Sunday, October 13, 2019

Range Report and Some Revolversmithing

I've been on a bit of a revolver kick lately and last night accompanied my dad to his club with my Ruger Police Service Six .357 Magnum and GP100 .38 Special in tow. (Note that the vast majority of GP100s are .357s but Ruger will chamber them in .38 Special for agencies that don't want magnum revolvers. This is one of those.)

Both guns are law enforcement or security company trade-ins. The Service Six has been in my safe for a long time but I haven't shot it much, and not at all in several years. The GP100 was acquired a few weeks ago and has given me a bit of trouble. More on that below.

Anyway, I brought two flavors of .38 Special handloads with me last night.

First was a batch of ammo loaded with Berry's plated 158 grain truncated cone flat points on top of 3.8 grains of Alliant Bullseye, sparked by CCI small pistol primers. These were loaded in mostly Winchester brass. This is a full-power but not +P load.

Second was a box loaded with 178 grain Keith bullets from Matt's Bullets, on top of 5.2 grains of Alliant Unique, again with CCI small pistol primers. These were loaded in mixed headstamp nickeled cases. These rate as +P loads.

(NOTE: Consult with loading manuals before relying on any data you see online, including any on this blog.)

Accuracy with the plated bullets was OK but nothing to write home about. They were pleasant to shoot, however, especially in the GP100. In contrast the accuracy of the Keith bullets was outstanding, with my final group of the night all going into one hole. Recoil on these was brisk, especially in the Service Six. It wears Pachmayr Presentation grips which are a little large for my hands. The GP100 wears the Ruger compact grip / short butt, which fits my hands better than just about anything else I've tried. I've found that it absorbs recoil better than any other DA revolver grip that I've tried. I may get a set of Pachmayr Grippers with an exposed backstrap for the Service Six.

Unfortunately, while the Service Six functioned perfectly (as expected), the GP100 gave me problems. The first time I shot the gun the previous week, I got light primer strikes due to me putting in a reduced power hammer spring. I put the original hammer spring back in before shooting the gun last night, so that wasn't a problem. However, on random trigger pulls the gun felt like it was binding, driving the pull way up and sometimes to the point where I couldn't fire the gun. This was most evident in double action but also happened when shooting it single action. I gave up on the GP100 after about 30 or 40 rounds, and finished up the night with the Service Six.

This afternoon I brought the GP100 out to my workshop, intent on figuring out what the heck was wrong. I field stripped and thoroughly cleaned it. I also removed the cylinder from the crane. Everything got blasted out with brake cleaner.

With the gun apart and clean I went over it closely for any burrs and found some, including in the slot through which the hand moves, on the back face of the frame recess, and on the ratchet on the back of the cylinder.

I carefully removed all the burrs using some gunsmith slip stones from a set I got several years ago from Brownell's.

Next, I reassembled the gun and dried fired it around 20 or 30 times in both single and double action modes. This showed no signs of binding.

I then broke the gun down again and this time after making sure it was fully degreased, I loaded up the mechanism with Flitz metal polish, reassembled, and dry fired it around 100 times.

Once again, I stripped the gun and blasted everything out with brake cleaner, reoiled it, and put it back together. I then dry fired it another 20 or 30 times.

Knock on wood but I think I've taken care of the problem. Naturally, I won't know for sure until I shoot it again, hopefully next weekend.

On another note, I got the chance to put a full 17-round magazine through my dad's IWI Masada 9mm pistol. I'd handled it before and liked how the grip felt, and the light trigger pull.  However, the Masada was a perfect example of why a gun that feels good when you dry fire it may give you an opposite impression when you get to actually shoot it.

In short, I hated it. The Masada exhibits a lot of muzzle flip but worse, the Glock-like trigger actually felt like it was biting my trigger finger. I wasn't getting pinched, rather, the face of the trigger was biting into the pad of my finger tip.

For 9MMs, I'll still with my Browning Hi Power, Beretta M9, and CZ P09.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Shooting the Smith & Wesson No. 1 1/2 Revoler

Yesterday I put together some black powder .32 S&W handloads using the following components:

  • Remington brass,
  • CCI No.500 small pistol primers,
  • Lead bullets cast in an original 19th Century Ideal mold/loading tool (shown in the video),
  • The bullets were lubricated with a 50/50 mix of beeswax and mutton tallow.
  • 0.3cc (approximately 4.8 to 5 grains) of Olde Eynsford FFFg black powder.
Goex developed Olde Eynsford to compete with Swiss black powder. OE burns more cleanly than regular Goex and is more energetic. Swiss is still a higher grade powder, but OE is a definite improvement over regular Goex.

