Friday, August 31, 2007

Gun Cleaning

Reading up in my Garand manuals I learned a detail about cleaning all guns I never knew before. Something absolutely vital. You have to look close at the business end of the barrel, so if you are inspecting your Garand remember the first rule (all guns are always loaded). So after clearing the chamber, checking the magazine is empty, leaving the bolt back, shining light down the barrel from the receiver, and totally removing the trigger assembly…. I eyeballed the muzzle closely. At the tip there is a little inside bevel before the grooves and lands of rifling starts (or ends, depending on your perspective.) This beveled area is called the crown. Rifle barrels aren’t tempered to too great a Rockwell hardness so it is relatively easy to ding this crown if a joint on a cleaning rod bumps against it. Or the shoulder on the patch holder. Ding the crown and you will destroy all hope for accuracy.

Luckily for me, my inexpensive cleaning kit with a section bore rod came with a little conical rod guide that goes on the rod, and it protect the crown and centers the cleaning rod. I need to get a fancy one-piece rod some time. In the meantime, I will be careful.

I also got a bore snake type cleaning system to see how it works. I needed to get one for the shotgun, so I just ponied up for the .30 cal kind too. The way it work is, it is a rope with a weight on the end is dropped down the barrel from the receiver end. You pull the rope through and you get a lot more surface action from the rope, compare to a patch, that you wipe down the inside more effectively. There is even a brass wire brush IN the rope that precedes most of the rope. I ran that through a few times but still ran a few patches through til they came out clean.

The way I clean, I have the rifle on a rack on my bench, level, and upside down. I then spray the lube/cleaning-solvent Break-Free into the barrel and let it sit for a bit while I prep the other cleaning tools. It’s upside down so the solvent doesn’t drip into the gas tube hole too much. Too spread the solvent around I’ll push a patch through (I’d prefer to push form the breech end, but you can’t do that with a Garand). Once through I’ll soak it with solvent and pull it back out. Then I run the wire bore brush through a few times. The bore handle lets the brush spin with the rifling lands and grooves, so it gets into all the nooks and crannies. I then use the chamber brush to scrub out the chamber. It’s too tight and hard to remove, so I may need to look for an alternate for that. The one that was issued with the M-14 is better than the Garand milsurp ratchet type, probably. Next step is running the patches through (and/or that new rope) until the patches come out clean. The solvent is also a lubricant, and in the course of getting the barrel clean it gets all over the magazine well and the internals. I go nuts with a paper towel and cotton swabs on the receiver end, but a light coating of solvent/lubricant stays on the parts, and that is fine by me. Loose oil is fine on internals. Not too much. For metal to metal contact on expose parts I coat with a cheap gun grease from Hoppes. I will get a silicone based grease, some day, from Tetra. It’s supposed to pick up less grit and still work well with a thinner coat.

The regular gun cleaning solvent is good for powder residue and leading, but Full Metal Jacket Rounds leave copper on the inside of the barrel. This is called gilding. There is a separate solvent type for copper, and you have to leave it on longer before wiping off, so this is a once a year proposition that I haven’t done yet.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Sickness

Ok, the only problem with going to the gunstore to buy ammo for Ammo Day is the coveting. "Ooooo, there’s that boomstick I really like! I should git er before someone else does!"

Delayed gratification is so hard when you are ramping up a new hobby. I’m still new at this whole ‘go shoot regularly’ thing. There are still BIG gaps in my personal selection. I’d be less anxious if I already had a dozen rifles and a half dozen handguns to choose from. If I had that many I might even have one I was tired of and could trade it in for another I liked better. But I’m not there yet, by a long shot.

But finances are a bit tight. I need to save for a ticket to fly down to Florida and see my Mother, and the Air Conditioner conspired to take all my airplane money. Not to mention the gun money, which has to be lower on the priority list than the Mom money. DANGIT!

Look, I was only able to afford 30 rounds of ammo on Buy Ammo day.

Well, what about consumer debt? There is enough room on my credit card to buy THREE guns and a first class plane ticket to the Shady Acres Active Retirement Community in Sunny Orlando. Aw, geez! I am having issues keeping the balance down NOW, and this is the first time since the DEE-vorce since I carried a balance longer than 2 months. To pare down the balance I shouldn’t even go coach on Puddle-Jumper Airlines, much less buy a parts Polish SKS for a double sawbuck.

Thanks be to all that is holy that the "check engine" light on the Thundermobile was just a loose gas cap causing the computer to hiccup. Usually, the Thundermobile only acts when I have a windfall of money, not a dearth, so this was a happy development, with no ground transportation outlays required at this time.

And as soon as the raise comes out, I am polishing the resume and looking for a new contract. The home office of my company is acting squirrelly. They’ll have to bribe me a lot more to buy my loyalty.
So back to the quandary… Go into greater consumer debt to get a pistol AND plane ticket (ouch!) or just the plane ticket, or delay gratification, and risk mother’s wrath, and let someone else get their filthy mitts on that really nice .380 I’ve been admiring from afar (and anear) and wait til Spring to visit the maternal unit?

Again, damn my financial self-discipline and delayed gratification predilection. (The delayed gratification predilection is a recent development, and the most tenuous.) So I am pure.
Except lying in bed, in the dark, when no one is watching, in the wee hours of the morning, and little raspy voice deep inside me says, "Go on! It’ll be ok. Just get it. Tomorrow. Yes? Good. Good." That voice causes no end to my consternation.

I gotta get on a new contract at work....

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Buy Ammo Day

Today, 28 August is a 'buycott' day where we are supposed to show our support for our local gun store by buying ammo. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow coalition is protesting outside of gunstores coast to coast because guns are sneaking out of gun stores, on the 2 hidden legs they have, and shooting people willy nilly. Because the guns are acting on their own like this, the protests make sense. If, on the outside chance that the guns themselves are not moral actors, then it makes sense to perhaps support a legitimate business by buying stuff from them

I bought an ammo can, 10 rounds of 12 gauge slug, and a box of 20 .308 from Potomac Traders in Kensington Maryland. Baby steps.

I did drools on the gun displays, as always.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Range Report

I went to the range this weekend with My Buddy the Gun Enthusiast (MBtGE) with several goals in mind. Results were mixed, but mostly good.

First of all, we wanted to convince me that .22LR fired from various semi-auto pistols were guanteed jam-o-matics. We got full metal jacket .22 and went to town, firing a suppressed Ruger Mk II, a standard Mk II with a bull barrel, and a Browning, all belonging to MBtGE. All worked flawlessly throughout except for one after market magazine. That one is clearly an odd-man out aftermarket mag that is not going in the trash. Don't buy budget after market mags is the answer here, and now I wouldn't hesitate to get a Ruger. My confidence in the concept is restored. I might even go for the suppressed one right out of the gate when I have the money saved. That one is probably number 3 in priority, with the Colt 1908 and 1911 .45 ahead of it. All three will probably cost a cool grand, so... it may be a while. Happy with the .22LR.

We also wanted to test the patterning of the 12 gauge Remington Model 11 (and MBtGE wanted to check his Mossburg with a longer barrel switchout.) At 50 yards the pattern is fine now that I know to aim a little low with the site less Model 11. After I figured that part out it was 100%. My Model 11 as a little groove I use to sight along and works and spreads fine. So I can go shotgun hunting no problem this deer season, I just have to have the hapless deer wander close enough to me. Happy with the 12 gauge.

MBtGE just got a lever action 30-30, so I got to test that out. It was his brother in law's and he wanted it out of the house. It hasn't been fired for 6 years, and has a scope on it. It fire beautifully and was zeroed in just fine. Not a bad little rifle. Happy with the 30-30.

I also wanted to zero the Garand with match grade ammo to be ready for hunting. I fired this cold with no practice and got all in the kill zone, a little hight at 50 yards, fine at 100 yards, as I would hope. If it was a deer instead of paper I would be eating venison. No ten-ring shooting, but good enough and consistent. I saved some ammo from that same box to use in case. Happy with the 180 grain .308.

