Showing posts from June, 2010

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

Sons of the scout rifle

Col. Jeff Cooper was an enthusiastic booster of several innovations in guns and shooting. Notable among them was the 'scout rifle,' short, light and yet powerful and accurate -- a .308 carbine. Bolt action, because a field-tough .308 autoloader action was heavy. A bolt action can be built very light for the power it commands, and still be very durable. What I want to look at in this posting is what has become of the scout rifle concept in the thirty or so years since Cooper dreamed it up, and where we go from here in the search for an even better all around rifle. Cooper thought the scout an ideal general purpose rifle, useful for just about anything you would need a high powered rifle for, and exceptionally convenient. His idea did not catch on like wildfire. Just two manufacturers offer scout rifles, Steyr Mannlicher and Savage. Ruger has lately dropped out of the race. Some custom gunsmiths will build you a bespoke scout if you like. Here is what a scout looks like

It's a Colt, a 1911 and...a DAO!?

Scuttlebutt is Colt will soon ship something they announced a couple years ago, double action only 1911's . I have not gotten gun in hand to test it, but I think this is going to be the first 1911 I've really liked. I have some positive things to say about the 1911 pattern, and I've shot an assortment, from plain Army issue on up to gussied up modern versions. It is a powerful gun and its short and light trigger pull is conducive to accuracy. Its reliability is famous. I have no doubt it will protect your life as well as any sidearm ever made. Trouble is, I don't really like any pistol that has an external safety, and the traditional 1911 has two. I'm a revolver guy. If I need to shoot in a hurry I don't want to have to turn, squeeze, flip or otherwise monkey with any safeties. An advantage of DAO pistols is they have digital safeties. To go on safe you extract your finger--your digit--from the trigger guard. Not only is the task of taking off the safety e

All kinds of ballistic calculators, free

Beartooth Bullets'  Ballistician's Corner  gives you an assortment of web based calculators for things like ballistic coefficient, drop and drift, penetration and a number of other things. There is even one for the old Taylor Knock Out Power formula--which some people take more seriously than others. If you're into this kind of thing, you'll spend a lot of time playing happily with the gadgets.

Best defense gun? The shotgun, of course

Justifiable self defense shooting is short range business. It is astonishing, to people who have not inquired about it, just how short the distances are. But police studies consistently show it, and have for a great many years. One may look at recent FBI statistics or look up the NYPD's SOP 9 reports or any other responsible survey or departmental statistic. The information is consistent in showing gunfighting happens up close. Really close. Here is a good overview of the data. Fairbairn and Sykes concluded the same thing back before the Second World War; see  Shooting To Live: Expanded Edition . Most of the available statistics are about police shootings but the picture for the armed private citizen does not seem to be very different. The evidence is anecdotal on the civilian front. The NRA's Armed Citizen column, gleaned from press reports, suggests a tiresome sameness to civilian encounters: across the room, across the store counter, and seldom so far as across the street

Bring back the .357 Maximum!

This was an awesome cartridge. It was cooked up as a cooperative effort between Ruger, who made the sixguns, and Remington, who made the ammunition. It was a lengthened .357 Magnum with much higher velocity and a SAAMI pressure limit of 48,000 CUP. It was introduced in the early eighties and the guns didn't hold up. There were problems with flame cutting. Essentially, the high pressure firing gases acted like a cutting torch and went to work on the revolvers' top straps, chewing them up something fierce. Ruger, and the Dan Wesson company, who were also building revolvers for it, withdrew their guns from the market. The cartridge now sees only limited use, mostly in break action pistols and carbines. It is now more than a quarter century later and we know much more about super magnum revolvers and their cartridges. We have seen development since then of the .460 Smith & Wesson, .500 Smith & Wesson and other brontosaurus class wheelgun ammunition. Gun metallurgy has a

Hey! I got yer free ammo right here.

Here's something you don't see very day, Chauncey. Free ammo. Post about it on your blog or website for a chance to win. M.D. Creekmore at  The Survivalist Blog  – a  survival blog  dedicated to helping others prepare for and survive disaster – with articles on  bug out bag  contents,  survival knife  choices and a wealth of other  survival  information is giving away a  1,000 round case of 9mm – 124 Grain FMJ  (a $200 value – donated by  LuckyGunner )! To enter, you just have to post about it on your blog. This is my entry. Visit  The Survivalist Blog  for the details. This is a clever idea. You paste the above promo from the site, email The Survivalist Blog site owner with your link addy and you may end up with mucho ammo. Personally, I use .38 Special instead of  9mm. If I win I'm donating the case to my shooting buddy, who is in such things more modern than I. This idea of a promotional giveaway is something I hadn't thought of, and I am looking into it for my

Fast bolt work -- how to fire a bolt action rifle quickly

Many riflemen prefer the bolt action. Its simplicity, reliability, ease of maintenance and, above all, its accuracy recommend it to the practically minded. "But it's slow." Is it, now? Well, I suppose it is, compared to a machinegun. But how slow is it? Too slow? With proper manipulation the bolt rifle is faster than many think. When the bolt action was the principal kind in military use, you can be sure a good deal of attention was paid to how to shoot it quickly. When self loading rifles came into general use, those lessons were largely forgotten. Fortunately, they were not altogether lost; you can look up anything on the Internet. A survey of the classics Fr. Frog  is a well known rifle enthusiast and has many interesting things to offer on his site. Among them is this compendium of what several authors had to say about working the bolt quickly. You will find several different ideas described. You will also learn how to operate a right-handed bolt rifle if you

The Traveler carbine explained and defined

I saw at a gun show some elegant take-down repeating rifles I could not afford. Their appeal was obvious. Instead of carrying a long clumsy gun case you carry a suitcase. Traveling with the traditional gun case is always a nuisance and may draw attention from thieves, officials and busybodies. Fortunately you don't have to be rich to own a proper traveling rifle. A single shot, break action rifle is already a take-down model. It can be shortened, within reason, to produce a very convenient travel companion. What is reasonably short? In the U.S., at least, it's no shorter than 16" in the barrel and 26" over all for the assembled rifle, unless you want to fool with NFA registration. It is sensible to add half an inch to these dimensions. Should the question arise, you want a rifle that is obviously compliant with the rules, not a marginally compliant one that may be impounded for further study. Thinking this through, I came up with what I call the Traveler carbine,

Peculiarities of the Remington 700 Rifle

I'm a big fan of Remington's Model 700. I think it is among the very best rifles ever made. There are a few problems with it, though. I am acquainted with them firsthand. The purpose of this article is to help the rifleman armed with this weapon understand what its particular problems are and how to avoid or fix them. I have concentrated on issues specific to the 700, omitting the many issues or concerns that apply to bolt rifles in general. That leaves me quite enough to talk about. A few built-in glitches aside, though, what a fine shooting iron! The reason we know about the problems is the 700 has seen use everywhere, doing everything, for a long time. It is well established as a target rifle and a hunting rifle, and has long served as the sniper's rifle of the Army and Marine Corps. Millions of 700's have been sold. Because its flaws have been exposed through long hard use, I tend to trust this rifle more than some others. It's as in the old saying: "Be