Anyway, I got to shoot the old Smith & Wesson today. It was flawless for 49 rounds (somehow I managed to lose one of my once-fired cases before reloading them). Afterwards, we put 50 rounds of Remington .32 S&W loads through my Ruger Single Six Vaquero and saved the brass so I can reload it for use in the Smith.

Recoil in the old gun was very mild even though it's so small it's a little difficult to get a good grip. The sights are an afterthought, so it required extra effort to shoot well. (That's why we shot at only five yards.)

Here's a short video:




While this is not going to be a high round count gun, I will shoot it again. It was a lot of fun and I wish a modern replica was available.

We also put a few magazines through my Beretta Model 81, for a .32-a-palooza day.

Monday, September 02, 2019

.32 Caliber Range Report

On Saturday I was able to get the Beretta 81 out to the range. I put 50 rounds of Aguila and 20 rounds of Fiocchi .32 ACP through the gun. It showed good accuracy at 7 yards and had no malfunctions. As expected, the Fiocchi ammo, which was made in Hungary, was loaded hotter than the Aguila ammo. Recoil with both loads was mild.

I also put 50 rounds of Remington .32 S&W through my "Cowboy Pimp Gun," a Ruger Single Six Vaquero chambered for .32 H&R Magnum.



Shooting .32 S&W in the Ruger felt like a pop gun. My reason for buying the .32 S&W ammo was to get brass so I can reload it with black powder for my vintage-1878 S&W Number 1 1/2. My plan is to load the black powder ammo with an Ideal No. 2 reloading tool which I won on eBay yesterday.



(Picture borrowed from the auction.)

Another pic from the auction shows some corrosion in the bullet mold cavity but I think it'll clean up OK with some Evaporust. Even if the bullets aren't perfect it's not like I'm going to get gilt edge accuracy from the Number 1 1/2, which has merely vestigial sights.

That said, shooting the .32 S&W in the Ruger was plain fun and I have three more boxes of it.

Out of curiosity I tried 5 rounds of Aguila .32 ACP in the Ruger. The .32 ACP cartridge is semi-rimmed and being a rod-ejector, I don't need to be concerned with the small rims slipping over an ejector star. Pressure of SAAMI-spec .32 ACP is under what the Ruger is rated for, being chambered in .32 H&R Magnum (20,000 PSI vs. 21,000 CUP.)

However, CIP-spec 7.65mm Browning / .32 ACP can be loaded to 23,000 PSI so it's probably not a good idea to run it in most .32 H&R wheelguns. It would be safe to shoot in revolvers chambered for the .327 Federal Mag, which is rated for 45,000 PSI. I suspect that it would be fine in the Ruger, which is rather overbuilt.

Aside from shooting the Beretta and Ruger, I put another 50 rounds through my Glock 19-sized Polymer 80 pistol. I need to do some more tinkering with it, because although it feeds and ejects fine, it's not locking back after the last shot in a magazine. This is with both MagPul and Glock factory mags, and with CCI Blazer Brass 115 grain and 124 grain Winchester 9mm NATO Ball.

One thing I'm noticing is that it's becoming increasingly difficult to see the front sight of small pistols when shooting them indoors under florescent lighting, especially if they aren't square. I may look into getting a Merit Optical Attachment for Pistol Shooting. (I don't have this problem when shooting outdoors and my iris is contracted, which gives better depth of field.)

Yay for middle age.

Friday, August 30, 2019

A Brace of .32s

Nowadays, .32 caliber handguns are not super popular with American gun owners. When choosing a small bore, most will just get a .22. And when looking for a centerfire, .380s, 9mm, and larger are much more popular. This has become even more true with the advent of ultra compact .380s like the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard and Ruger LCP, and very small 9mms like the S&W Shield.

However, in the late 19th Century small .32 caliber revolvers were very popular. When Smith & Wesson wanted to come up with a larger gun than the Number 1 in .22 Short, they introduced the Number 2 Old Army in .32 rimfire.

In 1878 Smith & Wesson introduced the Number 1 1/2 Third Issue in .32 S&W, their first centerfire cartridge. With an 85 grain lead bullet at about 700 FPS it's hardly a barn burned by today's standards, but in the pre-antibiotic days, getting shot with anything was extremely dangerous, which made it a good deterrent due to the likelihood of infection. In fact, when Leon Czolgosz shot President William McKinley, he used an Iver Johnson .32 S&W revolver. McKinley died eight days later.

A few weeks ago I sold one of my AR-15s so I had some fun money burning a hole in my pocket. In perusing Simpson Ltd.'s website, I came across a very nice looking early production S&W 1 1/2 in .32 S&W. I called them up on Saturday and yesterday the Fedex truck dropped this off with me:


Here it is next to an iPhone 6S Plus for scale.



