Tuesday, September 30, 2014

That Election

Everyone is watching the election playing out in Louisiana right now, where incumbent Mary Landrieu is in the fight of her political life.  She's challenged by the Republican pretender, Bill Cassidy, a favorite of the political class, and by a new upstart, Rob Maness who is still gaining momentum, although his numbers are in the high teens.

Louisiana famously, has what is called a "jungle primary" where everyone interested in the office runs in the same primary, regardless of party affiliation.  The top two vote-getters are paired in a runoff election, if no one gets over 50% in the primary.  This rule insures that the winner gets the majority of the vote.  You can't be elected in Louisiana without a clear majority.

Elbert Guillory is a state senator, representing most of St. Landry parish and the northern part of Lafayette parish.  In the below ad, he slams Mary Landrieu for ignoring the black community.

Great ad from a prominent state senator.

In the first go-round, I'm voting for Rob Maness.    He's a long shot to win it, but he's running a good campaign and I like his message.

Thinking About Rifles - IX

We've pretty well defined it at this point, but we haven't done the most important thing.  Whether your practical rifle is a semi, or a lever,  a bolt, or even a pump rifle, there is one other thing to consider.  Can you shoot it?

If it's properly fitted, with good sights, odds are that you can shoot it.  Many joff-the-shelf rifles are very accurate these days.  Back when I started shooting rifles, the rifle that would put three into a one inch group at 100 yards was rare.  Now, the minute-of-angle rifle is fairly common.  Modern manufacturing methods have made accurate rifles easier to manufacture, so the simple truth is that many rifles nowadays come out of the box ready to shoot that benchmark one-inch group.

So, the question becomes; can you shoot the rifle?  There's only one way to find out.  Take it out to the range and shoot it.  Fortunately, folks have been doing this for years, and it's easy to test yourself against an easily definable standard.  Fr. Frog has laid out some of the tests they use at Gunsite, but I've used my own test for years.  All that's required is a safe backstop and a common paper plate.  Because that paper plate (9-10") represents the heart/lung area of a whitetail deer, I require my grandsons to hit that plate with one shot, on demand, with no warm-up or sighters.

If you need to sight your rifle in, then do so at leisure.  But, there comes a time when you must make the shot.  There are time limits on everything, whether you're shooting a target match, whether you're on a qualification range, or whether you're in the game fields  That deer isn't going to stand there forever, so you have to make the shot now, or not.  Time stands still for no one.

Practice makes perfect, and while no one is a perfect rifle shot, those of us who profess to enjoy the art of rifle shooting should make time to practice  Learn from every shot, seek out the advice of knowledgeable shooters  Take a class if your time and finances allow it, but above all, practice

Thinking About Rifles - VIII

It's time to think about sights.  If we consider the basic purpose of a rifle is to put a bullet into a target, then we must also consider the sighting system.  As this is a mental exercise, let's consider our options.

Iron sights used to be standard on every rifle, but that's no longer the case.  Iron sights have limitations, but some very good riflemen know how to use them.  I myself have several rifles with iron sights, and while they have their limitations, they also have their advantages. Probably the biggest disadvantage is that they're not very precise.  Before you all start howling, follow my reasoning for a moment.  The front sight on my Handi Rifle is 0.091" wide and covers about 10 inches at 100 yards.  Ten inches is a lot of terrain at 100 yards, and the area that front sight covers increases as the distance increases.  It is possible to shoot accurately with iron sights, and folks have made remarkable shots with iron sights, but they're not normally as precise as other sights, so we have to take that into account when we're discussing sighting systems.  However, iron sights are normally rugged and they're considered very fast.  If your target is close and presents itself for only a short period of time, iron sights might be the sight of choice.

Red Dot sights have come into their own in the past decade and there are some very nice ones on the market these days.  They are robust enough that the US military uses them on the M4 carbine.  The benefit of the red dot sight is that it projects a spot of light on the same visual plane as the target.  Put the dot on the sight, then fire the rifle.  Some of them are magnified, some are not, so choose wisely.  The one consistent drawback is that they use batteries, and while battery life is being extended in the red dot sights, if your battery dies, the sight is inoperable.  So, we pay our money and we take our chances, and red dot sights are an option that we shouldn't overlook.

Telescopic sights are here to stay.  With a bewildering variety of companies making them, options abound, and the price point might be under $100 dollars, or you might spend several thousands.  There are a variety of reticles, magnifications, and finishes.  The one constant in telescopic sights is that the ones on the market today are a whole lot better than the ones that were on the market thirty or forty years ago, and for the vast majority of rifle shooters, the rifle scope is a basic bit of gear.

For the practical rifle, it's important that when we mount the rifle,  the sight becomes instantly visible.  Yesterday, when talking about length of pull, we demanded that the stock fit the operator, and here we must consider comb height.  We've all seen a shooter have to move his head forward or backward, or un or down to see through the sights, and this is purely impractical when considering the practical rifle.  When the rifle is mounted in the shooting position, the sights should come instantly to the eye, with proper cheek weld and proper eye relief so that when the rifle is fired, the sight stays away from the face.  This is dependent on a number of personal considerations, to include the height of one's cheekbones and is not something that has a one-size-fits-all answer.  More than anything, it's a personal set of measurements, and the rifleman (or woman) must put proper   thought and experimentation into the rifle to make sure that the chosen sight comes instantly to the eye.

Some might require that a rifle have two sighting systems (for example, irons and scope) but I don't think that's necessary for a practical rifle.  What is important is that the rifle be set up properly for whatever system the operator decides to use, that the sighting system be robust, and that it be properly fitted to both the rifle and the operator so that it is instantly usable when mounting the rifle.

So, we amend the definition of the practical rifle to include the following:
1. magazine fed repeating rifle
2. weighing between 2.5 and 5 kilos
3.The cartridge must be capable of striking a single decisive blow on the target likely to be encountered at a distance where the operator is capable of placing the bullet in the vital area of the target.
4. Maximum length of 43 inches, with the length of pull properly proportioned to the individual
5. Robust sighting system, properly fitted to the rifle and instantly available to the operator.

