Monday, May 25, 2015

A Tale of Two Pistols

Milady and I started playing this Cowboy Fast Draw game in March, and quickly geared up with holsters, Ruger Vaqueros, bags, ammo, and targets.  After watching the grandkids enjoy playing the game, we decided that it might be nice to have another revolver, a loaner, a spare, so that we could keep our revolvers in our holster while we are on the line.  So, I started casting about for a suitable third revolver.

A. Uberti makes a creditable copy of the old Colt 1873 Peacemaker revolver, and when we were in Texas at the Texas State Championships, we noticed that the line was just about split on Vaqueros and Ubertis.  Some quick checking revealed that the Uberti is about $100 less expensive than the Ruger, and that made my choice a bit easier.

Yesterday, reading the Sunday paper, Milady noticed a sale at a place called The Spotted Dog, just north of our house, about an hour away.  She bade me call them this morning, and they told me that they had a selection of Ubertis, so we got in the car and headed north.  Before long, we were at the store, and looking at revolvers.  We found one we liked, and it turns out it was made by Unerti for Stoeger.  Called the Cattleman Mellinium OT, it has a matte finished barrel and receiver and a brass grip frame and trigger guard.  A quick look at the Uberti site tells me that this is the same revolver that Uberti markets as the Hombre.  The Hombre is Uberti's lowest-priced revolver.  The matte finish is easiest to achieve, but inside it's all Colt-clone.  So, we wrapped it up and brought it home with us.

While I was driving, Milady took it out of the box and started exploring it.  She believes that the grip frame is just a bit trimmer than the Ruger.  Truth be told, Milady has small hands, and I had to modify the Ruger grips so that she could use it.  She also noticed that the hammer seems to cock easier on te Uberti (and I had modified her Ruger by cutting four coils off the mainspring).  She also likes that te ejector rod isn't centered in the Uberti.  The Ruger centers the ejector in the chamber, and the shotgun primers of the CFDA loads drop out.  The Ruger ejector comes through the hole left by the primer, making ejection sometimes problematic.  She also thought that the Uberti felt a couple of ounces lighter than the Ruger.

So, when we got home, I put the Uberti on the old family scale I keep in the shop.

The Uberti weighs in at 2 lbs, 9 ounces on my old scale.

The Ruger weighs in at 2 lbs, 11 oz.  Not enough for me to tell the difference, but Milady's calibrated hands felt the difference in those two ounces.

Still, on the way home, I heard this come from her mouth.  Guys with women that shoot know this conversation.

Milady looked at me from the passenger seat.  "I think it's pretty.  I can't wait to shoot it."

"Oh, really?" says I.

"Yeah," says she. "I like the heck out of this thing."

Either way, it's nice to have another revolver in the bag.  We'll provide a more thorough review as time goes along.

Memorial Day

Studied by few, the Allied invasion of Italy during WWII is largely forgotten in today's history books.  Yet, it occurred before D-Day, thrusting a knife into the soft under-belly of Europe.  One of the division commanders was a fellow named Lucian Truscott, who commanded the 3rd Infantry Division.  While his Corps commander was organizing on the beach, preperatory to the breakout, the Germans were able to ring the beachhead, resulting in a bloodbath.  Eventually, the Allies broke through and made for Rome, capturing it mere days before the Normandy invasion we now call Overlord.

That Corps commander was relieved, and Truscott took his place, eventually leading the Allied Forces to victory and liberating Italy.  In May, 1945, Truscott gave the Memorial Day address at the cemetery where some 3,000 of his Anzio soldiers were buried.  We don't have a recording of his address, but famed cartoonist Bill Mauldin was present and gives us his account of the address.

Mauldin's account of Gen. Truscott's speech at Nettuno is the best record we have of that day.  He recalled the general taking the stand and then turning his back on the audience in order to address the buried corpses arrayed behind him. "It was the most moving gesture I ever saw," Mauldin said.
In his heavy rasp, Truscott told the dead men that he was sorry for what he had done. He said that leaders all tell themselves that deaths in war aren't their fault, that such carnage is inevitable. Deep down, though, if they're honest with themselves, he said, commanders and politicians know it's not true. Truscott admitted he had made mistakes, perhaps many. 
Then he asked the dead to forgive him. He was requesting the  impossible, he knew, but he needed to ask anyway. 
Finally, Truscott debunked the idea that there was glory in dying for one's country. He saw nothing glorious about men in their teens and twenties getting killed, he said. He then promised the men buried at Nettuno that if he ever ran into anybody who spoke of the glorious war dead, he would "straighten them out." "It is the least I can do," he concluded.
Would that we had such leaders today.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday Afternoon

Sunday afternoon at 3:00 and everyone had decamped.  It's been raining here all day.  Little severe thunderstorms that drench us with fury, then pass off to the north, leaving everything hot and humid till an hour later, we get another.  We've been rained on four times since noon.