Mechanically, it's perfect. There is no end shake, the timing is spot on, and it locks up tightly. There is a little pitting in the bore. I was able to remove the grips screw but the panels seem to be stuck on the gun. I need to figure out what I can use to soak in to loosen them but at the same time won't damage them. Also, the hammer screw wouldn't turn so I have some penetrating oil sitting on it. I'd like to get the grips and side plate off to inspect and photograph the inside.

I don't expect the pitting to hurt accuracy because my 51 year old eyes can't see the vestigial sights anyway. I plan to get ahold of some .32 S&W ammo loaded with black powder and try it out at halitosis range.

The other .32 I picked up yesterday is more modern. Recently, a bunch of surplus Beretta Model 81 Cheetahs came into the country. A story I read online is that they came from the Italian prison system, which is plausible since European law enforcement agencies liked .32 ACP (AKA 7.65mm Browning in Europe) for much of the 20th Century.

I had been holding off on ordering on the 81s but yesterday my local shop posted on Facebook that they'd received in a few in very clean condition. So, after dinner I ran over there, traded in a Stoeger Coach Gun that had been gathering dust, and tossed in another $40.

It was indeed very clean. It's been shot but well maintained. It has an "AF" date code stamped on the right side, which indicates that it was built in 1980.



That is a full sized Benchmade Griptilian knife in the picture with the pistol. It's large for a .32 auto so I expect it to be very pleasant to shoot.

I had thought it might be a good gun for my wife but as a straight blowback retracting the slide requires quite a bit of effort, and there's not a lot to hold onto.

Along with the Beretta I picked up two boxes of Aguila 71 grain FMJ .32 ACP ammo. I hope to shoot it this weekend, and I plan to get some European-spec ammo, which tends to be loaded hotter than American ammo in this caliber.

Range reports to follow.



Saturday, July 06, 2019

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Fishing With A Dirt Cheap Rod

Last year when I started to get back into fishing I became aware of Tenkara, including some very inexpensive rods imported from Asia. By inexpensive I mean that I saw them for $5 with free shipping from China when bought on eBay.

Earlier this week I ordered a very similar cheap rod made by uxcell from Amazon, for the princely sum of $10.47 on Prime. Uxcell offers them in several lengths. Since my good Tenkara rod is 12 feet long, I decided to go shorter and got a 2.5M / 8.2 foot rod. I figured it might be easier to use when there are a lot of overhanging branches. That's common along creeks in Southeastern PA.

Actually, based on what I read on tenkarabum.com, this might be more properly classed as a "keiryu" rod due to the lack of a cork handle.

The fit and finish of this rod are nowhere near as nice as my Wild Water Tenkara rod, but it was about 1/9th the cost. Before I took it out I added a couple layers of plumber's Teflon pipe tape to the threads on the base plug, because it seemed a little loose. I also added a couple drops of super glue to where the lillian attaches to the tip. Then, I added a lanyard of day glow line to the cap to make it easier to find if I drop it in the woods. Finally, I added a line winder from the 3-pack I got a few weeks ago. I much prefer this type to the foam disks.




Collapsed, the rod is 15-3/8" long. Weight of the rod itself without the line or winder is 59g / 2.08 ounces.

Closeup of the markings:


I was pleasantly surprised to see "Made in Japan" on it.

As a proof of concept, I decided to try something different. Instead of rigging it with a Tenkara line, tippet, and fly, I attached about 10 feet of #18 tarred bank line terminating in a swivel. Tarred bank line is intended more for catfishing but I had a hunch that it would work OK in lieu of level line, especially if using the rod with bait. Bank line is very popular with bushcrafters and I thought it would be interesting to try the new rod with something that many bushcrafters will already have on hand.

When I got to the Wissahickon Creek tonight after work, I attached a snelled and debarbed #6 hook and put a piece of a Slim Jim on it. After I got the hang of casting with the rig and getting several nibbles, I pulled out a decent sized sunfish.




After awhile the fish stopped showing interest in the bits of Slim Jim so I switched over to wet flies. To do so I left the swivel on the end of the bank line and attached a few feet of tippet to it, then tied on a fly. (I don't know the name of any flies except for Killer Bugs, which I was out of. I have some more being delivered tomorrow.)

Anyway, after a few casts this little bluegill took a bite:



Because I used debarbed hooks and neither fish swallowed the hooks, I was able to release both of them easily.

The uxcell rods are a good way to try out Tenkara / Keiryu type fishing on the cheap. They are inexpensive enough to leave in your car, bugout bag, or get home bag.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

The Surprisingly Solid Mathematical Case of the Tin Foil Hat Gun Prepper

This piece from last year is well worth reading.

