Saturday, April 16, 2005

The 9th Carnival of Cordite is up!

Over at Gullyborg

Lots of good stuff to check out

Friday, April 15, 2005

Range day, and the strangeness of .22 rifles

Finally had a chance to get hold of a friend and hit the outdoor range yesterday. Beautiful day, light winds from behind, clear skies, and warm. Friend had a .22 he'd repaired to test, a .32-20 Winchester model 92 to try out, and a pair(!) of .32-20 single-action army revolvers to try out- he's decided to get into the cowboy action shooting game, and tends to go all-out on things. I primarily wanted to test out some different brands in a .22 rifle, having decided to save the Benelli and slugs for next time.

About a year ago I lucked out and picked up a BSA Martini 12/15 match rifle(reviewed at Kim's place here) for what turned out to be a very good price, and I've been messing with it since. It's a marvel of simple, strong design and has a trigger that's downright wonderful. I both enjoy shooting it and have done some wonderful shooting with it. As to the strangeness...

I mentioned once before the lengths .22 shooters in search of the finest accuracy will go to. They will weigh each cartridge, and any outside the norm go in the practice pile. There's a guage made specifically to measure the thickness of the rim; since this cartridge headspaces on the rim a slight variation in rim thickness may affect accuracy, so those outside the chosen specs, to the practice pile. The serious top-of-the-line match ammo runs $8 or $10/box. There's a gadget made to use a light mallet blow to upset the bullet to an exact diameter, so it will perfectly fit the bore. And so on. I'm not that worried about it; I like fine accuracy, but unless I decide to start competing in matches, I'm not that worried if the rifle/pistol won't shoot ten through the same hole at whatever range. I have done the standard thing, which is to take a box of every brand/type of .22 ammo you can find and test them from a solid benchrest position. The first time I tried this, years ago, the rifle in question ran from groups damn near 10" across at 50 yards with one to a touch over an inch at the same distance with another brand, so I'm a believer in finding what works best.

The problem- sort of- with this rifle is that nothing shoots badly in it. Nothing. The worst groups it has given at 50 yards has been about 1.5", and the best? About 3/8" for a ten-shot group. Now, I know there are match rifles out there that will better that, but for me, with iron sights at that range, that's damn good. And the other interesting thing about this is the very best results have come from Federal Lightning 40grain ammo. The stuff I buy at Academy Sports for $7/brick. A couple of match ammos have shot as well as it does, but at $2.50 to $4/box vs. $.69/box? No contest there. The subsonic stuff is quieter, but that's not exactly a big deal with .22's, and gives no advantage that I'm willing to pay that much extra for. I have not tried the Lapua or other $7 & $10/box stuff; being chea- uh, financially responsible(shut up) I haven't been able to make my self pay that when the Federal stuff gives the result it does.

One of these days when I can make the time I'm going to set up targets at 100 yards and see what this rifle will do at that range. It's possible that at the longer distance one of the match ammos may work better, we'll see. But I'm not holding my breath. What I'd really like to do is make some kind of scope mount that I can clamp onto the barrel so I could use a scope to remove some of the aiming error-factor from the testing. I could get the barrel drilled & tapped for scope bases, but I really like shooting this thing with iron sights, and I'm not willing to do that right now.

My friend? The model 92 turned out to have an oversized or damaged chamber, accuracy was terrible. But the revolvers worked very well.

There was a wedding

Last weekend, and yr. obdnt. svt. was the best man. For the first time in my life I wore a tuxedo and top hat- and yes, I did restrain myself from finding a tray and offering drinks to people.

The bride was in the standard bride-state prior to the ceremony, and at one time I seriously considered finding a bottle so as to deliver a medicinal shot or two; however, we made it through. The bride's kid from a previous marriage seems to get along pretty well with the groom/new dad, and carried his part of the ceremony off well.

