Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Flinch Drills

I was shooting with a new shooter today. She had a revolver and after watching her for a little while I noticed that she had a flinch. She was anticipating the recoil, pushing the firearm down in anticipation of the upward movement of the recoil.

We did some flinch drills. They're simple with a revolver, a little more complicated with t a semiauto.

What we want is a good trigger squeeze all the way through the long double-action trigger pull. Showing the shooter that she's flinching is fairly easy. With the shooter's back turned, load two rounds at random in the cylinder. Spin the cylinder and shut it. Give the revolver to the shooter and have her execute a trigger squeeze. If a round is under the hammer, she'll get recoil. If a round isn't under the hammer, she'll get nothing but a click. If she flinches, she'll know it immediately.

We conducted this drill until she recognized the flinch and was able to conduct a proper trigger squeeze every time. Her scores dramatically improved.

This is a drill I've done with dozens of new shooters and it seems to work every time. It's also a drill that a shooter can conduct alone. Simply close your eyes as you spin the cylinder, then close it. You won't know where the rounds are and you can focus on the front sight all the way through the firing sequence.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

World still exists

The scientists cranked up the Large Hadron Collider and the world didn't come to an end. Granted, they're using it at reduced power, but France and Switzerland still exist, so we're probably going to be okay.

I remember Dad telling me that before the first atomic bomb test, scientists weren't sure that an uncontrolled chain reaction wouldn't escape, vaporizing the Earth and all that lived on it.

That was then, this is now. While I'd like to postpone my death for as long as possible, if scientists ever do anything that vaporizes the earth in a flash, we'll probably never even realize what happened.

Like the guy said, I want to die like my grandfather, peacefully in my sleep. Not like the other four people, crying and screaming in the car with him.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cold in Antarctica

It's cold in Antarctica. Really, it is. Lots of ice.
Famed global warming activist James Schneider and a journalist friend were both found frozen to death on Saturday, about 90 miles from South Pole Station, by the pilot of a ski plane practicing emergency evacuation procedures.
Really, if you go to Antarctica, be prepared for the cold. And the ice.
"I couldn't believe what I was seeing", recounted the pilot, Jimmy Dolittle. "There were two snowmobiles with cargo sleds, a tent, and a bright orange rope that had been laid out on the ice, forming the words, 'HELP-COLD'".
What're the chances that the pilot was named Jimmy Dolittle? At any rate, this is a tragedy of the first order. Really, it is a tragedy and my prayers go our to the survivors.
One friend of Prof. Schneider told ecoEnquirer that he had been planning a trip to an ice sheet to film the devastation brought on by global warming.
Hmmm. You'd think that he'd want to go in the summer, to get the maximum amount of sumlight.
Apparently, while all of Prof. Schneider's friends were assuming that the July trek would be to Greenland, during Northern Hemisphere summer, his plans were actually to snowmobile to the South Pole - which, in July, is in the dead of winter.
Oh, my! I've got one observation. If you're going to look for global warming, you'd best be prepared for the weather.

Hat tip to SondraK.

Bust of the AR boom

When our President was elected, gun companies found themselves in an unenviable position. They couldn't keep guns on the shelves. People were buying anything that looked like a firearm, along with ammunition and accessories. Those of us who watch that market segment were the first to notice. Lots of folks who had never bought a gun were stocking up. Ammo flew off the shelves.

Now comes Josh Sugarman from the Violence Policy Center, who opines at Huffington Post that the AR boom is over. He makes that claim on some interviews from the executives at KBI/Charles Daly, who recently went out of business. Well, that his opinion and he's welcome to it. The simple fact that he's wrong has no impact on his reasoning. Any rational examination of the AR market shows that it's still strong.

KBI/Charles Daly was a company who tried to position itself in the AR market with a rifle that wasn't differentiated from others of the herd. From all I've read, the company failed to find its niche and was offering a plain vanilla rifle in a market filled with plain vanilla rifles from other brands.

There are two types of AR buyers. Those who simply want a plain vanilla rifle that looks and acts like the military rifle. And those who like the AR platform and have a specific use for the rifle. The first group will buy a rifle and put it in the closet. The second group will have multiple rifles for very different applications.

