Sunday, January 23, 2011

Polymer cartridge cases for centerfire rifles!?

PCP rifle ammo is not available in the stores yet, but it promises the performance of brass case ammo with less weight. The makers say they have got the bugs worked out. They claim a new, patent-pending process. I hope this stuff really works, because there are several circumstances where lighter ammo would be a Good Thing.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Free Ebook --The American Rifle by Townsend Whelen (1918)




So begins Townsend Whelen's 1918 book, The American Rifle.  You can read or download it free at Google Books; click here. It is more than 600 pages long. It covers so much that it is more nearly like an encyclopedia than a recreational read. A look at the table of contents will give some idea what I mean.




This book was the current info as of the year 1918. There have been advances since then. The powders, primers and optical sights are better now. Some actions are in use today that were undreamed of back then. But it is curious how much of the information and reasoning still stands up. It is also interesting that some favorite rifles from those days are still used and enjoyed today. (Others have long gone by the wayside.)

There is a chapter of more than 100 pages giving the details of rifle models in use at the time. The descriptions are accompanied by illustrations, cutaway views and instructions for taking each rifle apart. Rifles covered include the wares of Remington, Winchester, Savage and Marlin, and some also-rans like Ross and Newton. Here's what Whelen has to say about one of my favorites, the Winchester '94:



That's a pretty thorough run-down, I'd say.

The section on cartridge reloading covers the use of a tong tool to resize case necks. Some people still use
those, but bench-mounted presses able to resize the full length of the cartridge case are more popular today. The book's lessons in taking a cautious and conservative approach to handloading are still fully applicable today. (Don't try to use the antique loading data from the book, though; get a modern and up to date reloading manual.) The instructions on casting, sizing and lubing your own bullets are practical, coming from the era when casting bullets was a common practice; the details are well covered.

There is, of course, much more besides, covered in the same thorough and matter of fact style. Some of it is obsolete information and quaint, unless one wishes, for hobbyist reasons, to understand authentic old methods such as loading a Schuetzen style cartridge rifle from the muzzle end (Chapter XX).

Much of the book is still fully up to date in its thinking, if some of the tools and weapons have changed. I particularly enjoy Chapter XLI, The Rifle in the Wilderness. It is filled with advice such as this:




This sounds to me like the kind of advice old timers sometimes pass along--think of this book as a very long visit with an old timer. This book is a historical snapshot of rifle shooting as it existed in the distant days when some riflemen were legends and all of them wanted to be. Thanks to the Internet and Google Books, it is free. You can read it online or download a PDF. That link, again, is:

Free Ebook, Whelen's The American Rifle

If you fall in love with this book and decide you have to have it in a bound printed copy, here are some options:

The American Rifle (Original, first edition)
The American Rifle: A Treatise, A Text Book, And A Book Of Practical Instruction In The Use Of The Rifle (1918)
The American Rifle; A Treatise, a Text Book, and a Book of Practical Instruction in the Use of the Rifle
The American Rifle
The American Rifle: A Treatise, a Text Book. and a Book of Practical Instruction in the Use of the Rifle (Special Edition for The Firearms Classics Library)
The American Rifle: A Treatise, a Text Book, and a Book of Practical Information in the Use of the Rifle

Monday, January 17, 2011

What became of my muttons?

I got led somewhat away from my muttons by the latest political crapfling. I like to run mostly gun tech content on this blog but sometimes I get distracted. Stay tuned for something very techy but sorta vintage at the same time, coming up shortly.

I thought I'd say that so I wouldn't lose readers, due to people thinking, gee whiz, he's turned into another gun politics guy--where's the nuts & bolts stuff?

False gun-control solutions


Tucson and gun control: False gun-control solutions after Tucson - chicagotribune.com: "After Tucson shooting, ineffectual solutions abound"

The above is a pretty good article about the paucity of good ideas from the gun banners. It is from the Chicago Tribune and written by Steve Chapman. Apparently, some people in Chicago get it.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cool the rhetoric? Leftist, heal thyself


Media Research Center Documents Liberal Death Wishes Against Conservatives | CNSnews.com: "CNSNews.com) – The Media Research Center released today a list of comments made by members of the media in recent years that call for the death or suffering of conservative leaders. These quotes are evidence of the double standard that certain media exercise in blaming conservatives for the shooting in Tucson, Ariz., while ignoring liberals’ death-wish-like rhetoric against conservatives, said the organization in a press release. [...]"