What was funny was when we were being fitted for the tuxes, after the kid was measured mom pointed a finger and said "For the next month, you're not allowed to grow!". Telling an 8-year old that was pushing her luck, but if he did shoot up any it was within the error factor of the size. This was also when I advised the bride that if she didn't calm down, I'd just wear my kilt and "By God, we'll show them who the Best Man is!". She did laugh, but I think she stayed nervous until I actually showed up for the ceremony in the tux.

Seeing as how we had also torment-er, considered what armaments should be carried by the best man(bride: "You CANNOT bring a shotgun to the wedding!"), she not being in favor of me wearing my sword, discretion was called for. Actually, it would have been a bad place for someone to start something; Yours Truly had a .45 in a shoulder rig(which fit rather well under the tux jacket), the groom had a Sykes-Fairbairn dagger in his pocket("It's for cutting the cake, dear"), and the minister, just for the spirit of the thing, had a derringer in his vest pocket. The father of the bride, actually liking the groom, did not make any comment of scatterguns or varmint rifles being within reach in case of sudden departure, which as nervous as the groom was was probably a good thing.

As I say, all went well. The bride did indeed look beautiful, the couple- and son- marched down the aisle at the end, and the maid of honor said "Skip!" as we started down after them, so all were treated to a formally dressed couple skipping along behind the family. Hey, it made her happy.

Oh, and the groom presented me with something; a flask with my initials engraved, and to fill it a bottle of Glenlivit 15-year-old single-malt. Which don't taste bad at all.

The groom was informed by my parents that they needed copies of some of the pictures, as for once in my life they wanted to see me in truly formal dress.

It was fun.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Two more on the blogroll

Added these today(this morning? Whatever).

American Drumslinger- loud rants and swearing, and things like his Politically Corrected Glossary of Terms

and Cowboy Blob. Guns and ferrets, Lord what a combination! Leading to things like "Quit peeing in my closet!"

The problem of sulphur in steel

I had a commenter in an earlier post ask what was the problem with sulphur and steel. In specific this was in reference to high-sulphur coal being used in forging. I mentioned before that sulphur is added to some steel in carefully controlled amounts to make it easier to machine, but some of these steels, if forged, can actually crumble under the hammer.

I should have mentioned one of the better examples of too much sulphur in steel: the Titanic.

One of the things they found out after testing samples of the hull steel was that it contained a LOT of sulphur; so much that when the steel became cold- say, from water in the North Atlantic- it became brittle. So when the ship scraped against the iceberg, instead of the steel deforming- denting- and maybe some seams springing, the steel itself cracked and split.

I remember reading about a test a few years back. They did a standard test using 'cigarettes', pieces of steel cut to an exact dimensions, one from standard steel used in ship hulls and one from recovered hull plating from the Titanic. They cut a notch of exact size in one side of the cigarette, lock it in a vise, and swing a weighted pendulum against it, then measuring how far it deforms(bends). They chilled them to the same temperature as the water in the North Atlantic at the time the Titanic went down and ran the test. The standard steel bent; the cigarette from the Titanic steel snapped.

So unless very carefully controlled in amount, and for certain uses, sulphur in steel tends to be a bad thing.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

More on 'Why do you own a gun?'

One part of the problem with this question is the same as a lot of other things: "Why do you ride a motorcycle?" or "Why drive a truck?" or "Why do you want something that'll drive that fast?" and so forth. Sometimes, depending on who you're answering, nothing you say will make sense to them. Which is also where you run into "People shouldn't be allowed to (fill in blank) bacause it's dangerous/not needed/not right/etc.". Here's some further thoughts on this.

Early on, it was doing what Dad and Grandpa did, they went shooting and hunting and it looked interesting. So Dad started me off with a .22 rifle and it went from there. It was something that I enjoyed, and what more reason did I need?

It was a while before the idea of use for self-defense really meant anything to me. It was some things that happened with Dad's work that brought that home. Dad spent a lot of years in the highway patrol, and I once heard him mention to mom about some jerk threatening him. That makes you think, what if jerk showed up at the house while Dad was away? That took the idea of defensive use out of the realm of something in a book or movie and brought it home. It was still not the foremost reason I liked guns, but it was there.