I'm no fan of semiautomatic rifles, although I own several. My opinion is simply a matter of taste as I prefer bolt rifles and pump shotguns. I own an AR, a plain vanilla Bushmaster that I use as a patrol rifle. I see the appeal that such a rifle carries with a large part of the shooting public, but after having carried one for 30 years doing military and police work, I tend to look on AR rifles as simply tools.

Still, the market is huge, and while Charles Daly failed, lots of manufacturers are doing quite well in the segment that makes/sells AR rifles. There is a huge market for accessories. One wag in one of the forums I frequent, said that AR rifles are like Barbie Dolls for grown men. You can change them, accessorize them, dress them up however you want them. He's right.

I'm wondering how practical it might be to have an AR in .243 Wunchester? Heavy barrel, flat-top receiver, to use as a Practical Rifle?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Morning Dawg

Earlier this week I got out the camera to take some pictures of the dog and when he saw the camera, he hopped up in a rattan chair to better see what I was doing. Milady commented "He knows that he's the Sunday Morning Dawg."

He's the Posing for the Camera, Sunday Morning Dawg.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

.30-30 Handi Rifle

My counter guy called me today and told me my Handi Rifle in .30-30 had arrived. I went by the store after work and picked it up.

I had ordered this rifle in August 2009, and because H&R makes rifles in batches, I was unable to obtain one until today. H&R had told people in the trades that they would make a batch of .30-30s during March 2010, and they were good to their word.

Some initial impressions: This is the first new-in-box rifle I've bought in a while. It's filthy. I'm not talking about a little powder residue in the barrel. All new rifles have that left over from the test firing. I'm talking about dust on the barrel. Plus, it has some kind of preservative on the metal. Between the dust and the preservative and the powder residue, the first thing I'm going to have to do with it is give it a good cleaning.

The barrel has Williams sights. The front is a tall patridge-type blade and the rear is a WGRS sight. They're good, serviceable sights, easily adjustable. The barrel itself is 22" long with a 1:10 twist. The barrel seems fairly heavy. Not as heavy as an Ultra barrel, but bigger in diameter at the muzzle than a Win 94. I haven't put a caliper on it yet, but I will soon, to compare it to a standard Winchester 94 barrel. The muzzle has a deeply recessed crown.

The stock is standard Handi-rifle pallet wood, deeply stained hardwood of uncertain lineage. This isn't a fine show rifle, it's an inexpensive hunting gun. It does come with a nice rubber recoil pad which should be sufficient for the cartridge.

As soon as things slow down at the school, I intend to give it a good test, with 170 grain jacketed and cast bullets. I'm also going to load some 150 grain spitzers along with some 125 grain spitzers. I intend to have fun with this rifle.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Spring is busting out around here and the Carolina Jasmine on our arbor is going crazy. We planted it to intertwine with a climbing rose and it's taken off.

I'll be mowing grass before long.

.30-30 Handi Rifle

Last August I began yearning for a single-shot .30-30 rifle. I really like the cartridge and I really like my Winchesters, still I wanted a single-shot .30-30 to play with spitzer bullets.

The pointed spitzer bullets available to us for the bolt action rifles don't lend themselves to lever action rifles with tube magazines. The problem is that the bullet of one round nests on the primer of the following round and in recoil the two might come together with sufficient force to ignite the round in the magazine. That would be bad juju for everyone concerned. With lever action rifles, it's best to stay with round nose or flat nosed bullets.

Don't even talk to me about Hornady's new soft plastic pointed bullet. I'm too much of a traditionalist.

I really wanted to try some pointed bullets in the .30-30, so a single shot made the most sense. An added benefit of the single shot is that I can scope it, which isn't easily possible with the old Winchesters in my collection. I will definitely mount a scope to learn about pointed bullets, but I don't know if I'll keep a scope on it. We'll see.

SO, last August, I went a-hunting for a single shot and couldn't find one anywhere. I talked to my favorite counterman and I talked to the guys over at Graybeard's Outdoors forums. I learned that H&R would make a batch of .30-30 Handi Rifles sometimes in late March 2010.