'Do as I say, not as I do."

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The New Magazine Ban Bill


Carolyn McCarthy unveils gun-control bill - Shira Toeplitz - POLITICO.com:

“The only purpose for the existence of these devices is to be able to shoot as many people as possible as quickly as possible,” McCarthy wrote in a letter to her colleagues that accompanied the bill. “There is no reason that these devices should be available to the general public.”


Here Congresswoman McCarthy makes a fundamental mistake. The general public should have gun parity, more or less, with what the bad guys are using. We do not want the good people outgunned by the bad people. Oddly enough, the bad guys often manage to get whatever they want, no matter what the laws say.

The armed citizen should have normal capacity magazines of more than ten rounds for the same reason the cops have them. These magazines are good for stopping bad guys.

Let us suppose (for one possible example) that my home is invaded by multiple gang members, armed to the teeth and intent on doing me grave harm or killing me. Here I do indeed want to "shoot as many people as quickly as possible," and my cause is legally justified. Deadly assailants may take several shots apiece before they go down, and I, like anyone, am likely to miss some of my shots under deadly pressure, so, plenty of shots on hand is good. An empty gun in that situation is not good.

Plenty of ammo is also needed when shots are being traded from behind cover. Other scenarios could be raised in which more ammo is better than less and the context is justifiable self defense.

The proposed ban on normal capacity magazines of over ten rounds reaches once again into the laundry list of pending anti-gun proposals the left always brings out when there is a high profile shooting. This measure was tried before and did no good, but here it is again. Can anyone explain?

Remember: When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Stupid Springfield, Model of 1903


Photo courtesy Curiosandrelics

The Springfield 1903 was a lousy rifle, in several respects, and a perfect example of why the government should not be left in charge of something as important as small arms development. It was a Mauser clone when better ideas were available. Its default, battle sight elevation was 547 yards. That was ridiculous, a triumph of theories once or twice removed from practical shooting. To obtain the right elevation for a more reasonable distance you needed to unfold the ladder sight to the 'up' position, in which it was fragile and awkward. The cartridge was a good one, the .30-'06, but the cartridge's creation was a tortuous process, in which the 1903 rifle needed to be revised when, in 1906, they finally figured out the ammunition thing.

Initially the Springfield had an integral bayonet, of the knitting needle type. Legend has it that the president at that time, Teddy Roosevelt, objected to this feature, breaking it to show it could be broken. Whether he broke it, or someone else did, he wrote a letter to the Secretary of War objecting to the design of the bayonet. The bayonet was changed to a detachable knife type. Fancy that, a president getting involved in small arms specifications! TR's eyesight was very poor, which may be why he did not notice the sight was absurd.

When an army rifle was needed for WWI, the Springfield was not available in sufficient quantity. It was built in federal armories, very slowly. The majority of Yanks went into battle with 1917 Enfields, which were available from private enterprise and thus abundant. The Enfields had vastly more practical sights; soldiers who got 1917's, instead of Springfields, got the better of the bargain.

A notable problem with Springfields of the WWI era was improper heat treatment of some receivers. The affected receivers were brittle and prone to shatter during firing. The problem was traced to poor procedures in manufacture. It is an awkward thing to have a war going on and have a significant problem emerge in the standard service rifle. That was the situation, though, in WWI.

In WWII, the Springfield was handed off to private contractor production and in the process acquired proper sights. The contractor-built 1903-A3,  as it was called, had a peep sight. The A3 lacked in fit and finish, compared to the armory rifles, being a utilitarian model designed for speedy production. The barrel and receiver were Parkerized. Some machined parts of the original Springfield were eliminated and stampings used instead. This was the best of the Springfield breed, a rugged, no-frills battle rifle with a  sight that was quick to use.

