Thursday, October 28, 2010

The 30 Luger

30 Luger used in article

30 Luger
The 1890’s saw some advancement in semi-auto handguns. The 30 Borchardt is considered the first successful semi though the 30 Mauser came out shortly afterwards and lasted a lot longer. The Borchardt was invented by Hugo Borchardt and improved by Georg Luger which became the famous Luger Pistol.

In 1900 the Swiss adopted in it the 30 Luger caliber beating the Germans by several years. Other countries adopted it including Brazil, Bulgaria and Portugal though none use it any longer. A few other pistols chambered this round including the SIG, Walther P-38, Ruger P 89 and the Browning High Power though the Luger was the main gun used for this cartridge. The military round uses a 93 grain FMJ bullet which feeds well but lacks stopping power. The small caliber and non expanding bullet just don’t cut it for self defense. Happily the gun feeds soft and hollow point bullets which enhance it utility considerably. With its good accuracy it should do well in harvesting small game. With hollow point bullets stopping power should be improved.

30 Luger cycling

The cartridge is a 30 caliber bottleneck affair resembling the 30 Mauser round but is shorter and less powerful. Factory bullet weight is usually 93 grains though other weights can be employed. Winchester ammo may be available however the empty cases made by them are usually available. With full metal jacket bullets it isn’t a very good stopper though soft and hollow points can be used. They would make it a decent small game round as accuracy is good and trajectory is fairly flat. Just for fun I decided to try some 86 grain SWC’s by Hornady. I swaged them to 308 diameter as they are originally .313 meant for a 32 revolver. I was pleasantly surprised as they fed without a hitch in the Luger which isn’t known for its ammo tolerance. They along with the 71 grain FMJ should make shooting the Luger less expensive. The 71 grain is also swaged down as it is intended for a 32 auto. I like to see how flexible I can make a gun so I utilized bullets weighting from 60 to 110 grains. The 60 grain is a Hornady HP that was swaged down from 312 to 308 and the 110 is a 30 carbine bullet. This is a small capacity case so you should work up loads very carefully. An amount of powder as small as ¼ grain might make a large difference.

6.5 X 231 60 grain HP 1466 nice
5.5 X 231 71 grain FMJ 1280 slow high es
6 X 231 71 grain FMJ 1591 much better
6 X 700 X 71 grain FMJ 1473 MAX !!!
5.5 X 231 77 grain cast 1474 nice
5 X Unique 86 grain FMJ 1270 consistent
5 X Unique 86 grain soft point 1271 good load
5 X 700 X 86 grain cast SWC 1177 good load & fed
5 X Unique 90 grain HP 1080 slow & consistent
5.5 X Unique 90 grain HP 1235 better
5.5 X Unique 93 grain soft point 1191 ok
4.5 X Unique 110 grain RN 857 too lite

Bullets from 60 to 110 grains can be used

Shooting the gun is easy as it is relatively light and well balanced. The recoil is entirely manageable while accuracy is good. The trigger pull isn’t too bad for such an old gun. The grip is set at an angle which aids in its point ability. As I usually do when reviewing a gun I get several other people to try it to get different opinions. Most shooters never have an opportunity to hold or shoot one so it is a novel experience as the balance is quite different then most modern guns. That is especially true with the 30 caliber as most Lugers are chambered for the 9 mm. Comments are generally favorable especially when they get used to its novel features. The recoil is mild enough so that we had a 10 year old shooting it with little difficulty.

The most distinctive feature of the Luger is undoubtedly the toggle-lock mechanism, which holds the breech closed by locking in a manner not unlike the human knee, which can sustain a heavy weight when straight, but once bent, is quite easy to continue to bend. This is one feature that was taken from the Borchardt pistol which it replaced. The toggle joint in its straight position resists the rearward force of the detonating cartridge, then "flexes" after enough time has passed. When a round is fired the entire breech, barrel and toggle move straight rearward, on rails, until the toggle begins to ride up on a pair of cams that "breaks" the toggle ,makes it bend at the joint similar to an elbow. Once the toggle joint is no longer straight, it bends freely, allowing the bolt to come rearward, and the striker to be cocked. The spent cartridge is extracted by a combination extractor/loaded chamber indicator on the top of the toggle, and is ejected as the toggle nears the end of its rearward travel, and a new round is stripped from the magazine and chambered as the toggle is driven back to the straight position by a spring. This happens very rapidly and it is difficult to get a picture of the action operating because of this. When there is a cartridge in the chamber the loaded cartridge indicator is slightly raised allowing the shooter to see that the chamber is loaded. The magazine spring is quite strong, requiring some effort to load several rounds. It has a projection sticking out which aids in loading the magazine. To load insert the magazine grasp the curled knobs pull back and release. That should put a round in the chamber. When the magazine is empty the action remains open so the shooter is aware of that fact. If you want to uncock the gun just hold the trigger down and let the action go forward. That saves you from dry firing the pistol though it probably doesn’t hurt to dry fire it occasionally. To me that is important as I never leave my guns cocked. The two position safety works well and is easy to use.

The 86 grain SWC fed flawlessly, go figure

Accuracy is very good in fact I had a new shooter try it and after a couple of close misses on the bullseye proceeded to put a bunch in the center. She said once she got used to the sights and balance hitting was no problem. A 12 year old youth shot it and once she got over her fear did ok. The light recoil and good trigger definitely contribute to the shoot ability of this pistol. The only problem I have with the gun is that the magazine is hard to load. The spring is stiff and after 3 or 4 cartridges are inserted it really gets to be hassle to load.
Ironically the downfall of the Luger was its quality and engineering. It is a complicated gun to make that demands tight tolerances making it difficult to manufacture. For WW ll the Walther replaced it as the front line pistol.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The 45-120 Rifle

Tony's buffalo shot with 45-120

The 45-120
One of the old cartridges that always fascinated me was the 45-120 Sharps. It came out about 1878 in the Sharps rifles. It is the biggest 45 with the case measuring 3 & ¼” in length. All the other 45 caliber rifles from the 45-60 to the 45-110 will chamber in it making it more versatile. It probably came out for buffalo hunting but Sharps went out of business so not many were made. Without a doubt it was chambered in other single shot rifles though not common. Buffalo hunting was done by 1884 after the herds were shot out. With the bison gone there wasn’t much use for such a powerful cartridge. In power it would be adequate for anything in North America and most African game especially with modern loads.

Sharps action 45-120

I finally got a model 73 Sharps from Taylor Company in Winchester Va. It has a 32 inch barrel and double set triggers. It is a heavy and cumbersome rifle but with such a cartridge the size is necessary. It’s a good looking rifle without being fancy. At first I had some trouble with the triggers but a trip to the gunsmith remedied that problem. Now the back trigger sets the front one. It takes a lot of effort to set the front trigger but once set it has a nice pull. The sights are flip up located on the barrel. My intention is to take it buffalo hunting with an old style load. I want to have an accurate load with a 500 grain plus bullet at about 1600 feet per second. That will take down anything I plan on hunting with it. With the strong Sharps action I can undoubtedly exceed the 458 Winchester and even the 458 Lott. The down side is the recoil would be vicious and would be defeating the purpose of the gun. At 1600 feet per second the 535 grain gives plenty of power and recoil. The proper brass can be found at various sources. Norma presently makes it. Good cast bullets can be found at many sources probably some in your local area.

