Wednesday, July 01, 2015

9 days.

Nine days since the latest Belle break. Nine days ago, I patched the dog run fence most recently, and she hasn't gone walkabout since. Perhaps she's finally acknowledged that a dog's place is in the dog's yard. Or maybe she's finally decided to bow in recognition of my fencing supremacy. Or maybe she just doesn't have anywhere that she wants to go. Either way, she hasn't gotten out in nine days, and we're on our way towards a record.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

When in doubt, apply Rule .303

Yesterday was a fantastic range day for several reasons.

First of all, my Uzi again choked and jammed, right out of the gate. But this is good, because it did it with known quality factory ammunition instead of my reloads, so the problem is definitely the gun and not my reloads. Yay! Easier to fix a gun than disassemble hundreds of rounds of otherwise great ammunition.

Next, I'm really happy because B., a new shooter that I've been taking out to the range since he bought a Smith and Wesson M&P Shield and a CMP Garand, is now shooting them well enough that I feel confident in letting him fire without close supervision. He's finally relaxed, usually hits the target or at least comes really close, and he handles the guns safely, to include malfunction drills when things don't go right. Watching his progress is rewarding, to say the least.

Next, I took another old rack-hanger out to the range, only to discover that it shoots a lot better than I thought it did. This rifle is a British Enfield, #4 Mark 1, in caliber .303.
This old warhorse was made at the Royal Ordnance Factory in Maltby in 1941, per it's markings. It was one of the first of the early imports back in the late 1980's and I bought it for $76 from Southern Ohio Gun.
This one has the more complex long-range elevation-adjustable rear sight, as shown below.
But it was never particularly accurate in my hands, throwing most of it's rounds well off to the left and patterning like a shotgun at a hundred yards. Other rifles came along that I shot better, and this one was relegated to the display rack, where it quietly resided over the years while its peers and contemporaries enjoyed more use on the range. But I learned a couple of years ago that many wartime Enfields had oversized bores due to rushed war production, and I started loading Hornady's excellent .312 diameter bullets, getting great results in other Enfields and my Arisaka. But this one still threw to the left, so it got ignored some more. Finally though, I decided to fix it or sell it, and I sat down with a hammer and a punch and I drifted the front sight post left.

OK, make that a hammer, a punch and a torch, because that sucker was tight!

Yesterday was it's first trip out, and I started with it on the 25-yard line, just to see where it would hit. I fired five shots at a "dirty bird" type target, and was a little pissed to only see two holes on the target, both predictable a bit low and left. Did it really just throw the other three clean off the target at 25 yards from a rested firing position? Turned out that it did not--they were right in the center bull, touching.

Well ok then...I moved it over to 100, while B. went to work with his Garand on the adjacent target. And it didn't take long before I got elevation practically perfect with that great rear sight. A few more light whacks on the front blade fine-tuned the windage, and soon the rifle was scoring consistent X-ring hits at 100 yards. Why was this rifle "Queen of the rack" for all those years?

I moved out to two hundred yards, and on a whim, because he was shooting well at a hundred, I moved B. back to two hundred as well, telling him to come up on his elevation three clicks and really concentrate on his sight picture and trigger squeeze. He did pretty well for his first try, and the old Enfield was putting them right where they needed to go two, until the case rim tore off of round #9, leaving the case body in the chamber--another old Enfield quirk, again thanks to generous chamber tolerances--and effectively shutting the rifle down for the day for lack of a broken cartridge extractor. But the rifle made its point: it can shoot if I do my job. And this one will definitely NOT be getting sold any time soon. Instead, it's going to be making a lot more range trips with me in the future...along with my broken cartridge extractor.

Oh--and that Rule .303? Harry "Breaker" Morant could tell you more about that, had he not rather ironically had it applied to himself in the end.

And yeah, yeah...they used Lee-Metford rifles back then, not Enfields But It's just too cool a reference to leave out of a post about .303 rifles.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

When your dogs get a text...

So I worked last night and got in late, with a short turn-around before heading back to work. I was really looking forward to catching some solid sleep during this downtime, and I would have too if not for a text from a certain person whom I won't out on this blog.

Oh, heck. It was Cathy. So there.

It was a simple and innocuous question really, wondering if I was going to be somewhere else to help out with something, and it was a question that I really had no problem answering then and there before drifting back off to sleep, but unfortunately for me, the phone's "You've got a text!" chirping was heard by Thing One and Thing Two, aka Murphy and Belle, and they decided right then and there that it was now time to get up and play.

