the last couple of weeks. I immediately noticed a difference in my knife edges.

That's been a real oversight on my part, because a strop can help you get a really sharp edge on a knife, and polish the bevel, which has a couple benefits. First, it reduces drag in the cut, and second, it makes the edge a little more corrosion-resistant because the smooth surface is less prone to retaining moisture.

Some pictures. First, the stropping block before I applied any compound.

Second, after applying the green compound from Eastwood. As you can see, it didn't go on evenly. I should probably have sanded the block to ensure it was as level as possible, and then sanded the leather also. Oh well, it's a learning process.

Finally, what it looks like after a little use. The dark spots are where it removed metal from the knife.

It may not look like much but it helped get a few of my knives really sharp. E.g., my Cold Steel Bushman feels like a razor now.

I made this one from some cowhide I had laying around that was about 1/8" thick, and a piece of a scrap 2x4. The thick base helps provide clearance so you don't hit your knuckles on your workbench.

I may go back and tweak it by scraping off most of the compound, adding some mineral oil to the leather, slightly roughing the leather so it takes the compound better, and then reapplying the compound.

My brother requested that I make him one and I'll use the lessons learned with this one in doing so.

If you don't have the materials for making one yourself laying around like I did, and want to try using a stropping block, you can get one off Amazon, here.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Camillus TL-29 Electrician's Knife

I picked up this old Camillus electrician's knife off eBay for a whopping $11.50 shipped.

Generations of American servicemen have known this style of knife as the "TL-29." They were typically paired with a set of linesman's pliers and leather belt pouch to hold both items. Below is a picture I found on Pinterest, apparently scanned from a US military manual.

Used TL-29s can be found on eBay for little money and newly-made ones are available from Klein and other manufacturers.

According to the tang stamp guide found here, the knife was made between 1960 and the late 1970s.

It showed signs of use and some neglect, but no outright abuse. E.g., it was dull, dirty, and had some rust which I removed by an overnight soak in Evaporust. The blades snap into position nicely with positive half-stops and no side-to-side wiggle. The brass liner lock positively keeps the screwdriver in the open position.

As I received the knife it was very dull but now it's shaving sharp. It took about an hour's worth of work on my DMT fine diamond bench stone and Worksharp Field Sharpener combined to put a good edge on it.

I plan to keep the edge on the screwdriver blade relatively dull for use as a scraper; it was originally intended as such and as a wire stripper. I expect it to throw sparks from a ferro rod rather well.

Worksharp Field Sharpener

In the past couple of weeks I’ve been on a cutlery buying binge. I received a nice Amazon gift card for my birthday at the end of May, and among the items I bought was a Work Sharp Field Sharpener.

The Worksharp Field Sharpener is an impressive little piece of gear for maintaining knives in the field or at home. It comes with coarse and fine diamond plates, a ceramic stick for honing, a small ceramic stick for working on serrations, and a leather strop. Built into the unit are guides to help you set the correct angle when using all of the sharpening bits.

Since receiving the Worksharp I’ve used it to touch up several pocketknives both old and new, and it’s enabled me to put shaving-sharp edges on them while sitting in my recliner.

The overall length is a bit under 7 inches, so it’s best used on smaller knives. Of course, you can use it on larger blades but you’ll need to work on shorter sections of the edge at a time. For scale, here it is next to an old Camillus TL-29 electrician's knife:

I plan to take the Worksharp with me on camping trips as my field edge maintenance solution. I might even get a second one to leave in my camping toolbox.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Day at the Range

I've been off all week and despite the crappy weather forecasts, made it to the range yesterday and today. This post has pics from today.

Today I shot my Cimarron Firearms 1873 Sporting Rifle in .44-40 WCF with two types of handloads. The first target was shot with loads containing a 200 grain soft cast bullet from Desperado Cowboy Bullets on top of 8.5 grains of Alliant Unique powder, sparked by a Federal large pistol primer, in Starline brass.