I told my counterman to keep checking and let me know when such a rifle would become available. I went in today on other business and he told me that he had just gotten off the phone with his distributor and my rifle had been at the distributor, then put on another truck heading for the dealer. It should be in early next week.

This'll make five H&R firearms in my collection. I've got a .410 Topper, a .45-70, a .308 Winchester. I have a .223 on layaway and now this .30-30 coming in. I believe this will be all the Handi-Rifles I need. All these, of course, are grandkid rifles, for when they decide to go hunting with me.

I keep telling myself that.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I see that Michael Yon has posted an online report from Afghanistan. He's talking about the A-10 Warthog and the intrepid reservists that fly them.

I had thought that the A-10 had been retired from active service, but I'm gratified to see that they're still on the front lines, supporting our troops. The A-10 is probably the best jet-powered ground support fighter ever designed. It's a magnificent aircraft and frankly, the Air Force never liked them much. They fly low and slow. I've seen A-10s come back from missions with mud on the undercarriage. The Air Force tried to call it the Thunderbolt II, but that name quickly became bullshit. The fliers and soldiers nicknamed it the Warthog, and that name stuck.

It's still the best ground-support aircraft ever invented.

Bonus question. What was the official designation of the helicopter dubbed the UH-1? The military damned sure didn't want to call it Huey.

Parsley Flakes and Cashew Nuts

If you've been casting bullets any time at all, you realize you need a place to store the darned things. Years ago I saved a plastic jar from the landfill. It's marked PARSLEY FLAKES and it contains the left-over .358 lead semi-wadcutter bullets I shoot in the .38 special. I also save cashew tins and peanut tins for other bullets.

I use blank labels so that I'll know what I've got in each can. A part of my collection is in the picture above. Each container holds about 250 bullets, depending on the size of the bullet.

Cast bullet making is a very "green" activity. I'm using discarded, recycled lead to make something useful. I'm also recycling containers to store the recycled lead. I should get kudos for saving the environment.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Today I was out on the bench, getting ready to crank the handle and make ammo. The grandkids were over for lunch after church and they had to know what I was doing.

Then came the inevitable question, "PawPaw, can I help."

"Sure, come here."

That 's Zachary, seven years old, resizing .38 special brass. He thought he was doing something important, and he was, helping the old man get ready to stuff brass.

Then came his cousin Quinton, also seven years old, and he had to get into the act. Together they decapped and resized 100 rounds of .38 special. I thought it was a pretty good deal, because with the old single-stage press I have, pistol ammo takes 4 strokes to reload one round. They did 100 strokes, which helped me quite a bit. After their interest flagged, I finished the batch.

Hey, Joey! That's your ammo. It's in the box and I'll get it to UPS sometime this week. I'll give you an email when it gets in the UPS system.

Mulligan Stew

Mulligan stew is a campfire meal from my youth. Camping with the Boy Scouts (Eddie Dezendorf, Scoutmaster), mulligan was probably the first meal I learned to cook.

Mulligan takes very few ingredients and they are easily transported. It's not especially heart-healthy, unless your heart craves simple, filling food that will chase away the cold and leave a warm spot in your tummy.

Mulligan Stew

5 lbs potatoes
2 packs (12 oz each) bacon
1 onion
cup flour

Prep is important here, so peel your potatoes first, then cut them into small pieces. Chop the onion. Cut the bacon into pieces. I normally cut the whole pack into four pieces.

Then, get out your dutch oven. Put it on the fire. Brown your bacon. Just as the bacon gets brown, drop the chopped onion in the bacon grease and sautee it. Remove bacon/onion mix and set aside. Put enough flour into the bacon grease until you have a roux. Cook it to a peanut butter color. Add some water, then the bacon/onion mix, then the potatoes. Salt and pepper to taste.

This stew will stick, so be careful to stir it frequently. As it cooks, it'll thicken a little, so have water to add. Keep stirring every four or five minutes, which is easy to do while you're standing over the campfire smelling the stew. This aroma will soon cover several acres, so it's good this recipe makes a lot. You may have visitors in your camp before the potatoes are tender.