As gun policy discussions unfold in the wake of mass shooter incidents, they routinely end in three buckets. There’s the “tyranny can never happen here” bucket, which the left has mostly abdicated in the wake of Trump winning after they called (and still call) him a tyrant. There’s the “you can’t fight the army with small arms” bucket, which is increasingly unsound given our ongoing decade-and-a-half war with Afghani tribal goat herders. And there’s the “what the hell do you need an AR-15 for anyway?” bucket, which, by its very language, eschews a fundamental lack of understanding of what those people are thinking. I am not a prepper. But I know a few. Some of the ones I do know are smart. They may not be doing as deep an analysis as I present here, on a mathematical level, but the smart ones are definitely doing it at a subconscious level. If you want to understand the perspectives of others, as everyone in my opinion should strive to do, then you would do well to read to the end of this article. To get where we’re going, we will need to discuss the general framework of disaster mathematics.

...

If we look at raw dialectic alone, we reach dismal conclusions. “Do you think the United States will exist forever and until the end of time?” Clearly any reasonable answer must be “no.” So at that point, we’re not talking “if,” but “when.” If you don’t believe my presumed probability, cook up your own, based on whatever givens and data pool you’d like, and plug it in. The equations are right up there. Steelman my argument in whatever way you like, and the answer will still probably scare you.

...

Read the whole thing.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Fishing

I've never been a big fisherman, my brother held that title in my family. However, in the past year my younger daughter has really gotten into it. I've gone with her several times and mostly used either a Zebco 202 spincast setup, or a Zebco Dock Demon spincast rod.

I've always liked spincasting reels because I wound up getting fewer tangles. My brother and daughter like spinning reels, while my brother also has some bait casting and fly fishing rigs.

Last year I learned about Tenkara fly fishing and the simplicity appealed to me. Tenkara rods have no reel. Instead, the line is attached to a short piece of cord attached to the end of the rod, called a lillian. The line is about the same length as the rod. A lightweight leader, or tippet, is then tied to the line, and a fly is then tied to the tippet.

Last Fall I bought a Wild Water Fly Fishing Tenkara Starter Package. However, I didn't get a chance to try it until last Saturday when I took my daughter fishing in a local creek. Using a "Killer Bug," I caught my first fish ever on a fly. It was a small bluegill but it was a neat experience.

I like the WW Tenkara package a lot as it includes pretty much everything you need to get started. However, I don't like the line winders they include, which are of two types. First is a foam disk that slips over the rod. It's easy to use but prevents the rod from fitting into the storage tube. The other type is two doohickeys that are held on with O-rings. They weren't very well made, one of them broke, and in any event, they are a major PITA to put on the rod.

So, I got this Seaquest set of 3 clip-on line winders, lines, and tippets, which came today. You can see one of the line winders on my rod below, with the other two laying next to the rod on the right. On those the green is foam which is there so you can stick a fly into it.



You can also see the Killer Bug fly I put on tonight. It is stuck into the foam part of the line winder.

Also shown in the pic is the day glow green paracord I added to the plug for the telescoping rod. The main reason for that is to make it harder to lose but it also makes it easier to pull out the plug.

Setup as shown it fits nicely into the dark green storage tube so that I can just grab it, held to a local creek, and start fishing immediately.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

CZ Scorpion Improvments

Today I installed a few parts from HB Industries in my CZ Scorpion.

The first and easiest was an extended charging handle on the right side. Installation required drifting the handguard pin to the left, sliding in the new charging handle, and returning the pin to its original position.




As you can see, the new charging handle provides a much larger gripping surface.

The second part was an extended paddle magazine release. I'm really glad that HBI included a spring with it because I managed to drop and lose the OEM spring.





Finally, I installed HBI's reduced power trigger and disconnector spring kit. This required the most work but I had it done in under a half hour. While I had the trigger pack apart I took the time to polish the engagement surfaces with hard Arkansas stones. I also put a bit of Teflon-bearing Superlube grease on the contact points.

Incidentally, HBI has some very well done instructional videos on their YouTube channel.

As it came from the factory the trigger pull was at least 9 pounds. Now it's about 5.5 pounds and much smoother.

These are small changes but should make shooting the gun better.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S2 Micro

A gun I got interested in when it was first announced over a year ago is the CZ EVO 3 S2 Scorpion Micro with telescoping PDW-style brace*. This is a shorter, lighter version of the Scorpion carbine and pistol.

CZ's web page for the "pistol" is here.  A good video overview is here.

In light of ongoing leftist violence and especially after the recent Poway, CA Chabad shooting, I decided that having a PDW that'll fit in a laptop bag might be a good tool to have. The Scorpion Micros are still hard to find but I found some on Gunbroker and decided to get one. They are still selling for about MSRP and I don't expect that to change until supply catches up with demand. I took delivery from my FFL last Friday.





I have an old Dell laptop briefcase. The gun fits in it with a 32 round magazine inserted.