End result: no more sleep for me, because by the time that I'd pushed them away half a dozen times and finally yelled at them to go away and go back to bed, I was now wide awake, and the last hour or so that I should have been able to sleep for just evaporated into wakefulness and bitter regret.

But at least the dogs had fun. For lack of anything better to do for that hour, I took them for a walk.

Lesson learned: Be extra sure that the ringer is turned off on the phone before bed when sleep-time is short and precious. And sleep far enough from the edge of the bed that a certain lady Shepherd cannot bat you in the face with a paw full of claws.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

New Shooter Created

I took a young lady that I know from work to the range, because she's never shot or even held a real firearm before and she wanted to see what it was like.

OK, she was cute and single. That helped. It even got me to overlook the fact that she gave money to one of the anti-gun groups that was out panhandling in DC last year. She at least admitted that she didn't know enough about the issue to really have an opinion either way, hence her desire to come out to the range with me.

I decided to keep it simple for her first-ever outing, so I brought one of my Smith and Wesson Model 10 revolvers out for her to try, with some light-loaded handloads. I also brought a .22 rifle in the form of the Smith and Wesson M&P 15-22, mainly because of it's easy-to-use peep sight and adjustable stock, as she's a bit on the petite side. (And cute!)

First I took her through the safety rules, and then we did a sit-down and went over the parts of each firearm and their function. I taught her the proper grip and stance and sight picture, and finally got her to the point where she was ready to go out on the firing line and fire an actual live round. And we started with one round in the pistol, then another, and then another, until she was comfortable enough to load and fire six.

Alas, she never got comfortable with even that little .38, calling it "too loud" and "too smoky" and she didn't like the recoil of even my powder puff light loads. The pistol went back in the case before even half a box of ammo was fired.

I could tell that she wanted to call it a day there, but she didn't want to look like a quitter after driving an hour and a half out to my place for this, so I suggested lunch right after she tried the .22. She agreed to that, and I figured that it's be a token ten rounds or so and then we'd be gone. Already she's said that she didn't like the look of the M&P 22. But she agreed to give it a try.
Starting at seven yards, I fired five to show her that it didn't kick or make a lot of noise, and then she took the rifle. She fired a round. Then another. Then another, and another...ten rounds went downrange in short order, each one of them hitting the target, if not exactly the center. And when she'd finished, she had the beginning of a smile on her face.
"This could be dangerous..." she said.
"What do you mean?" I asked her.
"I think I like this one," she replied, grinning.
The rest of the ammunition was loaded and fired over the next half an hour or so, and I coached her on stance and sight picture and a proper cheek weld. She didn't become Olympic-quality with that hundred rounds, but by the time the ammo was gone, she was at least safely handling the rifle on her own. She didn't care for the .38--and wouldn't even try my .45--but that little .22 was just the ticket.

Next we went out for lunch and we talked guns, in particular, the politics of gun control and the myths vs. reality. And a few hours after she left, I got a text from her telling me that she now wants to shoot in the upcoming Appleseed shoot at the range.

I may not have created the next Jessie Duff here, but if nothing else, I think that I at least pulled her back from the likes of Bloomberg and his astroturf lackey, Shannon Watts.

Oh--and did I mention "cute"?

And just because it might irk someone in B.O.'s administration:

Model M&P15-22 Rifle (Standard)
$499.00 * *Suggested Retail, Dealer Sets Actual Pricing

SKU: 811030
.Model: M&P15
.Caliber: .22LR
.Capacity: 25 Rounds
.Action: Blow Back Semi-Auto
.Overall Length: 33.75" Extended, 30.5" Collapsed
.Stock: 6 Position CAR Stock
.Sight Radius: 15.5"
.Barrel Length: 16"
.Barrel Twist: 1 in 15"
.Weight (No Mag.): 5.5 lbs.
.Trigger Pull: 7 lbs. (approx.)
.Upper & Lower Material: Polymer
.Barrel Material: Carbon Steel
.Finish: Matte Black
.Front Sight: Adj. A2 Post
.Rear Sight: Adj. Dual Aperture
.Purpose: Recreational/Hunting

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Down by the river.

Went down to the banks of the Shenandoah River this afternoon and stood by the water with Belle.

"Hey Belle, what's that out there?"
"It's a bird!
It's a plane!
It's a frog!"

"A frog?"

