Showing posts from 2010

Hunter Arrested After Shooting Man He Thought Was A Squirrel

This episode --and there have been too many like it-- shows why the Four Rules are everybody's responsibility all the time. Also it appears the shooter had been drinking, which is not okay. Innocent until proven guilty, but if it played out as the news report indicates, holy cats. I am pleased that the shootee survived. They don't always.

Guns don't kill people, morons do: Detroit leaders urge an end to celebratory New Year's Eve gunfire (via

Here is a link to an astonishing news story. Perfectly amazing. Detroit's police chief and other leaders are urging the public not to fire guns in the air to welcome the new year. What kinds of morons do they have in Detroit, that people need to be told that? Oh, wait. I had this car once that... Never mind. Anyway, for those in Detroit, here are the rules you need to follow to avoid being a danger to self and others when you have a gun in your hands. Firing wildly into the air is certainly a no go, violating at least two rules out of four. If the good people of Detroit cannot be dissuaded from their cheerful custom, perhaps they could be persuaded to use blanks?

A new scout rifle from Ruger -- and it looks good

Check this out at Ruger Firearms News . Ruger has repented of its lapse in building scout rifles and come up with a new model that is interesting indeed. Until I get gun in hand I won't know all about it, but it is an M77 with--get this--a detachable box magazine holding 10 rounds, ear-protected front sight, rear 'ghost ring' peep sight and a rail for whatever long eye relief optic you like. The new rifle is called the Ruger Gunsite Scout because Gunsite Ranch and Ruger collaborated on the specs. Photo  © Sturm, Ruger & Co. Used by permission Now, this is a brand new announcement, dated today, and we have all seen guns announced that never materialized. I have high hopes for this one, though. We will have to wait and see about the questions of price, availability, reliability and accuracy, with reliability being a key concern. A number of manufacturers have muffed the question of making detachable magazines work properly in bolt actions. Ruger, though, has a co

The Uncertain Future and the Second Amendment

If something cannot go on forever, it will stop .         -- Herbert Stein The priests and acolytes of big government, the inside-the-beltway crowd, are in denial. The government, the idol they worship and serve, is showing signs of weakness and decline. The social welfare state is unsustainable, doomed by the simple but strict rules of arithmetic. They cannot see this because they will not look at it squarely. So instead of realism and reduction of bloated budgets we have cries for more money, in an eerie echo of D.H. Lawrence. There must be more money! There is, though, no more money after a certain point, even if you print more. At some point there is no more revenue to be had by squeezing distressed taxpayers. Business does not thrive when strangled. Investors hold back when returns appear uncertain. The statist response is to blame businesses and investors. But this is not where the fault primarily lies. The problem is we can no longer afford our government. To the oppon

Once again, with gusto

I was away from this blog for a while. I was busy with the run-up to the November election, then with the aftermath. I think it is safe to say gun owners bettered their congressional representation, in many cases. Here is a story I didn't get to when I was busy with other things. Earlier this month, Obama nominated a new head of the BATFE, one Andrew Traver, formerly head of the Chicago office. Pro-gun sources promptly decried this as appointing a notorious anti-gunner to oversee the gun trade. For example, there is this from the NRA/ILA: The National Rifle Association Strongly Opposes the Nomination of Andrew Traver to Head BATFE, Calls on President Obama to withdraw the nomination Wednesday, November 17, 2010 Statement from Chris W. Cox, executive director, NRA Institute for Legislative Action The National Rifle Association of America strongly opposes President Obama's nomination of Andrew Traver as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Remington 700 revisited -- the CNBC coverage

I was away from this blog for a while, busy with the recent election. The political upheaval drove thoughts of guns and shooting from my mind and in any case I was busy with efforts at political persuasion. I take that to be a very good thing about America--guns aren't the first answer we think of when the gummint acts up. As matters turned out, my side won big in the election. Now, back to talking about guns. Not long ago there was a media brouhaha targeting the Remington 700, this time from CNBC . It is a reprise of the same old charges. If you will take a look at this old CBS story , you will see CNBC broke no new ground. USA Today quickly picked up the CNBC story. All this coverage has broad points of agreement with a set of claims made by liability lawyers . Actually the only new thing to be learned is the Portland, Maine cop shop is retiring its 700's out of safety concerns. There is film of one (just one) of Portland's Model 700 rifles firing when it should

