Sunday, July 22, 2018

Sunday Cooking

We're doing "big cooking" out in the shop now.  It's set up really well for big meals, with plenty of room for everyone.

Yesterday evening, we made Philly cheese steaks on the grill.  I planned the  ribeye  requirements pretty close, and after it was over, Zach decided he was still hungry, so he made a Philly cheese burger.  What's that, you ask?  A big cheeseburger, with provolone and grilled onions and peppers.

The Philly Cheese Burger.  Looks pretty good, doesn't it.
This morning, we started the day with a huge breakfast.  Biscuits, sausage gravy, has browed potatoes, bacon, and eggs-to-order.

Bacon and has browns.  When the eggs were cooking I was busy.

Then for lunch, grandson Lucas asked for chicken and dumplings.  Belle made her signature, start-from-scratch, hand-rolled dumplings.

Belle, dropping dumplings into chicken stock
She even let me take a picture to show how much flour she get s on her hands and lothing while she's working her magic over the dumpling board.

Oh, yeah, it's a mess when she's through, but it's worth it.  My wife makes the very best dumplings I have ever eaten.  It's one o the many benefits of being harnessed in tandem with her. 

We fed the crew and we've cleaned up.  The house is full of grandkids spending the night,a nd Belle is happy as a clam.    Today was a very good day.

Two Videos

Two videos from 2nd Amendment Saturday

The first is video from the Peacemaker's practice Saturday morning.  We were video-ing draws so that folks could watch their draw.  We also caught Zach shooting his fastest time ever, a 0.418.

The second video is later on Saturday.  My sons and I went out to burn some powder with the 9mm carbines.  Younger son has a new Ruger PC carbine in 9mm and second son has a Hi-Point carbie in 9mm.  Lots of fun shooting with my sons.

Then we came home, fired up the griddle and made Philly Cheese Steaks.

Saturday was a very good dar.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Stoontn' Today

The temps continue to climb and when I awoke this morning, my phone notifications had heat advisories all over.  It's going to be hot, but we're shooting today.

Luckily, Belle and I have planned for just this scenario.  As soon as I finish my coffee, I'm going out to the shop and turn on the A /C units, get the fans going, and when the time comes for the Peacemakers to assemble, we'll have a comfortable range to shoot in.

Younger son is coming by later for a visit.  He's bringing grandson Elyas, who will spend the week with us for a late July visit before he heads back to school in early August.  Today's going to be busy, most of it spent in the shop, so I'd best put on my shoes and get started.

Happy Saturday, y'all1

Friday, July 20, 2018

Happy Hour

It's Friday afternoon at PawPaw's House and we're having happy hour.  A nice red moscato  for Belle, and I'm enjoying a distilled beverage rather than a fermented one.  Regular readers know my affection for bourbon and my respect for those who produce it. 

The car keys are hung on their respective pegs, and PawPaw does not intend to communicate with his on-duty brethren tonight. I ain't going nowhere.

One must careful of internet quotes, but I came upon this photo recently, and thank the good people of Kentucky.

I'll leave you with that factoid.  Y'all have a happy weekend.


It's hot in Louisiana in mid-to-late July, and this one is no exception.  We're in the dog days of summer, where the rain is sparse and the vegetation (and animals) sag in the heat.

100 degrees, with a wind chill of 110.  It's not as bad as north Texas, where Denton set a record yesterday with an official recorded temperature of 108, but it's still damned hot out there.

PawPaw intends to stay indoors as much as possible.  Thankfully, I had the foresight to insulate and air condition the shop.  The club will be shooting out there tomorrow ad the temps promise to be as brutal tomorrow as they are today.

Y'all stay cool.

Is It Worth It? Good Question!

Jonathan asks, in comments:
How much do you do precision shooting versus just plinking? I'm finding that cheap stuff for plinking is about the cost of reloading, even before I put the time into it, so I at this point I don't reload much. Have the higher prices for components, particularly bullets, changed how or when you reload?
I don't do much "precision shooting" any more.  I assume that you mean long-range  shooting form a bench.  Two years ago, I was diagnosed with macular degeneration and that has affected my ability to see anything with precision, including a scope reticle.   But, I see your point, so lets look at what a box of regular store-bought ammo would cost if we loaded it at home.

We'll use Midway USA as our resource, and look at some prices.
Sierra Matchking bullets cost $34.03 per hundred, or 34 cents apiece
Winchester large rifle primers cost $34.99 per thousand, or 3.5 cents apiece.
Reloder 15 powder costs $26.99 per pound.  My load is 43.0 grains.  That equals 162 shots pound (700043), which means 16.6 cents per shot.
If my math is correct, the component cost for one round of very good ammo is 54.1 cents per shot.  A box of 20 costs me $10.82.  That same box of ammo, at the same store, costs $23.39.

How much is your time worth?  That's a valid question, and everyone has to answer it in his own way.  How much minutiae are you willing to invest on uniforming primer pockets, turning necks, etc?   Some handloaders get very particular with their preparations and spend a lot of time prepping cases.  Sorting primers by weight, sorting bullets by weight, and marking cases so that they are always oriented in the chamber the same way.