90 X Cleanshot 535 grain cast 1634 consistent
42 X 5744 535 grain cast 1568 accurate
103 X FFG Goex 535 grain cast 1405 good load
72 X CTG Pyrodex 535 grain cast 1410 45-70 case
50 X 5744 350 grain Hornady 2007 mild
60 X Cleanshot 400 grain cast 1244 45-70 case
70 X Goex FFG 400 grain cast 1203 45-70 case
45 X 5744 520 grain cast 1622 good load
69 X Blackhorn 209 535 grain cast 1692 (ouch) very consistent

From Left 45-120, 45-110,458 Lott, 458 Win,45-70 and 450 Marlin

All of the above loads demonstrated consistency giving low spreads between high and low velocity shots. To get an idea of the potential of the 45-120 I took a 458, 45-120 and a 460 Weatherby case. I filled them to the top with 571 ball powder. The idea was to get an idea of capacity as compared to the others. The 458 took 88 grains; the 45-120 allowed 118 grains while the monstrous 460 took 143. With that in mind I would think that it’s reasonable to load the 45-120 up to exceed the 458 and still keep pressures low. Since the rifle has a Sharps action one should be in safe territory doing so. Evan with 458 Lott loads it should be safe. The problem would be recoil. I am not recommending that you attempt this due to many various factors regarding rifle strength and loading techniques. Since I didn’t buy this rifle for killing my shoulder I will forgo those experiments for the time being in fact forever. Also in spite of daily checking there are no T Rexes in my back yard that I have seen. I know of a guy that bought a Ruger # 1 in45-70 and rechambered it for the 45-120 with the express purpose of shooting top loads. I’m glad it’s him and not me behind that particular gun. I wanted to get a 500 grain plus up to 1600 feet per second which I have done. Jacketed bullets from 300 to 400 grains should be practical in this rifle though not necessary. Jacketed bullets are more expensive and not necessary for hunting. If you want to use reduced loads the best way is to use a shorter case. Trying to use reduced loads in the full length case can be an exercise in futility. There is too much air space to deal with most powders. Excess airspace creates inconsistent and possibly dangerous loads. Use a 45-70 case for best results as it is more amendable for reduced loads. You might lose a little accuracy but it will be inconsequential. I have shot some loads utilizing the 45-70 case with complete satisfaction. Another good option would be using 45-90 cases as they are available from Starline and hold enough powder to take care of most tasks that you might encounter. They also sell 45-100 cases just for your info.

A good friend of mine had a chance to go buffalo hunting in Wyoming this fall. Since I was unable to go I talked him into using my rifle rather them a more modern chambering. We did some shooting with various bullets and settled on the 520 grain ahead of 45 X 5744 powder. It gave good accuracy and off he went. Anyway he shot an 1800 Lb bull at 50 yards through the shoulder. He said the bullet broke the near shoulder before going through the heart and breaking a rib on the other side lodging in the hide. He reported that the animal went down instantly and did not move. A modern chambering couldn’t have done any better and in fact most wouldn’t do as well. The recovered bullet weighed 503 grains and mushroomed to about twice its diameter. That’s a 94% weight retention not shabby for an old fashioned cast bullet that went clean through a bison.

45-120 left & 50-140

He said there were 12 bulls in the heard and after he shot his bull the rest tried to get it on its feet. After that they seemed to get angry with the hunters and surrounded them, The guide wisely advised everyone to get to the vehicles and get out of the area before things got real ugly. That had to be a weird and scary experience. Anyway it shows that a cartridge that has been around for 120 years can still do the job. It is a well known fact that a slow moving and heavy bullets make good large game rounds. They generally penetrate deeply and cause a lot of damage. After all those sort of rifles nearly decimated the buffalo over 120 years ago not to mention various other species of large game.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The 300 Savage

Remington model 722 in 300 Savage

Shooting the 300 Savage
Another old timer that has mostly fallen by the wayside being replaced by the 308 is the 300 Savage. It was introduced in 1920 by Savage Arms for the model 99 lever action. The original idea was to make it shoot a 150 grain bullet at the same velocity as the 30-06 as it was loaded at the time in a shorter action. If they accomplished that the pressures would be higher as it has a smaller capacity case. The thought was if you could pack 30-06 power in a more compact package the world would beat a path to your door. Back then as now the 30-06 is the standard that all other cartridges are measured by. Some things never change. Both Savage and Remington chambered their bolt action rifles for this cartridge. Remington also made a pump rifle chambered for it. Savage chambered their 99 lever action for it also. The Savage model 20 and 40 bolt action rifles also chambered it as well as the model 08 Remington semi auto rifle. The famous Winchester pre 64 model 70 was also chambered for the 300.

Remington 760 in 300 Savage

Basically it is a 308 Winchester with a short neck. In fact you can make 300 Savage cases by trimming the 308 to the proper length and sizing. Normally that would not be necessary as the brass is still available and inexpensive. I buy Winchester brass and seldom have a problem locating it. Loading dies are still made by all major manufacturers and of course standard 30 caliber bullets abound. Anyone who makes 30 caliber bullets will have something that is suitable for the Savage round. Factory ammo is still around though you may have to search for it. With all the new calibers coming out the 300 Savage is getting crowded off of the shelves. Plenty of rifles are available though they are used as no one as far as I know regularly chambers rifles for it. You can probably find one at a gun show or a used gun store as they are still fairly common. Your medium burning powders are the best suited for it with hunting weight bullets.

Remington 722 rifle used in test
10 X Trail Boss 123 grain soft point 1329 high es
10 X Unique 123 grain soft point 1505 high es
20 X 5744 123 grain soft point 1859 ok
40 X 4197 123 grain soft point 3003 consistent
39 X AA 2520 150 grain 2338 fair
38 X 4064 165 grain Sierra hp 2390 ok
42 X 4895 165 grain Remington 2465 good load
41 X AA 2520 165 grain Remington 2526 consistent
42 X 748 165 grain Remington 2571 good load
40 X IMR 4895 180 grain Remington 2379 mild
37 X 4064 180 grain Remington 2261 slow
41 X 748 180 grain Remington 2415 ok
42 X 748 180 grain Remington 2619 MAX
Remington 760 Pump
39 X AA 2520 165 grain Sierra BT 2420 ok
36 X 4064 165 grain Sierra BT 2405 slow
37 X 4064 180 grain Remington rn 2252 slow
36 X 2520 180 grain Remington rn 2156 slow

308 Winchester L. and 300 Savage

Accuracy with a good gun is on par with any similar caliber. My gun shoots groups in the 1” area at 100 yards with good handloads. The 722 is the forerunner to the famous model 700 having many of the same features. It is a Plain Jane model with no frills or checkering on the wood. However the 722 was a great value in its day, giving good service at a low price. In 1950 the Remington 722 sold for $74.95 while the model 70 went for $110. Accuracy and strength were two of its strong suits. Back in the day when the 721 and 722’s were being made dollars were tight so a good quality rifle at a low price made sense. Still does today. Like most of the oldies I don’t spend time looking for factory ammo as it is no longer common. If I stumble across it fine if not that is also fine. Factory ammo might be found at gun shows if you really want it. If you have one then you have a great deer and black bear rifle. I do have a pump but it lacks camming power if you have a stubborn round in the chamber. It is however a light and handy rifle for the woods hunter. If you like pump rifles this would be a great choice. It comes up well and points nice. The nice thing about the 300 is you would seldom need high priced premium bullets as the velocities aren’t blistering such as the 300 mags are. Of course you can use them for larger game such as elk to good effect. Given the proper skill level and ammo you should be able to tag a deer at 300 yards or so but as always shots need to be properly placed. Keep in mind that most game is harvested within 200 yards. It seems that everyone today has magnum mania, especially the new short mags. While they perform as billed you hardly need one to shoot a deer at 100 yards. The most hunted game in the US is the whitetail deer and the 300 Savage is up to the task at any reasonable distance.