The second group was loaded with home cast 219 grain bullets from an Accurate Molds 43-215C mold. I used a 1:20 tin:lead alloy, so they are pretty soft. Powder charge was 35 grains of Swiss 3Fg black powder, with the same brass and primers.

I managed to capture the smoke cloud from one of the black powder rounds. It was hot, humid, and with little to no wind, so the smoke just hung around.

After cleaning the 1873, I also spent some time banging the 25 yard plate rack with my CZ P09 Duty and my 9mm reloads (mixed brass, 115 grain Berry's plated bullets, 4.5 grains of Hodgdon Universal Clays powder, and CCI small pistol primers). No pics of that, however.

It sure beats working.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Turning Components Into Ammo

Over the past few weekends I have been busy turning components into ammunition. I dipped into my stash of empty .38 Special brass and loaded up several different varieties:

  • 50 rounds of 178 Keith semiwadcutters (SWC) on top of 3.8 grains of Unique.
  • 50 rounds of 178 Keith SWCs on top of 5.0 of Unique.
  • 100 rounds of 195 grain lead round nose bullets (LRNs) on top of a 5.0 grains of Unique.
  • 100 rounds of 148 grain Lee tumble lube wadcutters on top of a 2.7 grains of Bullseye.
  • 100 rounds of 148 grain Hornady hollow base wadcutters (HBWC) on top of 2.7 grains of Bullseye.
  • 100 rounds of Speer 158 grain lead SWC hollow points on top of a 4.5 grains of Universal Clays.


The Keith SWCs, 195 grain LRNs, and Lee TL WCs came from Matt's Bullets. I ordered 100 count sample packs of each and was impressed with the projectiles. They are sized to .359 and loaded with Carnauba Red lube, except for the 148 TL WCs, which appear to be lubed with Lee Liquid Alox.

I was quite pleased with the service from Matt's Bullets, BTW. My order shipped in about a day and a half and was sent in a USPS flat-rate box. I received 2 days after I got the shipping notice. The bullets all looked good.

The Hornady 148 grain HBWCs have been laying around since I bought 1250 of them at the end of 2016. I've had the 500 count box of the Speer LSWCHPs for years.

So what prompted this binge reloading? First, the weather has been nice and it has been neither too hot nor too cold to work out in my backyard shop. Second, my gun interests go in phases and  something rekindled my interest in revolvers. It's been too long since I shot one of my K-Frames, S&W Model 28, or 50th Anniversary Ruger Blackhawk.

And frankly, the state of the political left in this country is really starting to worry me. As far as I'm concerned, they've been acting completely batshit crazy since Trump's election. I want to get in some more practice in case the left decides to take their attempt at a soft coup hot.

I was pleasantly surprised that the .38s loaded with the Keith SWCs feed well in my Rossi 92 .357 carbine. I'd figured the SWCs might hang up during feeding, but they seem to be held at just the right angle to slip right into the chamber. (Testing was done with 3 dummy rounds, not live ammo.)

I got the 195 grain bullets because I thought it would be neat to try and duplicate the old .38 Special Super Police load, which had a 200 grain LRN at mild velocity. I wound up loading them over enough Unique, though, that they will only be shot in my .357s. If nothing else, they should make steel plates jump around nicely.

The Speer 158 LSWCHP loads should run about 850 FPS from a 4" barrel, very similar to the old FBI load. I can bump the powder charge up a little to get over 900 FPS but at +P pressures. These would be good for defense from any of my K-Frames, and should also work well in my J-Frame S&W Model 640.

To measure the powder charges I used both my Redding Model 3 measure and my RCBS Little Dandy. I don't like how Unique meters in the Redding, although it seems to meter a little more smoothly in the Little Dandy. In contrast, Universal Clays seems to meter very nicely in the Little Dandy -- smooth and extremely consistent. I haven't tried it yet in the Redding but I expect it to behave similarly.