Then I switched to plinking ammo for the Garand just for practice. Thats when the trouble happened.

It was hot and muggy in Virginia, with the temperature pushing 100. The 45 minute car ride had the AC blasting and I shot the Garand with out of the gate. There was condensation on the metal, and I probably had too much Break Free solvent/lube on the inner works from the previous cleaning session. So it was splattering a little bit. The reason for the extra lube is that I am hesitant to field strip the rifle every time I clean it to keep the tight fit I currently have from loosening up.

I had 5 clips lined up. There were 2 failures in the first 3 clips. One was a slam fire. The rifle went from semi-auto to automatic for 2 bullets. MBtGE was watching to see where my brass was flinging itself and he confirmed it. Not good. The next clip I had a "dud". A failure to fire. Just a click. I save that bullet and inspected it later. I had a small dimple in the primer, but not the standard dent of a spent case. Both symptons together makes me think there might me shmutz in the bolt that is either holding the pin back when firing, causing the dud, or holding the pin forward causing the slam fire. Other causes for the slam fire is a loose sear, where the vibration of the action caused it to release as soon as the next round was chambered. I tested a month ago to be sure the firing pin acted as expected, according to the literature, by dry firing, holding the trigger, and working the bolt manually without releasing the trigger to see if the pin was pushing up. It was working fine. I am really curious to see what the inside of the bolt looks like and have to probably buy a tool that helps me remove the firing pin from Fulton Armory or somesuch. The last 2 clips went down range without a hitch, and the rifle was good and warm then. The hunting ammo was Winchester Silver Tip in 180 grain, the plinking ammo was one I've used a lot of without issue until today, American Eagle 150 grain FMJ boat tail. So mixed reviews on the .308.

One thing. Shooting left handed shoots the hot brass right at my temple. I wore a boonie hat this time and didn't notice a thing, though MBtGE was watching cartridge after cartridge bounce off of my head. Boonie hats make me happy. And the one I have is reversible, so I can make the blaze orange side out for hunting season.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Old Iron

I like preWWII industrial design. From the late 19th Century to 1945, American industry did some remarkable things of very high quality with remarkable individual skill. I’m not saying that after 1945 they didn’t still do that, but after 1945 everything had changed.

For a non-gun example, take woodworking tools, (another hobby of mine, along with history in general) and in particular, handsaws. Bear with me, gun enthusiasts. After the Civil War there was a manufacturer in Philadelphia that made handsaws for wood. The man that started it was named Henry Disston, and he eventually took his sons into the family business, so the company was eventually known as Henry Disston and Sons. They were the General Motors of the handsaw manufacturing world. Lets take, for an example, a standard saw made by Disston in 1907 and one made in 2007. They both look like handsaws, and don’t look much different from each other at a glance, except one looks brand new and the other has aged 100 years. But they are very different. In 1907, professional craftsmen depended on his handsaw to make a living, today a professional uses a DeWalt or Makita or Bosch saw for all his cutting, so today’s handsaw is geared toward more of a hobbiest occasional customer. Today’s steel blade is sheet metal stamped out with teeth put on by a machine and all this happens very fast in total automation to keep costs down. The 100 year old saw blade has more refinements. The blade is taper ground from the tip to the handle, and from the teeth up to the back. This taper makes the saw easy through the wood better. The teeth might have been stamped out, but it was hand sharpened in the factory. The blade’s temper was checked by a specialist to be sure it had an even flexibility throughout the length. And there was more metal depth to the blade in anticipation of the user sharpening it quite a bit. Another big difference between the saw is the handle. The 2007 saw is made of plastic, or, if you are lucky, plywood board where the handle was cut out and corners eased with a router. It isn’t very comfortable. The 1907 saw is made from Apple or Pear wood, and is practically carved to fit a hand, long before the term ergonomics entered the lexicon and is a joy to hold. After WWII, the Disston company slowly declined until all that is left is its name on some Taiwanese budget handsaws. Just like Stanley, the makers of millions upon million of hand planes, with similar quality to Disston Saws, in New Britain Connecticut, is now a garage door opener manufacturer with a corporate headquarters in the Bahamas.

My attitude extends to guns. Even comparing my 2 military issued battle rifles produced in wartime is telling. Side by side there is an elegance to the walnut stock on my Springfield 03 that isn’t as nice on the M1 Garand made just 25 years later.

Prewar industrial processes produced guns with so much handwork done to them routinely, compared to today, that we can almost consider them custom made. Not that there isn’t a lot of handwork on today's guns compared to other industries. And American gun production is highly refined, quickly and cheaply producing very fine firearms as a matter of course, and generally domestically. It’s just less handwork intense than the old days. Less machining today, and what there is is done by computer instead of skill and well earned experience of a human operator. And I like that personal touch by men that were contemporaries of my grandfather and greatgrandfather (a linotype machinist). To cut costs a gun part in the seer, today, might have machining marks on areas that have no metal to metal contact. And this doesn’t impact the function in any way. To do it this way allows a CNC machine to make the part automatically and cuts down labor costs and production time, then passing that savings on to the customer. Before the War the standard of machinist practice would have expected a finer finish, and this attention was paid with it’s subsequent demand on human skill and time. Labor was a bit cheaper at the time, so, while it added to the cost, it was not beyond the customer’s means.

Denise of the Ten Ring blog shares my admiration of old walnut stock and properly blued metal. So does Tammy, I recently found, from the View From the Porch blog. Tammy has the milsurp bug pretty bad, and I am sure here is another subject matter expert that has forgotten more about historical guns and gunmakes than I will ever know. But I have the edge on her for hoppy beers.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Cheap Gun Wish List

One thing about my serious wish list is that the guns on it are on the spendy side. I’ve been rolling around in my head thoughts of guns that might be fun to play with, and are on the inexpensive side and don’t bust the wallet open. Guns that was reliable, and cheap, usually used, and mayhaps be cached in places safe from burglars by being bricked up in the walls or something. Or hidden in a cabin in the woods to scare of coyotes but not accessible to break-in vandals.

.22 revolvers. They don’t jam, ammo is plentiful, and they are/can be cheap. So cheap, you can cache them and not feel too bad if they get ruined in a PVC pipe cache, buried in a park.

Double barrel 12 gauge shotgun. Cheap and plentiful, with a simple mechanism. Can double as a burglar, scarer offer. Can be used to greater effect bird hunting than my Remington Model 11 because it is longer. Same with skeet and trap shooting.

.22 bolt action rifles. Good for training someone else how to shoot, and for my own practice. Cheap. Can be hidden in a cabin along with the double barrel shotgun and with both long guns you can take on most problems you’d run into in the woods except for maybe a motorcycle gang trolling through with Hollywood style evil on their minds.

One gun a little more expensive than the others that fascinates me is a Lever Gun. Just like the Rifleman. They work fine for a lefty like me. I can get one that is chambered for .357 magnum and keep my ammo inventory simple, still. Short and handy. Like the Marlin 1894C or Browning 92 (used), or Savage 99 or a used Winchester. This gun might belong on my REAL wish list. I will keep an eye out for one the proper caliber and price. Used, of course.

All of these except the last one can be had readily just about anywhere, for not a lot of dough.

Do you see how many guns I have on these wish lists? And no money to speak of right now. Am I insane? Where am I gonna put all these? And these are all of a "get more than one" variety. Sheesh.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hunter Safety Course

I signed up for a Hunter Safety Course. Well, 'signed up' isn't right, as it turns out that you just show up with $5 at the Isaak Walton League nearby, but I called in case there was a list I had to get on.

I Maryland, to get a Hunting License for the first time, you need to take the course. After that you are ok for subsequent years. I can do the whole process online after the class, and it is pretty cheap: $26.