Marine spar varnish as a rifle stock finish

I refinished a rifle stock with spar urethane. Why? The idea was to produce a waterproof stock, for use on a go-anywhere utility rifle. While there are good synthetic stocks in abundance, these days, that are impervious to moisture, I already had the wooden stock and a little bit of time on my hands. Also, I kinda like wood. You can apply spar varnish over a factory varnish finish, just roughen up the original finish a little bit with fine sandpaper--220 grit or so. Be careful to seal the stock completely, with plentiful spar varnish inside as well as outside, and take off the buttplate and seal the wood under there, as well. Using multiple thin coats, build up a thick protective film that encapsulates the wood and keeps moisture from reaching it. Does it work? Sailors have used this stuff for years to seal wood against the elements and it seems to work for them. How does it look? You be the judge. I used satin finish varnish for less shine afield, and I think it looks nice.

Future Rifle

The scout rifle was a good attempt, thirty or so years ago, to come up with the ideal all-around rifle. How well it succeeded is open to debate. In any case, enough time has passed to ask what we have learned and where we go from here--how to make an even better general purpose rifle. In the Americas, at least, the all around rifle was for a long time the .30-30 lever action, and for many people it still fills that role just fine. It is compact, fast handling and convenient. Its accuracy, range and power are not all that might be wished, but good enough for a whole lot of uses. Self defense, pest control, deer hunting, or just a bit of fun at the target range, the .30-30 has it covered. Then, at least for people who felt they needed something better than the .30-30, the general purpose rifle became the scout, or other full powered carbine with a bolt action. The bolt action's power to weight ratio and durability afield, its potential for fine accuracy and its proven reliabilit

The "nudge" trigger release

The "nudge" method of pulling a trigger is an alternative to the standard "surprise break" method. In almost every case, the "surprise break" trigger stroke is the best way to fire an accurate shot. This is the standard method taught to generations of hunters, target shooters and soldiers: Apply pressure on the trigger progressively until, at a moment not of your choosing, the gun fires. You don't make it fire, you let it fire, as if by itself. As I explain elsewhere , if you do not know the exact instant the shot will fire, you will not know when to respond to the shot being fired. In other words, you will not know when to flinch. So you won't; the gun stays on target as the shot is triggered. That is the purpose, and whole point, of the surprise break trigger stroke. There is another way to manage the trigger. The goal is the same, to make the gun fire at a moment not selected consciously, but the thing is gone about differently. This other

Classic Gun Review: Original Model Smith and Wesson 586 .357 Magnum

I like automatic pistols just fine. I have shot quite an assortment of them and own some nice ones. But, as I have mentioned elsewhere , I find the double action revolver  a friendlier piece of machinery, more convenient all around. A wheel gun is adequate for most purposes, so that is what I'll reach for most every time. Someone, though, thought this old S&W an inadequate weapon and obsolete; it was a police trade-in from the era when departments in droves were abandoning their revolvers and buying automatics. Those were great days if you liked revolvers; you could get good ones very cheap. This one sold off cheaper than most. It had big patches of holster wear on barrel and cylinder, down to bare pitted metal, and there were some stains and rust freckles in the bluing that remained. The wooden grips were chipped and the varnish was peeling off of them. Obviously this was a gun that had been carried in all weathers for years, but examination showed it had not been