Fit and finish on it are excellent. Field stripping is easy. By pretty much all accounts, the larger Scorpions are extremely reliable guns. I'm expecting this one to be as good. What makes it a "Micro" is just a shorter barrel (4.12") and handguard. The action is the same as the larger models.

It came in a cardboard box with manual, warranty card, pull-through bore cleaner, gun lock, two 20-round mags, and an Allen key.

In reading up on the Scorpions, I found complaints about three things: the trigger pull, that the safety lever interferes with one's trigger finger when shooting, and the grip. The trigger pull on mine is creepy and over 8 lbs., so I've ordered an HB Industries spring kit and will do a trigger job. Maybe it's my small hands but the safety lever seems fine to me, as does the grip.

I also ordered from HBI a paddle mag release and extended charging handle, which will go on the right side, since I'm a lefty. I also plan to put a red dot sight on it.

When I ordered the Scorpion I also ordered two Manticore Arms 32-round magazines from Prepper Gun Shop. They arrived the day before the gun.

Today I got it to the range despite the rain. Thankfully, my range has a covered firing line. The crummy weather let me have the place to myself, which was really nice.

A pic of the gun with the factory and Manticore magazines:




Closeup of the feed lips of the Manticore (L) and factory (R) mags:




First 10 shots at 25 yards:



I moved the rear sight 13 clicks to the right to center the POI. After it was zeroed I used up the rest of the ammo banging steel on our 25 yard plate rack.

All told, I put 180 rounds of CCI 9mm 115 grain FMJ Blazer Brass through the CZ. There were no malfunctions. As a lefty, I find that a lot of straight blowback operated guns will send gun schmutz into my face and the CZ is no exception. It's not bad and something you get used to, but it reinforces the need for eye protection.

The sights are a bit low to come up naturally, and like my stocked Mauser C96, seeing the front sight can sometimes be difficult with 50 year old eyes. The gun will definitely get a red dot sight.

The outside of the faux suppressor got only slightly warm to the touch.

I ordered more of the steel-lipped Manticore magazines. Speaking of which, a Maglula is recommended for them unless you have strong thumbs. I found that once I got to about 22 rounds in them, it became very difficult to load more.  https://amzn.to/2VhcE3a

Overall, I'm very pleased with the Scorpion Micro. It's going to be both a fun shooter and a serious defensive tool.


* PDW = Personal Defense Weapon.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Report from a member of the Poway Chabad Synagogue


I’m sure that you’ve already heard about the shooting at the Chabad synagogue yesterday in Poway, CA. For those unfamiliar with Chabad, it is an orthodox Jewish movement engaged in outreach to other Jews, especially those who’ve gone adrift, so to speak.

Members of Chabad also tend towards the conservative end of the political spectrum, are often Republican and pro-Trump.

One of the members of the Poway congregation is a member of AR15.com, his screen name is “Drsalee” (he’s a dentist). He started a thread about the shooting yesterday and posted this comment on page 11 yesterday:

"This congregation is armed.

"Lori’s husband had a wheel gun hidden safely in a cabinet. Only a few congregants knew about it. The Rabbi is also armed.

"The perp parked out front, walked in the open front door. Shots were fired immediately, I’m not sure exactly who was hit first. The Rabbi had a few fingers shot off. Lori took one shot to the abdomen and died instantly.

"When husband heard the commotion, he retrieved the wheel gun and tossed it to the BP guy who was praying. There was another ex-military congregant accosted the perp, screaming at folks to get down. The perp panicked and ran to his car. The BP fired several shots into the car, blowing out the back window and possibly hitting a tire. The perp surrendered to local LA a mile down the road.

"The perp had multiple mags. A huge massacre was prevented by the presence of that wheel gun."

Link: https://www.ar15.com/forums/general/Shooting-at-synagogue-in-Poway-CA/5-2215936/&page=11?fbclid=IwAR2yRuoFlR3pIR72hrOiKODwwIhAZbpb7Mt5LeMrYzJZCD7RBViTOencLpQ (Scroll down toward the bottom.)

(Note: Wheel gun is slang for a revolver, for those who don't know.)

Once again, the only thing that prevented a massacre was the presence of a good guy with a gun and the guts to use it. I am posting this because I doubt it’s going to be reported in the MSM. It goes against the narrative that guns aren't useful for defense.

I also want to note that I've read the perp's manifesto. Aside from being an antisemite, he's also anti-Trump, largely because he sees Trump as pro-Jewish and a Zionist. So, before anyone claims this is a result of Trump encouraging antisemitism or racism, stuff it.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Beretta Cx4 Storm and Holosun RDS Range Report

Last week I bought a Holosun HS515C red dot sight to replace the Bushnell TRS-25 that I used to have on my Beretta Cx4 Storm 9mm carbine. The Bushnell is a good budget optic  Today I zeroed it.