That's our radar map this afternoon, with a strong southerly flow.  Storms building to the south, washing across us heading north and dropping water at a monumental rate.  T here's nothing to be done in the yard, because about the time you get started, the rain drives you indoors.

This is the wettest May that I can ever recall.  I'll be glad when we get into a more normal weather pattern.  Right now, we're in the rainy season.

Milady and I will be celebrating Memorial Day tomorrow, in our own way.  This will be the first Memorial Day in several years where we're both off, and we're going to slip off and have some fun.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Afternoon Shooting

We shoot whenever we can, and this new target is a big help in recording times.  Here, Louisiana Calamity Jane takes her turn on the line.

Our dress isn't necessarily approved dress for the association, but this is backyard practice, after all.  My lady is getting faster, and she's hitting a bit more regularly.  That voice in the background is our new member, grandson Zachary, running the line.  He's turned into quite the safety fanatic and rangemaster.

Oh, the birds you hear are purple martins.  Their condo is just over the target butt, and I don't think that the firing bothers them one whit.  They seem to do just fine while the line is hot.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Two Books

Two books that I've been meaning to read.  I've been meaning to read these for years.  Nay, decades, and I finally pulled the pin and bought them.

No Second Place Winner, by Bill Jordan and The Art of he Rifle, by Jeff Cooper.  I'm told that these two are classics and why I have neglected to have them in my library is only answered by my penchant for procrastination.  They're both available from Amazon, of course, and I intend to begin my education immediately.  I'm told that Jordan's chapter on the fast draw is particularly illuminating.


It's been raining most of the last couple of weeks.  Steady downpours that continue to fill the creeks, bayous ditches and swamps.  The Red River is at flood stage, and no indication that the rain is going to let up in the near term.  All that water has to go somewhere.

The weather is the talk of the office, and I'm hearing reports that local communities are being affected.  Bayou Derbonne in southern Natchitoches parish is flooding, and the Good Hope community near Cypress, LA is likely cut off.    Other co-workers report that Bayou Rigollette is near flood stage and the road that links that community with Pineville.

That's what the weather map looked like at 11:00 a.m. today.  I'm not sure where all that water is going to go, every drain we have is full.  For folks in low-lying areas, it's liable to get interesting in the next day or so.

One thing that I learned when I lived in the swamp along Bayou Derbonne is that it never floods while it's raining.  Normally, it takes two or three days for the water to work its way down from the hills, to fill the creeks, which drain into the bayous and sloughs.  Normally, it floods in good weather.  After the bad weather.  It might get interesting around here in the next two or three days.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Lighted Target

This came in yesterday, but I didn't have time to assemble or test it.  When I came in tonight, I found that Milady had broken into the box and started assembling it.  So, I finished and tested it.

It's a complete CFDA target system with light, timer, cables, everything we need to get good times in our backyard range.  As soon as we take measurements from this one, we'll build another target and I'll order another set of electronics.  Then we can start holding matches in the back yard.

It's not like we've gotten into this game or anything.

Monday, May 18, 2015


My eldest grandson is graduating from High School tonight.  Milady and I will be there to see him walk.  He's heading to my old alma mater, NSU, to study music education.  We're awfully proud of him.  Below, he's with his dad and younger brother.

Congratulations, Michael.  We're looking forward to attending several more graduations.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Wax Bullet Seater

Fred asks, in comments:
Question--Do you have a "speed loader" of some type to load wax bullet s?Between you nd my barber I became interested and bought wax and brass. Now my fingers are sore from loading for my grandchildren. Great fun.Fred
As it turns out, Fred, I do.  It's built from a Y-Tex Plus Ear Tag Applicator I picked up at Tractor Supply.  I wish I could take credit for it, but I can't.  I understand that it came from a bunch of shooters in East Texas, the Big Thicket Bushwackers, who were looking for a way to quickly seat wax bullets. When you buy the thing from the vendor, you'll notice that it has a little clip that holds the ear tag.  Pop that off.  Then you'll have to get out your Dremel tool and hog-out an area that will accommodate a standard shell holder.

Cut a little, fit a little, cut a little more.  Use the pin that cowboys normally use to insert the ear tag into the cows ear, use that pin to center the shell holder under the ram.

Use that pin to make sure that the shell holder is centered, then epoxy that shell holder into the lower arm of the ear tag applicator.

That applicator pin simply unscrews from the ram.  What you're left with is a shell holder centerd under the ram.  Put an empty brass in the shell holder, start a wax bullet, then squeeze the handle.  That ram will seat the bullet "As Slick As A Gut".  Again,simply unscrew that pin so that you can use the full diameter ram for seating bullets.

The Y-Tex applicator costs about $20.00 at any Tractor Supply.  The shell holder is about $5.00, give or take.  You may have an extra shell holder laying around.

I wish I could take credit for this easy modification, but I'm told the idea came out of east Texas.  If anyone else has any better information, I'll be happy to give credit.