I don't think I'll have a place to hunt in Maryland, but I want to go ahead and get a license anyway, just in case. It may or may not enable me to get an Out Of State license in Virginia, and I have a much better chance of actually have a place to go in that State, thanks to MBtGE. It is a bit more pricy to get an Out Of State license there: $86 for the whole season, plus $66 for a Deer stamp. Ouch. If I had $505 dollars I could buy a lifetime license in Virginia

But other than some monetary outlay, the process looks simple enough. User friendly anyway.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Stockpiling Ammo

There is a law in Sweden or Finland or some such place that. I think Finland. That limits how much ammo you can have in your home. How dare they! Don't they know that being armed is a human right, and that a firearm is useless without ammo? The limit is some 12,500 rounds or some other very high number. Well that’s not so bad...

Stockpiling ammo is a tricky little situation. You probably should rotate your ammo out over time, even every 5 years. The problem here is that most ranges, not just Clark Bros., has an in-house ammo policy. You fire only ammo you bought at that premises. Fine for a small supply of ammo. You buy 5 boxes this month to take home and keep, but you shoot the 5 boxes of the same brand you bought at the range last month. Or last years. But then your stockpile is 5 boxes, or one session’s worth, whatever that amount is.

So you’re expecting zombies and want more than 100 rounds in the house, but you are not sure if the zombies are coming in 10 days or 10 years? How should I stockpile ammo for the eventuality of the Stuff Hitting the Fan and not have a few hundred (or thousand) rounds go to waste for lack of a place to shoot them? I still have to think on that. That’s a head scratcher on ammo rotation. I gotta find a range that’ll let me fire anything. (I haven’t yet) Or you can buy some rural acreage and plink away (I can’t afford that yet.)

But that’s not the only thing to think about.

What about a house fire getting to your big stash?! That’ll kill have the neighborhood! Well, no. Cooking off bullets outside a gun chamber and barrel is not a good idea, safety wise, but the bullet won’t jump out of that cartridge with the same threat if it is outside a gun. The velocity and force of a bullet come from expanding gases pushing it down the tube. In the open air those expanding gasses dissipates in all directions as soon as the bullet unseats from the brass. It makes a bang, it is not a good idea to have near you, but if you are in the next room your chance of metal fragments hurting you are minimal. It’s not like your 1000 rounds of ammo will go off like 1000 separate rifle shots, killing all your local fireman, if your house burns down. That said, store your ammo properly.

There is cheap ammo out there that have so-called corrosive primers. My impression is that these are from Warsaw Pact surplus. I don’t know if the primer cap will corrode away is left lying around or if chemicals in that type of primer will corrode my gun parts and barrel. Either way, they sound like no bargain, even if free. I will avoid them.

I’ve mentioned before that I am trying to keep current and future gun purchases coordinated so ammunition inventory is simplified. If I got a lever gun that shoots pistol cartridges, I’d get one that fires the same .357 rounds my revolver does. If I get a bolt action rifle, I won’t get a 7mm or a .300 or one that chambers for .270, I’ll get either .308 or .30-06. Fortunately, those rounds are highly thought of and effective and I won’t be itching for diversity.

And a good quantity of ammo ain’t cheap, and it isn't getting any cheaper with the rise in prices of commodities (like brass) pushing ammo costs up, and anti-gun types trying to neutralize our second amendmendment rights via the backdoor by more government regulations on ammo. I can probably find deals at gun shows and such.
Cheaper than Dirt is a catalog supply house that has decent prices, but I bet it’s cheaper to buy at a gun show. Plus, it is illegal for them to ship me ammo in my county, anyway. Another slightly cheaper route (or can be) is hand loading. I need to investigate that. The cursory review of hand loading in my materials so far is “NEVER HAND LOAD.” Ok, that is a bit much, but every time I see something online where a gun had a massive failure, the story always begins with, “so I took my gun to the range with some new hot loads I had just whipped up at the bench” and ends with, “The doctors sewed my fingers back on ok, and luckily I can still see, but I will always have little bits of once molten brass tattooed in forehead. The gun was a total loss.” Everything I’ve read about the Garand warns off hand loading, too. Too many slam fire and separated brass casings result from the abuse a semi-automatic rifle gives a worn reloaded cartridge. Now, I’m not totally down on hand loading. I’m enthusiastic to try it if I can get some really quality instruction and shoot what I make out of a future bolt-action rifle or the revolver. No super-loads for me though. Consistent, accurate, high quality, and cheaper than I can buy, loads would be my intention there. I try to save my brass now for that possibility.

And in the event of a SHTF scenario, .22LR becomes currency that you can trade goods for. So lots of .22 is always good, even if you don't have a .22 (I will get one, don't worry.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Axe Body Spray

So, I don’t know if I mentioned this, but I’m a single guy. Never had a chance after the divorce. And the chances aren’t getting any better the longer I am a bachelor the more set in my ways I get. For instance, some of my unhindered belches are majestic in quality now that I have the practice, and I don’t think I have the impulse control to suppress them if a woman was present. My example, sadly, is the Crotchety Neighbor up the street who lost his wife 30 years ago to a boating accident. (I have to resist the urge to switch to Richard Dreyfuss ‘Hooper’ voice and say, “THIS was no BOATING accident! And it wasn't any propeller; and it wasn't any coral reef; and it wasn't Jack the Ripper! It was a shark.”) That Neighbor, HE knows how to be set in his ways. He likes things the way he likes them and the heck with anyone else.

But I thought there was hope for me. I saw it on the TeeVee. I went out and bought some of that Axe Body Spray, for Men.

All I had to do, I figured was spray it on me and get stampeded by a horde of bikini clad supermodels. It wouldn’t be any long-term relationship with a special someone to cherish, share a life, and grow old with, but beggars can’t be choosers, and a one night stand with a few hundred jiggle-num-nums is a decent consolation prize.

So I got me some Axe spray and stood in my front yard and commenced spraying. I went ahead and removed my shorts before I started, both to save time, and to save them getting ripped off. I LIKED that pair of shorts, and supermodels can be so impatient, ripping clothes off with their teeth and long fingernails. Or so I hear. I didn’t actually meet any. Supermodels, that is. I must have used the wrong spray. I must have bought the Axe spray that only brings cops, because THEY showed up right quick. Things I learned? Read the fine print on the men’s cologne packaging, TASERS don’t hurt as much as I assumed they would, but Pepper Spray hurts a lot more than I ever imagined. Stingee!
Gun content: The local constabulary appears to use 9mm Glocks. But not on me. So it was a good day.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Bug Out Bag

BoB stands for Bug Out Bag. The thing you grab when the manure is impacted in your AC’s impeller fan and you need to get out of Dodge, and quick.

(Speaking of Air Conditioning… Mine died right before my vacation at the beginning of the month, so my gun budget has suffered a MAJOR setback. Them things ain’t cheap. It’s ok now, and I was away when the temps hit 104 here.)

My Buddy the Gun Enthusiast (MBtGE) is also a bit of a survivalist and has dreams of a Homestead Style property. Lots of gun owners, I find, are also survivalists. The whole “willing to defend your life and property with force if need be” attitude dovetails well with this. Occasionally Survivalists make the news in a negative way but these are the wackos that make good copy in your local news organ (I think that organ is the spleen, though it may be the duodenum...). The wackos are rare, but when they do something colorful they are compelling to observe. Most Survivalists are not wackos. Justifiably paranoid, mayhaps.

Let me define, for those unfamiliar with the breed. Survivalists are people that want to be prepared in the event of some natural disaster or social upheaval. This preparation ranges from a Rubbermaid bin full of canned goods, medicine, blankets, and 3 days of drinking water to people with remote properties, seeded with crops, livestock, and fruit trees and with elaborate underground structures stocked with supplies, able to withstand close-by thermonuclear explosions and the subsequent fallout. And they have plans. If one scenario happens, they know what to grab, where to meet separated family members, what is the way out of town, and where to hole up when they get there. The planning is critical. If everyone in New Orleans had a 3 day supply of food and water and plan to evacuate then the levees breaking would have had a lessened impact on the residents.