The 1903-A4 was a scoped A3. It was an outstanding shooter. Unfortunately, the scope was mounted atop the receiver, which prevented loading the rifle with clips. Cartridges needed to be pushed into the magazine one at a time. This retrograde progress was avoided by the Mauser ZF41, a contemporary of the 1903-A4. The German version used an extended eye relief scope, scout rifle style. You could load it with Mauser stripper clips, the principal advantage of a Mauser rifle, which of course the Springfield was, in all essentials.

The loading problem was also avoided by the Mauser sniper rifles with side mounts that positioned the scope to the left of the receiver. Germany fielded some Mauser sniper rifles with the scopes mounted in the way of loading, but they knew of at least two solutions that were better.

If we are to define an obvious identifier of progress in arms design in the century before last, and the early years of the last century, it was getting away from loading cartridges one by one in favor of clips, box magazines and belts. The scoped Springfield did an about face on progress and forced the rifleman to thread 'em in underneath the scope. Splendid! The scopes were not weatherproof and there were no backup iron sights.

In short, the Springfield rifle had various problems with it from the beginning of its production to the end, if we except the A3 as a fluke. It was not available in the quantities needed so long as it was government built, just as you would expect. The silly 547-yard sight and the utterly useless magazine cutoff switch, which converted the Springfield temporarily into a single shot rifle with the magazine of five shots "in reserve," show committee thinking at its worst.

Still, some men loved the Springfield, warts and all. Sci fi writer Robert Heinlein adored his and kept it handy just in case. I can think of better personal weapons, but love is never quite rational.

Gun & military writer H.W. McBride was more pragmatic. "But why don't they put a sight on it?"

Various gun pundits and gunsmiths took up the question of how best to give the Springfield the "sporter" treatment. It was shortened, lengthened, restocked and (of course) given new sights. Because it was, after all, a Mauser copy, ideas were abundant and results often mirrored European sporting rifles. (It is useless to maintain that a "Monte Carlo" stock is an American invention.)

The Springfield has two lessons to teach us. 1) You get better rifles sooner from private enterprise. 2) Designs, from any source, should be evaluated from the rifleman's point of view, not the theoretician's. We've learned the first lesson but I have my doubts that we've entirely mastered the second.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sarah Palin's notorious target map...and one from the Democrats

See: Blog O'Stuff: According to Leftists ...

The above link takes you to an awesome blog post. Voices on the left are decrying Sarah Palin's campaign target map and suggesting it drove Arizona nutcase Jared Loughner to commit murder. Oddly enough, though, this map has drawn no comment from the lefties.



More? You can see a thorough rundown on recent use by Democrats of targeting maps on the Verum Serum blog.

Sarah Palin responds to the Arizona shooting

See: Sarah Palin: America's Enduring Strength | Facebook

Sarah Palin weighs in on the Arizona shooting and the ensuing call from the left to curb political discourse. I'm not backing her for prez, but her heart's in the right place.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Predictably, calls for more gun control

See: MSNBC's Richard Lui: 'Is It Time to Rethink the 2nd Amendment?' | NewsBusters.org

It's predictable as rain and barometers. After every high-profile shooting the call goes up for more anti-gun laws. The words echo with the pious zeal of social reform, but what we are presented with is merely the next item on the laundry list of restrictions the left has promoted for years. In this case it is the return of a measure that was tried before, did nothing useful, and was rolled back with the end of the Assaulty-Looking Weapons Ban.

I would think there is a good deal of cynicism involved when the left sounds like true believers in a noble cause, though the measures promoted are not known to have any impact on misuse of guns by criminals or the deranged, but do hamper the rights of the law abiding. That, I think, is the point--to harass and denigrate 'the gun culture.' The aim is to take and exercise power over people who are doing something the left doesn't much like, arming themselves. It's simple bullying. That is at least all I can figure out. If the point were really to reduce misuse of guns, more sensible ideas could be put forward.

It's time we blamed the hand, not the gun. In my previous post I suggested the mental healthcare community has let us down by not pushing anymore for commitment and adjudication. These legal proceedings are red flags that someone is off his rocker and trigger a prohibition on owning guns. Ah, but heaven forbid we now send some lunatic to a "snake pit," or put something in the public record that might embarrass him.

The law as written prevents adjudicated mental defectives and committed inmates of asylums from receiving guns, and the background check system now detects those people as a rule. But the system assumes the shrinks play their part, and make public the dangers certain people pose 'to self and others.'