Rear sight on model 760

For hunting purposes the 300 Savage will do anything that the 308 will do given good loads. That means that deer and black bear are fair game. Larger game at moderate ranges will also fall to the 300 with proper bullets and shot placement. Due to its modest case capacity reduced loads are a cinch to work up for small game and pest hunting. Cast bullet loads can be used for small game to good effect without destroying excess meat. Bullets heavier then 180 grains can be used but velocity will drop off rather rapidly due to limited case capacity. There just isn’t much use for real heavy bullets in that chambering as anything up to 180 grains will do just fine. Recoil is entirely within reason for anyone with any experience shooting hunting rifles. A youngster with some tolerance to recoil will not have any difficulty handling it. Also it can be loaded down to 30-30 levels and still be an effective deer rifle. All in all if you have a 300 Savage or inherit one it is very worthwhile to get it shooting and take it hunting.

Friday, October 15, 2010

10 MM Delta Elite

Colt Delta Elite with Crimson Trace Laser Grips

Colt Delta Elite
Introduced in 1983 by Jeff Cooper who was looking for an effective round for self defense and some hunting possibilities the 10 mm was brought out. Norma produced the ammo and the pistol was a Bren Ten. The FBI tried it for a short period of time after the 9 mm let them down in some shootouts but determined that it has too much recoil and muzzle blast for some agents. They shortened the case and it became the 40 S & W which has become more popular then the more powerful 10 mm. Colt brought out the Original Delta Elite in 1987 but it didn’t catch on and after a few years was dropped. They are now prized collectors items fetching more now then when they were new. There are 10 mm autos that hold 15 rounds but if you can’t solve your problem with 9 then I doubt that the extra 6 will help. Also they have a larger grip which may be too big for someone with smaller hands.
I have a friend that has an original Delta Elite that he has had some custom work done to it. On the outside it looks like the re-introduced version by Colt. I have shot it a number of times and it is a joy to shoot.

S & W model 610 and Ruger Blackhawk both in 10 mm's

First impressions were positive of all the people that shot it. When I test guns I like to get as many opinions as possible for a fairer overview of the gun tested. My friends wife fell in love with it so after the testing is done it will be interesting on who ends up with it. Like most test guns Colt will either want the gun back or payment. I can tell you that it will never see the inside of a Colt building again. Some of the features include: It looks and feels like a standard 1911 in 45 auto which is one of my very favorite pistols. It is a good looking and well fitted piece such as you would expect from Colt. The 10 mm cartridge is quite powerful making it usable for some big game hunting as well as self defense. Most people who hunt with a handgun consider a 200 grain bullet launched at 1000 FPS to be about the minimum for consistent results. The 10 mm will easily achieve that with a good handload. Finding factory ammo can prove to be a challenge though not impossible. Brass availability can be spotty though some patient searching can produce results.
White Dot Sights
Aluminum Trigger
Combat Hammer
Original Roll markings
8 + 1 Capacity
Wrap Around Rubber Grips with Delta Medallions
Chambered in 10mm
80 Series Firing Pin Safety System
Bullet selection is pretty decent with weights from 135 to 200 grains from various makers. Cast bullets may also be an option. Even though it is a bit much for self defense there are some nifty 135 grain slugs available which can be driven at some impressive velocities. The 135 grainers should also be an awesome small game and pest load. There are some 180 grain full metal jacket bullets which might be good to carry in bear country. The 180 to 200 grain soft nose and hollow points should be effective on deer size animals at closer ranges. I used Starline brass in all of my shooting and as usual it performed in a flawless manner. Starline makes quite a few calibers and for more info go to Brass is available from other makers such as Winchester, Remington and Federal though supply may be spotty. All of your bullet makers make bullets for the 40 and 10 mm. Maximum loaded length is 1.27 though it might vary from gun to gun so I would recommend you check yours for length before you load too many rounds. Different bullets might also have different seating requirements. For self defense or hunting ammo I would suggest you manually work all of the rounds through the gun. That goes for any semi no just the Delta Elite. I obtained a set of Crimson Trace Laser Grips which are not only comfortable but useful. I obtain these for most of the handguns I test because of their comfort and utility. I highly recommend them especially if you feel that you may have to shoot in low light. I have a set on my 44 mag because some places I go night hunting is legal. For more info go to

9.5 X Green Dot 125 grain X-Ploder 1348 mild
10 X Red Dot 125 grain X-Ploder 1428 ok
10.5 X Red Dot 125 grain X-Ploder 1512 nice
11 X AA 5 135 grain plated 1514 Max !
12 X Blue Dot 155 grain Speer GD 1240 consistent
12 X Blue Dot 155 grain Silvertip 1253 nice
8 X Herco 155 grain plated 1228 good load
8 X Herco 155 grain cast 1213 wouldn’t feed
7 X Green Dot 155 grain HP 1171 good load
7 X Green Dot 155 grain plated 1171 nice
8 X Herco 170 grain cast 1144 nice & fed
5 X 700 X 170 grain cast 969 mild *
11.5 X Blue Dot 170 grain Horn HP 1327 potent
10 X Blue DOT 180 grain Rem HP 1155 consistent
11 X Blue Dot 180 grain Rem HP 1275 max
Blazer factory 200 grain TMJ 1008 accurate

10 mm 200 grain ammo used during test

When shooting the Delta Elite I want to test the flexibility as well as the maximum safe loads. For general shooting cast and plated slugs will save you some bucks plus they are generally as accurate as jacketed bullets. The 125 grain X-Ploders are bullets that I designed some years ago with the purpose of self defense without endangering targets not involved. They easily come unglued at those high velocities as well as causing massive tissue destruction. They also reduce recoil somewhat because of their light weight. The 10 with a good 180 grain bullet should suffice for deer and similar size game. If I was in bear country the 10 would get the nod over the 45 ACP because a 200 grain bullet will out penetrate a 230 in the 45 ACP given same construction. . Extended shooting will cause the beavertail to take a little skin off of your thumb webbing. Keep in mind that this isn’t a kinder gentler handgun but a full performance weapon that is capable of harvesting big game. The energies for some of the max performance loads will be in the 650 Ft Lbs area which is nothing to sneeze at. The recommended working pressure, from SAAMI, for the 10 is 37,500 PSI which is pretty hot slightly exceeding the 357 Mag. The case is not a large capacity type so if you are working with max loads work up very carefully. A half grain of powder can make a very large difference in pressure. I used Winchester large pistol primers for all of my loads. The loads that I have listed as max should be approached with caution. I suggest that you start 10% below and carefully work up. We had a case rupture using a max load with the 125 grain X-Ploder. I ruined the magazine and left a powder burn on the shooter’s hand. Thankfully he was wearing shooting glasses. The 5 X 700 X load was nice but it didn’t always function the slide so I would add another half grain of powder. The purpose is to have a mild target load for a recoil conscious shooter. Cast and plated bullets are great for target shooting and will reduce the cost of ammo.

A couple of the available bullets for the 10 mm

Some years ago I obtained a Ruger Blackhawk that has a 38/40 and a 10 mm cylinder which should make for some interesting comparisons between the two. It was a special run offered and happily I had the sense to buy one. For this test I also made some custom bullets to see how the 10 would react to them. The 38-40 is a 10 mm revolver probably the first one ever brought out. With this modern revolver some impressive ballistics can be obtained.

Shooting the gun showed that the recoil was fairly heavy but manageable to anyone with some handgun experience. I received a set of Crimson Trace Laser Grips and they fit on with no problems. As usual they were comfortable to shoot and worked well. For some who anticipates shooting in low light these grips should be installed on your handgun.