Now, we're getting somewhere.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Thinking About Rifles - VII

Length is important when we consider rifles, but there is more to it than that.  Overall length is perhaps the easiest to consider because a rifle must be handy.  If a rifle isn't handy, it's not apt to be "at hand" when you need it.  If we consider Mr. Garand's battle implement to be the upper weight for a practical rifle, at 11 lbs, then we should also slide look down the page to see the overall length.  We find that it is 43" long.

I measured some of my hunting rifles, and found that the common length of a standard over-the-counter hunting rifle seems to be between 40 and 43 inches.  That's some sort of magic number, apparently, so we can use that as the outer maximum length of a practical rifle. Shorter is better, generally, as handiness plays such a big part of rifle use, but we'll use 43 inches as the maximum length of our mythical practical rifle.

The next length we'll consider is more important, and vastly more personal.  Here we're talking length of pull.  The distance between the trigger and the butt of the rifle, and many shooters find that it is a vastly personal distance that determines if they're able to shoot the rifle accurately or not.  Length of pull determines whether a rifle is too long or too short.

For example, several years ago I bought a Cricket rifle to use as a grandkid training device.  It's a diminutive little rifle, 30 inches overall, but the stock is short, for tiny people, with a length of pull of 12 inches.  I simply cannot shoot that rifle, it's altogether too short.  My seven year old grandson can shoot it just fine.

On the other hand, we find that a length of pull that's too long is also problematic, and I suspect that many rifle shooters suffer from a length of pull that is too long.  We've all seen a young shooter, perhaps trying his father's rifle, struggle with a stock that is simply too long.  The military nowadays uses adjustable stocks on the M4 carbine for just that reason.  We shoot better with a stock that fits, which is something that shotgunners have known for decades.

Some rifle manufacturers have agreed, and some rifles come with adjustable stocks.   I note that the Ruger Gunsite Scout rifle comes with spacers on their stock that allows the shooter to adjust the length of pull, from 12.75 to 14.5 inches.  I wish that Ruger would adopt such a system for all their rifles.

Length of pull is hugely important, a basic consideration, and one that is vastly personal.  Your body determines whether a stock fits you or not, and a "one-size-fits all" approach simply doesn't work.Your stock had to fit you for the rifle to be practical.

So, once again, we'll modify the criteria for what we consider to be a practical rifle.
1. magazine fed repeating rifle
2.  weighing between 2.5 and 5 kilos
3.The cartridge must be capable of striking a single decisive blow on the target likely to be encountered at a distance where the operator is capable of placing the bullet in the vital area of the target.
4.  Maximum length of 43 inches, with the length of pull properly proportioned to the individual operator.

Now, we're getting it nailed down.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Thinking About Rifles -VI

As we consider this mythical practical rifle, we've already talked about bore diameter, but I think it's important to consider the cartridge.  They are two entirely different things.  We all know, for example that the diminutive 7mm TCU is the same bore diameter as the 7mm Weatherby Magnum, but the two cartridges are vastly different.  If the purpose of a rifle is to place a bullet on a target then we must consider the target.

Many years ago, some rifle shooters adopted a game that we now know as Metallic Silhouette shooting where they shot at steel targets at varying ranges.  They shot this game off their hind legs, so the choice of rifle became critical, as did the choice of cartridge.  It wasn't enough to stricke the 500 meter ram target, you had to knock it down, so the satisfying clang of a bullet on target counted for naught if the target didn't fall over.  Too light a cartridge and the target doesn't fall over.

Jeff Cooper, when trying to define his Scout Rifle, demanded a caliber with sufficient power to do the job.
capable of striking a single decisive blow, on a live target of up to 200 kilos in weight, at any distance at which the operator can shoot with the precision necessary to place a shot in a vital area of the target".
Note that we're not talking about Scout rifles, but a mythical practical rifle, so we might amend the caliber designation to read something like this:
The cartridge must be capable of striking a single decisive blow on the target likely to be encountered at a distance where the operator is capable of placing the bullet in the vital area of the target
So, whether we're talking about metallic silhouette or the game fields, or even a battle rifle, we need a cartridge capable of doing the job we intend, at the range we might encounter.   That gives us room to start to personalize our practical rifle for the game and the terrain.  There is a vast difference between knocking over a whitetail deer in the thickets of central Louisiana, and taking an elk across a valley in Idaho.  Ideally, the practical rifle might be capable of both jobs, but what may practical in one place may not be practical in another.

So, we amend the definition of a practical rifle to the following.
1. magazine fed repeating rifle
2.  weighing between 2.5 and 5 kilos
3.The cartridge must be capable of striking a single decisive blow on the target likely to be encountered at a distance where the operator is capable of placing the bullet in the vital area of the target.

There is still a lot to talk about, and we're soon going to be dealing with the stickiest parts of this mental exercise.

Sunday Morning Dawg

The dog this morning demonstrates that however far from the ancestry, every dog has a hunter inside him.  I was surprised this morning to hear the dog squeal on a "jump cry", then immediately change into a chopping bark, indicating a chase.  So, I grabbed my camera.

Yeah, he's hunting something.  A wider view will reveal his prey.

Good Dawg!  You've got that cat right where you want him.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Thinking About Rifles - V

As we consider the practical rifle, we've got to set limits, as wide as those limits might be.  Today we'll consider weight.

Last week, a neighbor came over to show me a rifle he's been working with.  The action is from a major manufacturer (think Green) and the stock is some fiberglass-filled wonder with a pistol grip.  The barrel has a heavy contour and the scope is a variable with the upper reaches of magnification near 20 power.  That neighbor wants a thousand yard rifle, and he might have one.