Intervention, though, has become a dirty word, and commitment something to be avoided instead of promoted. Present day, politically correct psychiatric practices need to be reconsidered. The law is impotent to stop the lunatic who remains under the legal radar.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Crazy man with a gun

Our national laws prohibit gun ownership by the insane. That is, the laws prohibit adjudicated mental defectives and those committed involuntarily to mental institutions from possessing or receiving firearms. This was good enough in 1968, when that provision took its present form.

Something has since changed in the way society deals with the hopelessly out of touch. Institutionalizing the insane is now often seen as inhumane and it is seldom done. The lesser measure of having them declared mentally defective in a hearing is seen as intrusion on the patient's privacy. It is now rare for health professionals to suggest commitment proceedings or court hearings to establish mental state. What changed, exactly?

In a fit of social zeal, crusaders for the good cause du jour labeled mental institutions as "snake pits" and decried conditions there. Mental hospitals were portrayed as hell on earth. The do-gooder campaign against institutionalization was successful. Emphasis shifted away from identifying crazy people and putting them away, to letting them go, and leaving them alone, or medicating them and hoping for the best.

Our laws for keeping crazy people from getting guns were sensible enough, back when we knew who the crazy people were and where to find them. If the address on your yellow sheet was "Happy Acres State Home," you didn't get the gun.

Today, if someone is insane, it is less likely to be apparent from public records. I attribute this to the trend toward leaving the deranged person in society and not seeking a) adjudication of his mental state or b) commitment. These legal processes formerly established when someone was a) nuts or b) nuts and furthermore needed to be kept apart.

The assumption in back of the 1968 framing of the law was that mental health professionals would do their jobs and flag those who had some sort of dangerously debilitating problem. Doing so was routine practice; it isn't any more. It was a part of the profession's presumed role in society but they got away from doing it. Somehow they transcended the idea that one very important role of the mental health system is to identify nut cases and keep them off the street.

I'm sure the reasons were grounded in compassion. Showing someone to be mentally incompetent impacted his ability to form contracts, and to get credit. It harmed his job opportunities, and had other ramifications in addition to making him unable to get a gun. It was kinder, gentler psychology not to draw attention to the sufferer's problems--not to 'out' the patient, as it were. But by showing this supposed kindness and compassion to the deranged, the shrinks have let down the rest of us. The law of unintended consequences, which seems particularly apt to strike when do-gooders are involved, strikes again.

I do not know as yet just what involvement, if any, mental health professionals had in the life of Jared Lee Loughner, the fellow who did those shootings in Arizona the other day. Here, though, we have a clear case of someone who was certifiable but not certified. He should not have had a gun. That's obvious enough, in hindsight, but the dealer had no way of knowing it. Presumably, Loughner refrained from deranged and sinister behavior while he was in the gun store, but he had displayed a good deal of it previously.

John Hinckley, who shot Ronald Reagan, had a mental health history. So did Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter. These high profile cases prompt the question, how often does it happen that some other crazy man with a gun does a shooting that does not get high profile coverage? The high profile cases may be only a part of the story.


I think it's time the mental health community reevaluated its present, hands-off stance on commitments and interventions. Hint: You had it right before. If you know someone is a danger to others, you owe it to your fellow citizens to act on that knowledge; this must be considered in parallel with your concern for compassion toward the mentally ill.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Barry Noreen: Concealed carry permits haven't caused problems in Colorado Springs (Co. Springs Gazette)



Since 2007, the number of concealed-carry permits in El Paso County has more than doubled, but there has not been a corresponding jump in gun violence by the permit holders.
You can believe whatever you want, but at some point it comes down to results, and nothing suggests that life here has become more dangerous because of concealed-carry permits... READ MORE...

Yup.

The why of the scout rifle




The point of a scout rifle is its versatility. It will do, fairly well at least, as a mountain rifle, plains rifle, brush gun, camp gun, ranch rifle or tactical carbine. There are various rifles that will do any one of these things better, but that is not the point. The point is to get away from specialization, of the kind that requires a safe full of rifles. The scout rifle's lack of extraordinary ability in any area is compensated somewhat by the user's greater familiarity with it, if he really does use it as intended, using it for everything, instead of dividing his time among a collection of rifles. "Beware the man with one gun."