Of course, the proof will be in the shooting of this ammo. I'm hoping to get to the range in the next week or two to dirty up some wheelguns.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

New Personal MacBook Pro

Last weekend I broke down and finally did my income taxes. I used Turbo Tax on my old mid-2009 MacBook Pro. When I installed the software, it warned that unless I upgrade to macOS High Sierra, I won't be able to use it again next year. That Mac is too old to be upgraded beyond Sierra. I've been thinking of getting a new personal laptop and this pushed me to finally do so.

Therefore, on the way home from work last night I stopped in the Apple Store in King of Prussia and bought a 2017-model 15" MBP (MacBookPro14,3). The specs are impressive:

  • CPU: 2.9 GHz Intel Core i7 with 4 cores
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • SSD: 512 GB (I was running low on space on the old machine's 256 GB SSD.)
  • Graphics: Onboard Intel HD Graphics 630 1536 MB AND a 4G AMD Radeon Pro 560 GPU.

It has the Touch Bar (yawn) and 4 Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C 3.1 ports and a headphone jack.

I got it in silver to clearly differentiate it from the work-provided Space Grey 15" MBP.

Since I use Google Drive and Dropbox for documents, migrating them over was as simple as installing the clients and letting them sync. To move over my videos, pictures, and music, I went old school and sneaker-netted them using a 64 GB SanDisk USB stick with both USB-A and USB-C connectors.

This machine is very similar to my company-provided work laptop so I knew what I was getting. To partially reiterate from my post last Spring after I got that one:

  • Replacing the MagSafe 2 power connector with USB-C sucks.
  • On the other hand, with the right cable I should be able to charge the battery from something like a cell phone power bank or my Harbor Freight jump pack/12V power source.
  • I am underwhelmed with the Touch Bar. At work I rarely use it because 90% of the time the lid is closed while the machine is connected to an external keyboard, mouse, and dual displays. Since I use the machine at home as a laptop, I expect the Touch Bar will see more use.
  • It's fast as hell.
  • The screen is great.
  • Battery life is good.
  • The keyboard is OK.
  • For me, macOS 10.13 High Sierra has been very stable. I expect the new machine to be even more so, because it won't have corporate IT management crap like the Eracent agent installed.

Since last night I've installed the following software:

  • MS Office 2016.
  • TextWrangler (in which I'm writing this.)
  • Truecrypt 7.1a, which requires some tweaking to install.
  • ZOC 7 for telnet and SSH. I don't use it much at home but at work for managing Linux servers or network devices, it's awesome.
  • LibreOffice for some old OpenOffice files I have. Even on this machine, LibreOffice is a bloated, slow POS. Amazing.
  • 1Password.
  • Mozilla Thunderbird.
  • Google Chrome.

I still need to install a few ham radio apps, including Fldigi, CHIRP, and WSJT. Using them with my radios will require a Thunderbolt 3 to USB-A adapter, and maybe an external sound card.

One thing I need to pick up is a 1 TB Thunderbolt 3-compatible hard disk, to use for Time Machine backups. MicroCenter appears to have several suitable models in stock.

My employer has a purchase plan negotiated with Apple which saved me a couple hundred bucks on the laptop and AppleCare. It still came out to about $3,100 after tax. That's a ton of money but it's worth it to me to have a top-quality machine that I fully expect to be able to use for nearly a decade.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Levergun Weekend

Saturday afternoon I loaded up 150 rounds of .38-40 with a 180 bullet on top of about 8.5 grains of Unique. After dinner, I loaded 100 rounds of .44-40 with a 200 grain bullet on top of the same powder charge. Bullets for both calibers were soft cast from Desperado Cowboy bullets. I mostly shoot black powder in .44-40 but still had a bunch of the DCB 200 grainers, which don't carry enough lube for BP in a rifle, so smokeless it was.

Sunday morning was my club's lever action rifle match. Even though it was Easter Sunday, we had 9 shooters. We had a couple Rossi 92s, a Cimarron 1873, a Henry Big Boy, a Marlin 1894 CB, and even a Winchester 1894 in .44 Magnum loaded with .44 Specials. I shot my Cimarron 1860 Henry with .44 Henry-equivalent black powder loads, and got some ribbing from the other guys about second hand smoke.

