Saturday, March 05, 2005

What to do, what to do about accuracy...

If you've ever been around someone who's really serious about .22 rimfire accuracy, you know about picky. One thing a lot of people don't realize about firearms is that some can be really picky about what they like; what shoots amazingly well in one rifle or pistol may give lousy accuracy in another. Some shoot almost everything well, some only one or two types.

I've got a BSA Martini model 12/15 rifle I picked up a while back that fits in the 'good with everything' category. I've sat down at a nice, solid bench with it and a dozen different brands/types of ammo over time, and it shoots as well at 50 yards with Federal Lightning ammo($.69/box) as it does with Wolf Match or Aguila match ammo($3 to $4/box). I haven't tried the Lapua($7 to 10/box) or some of the other serious match-grade stuff; being chea- uh, fiscally conservative, laying out $7 to $10/box for .22's just doesn't register. Not when I get 1/2" groups with the 'economy' ammo at 50 yards.

But for the serious accuracy hound? Oh, he'll buy a box or two of each, carefully clean the bore between each brand/type. He'll check out the different sites for anything that might tweak the ammo just that final little bit to get the dream groups; like putting a different lube on the bullets(here and here).

The one advantage .22's have for those who go all out is that a $10 box of ammo still holds 50 rounds; a 20 round box of centerfire match will probably start about $15 or so, depending on cartridge/brand.

I'll never make a serious match shooter. If I can find a .22 round that, off a solid rest, groups 1/2" or a little less at 50 yards, I'm real happy since that's the best I'd ever be able to shoot in the field. Likewise, when I work up a centerfire rifle load that'll group an inch at 100 yards, I know it'll take care of anything I'm going to try in the woods. The people who are SERIOUS about accuracy will keep trying different case/primer/powder/bullet/lube combinations forever, or with .22's different brands/lubes/bullet mods, looking for the golden combination for that firearm.

Notes: I'll admit to plans to buy a box or two of CCI or Eley match stuff to try in this and another .22, someday when I'm feeling rich, but unless the stuff all goes through the same hole in the target, it'll just be to try the stuff out.
On centerfires, it can be amazing the difference one component can make. I once worked up loads on an 8mm Mauser. With Federal or Remington brass holding the same primer/powder/bullet combination, group size was identical with the Remingtons hitting right at 1" higher; with Winchester brass, the group was about 6" and about 5" higher and to the right.
On tweaking ammo, there's an interesting gadget here that swages the bullet of a .22 to either a more accurate(possibly, depending on firearm) bullet diameter or a more efficient hollowpoint shape, depending on which rod you use. Hmm, tax refund should be in soon...

Update: Welcome Carnival of Cordite readers!

Watch lost

Og tells about almost losing a watch that means a lot to him. I did lose mine.

When I was about 19, my parents bought me a Seiko divers watch; self-winding, extra-tough crystal, waterproof. That thing went everywhere with me, from school to the woods to 95 feet down in Lake Elmer Thomas(what's at 95 feet there? Muck and darkness). Years and lots of wear and knocks later it stopped working, and since I didn't have the money to get it fixed(new kids, house payment, etc.) it was put in a drawer for 'someday'.

About ten years later a friend of mine in Texas turned out to know a Seiko repair guy who had/could get parts for older watches. So I packed it off to Fort Worth, and it came back in beautiful shape. And once again it sat on my wrist for several years. And then it vanished.

I took the house apart, moved everything in the garage, did everything but find a psychic to look for the damn thing with no luck. It was just gone.

I still miss it.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

While I'm on the subject of 'other uses'

Posted by Hello
This is the first large knife I ever made. I decided to go for a clip-point blade because it's a good generally-useful shape. I had a piece of leaf spring from God knows what kind of car, put it in the fire and started hammering. When done, I used a piece of thick brass for the guard, and for once I had a good piece of antler that would work nicely for the grip. (By the way, have you ever tried to drill/file a shaped hole in a piece of old Sambar stag? That stuff is hard)

First time to harden and temper something this size(the blade is 12" from guard to point), and I damn near sweated blood trying to keep the heat even over the length. But it came out nicely. And I did some nice filework on the guard, and made a sheath out of good heavy leather. And it was good.