The Art Of The Rifle, by Jeff Cooper

There are many books about how to shoot a rifle. There are some excellent ones written about target competitions and how to win them. There are also many military manuals explaining the rifleman's role in combat.   The Art of the Rifle  is something else again. It takes up the general subject of field marksmanship, whether for hunting or fighting, which may be summed up as the problem of addressing fleeting targets. Accuracy is essential, of course, but Cooper also underlines the need for all practical speed. I was, therefore, surprised to see a detailed treatment of the formal firing range positions--prone, sitting and so on, and the use of the sling. But there is an unusual wrinkle here, the use of a "speed sling" to get you tied to the rifle faster than is possible with the traditional loop sling. The problem of adapting the target range positions to field conditions of terrain and cover is given due treatment, with the suggestion that you may modify the position

Shooting To Live

  A short review of Shooting To Live With The One Hand Gun , by W.E. Fairbairn and E.A.  Sykes Though it was published in 1942, there is a great deal in this book that is still of relevance to the practical shooter. Parts of it contain the earliest treatments in print of some pistolcraft concepts that are in use today. It was written by W.E. Fairbairn and E.A.Sykes. Many will recognize their names. They taught close quarters combat to British and American commandos and clandestine operations units, in the Second World War. They taught a collection of oriental-flavored martial arts techniques summed up in the book  Get Tough , the use of the famed Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife, and other alarming skills. The two learned their trade, pre-war, in the Shanghai Municipal Police, fighting vicious criminal gangs in a  notably dangerous place and time. They discovered, by examining departmental records,  that most police gunfights happened at very short range, often in poor light

The NRA Firearms Assembly Books

The NRA Firearms Assembly books are essential classics for gunsmith or tinkerer. There are two volumes, one covering pistols and revolvers , the other, rifles and shotguns . You get exploded schematic views and detailed instructions on how various guns are put together. I've had recourse to these volumes for years to clean, repair or simply understand various arms. All the old favorite guns are here, plus some exotic and seldom seen ones. By including a number of oddball pieces, the books indirectly teach a lesson in firearms technology and history. There are many problems in physics and mechanics involved in making a gun, and some answers are better than others. Simpler is usually better, and some mechanisms passed over by history have indeed deserved it. But, if you happen to have a Frommer Stop, a Johnson or a Visible Loader, you may want to know how it goes together and how it works (when it does). Of value to the curiosity collector, there is a table in the back that relate

A Rifleman Went To War, by H.W. McBride

I'm starting today to review some notable books on guns and shooting. First up is Herbert McBride's A Rifleman Went to War . This is an old classic that has been republished at intervals since it first appeared in 1935. It is the memoir of an American rifleman who joined the Canadian Army to get into World War One sooner. He got plenty of what he was looking for. As a memoir it is not very good. It is repetitious, filled with digressions and in places pursues minor points at great length. Read another way, though, the book is a gold mine. It is filled with insights about sniping and combat shooting that can occur in only one way: You put an expert shot into the thick of war and see how things turn out. What works? What doesn't? Here are insights on marksmanship and weapons, and on training versus reality, that can arise in no other way. Something sure to be of professional interest today: McBride, all those years ago, distinguished the difference between sniping from

A moldy oldie review: The Singlepoint sight

"I don't know just what it is, but I'll let you have it cheap." So said the fellow at the gun show, and that is how I came to have this thing in my collection. The Singlepoint is an ancestor of today's red dot sights. It created a stir back in the seventies. It was discussed in the English  Parliament . Its moment of fame came on the Son Tay  raid in the Vietnam war. It even got writeups in  Popular Mechanics  and  Popular Science , honors reserved for things that were maximally cool. By modern standards, though, it's a pathetic gunsight. It was a good try for its time, no doubt. It is an occluded eye gunsight (OEG), meaning you can't see through it. When you look in the end you see a black field with a red dot floating in it. You look at the target with your other eye and your brain merges the two images into one. Thus, you see the red dot superimposed upon the target. Well, sort of. It doesn't work perfectly. The effects of  pho