Traditionally, we served the stew over common light bread, but if you want to, put on a pot of rice while the potatoes cook. Either way it's a filling meal that serves a bunch of people.

Mulligan stew. It's what's for dinner.

The Future

We live in the future and I'm reminded of that more and more. Yesterday at the range, during the safety briefing, the range master commented that we had phones available at such and such a place in case of emergency, then laughed and said that he would have to update the emergency information portion of his printed briefing because everyone at the range has a phone in their pocket.

During the actual match itself I was pressed into service verifying the math on score cards, and while I could do most of the math in my head, courtesy of my elementary school teachers, I took that same cell phone out of my pocket to calculate strings of numbers.

Later I was wishing I had a camera to take a photo for the blog, then remembered that my cell phone has a camera, so I took it out and snapped a few photos. While not nearly the quality of a good pocket camera, nor nearly the quality of my SLR, the photos I took were sufficient for the purpose.

Here's a picture of the range master, taken from my cell phone. Not a great photo, but certainly good enough for the internet, and taken from a tiny device I carry in my pocket.

The fact that I can carry a phone in my pocket still amazes me. When I was growing up, such a feat was possible only in the comic books. But, with that same device I can perform mathmatical calculations and take photographs. Unbelievable! When you couple that with the idea that I'm putting that photograph on a world wide information network, using a computer the size of a notebook (I saw my first portable computer in 1990 and it was the size of a suitcase and weighed 30 lbs) it's truly remarkable. Consider that the computer I'm using isn't connected by a wire-cable to anything and we are truly living in a stunningly rich age.

What would Ben Franklin have done with the resources that are commonly available today? Or Issac Newton?

I am simply stunned at the technology that almost every American has available for use every day.

Sunday Morning Dawg

Last week, the dog was hanging out on the back patio and I was sniping pictures of him. Sometimes he'll pick up a bit of plastic or paper and carry it around in his mouth. Here we see him chillin' on the patio with a piece of white plastic in his mouth.

He's the Chillin' on the Patio, Sunday Morning Dawg.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Shooting Saturday

I went to a pistol match today, sponsored by the Sheriff's office to benefit the Special Olympics. Officers from a number of agencies showed up to shoot, as did a citizens club.

Shooter's on the line. It's a beautiful range, with the capacity to accommodate 18 shooters per string on the qualification range. We also have a "shoot house" and a recreational range with 25 yard pistol, 300 yard rifle, and 5-stand shotgun areas.

Today there were multiple 18-shooter strings and then a team match. Conservatively, we raised about $2000.00 for Special Olympics today.

After I fired my match, I was pressed into service by the rangemaster, tallying score sheets and double-checking math.

How did I shoot? I didn't win any trophies, but I didn't embarrass myself.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A swarm of Officers

Did y'all see this?
Do Americans think hiring an additional 15,000 IRS agents to get even more involved in our lives is a great idea for reform?
I'd like to copy a quote from another great American Document.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

White Death

If you're a student of military exploits and you don't know the name Simo Häyhä, shame on you. He was a farmer and hunter who heard the call of duty when the Soviet army invaded Finland during the Winter War of 1939-1940. With a bunch of guys like him and often outnumbered 100 to 1, the Finns held off the Russians and made them sue for peace.
Häyhä stood just 5 ft 3 in (1.6 m) tall, which was one basis for his choice of weapon, an M/28 or M28/30 Soviet Mosin-Nagant rifle that suited his small frame. He also rejected a scoped rifle in favour of basic iron sights for other reasons: it meant he presented less of target as he could keep his head lower; it negated the risk of his position being exposed by sun glare in a telescopic lens; and lastly open sights were not prone to fogging up or breaking which was a concern in the snow and ice of the Winter War. Häyhä was a professional.
He shot with iron sights, and he'd pack the snow in front of his position so that the muzzle blast wouldn't reveal his location.
Another tactic this greatest of gunmen used to conceal his own position from the enemy was to compact the snow before him so that his shot would not disturb the snow, and in true commando fashion he also kept his mouth was full of snow so that his breath did not give him away.
At the end of the war, what was his score? Over 700 enemy soldiers. Over 500 with the iron-sighted Mosin-Nagant, the remainder with a sub-machine gun.