S & W model 610 using rimmed 10 mm ammo

A client of mine has a S & W model 610 in 10 mm auto with a 6 &1/2” barrel. Not a common gun by any means. Anyway he doesn’t like using moon clips which would be necessary to prevent the rimless case from going too far in the chamber. He wanted me to make a rimmed shell for the gun. As far as I know there is no such cartridge as a 10 mm rimmed so I started from scratch. The 41 mag case was swaged down to 10 mm which at that stage would make it a 401 Herter’s Power mag. I then shortened to 10 mm length and sized it as normal. They shot fine and ejected perfectly. I did find that if the rim was a bit thin it would misfire. A vast majority worked fine and you can discard the thin rimmed cases. I chronographed a few keeping in mind that it isn’t my gun so I kept them mild.
6 X 231 135 grain plated 1254 good load
8 X Herco 135 grain plated 1137 accurate
7 X Herco 155 grain Plated 936 mild
6 X Herco 170 grain cast 920 nice

I could have easily exceeded these loads but I will let the owner decide how he wants to feed the gun. You can use 10 mm loads but you have to keep in mind that the 41 mag cases might be thicker at the bottom so you might want to start mild and work up. I have used hotter loads in my 10 mm Blackhawk with no problems using the 10 mm auto cases.

Accuracy with the Delta Elite at 25 yards was quite good with most loads. Careful shooting produced groups of 1 &1/2” or so from an informal rest. Keep in mind that we used full power loads for our accuracy testing which makes it more realistic.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Stupid Gun Laws

It's ok to use shot loads in this gun as long as the barrel is rifled

Stupid Gun Laws
In the US there are about 20,000 gun laws at all levels of government including Federal, state and local. Guns are probably the most regulated commodity there is. I hear that it is easier to get a job at a nuclear plant then to give a pilot permission to bring a gun aboard a plane even after they are trained. Pilots are trusted with a plane full of jet fuel and passengers but the line is drawn when they are to be trusted with a gun. If pilots had guns in the cockpit 9/11 probably wouldn’t have happened. Most of the laws are useless in the purpose that they are intended which is to make the public safer. Some of them are downright oppressive that were brought about by politicians that don’t like guns or trust gun owners. It’s amazing how the ruling class has no problem imposing their values, such as they are, upon us. Some laws are just plain stupid and useless, like the people who make them, and those are the ones that we will look at here.

One of them is if you buy a receiver or a frame with no parts it has to be treated the same as an operating weapon. The receiver has no moving parts, barrel or stock, hence it will not fire. It is a piece of metal period! It takes some knowledge, skill and proper tools to assemble such a piece into a gun and I submit that criminals are not going to take the time to assemble such weapons. Also most of them are too stupid and lazy to do that. I suppose you could put it in a sock and use it for a weapon. Hmm you could do that with a stone. That law should be re-examined and repealed.

Another hair brain law is the sawed off shotgun law. It was originally passed to stop criminals from concealing a short barreled shotgun under their coat. Fine and dandy though I doubt many outlaws worried about the length of their shotgun prior to robbing a store. An offshoot of that law is you can’t have a handgun with a smooth bore barrel or it is considered a sawed off shotgun. Why would you want a smooth bore handgun? The only reason is you might want to make it more efficient to dispatch snakes though the benefit would be minimal. Also it would not stabilize a bullet any longer. So if you have a handgun and you run something down the barrel to erase the rifling you are facing some jail time so don’t do it. You can possess a sawed off shotgun after going through the ATF system and getting cleared. Gun laws are kind of like locks, they only affect honest people.

Some of the older military pistols came with a shoulder stock as part of the package. The Broomhandle Mauser and some Lugers among others are examples. If you have an original shoulder stock it is ok to attach it for use or display. However if you have a replica which looks exactly like the original that is a no no! You can get a felony rap for having a sawed off rifle. Now I would like for some one to explain to me how that will keep the public safe. Don’t even think about attaching a shoulder stock to a modern handgun unless you go through the ATF and obtain a $200 stamp. Another bright idea is that if you rebuild some military rifles you have to use parts made in the US as opposed to imported parts. I want someone to explain to me how that makes society safer. I want to emphasize that no matter how laughable these laws are the penalties aren’t. If you get convicted for violating any of these laws you face severe penalties including jail time as these are felonies. I do not in any way advise breaking these laws though they definitely need to be changed. If you plan on modifying a gun and are in doubt of the legality then I suggest that you contact the ATF for advice. It would not be a bad idea to have a letter explaining the legal ramifications of what you are doing.

A shoulder stock is legal as long as it is an original and not a reproduction

As for states California leads the parade in stupidity though it has some stiff competition. First of all they have enacted a micro stamping law which will do nothing but inconvenience everyone. Not being satisfied with that they banned 50 caliber rifles though none have ever been used in a crime. They also have a system where ever gun has to be cleared by a board before it is allowed to be sold. You can have 2 guns that are almost identical and while one is ok the other is banned. I saw an advertisement for 45 autos, there different brands though they were identical otherwise. Two were banned. To keep the stupidity going they have a 15 day waiting period on handguns, after you get cleared by the NICS check. There is also a one gun a month limit on handguns. Ca FFL dealers have to jump through extra hoops in order to receive guns from out of state. A shipper has to go through the DOJ in Ca in order to ship guns to dealers. Mind you these are dealers not the public. They sent me the paperwork which I promptly put in the round file. Let’s face it Ca and other states don’t like law abiding citizens to possess firearms and they will do everything they can to stifle gun owners. New Jersey for example bans hollow point ammo. Their laws are designed to harass not to keep folks safe. It seems that Ca, NJ and a couple of other states are in a contest to see who can abuse law abiding gun owners the most. No wonder Ca and some of these other states are in the hole financially.

Probably the most idiotic idea though it would have stiff competition is the gun free zones. When criminals see such signs they know that they can ply their trade with little or no risk to themselves. Years ago guns were routinely taken to schools and there were no shootings. Maybe someone should blame bad behavior rather then inanimate objects. What a concept! Gun buy back programs rank right up there in the stupid column. That is where some do gooder group gets the bright idea to give folks cash or gift certificates for guns. The problem is that grannies may bring in a gun that wasn’t used anyway or some folks bring in stolen or broken guns for a little cash. In any event it does nothing to make society safer. Like many of those hair brain schemes it resolves nothing but makes someone feel good. Laws that regulate or prohibit law abiding citizens from carrying guns are also high on the do nothing list. No only do they prevent citizens from protecting themselves and their families but the criminal doesn’t follow them very closely. How many crooks worry about a permit prior to robbing a bank. If you have the misfortune to live in NYC and you get caught with a handgun, go to jail do not pass goal or collect $200. I imagine more then a few good folks went to the pokey for a mere handgun possession charge.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

How to Pick Good Candidates for Office

The worst president ever!

How to Pick the People you vote for in November

Without a doubt we are saddled with the worst president in our history. Between Obama’s arrogance, incompetence, dishonesty and a general dislike for this country we have a lot of problems facing us. Not content with being the worst president ever he picks the worst and most radical people he can find for the various posts that he fills. If they are incompetent, radical and hate this country then they are a shoo in for office. I could write a book on his failures but this isn’t about him except we have to elect people in congress who will stop the anti-American madness that he is foisting upon us. He will be in office another two years but if we elect the right people in Nov 2010 we can stop his socialist agenda. Right now congress is full of incompetents who have been around way too long. It is ridicules for anyone of either party to serve in congress for 30-50 years. They lose touch with reality and grow arrogant. Instead of a term of service they make it a life long career. They vote themselves raises, great pension benefits and various other perks that are not available to the general public. Not being satisfied with that some of them take bribes and steal whenever the opportunity presents itself. America so far survives in spite of them not because of them.

When I check out a candidate that I am not familiar with the first item is their record on the 2’Nd amendment. If they get bad marks from the NRA or other pro gun groups then I don’t need to know anything else about them. They will not get my support period! I have been accused of being narrow minded about that but I have good reasons for feeling that way. First of all if a politician votes against law abiding gun owners they are telling you that you aren’t to be trusted. That is the message my friends because the argument that gun laws prevent crime is nonsense. That has been proven in various studies. Why then don’t they trust you? Who Knows? They want to demonize guns because they don’t have the backbone to really go after criminals. A perfect example is when various city mayors were suing the gun makers because drug dealers were shooting each other. Apparently going after the bad guys never occurred to them. Chances are if they are wrong on the gun issue then they are wrong about other important issues such as taxes, illegals, growing of government and foreign policy. They are frequently out of step with most of the voters but they are tone deaf. For instance about 70% of the population didn’t want health care but it was rammed through.

