Friday, May 13, 2005

Carnival of Cordite #13 is up

Over at Gullyborg. Some real good stuff there, nice mix of shooting, politics, shiny pretties and (ahem) a contribution from Yr. Obdnt. Svt(me).

While you're there, hit 'home' and check out Gullyborg in general, it's a good place.


WHY do you keep sending the bloviating idiot Byrd back to the senate? WHY? Is it simply that he's good at looting the rest of the country to bring money back to WV? Is it sympathy? Why? I'd really like to know.

Last night I heard a replay of some of his 'speech' in the senate on John Bolton. I don't live in your state, and it was embarrasing to ME to have this two-faced jackass in this legislative body blowing hot air this way. And he does it over and over and over...

I'll not list a lot of other things, they've been gone over by many. And to top it off, it was announced that Barak Obama had helped raise $1 million for the reelection campaign of this idiot. To me, this is proof of 'party candidate no matter what' mentality, and it does not reflect well on Obama.

So WHY does this embarrassment to the country keep getting reelected?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Disgustingly cute dog picture

She seems to be settling in well. The older dog is still going through the 'I want to play, but you're new! And in my yard!' stuff, but she's getting better. Still have to figure out a name. Of suggestions I've heard Mildred, Tip, Soot, and Smudge. I need to decide on something; 'Furball' and 'Dog with perpetually worried look on face' just don't seem to cut it.

Yesterday I got a bit sick. Sick as in throw up breakfast, throw up lunch(three hours later), eat a pint of ice cream for dinner because I thought it'd stay down(it did). Then go through shivers and fever after I got home from work, after which I actually slept well. Still a bit dodgy today, so this evening decided it might be easier on the stomach than other things to I hit a Chinese buffet. Either that food is easier on your stomach than a lot of people think, or I've got a weird system, as it sat very well. Anyway, I spent a while during the afternoon in the back yard stretched out in a lawn chair dozing, and woke up-in time for work, happily- with the older dog wondering why I wasn't awake and scratching her ears and the pup asleep under the chair. Belly rubs and dinner later I went off to work, and they seemed happy with things.

I thought of Dogmatyx, but my son's dog has that name. Hmm, maybe Getafyx, after the druid?

Range Report, Martini

I present to you(as an example of 'I really shouldn't get this but it's so pretty...) the BSA Martini model 12. Or maybe 13.

'Maybe' because there was no clear-cut point in the serial numbers that defines the difference, and no 'Model Whatever' stamped into the barrel. But it looks exactly like the model 12 shown here, so it's a 12. Yeah, I know he's got a better picture. Bite me.

A little history. First was the Peabody, designed by Mr. Peabody("To the wayback machine, Sherman!") in the mid-1800's. Then a Swiss named Martini redesigned the action, making it simpler. The British adopted it as the 'Martini-Henry' as their first manufactured military breechloader in the .577-.450 cartridge. Then they began using it, in a MUCH smaller action, as a smallbore rifle, and made them for many years.

One thing you may notice, mainly on older ones, is a ring around the crown, maybe with 'ParkerRifled' stamped into the muzzle around the ring. These rifles were used a lot, and heavily, and many had the bores either shot out or messed up due to bad or no cleaning. So Parker Hale, along with making other good things, made and installed barrel liners for them. That link above, near the bottom, has some good information on that. This one was relined at some point, and the bore is spotless.

Another thing you'll probably find, if you get hold of one of these, is exterior rust ranging from light to nasty, and badly caked old oil & powder fouling in the action. The exterior of this one was pretty good, two places with some pitting was all, but the innards... One of the nice things on these actions is you pull a pin from the right side of the receiver and the works all pivot out for cleaning. Which is a good thing, because the innards were bloody awful. No rust, but lots of crud. A couple of good soakings with carburetor cleaner cut most of that out, disassembly and cleaning/oiling got the rest. Another of the nice things about these is the action is so damned simple- a screw for the trigger to pivot on, one to hold the trigger return spring, one to hold the striker bushing in place in the breechblock; three pins that the breechblock, lever and extractor pivot on. No other screws, very simple and elegant.