Out of the box the sight was very close to being on at 50 yards, with elevation right on and the mean POI about 3 - 4" to the right with 115 grain CCI Blazer Brass 9mm.




A neat touch with the sight is that the turret caps are actually adjustment tools. The little ridge on them is sized the same as the screwdriver slots on the actual adjustment knobs. This is a brilliant idea, IMO.

Top of the sight showing the screwdriver built into the caps, and the solar cell:




Accuracy at 50 yards was OK but nothing to crow about. Here's a 10 shot target fired from the bench. As you can see I yanked one low. The Storm's trigger is worse than I'd remembered. I am definitely going to try doing a trigger job on it.





I also shot a bit offhand but the target definitely isn't worth sharing. ;) The gun is so light with a neutral balance that offhand shooting is a challenge.

I put a total of 100 rounds through the gun today and as expected, it ran perfectly. However, when I went to clean the gun after I was finished I noticed that the rail was a bit loose. It'll be Loctited and then I'll recheck the zero.

Monday, April 15, 2019

I've Got Big Balls

Welp, now I know why my home cast round balls were hard to seat in my Rogers & Spencer on Saturday. I measured a few of them with my micrometer today and they mic at .456 - .457. There must be a little tin in the lead that I used. I'll therefore reserve the rest of the batch for my Ruger Old Army, which takes .457 balls.

The rest of the lead will be used in casting bullets for my .44-40 rifles or ~.690 balls for my Brown Bess.

I'll have to order some 99% pure lead from Rotometals.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Got the Rogers & Spencer Out to the Range

Tonight I got the Euroarms Rogers & Spencer percussion revolver out to the range.



The load I used consisted of .454 balls that I cast last weekend, the wads I made last week lubed with neatsfoot oil, 30 grains of Swiss FFFg black powder, and Remington No.10 caps. This has mild recoil and good accuracy in this gun.

Accuracy was good. Here are my first 18 shots fired one handed at 7 yards:



My point of aim was at 6 o'clock on the bull. The dark spots on the cardboard backer are from the felt wads.

And this was my final 6 shots:



The sights on the R&S suck by modern standards. The rear is a V-notch milled into the top strap, while the front is a small brass cone. Seeing the front sight under florescent lighting is a real challenge with middle aged eyes. I'm happy with these groups.

The wads lubed with neatsfoot oil appeared to work at least as well as wads lubed with 50/50 beeswax/mutton tallow. I examined a few wads after firing. The side toward the powder was black and they were dry to the touch, but they remained intact. I could probably rinse them out and relube them after they dried, and reuse them at least once.

One thing I was disappointed in was the balls -- they seemed harder to start than Hornady .454 swaged balls. I cast them from lead I bought off eBay. While the lead was soft enough to scratch with my thumbnail, they may have a bit of tin in them. This wouldn't make a difference with balls to be shot in a smoothbore but it makes loading a caplock revolver more difficult, and places more stress on the loading lever.

Cleanup of the gun was quick. The nickel plating of this revolver allows fouling to wipe right off, and the neatsfoot oil apparently kept the fouling soft in the bore. Shooting Swiss powder helps. In my experience it's not only more energetic than Goex, it's noticeably cleaner burning as well.

Monday, April 08, 2019

Running Ball

(In this post, I used the word "balls" a lot. Huh, huh.)

This past weekend I'd planned to shoot my Rogers & Spencer percussion revolver but couldn't. When getting my shooting gear together, I found that I had only two .454 balls left. I wound up shooting my Pedersoli Brown Bess and Polymer 80 Not-A-Glock, which I'll write up in a separate post.

Something I've preached about on my blogs has been bullet casting for self sufficiency, resistance to government guns bans, and panics induced by fear of them. I recently picked up Lee molds for .454 and .490 balls, and a Lyman cast iron lead pot. This weekend I ordered a Lee .690 ball mold for use in the Brown Bess and my Euroarms Magnum Cape Gun.

I took a long weekend to decompress from bullshit at work, so with today's weather being decent I setup one of my Coleman stoves out in my shop to run some .454 balls.

Here I have the mold warming while the lead pot comes up to temp. The foil trays are for me to dump the sprues and dross when I flux.





It took awhile for the pot to come up to temperature. I'm finding that keeping a good constant casting temp is an acquired skill that I've yet to master. My balls were coming out either wrinkled or frosted. Wrinkly balls mean that the cast was too cold while frosty balls are a sign that it's too hot. I put the wrinkliest balls back into the pot but I'm keeping some that aren't too bad. These will be fired at a maximum of 25 yards at targets the size of a paper plate or larger, so minor imperfections won't be an issue.

I haven't counted yet, but I should have at least 50 shooters here. I called it quits when I ran out of gas in the stove.




Aside from the Rogers & Spencer, these will also work in my 1858 Remingtons. One could load them into .45 Colt cartridges, as well.