That is the matter as I understand it. The scout rifle concept would catch on quicker if there weren't all those millions of lever .30-30's already out there,  giving good service. For a long while the lever gun was the most versatile light rifle going, and in some minds it still is. It is a hard sell to convince the .30-30 man that he needs something better. He fills his game tags just fine with the lever action, and so did his father and grandfather. Any number of bad men have been run off with the old gun, or something worse happened to them. As a utility rifle around ranch or farm, and as a camp and cabin gun, it has been a favorite for a long time because of its handiness and reliability.

To sum up my thoughts on how the two guns compare, the lever gun is quicker, though its advantage can be reduced somewhat if the bolt gunner is well practiced and understands fast bolt work. The scout wins in range, power, accuracy and speed of reloading. (All the currently offered factory-built scouts, Steyr, Savage and Ruger, load with detachable magazines.)

To me the important difference is you get more reach--useful range--with a .308 bolt gun, due to its flatter trajectory, improved downrange energy and (usually) better accuracy. The .30-30 is perhaps the greatest woods and brush gun of all, but is not at its best for longer shots.

Another gun getting in the way of scout rifle sales is the AR-15. It is vastly popular, and deservedly so. It is light to carry. Its excellent ergonomics and light recoil make it easy to shoot and its accuracy is usually very fine. Here what the scout can boast of is more power, pure and simple. It cannot boast about its rate of fire.

The AR-15's .223 cartridge is decidedly substandard for hunting game larger than medium-small, and in many jurisdictions is not allowed for the purpose. The great variety of loadings for the.308 cartridge makes the scout  vastly more versatile afield. There are varmint loads for the .308 but no moose loads for the .223. So while the AR-15 may be the best thing ever for rural pest control and has few equals as an urban carbine, it may be criticized for its small caliber.

Rapid firing for close range personal defense is a very strong suit for the AR-15 and it is the scout rifle's weakest area. I would rate the .30-30 somewhere in between the two, for this use; it is better balanced and shaped for snap shooting than the AR-15 but cycles slower and kicks more.

The scout comes in last of the three. But the scout is not useless, by any means, for fast close shooting. Learning the "Tommy finger" technique may add to your confidence in the scout for close quarters use. The "goblin cap" accessory is helpful for aiming. Though the scout comes in last for this particular use, it will do some other things neither of the other rifles does satisfactorily. Other lightweight, compact rifles can be compared to the scout with similar results--better in some ways, but not in all ways. Of course! That's the idea.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Kel Tec Bullpup Shotgun

Kel Tec's new shotgun bears a certain resemblance to the South African Neostead design. It is a short bullpup with dual magazine tubes. It is NFA legal but no longer than it needs to be to achieve that. Operation is pump action. The gun is liberally festooned with Picatinny rail, so you can suit yourself in regard to sights and lights.

I post fairly often about scout rifles and the general purpose rifle question, but basically I'm a shotgun kinda guy. A good 12 gauge will solve most shooting problems that you can't hide from, which are the kinds you absolutely must solve.

A bullpup configuration makes sense because of its compactness. The action parts are relocated back into the stock so the overall length is reduced. We'll see if this idea catches on. Other U.S. manufacturers have tried it, and not gotten very far, but they were working with adaptations of conventional shotguns, while the Kel Tec is designed from scratch to be a bullpup.

No word on the delivery date.

Update: Company video. Also: There is a discussion forum going for this gun over at KTOG.



Traver Off Target -- Article by Kevin D. Williamson

Traver Off Target - National Review Online

Pres. Barack Obama has nominated Andrew Traver, an episodically dishonest campaigner against Americans’ right to keep and bear arms, to be head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. ATF is arguably the least competent of our major federal law-enforcement agencies and unquestionably the least impressive of them.... READ MORE...
So begins Kevin Williamson's in-depth look at President Obama's controversial nomination of Andrew Traver to head the ATF. Some of the points he raises about the ATF's perennial problems are very interesting, and he coins the phrase "anti-policing" to describe some of it. (If you're with the ATF, pour yourself a Pepto-Bismol before settling down to read this. It's hotfoot journalism.)