This model used a tang-mounted peep sight, and a front 'tunnel' sight with changeable inserts. The rear has six different aperture sizes(turn the dial to change) for different conditions. Yes, it was pretty crudded up, too. Carb cleaner and oil time again.

If you look closely, you'll see a sling swivel eye soldered to the barrel(standard) and two in the forend(extremely variable; sometimes you find holes all over the forend where people moved them around. The other piece on the bottom rear is a brass box to hold inserts for the front sight.

Now down to the shooting, which was at 30 yards. These things usually have fine triggers, this one being no exception. I'd guess breaking at about 2 lbs., with no creep or drag. Rear sight adjustments are click and positive. To load you pull the lever down, which pivots the front of the block down so the top of it makes a ramp to the chamber. Push a cartridge all the way in, pull the lever up, ready to fire. There's no safety; the military rifles had a cocking indicator on the right side of the receiver(insert sargeant screaming "YOU DON'T LOAD UNTIL YOU'RE IN BATTLE OR ON GUARD!"); most of the target/sporting rifles had something of the sort, in this case a lever that shows above the right side of the breechblock when the action is cocked.

This range doesn't have an actual bench, just a shelf in front of the shooting position. So I just had the forend resting on a bag, using my left hand in front of the trigger guard as the rear rest, so I don't expect to shoot as well for ammo testing or sighting in as I would at a bench. Nevertheless, as long as my eyes held out it shot extremely well, several groups with different ammo going into 1/2" or less. When I get the chance to sit down at 50 yards with a solid rest, I've no doubt I'll be very happy with the results.

Note: I've had a chance to shoot four of the various models of these rifles, and I've found something interesting; they all shot at least as well with Federal Lightning ammo as they did with any match-grade stuff we tried. I've stopped calling this Federal the 'cheap' stuff, I now say 'inexpensive'. As well as it shoots in many firearms, 'cheap' it ain't. Especially when it groups as well as $5/box match stuff, as I've seen several rifles do.

I'm very happy with this rifle. Well-balanced, wonderful trigger, quite accurate, and sometimes with some interesting history behind them. I've seen two with the stock stamped with the name of the school and rack position, from when they were used for musketry practice(Kim du Toit has some more on that here). If you have a chance to pick one of these up, you'll probably be happy with it, too.

The ammo used in this test was Federal Lightning, now sold as Fed. Champion; Eley Sport; Golden Eagle Match Rifle; and Federal Gold Medal Target. This particular rifle didn't like the Golden Eagle very much, and the Federal and Eley just about tied.

Thanks to an adventurous man, there are now a lot of 1871 and 1885 model Martini-Henry rifles in the original .577-.450 chambering on the market. Here's one source, here's another. These are originals that have been in storage for a hundred years or more, and from what I've read almost all are in shootable condition, with many still having 80% or more of the original finish! Ammo is mostly handload your own, but even if you don't shoot it, this is a chance to buy a unique old firearm. Maybe if I stopped drooling at things like this Martini, I might be able to save enough to get one of the 1871's one of these days...

Followup, 100 yard tests, here

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

New four-leg family member

New critter in the yard, picked up at a local shelter day before yesterday. Now I've got to figure out a name for her.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Between the cops and the politicians, just how stupid are things getting?

I'll tell you how. Let's take a tour of the news today.

First is New Jersey, where an idiot legislator has introduced a bill that says if an illegal gun is found in your car, home or business, the cops can seize it, "even if the firearm was not possessed by the owner of the motor vehicle, building or premise,". So someone you're giving a ride to, or visiting you in your home or business, has an 'illegal' gun, and the cops can take your property. Go read. So in New Jersey the Fifth Amendment is in the trash as far as their state government is concerned, along with the Second. But it'll give the cops and the state money, so who cares, right?

Next is Seattle, where an eight-month pregnant woman is Tasered for refusing to sign a speeding ticket. I especially like the part where " fire medics examined Brooks, confirmed she was pregnant and recommended she be evaluated at Harborview Medical Center." It took medics to look at a woman that far along and 'confirm' she's pregnant?