"Not bird, nor plane nor even frog..."
"It's just little old me...Murphy Dog"
"Aw, that's just silly! And you completely copped it from the old Underdog show."
For once, there was no rain and no clouds and the temperature and the humidity weren't off the charts. It just seemed like a nice day to take the dogs down to play in the water. As usual, Murphy was all about the fetching.
The water was like bathwater, and Murphy thoroughly enjoyed himself, swimming for about half an hour. But Belle...not so much.
Knee-deep was about her best, otherwise she just played on the bank next to me. But both had fun.

And then we went home, and as he often does, Murphy waited until I'd parked and was just getting ready to take them out to shake the rest of the water off of his fur all over the inside of my SUV.

Sigh. There's a reason that when I bought my new one, I kept the old one, just as a dog transport.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

After the storm

Storms are past. Walkies were in order.
The pack is now content.

I have a shadow.

Thunderstorming now, and Belle is practically attached to my feet.

Murphy? No fear or concern there. He's snoozing on his dog bed, oblivious. But poor Belle...she's not happy.

Meanwhile, down the block, my neighbor who sits around collecting welfare for a sham medical condition--he claims that Eczema on his hands won't let him work--just spent some of that welfare cash to buy himself a new Confederate flag, which he proudly hung up outside his house yesterday. Apparently the Eczema didn't keep him from putting up his new flagpole.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Larry Vickers bans Appendix Carry in his classes. Some gunnies pissed.

In today's news, noted shooter Larry Vickers has just banned Appendix Carry in his classes, and it seems that a lot of people who know and have done a lot less with guns than he has are upset, at least per his facebook page.
His announcement:

Heads up for anyone attending a pistol class taught be me - I am banning use of appendix carry holsters in my classes
I know of two different students in two different classes taught by two different instructors who have shot themselves reholstering - I don't want my name added to that list
If an individual wants to carry concealed that way that is fine by me but an open enrollment class with 15-20 different skill level shooters and upwards of 100 draws and reholsters is an accident waiting to happen when you add in a pistol like a Glock or M&P
This will go into effect immediately - if you are planning on attending a class in the near future and this affects you and you need a different holster please email me via my website and I will get you squared away
Thanks for your support
*Update; a number of people think this means I don't support appendix carry - that's not the case. You are free to carry however you want - however I feel in an open enrollment class is it not appropriate so therefore in the future I am not allowing it. If this means you don't want to attend one of my classes, or I'm 'scratched off your list as an instructor', or you won't buy anymore of my products ( all comments this thread) then that's fine by me - in my position all that goes out the window once one student shoots themself in the genitals - all the Facebook bickering in the world won't fix that

Appendix Carry, for those not familiar, is the concealment of a handgun inside the waistband directly in front of you. It has it's pros--concealability, controllability and speed of draw, but is also has it's cons: a negligent discharge while re-holstering is going to inflict a much more serious wound than one involving a hip holster. (Great article here.)

The argument is currently running "fast and furious" (with the exception of Eric Holder's participation in this version) on his site and he's taking on all comers who have an issue with it.

I don't.

To be fair, I'm not one of the Appendix Carry fans personally (nothing wrong with it...I just never took it up) but I know several people who carry that way and I trust and respect them and their abilities such that I'm never uncomfortable around them on the range or anywhere else. That said, Larry sums it up perfectly when he explains that his students and prospective students can do whatever they choose anywhere else, but in his class, it's his rules. And since it's also his liability insurance and his reputation, I think that's more than fair.

I also think that it's kind of punk for a few other instructors out there who are also well-respected in their own right to use this issue to take shots at Vickers, both on their own sites and on his own, as I've observed today a couple of times. (Names withheld to protect the guilty.) Come on, guys...we as gunnies can agree to disagree on tactics and I personally think that we should keep our disagreements out of the public eye. If you as a shooter or instructor like appendix carry--or SERPA holsters, or whatever--by all means use them, endorse them and instruct in the proper techniques if you're an instructor. But if you don't agree with a fellow instructor who thinks oterwise, let's not get into a public skunk fight. Shooters are still free to do what they wish on their own time and students are still free to choose which courses to take and which instructors to take lessons from.

Now personally, I like to take at least one new course from a different instructor each year, just to get the widest possible exposure to new and different concepts and skills (Come on, Aaron...we're running out of year here.) I'm still more than willing to take a course from Larry Vickers, because he's got cred and knows stuff, and I'm willing to take courses from other people of note who have different opinions and practices. In the end, more diversity in training puts more tools in your problem-solving toolbox and lets each shooter discover for him/herself what works best for them. In that regard, I find no reason for instructor vs. instructor pissing matches or the arguments from one-trick ponies about what should or should not be done. To that end, I support Larry Vickers' business choice and stand behind his decision, even should I at a later date decide to adopt appendix carry for myself.