We started out at 10 - 12 yards, then moved back to 50. The targets were ~8" square steel plates.

I shot well, coming in 4th. I missed only one target but of course I was slower than the guys shooting mouse-fart level .38s. Also, the Henry has more drop in the stock than my 1873, which slowed me down compared to last month.

I put 55 rounds through the 1860 Henry. The .44 rimfire-level loads foul noticeably less than full-power .44 WCFs. It took only about a half dozen patches wet with moose milk to clean the bore.

The rifle's developing a nice patina on the brass receiver now.

We were done pretty early so in the afternoon I decided to replenish my supply of bullets suitable for shooting on top of black powder. So, I topped off my Lyman lead pot with some 1:20 alloy that I got from Roto Metals, and ran off a few hundred bullets in my Accurate Molds 43-215C. Hopefully, I'll be able to lube and size them this week after work.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Shooting the 1860 Henry Rifle

Yesterday I went out to a friend's place and we put 100 rounds through the Cimarron Firearms 1860 Henry. The ammunition was 50 rounds each of two different loads:

First, .44 Henry Flat rimfire-equivalent loads:

  • Starline brass
  • CCI large pistol primers
  • 28 grains Goex 3Fg black powder
  • 0.5cc of cornmeal, to take up airspace
  • 219 grain bullet cast from an Accurate Molds 43-215C mold

The second 50 rounds were as above, but with a full charge of 35 grains of 3Fg Goex and no cornmeal filler.

My first ten shots, fired offhand from about 40 - 45 yards:

My point of aim was at 6:00 on the bullseye. Can't complain about that.

We spent most of my rounds shooting at an 8-inch steel gong from the same distance. A short video:

In the video I was shooting the full-power .44 WCF loads with 35 grains of powder.

The rifle hangs really nicely for offhand shooting although at about 9 lbs. it's heavy. Recoil is very mild. Functioning was excellent and the action is slicking up, being noticeably smoother now than when it was fresh out of the box.

After shooting, we dropped the spent cases into a jar of soapy water to clean off most of the black powder fouling.

This took care of most of the fouling but I'm going to run them through my case tumbler for about 30 - 60 minutes.

This was the most black powder loads I've put through a rifle in one outing. The action got no fouling in it. The bore took only about 10 - 12 patches wet with moose milk (Ballistol/water mix) to get clean. 

I'm going to load up some more of the .44 Henry-equivalent loads and use them at my club's next lever action shoot. I'll also run some mild smokeless loads with Unique through it, and I've recently read some pieces that indicate Herco is a good smokeless powder for use in .44 WCF, so if I see any at the next gun show I'll pick up a pound. It's a little slower and I think bulkier than Unique, and may meter better, which would be a plus. 

Incidentally, we also shot my circa-1895 Winchester 1892 .38 WCF at the gong, with smokeless loads of a 180 grain cast bullet on top of 9.0 grains of Unique. These were noticeably more powerful than the Ultramax .38-40 cowboy ammo I'd shot in the rifle previously. However, even the .44 Henry-equivalent loads in the 1860 smacked the gong around a lot more.

Cimarron Firearms 1860 Henry Civil War Model

A couple of weeks ago I ordered a Cimarron Firearms 1860 Henry Civil War model rifle from Buffalo Arms, the same place I got my Cimarron 1873 Sporting Rifle from two years ago. The Henry arrived at my FFL last week and I did the transfer on Thursday. Like the 1873, the Henry is chambered for .44-40 / .44 WCF. I shot it for the first time yesterday.

As shown in the above picture, a sling swivel is mounted on the stock. I got a sling from Dell's Leather Works, which came from NY to PA in about 3 days.

This shows the German silver front sight blade and the sling attachment loop on the barrel.

The rear sight is a folding ladder. When folded, it's set for 100 yards. It's then graduated out to a very optimistic 800 yards. It also has a notch on the very top which may be for 900 yards.