Then to Los Angeles, where county SO deputies fired 120 rounds into an SUV. In a yard, moving back toward their cars. After a pursuit at the blistering speeds of 35mph. You think the guy's trying to run over you, I can see firing, but can you say 'overreaction'? I knew you could!

And to Sacramento, CA, where a legislator is pushing a law that, if an illegal immigrant is stopped without a license and without insurance, he would get a ticket but the police would not be allowed to tow the car. And, to make it even better, would reduce the fine that they could be charged. So if you're a legal U.S. citazen or immigrant, they can seize your car for this and you get the full fine, but illegals would get to keep their car and pay a lower fine...

We've got a rash of people being Tasered for various reasons, some cases of which should get the officers involved a swift kick in the ass followed by having said ass sued off and fired. And here's another case of the 'highly qualified law enforcement officers who are the only people who should be allowed to have guns' going through enough rounds, in one shooting, to take you through a long practice session at the range. And we have one politician wanting to use an excuse to seize all the property possible, and it's all 'for the public safety', and another wanting to give illegal immigrants better treatment in traffic stops than citazens and legal immigrants get.

That's how friggin' stupid it is out there.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Cleaning centerfires

With two exceptions, centerfires clean the same as rimfires. The exceptions are 1. gas-powered semi-autos and 2. copper fouling in the bore.

Semi-auto rimfires are blowback operated. The weight of the bolt, the strength of the recoil spring and the hammer spring are calibrated to hold the bolt closed until the pressure has dropped to safe levels, after which the recoil of the cartridge pushes it back to eject the empty and pick up the next round from the magazine. Some centerfire auto carbines and sub-machine guns are delayed blowback; they use some type of mechanical lock to hold the bolt closed until pressure drops to a safe level. Gas-powered autos bleed off some of the expanding propellant gas from the bore and use it to either travel back through a gas tube and push the bolt back(AR-15/M16), or it feeds into a short gas tube where it pushes back a piston and that is what moves the bolt back. What this all means is that most centerfire auto rifles and carbines have a gas system that needs cleaning. Most of these are fairly simple to take down and clean out; some type of bore cleaner or carbon cleaner to get the fouling off the parts, a bore brush the right diameter to clean the tube, a little lube, and you're done. I'm not going to get more specific than that, there are enough variations that you need to check the specifics for your gun for details.

The bore is where things get fun. The higher pressures and velocities of centerfire guns, especially rifles, tend to cause traces of bullet jacket to rub off on the barrel walls, and if you're pushing cast lead bullets without gas check bases too fast, you can foul up a barrel both badly and fast. If a bore is nice and smooth jacket fouling(usually a copper alloy) may not be much of a problem, though with some of the very high-velocity cartridges it can. If the bore is rough, or has some mild pitting, it can foul rapidly. In either case, sooner or later, you will have to clean this stuff out. There are some really good copper solvents out there now, Sweet's 7.62 for instance. And Brownells has a new stuff called Copper Melt that's supposed to work very well. All of them require a brush and/or jag and patches. Generally, push a wet patch through to clear powder fouling, then a wet one or two- or a brush- to work the cleaner through, then let it sit a few minutes, then a couple of dry patches; if you see blue, it means copper coming out so you repeat until no blue, then dry out and oil. READ THE DIRECTIONS FOR THE STUFF YOU ARE USING, this is only a general procedure I've listed. Some people will plug the breech end and pour the barrel full, letting it soak for long periods, but some of the solvents specifically say not to do that with them, as in some cases it may cause damage to the barrel. So read the directions.

A badly fouled barrel may take a lot of scrubbing and soaking and a pile of patches to get it all out. Here's another place where I'll recommend the FoulOut. It takes a while to get heavy copper fouling out, but you don't have to scrub back & forth, and no worry about possibly damaging the bore. But READ THE DIRECTIONS, because if you don't use it correctly, especially in the first hour, it CAN cause pitting.