When I started shooting handguns, Dad taught me their use the way he had learned it as a state trooper, based on his seeing handguns as good for a: target shooting and b: self-defense, and if I needed one for b, I should know how to use it correctly. Which was also a lot of fun to practice.

It was about this time that I became aware that there were a bunch of people out there who didn't think I should be allowed to own or shoot guns. According to them guns weren't 'needed' or 'safe', and since criminals used them they should be either banned or severely restricted. Which brought to mind what I still think: if I'm an honest citazen and not violating the law in my use of them, it's nobody's damn business what I own or how many. Or, in light of some people trying to control that, how much ammunition I own. And if banning guns would take them away from criminals, how was it that laws about robbery or murder didn't keep those same dirtbags from committing those crimes? Which also helped lead me into distrust of politicians who wanted to control some part of my life. Or some more parts of my life.

Years later, I wound up married, then with kids, and between time and money had very little chance to shoot. Then, about the time I started taking the kids fishing, I found a place to shoot. That helped to do two things: made me take them out when old enough to learn to shoot, and got me back to shooting on a regular basis. And I've kept that up since.

All this leads up to my personal why I own guns. I like shooting for a variety of reasons, I like working on/with firearms, I like owning the means of self-defense if needed, and I like to hunt on occasion. And I really like the knowledge that it makes a lot of politicians nervous to know that a lot of the peasants are armed.

Happily, the chance of my needing to use a gun for self-defense is fairly low where I live, so with luck I'll go my life without having to do so. But having the means to do so is a very good thing. When someone tells me the police will take care of that, I wonder how? Are they going to be in the parking lot when I'm walking through it? Are they going to be in my home if someone breaks in? They can't be, which means that if it happens, I'm on my own. So are you. I believe that knowing something of hand-to-hand fighting is a good thing, but given a choice I will not depend solely on that; why should I? Why should I rely on a method that requires me to let a bad guy get within reach before I can act? Pepper spray? Please. It's better than nothing, but it's been shown over and over that someone who'd determined can hurt you badly or kill you before it can stop them. Guns should be left to 'trained professionals' like the police? We're back to 'will they be there when the trouble happens?' at best, and the unpleasant fact is that many law officers are flat lousy shots.

And there's another problem with the 'rely on the police' idea. As has been pointed out in several court cases, the police have no responsibility to protect you; their responsibility is to society as a whole. Which means that if they don't protect you, well, too bad, if you survive maybe better luck next time. Connected into this is the 'there are no barbarians at the gate' attitude gone over here. There are several costs and consequences to giving up all responsibility for your own safety to the 'authorities', whoever they are. The costs are highs.

As to those who, 'for the public good', want to take arms away from me, screw you. They break down into several groups.
Those who honestly believe that people should not be allowed to own arms of any kind, it's "not nice" or "not needed".
Those who think that if they pass another law, this one the criminals will obey.
Those who think the government should control large parts of our lives, and it does not serve the government for people to have arms.
Those who actually believe that only 'racists and bigots' own guns and those people should be controlled.
And those who do not trust themselves to own arms, and don't think anyone else can be trusted, either.

Nobody 'needs' to own a motorcycle, or a boat, or a lot of other things. And some of these people would like to see them banned, too. I've actually seen a proposal to ban the ownership of any knife, including kitchen knives, over a certain blade length, and unless you were a 'licensed' chef, they would have to have a button welded to the tip. This lady was dead serious and truly believed this was a good idea. But damned if I'll allow her belief to control what knives I own.

If the criminals would obey the law, they wouldn't be criminals, would they?

I don't want the government controlling any more of my life, they interfere too much already. And I'm not supposed to live according to what will 'serve' the government, dammit, and I will not. In many cases the reason many politicians want the ownership of arms banned is bacause they won't feel free to dictate to us how we'll live as long as people have a concrete way to fight it. Voting is one way, but in many areas voting districts have been gerrymandered so that an incumbent has little chance of losing an election, and in any case, the founders made it plain, one of the reasons for armed citazens was specifically so the government would know that people had, in a final extreme, the means to force government to listen- or else.