It is possible to keep even percussion guns going without buying factory supplies. Aside from casting your own bullets, it's possible to make black powder and even percussion caps at home. The latter especially is potentially extremely dangerous, so proceed with caution. My plan to deal with future shortages is to stock up ahead of time.

Edit: I wound up with 97 shootable balls from my first batch. After the stove cooled and I was able to refuel it, I ran another batch and came out with another 126 usable balls. That's a decent run and will last me awhile.

Friday, April 05, 2019

Made Up Some .44 Revolver Wads

I was out of .44 wads for my percussion revolvers so I made up a tobacco tin full of them. This should do for a few plinking sessions.

The wads themselves are punched out of 1/8” thick hard 100% wool felt from Durofelt. I use a 7/16” hole punch held in the chuck of my mill/drill and use a piece of scrap wood underneath.

Instead of my previous homemade lube of a mix of beeswax and mutton tallow, I lubed this batch with neatsfoot oil. It worked great when I tried it as a patch lube so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work to keep the fouling soft in revolvers. If I intended to leave the gun loaded for awhile I’d want more of a grease than oil, to prevent ruining the powder charge, but this will be fine for the range.





To lube them, I put some neatsfoot oil in an empty Scho-Ka-Kola chocolate tin then soaked a batch at a time. I squeezed out the excess and then put them on a paper towel to soak up some more oil, so they aren’t sopping wet.

Assuming they work as well as the beeswax/mutton tallow lubed wads for target shooting, this is probably how I’ll make up them up in the future. It’s easier than making the lube mix and I don’t have to dig out the hot plate I use to melt the other lube.


Saturday, March 30, 2019

Relaxation

I spent some time relaxing out in my shop today.




I couldn't find the bag with my pipe paraphernalia, so a .308 empty served as a tamper.

Brown Bess Flash Guard Removal

Today I removed the flash guard that came on my Pedersoli Brown Bess Carbine's lock. Flash guards are used on flintlocks by reenactors to protect the man to their right when firing in formation. As I am not a reenactor, it's unneeded. Further, it makes the lock harder to clean and directs a lot of fouling down alongside the side of the gun.




Because the frizzen is spring loaded no matter which position it's in, I needed to compress the frizzen spring to facilitate removal. In the picture you can see how I used my RMC mainspring vise for this. I bought it from Track of the Wolf and it's come in handy working on several flintlocks that I own.

You may also notice that I now have the flint wrapped in a piece of 1/16" sheet lead, rather than leather. The flint kept loosening when I shot the gun last weekend. This allows me to really clamp down on it and I'm hoping this will fix that problem. Using lead instead of leather for this was common on military flintlocks of the 18th and 19th Centuries. I bought the lead sheet from Rotometals, via Amazon Prime. I figure the foot square sheet of lead will last me the rest of my life, and I can always melt it down for bullets.

Note: I really should have removed the flint from the hammer before doing any work on the lock. Had it tripped, it could have caused a really nasty wound. Do as I say, not as I do.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Pedersoli Brown Bess Carbine Range Report

So I shot the Bess carbine today.

My first shot was a patched 0.735 ball. That’s a VERY tight fit so if I shoot any more of them, I’ll try them bare. Some smoothbore shooters do well with an over-power card or wad, bare ball, and an over ball card to hold it in place. I also have some 0.710 balls which should be easier to load with a patch, but I didn’t bring them today.

I put around 15 rounds of the paper cartridges with .690 balls through the gun. The last loaded nearly as easy as the first. I noticed that after about 10 shots there was a crud ring forming in the breech so it required extra pressure to fully seat the ball. I really liked loading from paper cartridges. I’m going to make up some for my fusil de chasse.

Compared with my longrifle, it has a much slower lock time, so follow through is even more important for good shooting.

I had a number of misfires due to lack of spark. I think what was happening was that the top jaw screw would loosen, because when I tightened it back up the gun would alway off. Obviously I need to fix that.

Recoil was noticeable but not bad.

Video:


Saturday, March 23, 2019

Made Up Some Musket Cartridges Today

I'll be shooting my Pedersoli Brown Bess carbine for the first time tomorrow so I made up some ammunition today.

The paper cartridges are rolled around a form to create a tube holding the ball and powder charge. Most people use a dowel for this but I have a metal lathe, so I  made the form from a piece of 3/4" aluminum rod turned down to .69”.  (Besides, it's been too long since I made some chips.)




I put a cavity on the end to help keep the ball in place when I’m rolling the cartridges.




Recipe:


  • .690 ball by Rush Creek.
  • 100 grains 2Fg Goex black powder. The original British service load was up to 165 grains of 1Fg powder, some of which was used for priming. I’ll prime from a flask. By most accounts, you get better accuracy from a smoothbore with stout loads.
  • I used printer paper since it's what I had on hand.