Fence Fixed. Belle Beaten.

Wow. Fence repair in the hot sun sucks, but it's done. With a lot of plier-work and re-bending, I was able to salvage the crushed section integrity-wise, but it looks like hell now. And as a bonus, I found Belle's latest slither-hole too, one that she's been using to vex me for the last couple of weeks. It was in a really slick spot, but now it's full of big rocks (more fun in the sun) and she's stuck being a pen dog again, at least until she makes another exit tomorrow.

And no, she wasn't physically beaten. She's way too cute and sweet for that. So please save the anonymous tips to the local humane society about dog abuse. They know Belle and I and they know better anyway.


It's a fine new morning after this week-end's storms. The sun is out, the sky is clear...and a tree down from the storms took out a section of the dog fence during the night, loosing the hounds upon an unsuspecting world when I put them out in the morning.

But they're back. Breakfast is a powerful motivator, I guess. Can't terrorize the neighbors on empty stomachs.

This day is off to a great start...and I'm off to Home Depot for fence-repair supplies.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A chick on the ten-spot?

So long, Alexander Hamilton.

I mean, thanks for being a founding father of our nation and helping shape this country's first few shaky but crucial administrations and all, but the current Panderer-in-Chief and his cadre of appeasers has decided to throw feminists a bone and knock you off our currency in favor of some yet-to-be-named woman who has undoubtedly done far, far less for our country. But you're just an "old white guy" and you probably owned saves, so according to today's (ignorant) youth, you've got to go. (And you're probably next, Old Hickory.)

Ten Dollar Bill Will Feature Woman, Treasury Announces

The Treasury Dept. hasn't decided who it will feature though--got to balance the competing factional interests and decide which group will help the democrats the most--but in lieu of their decision, I'd like to offer up some of my own picks.

First off, I'd like to see my mom on the new bills.

I nominate her because she's almost as old as Hamilton and Jackson and because she's always been willing to send me pictures of herself. If she was on the money, she could send me lots more of them. (She also shoots a 1911 and knows to keep her finger out of the trigger guard, showing that she's got both taste and brains.)

Next, I'd offer up classic great American woman such as Brigid or Tam. Each has been making the blogosphere a better place for years and they're just good people, totally representative of America.

But failing the public-at-large's willingness to agree with me--the feminist agitators keep tossing up names like Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Harriet Tubman and Margaret Sanger--I'd suggest these iconic American women, each of whom spent a lifetime clearly representing class and beauty and making the rest of the world want to come here.

Raquel Welch. From her early days in westerns like Hannie Calder and Bandelero! , she sold America to the world.

Bo Derek was a "ten" in the movie 10. Enough said to get her on the ten, eh?

Audrey Hepburn. Who wouldn't want to hoard ten-dollar bills with her as Holly Golightly on them?

Talk about Americana! I had this poster of Farrah Fawcett when I was a boy. Every red-blooded (straight) American male had one. It'd be perfect for the new money and I'd only accept payment for anything in tens.

Tanya Roberts. Yowsers! The last Angel of Charlie's Angels' fame, she was also a blockbuster knockout in movies like Sheena and Nighteyes. And she's still pretty hot.

And generations of men fell in love with Lauren Bacall. A bill with her on it would definitely be more popular than one with anyone that the left is currently championing. And if she was good enough for Bogart...

Don't want to go back quite that far? Well then how about Miss Bettie Page? Loved and adored by generations of military men and emulated by countless young American girls.

Any of these women better represent America and would be more pleasing to the eye than the bitter leftist harpies that the feminist crowds are lobbying for. I think that any and all of them should be placed on a ballot, and let Americans decide...but just the men, ok?

And naturally I've still gotta offer up this gal as a candidate:
More ethical than Hillary and cheaper to keep than Michelle Obama.

Of course the way things are going in this society today, it'll probably just be Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner on the next ten. Sigh.

NAACP Breakfast Fundraiser

This week-end. I hear that it's gonna be a pancake breakfast.

I know...I'll get back in the hand-basket now

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Night Flight--long overdue

Apologies for the death of postings lately, but work's been changing lately, giving me new hours and a lot more of them. It'll fund more toys and adventures down the road, so it's good, but right now, it's seriously crimping life, including blogging. It's just temporary though, i assure you.