And for those who don't trust themselves or others to own arms, screw you. I don't depend on your permission to own arms, whether it be gun or knife or sword or bow, and I consider your lack of trust in yourself or others to be your own mental problem- not something to be used as a reason to act against others. Kevin over at Smallest Minority has had several cases of this type of thinking, and I am in awe- and some fear- of someone who sees an inanimate object as something that could 'corrode' their mental state. Only if you're squirrely to start with, guy. So LEAVE ME ALONE.

This has been a bit wordy and roundabout, but it boils down to this: I enjoy owning and using firearms. I enjoy working on them. I like having an effective means of defense if needed, and I really enjoy knowing that it makes some politicians nervous to know that people have arms.

I don't want a speedbike, but I wouldn't try to ban them. I don't want a car that'll do 150, or costs $100k to buy, but if you have the money and that's what you want, knock yourself out. I think many vegetarians- vegans especially- are nuts, but if you don't want to eat meat, it doesn't bother me. You don't like guns? THEN DON'T OWN ONE, and leave me alone.

Range report: Benelli with slugs

Said to hell with everything this morning and went to the range. I wanted to 1: better sight-in the Benelli with slugs and try out the Aguila mini-shells, and 2: practice for Og's postal match for .22's for May.

Benelli first. With Speer Lawman rifled slugs, I didn't have to touch the sights. At 30 yards they were about 2" above point of aim with the holes about touching(note: whatever kind of wad they use with these, some of them hit the target too!). Distribution was horizontal, which makes me think the error was mine. In the near future I should be able to set up at 50 yards with a solid bench and eliminate any such error. Realistically, this is very good accuracy for a cylinder-bore shotgun, and I'm quite happy with it, and with these slugs(which, by the way, cost less than every other brand I've seen).

If you've not seen the Aguila mini-shells, they're 1.5" long, which means the Benelli with the magazine extension can hold 12 of them in the mag! According to the Aguila website, the idea was to provide law enforcement shells with less recoil and weight, so could both load more and carry more for the same weight. I also found this, this and this at the Shotgun World website. They come in boxes of 20, and are available in slug, buckshot and #7.5 birdshot. My impression of the slugs, 1: definately less recoil, and I believe less power, 2: accuracy seemed a bit uneven at 25 yards, with most hitting a little lower than the Speer. I want to get some of the buckshot and another box of slugs to test them further. So far, I wouldn't choose the slugs for hunting myself, but if you need/want a slug for short-range use, might work well, even at lower velocity that's a big projectile hitting. Again, I was getting tired by the time I shot them so some of the accuracy problem may have been me and I'll try them from a solid rest when I get a chance.

Ref postal match practice, I'll be able to give the 10-yard .22 pistol a try, but unless outdoor light makes a big difference, I'm out of the 25-yard .22 rifle with iron sights: I couldn't see the damn bullseye on those targets well enough to shoot them! I flat hate having to wear glasses in the first place, and needing new ones sucks even more. I'm hoping outside light and some more sleep will help(getting older sucks, too).

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Buy A Gun Day collection

Over at Aaron's cc:. Take a look.

I'm not sure he'll approve of my early purchase, but since the shop I bought it at ran out last week, I'll not worry 'bout that.

Why do you own a gun?

is the question many ask, and a lot of us have trouble getting the other folks to understand.

Into this throw this piece, found linked over at Geek with a .45.

I once read the opinion that, man having overcome the basic survival situations in 'civilized' countries, what was really needed was a mankind that didn't have the fight-or-flight response, that didn't have those old survival urges that can lead to violence. The answer from someone was that those things kept civilization in operation; if we lose them, we'll be back to hiding from barbarians and leopards within a couple of generations.

I started to add that 'the only thing that would hold it back would be a government so all-powerful and oppressive that we would be slaves', but then I realized that that would be the barbarians in control; they just wouldn't call themselves that.