Laziness and stupidity wrapped up in one neat package

Let’s take an example of a career politician who recently got fired in the Delaware primaries. Mike Castle has been sucking on the public teat for 40 years and has given little back in return. He is the consummate do nothing career politician. I have talked to people who tried to ask questions about an issue but he blew them off, something that long term office holders tend to do. It’s called arrogance. In spite of the fact that he has an R by his name he is notoriously anti gun. Not being satisfied with that he votes with the democrats fairly often including the failed stimulus package. He has no problem with tax increases and other liberal items. Well a good thing happened during the primary. The people of Delaware fired him and nominated Christine O’Donnell as the Republican for the Senate. I don’t know if she will win in the general election but they got rid of a useless office holder in Castle. He is throwing a temper tantrum because he believed that he was somehow entitled to the seat. He picked up his toys and went home. Arrogance will do that to you. He didn’t even have the class to call and congratulate her nor has he offered an endorsement. Like a typical liberal he blamed others for his loss including Rush Linbaugh and Shaun Hannity. The state Republican Party is smearing her but that’s because their golden boy was beaten and they are probably a bunch of Democrat wanna bees anyway. Her character is being smeared including that she was slow in paying her taxes. If that’s the case then perhaps she should be Secretary of the Treasury which is currently run by a tax cheat. She can be a tax cheat like Charlie Wrangle and run for congress. Christine O’Donnell is a perfect example of someone who should get elected. Hopefully the people of Delaware will keep up the good work and elect her to the Senate. Even if you are not a gun owner you still should vote for pro gun candidates because chances are they also support freedoms that might be important to you.

Mike Castle threw a temper tantrum and took his toys home after losing the Deleware Primary

With the frustration of the corrupt Obama administration the Tea Party came into being. The one good thing that the Obama administration has produced is a bunch of fed up Americans. The Tea Party has fielded some great candidates that want to bring America back to some sanity. There are a lot of fresh faces vying for office and they should be given a chance. Hell, they can’t do worse then what’s in Congress with their 11% approval rating they have now. Mike Castle and many others like him are a walking advertisement for term limits. We need people in congress who are fresh and inexperienced and have some good ideas. I laugh when I hear someone say that someone is qualified for office merely because they have held it for a generation or so. That is the problem and the only way to address it is term limits. I am a realist and understand that congress will never vote for term limits because then they would have to go out and get a real job like the rest of us.

Anyone want to talk about a tax cheat?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How Important is Accuracy

Practice is important Marlin XL-7 in 30-06

How Important is Accuracy

Everyone likes their rifles to be accurate and if it is then we are happy. However I submit that sometimes accuracy is overrated as compared to other factors. Accuracy is the ability to hit what you are aiming at if you do your part. That can be hitting a gallon can at 50 yards or a woodchuck at 500 yards. A 30-30 foe example typically shoots a 3” group at 100 yards but for eastern woods hunting that is fine. You would not take it on an antelope hunt in a western state however. Antelope are typically shot at 300 yards plus and the lever action 30-30 isn’t up to the task. If your gun can hit the required target at the desired ranges then it is accurate enough for the task at hand. In hunting accuracy isn’t everything as important as it might be. There are other important factors such as bullet performance. A good well designed bullet is much more desirable for hunting then a gilt edge target bullet. Many target bullets while super accurate perform poorly on game. Some hollow points fold over when they hit an animal making them act like a solid which is frequently a bad idea. The Nosler Partitions had a reputation of not being as accurate as some of the other brands but they got the job done. I had the same experience but accuracy wasn’t that bad. Since then accuracy has improved over the years. No matter what type of hunting you engage in practice is all important. You should be familiar with the characteristics of you hunting gun at any range that you expect to use it. That includes the knowledge of your bullets trajectory. Also keep in mind that each rifle will prefer a different brand of bullet so it’s up to you to experiment until you find the right combo. I have seen more then a couple of hunters use the wrong bullet merely because it is accurate. The results were generally dismal.

Target showing that Weatherby Vanguard can be accurate 30-06

If you are hunting in the brush or woods for game such as a moose or grizzly bear your shots probably won’t be over 50 yards maybe a hundred at the most. With those animals you need a hard hitting rifle with a quality bullet for best results. A 45-70 with a well constructed bullet weighing 400 grains that group 3” at 100 yards is all you need for accuracy purposes. With that type of hunting you will probably be standing or at best have a haphazard rest so gilt edge accuracy isn’t necessary. You might even be shooting at a moving target. You need a combo that will place a sturdy bullet into the boiler room, breaking bones along the way if necessary. You want to do your hunting before you shoot not after. Some of the new lead free bullets made by Barnes and Hornady might be an option worth exploring. They have a good reputation for performance and are definitely accurate enough for any task that they may have to perform. I have shot both with great results in various calibers.

Typical way to test ammo 30-06 Weatherby Vanguard

If you are hunting deer at a couple hundred yards or so then you would need a different type of rifle. Something that shoots flatter and can shoot a 3 shot group at 100 yards of an inch or so. If it is more accurate fine but don’t get hung up on that. You need a good hunting bullet with good flight characteristics rather then a super accurate target bullet. The bullet has to perform on the animal to obtain a clean kill. It has to have the ability to get into the boiler room and do some significant damage in order to insure a clean kill. A bullet that blows up on the hide without penetrating is useless. As with all hunting the first shot is the most important and it’s our moral obligation to humanely dispatch any animal that we shoot. If you mess that up there is a good chance that the hunt will go south quickly. If you hit it badly or miss it the animal isn’t going to stick around for you to target practice on it. So when you shoot your groups be sure to carefully observe where the first shot from a cold barrel goes. Keeping the barrel oil free helps keep the first shot closer to the rest of the group as oil can throw off the first shot by quite a bit.

Over the years shotgun slugs have greatly improved in performance. The old pumpkin ball was good out to 50 yards or so before accuracy deteriorated too much. Slugs such as the Breneke and Actives extended that range out to about 100 yards in good guns. They were all smooth bores but with an open or modified choke and a scope 3 to 5” groups were possible at 100 yards. Then came rifled barrels and modern projectiles which changed everything. One outstanding example is the Lightfield brand of slugs Not only are they exceptionally accurate in a rifled barrel but the various loads hit to the same point of impact. The importance of that is a shooter that is more recoil shy can shoot a lighter load while the heavier load can also be utilized without changing the scope setting. I am not aware of any other slug that can do that though there are other accurate slugs out there. I have shot the Remington slug with good accuracy results also. With the increased velocity and accuracy of modern slugs ranges of 175 yards and more are possible given hunter skill.

Typical group that can be expected from Remington factory ammo 30-06

Shooting varmints at long range does require serious accuracy. Most of the time you will be using a small caliber high velocity rifle capable of shooting bullets up to 4000 feet per second or so. A groundhog at 400 yards is a very small target. A rifle the shoots 5 shots into a half inch or less at 100 yards is needed. Groundhogs are relatively small but need to be hit well with an explosive bullet in order to anchor them reliably. Improperly hit woodchucks will escape into their holes to die. That’s a shame because the meat is very tasty , properly prepared. As with all animals they deserve a quick and painless death.