There's one other thing you run into with centerfires, especially if you shoot old or military surplus ammo, and that is corrosive primers. They're not actually corrosive, but one or more of the chemicals used in them, when they burn, produce traces of chemical salts that are deposited in the bore(and gas system of autos, and maybe on the bolt and in the action). Salts attract moisture, and moisture causes rust, so... Most standard gun cleaners will not get rid of this stuff, as they're petroleum or synthetic-based, and the salts are water-soluble. So there are two ways to get it out; soap and water, or one of the cleaners designed for corrosive primer residue. I've got a bottle of the old U.S. Army bore cleaner intended to clean this stuff; it's smelly, but it works. A place called Empire Arms, in their FAQ section, recommends mixing sudsy ammonia, the standard household stuff 2- or 3-to-one with water, and that works. These all contain something that will dissolve and flush away the salts. Best results seem to be to hit the barrel with a damp patch or two while it's still warm from shooting, dry patches to clean it out and a little oil. With autos you'll have to get the gas system too. One thing I've used on bolt rifles is Sweets 7.62 solvent. It reeks of ammonia(it's also a good copper cleaner) and seems to do the job nicely. I also tried it on an SKS after shooting suspect ammo, using a patch damp with it to swab out the gas tube and wipe off the piston; no rust seen. Really, cleaning after corrosive primed ammo isn't that bad, just take care to do it soon after firing; you can't leave it for a few days like with non-corrosive ammo, ESPECIALLY if damp weather or if you're in a humid climate.

I should note that the stuff that cleans corrosive priming residue also does a nice job of cleaning black powder fouling.

One other thing I'll mention is run into with shotguns, and that's plastic fouling in the bore from shot cups and wads, and in some cases from plastic buffering material. There are solvents made specifically for getting that stuff out, but I haven't had any experience with them; so far a brass brush and regular solvent has done the job. If you've got a bad case of this stuff, one thing you can do is put a brush on a rod and chuck the other end into a variable-speed drill, dip the brush in solvent, and run it back & forth as the drill rotates it. There's one other thing to try in a really bad case...

My dad was helping another trooper clean his shotgun up before an inspection, and it hadn't been cleaned since he'd last qualified: the bore was the nastiest thing I'd seen in a while. Dad finally took a 1/2" dowel and cut a slot about 6" long in one end, pulled a Scotchbrite pad into the slot, soaked it in solvent, chucked the other end into a drill and went at it. We had to flip the pad over to get fresh surfaces about halfway through but it finally got it all out.

That about covers it. I'll repeat, this isn't the 'be-all and end-all' of cleaning instructions, but it should cover most things. I'll also repeat, if you're not sure of the procedure to use on a firearm, CHECK THE DIRECTIONS. Or FIND SOME! So take the time to do it right, and your piece should keep putting lead downrange for many years to come.

Range report, the Black Watch pistol

This is a reproduction of the pistol, originally from mid-1700's I believe. It's just shy of a foot long, flintlock, and has a .58 caliber smoothbore barrel. The grip is a hollow brass casting, nicely polished on the outside, and the lock plate is nicely color case-hardened. It's not nearly as heavy as you'd think; that hollow grip & body is pretty light. There are no sights, so it's a 'aim along the barrel & pray' shooter.

When I was first given this, it wouldn't spark at all. A little testing revealed that the frizzen- the piece that the flint strikes sparks from- not only wasn't hardened, it was just mild steel. So I hunted around and found a place that carried Kwik Hard, a case-hardening compound and tried it out. It worked nicely, and sparks abound. As long as the flint is sharp and properly adjusted.

The load recommended is 25 grains of 2f black powder, a .570 diameter ball and a .010 thickness cloth patch. I had powder and some suitable ball and patch material, but I needed fine priming powder, so I 'modified' some 3f(don't ask), and headed for the range.