At the time, then-wife and I were still active in the SCA, and I took it to an arts & sciences meeting, where it met with acclaim. And one guy was interested in buying it. Now, we could really have used the money, no question. But I didn't want to let it go. I was wrestling with my conscience(left shoulder:"You should sell it, you know you need the money" right shoulder:"Shut up over there! Keep it!") when wife said "Keep it. You really like this one, and we're not that desperate". So I kept it.

I have had this blade for about 22 or 23 years now. I have carried it as my dirk with my kilt, I have carried it camping. I've used it to cut bread, and cheese, and meat, and wood. I've used it to trim brush and tree limbs in the yard, and to cut up limbs for the trash pickup. The antler is worn a bit smooth in places, and the finish is kind of blotchy now. But it will to through limbs better than some hatchets I've used, and when the edge starts to dull/which takes a lot of cutting/ a few strokes on a stone or steel brings it back. And it hangs on a belt, far more out of the way than an axe would be.

In case you haven't figured it out, I'm very glad I kept it.

Other uses for stuff

I'm too lazy to get up right now to shoot the stuff I mentioned in the last post, so in the spirit of the matter, here's something else.

This is my personal sgian dbu, Gaelic for 'black knife', supposedly because the traditional grip was ivy root stained black. It was a Scot's general-purpose cutting tool, good for everything. I once found a book titled- I think- "Knives in Colonial America" that contained a picture of the dirk and sgian dbu of a major in a Highland regiment that had been stationed in North America in the 1770's. The dirk showed signs of wear, but the sgian dbu was only about half as wide as when new; it had been used and sharpened so many times it had been worn back that far. Tells you which one got the most use.

This one has a walnut grip and nickel silver fittings on the knife and sheath. 'Other uses' comes from the blade, which started out as a 5/8" ball bearing. Do you have any idea what it's like trying to hold onto a red-hot ball while you hammer it into a bar? It ain't fun. I just know that someone will see this and say "Why didn't he just weld a handle on?" I didn't have access to a welder, so shut up.

Besides, it's good for your footwork when it jumps out of the tongs...
Posted by Hello

Thoughts on a tired evening

This has been a fun 24 hours. Yesterday about this time a friend called and asked if I could go by his house when I got off work. He'd been at his fiance's house when he was notified that his house was on fire. A couple of hours later he told me not to bother coming by, fire was out and the house was secured for the night. Get off work at 1a.m., home & in bed about 2. Get up a little after 9 and go to friend's house; happily the damage was mostly confined to the utility room- except for the whole house smelling of smoke and the water damage- but the power & water are off until repairs/upgrades are done(upgrades because they apparently think it was of electrical origin). Then outside to work on a couple of knives, and while out back notice that part of the yard needs mowing. Again.
Then met a friend for dinner. About halfway through, two waiters started to clean up under a table nearby, the baby in the family had been a bit messy. They had one of those small push sweepers, and on the first push a mouse jumped out of it and ran under our table, from where it vanished. Not quite the entertainment I'd have selected for dinner, but it did.

I've been reading the transcript of a show featuring an idiot named Nancy Soderberg, who was talking about her book on how the U.S. has messed/is messing up the world(found the transcript at Opinion Journal). It's very revealing, in that Soderberg makes it quite plain that since Republicans are in charge right now, she'd rather see the entire world go down the toilet than see good things happen that the R's might get credit for. To me, the high points are:

Stewart: He's gonna be a great--pretty soon, Republicans are gonna be like, "Reagan was nothing compared to this guy." Like, my kid's gonna go to a high school named after him, I just know it.

Soderberg: Well, there's still Iran and North Korea, don't forget. There's hope for the rest of us.


Stewart: [crossing fingers] Iran and North Korea, that's true, that is true [audience laughter]. No, it's--it is--I absolutely agree with you, this is--this is the most difficult thing for me to--because, I think, I don't care for the tactics, I don't care for this, the weird arrogance, the setting up. But I gotta say, I haven't seen results like this ever in that region.

Soderberg: Well wait. It hasn't actually gotten very far. I mean, we've had--

Stewart: Oh, I'm shallow! I'm very shallow!

Soderberg: There's always hope that this might not work.