As hunters we are obligated to kill as humanely as possible any animal we shoot. Animals that get away usually die a painful and futile death since no one gets to eat the meat or gather the trophy. Harvesting everything that you shoot is also a good conservation measure. Taking your time and placing all of your shots is of paramount importance in the scheme of things.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Straight Pull Rifles Part 3

Model 89 Swiss 7.5 X 53.5

Straight Pull Rifles Part 3

The Swiss model 89 came out in 1889 to replace the older 10.4 Vetterli. The original load was a .299 diameter 213 grain bullet at about 1950 FPS loaded with semi smokeless powder. Later a 190 grain jacketed bullet was utilized with smokeless powder. The 89 has a long receiver and rear locking lugs. Also a 10 round magazine protrudes from the bottom. Pressures were limited to about 37,000 PSI and should not be exceeded. The case is essentially the same as the later case, model 31, but the neck is shorter. It was replaced by the model 11 in 1911 which served for quite a few years in the Swiss military. The Swiss rifles, as you would expect are well made and finished. That applies to all of them from the Vetterli on up to the model 1911. Both Swiss models have a large ring on the rear of the receiver. That is so you can let down the firing pin without shooting it. You can cock it using that ring easily. The button on the side releases the magazine and is easy to use.

I have worked up some loads for the older Schmidt Ruben rifle. The example I used was made in 1893 and is in good shape. Mine shoots 308 diameter bullets but I strongly suggest that you slug your barrel to be sure of the correct bullet diameter. The older ones have a .299 diameter bore so you can use 7.35 Carcano bullets in those. You just need the proper die set. At no time did I attempt to see how fast I could drive the bullet but rather looked for loads that were accurate and safe. For some reason I couldn’t obtain the Swiss brass so I used 284 Winchester cases which worked fine. That situation has since been resolved and the Swiss brass is available now. First I necked them up then trimmed off some of the neck to the 53.5 length then sized as normal. This rifle required that the cases be chambered with some authority or they wouldn’t fire. That’s a good safety feature since the bolt wasn’t completely locked up and I wouldn’t want it firing with a partially closed bolt. The difficulty may have been because of minute dimensional differences in the 284 cases. After they were fired and sized they fit easier as that formed them to that chamber. During the tests I had no malfunctions or brass loss and some of the cases were fired several times. The cases are thrown several feet due to the good extractor and the effort required opening the bolt. The sights are however hard for me to use and getting groups was difficult at least for my eyes. However I didn’t have much trouble hitting cans at 50 yards though it shot low. Go figure. The trigger pull isn’t bad at all for such an old rifle. After the usual travel it broke consistently.
10 X Unique 110 grain round nose 1447 fair
10 X Trail Boss 110 grain round nose 1141 consistent
25 X 5744 110 grain round nose 1949 nice
42 X IMR 4895 123 grain soft point 2341 poor load
50 X H 4831 150 grain Hornady 2151 mild
52 X IMR 4350 150 grain Hornady 2516 accurate
40 X IMR 4895 150 grain Hornady 2498 also good
10 X Unique 165 grain cast 1280 consistent
48 X H 4831 170 grain round nose 2039 mild
50 X IMR 4350 170 grain round nose 2178 ok

7.5 X 53.5 and newer 7.5 X 55 Swiss

When judging a rifle by its strength there are other factors to consider, probably the most important is its ability to handle gas in the event of a case rupturing. If the head splits, while not a common occurrence, where will the hot gases go? Information is scarce on some rifles so it’s a matter of common sense to make sure you are using the correct ammo and wearing shooting glasses. I prefer to forgo having hot gasses sprayed on me, been there done that. The hot gases have to go somewhere and it may be your face and injure you seriously. Forends and magazines can be blown downwards causing serious arm and hand injuries. The Swiss rifles aren’t the best for handling gas so keep that in mind when loading ammo especially for the older ones. Another thing to avoid is standing along side of some one shooting for if a firearm does explode shrapnel frequently goes to the side causing serious injuries to bystanders. Revolvers and shotguns are notorious for this. You must remember that black powder guns generally have a pressure of 20,000 PSI or so while smokeless arms start at around 35,000 PSI. That’s a lot of pressure to deal with when something goes wrong. In this case I am referring to rifles rather then shotguns and handguns which typically operate at lower pressures. Normally if you are using quality brass in the proper chambering you should be ok but there are no guarantees in life or in shooting. If you notice a bulge on the case I suggest you stop shooting and find out what’s going on. It could be an oversize chamber or the wrong case. Either scenario can be dangerous as it can rupture. I have encountered military rifles with badly oversize chambers on a number of occasions. Some of the Japanese rifles made at the end of WW ll are very shoddy and dangerous to shoot for an example. They are easy to spot and not very common now. If in doubt take it to a qualified gunsmith. Sometimes it is hard to extract a shell out of such a gun. I have one such example in my collection now the cause being a rough chamber. You can rebarrel it if you want to go to that expense or use it for a wall hanger.

If you get a model 89 in good condition it is worthwhile to make ammo for it and go have some fun. Like most straight pulls you will have an opportunity to strengthen your forearms. It is accurate given good rifling and enjoys the justly famed Swiss quality.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Straight Pull Rifles Part 2

Steyr Mannlicher model 95 in 8 X 56 R

Straight Pull Rifles Part 2
The 8 X 56 is an upgrade of the 8 X 50. The cartridge is more powerful and bullet diameter was increased to 329. It employs a 5 round clip which is fed from the top and drops down through the bottom when empty. The inventor of the model 95 was Ferdinand Ritter Von Mannlicher who also came out with the first successful clip fed rifle. Like the 8 X 50 it is hard to operate unless you have strong forearms. The extractor also had a reputation for breakage unless you kept it clean. The rifle was used in WW ll by second line German troops as well as Romanian, Yugoslavian and Italian reserves. Other countries used it to an extent. In the 1970’s some African guerillas used them in their campaigns. There were about 3 million produced and they are fairly common and inexpensive. They are also well made weapons made to last. For the collector who is just starting this might be a good place to begin.

8 X 50 and 8 X 56 cartridges

The 8 X 56 rifle I have looks a lot better then the older 8 X 50 but share the same action. The cartridge was designed in the 1920’s to replace the 8 X 50. Hungary adopted it in 1931, also being used in the Solothurn machine gun. The Hungarians also used a model 35 bolt action for it. In 1940 Hungary adopted the German 8 X 57 and some of the rifles were adopted for same. They were rechambered and a different magazine was employed. The Nazis however did produce ammo for it in the 1930’s. I have shot some of it and it was surprisingly consistent considering its age. The bullets I used are .329 to .330 in diameter. Why they used that diameter instead of the more common .323 diameter is head scratcher as the 323 is much more common and available. Some I made as I wanted different weights and styles then what’s available commercially. I make many of my odd diameter bullets by swaging because they aren’t available in all diameters and weights that I use. There are some commercial bullets available for the handloader in soft points which are good for hunting. Like the 8 X 50 it sports a 20” barrel which is handy though a 30” barrel was also made.. Just for your information there is an 8 X 56 rimless case that is based on the 8 X 57 Mauser case. Just to keep you confused there is also an 8 X 56 Kropatachek which isn’t interchangeable with either of the other two 8 X 56’s. That is why it is important to know what your rifle shoots before trying it out. Using the wrong ammo can be a disastrous mistake.

The rear of the rimless Mannlicher measures about .030 smaller then the rimmed version. DO NOT fire in the straight pull rifle. The rear of the case wouldn’t be supported and would rupture probably causing injury. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you are using the correct ammo for your weapon something that can’t be repeated too often. You might encounter a 95 that was rechambered for the 8 X 57 Mauser round which is less common then the 8 X 56 R. This round is a good large game hunting round and can be used for deer and black bear. I have a client that uses in on wild boar in Florida with good results. Reloadable cases are available at Graffs and other distributors. In a pinch 7.62 X 54 Russian cases can be use but they are short and not necessary because of the brass supply available.