I lubed the patches with Thompson Center Bore Butter, which worked nicely. However, after the first two shots the ramrod that fits under the barrel was a pain; it's a thin steel rod with a button on one end, and it needed to be a bit thicker and longer. I'll take a longer wood rod with me next time. The balls seated against the powder with no trouble. However, if you were loading this thing and carrying it into battle, I'd hope for a chance to ram the ball down before firing, just in case the jarring of running and fighting caused it to slip a bit out of position. May not be that likely a problem, but I do wonder about it.

If you've never used one of these, first you make sure the barrel is empty, the flash hole is clear, and all excess oil is wiped out, and the frizzen is open. Measure your powder and pour it in. With the barrel vertical, place a patch over the muzzle, place a ball in the center, and push it down with the ramrod until the ball is seated firmly on the powder. With the hammer(or 'cock') at half-cock pour enough priming powder into the pan to fill it about halfway. With it pointed in a safe direction, close the frizzen, cock the hammer, aim and fire. I was pleasantly surprised with the recoil. With that weirdly shaped butt I'd expected it to be nasty, but wasn't bad at all, it was quite easy to shoot. Trigger has some creep- that Scottish lock design is strange- but breaks cleanly.

Accuracy at five yards was about what you'd expect, for two reasons. First, as I mentioned there's no sights. Second, with modern firearms lock time- the time between the trigger actually releasing and the firing pin hitting the primer- is measured in milliseconds; with this the time between trigger release and priming powder firing is a significant portion of a second. Follow-through is very important.

I don't know what the muzzle velocity is, I'd guess about 300-400 fps. It's no .45acp, mind you, but I'd hate to get hit with that big ball at that speed. Add to the bullet damage the fact that they tended to carry bits of patch or clothing and maybe some of the grease used to lube the patch into a wound, and the battlefield back then was a very nasty place.

It's a fun piece to shoot. I think I'm going to make a front sight for it, just a low blade to give more of a reference for aiming, though. And it really makes you appreciate cartridge arms(I'd hate to have to try loading this in a hurry as someone was breaking in). One last thing; if someone gets close and you can't shoot, you can belt them with either end pretty effectively, that brass butt would hurt!

And this is the self-propelled ferret toy

This is Itzel(assuming I'm spelling it right). Yeah, it's a lousy picture, the little bugger wouldn't hold a pose for anything. He's about six inches long and weighs about two boxes of .22's, or so it seems. At least he's not a yapper.

Also for Blob, since he asked

This is Puckwudjie, Puck for short. He's bigger than Belle, and unlike her he doesn't bite anyone, unless he's really excited while playing, and then not hard.

There's a third, a white one named Vashka, but she was sound asleep in the hammock, so I'll try to get one of her later.

For Cowboy Blob

This one is Belle. Which little !(#$&^^% will let me pick her up and pet her, then will calmly turn her head, sniff my hand, and bite the crap out of me. To be fair, she bites everyone except my ex.

Two to check out

First, from Howard Veit(found through Kim's place) a post on the subject of morale in an armed force, and the effect of bad morale on fighting ability.

Second, over at Alphecca, is this on what's happened in Brazil since they banned the ownership of handguns(from the honest citazens, that is), and the rate in Venezuela. Venezuela i understand; it has a castro-ass-kissing jerk running the country. But Brazil has an actual representative government, so you'd hope for better there. But no, they kiss the U.N.'s ass and don't think private citazens can be trusted to own arms, so they ban them, and then act surprised when the criminals take over. Idiots.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

The self-propelled ferret toy

Went over to see my kids the other day and met the newest four-legged member of their household: my ex got a long-haired teacup chihuahua. It's black and tan, fits in my hand with room to spare and has ears that make me wonder what would happen if you put him on a leash and took him out in a high wind...

First thing I said was "It's a perambulating pipe cleaner- no, it's a ferret chew-toy!" A ferret they had once before kept dragging a kitten to a corner with his other toys and got annoyed when it wouldn't stay there. My daughter's cats ignore this beast, and the ferrets weren't real sure what to make of it, partly because when it has the chance it likes to jump on them(three times bigger than it is) and chew on their tails. By the end of the time I was there it and one of the weasels were chasing each other around quite happily, so we'll see.