That's your Friday afternoon history lesson.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I was supposed to work a baseball game this afternoon, but learned shortly before the final bell that the field had a scheduling conflict and our game had been changed from a home game to an away game.

I went to the hardware store and picked up a few items that I had been intending to work on at home. Came home and fixed an electrical circuit, replaced the lights in the microwave oven and put new bulbs in an exterior motion light that had been out all winter.

Finding that I'm not expected to work on an afternoon I had planned to work is one of lifes simple pleasures. It is indeed a reprieve.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Years ago, someone in my family researched our heraldry and came up with what purports to be a family crest for our clan. My brother, Malcolm, commissioned a wood carving of it in 1970 from the local artist Frank Stevens. Frank carved the piece and it hung over the fireplace at the house I grew up in.

It's not a large piece, 22" x 15", but it is deeply carved and professionally done. When Mom and Dad sold the house we all grew up in, the carving came down and Malcolm claimed it. He's since decided that it should go to one of my sons because Malcolm has no sons and he thinks it should stay with the name.

You can click on the link for a larger (4.1 MB) version.

I thought I'd take a picture of it in case any of my siblings or cousins wondered what had happened to the piece.

It's at my house, temporarily.

UPDATE** And anonymous commenter tells me I misspelled the post title. He's right. Good catch. And thanks for the addtional information.

Human rights

I was reading Alphecca, a favorite blog and he directed me to The guys there have made a good point.

Self defense is a human right, probably the most basic of human rights. Whether individual or collective, we have the right to defend ourselves and that right is codified in the 2nd Amendment. Guns, in and of themselves, have no rights. They are simply tools.
On one hand, we preach that guns are mere machines, inanimate objects and tools. On the other, we appear to be attempting to give ‘rights’ to these inanimate machines.

I submit to you a request; that we remove the phrase “gun rights” from our vocabulary and replace it with the more human, and more accurate, “gun-owner rights.”
It's a good point and might be a grammatical nit-pic, but the psychological impact is undeniable. Humans have rights. Tools don't. Yet, when someone seeks to limit my access to a tool, what they're doing is controlling me.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Busy still

My High School has an open house for prospective students tonight. Our school district has an open enrollment policy for high schools and students are free to pick the school that's the best fit. We're trying to put our best foot forward and get students.

Tomorrow night I'll be off-duty, but I've got reloading to do.

March Madness is upon us.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Bishops Speak Out

I see that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a bulletin speaking to the moral value of life and urging opposition to ObamaCare if it includes a provision to use taxpayer dollars to fund elective abortions.
On December 24, the U.S. Senate rejected this policy and passed health care reform that requires federal funds to help subsidize and promote health plans that cover elective abortions. All purchasers of such plans will be required to pay for other people’s abortions through a separate payment solely to pay for abortion. And the affordability credits for very low income families purchasing private plans in a Health Insurance Exchange are inadequate and would leave families financially vulnerable.
Emphasis is mine and mine alone.

The Bishops urge people to contact their elected officials to oppose the bill. They stress that "neither bill has adequate conscience protection for health care providers, plans or employers."

I am not now Catholic, but I was a member of the Church from 1975-2000. I support the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and urge that all persons seriously consider their objections. The Conference does not object to legislation without a due concern for moral and ethical considerations.

Sunday Dawg

My sister Patty reminds me that I forgot to post a Sunday Morning Dawg.

She's right. I've been busy. However, the dog is always available for photography as long as treat are available and I happened to have some roast brisket available as photography aids.

He's the Eatin' Brisket, Sunday Afternoon Dawg.

Target work

I said last week that the shooting a combat pistol is a very perishable skill and that mine had eroded significantly over the past several years. Practice makes perfect, and while I'm not working yet, I have been practicing and I think that this is a pretty good target. It's not perfect, but it's significantly improved.