This is not to beat my neighbor down.  Rifles like this seem to be the fashion these days, and it seems that some folks want to replicate the rifles our boys have used in the current conflict, mostly rifles like the Remington Model 24.  That's fine, until we understand that the sniping rifles our boys are using are specialized weapons   A proper sniper team has two members, the rifleman and a spootter, so the M24 could properly be considered a crew-served weapon.  Understand that I have high admiration for those fellows, and would buy any one of them a beer.  Also, understand that in our great country, a fellow can have any rifle he chooses to have.  I myself have a rifle with a long, heavy barrel, a replica of a rifle from the 19th century.  It is very accurate, but it weighs considerably more than I like to carry in the field.  Back to my neighbor, we put his rifle on my scale, and it weighed in at 13.75 lbs.  He's well oh his way to having a M24 clone.

I have several friends with heavy specialty rifles.  These rifles are set up to make long shots across open fields.  Hereabouts we call them beanfield rifles, exquisitely crafted, capable of putting a bullet into something in the next grid square, they are very nice rifles and the folks that shoot them are passionate about the care and feeding of those rifles.  They are specialty items and we are considering the practical rifle.  So, let's not be confused about the topic.

Going to the literature, we find that the US Rifle, Cal 30 M1 weighed in a svelt  9.5 to 11 pounds, depending on the particular model.  I've talked to real men who carried those rifles on a walking tour or Europe, and they tell me that those rifles are heavy sonsofbitches after you've been carrying them for a while.  Using contemporary standards, we find that 11 pounds is roughly equivalent to 5 kilos, so we'll consider that the upper limit of the weight of a practical rifle.

On the other end of the scale, we find companies making extremely light rifles.  Ultra Light Arms comes to mind, a company who I understand makes very fine, accurate rifles for folks to whom every ounce matters.  Their Mountain Rifle weighs in at 4.75 lbs, and I'm sure that ourfitted for the field with scope and sling, it's pushing five pounds.  Going to a mass manufacturer, we find that Savage Arms makes a rifle called the Lightweight Hunter that weighs 5.5 lbs, and the new Ruger American Compact weighs in at 6 pounds.  Converting those weights to the metric standard gives us a convenient 2.5 kilos.

So, we might be able to say that the practical rifle is a
1. Magazine fed repeating rifle
2. that weighs between 2.5 ad 5 kilos, outfitted with sights and sling.

We're starting to narrow this down.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Thinking About Rifles - IV

Continuing our discussion of practical rifles, we turn now to action type, and we shouldn't be too hasty in deciding, so let's look at the options.

The lever action has a lot to recommend it.  It's chambered in a variety of rifles and carbines and widely used by plenty of hunters.  Christopher Spencer is credited with the first popular lever action rifle, built in 1860, it's an old design that has seen numerous upgrades and re-designs over the years.  Winchester did more than anyone to popularize it, while Savage upgraded it, and it's been manufactured by a number of firms.  Newer examples combine the nostalgia of the lever action with the spitzer bullets of contemporary cartridges.  Just yesterday, while wandering through a gun store, I handled a nice Winchester Model 88 in .243 Winchester that I thought would be a dandy stalking rifle.    Some have tube magazines, some have box magazines, but all are quick, handy, and have fairly robust actions.  We cannot discount the lever action rifle.

The bolt action rifle is beloved by  many shooters and is considered by many as the basis for a fine rifle.  Time extolling the bolt action would be superfluous, so we'll limit the discussion here.  Two magazine types predominate in these rifles, the internal box and the detachable box.  Either is sufficient to our purposes.  The only criteria I have for a bolt action rifle is that it should be smooth and the bolt easily manipulated from the shoulder.

We turn now to the semi-auto.  From JM Browning, to John Garand, to Eugene Stoner, Americans have been fascinated with the semi-auto for the past century.  It's hard to argue that the Garand isn't a practical rifle.  Eight rounds of .30-06 is plenty for the purpose, even if the rifle might be a little long at 43 inches and a little heavy at about 10 pounds, millions of Americans have used them for battle and recreation.  Eugene Stoner's rifle, on the other hand, appeals to a great many Americans.  It's called (among other things) the modern sporting rifle, the evil black rifle, or the poodle shooter, but no one can deny that the design hasn't been successful, and has been embraced by millions of shooters.

The one constant in deciding on which action type we should adopt for the practical rifle is that it should allow a fast follow up shot.  The ability to deliver a fast second shot may not be critical on the target range, but on the game fields it's considered very handy.  Arguments can be made either way, but I believe that the first criteria for a practical rifle is that it be a magazine fed repeating rifle.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thinking About Rifles - Comments

Useful comments from this series, and I appreciate the input.  Let's look at a couple of them, and not get ahead of ourselves.

Anonymous comments:
All the above maybe true BUT it does not allow for those the shoot from the bench for small groups because they enjoy it.
Not al shooting has to be to prepair for the field or for self defence. Lots of people shoot just for the pleasure of shooting.
That's true and I'm not trying to put anyone down, nor denigrate the benchrest game.  Bench shooters have taught us a lot about accurate shooting over the past couple of decades, and I regularly surf Accurate Shooter to look at the latest trends.   There are wonderful things that the bench shooters have taught us over the years and I appreciate their efforts.

Joel says:
I believe - could be wrong - that it was Cooper who dismissed DA/SA pistols as 'a brilliant solution to a nonexistent problem.' History seems to have applied the same putdown to the Scout Rifle concept.
Yep, that's what Cooper said and you may be right that history will be the death knell of the Scout rifle concept.    That's yet to be seen.  Note that I'm not talking about Scout rifles, but I'm using a term of the practical rifle.    That's undefined as yet, and this is as much a problem I'm working though in my battery as an exercise in putting order into my own thinking.  As I work through this mental exercise I'm coming up with some thoughts that surprise even me, and I'm happy to discuss them all, so stick with me and we'll try to decide what we're looking for, and to define the practical rifle for all of us.  You may be surprised at the outcome.  I am no expert, just an old shooter going through a mental exercise.

Finally, in today's post, Fred makes the following observation:
You have made the case for a safe full of rifles.
No shooter ever has enough.
Oh, Fred, I hope not.  One of my problems is my case full of rifles.  There is no shortage of firearms available to the fanatics at PawPaw's House, and a big part of this mental exercise is to decide which are practical, and which are not.  We'll continue in this thread over the next several days and see which is which.  Hopefully tomorrow we'll start weeding the turn-row.