I was a Boy Scout, the Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared” so Survivalist tendencies are in my genetic code. But I’m not as prepared as MBtGE. He has a dozen 5 gallon buckets filled with rice or beans or dried peas, all from 25 pound bags bought at Costco. He has canned goods. He has lots of 2 liter soda bottles squirreled away, all filled with tap water. He rotates the water out every couple of years. Same with the foodstuff. He has plans. Like what he’ll do if he has to walk home from work because some disaster happened in the middle of the day. He keeps a bag in the trunk for that. He know what he’ll do if he has 60 seconds warning to bug out, 15 minutes, 1 hour, or 6 hours, and what relative’s farmhouse he’ll set out for. And he can hole up at home, even if the electric grid fails, and the water spigot stops working. Sure it would suck, many of these scenarios, but the Survivalist figure it’s better than rolling over on your back with arms and legs in the air, like a dying cockroach. We’ve seen that emergency relief services can get swamped, and people have to take charge of their own destiny.

There are several levels of survivalist emergency. Basically:

  1. There is the relatively benign, like having extra blanket in your car and some food and water in case you get stuck in a snowbank in South Dakota, and what do if that happens, like stay with your car, run the car every so often keeping the exhaust pipe clear. Or have a few gallons of water while driving back roads in Arizona in case the car dies.

  2. There is a little more severe like having a week or 2 worth of supplies in your basement if a tornado tears off the upper floors. Or having a week or 2 worth of supplies on the second floor if the levees that protect your town burst. Or having a week or 2 worth of supplies in your house in case of massive rioting locally that keeps you holed up, fending away dirt bags that are looking for easy targets to exploit. Might as well have a full month’s worth.

  3. And there are the Stuff Hits the Fan Scenarios. Where you may go years on your own after a war, (nuclear or otherwise), plague, massive Zombie Outbreak, alien invasion by our new Ant Overlords. A total societal breakdown. Not even MBtGE is ready for this, fully. Though he’s a lot closer than me.

In all these scenarios, being armed has its place. Ammo is a big survival supply, for protection, for hunting game, large or small, and for loose militias when order starts to re-established. I gotta tie in guns somewhere, this is a gun blog. Survivalists certainly think about guns. Disasters tend to drive home the fact that the government authorities can’t be everywhere at once to protect everyone from everything. They aren’t really there on normal days, but it’s more obvious when the chips are down in an emergency.

So I have prepped/am prepping a bug out bag or two. Something to carry in the car, and something to have quick to hand in my house if I have to get out in a hurry, and something a bit more elaborate for longer term that I can hole up at home with, or pack the car with in less than an hour.

BoBs take many forms. There is the kind where it’s just what you grab when you only have time to grab one thing, and that one thing is often a gun. Sort of a “running out the back door because the antagonists from The Hills Have Eyes are bashing down your front door and now you wished you hadn’t smoked so much in your life because I’d really like to sprint for a good 15 minutes.” The only thing I have is the S&W 686 revolver if the time crunch is 5 seconds. If I have 60 seconds it’s the Garand. I’ll run barefoot in the snow if the Hills guys are there looking to add me to some menu, as long as I had the revolver. Clothes are a plus, but I’m not sleeping with my shoes on.

But if I can grab the Garand, I can grab the backpack, bandolier and jacket next to the gun cabinet. In the backpack are energy bars, a change of clothes (and extra socks and underwear) a poncho and some water bottles. That’s the basic Bug Out Bag concept. You have to leave where you are and you don’t know when you are coming back. This barebones minimum backpack is there for a serious hurry, and the local situation is dire enough that it would be half expected to see guys running for their lives carrying a rifle. In this situation, the Police are probably running, too. Possible situation: Terrists have cooked off a nuke on the Mall in DC (I am 6 miles from the northern tip of the District), the EMP has cooked the electronics in my car and it won’t work and cars that do work have clogged the roads, and other Terrists are running wild shooting up the suburbs. That kind of bad-bad. It also entails that my proximity to DC means I can’t hole up at home because the weather report calls for southerly winds that’ll blow nuclear fallout on me.

See? You stumble over survivalist blogs looking for gun info, and hang out with a guy like MBtGE (my buddy the gun enthusiast) and you start worrying about this kind of stuff.

Plus, on vacation, I read a book called Alas Babylon loaned to me by said MBtGE. It was written by a guy named Pat Frank in 1958 and it may be the first “Day After” kind of book describing what happens after a full scale nuclear exchange when everything has broken down, and you have to think about survival when there are no delivery truck, grocery stores, hardware stores, gas stations, electricity, or even government. In a full on thermonuclear exchange with an entity like the Soviet Union then I am pretty much toast, but Terrists with a sub-megaton device on the Mall won’t even make my house catch fire. Probably. Anyway, I should be cursorily ready for a situation with no advanced warning. And I need to throw one of these in the car in case bad stuff happens when I am at work or away from home. No gun in the car bag, the state of Maryland doesn’t like that, and DC REALLY doesn’t like that. But I could walk home from work with such a pack.

The next stage of Bug Out Bag is with 15 minutes warning. Cops are driving around with loudspeakers saying “Flee for your lives!” This is a Katrina times 10 problem. A displayed weapon would be the least of the authorities worries as long as I am not shooting at them. Maybe the car works. Sort of like Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds. This BoB is a larger backpack with more food and water, a sleeping bag, more ammo and clothes. Maybe the car works, so that is nice, but I can leave it if I get stuck, grabbing the bag. I have this BoB assembled, mostly, but it needs upgrading. I have a surplus ALICE rig, which is just a military style pistol belt and suspenders with 2 canteens and a butt pack. This gives you 2 BoBs actually on me. I can dump the bigger backpack in a hurry if I had to and still go a ways on just the stuff attached to the ALICE rig. Food goes beyond energy bars to canned goods I can eat straight from the can. There should be enough in this bag to hole up in a storm drain for 3 whole days without sticking my head out, ever. After that I will get thirsty. This BoB has ammo for the revolver and the Garand, plus some 12 gauge. I’m going to make a scabbard for the Remington Model 11 that will attach to the pack. Don’t forget a sheath knife and an entrenching tool (short shovel for you Air Force types.)

I’ve considered the MOLLE gear. MOLLE is the replacement carrying system for the older ALICE stuff, but ALICE stuff works and is cheaper.

Water is very important for any BoB. I am chubby (not TOO, yet) enough to go a long ways without food, and I have thrived only a dinner roll a day for a month (don’t ask) but without water I am a goner in 3 days, tops. If anything I need to find a way to carry more water in all the BoBs.

The next step up is the BoB you can move in an hour. I am still assembling this. It is more than I can carry on foot and assumes I have a working vehicle. It’s a couple more weeks of food and water. MREs would do, but so does a few cases of canned goods and a can opener. There is a tent in this BoB. Some other odds and ends, like a few 100-hour candles and matches in a water proof container, blankets, some personal hygiene items, and more clothes, too. In the car, no one will see or be worried about the 3 weapons and all the stockpiled ammo. Rifle, shotgun, and revolver. If I have a .22 when everything goes pear shaped then I am bringing it. Maybe any other working weapons as well. I already have at least 2 bandoliers of Garand cartridges ready, and I need more shotgun shells and .357 on top of the dozen or so I have on hand. Lots of these supplies are in Rubbermaid bins. Just a few, but you can pack a lot in them. The stuff is distributed so that if I lose one bin it isn’t say, ALL the water, or ALL the warm clothes.

Where am I going with a car full of stuff? Why, to MBtGE’s house, or course. He is much better prepared and farther from the city. Because I am bringing stuff, and he trusts me, I am welcome. I am useful for taking a shift on watch so he doesn’t have to stay awake 24/7. Plus, he has a further escalation BoBs.