At least it doesn't yap all the time. I hate the little mutts that do that.

Cleaning your firelock

I'm going to break this up into two or three parts. First up is rimfires.

Rimfires generally means a .22, though it also covers the 5mmRMF, the .17 Hornady and variations. There may still be some folks shooting Spencer or Henry rimfires, but where they're getting the ammo I don't know.

For the most part, cleaning a .22 is simple, thanks to modern ammo. Non-corrosive priming means you don't have to worry about the barrel rusting out if you don't scrub it clean right after shooting, the lube on most ammo(or the copper plating) keeps the barrel from fouling, and the worst problem(mostly with semi-autos) is powder fouling and unburned powder granules building up in the action.

If at all possible, ALWAYS clean the barrel from the breech end. If you have to clean from the muzzle, use one of the bore guides I mentioned before; if you ding the rifling at the crown, or wear it unevenly from the rod rubbing on one side, accuracy goes away.

Unless your piece has a weird problem like my Sig, or a rough bore, cleaning the barrel out is simple: soak a patch with CLP or bore cleaner, run it through the barrel and let it sit a few minutes. Run a dry patch through to pick up the fouling, then repeat cleaner/dry patch a couple of times. Most of the time, that'll do it. If you've got a really fouled barrel due to the aformentioned weirdness or roughness, you may need to use a brush and a stronger solvent. The best stuff I've found for cleaning out lead fouling is called Blue Wonder; doesn't seem to work as well on copper, but for lead & powder it is a wonder. If you have a real problem, and don't want to scrub with brush to get the lead or copper out, you should check out the FoulOut mentioned in the same post as the mozzle guide. It ain't cheap, but it works, and it'll strip either copper or lead fouling completely, leaving bare steel.

Kim du Toit once mentioned something about the anal tendencies of .22 rifle purists when they get started on ammo selection; you can get the same reaction from asking about cleaning. I've seen people swear by scrubbing hard with solvent and a brush after every match or practice session, and others swear you'll ruin a fine barrel if you use a brush; I've seen a few who insist that unless the barrel is faulty you should only clean it every few thousand rounds, if at all. Generally, at most you'll need the aforementioned patch and cleaner and that's it. Going a couple of thousand rounds without cleaning seems excessive to me, but you don't have to attack it after every fifty either. If accuracy starts to fall off, or you just want to be sure it's taken care of, hit it when you think it needs it, just be gentle.

The rest of the firearm may need thorough cleaning more often than the barrel due to fouling/unburned granules building up. .22 ammo is messy, some VERY messy. It's not unusual to seen an old semi-auto that looks like it had axle grease or something swabbed into the action they're so cruddy. If it's that bad, you'll have to strip it down and clean all the crud out, then lube properly as you reassemble. If you're not sure about taking things down beyond field-stripping, then don't; get the instructions before you try it. Often you can simply use a brush to clean the worst out, add a drop or two of oil where needed, and that's it.

If you have one of the really cruddy ones, one thing that will clean the crud out, or loosen it up enough to come out more easily, is carburetor cleaner. You can get the generic stuff for about $1/can, and it will cut through almost anything. Warnings: very well-ventilated area, wear rubber gloves, and a breath mask and/or goggles wouldn't hurt anything; and take any plastic or nylon parts out- grips, recoil buffers, things like that- because this stuff can melt them. Then you'll get to order new ones. You can use the aerosol gun cleaners too, but the carb cleaner is cheaper. Some of the gun cleaners, I'm told, will flush out the crud and leave a lube behind, so it might be worth it if you don't want to detail-strip the thing.

The stock or grips, unless needing to be refinished, can generally just be wiped out/off. With a wood stock some folks will hit it with a little paste wax for weather protection, but that will also make the wood slick, so I'd stick with wiping it down. Refinishing is a subject for another day.

This is my general .22 cleaning methods. Yes, you will get all kinds of opinions and ideas, and some of the are good. So try things out and see what satisfies you. Just take it easy.

I'll hit centerfires next.