Introducing the goblin cap -- makes your rifle scope a 1x close quarters sight

After experimenting with various other ways to make my scoped rifle suitable for fast and close shooting, of the kind that might be needed for personal defense, I devised the goblin cap. This gizmo is easy and cheap to make and lets you use any scope sight as a 1x  occluded eye gunsight (OEG). An OEG has a peculiarity you need to be aware of, and I will discuss that below, but it's at least an improvement over trying to get a short range sight picture with a magnifying scope. I made a translucent lens cover for the front lens of the scope. I took a transparent lens cover and roughened its inside face with steel wool. Then I painted the roughened surface with clear nail polish , stippling the finish by daubing up and down with the tip of the brush. In other words, I made an optical diffuser. As it lets in no coherent light to form an image, all you see is the crosshairs projected out to whatever your scope's no-parallax distance happens to be. (On the scope I favor  it'

Too much governing, not enough thinking

The laws and politics surrounding guns form a perfect microcosm of over-governance in general. There are too many laws, rules, regulations, forms and stamps, all promulgated with the assurance these things will make everyone safer. The enforcement burden is enormous, upon those tasked to carry it out, and the rules can be onerous upon those simply wishing to exercise their right to keep and bear arms. The laws are more onerous in some places than others. Chicago, for instance, is putting into place a vast array of restrictions to interfere with the purchase and use of handguns. This follows upon the U.S. Supreme Court telling them, in McDonald , that they could not ban pistols outright. It is clear that the intent of Chicago's new law is to make owning a handgun seem not worthwhile, when you look at all the restrictions and the draconian penalties for any infractions. No, it's more than that. It is an instance of pettiness and nastiness toward people who want to do somethi

The Williams Foolproof sight -- it really is!

I have these classic micrometer peep sights on two rifles, at present, and they are good gear! This type of sight has been around approximately forever. The company makes numerous versions to fit a great many firearms. On some guns you will need a taller front sight when you install a peep sight but this is by no means true of all. It used to be old graybeards would look at my peep sighted rifle, nod approvingly and say to me, "See ya got a Foolproof. Good, good..." Now I am the graybeard saying that to younger folks. There is a great deal to approve of. The windage and elevation settings are finely adjustable. They ride on screw shafts and the setting have countable clicks and a visible index. Adjustments are supposed to be in minutes of angle and fractions, but of course that will vary with the length of the barrel, as a matter of simple geometry. Since I have this sight on a rifle that is longer than normal, and on another one shorter than normal, nothing works out to ev

An unexpected consequence of thinking

There is a loading of the .410 three inch shotshell that fires five pieces of 00 buckshot. The classic fighting and self defense load for the 12 gauge throws nine pieces. By counting on my fingers I find the .410 is more than half as good. This is an unexpected conclusion but the math is pretty clear. The .410 is underrated by most as a self defense round. Its wimpish reputation, I think, comes from bird hunters, who can easily ask too much of it without realizing they are doing so. An 11/16 oz. pattern of small shot can reach out only so far. Underestimate the distance and it does indeed seem the little gun is pretty nearly useless. Buckshot is another story. Five chunks of 00 clipping along at 1200 fps or so seems pretty good! I am speaking here of the use of the .410 shell in shotguns. It has become fashionable to fire it in handguns. I have reservations about this practice. I am concerned over the lesser velocity achievable in a short barrel. My limited experience shooting .410

A fresh look at defensive shotgun ammo and patterns

Gun and ammo makers have given a great deal of  attention to making shotguns pattern tightly, by the use of chokes and barrel boring tricks, and the construction of tight-patterning shotshells. This is all to the good, so long as we are shooting at ducks. I am dismayed to find the same techniques applied to defense guns and ammunition.  For the very short ranges that are usual in personal defense shooting, is it not progress in the wrong direction? For defensive uses of the shotgun, we should instead demand barrels and shells that spread out the shot more, not less. If we accept the usual rule of thumb, that says the shot spreads about an inch for every yard it travels, when it is fired from a barrel without a choke, a felon at ten feet is facing about a three inch pattern. The pattern will, most likely, be smaller still, since the shot does not begin to spread until it separates from the shot cup. Wouldn't it be better if the pattern were bigger? It would give the home defender