And of course this damned weather has been unreal the past couple of months. Whenever I've had a free day off--and they've been few and far between due to those changes in my work schedule--the weather has been too windy or just outright stormy to let me fly. However I finally made it out to the airport last night in between passing storm cells and got off the ground a bit after dusk. I knew that more weather was coming, so I just stayed over the airport and shot approaches for an hour and a half, racking up a dozen night landings, alternating both left and right traffic.

The winds were roughly down the runway, but with the coming weather they varied enough in direction and intensity on each approach to make me pay attention and work a bit, and that was good. I flew until I started to see lightning to the north and northwest, indication that the next cell that my weather briefer had told me about was coming in.Then the lights of Hagerstown, MD to the north disappeared, swallowed up by low clouds on the approaching storm, so I landed long and made it a full stop right in front of the taxiway to my tie-down area and called it a night, leaving the lone tower operator to go back to his book or his Netflix or whatever he does up there when not forced to watch one little Cessna go round and round the airport in the dark.

But I needed this time up. After two months of no flying, I could see the rust. I had to actually scan for gauges and switches that I should have gone to instinctively and my first couple of approaches were a bit off the mark, a sure sign that I'd gotten out of practice. By shut-down though, all was smooth and feeling good again, and I felt refreshed in a way that only some flying can bring.


Of note: The last C-5A Galaxy is gone for good from the Air Force side of the field. The 167th Airlift Wing is now totally C-17. I'll miss those big ramp queens.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Making 7.7 Japanese ammo from .30-06 cases

This article should be of interest to certain historical rifle shooters. It covers how to make ammunition for the World War Two Japanese rifles chambered for the 7.7x58mm round. This would be the Type 99 Arisaka rifles that are still somewhat common out there, both sporterized for hunting and stock collectibles. Here's mine. I've had it about thirty years but it's basically been a wall-hanger/safe queen for lack of ammunition since the US military pretty much put the Japanese ammo plants out of business in 1945. Today, the gunwriters tend to call the cartridge that it fires "7.7 Arisaka" or just 7.7x58mm. Back when I was growing up we always just called it "7.7 Jap" and the rifles were always "Jap rifles" regardless of the actual make or caliber. Now this may offend some of the more PC individuals out there, or possibly the Japanese, but you know what? We won that war so we'll call it whatever we like.

Anyway, if you have one, you'll know that ammo's tough to come by and expensive as hell. Only a couple of companies make it commercially now and it's spendy stuff. If you're just going hunting and only need 20, you might not mind dropping $30-$40 for a box of 20 rounds. But for target shooting or plinking? That's pricey range fodder.

So here's an alternative that many people use, me included.

Start out with a .30-06 case, commonly available pretty much anywhere.

I put mine in this low-tech but effective fixture made of nails pounded into my workbench. It holds the case with the neck over the edge of the bench, as shown.

Next, we call over Mr. Dremel and knock about half of the neck off above the bottleneck. Gauge used: Mk I eyeball.
This is what you want:
Measurement's not a big deal at that stage because you're just taking off excess metal before trimming to size using the case trimmer.
2.27 inches will do you just fine per the Lyman and other reloading guides.
Now after beveling and chamfering the case mouth, you lube that case and run it through the 7.7 resizing die. This sets the original neck back about .130 inches and expands the case mouth from .308 to .311.
Prime your case and charge it with whatever powder you fancy. This batch is getting Win 748 just because I've got a pound lying around. Then seat your bullet. Here again, you can use cheap 7.62x54mm (Russian) pull-down pullets because they, like the 7.7 Jap, and the .303 Enfields, are .311 diameter. Or if you want to tighten it up a bit, Hornady makes a killer .312 round nose soft-point. My Enfields love those.
Keep your overall length under 3.15 inches and any rifle your loading for should chamber them easily.
Finished product below: One round of 7.7 Japanese.
Here's twenty newly-minted rounds. Took me about an hour, but I enjoy time at my loading bench so it's all good. These particular rounds will actually go to another blogger that some of you follow. She also has a Type 99 Arisaka that she inherited. These are loaded light because I suspect that hers hasn't been fired since shortly before Douglas MacArthur sailed into Tokyo Bay.
And by way of comparison, one of the new rounds (left) next to the .30-06 that the case started out as. Not really much of a difference, eh? Just shorten the case, move the neck back, and expand the case mouth. Simple really. And it beats hell out of paying for store-bought.