Most Henry replicas come with a trapdoor in the buttplate which covers a cavity in the stock that accepts a four piece cleaning rod. My rifle doesn't have that, however. I plan to pull the buttplate off and see if the stock is drilled for a cleaning rod. If so, I may swap out the buttplate.

Overall, the rifle is extremely well finished. Wood-to-metal fit is excellent and the action works smoothly (and it's getting smoother as it gets worked).

Aside from the high quality, the other initial impression is that the rifle is heavy. It weighs in around 9 pounds, partially due to the weight of the brass receiver and partially due to how the magazine tube is machine from the same piece of steel as the barrel.

In my next post I'll talk about shooting it, but I wanted to leave off with this, a facsimile of an 1860s Henry Rifle advertisement.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Lever Action Rifle Shoot

Yesterday I attended for the first time one of my gun club's lever action rifle matches. I shot my Cimarron 1873 Sporting Rifle with my .44-40 handloads of bullets cast in the Accurate 43-215C mold on top of 35 grains of Goex 3Fg black powder in Starline brass.

Normally, the lever action matches involve shooting steel plates at 25 yards and 50 yards, but due to recent weather the range was a bit swampy. So, we shot at 25 yards only. Each of the first 9 relays was 5 shots on ~8" steel plates, against the clock. The final relay was 5 shots on one plate, against the clock, and if you didn't miss any, 5 seconds would be deducted from your total time.

Cimarron 1873s were the most common rifle choice, but mine was the only one with a 24" barrel. The rest were 20" short rifles in either .45 Colt or .357.

One guy was shooting an Uberti 1866 Carbine in .44-40. He and I were the only guys shooting .44 WCF.

We had a couple rifles from Henry and one Marlin 1894 Cowboy with 24" barrel. Finally, we had one guy shooting a Rossi 92 in .454 Casull but loaded with .45 Colts.

I was the only one shooting cartridges loaded with black powder. Everyone else used smokeless and mostly were light cowboy action shooting loads.

I saw a few feeding issues at least one of which was due to short-stroking, and the 1866 went down at one point due to a squib load. I am pleased to say that my rifle ran flawlessly.

Cleanup of my rifle afterwards was a snap. The thin .44-40 brass really seals the rifle's chamber so no fouling got back into the action. The bore needed about a dozen patches wet with moose milk (Ballistol/water mix) to get clean. Then, a couple dry patches and then two more with straight Ballistol.

The match was an absolute blast. Today I got an email with the scores and was happy to see that I came in third. Considering that the two guys who placed ahead of me were shooting mouse fart-level smokeless powder loads, I have absolutely no complaints.

I think I'll being doing it again.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Self Sufficiency, Part Two

It was unusually warm today for February, so I took advantage of that after getting home from work, and pan lubed and sized between 150 and 200 of the bullets I cast last weekend. These were cast from my Accurate 43-15C mold and will be shot in my Cimarron 1873 Sporting Rifle over black powder.

I use a hot plate that I got from Amazon for $14.95 or so to melt my roughly 50/50 mix of beeswax and mutton tallow. I recently picked up a .44 caliber Lee lube cutter off eBay, which made separating the bullets from the lube simpler than my previous solution. That was a .44-40 case with the mouth expanded a bit larger than normal and the flash hole drilled out so I can still a pin punch through it to poke out the bullets.

After separating them from the lube, I ran them through my Lee .429 sizer.

I still have about another 100 bullets to lube and size, which I'll try to get to tomorrow night.

The weather is supposed to be crappy this weekend, so I'm going to try to get some reloading in. I want to load at least one 50 round box of .44-40s using 2.2cc of Goex, to see how well this bullet works with it. I know it works well with Swiss black powder but I have a good supply of Goex on hand. The bullet was designed to carry enough lube to use with Goex in 24" barrels.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Consistent Cast Bullet Weights

Tonight I weighed a sample of ten bullets from the batch I cast yesterday and plugged them into Excel to figure out the average weight and the standard deviation in weights.