Rather than tying the end I use a glue stick on the diagonal edge and ball end. As I understand it, French musket cartridges were made with glue while British rounds were tied.

I used this template, which I found after watching this excellent video by Tim Brieaddy:




Starting to roll the cartridge. At this point, I've gone over the diagonal edge with the glue stick.




Rolled almost all the way.




Forming the end.




Twenty five rolled cartridges, ready to fill.




Crimping the end and creating the tail that will be bit off prior to loading the musket.




And finally, a box of 25 ball cartridges.



I'll be going to a friend's place tomorrow to try them. I'm also bringing some loose .735" balls, powder, and patches to try patched round ball loads.

Range report to follow.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Pedersoli Brown Bess Carbine

I could probably use an intervention. :) I went up to Dixon’s today and he had a used Pedersoli Brown Bess carbine on the rack at a price too good to pass up — $750. By contrast, Dixie Gun Works catalogs this gun at $1495.

The barrel had some rust along the wood line and a little under the stock in the groove around the breech. It looked like water had run down at one time and not properly dried before rust set in. It cleaned off with a bit of WD40, steel wool, and elbow grease. The lock is in fine shape and sparks well.

The sling swivels were added by the previous owner. Unfortunately, the upper swivel is just attached to the wood and if it drops can foul the ramrod. I may relocate it further toward the muzzle so that it falls on the upper ramrod pipe, and add a lug to the barrel so that it isn’t just held to the stock.







This isn't a replica of any original gun. Although the British did issue carbines in the 18th Century, this is basically a factory-chopped Second Pattern Brown Bess. Original Artillery carbines, for example, had a 39" barrel and were of .65 caliber rather than .75 as this is.

It should be an excellent shooter.


Sunday, February 24, 2019

Post-Cleaning Borescope of the Brown Bess

I ran out to Lowe's yesterday and bought a 5 foot section of 2" PVC pipe, and a couple caps. After degreasing the barrel, I soaked it overnight in Evaporust inside the pipe. After a little scrubbing this morning, this is what the inside looks like:



It's looking a lot better.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

More Work on the Brown Bess

I've been doing some restoration work on the Brown Bess over the past few days.

I determined the reason that it's not going into full cock is that the sear spring is not applying pressure to the sear after it rotates a certain amount. Either the V of the spring isn't wide enough, the lower leg of the spring isn't long enough, or the sear is bent. I need to figure out how I'm going to fix it.

Today I removed the barrel to check for pitting under the wood line. It's not too bad.

This is the breech end. Note the Nepalese marking.




This is the worst of the pitting:


It's not very deep.

The barrel is currently soaking in Evaporust. After I get it out and get it wiped down, I'll borescope it again to see what the inside looks like.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Worked Some More on the Brown Bess

After letting the bore soak overnight I did some scrubbing today with a 12 gauge bore brush (which is undersized for the bore) and even wrapped some steel wool into the bristles. It's coming along and looks promising.

All the nasty brown scale shown in my video from yesterday is gone. The bore is rough but there do not seem to be any really deep pits. I've got it soaking in Kroil again for now. I figure that I'll wipe that out and use Evaporust.


Monday, February 18, 2019

Bore Scoped the Brown Bess

I ran my cheap USB endoscope that I got from Amazon down the bore and captured the video using Photobooth on my MacBook Pro.



It's downright crusty. The fuzzy bits are from cleaning patches.

This was after a couple oily patches and spraying some WD-40 down the tube. I almost got the rod stuck on the way out but managed to extract it. I now have the bore soaking in Kroil, pending the use of a brush and/or Evaporust.

East India Pattern Brown Bess from the Nepalese Cache

Meet my latest acquisition, an East India Pattern Brown Bess musket from the Nepalese Cache. I ordered it last week from International Military Antiques, and it arrived today. Click the pictures for a larger version.


The stock is newly made.

This one has a Gurkha-marked lock.



Inside of the lock:




The ramrod pipes, nosecap, and bayonet lug/front sight:










The sideplate:




I also got a combination tool to go with the musket:





Overall it seems to be in pretty decent shape for a military gun that is nearly 200 years old. The lock does need a little work. It will hold on half cock but the sear doesn't want to move and engage the sear on full cock. It may just be a bit gummy or the sear spring may need work.

The part of the barrel visible above the line of the wood is not overly pitted. I plan to dismount it from the stock to check its condition there. The bore is rusty. I ran some patches soaked in WD-40 down the barrel but I'm planning to soak it in Evaporust.

Once I get the lock to hold full cock I'll be able to test for spark. The frizzen looks to be in good shape. After I confirm spark, I plan to remotely test fire it using some cannon fuse.

More posts to come.