Thinking about Rifles - III

No serious discussion on rifles can be conducted unless we examine bore diameter as it relates to the practical rifle  If we accept as a given that the purpose of the practical rifle is simply to deliver a bullt to a target than we must consider the bullet.  The gun writers that preceded us liked certain calibers and extolled their virtues.  For example, we remember that Jack O'Connor liked the .270 Winchester, Elmer Keith liked the big bores, and Jeff Cooper was fond of the .30 calibers.  Each of these esteemed writers had their arguments and their reasoning.  It is not for me to disagree with them.  However, one of the biggest differences we have these days is with the quality of the bullet available.  These esteemed gentlemen simply didn't have the bullets we have today.

While it's true that size matters, I don't believe that it matters as much today as it did in earlier days.  Today's rifleman has a wide variety of bullets to choose from, suited to particular tasks, regardless of the game.  Whether paper, steel, or hunting, there are bullets suited to the task and it is our happy task to choose the right bullet for the job.  If we're considering the practical rifle, then we must ask the question' Practical for what?  There's the rub.

The practical rifle should be suited for the task at hand, and different riflemen need different rifles.  A hunter going afield for brown bear in Alaska should probably carry a larger bore than the hunter down south who wants to take a whitetail deer.  We understand the difference between dangerous game and herbivores, and we understand the difference between the woodlands of the East, the thickets of the South and the vast areas of open land out West.

With the better bullets available to us, I believe that we can step down one caliber from what the old-timers considered suitable.  So, when considering the practical rifle and we consider caliber, the simple answer should be that the caliber be sufficient for the task that the rifleman might be expected to encounter.  I know that this is not an entirely satisfying answer, but it is the one that we are left with and should provide plenty of fodder for the campfire discussions.

Note, for the record, that I consider the humble .22LR to be America's favorite cartridge, and I do not include the rimfire in the discussion of the practical rifle.  It is my firm opinion that every rifleman should have at least one rifle chambered in .22 Long Rifle and should use it frequently.  As a small game rifle, as a training rifle, as a practice rifle, the .22 should be considered a mainstay of every battery.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Thinking About Rifles - II

I'm continuing to think about rifles, particularly practical rifles, and attempting to define in my mind what a practical rifle might be.  Accuracy is a big part of rifle marksmanhip, and in reading Cooper's Commentaries from January 1995, we stumble upon this little blurb.
Having nothing to lose, I am going to climb out on a loose limb and make a horrifying statement. To wit: group size is spinach.
Well, wash my mouth out with soap! To a large number of smallarms enthusiasts in the world, group size is everything. If that is the way they want it, that is all right with me, but I must say that these people are devoting a great deal of attention to an essentially trivial matter. Certainly a very accurate rifle - or pistol - is a satisfying instrument to own and use. Whether it makes any difference in practical application is another matter. Consider for a moment that group size is normally measured by group diameter from the impact centers of the two widest shots in the group. Consider further that even if that is a good measure, group radius is of considerably more interest, since group radius measures the distance between the theoretical point of aim and the worst shot in the group. And let us further consider that in any given group the majority of hits is likely to be located in the center of the group, so we can further cut down the "range probable error" to one-quarter of group diameter. In no case do we know of a man who can shoot well enough to appreciate that. I was told recently by a colleague that he was attempting to do some head-size groups at 500 meters coming up summer. I responded that I had once shot an ornamental 500-meter group with an SSG, using 1962 Lake City Match ammunition, but that since I had shot it from a bench it did not really count. I did not wish to hurt his feelings, but I do wish to point out that what the shooter can do from a bench is no measure of how he can shoot.
Interesting, especially as a large part of my shooting is from a bench.  I find the bench an especially useful tool when evaluating a rifle, laying a zero, or testing reloads.  I think that what the Colonel was saying is that we'd be better served by getting away from the bench and learning to shoot the rifle.  Only hits count, so after we've used the tools to make sure that the rifle shoots where it looks, get away from the bench and learn to shoot the rifle.

I should ponder this at greater length.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bear Attack

It appears that a bear has killed a hiker in New Jersey.
New Jersey wildlife officials believe that a black bear in search of food killed a Rutgers University senior who was hiking with four friends over the weekend.
 The body of Darsh Patel, 22, of Edison, N.J., was found Sunday in the Apshawa Preserve in West Milford. Police Chief Timothy Storbeck said the male bear was walking in a circle about 30 yards from the victim's body and wouldn't leave even after officers tried to scare it away by making loud noises and throwing sticks and stones.
The article goes on to describe the scene, and talks about the bear having to be killed with rifle fire, and talks about safety in the woods where there are bears.  The curious part of the article is that it never talks about carrying a rifle while hiking.  I would think that in bear country a rifle would be a sensible precaution.  Of course, it may be that in the present state of New Jersey, the idea of having a rifle along for the daily might not be fashionable among the residents of that state.  They would do well to remember the words of Thomas Jefferson.
  A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives a moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprize, and independance to the mind. Games played with the ball and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks.
Condolences to her family.  She might never have been taught to use firearms, and more's the pity.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Thinking About Rifles

Earlier I was reading Jeff Cooper's Commentaries, looking in the old stuff from 1993 and came upon his thoughts on the modern bolt-action rifle.  I was considerably surprised at some of the criteria from that period in his writings.  We consider Cooper the father of the Scout rifle concept, but some of the earlier musings surprised me.  For example:
A modern bolt-action should be instantly convertible from right to left-hand operation. About one customer in six is left-handed, and should not need to put in for special consideration.
Altogether an excellent idea, a bolt that converts from left to right-handed operation.  With one left-handed son and several southpaw grandsons, this is a wonderful idea.  I'm not sure how the engineering would work out, but I like the ideal.
The modern bolt-action should feature a rotary box magazine with a shoulder detent to avoid masking soft-point spitzers flat while waiting their turn. (Personally, I would prefer something on the order of Savage 99, but the Mannlicher-type - if made of steel - would do as well.) 
Really?  A rotary magazine?  I didn't know that Cooper was a fan.