16 X Trail Boss 200 grain cast 1373 inconsistent
16 X Unique 200 grain cast 1614 accurate
12 X Unique 200 grain flat nose 1019 high es
12 X Trail Boss 200 grain flat nose 635 way slow
35 X Data 4197 200 grain flat nose 1894 deer load
25 X 5744 200 grain flat nose 1536 consistent
47 X IMR 4895 200 grain home made 2180 mild
42 X RL 12 210 DKT bullet 1881 mild
47 X IMR 4350 210 DKT bullet 1748 slow
51 X IMR 4895 210 DKT bullet 2295 consistent
50 X IMR 4895 220 grain 2271 good load
45 X IMR 4895 225 grain home made 2056 good load
47 X IMR 4895 250 grain home made 2130
43 X IMR 4895 250 grain home made 1919 consistent
49 X 748 250 grain round nose HM 2087 moose
1938 Nazi Military 207 grain 2267 good load

Closeup of 8 X 56 Action

The 8 X 56 I have is in good shape and will handle some pretty decent loads though I didn’t try and set any speed records. While it is a strong action it isn’t getting any younger so I took it easy in load development and I suggest you do the same. Since the straight pull lacks the camming power of a conventional bolt it would be more difficult to extract a sticky case. The trigger is a fairly typical military type which is ok once you get used to it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Straight Pull Rifles Part 1

Mannlicher Steyr model 95 rifle in 8 X 50

Straight Pull Rifles Part 1

One of the older ones was the 8 X 50 rimmed. Originally brought out as a black powder round in 1886 for the Model 88 straight pull and later the improved model 95. For some reason they lengthened the case to 52 mm and used a semi-smokeless powder until they could obtain reliable smokeless powder. It was soon changed over to a smokeless offering in 1890 and the case was again shortened to 50 mm. It was used by Greece, Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary. The model 88 was not a real strong action using a hinged block on the underside as opposed to the front locking lugs of the stronger model 95. The round was also chambered in a few sporting rifles in Europe for some years. The military used this cartridge until 1930-31 when it was replaced by the newer 8 X 56. Ammo is not available on a commercial basis in the U.S though it may still be made overseas. Loads should be kept at 40,000 or so psi as in the Krag rifle. Standard 8 mm bullets of .323 diameter may be used in all available weights. My rifle doesn’t have any clips so I shoot it single shot. I have some clips for the 8 X 56 but they don’t work in the older model although they are close. Since I don’t anticipate going to war with this rifle that’s not a problem using it as a single shot. The straight pull was developed to enable a soldier to fire more rapidly. The theory was since you pull the bolt straight back rather then lifting it first that would enable you to fire more rapidly. When you pull the bolt back the locking lugs rotate rather then the complete bolt assembly. The only problem is you need forearms the size of Popeye’s in order to manipulate it faster. A little spinach wouldn’t hurt either.

Closeup of 8 X 50 action

The 8 X 50 I have is rough looking on the outside probably due to some poor storage. There is some pitting on the barrel and action however the rifling is fairly decent. Cases can be made from 45-70 cases and the rim is cut down to the proper size. I took it out in the desert to shoot for function and chamber problems. Feeding and extraction was flawless and the cases were thrown a few feet to the front and right of the shooting point. It does take some effort to pull back the bolt which is typical. The trigger is a typical two stage military pull and is decent for its type of rifle. The safety is located opposite of the bolt handle locks the bolt closed as well as preventing the gun from firing. To remove the push the trigger forward and pull the bolt back until removed. Putting the bolt back is tricky however because the lugs rotate when the bolt is removed. You have to pull the front of the bolt forward until the lugs line up with the extractor. I use the side of a table to pull the front of the bolt up by hooking one of the lugs at the edge of the table and pull the head forward. That requires some effort and once they are lined up slide the bolt back in by using the rails. The 8 X 56 requires the same procedure. It seems reliable and easy to use once assembled and cleaned. Once that was done I made up a few loads for it. I had a customer ask for some 8 X 50 blanks hmmmm. I did some checking and found out the 7.62 X 54 blanks work perfectly. I fired some with no problems what so ever. So the light went on in my head and I figured that if I could take some regular 7.62 X 54 cases I could make some 8 X 50 ammo. Like the Russian the 8 X 50 has a beveled rim so feeding was fine. I shortened the cases then sized as normal in the die and they chambered fine. The case length I used is 1.975”. Shooting the Russian cases showed no problems what so ever. The 45-70 required a little more effort in seating the bullets but neither case presented a problem in that regard. By the way my rifle is the model 95 verses the older model 88. This rifle has a 20” barrel which makes it light and handy. These loads can be used for deer sized game at woods ranges without a problem given good bullet placement. Standard 8 mm .323 diameter bullets are fine.
10 X Trail Boss 125 grain Hornady 1259 consistent
36 X Data 4197 125 grain Hornady 2165 mild
45 X IMR 4895 150 grain Hornady 2334 good load
47 X IMR 4895 150 grain Hornady 2319 hmmmmm
10 X Unique 170 grain cast 1127 inconsistent
10 X Trail Boss 170 grain cast 974 consistent
12 X Unique 170 grain cast 1240 inconsistent
12 X Trail Boss 170 grain cast 1269 inconsistent
43 X IMR 4895 170 grain Hornady 2133 mild
45 X IMR 4895 170 grain Hornady 2231 ok
43 X IMR 4895 175 grain Sierra 2186 ok
42 X IMR 4895 185 grain Remington 2119 consistent
44 X IMR 4895 185 grain Remington 2188 accurate
10 X Unique 200 grain cast 1173 accurate
41 X IMR 4895 200 grain Speer 2050 slow
43 X IMR 4895 200 grain Speer 2149 ok
21 X AA 5744 210 grain cast 1387 small game
50 X AA 4350 220 grain Hornady 1999 consistent

Some of the 8 X 50 loads seem pedestrian by some standards but due the age and condition of the weapon I didn’t see any point in trying to increase the velocity. I probably could have obtained another 1 to 200 feet per second but for the life of me I just didn’t see the gain. The sights are crude and the rifling is only fair so long distance shooting is not an option at least with this particular specimen. Never say never but I don’t see me taking it on a hunting trip and if I do these loads will suffice for the ranges I would be using it. I would just tweak the one that I would take. I have several other 8mm rifles including the 8mm Remington magnum if I have a hankering for more velocity. I also have an 8mm Carcano and I will not use anything resembling heavy loads in it either. With some of these old guns it just isn’t worth the risk of destroying it to obtain a little more velocity. Both of the 8mm rifles like the cast bullet loads which I generally find true in the older rifles. As a note the 47 grains of 4895 behind the 150 grain did produce less velocity so that’s not a misprint. I have ran across that phenomenon on a few occasions. I am not sure why it happens but I believe the particular rifle doesn’t like that load and so I backed off.

8 X 50 round with military bullet

There is nothing quite like shooting a piece of history. It’s an interesting challenge to make ammo that works in those antiques and you might be surprised on how well they can shoot.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Norfolk Hatchery

Fish caught in the White River, rainbow trout from Norfolk Hatchery

Norfolk Fish Hatchery
The Norfolk fish hatchery which is located near Mountain Home in Northern Arkansas was established in 1955 and open to the public in 1957. The hatchery was established to meet the fishery migration needs arising from the Corps of Engineer projects in the White River in Northern Arkansas and southern Missouri. The upper White River has been altered by multi purpose dams in various locations along its course. The river flows through Table Rock Lake, Lake Taneycomo and then through Bull Shoals Reservoir. There are tributaries to Norfolk Lake and Greers Ferry. For more info you can go to their website @

View of Norfolk Hatchery

This hatchery specializes in threes species of trout the Brown, Rainbow and Cutthroat all which require cold water with high oxygen content. They raise the fish to restock various waters in local lakes and streams as well as to other states that may need trout. They produce over 1 & ½ million fish for restocking purposes. The fish are kept until they are approximately 11 inches then released at a cost of 47 cents each. The water used in the hatchery comes from the bottom of Lake Norfolk which has the desired cold temperature
The hatchery buys the eggs from other hatcheries and they are kept until the eggs hatch which is about 2 weeks after receiving them. As they grow they are moved to different tanks until the release date. They are fed special foods while at the hatchery. This operation is carried on year around.