Got that? Some very good things are happening in the world, but "there's always hope that this might not work". These clowns are like some brat who can't eat another bite, but he'll spit on the last roll or piece of pie so nobody else can eat it. 'If WE don't get credit for it, we don't want it to work!' I am so freakin' sick of these people.

My earlier post on why carry?, I left out a point. Rights need to be exercised; if they're not used regularly, a lot of bureaucrats and politicians take this to mean that you won't miss them if they take them away from you. Carrying a sidearm is, besides a means of defense, a way of telling the pukes that they will not take this away from you without a fight.

I miss Calvin and Hobbes. One of the finest comic strips ever.

I made a tall hook yesterday to put in the ground by the pecan tree in front and hold a bird feeder. The feeder's up and filled, and so far not a single bird has noticed it. I know some of the featherheads are the same ones who dine at the feeder in the back yard, it's the same type feeder so you'd think they'd notice, but no..... I'm going to see how long it takes them to 'discover' it.

I'm very damn ready for a day warm enough to put on shorts and lay out in the sun. Even if it does scare the birds.

So now it's late, and I'm tired. If I can find the camera and the energy I'll take a picture of the knives I worked on today and post it.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

That didn't take long

Posted by Hello
For once, I found a picture when I needed it. Here's Axe, with his brother Little. Little was made the same way, though his haft is ash wrapped with braided leather for the grip. I need to set up a target and see how Little throws, he works quite well at trimming limbs and brush.

Done, in plenty of time for the Fair

Posted by Hello
This is the second large axe I've made. The body is mild steel wrapped around a mandrel(fancy name for pipe) to shape the eye and welded together. Then a piece of high-carbon steel is inserted between the sides at the end and welded. Once that's done you grind the profile and bevels, harden and temper the edge, then either polish to a sheen, or grind clean and brown, which is what I did here.

The haft is a three-foot piece of oak, which when I have time I'll probably soak in kerosene; that works very well with hickory to make it more flexible and tougher, I hope it'll work as well with oak.

So far it cuts wood quite well. No, I haven't tried it on a mugger/burglar/generic orc; do you have any idea how much paperwork that involves?

I'll see if I can find a shot of him with his little brother.

Yeah, them A-rab types can't do a republic...

But they're trying damn hard. Posted by Hello

Found this at Insty. Along with notes on the new Lebanese government being formed. And the Syrians being told to get out. And Egypt making some moves. And for a a change, the Palistinians not dancing in the street over the last suicide bombing.

I think I sense a pattern developing...

Yes, there are other pictures from Lebanon, and they're all inspiring. I just like this one.

Followup on Star BM

Star test target Posted by Hello
Took it to the range last night with a box of Speer Gold Dot 147 grain hollow points and half a box of Blazer ball. Accuracy was quite good with the GDs, and recoil quite manageable; the weight of the Star balances it out nicely. The GDs are a fairly long cartridge, the bullet being long to get that weight with the big hollow, and they're about the maximum length this pistol can handle(and I suspect the same for other pistols). They all chambered and fired with no problem, and no jams. There was one nose-down fail to feed, cleared by pulling the slide back and releasing. I can't decide if it was due to the length of the cartridge or shape of the nose, or simply one of those things. When I get a chance I'll pick up some other brands of hollow points to try in it. God knows a lot of semi-autos are picky about what they like, this may be a case of that, although I doubt it, it wouldn't have ripped through the rest of the box as nicely if that were it.

That picture is the 50 rounds, ranging from 7 to 15 yards, slow-fire and three-shot drills from low-ready. Overall I'm impressed with the accuracy of this piece, the limit so far being what I'm capable of. As I mentioned I'll try some different ammo in it, see if there's anything it likes better. And I might get out the Dremel and polish the feed ramp...

Shut up. Yes, I know I have a problem leaving things alone.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Bob Jenny died today

Bob Jenny was kind of an institution around here for many years. I first saw him back in the Dark Ages when I was a kid, on a local kid's show called 'Foreman Scotty'. Scotty was the foreman of the ranch, and one of the things he did at times was have Jenny on to talk about animals, primarily reptiles. Snakes, lizards, turtles, alligators. Over the years he did God knows how many programs for Scouts, schools, churches and anyone else who wanted the kids to learn about the critters.