Accurate Molds 43-215C Bullets
Bullets cast from 20:1 lead:tin alloy
Sample Weight in Grains
1 219.6
2 219.4
3 219.0
4 219.0
5 219.2
6 220.2
7 219.6
8 219.1
9 219.4
10 219.1
219.4 Average weight
0.371782493 Standard deviation

According to Tom at Accurate Molds, this bullet should drop at about 215 grains when cast from wheel weight alloy. Since the 20:1 alloy I'm using lacks any antimony, they naturally weigh a little more.

Never let anyone tell you that homemade bullets won't be as good as factory-made.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Self Sufficiency

Today I cast up a couple hundred bullets for .44-40 in my Accurate Molds 43-215C. Probably about 10 pounds worth.

The next time the Dems get into power, you know damn well that there will be a panic. What are you doing to protect yourself against that?

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Put Together a Box of Smokeless .38-40s Today

Yesterday my orders arrived from Starline Brass and Desperado Cowboy Bullets. This afternoon I loaded up a 50-round box of .38-40s.

It was a bit cool outside and I didn't feel like working in my shop, so I did my handloading today at my dining room table using a Lee Hand Press that I bought many years ago. Mine is an older version, pre-Breech Lock.

The Lee Hand Press uses standard reloading dies and has enough leverage to resize rifle brass. I didn't have to resize the new brass, but did have to run them through the expander die after I deburred the case mouths.

The components I used today were:

  • Virgin Starline cases
  • Soft-cast 180 grain RNFP bullet from Desperado Cowboy Bullets
  • Federal No.150 large pistol primer
  • 9.0 grains of Alliant Unique powder

Muzzle velocity should be around 1300 - 1400 FPS. So, about equivalent to a 10mm pistol.

Note that this load should be safe in a Winchester 1892 or Marlin 1894 in good condition, but you should always confirm loading data in a loading manual or two. You and you alone are responsible for the safety of your handloads.

To prime, I used a Lee Ram Prime attachment. This allows you to prime cases on a reloading press on the upstroke. It gives a good feel for seating the primers, but does require you to handle each and every one. If/when I do another indoor loading session I'll probably use my Lee Auto Prime tool.

I used a Lee Perfect powder measure, with my charge weight verified using a Frankford Arsenal digital scale. I've previously tested this scale again a Redding beam-type scale and it's very accurate.

It's been awhile since I used the Lee Hand Press. It works well but I kind of like using nutcracker-style tools like my Ideal Number 6 more. I may look into picking up a Lyman 310 tool with dies for .38-40 and .44-40. Unlike the 19th Century tong tools, the 310 allows you to neck size brass and use different bullets, not just the ones cast in the matching mold. Unfortunately, they don't use standard loading dies.

Hopefully I'll be able to take the Winchester 1892 out to the range again next week, since I now have two handloads to try through it, today's smokeless loads and the black powder loads I put together last week.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Loaded Up a Box of Black Powder .38-40s

Today I loaded up a box of black powder .38-40s using bullets I cast yesterday. I planned to use the Ideal Number 6 tool but I found that because it doesn't resize the brass, I had insufficient neck tension and crimp on the bullets. With a slightly compressed load, the powder sometimes pressed the bullets back out of the case.

I therefore ended up using the Lee seating die and the factory crimp die. Going forward, I'm only going to use the Ideal tool for priming at most. Between the flashing I got on most of the bullets and the inability to use it to seat and crimp bullets, it's a collector's item.

After I loaded 50 rounds I had to clean up the flashing on many of them with a file, which was a tedious PITA. Since life is too short to shoot crappy bullets, the remaining ones that I cast yesterday are going back into the pot.