I also have been thinking about the modern bolt action rifle lately, so I thought I'd look to the guru to make sure that I am on firm ground.  If you're interested, the online compilation of Cooer's Commentaries can be found here.


Not something you see every day, the Goodyear blimp flying over Pineville, LA.  Don't know where it was headed, but it was flying generally northward.

It's not every day you see a blimp over Pieville.  Heck, this is the first time I can ever remember seeing it here.  The photo was taken with my phone and when I got closer, it had headed off to the north.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Morning Dawg

A couple of years ago, the grandkids left a frisbee on the deck, and after a rainstorm it filled with water.  The dog, of course, drank from it.  Great Jumping Jehosephat!  That's the best water ever.  Frisbee water.

This isn't the same frisbee, as they UV pretty badly after a while, so PawPaw is always on the lookout for a good deck frisbee, because that's about all the that dog will drink from.  He loves his frisbee water, it's the very best.  He'll even share wit the cat, who also likes frisbee water.

Frisbee water, it's the best water available.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday Song

One of my all-time favorites, Katy Mattea, singing at the Grand Old Opry.

He'll spend the rest of his life with the one that he loves.

Wind Chimes

Milady and I like wind chimes, as a casual observer of our back patio can attest.  Big ones, little ones, we like them all.  Last night at the auction, a set of wind chimes came up on the block, and Milady picked them up for a song.

This morning, I trekked to Lowe's for hardware.

They sound pretty good.  More baritone than the little twinkly ones.  Of course, you can click on the pic for a better view, and yes, that yellow square on the right is a fly-swatter.  Didn't notice it until I took the picture, and I've been looking for that thing for a week.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Parachuting Tank??

Surfing around Instapundit, we come to this little blurb that says the Army wants a parachuiting tank.  Really?  Well, who doesn't?

The only problem is, it ain't a tank, and you can parachute anything once.   We tried it once, with the M551 A-Cav vehicle, a lousy armored cav vehicle, but a hell of a lot of fun to drive.  Great automotive system, lousy turret.

It was air-mobile, and air-droppable, but it became a stationary pillbox after you dropped it.  Like I said earlier, you can drop anything once.

Thanks for the memories.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Polling and Waves

If you follow the political blogs and news aggregates during this election season, you'll see lots of concern about political waves and chances of Republicans winning the Senate.  The pundits are lost in their numbers and they're trying to figure out what the voters might do.

I'd remind the assembled believers that there is only one poll that matters and we'll pull those levers the first week of November.  No one knows what will happen until then, so until then we've got to keep our noses to the grindstone and try to get voters.  That's the only poll that matters and we have to wait and see how that comes out.

Until then, don't get cocky.  They call the Republicans, the Stupid Party for a reason.  Don't get cocky.

We The People

We The People are perhaps the strongest words in the American Experiment and the opening words of our Constitution.  It behooves American officials to listen to The People, because that's where the power lies.  From our most powerful national offices to our most humble local offices, the officials there had better listen to The People, or suffer the consequences.

I was privileged last night to be at such a meeting, where The People showed up to voice their opinions, to make demands, and to chastise their elected officials.  In a stunning display of common  sense and civic virtue, those same officials decided that The People were right, and amended their policies to reflect the will of The People.

As I told someone last night, it's best to listen to The People, especially when they show up in mass.  As long as they don't show up with sacks of feathers and buckets of tar, we'll be okay.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

That Old Handi Rifle

I've changed my hunting area this year, getting closer to home, and the simple fact is that I don't need a long-range rifle.  Indeed, my longest shot will be on the near side of 75 yards.  I surely don't need a flat-shooting .25-06, nor a hot loaded .243, nor even my old trustworthy 30-06.  So, I was perusing my battery this year for the deer rifle of choice, and my eyes fell upon my old .45-70 Handi-Rifle.

The .45-70 is an old cartridge, originally adopted by the US Government as a centerfire rifle cartridge in 1873 as the round for the 1873 Springfield rifle.  Originally known as the .45-70-405, it threw a 405 grain lead bullet to about 1400 fps.  The .45-70 is a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and handloaders have to be careful when they're loading the old cartridge.  It's one of only a few that are loaded to different power levels, depending on the action type.  A modern Sharps, or Ruger #1 can handle a whole lot more pressure than an original trapdoor Springfield, and handloaders should be careful when loading this cartridge.

Regular readers know my fondness for the Handi Rifle, a single shot rifle built by Harrington and Richardson, it's chambered in a variety of calibers and are very useful game-getters.  I've written about my Handi Rifles before, at my domain site, and if anyone's interested they can click over there and take a gander.

So, I took it out of the cabinet for a closer look.

Very basic rifle, not unlike similar rifles that were used on the frontier long ago.  Some say it's almost a direct descendant of the Frank Wesson rifle, a crack-barrel poor man's rifle.  Mine isn't even scoped, instead I mounted a Williams peep sight on the rear of the barrel.

At 7.5 pounds, it's not a light rifle, but at 37 inches, it's handy.  When you're throwing a bigh honking 405 grain bullet, you don't want a light rifle.  When you're pushing that big lead bullet at almost 1600 fps, it'll rattle your teeth.  The load below is interesting, but I can't recommend that anyone try it, simply because it isn't listed as a viable load these days.

You won't find that load in any of the reloading manuals today, indeed I found it several years ago, and even then, it's below minimum.  However, today IMR 4895 isn't popular in the old government cartridge and you won't find many loads for it.  This load is safe in my rifle, but cautious handloaders will check their manuals before trying a load in their rifles.  Again, the .45-70 is one of those cartridges that can be loaded mild or wild.  If you load a wild cartridge in a mild rifle, it might come apart on you.  Be careful in handloading for this old cartridge.  The usual caveats apply.

I think that the old Handi Rifle might be just the ticket for my new hunting area.  I'm certain that the rifle and the cartridge are capable, they've been taking game for over 100 years.  The question, is am I capable?  We'll see.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday Blahs

Slow news day, nothing much happening, Benghazi, ISIS, IRS, terrorists, you've all seen the news.  Republican, Democrat, Midterms.  Bleh.  Obama, Hillary, will we ever be shed of these troublesome people?