He was a fine man, and was somewhere in his 70's(didn't catch the exact age when the news mentioned his death). He ran a nature center north of Oklahoma City, hopefully he had someone ready to take it over.

One instance I heard of was when he was out in the field with a Scout troop and one of the boys found a Gila monster. If you've never seen one, it's a truly ugly lizard, and one of only two venomous lizards in the world. Somehow in the pointing out and lecture the thing- slow moving most of the time, but can strike damn fast- managed to sink fangs into his hand. So he calmly detached it, put it back under a rock, and proceeded to give a demonstration of first aid for the bite of a poisonous reptile.

From what I understand, the kids were very impressed.

Remembering Mark Wilson

Kim du Toit lists what this man did that justly allows him to be called 'our hero'.

I think one of the best definitions of that word is someone who puts their own life at risk to help others. He and another guy kept the goblin from murdering more people, at the cost of Wilson's life, and gave the police time to get on the job.

Two things. In comments to the 'Why Carry?' post, a gentleman said that you have to be realistic in assessing risks; I doubt Mr. Wilson had any idea that he would be on the scene of an attack by such a waste of oxygen, but a lot of people owe lives/health to the fact that he had a gun handy. Like I said, better to have & not need than need & not have.
Second, this was outside a courthouse; security all over. And yet it was up to a couple of citazens to prevent the goblin from killing all the people he planned on, and given a chance would have killed. As a lot of people have pointed out, the cops, no matter how good, are primarily reactive, they show up after a crime has occurred. You're the one there when it happens.

Remember Mr. Wilson, good people owe him.

I'll give it a try

Found this quiz at Mostly Cajun, your senior year of high school:

What year?

What was your schedule?
Good God, I don't know! Only part I remember was the auto mechanics class in the afternoon.

What were your favorite bands?
Heart is the only one I remember offhand.

What was your favorite outfit?
Jeans and a t-shirt in warm weather, jeans and a flannel shirt in cold.

What was up with your hair?
When it started getting in the way, I went to the barber.

Who were your best friends?
Didn't really have anyone I did stuff with.

Did you take the bus?

What did you do after school?
Depending on weather and time of year, read, hunted when could, watched tv, took some classes at the local YMCA.

Who did you have a crush on?
Lots of girls I thought were pretty, none really had a crush on.

Did you fight with your parents?
Not much.

Who did you have a celebrity crush on?
Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson, and Jan Smithers, the chic who played Bailey on 'WKRP in Cincinnati'.

Did you smoke cigarettes?

Did you lug all your books around in your backpack all day because you were too nervous to find your locker?
Carry the damn things around all day? No, I went to the locker.

Did you have a 'clique'?

Did you have Chili's? Denny's?
Nope. If I had, didn't have enough money to hang out there.

Who did you want to be just like?
I don't remember, other than wanting to be able to kick ass like Bruce Lee.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I grew up?!? Dammit, when did that happen?

Sunday, February 27, 2005

I need more shelves

Especially with the box of books sitting in the floor. About $200 worth new, for $22. I love this sale.

Ever noticed how crowds warm a place up? Outside it was mid-50's, walk through the doors into that crowded room and it went up 15-20 degrees. But I found copies of stuff I didn't have, stuff I'd wanted to read, replacements for a couple of beat-up old books I have, and a couple to pass on to the kids.

Ever heard of Matt Helm? Donald Hamilton wrote a series about this character, and agent in a classified agency. He once put it that his job was taking care of people who the FBI types didn't want to dirty their hands with and who the other alphabet agencies couldn't deal with. In some ways like the James Bond of the early novels; hard as nails, sometimes bothered by what has to be done, but gets the job done. Some clowns made a couple of movies by combining elements from several of the books, with Dean Martin playing Helm. They did them as comedy/action movies, and they're pretty crappy. I think Martin could have done the character pretty well, but they'd have needed a director who kept him on the character. I think they could still make some damn good movies, though they'd need screenwriters/director who cared more about a good story and characters than about how many car chases, messy shootouts and explosions they could cram in. Anyway, I found one of his, I'll pass that on to the kids; I think they'll like it.

In any case, the book sale's over for me. There is a motorcycle swap meet Sunday, I'll be going by that. It's at the fairgrounds too, so I may swing over to the sale again, but I doubt there'll be much left.