I intend to store extra brick of coffee to convince MBtGE to let me in without shooting me. He hasn't store much, and he will appreciate the bounty. He has his priorities, after all.

He has a trailer that can attach to my car or his, and he has enough supplies to load this. By the time I got there the trailer would be loaded, and I have a better truck for pulling it, with room for his wife and 2 kids and one more. Where do we go if we can’t hole up in his house? MBtGE has plans. He has relatives even further out in Virginia with farm acreage, and other locations even further belonging to trusted friends that might expect him to roll in. His supplies include lots of propane, 5 gallons buckets of rice, shelves worth of canned goods, much more ammo, plenty of water, radio equipment with batteries and solar chargers. A judgement call has to be made at this point. Do you hole up for months or head to the hills for even longer, maybe forever? Once at MBtGE’s house that decision can be made.

Meanwhile, it’d be a Good Idea (tm) for me to have the ability to hole up at my house, banding together with my neighbors to defend our little slice of America. I live near a High School that would be useful for defending a largish group against the Zombie horde, plus potatoes can be grown on the football field. Many of my neighbors are Hispanic immigrants that own landscaping businesses and they have lots of tools and are handy with them. Our neighborhood is such that we can block off large sections of it with makeshift barricades to dissuade unruly mobs. I have no idea what their internal caches are like, but this is America, and there is probably enough weapons and ammo to go around for a short while.

But I’ll need more water, more ammo, and more food IN my house, just in case. With a little wherewithal I’ll one day add on to my house, and this addition will definitely have a woodstove in it. I’m half considering a well with a hand pump with that. I already have a complete set of woodworking handtools to set up a 18th century cabinetmaker shop. With a bunch more wherewithal I’d buy 50 acres and a cabin in the boonies, planting fruit and nut bearing trees, scatter potato plants hoping for yearly volunteers, and fencing off area with dry stone walls for gardens and rabbit/chicken pens. That’s the ultimate BoB. A retreat fully prepared for permanent hideaway.

Another BoB design is caches on public land. Between home and work you dig a hole in the middle of the night, burying a 10 inch PVC pipe with an end cap. Inside this you place a sealed 8 inch PVC pipe filled with supplies that can last a while. Food, water, ammo, extra clothes. Mark it well, but not so well people will get curious and snoop around.

UPDATE: You can now get a BoB at Wal Mart

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Colt .380

Oh golly! It looks like I have confusion regarding Browning designed Colts chambered in .380. Some with hammers, some without.

There is the
1903 pocket hammerless but is more properly a 1908. If you want it in .380.

There is one with an exposed hammer, also a 1903.

FN Model 1910 is similar with a sleeker looking business end, and is a precursor to the Walther PPK.

So, properly I want a Colt 1908 Pocket Hammerless. And I'll probable pay a cool grand for a decent one, unless I get lucky.

2nd amendment

I heard one ruling/interpretation from MBtGE. That the militia component of the Second Amendment can be interpreted as “when this federal gov’t is formed, there will be militias, as there are now (heck the US might have a standing army of some size some day, this is only 1789) but we have militias now just as we had before we wrote this Constitution thingy. And because of that, we Founding Fathers know all about how militias and such can tyrannize. So BECAUSE of that, the people’s right to keep and bear weapons that can oppose a tyrannical government and it’s armed forces should never be compromised.” Such an argument has a ring of truth, but I don’t think it is the be all/end all. My Buddy that was explaining this to me was also saying we deny rights all the time in this country for good reason. If you are a prisoner in a penitentiary you are stripped of your second amendment rights, but you still have a right to a speedy trial from a jury of your peers. True. And, also, we are also constantly denying 1st Amendment rights. You don’t shout ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater. The gov’t won’t let you show hardcore pr0n for an after-school special on broadcast TV. We do strip prisoners of basic rights of freedom and liberty and sometime life itself, in reaction to THEIR trangrssion on others rights. (Think about what every guilty prisoner done to get where he is? Violated someone else rights. But he doesn't forfiet ALL his rights while in jail, just many of them.)

It’s an interesting take. I’m not sure if I swallow it, wholly. What I do know is that individual people have rights. Groups do not have rights. So-called group rights are a sham. Yes numbers of individuals can conglomerate together and have similar interests, but no rights can confer on the group. Any injury to the group that is a rights violation is covered by each individual’s right. Seeing the 2nd Amendment as a group right is an abomination and those that hold to that view are ignorant, stupid, intellectually lazy/apathetic, perhaps well-intentioned people with severe tunnel vision unable to see any glimmer of unintended consequences their policies hold, or have unspoken evil designs to visit on their fellow citizens

My personal thoughts about the rights enumerated in the Constitution are a bit different. Those rights are just written down so there is no confusion, and the government can't cotemplate violating them witout serious consequences. Simple and easy to understand, or so you’d think. Leave it to busy-bodies and lawyers to torture any meaning out of anything to their own ends. It’s because of these people that defenders of liberty have to be so vigilant in defending our civil rights. But I digress. The right enumerated in the Bill of Rights and subsequent Amendments all harken back to basic human rights first codified by a young United States in the Declaration of Independence. Those are listed as, for starters (and it essentially says, “for starters”), the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. Thoughts in documents at the time often equate ‘pursuit of happiness’ as ‘property, plus other stuff’. So human RIGHTS are distilled down to these three. And really they can be reduced further to just a right to life [Now don’t confuse this with the abortion argument. I’m not going down that rabbit hole as it is out of scope to this blog, though I admit that some of their arguments certainly harken back to the Declaration of Independence]. You have a right to life. If anyone denies you this right you die, clearly. In order to live you need to acquire food, so you need the liberty to attain it. Without this liberty, you are denied your right to life. You need shelter to live, clothes to protect yourself from the elements, you need to own your food – it has to by YOURS, not someone else's that they can take away when they want; you need PROPERTY. Without property you are denied your right to life. Your existence would be nigh meaningless if you just subsisted with your food shelter and clothes and your life would have no purpose and you might as well be dead, so you have a right to pursue your own happiness. Note: You can pursue happiness, but you aren’t guaranteed happiness. If you are denied a right to pursue happiness you are denied your right to life. Everything hinges on your right to live. No one can deny this right. If someone does, or attempts to deny, you your right to live, then that is a justified reason to deny THEM of their rights. You can defend yourself from someone attempting to deny you your rights in a proportionate manner. That is why we imprison people for a set time for theft of property, but we are more severe with people that kill others unjustifiably. But if someone wants to control your property or take it all from you outright, make no mistake… they then have control over your life and can take THAT from you at a whim. That is the big reason I hold the collectivist tyrannies of the 20th Century in such disdain, as their sole purpose is to take or control your property, and thus your life. No one can deny you your life unjustifiably. The only justifiable means to deny life or lesser things that lead to sustaining life is if you deny another’s life or lesser thing (property, liberty, pursuit of happiness). You can’t take from one to give to others just because a majority voted you to do so. This keeps a majority from voting to pee in the breakfast cereal of the minority. It's why the United States is not a Democracy, but a Federalist system. While no one can deny you your rights you are responsible for securing your property or you have to rely on someone sharing theirs with you.

How does the 2nd Amendment dovetail into my thoughts on this one basic Right to Life or Right to Live (again, not the abortion kind in this scenario)? It recognizes your right to defend yourself against individuals looking to compromise your rights, and it allows you to defend yourself against tyrannical governments that might also be attempting to compromise your rights. Foreign and Domestic. The amendment has nothing to do with hunting though it doesn’t preclude hunting. And when you hunt for food that certainly impacts your life or death from starvation, so hunting gets a ride in there on the 2nd anyway. Hunting is a joyful serndipitous consequence of the 2nd. But you certainly can’t argue in support of the 2nd Amendment only from the Hunting angle, or other sport angle. It is not central to the amendments meeting and is too easy to argue against it.