More thoughts later.

Back at Castle Beelzebub,

Mr. B is noting the introduction of a new knife. The gentleman who's name is on it is noted as having "invested much time in designing" the item.

Oh, give me a damn break! It's a freakin' paring knife, for God's sake! How damn much time could he have spent 'designing' the thing?

This is one of two things that piss me off about so many new wonders of the cutlery world; taking some design that's been around since Christ was a corporal, and announcing it as a 'masterpiece of modern design', or some such crap. Or they remake it in cheap stainless steel and state what an 'improvement' it is over ANY PREVIOUS DESIGN! Oh yeah, it won't rust. It also gets dull cutting through a tomato, but who worries about that? IT'S RUSTLESS!

The other? The "New, designed by whoever VULTURE CLAW! Gleaming surgical stainless set off with genuine Chromium-Plated Guard and Pommel! Own the Spirit of the Vulture Warrior!" and other such bullshit. Put together a design for the most useless piece of crap ever held by the hand of man or monkey, shiny it up and give it a WARRIOR name of some kind, and it will sell. It will sell by the casefull, to people who often can't figure out how to sharpen the damn thing, but OOH! SHINY!!!

I like well-designed and built knives. I don't at all mind someone putting things together in a different or new way for whatever reason. And I very much understand the 'make it shiny and they will buy' idea. What bothers me is someone taking an ages-old design and putting up a line of crap about 'years in the making' as to why you should pay them a sizeable amount for one. Not "I think this is the most useful design" or something like that, or just "I think this steel is the best for this design", but "it took me YEARS to design this!".

Bleahh. It's too early in the morning to get ticked off about crap like this.

The other that really

General "what's happening in the world?"

Over at Captains Quarters there's this: "Did Spain Sell WMD To Hugo Chavez?". I know the new government of Spain is a bunch of terrorist-appeasing socialists, but how could they be stupid enough to sell this stuff to a castro-worshipping jackass like chavez?

Also at CQ, more on the meltdown in Canadian politics. I just love that the 'freedom loving' Canadians had a bunch of information on this mess restricted; the politicians could see it, the press could see it, but the peasants were not to be informed. Just wonderful.

Powerline covered some of John Kerry's latest whining. This was crap before, and it's shopworn crap now. I had a friend who insisted that lots of people were 'disenfranchised' in the 2000 election; pointing out that going to the wrong polling place, or not bothering to register, or not being elegible to vote did not 'disenfranchise' you didn't make a difference. Sick of all of it.

Kim du Toit has this on how Argentina is going down the toilet. Every time I see something like this I want to kick John McCain and that ass Feingold in the butt, because their actions on 'campaign finance reform' moved us a step closer to this kind of crap. I wish AZ would start that recall petition on McCain back up.

The man in Castle Beelzebub notes that there are officially 29 shootings a day in Britain. Wonderful how banning guns works, isnt it?

And Wizbang notes Brazilian whining because illegal immigrants are being picked up.

And at Dean's World, the question is why ISN'T the major media talking about Iran's plans for us?

And life goes on... And, to quote Kim, I'm off to the range. Soon as it opens, that is.

Monday, April 11, 2005

How do you decide your limits

in a situation like this?

Britain is worse, but there are plenty of cities here where if you threw their butts off the bus, you'd be the one arrested. This is one of the things that really worries me; when a lot of the squirrels in authority care more about protecting some thug from having his self-esteem harmed than about what harm they are doing. When, if you act to protect someone, you wind up with the jerk calling the police to get you for daring to interrupt their fun.

One of the standard problems today: how do you maintain a civil society when many of the people in authority seem determined to destroy it? And think that their efforts are 'enlightened' and 'progressive'? When do you decide that acting, and facing arrest & jail, is worth it despite the various costs?

And how did we get into such a situation? How the hell did we go from 'a man's home is his castle' to lawyers helping a criminal sue his victim for daring to harm him in self-defense? And judges who, instead of telling the bailiff to kick the attorney three times around the courtroom, actually hear the case?