Local politics is starting to get fun, though.  We've got several local races going on, and I haven't decided who I"m going to vote for, and who to cull.  Some judges, a DA's race, parish and city elections for things like Alderman, and city council, and school board.  Justice of the Peace, and Constable races abound.  Mayoral races everywhere that has a mayor.  Things should get more interesting as we get closer to election day.

Nothing worth blogging, though.  Y'all check back tomorrow.  The most interesting thing I have going right now is laundry, and that should speak loads.  (Get it, loads?)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Morning Dawg

First cool front of the season, the weather is in the 60s and we're glad to see it.  We're not ready to take the flannel shirts out yet, but the change in the weather is welcome.  It makes the dog frisky, and he wanted to move around when we went outside to check the mail.

Strutting proud, this morning is a lot nicer than yesterday morning.

Oh, look!  There's the mail lady now.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cop Stories

Over at this forum, they were talking about a bar raid gone wrong in Louisville, KY, and I chimed in about the proper way to conduct a raid.  It's actually pretty simple, and goes something like this.
The way you do that is simple. 1) ABC runs the operation. 2) ABC evolves information that illegal activity is going on in the bar. 3) ABC articulates said information on a warrant application and takes it to a friendly judge. 4) After the warrant is signed, ABC teams with local agencies to conduct the raid. Normally, we'd take local police, probation and parole officers, juvenile detectives, Military Police (in case you had to process GIs), the Fire Marshall, and the Health inspector. Maybe a couple of K-9 officers.
 About a half-hour before the raid, everyone meets at a rally point. You send two plainclothes officers (a male and female) in the bar to find a place and get comfortable. Pay the cover, buy a drink. At H-hour, they move to the restrooms to lock them down as the raid team goes through the door. You don't want the patrons flushing contraband, and they'll try, Lord, how they'll try.
The lead ABC officer gives the barkeep a copy of the warrant. The local police control the crowd while the probation officers look for their clientele (who ain't supposed to be there), the health inspector does his thing, the K-9s look for dope, etc, etc. You'll normally find dope hear the bandstand. And, every gal in the place suddenly has an urge to urinate. Amazing.
 After you've checked everything you leave. If the bar is reasonably clean, you remind the barkeep that closing time is 2:00 a.m. If the bar is being run wrongly, the Fire Marshall and ABC in cooperation with the Health Inspector, shut it down.
 And that's the way you do a bar raid. Simple, no? The last one I was on, I was on the entry team, and when we came through the door, we noticed a three-year-old sitting a the bar, drinking Pepsi from a sippy cup and coloring in a coloring book. That was a very interesting raid. We took the dope out of there in a bushel basket, and we wrote over 200 juvenile citations. In a bar raid. Very interesting night.
That's the way you do a bar raid.  Do the paperwork first, do the planning next, then go out and play with the criminals.  You rookies write that down, it will keep you out of trouble later.


Got up this morning, made coffee, and wandered out to the patio, where I noticed a distinct chill in the air.  Not cold, but decidedly more pleasant than the weather has been all week.  Indeed, since April.  For folks acclimated to 80 degree weather before 8 a.m., having it be in the 60s at daylight is a decided change.

A quick look at the surface map shows me that a huge bubble of cool air has fallen across the US this week, and finally made it down to our little wet state.

That's a big ol' front, stretching from Virginia to Washington state, all along the coast. As weather maps go, that is fairly interesting.  For a few days, at least, Louisiana is under moderate temperatures and for that I am grateful.  I guess I should go put on some socks.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Range Time

I got around to shooting that Model 10 this week, and thoroughly enjoyed my limited time.  I slipped off to the indoor range on a lunch break and spent a half hour with a box of Winchester White Box 130 grain ammo and the old revolver.  I readily admit that it's been a long time since I shot a revolver, but the results aren't half bad.  The vast majority of the body shots were at 25 yards, the max range available at the indoor range, and the head shots were at 15 yards.  The target, or course, is a standard B27 target.

All the shots clustered to the left of the target, which tells me that I'm putting too much finger in the trigger guard.  Or, this old revolver might be regulated for standard 158 grain loads.  Either way, it deserves more research.  The revolver seems to be willing, it's just necessary for me to put in the time and find the ammo it likes.

Of course, there are very few skills that erode as quickly as proficiency with a handgun, and I readily admit that I don't spend enough time with my handguns.  It's been 10 years since I even picked up a revolver for any serious target work.  Still, it was fun to get out with the old revolver.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Rob Manes Reflects on 9/11

That's what Americans do.  We go to the fight.  We go to the sound of the guns, and we try to help.

This is why I'm voting for Rob Maness for US Senate.

Spider Lillies

Spider lillies, also known as pop-up lillies,or Johnny-Jump-Ups, are members of the Amaryllidaceae and common to these latitudes.  Normally seen inn the bright red variety, a couple of years ago I was lucky enough to find some of the pale pink variety.  I found them yesterday near my redwood fence.

Beautiful, pale pink flowers, we call these "white" in these parts.  Here's a close-up.  Of course, you can click on the picture for a closer look.

I've got some blood-red ones under the white oak tree out front, but they haven't popped-up yet.  If they do, you'll see pictures.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Venomous Snakes

With the incident yesterday at my son's house, and the upcoming hunting season, it might be appropriate to review the poisonous snakes in your locale, in my case, the venomous snakes found in central Louisiana.  Hereabouts, there are five species to be concerned about, although others are found in the Florida parishes east of the Mississippi.  A full list can be found here,  They are, in no particular order:

Canebrake rattler (also called the timber rattler, or banded rattlesnake), this is the one that my daughter-in-law dispatched yesterday.
Pygmy Rattlesnake.  This one is seldom seen, but can cause problems as well.
Cottonmouth.  Also knows as the water moccasin, or in some locales, the stubtail.    Found in low, swampy environs.
Copperhead, with a wide distribution, if's found in piney-hills and swampy land.
Coral snake  Two varieties in Louisiana, but they both have red bands touching yellow.  Remember the adage "Red and yellow kill a fellow."