I do hope that someday the thought of violating the 2nd Amendment is as far from any petty tyrant gov’t official’s mind as the thought of violating the 3rd Amendment, where the gov’t is precluded from housing soldiers in private citizen’s homes without the owner’s permission.

I do know the Second Amendment is what makes all the other Amendments possible, and the concept predates Independence in English Common Law. English Common Law is much more explicit about the purpose, and that’s the keep the King from becoming a tyrant. The Founders knew this. And the Constitution was only ratified because of the inclusion of the Bill of Rights. If you repeal any one of the first 10 Amendments you are asking for trouble, as that could nullify the rest of the Constitution. The 16th and the 17th could use repealing, and that wouldn’t upset the apple cart, and I'd like to see that.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Gun Stores, Local Ranges

Well, I hear Wal-Mart is getting out of the gun-store business in many of its stores. It matters not to me, as I live in a county that thinks Wal-Mart is evil and resists them opening in the lower part of the county. It’s probably a cost matter, too, for the company. Adhering to gun sale regulations is expensive, and there are fewer customers in a dense suburban area for hunting accouterments, so it makes economic sense.

There is a Bass Pro Shop in Anne Arundel county, within 30 miles of my house. What a glorious place! It’s the size of an airplane hangar. It even has floatplane hanging from the ceiling. There are deer heads all over, and even an old Chevy pickup as decoration. This place has everything. Thousands of fishing poles, camping gear, a half dozen food dehydrators, a dozen meat grinders, boats, rock climbing gear, hunting clothes, beef jerky, and recliners. If they let me set up a TV and bring in beer I’d never leave.

They have guns in Bass Pro, too. Handguns and rifles. A few of those new revolvers that shoot gargantuan .500 magnum loads out of a snub nose barrel. Probably a good gun if you crashed in Alaska and some Polar bear was trying to get to you as you retreated into the fuselage of your broken airplane. I don’t know what else, though. I imaging it can be fun to shoot if you like super-power loads. These revolvers make Dirty Harry’s .44 magnum look like a .22. They aren’t for me, but hey, if you want to get one, more power to ya.

They had some left handed bolt action rifles at Bass Pro. I checked out a Savage in .30-06. It has a new kind of accu-trigger. It has a little extra tongue that you press for the first stage, and a pretty light (and adjustable) second stage. It would take some getting used to. The rifle felt ‘flimsy’. I’ve gotten used to and prefer older weapons because they have more presence in my hands. They feel rugged. The Savage had other problems in that it didn’t have my other requirements for a bolt-action rifle. I didn’t get the Remington Model 11 shotgun that long ago, so my gun budget hasn’t replenished to a level that makes it harder to resist impulse purchases. I have to sit tight and accept no compromises to my bolt action requirements.

Bass Pro has lots of ammo, scopes, and other shooting related items (more than a dozen different deer stands!) and the ammo prices are very reasonable. I’d bet they are as cheap as Wal-Mart. Bass Pro isn’t my go-to gun shop, but it’s nice to know they are there. For more than just guns, too. Picked up some camping equipment, and will probably get some hunting togs there.

There are 4 guns stores I know of in my county. There are 2 Atlantic, Potomac, and Gilbert. Gilbert recently moved off of rt. 355 to off of Gude because they wanted to expand their indoor range. It’s very nice. Maryland has a rule about ranges, as you have to be a member of a range to shoot there. You can’t just rent a lane for an hour. And Gilbert costs $300 for a year to be a traditional member (there are other packages and trial memberships). I’d have to go once a week to justify that, right now. It’s tempting though, because it is SO close. The shooting lane is only 75 feet, and while they let you shoot .30 rifles there, I’d prefer at least 100 yards. So if I was a member, any handguns I have would get the most workout. Goodness knows, I can use some practice with handguns, but I only have the one to practice with. Maybe if I acquire another. Another BIG advantage of Gilbert is they’ll rent you a gun, so you can try out some models before making a purchase. See how a new piece fits your hand before plopping down the cash for. That is an invaluable service. Gilbert keeps their gun display in cabinets inside a vault, I think, so they can lock the whole place down, rather than moving the guns to cases at the start of the day, and back to a separate vault at the end of the day.

Atlantic Guns has 2 shops, and used to be located in DC, before the District of Columbia decided that guns were their problem and not the people that pull triggers. (I keep telling them, if they only outlawed murder there wouldn’t be any more.) I went to the store in Rockville to check it out. I need to check out the Silver Spring store some time soon. The staff was friendly, and they had a huge selection of cowboy-action style guns. Cowboy-action is a separate hobby inside competive shooting circles that uses mid nineteenth century shooting iron, costumes, and shooting styles. So they have double barrel shotguns and lever guns and old style revolvers. They also had a decent selection of Springfield rifles, like the M1A I covet.

Potomac Trading & Antique Guns & Lionel Trains is my primary guns store. I bought my revolver, Garand, and shotgun through them. Yes they sell Lionel trains there, too, which is kind of neat. My ex Father in Law was a huge model train fanatic. The gun section has an old bronze cannon in the middle of the floor. They also had a big ‘ol .50 caliber machine gun (I thought it was a Ma Deuce or M2, but apparently it is the similar variant known as M3, used extensively in aviation). Potomac specializes in a lot of historical firearms, with 19th century muzzle-loaders and lots of Civil War and World Wars memorabilia. When I am shopping for a new gun, this is the place I check first. They have an ample selection of new and used firearms.

Clark Brothers, the gun store with the rifle range out back, is geared toward the hunter, but it does have non-hunting specific guns for sale. The store is farthest from the city, so it is more geared toward rural customers. Their gunsmith is usually on site, and has been every time I have been there. The other gunshops either contract out gunsmithing work, or their gunsmith wasn’t in the store the day I stopped by. The fact that the store is in Virginia adds a layer of complication, so if I DID see a firearm I wanted there, it gets complicated. They have to ship some purchases to a licensed dealer in your state, or they certainly did 7 years ago for handguns. Long guns may be a different story. So I hope I never find a gun there I have to have, to avoid the legal headaches.

There is a huge gun show in Chantilly Virginia in an old Builder’s Square that is now a convention center expo type thing. I look forward to attending that, but the last show coincided with my vacation and I was out of town. Another is coming up.

Another place that has caught my eye is the Maryland Rifle Club. You join the club for a token dues fee, then pay an additional $150 for a range badge. (As I mentioned, you have to be a member of a range to shoot there. This badge allows you to shoot at a number of affiliated ranges.) I am pretty sure the closest range is up near Sykesville Maryland, West of Baltimore. It’s probably 40 miles from me. I’ll have to look into this one, but that is still expensive and kind of far. If Gilbert’s close-by range was only $150, I’d be there now. The Sykesville range does have some LONG target lanes. I think 400 yards or more.

NRA headquarters is in Fairfax Virginia, about 25 miles from home. I definitely will go there to see, now that I am member. Its disadvantage is some gawd-awful traffic getting there after work hours, when I’d want to go. If I had to guess, I’d say it was a range as nice as Gilbert’s, but with more lanes. This will be a future blog entry, when I get off my arse and hoof it over to Fairfax.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Crotchety Old Guy

I got a crotchety old guy for a neighbor. He was a sailor in WWII. Electrician’s Mate. He was stationed on a Victory Ship, an upgraded Liberty Ship, cruising the Pacific with a hold full of Marines and Higgins boats. I do computer work for him when his machine breaks, he gives me beer, use of his garage and tools for car repairs, and tells me stories in exchange.

His stories are great. Like the time he was monitoring his battle station a few decks below the water line when he heard over the 1MC (ships intercom) “Mine dead ahead!” Then he heard the clang, clang, clang as the mine bounced along the hull right past his compartment, never exploding. I would have lost my fudge, if I was in his shorts.