Sometimes I do despair.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Trailside: The Story

I mentioned the Trailside pistol in my last post, so I thought I'd tell the whole story of the thing.

A few months after it came out, to great fanfare, I was looking one over at a local range. I'd read good things about it, the price was good, I had some spare cash, and I like .22's, so I bought it. They waived the range fee if I wanted to try it out, so to the firing line I went.

First, the good things. The sights were clear, the trigger was marvelous, it was very accurate. The bad thing? 8 or 9 times out of 10, the slide lock would not lock the slide after the last round was fired. In a pistol that the book specifically states will be damaged by dry-firing, this is not good. Well, maybe it just needed a good cleaning & oiling. I'd usually do this before firing a piece, but it had looked nice & clean, so I hadn't this time.

Field stripping is straightforward and easy, so I thoroughly cleaned it & oiled as directed. Next time at the range, same damn problem. So I called Sig, got an authorization to return it, and shipped it to them.

About two weeks later, call to check status, no word yet. Two weeks later, the lady who answered said had no information, but would I like to speak with the gunsmith? Yes, I would. So she connected me. He asked which problem I'd had, I described it, and he said, "Oh yeah, that one". Sounds of paper. "That was one of the problems we found." 'One' of the problems? But before I could ask what else they found, he said, "We decided that rather than try to fix this one, it would be better if we replaced it, if that would be ok with you". Well, yeah, that would be ok. He told me they didn't have any available in-country right now, but as soon as one became available, they'd send it. Which they did, close to a month later as I recall.

Happy ending, right? Not quite.

This one didn't have the slide lock problem, but after I'd fired about 100 rounds accuracy fell off. Badly. Problem was the bore was fouling. I had cleaned it thoroughly and lubed it with Break Free before shooting, so it wasn't that. I cleaned it again, and it was a bitch getting the lead out of the bore. Next time at the range, same thing. So I wrote to Sig, described the problem, and asked for any ideas what to do? No reply. The bore was shiny, no sign of roughness, and at this point I damn sure didn't want to ship this one back, too. At this point I remembered reading about Microlon Gun Juice, and decided to give it a try. I reviewed the stuff in a letter that Mad Ogre posted in his 'Weapons' section, so I'll not repeat it here other than to say it worked. No more problems mechanically.

However, by about the 500 rounds point, I noticed that the chrome on the crosspiece at the front of the slide was flaking a bit. Crap.

No, I didn't try to contact Sig again. Only a small part of the plating flaked off, so at least the whole damn slide isn't stripping. But I'm still pissed about it.

I've heard many good things about Sig from people, but I'm still leery of them after this mess. Yes, the Trailside is wonderfully accurate, and the trigger is marvelous, and maybe I just happened to be the one of few who had a problem. Doesn't change these facts, in my opinion:
1. The first one should never have left the factory if the slide lock didn't work.
2. It shouldn't have taken that long to resolve.
3. The replacement should not have had any damn problems, and it had two.

Sondra K bought one a short time ago, and she loves it. So maybe all the bugs got worked out. But they should damn well have been worked out before they put them on the market.

So that's my history with Sig.

One thing that pisses me off about some gun makers

I bought a Sig Trailside a few years ago, and overall it's a nice piece. However...

You ever tried to buy spare magazines for this thing?!? It's a molded polymer magazine, I can't imagine it being any big deal to make, but the pistol only comes with one. You want a spare? I found one at a gun show about a year after I bought it, for $22. It turned out to be mismarked, it should have been $32, but they sold it to me for the marked price.

I went to a show Saturday. That same damn magazine is now selling for almost $50! For a bloody molded polymer mag! You can buy a Wilson Combat or McCormick Powermag for a .45 for half that!

First, there's no excuse for a company being so damn cheap they only supply one mag with a gun. Second, there's no excuse for a mag like this costing so damn much.

It's enough to ruin your whole attitude.