I fired that target with my old Model 66, a long-time friend. We were 25 yards from the target, at the Alexandria Indoor Range and the target is a standard B-27, blue. The old revolver and I were on our hind feet, Weaver stance, firing double action. It ws at the end of a longer string and those are the final 24 shots. If I'm scoring the target correctly, that scores at a 234-10X out of a possible 240.

I went back to the basics for ammo. That load is a Winchester small pistol primer, 2.7 grains of Bullseye and a Hornady 148 grain hollow based wadcutter. If you want to shot very good groups with a .38 special, that's the load to use. It's a time tested target recipe that shoots extremely well in lots of revolvers.

I feel good about the match next weekend.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Yeah, it's a right

There's been a lot of debate lately in the interwebs about open carry, with luminaries weighing in on the question. I'm of a mixed mind, but generally believe that it might do more harm than good. However, I'm one of those guys who carries openly regularly, while I'm in the woods. If I'm tromping the hills and dales of the pine forests, I'm almost guaranteed to have a gun openly displayed. If I'm in town I keep it hidden.

I was talking to my Dad about American Rights one day over coffee and he told me. "You might have the right, but that doesn't make it right."

While I was working this week, Dave Petzal weighed in on the argument.
If you want to carry openly and can do it legally, why have at it. But be reminded of the following. Many people, when they see a gun riding on the belt of someone who is not obviously a cop, are startled, shocked, or scared pissless, and when they learn that packing heat openly is legal, they may decide that it should not be legal, and will vote accordingly.

And there is a more practical side. As the fabric of our society continues to disintegrate and every whack job with a grievance decides to get his (or her) 15 minutes of fame with a gun (or a light plane)—absolutely guaranteed by the media—you would do well to be careful about displaying weapons lest your motives be misconstrued by the nearest cop. The officer who fires a warning shot through your heart will feel terrible about it after he learns that you were only expressing a political opinion. You, however, will not feel much of anything, ever again.
That pretty well sums up my views on the matter, too. Yeah, it's a right, but it isn't right to scare people un-necessarily.

I'm reminded that Robert E. Lee is attibuted with saying that a true gentleman is never rude accidentally.


I was scheduled to work a softball tournament today. In our jurisdiction, resource officers don't get overtime pay. Our extra time is accounted for as compensatory time at time-and-a-half (Comp-Time) and we take our time off when the kids are out of school. Deputies like me that work in high schools get lots of comp time, but guys (or gals) who work in elementary schools don't often have the opportunity to work a lot of comp time.

I'm able to read a calendar and do basic math, so I know how much time I need to avoid being put back on the road during school holidays. Not that I mind working the road... well, I've done that. I'm over blue-light-fever. If the Sheriff needs me I'll work any hours or sustain any duty, but if he doesn't need me he can find me at the deer lease or in the back yard playing with grandkids.

I was scheduled to work a softball tournament today, but a deputy-in-need called me. He works an elementary school and doesn't get a lot of comp time. As it turns out, his daughter is playing in the tournament today and he'll be at the same ball park all day long. So, we struck a deal where he puts on his boots and works the tournament and I stay home. Our boss, of course, is fine with this as long as it's covered and the kids are safe. He'll claim the comp time, which he needs. He'll watch his daughter play ball, which he was going to do anyway. I'll stay at home and recharge my batteries. It's a win-win situation.

After coffee, I'm going to the range.

Thursday, March 11, 2010



Stolen from my High School buddy, Tim.


Between baseball, softball and track, I won't see my house in daylight for the next several days, including the weekend. Long hours of watching kids compete against other kids.

I'm not ignoring y'all.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Meatballs and Gravy

Meatballs and gravy. It's what's for supper. When time is short and you want good filling food, guy food demands meat and gravy.

So, when I was in the grocery today I picked up a bag of homestyle meatballs and four packs of McCormick gravy. When I got home I dropped the meatballs in a Dutch oven, whisked the gravy and they've been simmering for an hour.

Some mashed potatoes, a couple of cans of LeSeur English peas, some brown and serve rolls and I've got supper going in under an hour.