But, if you start casting your own bullets, the component cost drops almost to zero.  As you amortize the initial cost of a smelter and molds over 100,000 bullets, the cost of equipment drops toward zero on a per-shot basis, but you're going down a wormhole that many shooters don't want to go down.  I once figured that the cost of my ammo for .38 special, or .45 ACP, (or .30-30 Winchester) was less than 5 cents per shot.

C.E. Harris,in this article, describes how The Load is safely assembled.   This load features 13.0 grains of Red Dot in military cases and is very accurate.  Mr. Harris did some fantastic precision rifle shooting with this load.  Mr. Harris is also the guy who invented Ed's Red, a bore cleaner that you can assemble at home.

But, each shooter has to answer the question; How much is my time worth?  In my case, and in the context of the posting you asked about, I used that time to introduce my grandson to handloading ammo.

Grandson, Brett, introduced to handloading.
With ammo I've assembled, I also get to spend time with my family over the shooting bench.

2nd son, stretching out the Ruger 77 in .25-06
Is it worth it?  For me the answer is a definite yes!  I get great ammo, spend time with family, pass along information, save money, and have the satisfaction of using ammunition that I have assembled on my bench, or inn my kitchen.  I'm sill using equipment that I purchased over 30 years ago, and I'm still having fun with family ad friends.  Oh and over the years, it's put a lot of meat on the table.

I hope that I've answered your question.  For more information on cast bullet shooting, go to the Frugal Outdoorsma and read some of the articles that Junior and I wrote at the turn of the century.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Compasses and Cowboys

I was raised using a compass.  My first was a Silva with a Boy Scout logo on it, and it became my standard for may years.  At some point I upgraded to a a nicer Silva, simply because the lexan backing on the original was all scratched up.

Got in the Army, and used a lensatic compass.  That was the standard for young navigators, but honestly, I always kept the Silva close at hand. 

There is a spot on the driveway where I live now.  Polaris (true north, the start)  sits directly over a pine tree in my neighbors yard.  Current declination where I live in Louisiana is -0-.  That is, a properly calibrated compass in central Louisiana should point directly at the north star.

I downloaded a couple of digital compasses this morning on the new cell phone.  Neither of them points North.  Oh, they're fairly close, one is out of alignment 12 degrees east, the other is out only four (4) degrees.

I understand that the engine in the car might be skewing the magnetic field, but a compass in a device that has a high degree of reliance on Google maps should be able to point to Polaris.  If I could find that old Silva, I'd digit out and see what it says.  But,  in this day and age, I shouldn't need a binnacle with iron spheres to correct for North.

Update and Umgrade

Back during my college days, I worked for the phone company, back when there was only one phone company.  Like everyone else in my generation, there was the Bell System, or nothing.  Phones sat on desks or hanged on walls.

I existed like that for many decades, resisting the cellular revolution until I met Belle.  She insisted that I get a cell phone, and one day even went so far as to go to her provider (Century-Tel) and add a line to her account so that she might have me more firmly on a leash.  As time went on, and as things progressed and we got married, we kept a landline phone with the Bell System, until the charges got so exorbitant that it was simply extravagant.

We still have what passes for a landline these days, but it comes through our cable TV account.  We do enjoy the landline, mainly because through mergers and acquisitions, our cell provider was Verizon.  When we moved from in-town out to the suburbs in 2004, we noticed that our cell service was "spotty".  When I put on the metal roof in early 2007 that we had big problems with cell service inside.  No problem, we could just step out on the patio, or use the landline

But, when we built the shop, (another huge metal building), cell service completely disappeared.  Nothing, nada.  I had built a complete dead-zone.  (Which may be either a bug or a feature.).  We decided that it was more of a problem than a feature, mainly because we spend time out there, and if we're entertaining, it's helpful if guests can call while we're prepping if someone needs directions.

We also noticed that guests with AT&T service had good reception while inside the building.  So, yesterday, Belle and I went over to the AT&T store and switched providers.  Bought new phones.  Added a line for Zach, because a high-school kid needs to be able to call PawPaw when he wants us to pick him up after a game or concert. 

We still have the landline, and intend to keep it because Belle is an RN and is sometimes on call.  The landline rings in the bedroom, and it is next to her pillow.  But, we now have good cell service, and upgraded capabilities.  I still refuse to give Steve Jobs a penny, so we didn't buy his phone,

And, I doubt I'll ever use all the features on the new phone.  In a lot o ways, I'm an analog guy in a digital world.  I do have Zach to help me if there is a problem in this new, digital era.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Reflections on Powder

Flugelman says in comments: 
I had some good results with IMR3031 and Sierra Matchking 168 grain
You're not the first person to report that, but I've always considered 3031 to be a bit fast for the .308.  I've always considered 3031 to be perfect for the .30-30 WIn, and for years, the chant-mantra for reloading was "30 grains of 3031 in the .30-30."  But, even this load will get you in trouble nowadays because about the turn of the century, 3031 changed.  It got a little aster.   We learned that we had to back down to 29 grains for a standard .30-30 load (here, I'm talking about the lever gun load with the 170 grain RN jacketed bullet.)  Of course, the .30-30 shines as a cast bullet cartridge, but we're opening a whole 'nuter wroms when we talk about cast bullets.