I'll probably order a mold from Accurate Molds, probably the 40-185C. It's basically a .40 caliber version of the 43-215C that has worked so well for me in .44 WCF. This will give me bullets that will work well with smokeless but still carry enough lube to use Goex black powder in a 24" barrel, in case I get another rifle in .38-40.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Cast Some .38-40 Bullets

This afternoon I cast some bullets using the Ideal Number 6 reloading tool for my .38-40 1892 Winchester. I have a small Lyman electric lead pot and filled the mold with a dipper. The alloy is ~20:1 tin:lead, which gives me a soft bullet but the tin helps the molten lead fill out the mold.

They dropped from the mold at ~0.412" and sized down in the Ideal tool to ~0.401".

If you look closely you may see some flashing on some of the bullets. The mold blocks do not meet perfectly. This will be cleaned up during sizing and if necessary, with a fine cut file. If I can keep these on an 8" plate at 50 yards I'll be happy. I'll be ordering a modern mold for sure.

My plan is to shoot these over black powder, so I lubed some up with Crisco and ran them through the sizer on the Ideal tool.

This shows a bullet ready to be sized:

Even with the soft alloy your hands get a real workout. I did about 25 and will do another 25 later. I am going to order a Lee sizing die to use in my reloading press.

Using a tool like this for molding your bullets and loading the cartridges really makes you appreciate modern reloading tools. Even a Lee Hand Press is a major step up.

Borescoped the 1892 Winchester

Last night I ran my borescope through the barrel of my antique Winchester 1892 in .38-40. What I'd hoped were leading deposits are really pits from corrosion. <sigh>

Unfortunately, much of the bore looks like that. Despite this, it shoots well. But, those pits are going to collect a lot of fouling, which is why cleaning patches always come out with some black on them, even after I've soaked the bore in Kroil since I got it a few weeks ago.

So, it looks like this rifle will see primarily smokeless powder ammo. I'll try some black powder handloads but ensuring all the black powder fouling is gone is going to be a challenge.

I have some 180 grain .401" soft cast lead bullets on order from Desperado Cowboy Bullets. Their 200 grain .430" bullets work well over Unique in my .44-40 and I expect the smaller bullets to work well in .38 WCF over 8.6 to 9.0 grains.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

The FISA Memo

This morning I downloaded and read the FISA memo prepared by Congressman Devin Nunes. I have some thoughts on the contents.

Before delving into the memo itself, we need to remember that before it was released, the FBI had the opportunity to review it. They stated that while some (as yet unknown) facts were not included, no allegations in the memo are inaccurate. This is key, because if we take the allegations in the memo as accurate, they are damning.

In the warrant application, senior FBI and DOJ officials -- including then-Director Comey and Deputy Director McCabe --  had to certify to the court that there was probable cause to suspect illegal conduct by the target of the surveillance (Page). The Steele dossier was an essential piece of evidence provided to the court in support of the warrant application.

However, it turns out that the Steele dossier consisted of fabricated allegations by a foreign national, and was paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC. When applying for the warrant, the FBI was under the duty to inform the court of all material facts, including those which would weigh in the surveillance target's favor.

Further, FISA warrants are only valid for 90 days. If the FBI wants to continue surveillance it needs to apply to the court for a renewal. Each time, the FBI must disclose to the court all material facts, including those which would favor the surveillance target.

The FBI made a total of four applications to the court: the initial application and three renewals.

At no time was the court informed of the role of the Clinton campaign or DNC in the dossier.

In other words, the FBI failed to exhibit candor towards the tribunal and via the electronic surveillance of the Trump campaign, acted as a part of the Clinton campaign. This weaponized the highest law enforcement agency in the land against the opponent of the previous administration and its desired successor.

That is appalling. It's worse than Watergate. It's the kind of conduct you'd expect to see in a banana republic.

Everyone involved in seeking the warrant and who submitted false and incomplete information to the FISA court should hang.

In opposing the release of the memo, the Democrats stated that release would endanger national security. That is clearly false. Their opposition to its release was clearly partisan politics. They have no claim to supporting the rights of Americans against rogue government agencies.

The entire document is only six pages. The memo itself is only about 3-1/3 pages. If you give a shit about the state of this country and the conduct by the people who would rule us, you owe it to yourself to read it and form your own opinion.