Monday, March 08, 2010


Back when I was carrying a revolver on duty I carried speedloaders on my belt. Two HKS Model 10 speedloaders in a black leather basketweave case. Then about six years ago I started carrying a 1911 and the speedloader case came off the belt and a magazine pouch went on the belt. Then the agency bought a bunch of S&W M&P pistols and gave us a compete rig. The old belt got stripped and stored.

Like most gunnies and pistoleros, I've got a stash of old holsters. Some of them are very good and others... well, lets be charitable and say that time and hard use have caught up with them. I've got one drawer in a filing cabinet filled with old leather and nylon holsters, radio cases, handcuff cases, all the paraphernalia.

I know that I own a speedloader case. With two HKS speedloaders in it. For the life of me I can't find that little black leather case. I've emptied that filing cabinet. Three times. I've gotten out the ladder and looked on top of cabinets and closet shelves. I've re-arranged the closet and taken out all the spare coat hangers. I've plundered drawers and torn the house apart.

I don't know where in the hell those speedloaders went. Or where they're hiding. Not a clue, can't find them.

So, I did what any good cop will do when he's looking for something. I ordered new ones. Tomorrow, MidSouth will dutifully fill my order and send me an email telling me that they've shipped. I'll get the email and smile with satisfaction. Then I'll get up from the computer table, trip over that speedloader case laying in the floor, and break my leg.

Ain't that the way it always happens?

Sunday, March 07, 2010


There are very few skills as perishable as shooting a pistol. I've been shooting pistols since 1975 and without constant practice your skill level deteriorates to a point where it's almost unrecognizable.

It's easy to tell that I haven't been doing much pistol shooting this past year. Most of my shooting has been done with rifles, shotguns, and single action pistols. Hunting guns. Not fighting pistols.

I'm paying for it now. With a deatth of suitable ranges today I went to the Alexandria Indoor Range and gave them a try. It's a very nice facility with an indoor 25 yard range, perfect for brushing up on the combat pistol work. Our Sheriff's office is hosting a Special Olympics pistol tournament in two weeks and I thought that it might be time to piddle around a little bit and decide which pistol I was going to sue for the match.

If you're going to shoot a combat pistol and want to see how you're skill level is progressing, post the target at 25 yards. All the problems come into glaring definition at 25 yards. Mine certainly came into focus.

You can click on the picture for a larger version, but be sure to suppress your gag reflex first.

For the record, that's a standard B-27 target. I was shooting my Smith and Wesson Model 66 using a load of the TL358158 over 4.3 grains of Unique. Any time I can't keep all the shots in the 9 ring at 25 yards, I know that my skills are in need of a tune-up. Any time I can't keep all my shots in the 8 ring at 25 yards, I know that I need to so some serious work.

That's the best target I shot today. I won't go into detail about the two 1911's I took to the range, nor the Model 28-2. I know how to shoot each and every one of those pistols and today wasn't my best day. Not by a long shot.

I really need to start spending more time on the pistol range. That's embarrassing.


There's one in every war. During WWII, the British had Lord Haw-Haw. During Vietnam we had Jane Fonda.

Hot Air is breaking the story that the Pakistanis have captured the American traitor to the Taliban, Adam Gadahn. Gadahn is an American, born in Oregon and has taken cause with the Taliban, making videos that purport to tell the other side of the story and exhort Muslims in the United States to embrace jihad against us.

Traditionally, hanging has been the customary penalty for treason. We should offer Gadahn a speedy trial and a timely demise.

**UPDATE** CBS News says it isn't Gadahn. Well, hell. Maybe the guy they caught is US born, maybe not. We'll wait 48 hours and see how the news sorts out. Either way, if he is US born, he should get acquainted with a short length of hemp.

Sunday Morning Dawg

Saturday was mild and suny. We kept the back door open so that the house could get benefit from the springtine breezes that wafted across the back yard.

Of course, with the door open, the dog had plenty of access to the yard and was able to come inside the house on a whim. Here, he's playing on the pavers beside the pool.

The Marijuana Question

Marijuana is a vegetable product of the genus Cannabis. The family includes hemp, the plant used to make rope.