He got to see beautiful tropical islands get turned into moonscapes by naval gunfire. He didn’t know it, but he was at Pelileu when my grandfather bought the farm on D+5. For all I know he met my grandfather. He told me what a single 50 cent piece could buy in Shanghai China, but a hundred dollar bill was worthless.

And he always felt guilty that he wasn’t going with the Marines when they climbed aboard the Higgins boats to his the beach. That he didn’t deserve to be safe on board while they were out there getting shot at. He thought that a funny feeling to have, then and now. He talked extensively with the Marines, shipboard life being boring, at times, between islands, and he got to examine their gear. He was absolutely enthralled with the M3A1 sub-machinegun, also known as the Grease Gun.

It is a neat little gun. Made mostly of stamped, not machined, parts it was cheap to produce. Only the barrel, I think, was machined. It was much cheaper what it ostensibly replaced, the finely made Thompson sub-machinegun, and it fired the same .45 caliber ammunition. The ejector port had a little hatch that kept the dirt out when not in use. It was also the safety. You flipped it up, open, to fire.

My Crotchety Neighbor always wanted to try it out, but never could. Gilbert’s Indoor Range had one for sale, and they also rent guns… When I saw it in the cabinet I had to ask, intending to drag the neighbor up there to shoot a box of ammo, but, sadly, they don’t rent that one.

I had no interest, personally, to put a few down range with an M3, but I wouldn’t mind trying the Tommy gun, should the opportunity arise.
The Crotchety Neighbor has great non-war stories too. Sorta gun related. He was a champion archery shooter. Made his own bows and everything. Had to give it up when arm strength control started to flag as he aged. He was also a piece-work body man that was a master at fixing dents in your fender. Lead, not bondo work. His expertise gave him enough disposable wealth to afford a 55 foot Chris Craft motor yacht. I wish I had met him when he was a younger man, but I am glad I know him now.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

went to the gun store

Potomac Trading is my local. Just got some .308 ammo, a surplus army .50 cal can, and 12 gauge 00 buckshot. They didn't have any dessicant. That's this weekend's hunt.

I drooled over the 1908 Colt they have. Tried the feel of a Winchester 94, and they would have come way down on the one SOCOM II M1A I looked at, but since the AC broke, I am lucky I could afford the ammo.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Ok, that was my wish-list(s). This post is about wish list hangover. I thought on it a while with a little tiny Devil’s Advocate on my shoulder. I am now going to explore the possible unintended consequences of wish fulfillment. What if I woke up this Christmas and Santa has delivered everything on that list. After the excitement fades, and the bloom is off the rose, where will I be?

The M1A, case in point. What a great gun. But it would force my current favored rifle, the Garand, into the background. They are similar guns in most respects, as the positive features in the Garand are the same as the positive features in the M1A. The M1A has certain advantages, not least of which is greater ammo capacity. Comparative negative aspects between them are negligible. I’d hate to get the new toy and forget old. It’s like the Pixar Movie 'Toy Story', where Buzz Lightyear becomes the primary toy and Woody the cowboy is forgotten.

Now, I’m not anthropomorphizing the two rifles here, it’s just HAVING an expensive rifle that I might use less after buying another upgrade expensive rifle that I then use a lot leaves me in a quandary. I don’t want to part with the rifle I liked once. Sentimental reason, historical interest, not wanting to part with a good functioning rifle are all reasons to keep it. In fact the only reason I’d ever part with a gun is for extreme financial hardship (like the SPAS) or that it simply won’t shoot well for me.

But having 2 guns that do the same job still itches. If the Garand was match grade and super accurized and the M1A was service grade, that would be one thing… Ok, I could use the Garand for hunting and the M1A as the Zombie gun. But wait… I’d probably have long eye relief low magnification scopes on both rifles, and, in my wish fulfillment fantasy, Santa DID give me a more appropriate-to-hunting bolt action rifle, so I am back to square one. The Garand is a good gun, but has no role to fill and sits in the cabinet. My range time is finite, I’ll concentrate on tuning my abilities with the ones I use, and even I have enough guns that I need more range time anyway.

What I need is a third role for the three .308 guns. Bolt action with 10x scope for hunting, M1A with a long eye relief scope for emergency preparedness, and the Garand for…? Until I think of a roll, I will hesitate on purchasing the M1A, even if I had the money.

The Garand is inconvenient for me because it is great, but not great enough.

I could spend a lot of money getting it accurized and shooting it in competition. That’d be fun, but it would take a lot of devotion. And I’d probably have to convert it back to .30-06 to compete, as I see Garand contests being sticklers about the original cartridge size in many competitions.

Maybe my ultimate solution is drop the priority on a bolt-action rifle down on the list, scope the M1A to higher power or something different from the Garand, use the Garand for hunting and the M1A for the other stuff. I need to get more experience hunting with the Garand to know if this setup is feasible. More study, more practice, is needed

Ok, moving on. The 10/22 rifle fanatsy Santa delivered is the next quandary. I’ve been thinking… Why do I want it? To have a .22 LR gun for cheap rifle practice, and in a survival situation where the heavy caliber is too much to take small game. But wouldn’t a .22 LR pistol do the same thing, pretty much? I’ve had trouble testfiring both the Ruger 10/22 rifle and Mark III target pistols with excessive jamming, but that is probable due to the ammo type provided. Fully jacketed round supposedly work better and I will test that before I buy any semi-auto .22 so let’s assume for now that that is a non-issue. Can I get good and cheap practice with just a pistol? Sure, either pistol or rifle is good for trigger-contol skill honing. And I can get good rifle practice with the Garand or whatever by just spending more on ammo. I may change that .22 rifle on the wish list to .22 pistol. Heck, they are cheap enough, I may just add a pistol to the list. If Santa dropped one in my lap, I could go out and get the second the next day. Maybe get a regular .22 rifle and go through the Class III licensing rigmarole to have a quiet/suppressed .22 pistol. For zombies. And squirrels. And fun.

Finally, whichever .45 ACP pistol I get, either a Glock Style or a 1911 style, I will have desires for the features of the one I don’t have. Like the clip types. Not that people I know have reported jams with the staggered stack in the Glock type magazine. But it does make the handle wider. And I like old styling and engineering, especially when it is exquisite. And the 1911 can certainly be described as exquisite, almost timeless. But I am not a fan of the grip safety. Still leaning 1911, anyway. Leaning hard.

Fantasy Purchase

A friend brought up and interesting mental exercise. “If someone left you a huge chunk of change in their will, say half a million dollars, but you could ONLY spend it on firearms and accessories, what do you get yourself? If you don’t spend the money soon it goes away, so no fair planning on a ten year plan.”

Now let me tell you a phenomena I experience every time I go in a big gunstore. My eyes glaze over and I can’t concentrate. There is just so much stuff around demanding my attention and consideration. I drool. Like a kid in a candy store. Does that happen to anyone else, I wonder? When I think about the $500,000 fantasy the same thing happens. I have to let a part of my brain that thinks rationally be in charge of the wallet hand and try to ride herd on the part that is going, “whatsthat? lookatthat? lookatthis? doyouneedthat? howboutthat? wantthat!” Sometimes I go in with the express purpose of, say, buying a cleaning kit or gungrease or something, and I leave with a bad full of stuff but forgotten is the item I went in to get. Gotta work on that.

Anyway… on to the $500,000

Do you buy a really nice Italian Shotgun. Do you buy that museum quality Browning Automatic Rifle, German MG42, Thompson Sub Machine gun, or Ma Deuce? (assuming the first thing you do is get a class 3 license with that money, if you don’t already have). Do you buy 300 Glock 21s? Something historical, like the pistol that shot Teddy Roosevelt to little effect in a parade? With that kind of money you buy the firearms and plenty of ammo, certainly. What? Feel free to chime in in comments if you like.

That would be a wonderful quandary. My biggest objection to personally owning a fully automatic gun is the expense of the weapon and the expense of the ammo, (followed by a lack of general utility) and that cost worry is out the window with 500 G’s. But I am tempted. I always loved the old BAR and Tommy gun. History in your hands. Same with the M2 machine gun. I think I’d pass on the MG42, even though it is neat.