Lots of folks will be out in the woods in the coming months, and it might behoove us to go to the link above and review the poisonous snakes in our woods.

There is, though that mythical beast that I call the Copper Headed Rattle Moccasin.  Bad attitude, powerful venom, I shoot those every time I see one.  Y'all be careful in the woods this autumn.

Monday, September 08, 2014


Daughter-in-law just texted me, telling me that a big 'ole rattlesnake came up the yard, and she dispatched it using a shotgun I loaned her last year.

Back last October, she told me that she needed a gun.  She lives in the country and the occasional varmint popped up when hubby wasn't around, and she needed a gun to deal with said varmints.  So, I commenced looking for a suitable varmint gun and found one at the pawn shop a week later.  This one, a NEF Partner shotgun.  Simple, durable, reliable.  20 gauge, a perfect varmint gun.  I loaned it to her, for the duration.

She used it today to dispatch a rattlesnake that had the temerity to wander up in the yard where my grandchildren play.  One shot with a light load of #8 shot, and that was a deceased rattlesnake.  Shame on him for showing up at Kimmie's house.

That shotgun was worth every penny I paid for it today.  Well done, Kimmie!

The Poodle Scout

Col Cooper, from his Commentaries, Vol 2, No 1, January 1997.
We have never been enthusiastic about the use as a battle round of the 223, which is essentially a varmint cartridge, and our view is shared by most of the people who have used the M16 in close combat. 
Or, in Vol 8, No 10. September 2000.
Witness the fact that we now have a curious artifact known as the "Poodle Scout" in caliber 223.
Or, vol 14, No 5, September 2006
 We have people now who have no idea what a shooting sling is for - and this is for instructors, not just the troops at large! We have in possession a Boy Scout training manual dated from about 1937 which sets up an excellent standard for the individual rifleman. Dismal as this may seem, our currently standard poodle shooter is not much to work with.
The complete index to Jeff  Cooper's Commentaries can be found here.

Yet, today Ruger announced a new product, a Gunsite Scout rifle chambered in .223.  I can only imagine what the Colonel thinks about that development, but I hope that they sell them by the boxcar load.    Which brings me to just one more Cooper quote, when asked about the industry.  Vol 9, No 3.
The aim of the industry, of course, is to sell stuff, which is fine
Indeed.  The aim of the industry is to sell stuff.   But, I think that we can reasonably dub this new rifle, The Poodle Scout.  Col Cooper has already named it.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Sunday Morning Dawg

What are those crazy cats doing?

I don't know, pup.  Looks lie they're playing on the glider.

Yeah, those cats have pretty much lost their minds.

Saturday, September 06, 2014


I went out to my little slice of heaven this afternoon, the family land seven miles from my house.  Various obligations and self-imposed tasks had conspired to keep me away from there for the last couple of months and it was sorely in need of some bush-hogging.

Bush-hogging, also known as shredding, or mowing in other parts of the country involve a tractor and a mower.  Something like this.

It's not a finish mower, it's for rough work, and I knew that various saplings, vines and other impediments had sprung up in the meadows on the rear of the property.   I needed to cut those down and the tractor was just the implement.  I knew it needed a battery, so earlier this week I picked one up.  I got to the land just before noon, met my brother who was doing other tasks, installed the battery, checked the fluids, and cranked it off.

To a country boy, there is very little that is as satisfying as bush-hogging.  You can see immediately what you've doine and what you need to do.  Very satisfying.  Of course, I was on my father's tractor, a little International 244 that I've driven since the early '80s.  Sitting on that tractor is like operating an old friend, we've spent so many hours together.

About an hour before I finished, it started raining, just a gentle summer shower.  The sun was still shining and the rain drops looked like little jewels falling through the trees.   I watched the rain fall as I steered the tractor, finishing the little patch I had started.  By the time I got to the barn, the rain had stopped so I brushed the limbs, leaves and twigs off the tractor, put it away, then swept the dirt I had tracked into the barn.  Locked everything up and headed home.

I feel like I actually accomplished something today.  The back meadows are mowed, and I can see across the property.  Very satisfying..

Weather Coming

It looks like we've got some weather coming, which is a pretty good prediction, since we get weather every day.  However, this might moderate the heat we've been feeling lately.  From this article at Accuweather:  It looks like the midsection is due for some cooler temps.

That'll be better.  Cooler is better than hotter, this time of year, but we wonder what that might mean to us in the deep south?  Frost in the Dakotas is one thing.  Frost in Louisiana is something else again.

Highs in the 80s, lows in the 60s?  I'll take all of that they can give me.  It's not quite time to break out the flannel shirts yet, but this forecast is certainly better than some I've seen.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Finally Friday

Finally  Friday and the work week is done.  I came home today and cleaned up that Model 10-2 and tried to get some better pictures of it.  Not being a professional photographer, I'm not good at things like lighting and apertures and such, although my Canon digital camera does a pretty good job when I let it do it's thing.

I've never had good luck taking pictures of a blued revolver, but I think this more accurately reflects what the gun looks like.

Of course, you can click on the picture for a larger version.  It's got a little holster wear at the muzzle, something I've come to expect on older revolvers, because they were carried.  I'm beginning to suspect that this one was carried more than it was fired.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Smith and Wesson Model 10-2

The Smith and Wesson Model 10 is an iconic revolver.  A basic, K-frame revolver in .38 SW Special, it's been made in one form or another since 1899, a successor to the Hand Ejector.  Before Smith and Wesson designated their revolvers by model number, the Model 10 was also known as the Military and Police, or alternatively the Victory model.  A quick history is here, but the main point is that Smith and Wesson has made a bunch of these revolvers and they're iconic.

Last week, a coworker told me that there was a new gun shop in town, and he told me that there was an old Smith and Wesson revolver in the consignment rack.  Today during a break I found the place, a tiny shop wedged into the corner of a building.  I walked in and asked about the old revolver.  The lady brought it out from the counter.