I cam to the .308 Win late in my career, simply because I shot so much o it when I worked for Uncle Sam.  It was a commodity, not worth study or reloading.  I simply shot what my Uncle gave me.  But, about 2004 and after finding my pet load, never looked back.  It simply works.  Every rifle I've tried it in gives MOA accuracy as long as the shooter does their part.  Everyone loves those little bug-hole groups, and the .308 will deliver them, time after time.

But, as my interests change over time, I've come to realize that bug-hole groups, while interesting are not the end-all.  Many of the shooters that I know are perfectly capable of shooting tiny groups on the bench, but when you take them away from the bench, simply can't shoot the rifle.  Groups on the nature of 4"-6" are more common.  There is a difference between bench accuracy and field accuracy, and most shooters don't spend enough time away from the bench.  But I digress.  Where was I?

Powder.  We were talking about powder.  3031 is a great, old-time powder, but we have to be careful when we're exploring the limits.  When we're working with a powder as fast as 3031, one grain might get us in trouble.  I like to stay on really conservative ground.

My go-to hunting rifle is an old Savage 110 in .30-06 and when I began reloading for it, I used IMR 4895 exclusively.  4895 is a fine old powder, and very versatile.  I could dig out my old loads, and my readers probably can too.  But, several years go, I decided to simplify and stumbled upon a load for the .30-06 using Reloader 22.  Many hand loaders consider 22 to be too slow for the .30-06, but I've found that if I load it to the base of the neck , then seat a good 168 grain bullet,   I've found that 60.0 grains o RL22 will fill any .30-06 case to the neck, and gives about 2700 fps when it pushes a 165/168 bullet with very good accuracy, better than most of us can use in the field. 

My Savage 110 in .30-06
Roloder 22 is very versatile in a rifle cartridge.  It gives great results in the .243 Win, and is my got-to powder for that cartridge. (100 grain Hornady, 45.5 gr RL22 and WLR primer for over 3100 fps) It's also good in the .25-06, pushing a 115 grain bullet over the 3000 fps mark.  My son uses it in the 7mm Rem Mag, and my brother-in-law uses it in the 270 Winchester.  It's a little slow for the .30-06, but still gives great results with low pressure and great accuracy. 

Which is all to say, I'm done experimenting.  I have my loads, and while other folks may want to push the limits, and make ground-breaking discoveries, I'm past all that.  I have my loads.

My pet loads are here.  They reflect a decade or more of experimenting, and I'm satisfied with the results.  This is not to take anything away from anyone else's favorite loads, and I know that there are a lot of good powders that I don't talk about. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Back to Basics

I started reloading back in 1976, and quickly became hooked.  With three boys and one daughter that likes to shoot, we lived in the country, and my ammo bill was .. interesting.  So, I started reloading for shotgun, then pistol, and finally for rifle.  For a time, back at the turn of the century, I was the managing editor of a webzine called The Frugal Outdoorsman.  In 2003, I penned an article about reloading on the kitchen table.

Today, I recalled a conversation with my daughter.  It seems that the hunting season is approaching and she was inquiring if I happened to have any spare .308 Win cartridges laying around.  the kids have been scamming ammo from me for years, and I make batter ammo than most of what is on the shelves at the stores, for a whole lot less money.

So, I was digging through my scrounging stocks, and found a bag of once-fired brass, .308 Federal Gold Medal Match, that I found at the local Sheriff's office range.  So, I found my hand press, brought tem inside and decapped them.  Then took them out to the tumbler and gave it a two-hour spin in walnut media.  Shook it all out, inspected it, then dug out the priming tool and went back in the house.

The  garage is currently 96F with 80% humidity.  The house is 70F.  It's much more pleasant inside than it is in the garage.  The priming tool doesn't know the difference, but I do.  It's a lo cooler indoors.

Tomorrow morning, I'll get the scales, powder, funnel, trickler, etc and set up on the kitchen tale.  I'll charge the cases then set up the hand press to set bullets.

For the record, our preferred hunting load for the .308 Win is good brass, seated with WLR primers.  43.0 grains o Alliant Reloder 15 and a decent 168 grain bullet.  Tomorrow, it will be Sierra's good Game King bullets, some I bought several years ago and still have in stock.  But, it could just have easily been Hornady or Nosler.  I've used all three at varying times, and the smallish whitetail deer we have in these parts can't really tell the difference.

I haven't really reloaded any ammo in the past three years.  I've been playing the CFDA game and that reloading is very easy.  It elt good to use my tools on the bench again. 

Monday, July 16, 2018


Zach and I have been experimenting with burgers on the new griddle    We've eaten (different) burgers for both lunch and dinner.  Excellent both times.

Tomorrow, Quesadillas.  We'll have another grandkid over here, and I don't know anyone who doesn't like quesadillas.

Next week, we'll have yet another grandkid who likes veggies and seafood.  I can't want to try something like Brussels sprouts (for example), and maybe cook a nice piece of salmon.

I can see that this griddle and I are going to become very good friends