Memorial Day. What a great day to head out to the range with some old military veterans that have "been there and done that" in defense of this great country.
Of course I mean old military firearms, but I suppose we can include my shooting buddy, too.
A famous blogger and former military aviator came out to do some shooting. Murphy sure was happy to see his old pal again.
"Hey! It's him! He's back!"
We hit the range and broke out the rifles first. I had this Harrington and Richardson M1 Garand that I got from the CMP back in 2000. As far as I know, this it the first time I've actually shot it.
It has a February of 1954 barrel that gauged almost new at both throat and muzzle. This more than made up for a stock that looked like someone had thrown it down a flight of stairs.
It shot fantastically, too. Much better than I did. It's rear sight had to come up 14 clicks to hit point-of-aim at 100 yards, but once set, it was all sweet spot and joy.
Old NFO had himself a Garand too--a National Match job that was just beautiful to behold. (He's like Batman, folks...he's got all the really neat toys.)
Next, I broke out the 1903A3 Springfield.
This one is a Smith Corona-manufactured rifle built in 1943. (Yep, the typewriter people. Go ask your parents, kids.)
I think I last shot it at Camp Perry back in 2002. It was a CMP return from Greece, and like the M-1 above, it shot well, only issue being a somewhat loose stock that allowed the action to shift slightly with every recoil. It made for a weird feeling shooting it but it still kept every round on a paper pate at 100 yards. I think that, since it's still in it's old Greek stock, that it's going to get some glass bedding to tighten things up. Then we'll see what it's really capable of.
Then it was M1 Carbine time.
This one was manufactured by the Underwood Corporation in 1944. (They made typewriters, too.) I got this one from the CMP back in 2001 as well and I've never shot it until today. It shot great, but it's not exactly "left-hander friendly"; I got popped in the head by so many ejected cases that I still have a sore spot hours later.
Old NFO had a early-model Winchester carbine that he was shooting that could have come out of a time capsule. It was most impressive. I'm really hoping that he posts pictures of his way-cool guns on his blog when he gets home (Hint, hint..)
Everyone else on the range seemed to have some AR variant but none of them carry the cool points of these old war rifles.
Of course there were pistols too.
In keeping with the military arms theme, I brought out my old Colt 1911 and Smith and Wesson Model 10 "Victory", both military issue.
The 1911 was stock World War One military, apparently departing US Military custody and control before any of the 1911A1 upgrades were performed on it.
Sadly, this vet was a bit under the weather. While firing the first magazine, the extractor broke. Big sigh. But those are easy to come by and replace, and being an internal part, the pistol won't look any different once the old one has been swapped out.
Next, I shot the Smith and Wesson "Victory".
This one also has a military history. I got it from the estate of a doctor about 15 years ago. Per his daughter, he'd obtained it while a military MD in the South Pacific during World War Two. According to the story, a Marine pilot gave it to the young doctor as the island that they were on still had plenty of Japanese soldiers in the jungle around the airfield. The doctor brought it home with him after the war and kept it in his office until he passed. I acquired it from the daughter through a mutual friend, and it still had six corroded .38 Special cartridges in the cylinder when she handed it to me for inspection. It also has the appropriate stampings:
GHD is the initials of Guy H. Drewry, US Army Ordnance Dept. Chief Inspector. His initials were used as the acceptance stamp for all military pistols produced between June 1942 and July 1945.
This pistol astounded me.
I think I've shot it once, maybe twice since I bought it. It's been a safe queen and sometime wall-hanger for the last decade and a half, but right out of the gate, it proved that it was dead on with this target shot at 25 yards, standing.
This pistol was not blessed with a crisp, smooth trigger like most old Smith and Wessons so I never figured that it could be much of a shooter. Wow, was I wrong. I spent some time chasing an empty soda can around the 25-yard berm, rarely missing it. Then I gave it to Old NFO, who also bulls-eyed his own target with it every shot but one. This pistol's great. Come the bad times, I'll have no qualms about pressing this one back into service.
Of course there were more cool Old NFO guns. I shot his Ruger single-action .45 Long Colt a few times and now I've just got to have one. (Thanks, guy!) I'd been on the fence mulling one for a while but shooting his knocked me right off on the "must buy one" side. (Sigh...)
After shooting, we grabbed a couple of burgers at Five Guys and then headed out to the airport. What better way to commemorate Memorial Day then a flight over Antietam Battlefield in Maryland? On this battlefield, on one day--September 17th, 1862--22,717 men were killed, wounded or went missing. America has never seen a slaughter of it's young fighting men equal to that before or since.
Old NFO grabbed some pics while I flew. Again, hopefully he'll post them. In the meantime though, here's some I took a couple years back when I was there on my bike.
I gave him the plane a couple of times, and he proved that he's still got it. He's the first passenger that I've ever felt comfortable enough with to take some pictures of my own while he flew.
And old Navy aviators never lost the knack for finding bad guys in the water apparently, because the first thing we found was a fishing boat that was sneakily hunting fish in that closed quarry near The Lair--the one that's supposedly so "off limits" to trespassers.
We also spotted what looked to be four vehicles back in the verboten zone, but on closer examination of this picture, there were really five.
Old NFO is such a great Naval Aviator that he can catch bad guys afloat even in land-locked West Virginia. Of course he's been at it for a while. Here's a pic I found of him back when he was first starting out in the Navy.
I think that's him in the hat. The guy with the mustache is Orville Wright.
Heading back into the airport, we overflew the local KOA campgroud. Looks like lots of RV space, in case someone currently in Texas who reads this blog and travels in an RV might be temptable.
Back at the airport, we found this way-cool Taylorcraft tied down in transient parking and naturally we thought of someone that we know.
It's fabric-covered! I think it uses a Briggs and Stratton motor, or maybe it's one of the earlier hamster-powered ones. In any case, it was neat to drool over for a few minutes.
Fun is finally over. Now I'm home, with a ton of guns to clean. But it was a great day with great company and I look forward to doing it again.
Lest we forget the real reason for the day though...