Italian shotguns can go for more than $500k, and they are simply beautiful objects, but my interest doesn’t lie there. I’d pass.

I’d get everything on my wishlist, including duplicates, maybe match quality versions to go with the service grade versions, so that is triplicates. Spare parts kits to go with everything.

Am I allowed to spend the money on classes? I don’t know. If so, I’d take as many as possible. Like the offerings at Gunsite. With that kind of money I’d have to research for other high quality courses, too.

Do handloading and gunsmith equipment count? I could probably spend every dime on outfitting a fine gunsmith shop and need more, not counting the fact I’d need gunsmithing courses and an apprenticeship to use the shop well. But I’d certainly be on my way in handloading with the best equipment available.

One thing that would be high priority, is to get that bolt action rifle I want custom made for me. With all my requirements met. The only problem is, I’m too green that I am sure I am overlooking requirements that I would only get around to preferring after experience shooting. What if I hate the scope set up with use? What if I’d be happier with a different trigger system? Still… My requirements aren’t that wild. A good trigger is a good trigger. A left handed bolt is pretty hard to get wrong if you are left handed. And a good custom builder would be able to anticipate and ask me questions that would go into the rifle design that would tailor to my needs without me even knowing how he figured it out.

I’d buy a lot of the good, expensive ammo and use it like throwaway plinking cartridges without batting an eye.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Wish List

Ahhh, just about every gun type that enjoys the shooting/hunting/collecting hobby has a Wish List. Gunnies are human. They covet. They want new toys. They want to possess yet another piece of history, perhaps. They drool at the display cases at military or law-enforcement or armory museums. Very few have all the guns they’d ever want or need, and even if they do they are often interested in new one to at least look at or inspect or fire a few rounds through. For instance, I may want to shoot a single round of .50 BMG out of one of them new fangled sniper rifles just to see how it feels, but if someone GAVE me the rifle and a lifetime supply of ammo as a gift I wouldn’t keep it. It’s a cool gun, but not for me. But think of what I could buy with the proceeds of a resale. Same thing with an AK-47 clone. Firing a clip and seeing what’s so special and reliable about the mechanism by inspecting the guts really interests me. But I don’t want or need one. If YOU want or need one, that’s fine. It’s a neat gun. I can see why you like it, need it, and desire to possess your own. I hope you find a nice one at a decent price. It’s just not for me. Same with AR-15 clones, to tell you the truth. I'd like to fire an automatic weapon once or twice in my life at a gun range. A BAR or a Thompson sub-machine gun. But even if I had the money and the license to own a fully automatic machine gun I wouldn't want to own it. Not much use for it, and all that ammo is expensive.

So what DO I want, need, or covet? Well sit back and let me expound…

I have what I want right now. A good rifle, a good shot gun, a good handgun. All fulfill their niche quite well enough. I can stand pat a long time on these, learning their ins and outs, and that is probably what will happen. But time will come to make the trip to the gun store.

The Garand is great. But what are its limitations? The Enbloc clip that you feed from above, rather than a magazine from below is the closest thing to a weakness. The clip only holds 8 rounds, too. I can’t fault the rest of the weapon. I love walnut stocks too. So I have an M1A on my list, near the top. I wavered for a while over that and a spare Garand (for parts, in an emergency) before settling on the Springfield M1A. The M1A is a single-shot M-14, essentially. .308, like my Garand. I’d prefer walnut stocks, as I live in Maryland and black guns make the local hoplophobic people illucid when they see a black stock, but then again… This latest permutations of the M-14/M1A is also interesting: See THIS example, or this, and check out the extended rail on this one

And these are being used in combat by people that find the M-16 and offshoots to be not enough gun.

I really like that full rail carbine version and it’s perfect for a Zombie Outbreak if you have enough magazines.

I’ve mentioned before my desire for a non-collectible bolt-action rifle (unlike my current ’03, where I am reluctant to make major modifications). My requirements are very picky and particular, it may be a while before I find one that speaks to me and tell me to take it home. Especially since I tend to cruise the used-gun market. Though there are few I’d buy new, like a lefty Ruger Mk77 II Interntional, or Frontier
which Ruger doesn’t yet make as a lefty. Maybe a left version of the Remington 700 or a used Winchester 70 if I can find one. And the Steyr Mannlicher Scout may eventually break down and make a lefty. My requirements are: Left handed bolt. Sling points for a Ching Sling. A place to mount a scope rail (I haven’t decided on Scout style 2.5x or a conventional style 10x.). Iron sights, and peek-thru scope rings so I can use them if the scope is knocked out of whack. Chambered in .308 or .30-06 (notice I am simplifying my ammo inventory this way). Light weight -- as close to 7 pounds full loaded as possible. The Mannlicher Scout:

Next on the wish list is a major caliber pistol. A .45 ACP semi-auto. The round is proven stopper and the 1911 style design is well proven. If Maryland ever gets sane concealed carry legislation I’d love to have a Colt Commander or the S&W clone. A Glock 21 even. I like the trigger safety on the Glock, it’s a lighter weapon than the 1911s and has no grip safety, methinks, that I find annoying. A disadvantage of the glock is the left-right alternation of the cartridges in the magazine, which make the grip thick and can have failure to feed issues. (this failure to feed is less of a problem in the Glock, apparently, than in other models) The 1911’s advantage is their hundred years of proven performance. This is the Smith and Wesson version:

But if I can’t carry something that heavy because of circumstances...

A nice little pistol I first learned about from Denise on the Ten Ring Blog is the Colt Model 1903 Pocket Pistol. There is even one for sale at my local gunstore in the .380 caliber I’d prefer. She gives it a great review of it here. And that review alone has sold me. Denise and I share the same fondness for prewar engineering, gun blueing, and wood stocks that tend not to scare the straights as much as modern black rifles. [One other thing that I will elaborate on in another post perhaps, Ten Ring, along with Armed Canadian and Alphecca are why I went ahead and joined the NRA. That and Ted Nugent sorta ordered me to. And I don’t want to tick off Ted Nugent and get HIM mad at me….]

Everyone needs a snub nose too, so add a snub nose to that list of handguns, bringing us up to 3 total handguns on the wish list. Probably a .38 special, 5 shot. I have to check closer as I know a lot of snubbys are double action, which I don’t like. And the cartridge size is too light, but having a weak double action snubby in a gunfight is much better than nothing. (Jeff Cooper says: The first rule about a gunfight is – Bring a gun.) Can’t beat the portability of a snub nosed revolver. If I just get a snub nose, and not the Colt 1903, the ammo inventory is still simplified. Without the Colt 1903 it’s .45, .357/.38PS, .308, 12 g with all the go-to guns. This is the S&W Model 60:

What else? Well a double barrel shotgun is cheap and you can hang it over your door for quick deployment. I’d have to weigh that convenience with the safety of a loaded gun out in the open. A longer barrel might prove a better hunter than my Remington Model .

Everyone needs a .22 LR rifle, and Ruger makes the 10/22. You can buy .22 rounds for cheap and plink all day. Good for varmints, cheap practice, and the ammo practically comes in 5 gallon buckets. A must-buy according to survivalists for rabbits and such. Rabbits make good eatin’!

And while we are there, the Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rife is also on the list. I don’t normally lean toward .223 cartridges. Too small for my taste for general purpose, but the ammo is plentiful and while you can use it to defend against Zombies and some unmotivated human bad guys, it is also a good survivalist hunting round. And Rugers are a good value for the money. By the way, the Mini-30 is very similar to the M1A .308, for about half the price, but I’ll get the M1A.

That’s 5 long guns, and now I can’t store any ammo in my gun cabinet. Maybe after all there I’ll get a BIG heavy 10 gun Safe and make the cabinet the ammo storage.