Baby trout in hatchery tanks

Visitation is welcome and the hatchery is open to the public from 7: AM to 3:30 PM. Parking drinking water and restrooms are available and there is helpful personal on site to answer any questions that are brought up. There is even a place adjoining the hatchery that is handicap assessable for fishing which is catch and release.

Adult trout

As a result of their efforts many folks can enjoy great trout fishing in the area and other states. Arkansas has many lakes and streams for the anglers to try out their luck. Lake Norfolk is one of the top fishing lakes in the US according to Field & Stream.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fine Wines

Marge Roelands who makes these wines is the latest in a long family linage who made these fine wines

Raimondo Wines
Many good things have come from Italy and Sicily including various foods and wines. The Raimondo family who lived in Palermo Sicily started to make fine wines during the latter part of the 1800’s. Marty Raimondo, the present owner’s grandfather, started the business in southern California and it has been passed down from generation to generation. Tony Raimondo, Marge’s uncle went back to Sicily in 1985, to learn more about the old ways of making fine wines. The present owner Marge Roelands had to overcome a couple of obstacles in order to carry on with the business. Her uncle was not sure a woman could become a proficient wine maker because of her gender. She did however have another advantage; she grew up around the business. The Raimondo Wines are fine beverages and set very high standards for their products. She had to prove that she could learn the various procedures for making the wines to the high standards required. Guess what! She did it in spades! She worked with her uncle for four years before she attempted to make her own wine. She also worked with other wine makers learning the secrets of making good wine.

Press used to insert corks into wine bottles

She got involved in the process from selecting the grapes to the various ways of making and aging the wines. She goes to California and works with the grape growers and actually goes out and picks some of the grapes. Not only is that a good learning experience but she gets to test the grapes for the quality she demands. There is nothing like hands on experience to learn the business. The vineyards will actually cut off some bunches of grapes and throw them on the ground. That is so the rest will get the proper amount of sun in order to ripen correctly. The criteria for selecting grapes are the brix, ripeness and moisture. They test them on site to insure quality. The brix is the amount of sugar in the grape and that determines the alcohol content. When the yeast is put into the grape mix it eats the sugar and turns into alcohol. If the sugar content is too low then there is little or no alcohol and too much sugar produces a wine that is too strong. They also have to be ripe without being overly so in order to make a good wine. The moisture content can be worked with to an extent during the aging process. Depending on the type of wine it is aged from 1 & ½ to 4 & ½ years in oak barrels under a strictly controlled environment. She has studied under various wine masters and continues to do so. In fact she is planning on a two week trip to Sicily to enhance her considerable knowledge. I have interviewed her at length and I have found out that she has a lot of knowledge and passion for this business. She is determined to be the best in the business and I for one won't bet against her. Her husband also helps out in fact he built the wine cellar and labels all of the bottles by hand. While the business is small it is growing and with the word getting out about their fine products, it is growing.

Some of their fine products

Various wines are made from different grapes grown all over the globe. Different grapes make different wines and Marge travels to various locations to select the proper grapes for her wines. She is very picky and the grapes are grown without pesticides or other artificial means. While that makes the grapes more expensive it also results in better tasting wines. She makes contracts with the growers and they are obligated to provide the very best grapes available. Poor grapes make poor wines and anyone buying a Raimondo wine doesn't have to worry about that. If the grapes aren't up to the high standards demanded by the Raimondo wine business they never see in inside of the winery but go somewhere else who doesn't have such high standards. There are no shortcuts employed in making their wines and the quality proves that. I am not a wine maker so I am learning a lot about the art of wine making and it is an art if done correctly. Each wine is named after the grape used in producing it. For instance a Zinfandel grape makes a Zinfandel wine. There are various variations of Zinfandel wines using grapes grown in different regions and there may be another grape added such as a Mission grape. One blend consists of 90% Zinfandel and 10% mission. I could probably write a book about the various wines but I am sure that has been done many times. For a list of their wines you can go to for more info. If you can't find it in your area not to worry they can ship it to you though some states prohibit wine shipments to private homes but you should be able to have it shipped to a business. They have a wine cellar on the premises and wine tasting's are available upon request. That in itself is a treat. They also host events such as weddings so you can call Brian or Marge for details. The wines are kept there at a strictly controlled temperature environment of 60 degrees. They are coming out with new wines such as the 2007 Passione Red and 2008 Petite Sirah. The 2009 Chardonnay wine uses grapes that are not pressed but free-run drained overnight. While I not a connoisseur of fine wines I do know the difference between a good and bad wine. These are the goods wines well worth their modest prices.

Typical wine tasting session

Oak barrels used to age the wine

Another idea is they also run a great fishing resort where you can relax in the Ozarks while enjoying a glass of great wine. For info on the fishing you can go to for info on renting a cabin and the fishing possibilities. Hiking and sightseeing are also in the mix for interested parties. If you are a deer hunter then you are in luck they are all over the place. They also host events there and they will be glad to give you details on those.

Some old corkscrews

Another facet of their business is their fine balsamic vinegars and olive oils. Like grapes there is a large verity of olives and they are used to make various olive oils. The type and area where the olives are grown dictate which flavor the oil is. Olives are picked three times a year with spring mid summer and winter depending on which country they come from. Many countries grow olives including Italy, Spain, Greece, Australia and the US. The best quality is the first press which is called extra virgin which is more expensive but the best. The quality is determined by the amount of poly phenol which is in the oil. It should be 50 units but the Raimondo Winery doesn't buy any that is less then 84 units. Poly Phenol is an anti oxidant and some studies indicate that it helps fight breast cancer. The second press is called virgin and it goes down to the fifth press which is used in making candles. The third and fourth presses are used in lower quality olive oil. Olive oil is not aged like the wines or vinegars so the faster it gets to the market the better.

Old grape presser been in the Raimondo family for about 100 years

The balsamic vinegars traditionally come from Modena, Italy. The Traditional is the most expensive though they also make regular balsamic vinegars. The traditional is very expensive because of the time consuming process required to make it. The base is called must which is the left over grape after it is squeezed into wine. That includes the skins and remaining juices. It is boiled into a thick fluid and put into barrels for aging. It can be aged anywhere from 12 years on up depending on the type of vinegar. As it oxidizes it is put into progressively smaller barrels each made from a different type of wood. Each wood influences the flavor until it ferments into balsamic vinegars. They are aged in buildings in attics with metal roofs. During the day the area is closed to generate heat then opened up at night to allow cooling. This process is repeated until the vinegar is properly aged. The vinegars made in Italy are regulated by some laws regarding tastes, quality, and color. A committee does the tasting and quality control to make sure it is up to the high standards.
Balsamic vinigars and olive oils

Some more of their mouth watering products

For a chef in a fine restaurant these vinegars and oils are just the ticket for your customers who like a fine salad. You can make various blends of these products to suit your customer’s need. They flavor a salad just right without that heavy oily taste that a lesser product will produce. For healthy cooking the olive oils are just the way to go. Just imagine a fine steak with mushrooms cooked in one of these oils. I would bet that some of these oils will enhance the flavor of a fish such as a salmon with lemon flavored oil. Kind of makes your mouth water doesn't it. A restaurant can serve these wines with good food to enhance the customer’s eating experience.

Special stainless steel containers from Italy to store olive oil