It's a 10-2, a 4" tapered barrel revolver.  Fixed sights, .38 Special, pinned barrel, nothing special about this revolver at all, except that I'm a fan of old revolvers and according to this site, this particular one was made in 1961,  I've  never owned a Model 10, but I've always liked them as basic, rugged revolvers.  They certainly have a time-tested design.  I did a quick Jim March checkout, and while the outside of the revolver has flaws, the internals seem fine.  It locks up tight, timing seems good, and the blueing is a lot nicer than the picture indicates.

After a little dickering, the price became right.  Very right, and I filled out a 4473.

Why We Win

I am reminded that this weekend is a special time in Louisiana, when sales taxes are suspended for shooting, bunting, fishing, and camping supplies.  From our local TV station:
The Second Amendment Weekend Sales Tax Holiday is September 5th through the 7th.
This tax holiday came about in 2009 when the Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature enacted the "Annual Louisiana Second Amendment Weekend Holiday Act." 
Hunting, fishing, and camping are important to Louisiana.  The legislature recognized that importance to our state by making the first weekend of September a time where they forgo the sales tax so that the citizens can get what they need.  What's covered?
 The act states that annually on the first weekend of September exemptions from state and local sales taxes will be applied to purchases of firearms, ammunition, and hunting supplies. Many of items fall under the exemption including off-road vehicles used for hunting.
So, let's say that you're in the market for a new rifle, a new shotgun, and a new 4-wheeler to use in the woods this year.  The bill for that might be $10,000, and saving the sales tax might mean that the sportsman saves over $1000 on his purchases.  Heck of a deal.

Louisiana truly is the Sportsman's Paradise.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

The Hits, They Keep On COming.

Mary Landrieu, our  besieged senior senator from Louisiana, is having a rough week.  It's bad enough that we learn that she doesn't live in Louisiana, nor does she own a home in this fair state,   But, today we learn that she hasn't paid the taxes on her brick mansion in Washington DC.
The home is listed under the name of Landrieu's husband, lawyer and real estate agent Frank Snellings, and the couple has accrued just over $1,000 in tax penalties in the second half of last year; interest brings the total penalty to $1,206.95 as of February 2.
Really, Senator?  On your salary you can't afford to pay property taxes like millions of your constituents?  I use the word "constituent" loosely, because Mary hasn't lived in this state in years.  This is the place she comes to get re-elected.

Pay your taxes, Mary.  Millions of the people you represent pay taxes every year.  Besides, after this election I'm sure that you can find a good lobbying gig.  You're going to need it.

PawPaw is endorsing Rob Maness for US Senator.  Let's send a tried, tested non-politician to the Senate.

Getting Ready

It's past Labor Day now, and it's time to start getting ready for the hunting season.  Ill be hunting on family land this year and I've got some catching up to do.  I need to bush-hog and set up my box stand, and Dad's tractor hasn't had a good battery for several years.  We've been jumping it off, and that's not the answer.  So today after work I went out to the family land and got the battery out of that old tractor.  I'll swap it for a new one tomorrow during my lunch break, and on Saturday I'll go out, fire up the tractor and do some mowing.

Hopefully, by October 1st I'll have my box stand set up and the feeder working.  That'll give the deer six weeks to get used to the mowed grass, the box stand and find the corn on the ground.  Our land is in Area 1, so my season doesn't start till November 15th this year.

I might ought'a get a hunting license too.  That might be a good idea.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Cop Stories

Once upon a time, I was working a rural caseload near Bugscuffle, LA, (not to be confused with Bugscuffle, TX) out in the sticks on the border of Louisiana and Texas. It had been One Of Those Days. When I got through, ready to head home just at dark, I was coming out of the woods and ran upon a little backwoods bar. I decided, just on the spur of the moment, to stop in and get a beer, the hell with the rules.   Those rules being that we don't go into bars in uniform, we don't drink in uniform, and we don't drive the state's cars after we've been drinking.  Like I said, it had been One Of Those Days, and to hell with the rules.

Technically, I wasn't in uniform.I was in sorta-plainclothes,. Khakis, cowboy boots, a polo with an embroidered badge, and a SW66 strapped to my waist. I walked to the bar, hailed the bartender, and suddenly the place emptied out, like I was raiding the joint.

The bartender looked at me. "What'll it be?"
"Miller High Life." I looked around at the empty bar.. "Do they always leave like that?"
Bartender snorted. "They don't trust the police. Are you going to be here long?"
"Just long enough to drink a beer. Why?"
"Cause I have to go to the bathroom. Watch the place for a minute, will you?"

I stood there in the quiet, drinking my beer. The barkeep came back a few minutes later, and I left the place, heading home to wife and children. Sure enough, all those rednecks were waiting quietly in the gravel parking lot. I tipped my hat to the ladies, started the car, and headed home.

Monday, September 01, 2014

The IRS SCandal - Day 480

Lest we forget, there's an IRS scandal still on the investigator's books, and suits abound. If you want to kep up with the latest on the ongoing revelations, go to Professor Paul Caron's TaxProfBlg.  Professor Caron, of Pepperdine University has been doing yeoman service keeping us updated on the latest in the scandal, and today's updates are really interesting.

Those of us who have smartphones know that our email appears on the phone, and Lois Lerner was no different.  She had a Blackberry, and there are new revelations that the Blackberry held all her emails.  It, of course was destroyed when she learned that she would have to appear before investigators.  From the High Plans Daily, Leader & Times.
An IRS official declared under oath, that the destroyed Blackberry contained the same subpoenaed emails (both sent and received) as Lois Lerner’s computer hard-drive. Judge Sullivan had decided the best way to arrive at the truth with the suspected IRS conspirators was to have them give sworn-testimony so any false statement would lead to criminal charges of perjury or obstruction of justice.
If these revelations are true, then Lerner and company are guilty of Spoilation of Evidence, a crime in many cases.  Which might explain why Lerner took the fifth.  She's guilty as sin, and she knows it.