Marijuana is more properly called Cannabis Sativa, and is commonly used as an illegal recreational drug in the United States and worldwide. Humans have been smoking marijuana since we learned that it altered our mental state. For the past forty years that I've been aware of marijuana we have been having a discussion as to whether it should be made legal and taxed like alcohol and tobacco, or regulated as a prescription medication.

Having these discussions is a good thing. Clayton Cramer recently wrote an article for Pajamas Media on the question and he looks at all the arguments. Some of the arguments are sound, logical, and rational. Some states have even gone so far as to legaliize marijuana for medical purposes. The debate rages across the country.

As a police officer, here's my take on marijuana. It's illegal in this state. That's all I need to know.

I've been a cop for almost thirty years and I've written a lot of tickets and arrested a lot of folks, some for possessing or selling marijuana. I've heard all the arguments. Yet people still go to jail for possessing marijuana.

I work in a high school and I talk to students, both informally and as a resource for the classroom. I enjoy a spirited debate, but I tell the students that it's important to make their arguments count. I am the Po-leese and I don't get to decide what's legal and what's illegal. That's a job for the legislature. If they can get half of the legislature to agree that marijuana should be legalized then it will eventually become legal to use marijuana. Until then it's illegal.

You can argue rationally, you can kick and scream and shout. You can bring in lettered professors with published opinions, but until you get half the legislature to vote on the issue, it's still illegal. And I am still the Po-leese. If I find marijuana on the school grounds, I'm adding additional charges that are guaranteed to make it a felony. It will go on your permanent record.

I'm glad we all understand that.


PresterSean asks in comments:
What kind of a crucible do you use for the melt?
Good question, and I'm happy that you used that term. Not many people understand it these days. A crucible is a pot that's used to melt metal to prepare the metal from a raw state to a more finished product. Many people use the more modern term "lead pot", but I was taught to use the term "crucible".

Lead comes in many forms to the observant caster. I'm always on the lookout for raw lead, whether it be in the form of roof flashing, old plumbing pipe, expended linotype, plumbers metal, naval ballast, or any other type of lead-based material. Raw lead bullet material is bulky and has to be cleaned and rendered to a more useable configuration.

I guess we should begin this discussion with one important caveat. Once a vessel or implement is used for processing lead, it can never again be used for food. I keep my lead cleaning implements separate from my food processing implements and never the twain shall meet. Don't risk lead poisoning from mixing implements.

I've got two pots I use for cleaning metal. The first is a big ole pressure cooker that I found at a garage sale. The second is a smaller plumbers pot that I picked up years ago. I select a pot and put it on a backyard propane burner, the same burner I use for frying fish and turkeys. I put big pieces of plumbing metal, or large quantities of wheel weights into that pot and turn on the burner. When the metal is melted, I skim the impurities and put the cleaned metal into molds for ingots. I've got three different molds that I use to process lead. They cast ingots in different configurations so that I can know immediately what alloy I'm using. Almost anything can be used to convert raw lead into ingots. I prefer having three ingot styles. The first is a conventional rectangular ingot that I use for soft lead. The second is an old cornbread stick pan that I use for wheelweight metal. The third is a weird old cast iron cooking mold that I use for linotype ingots. With those three I can look in my lead supply and visually identify the metal type depending on the kind of bullet I want to cast.

I've seen some guys use muffin tins for converting raw lead into ingots. Round, square, star-shaped, you're only limited by your imagination. You can pick up lead smelting implements at garage sales if you keep a sharp eye out. I've been collecting mine over a lifetime. This stuff normally doesn't wear out.

Once I've got the raw metal converted to ingots, I use a Lee Production Pot for actual bullet casting. It's a bottom pour pot that uses household electricity to melt the metal. I've had this particular pot for twenty years and I've gotten used to it's foibles. I like using an electric pot for the actual bullet casting because I don't have to stand over a propane cooker while I'm casting bullets.

Lots of folks make bullet casting furnaces. The big discussion among bullet casters is which is best. Some maintain that an old style dipper is best for filling a mold. Probably the most traditional way to cast a bullet is to use a Lyman Lead Dipper and fill the mold from the dipper. Millions of bullets have been cast using this method and lots of folks prefer it today. Others of us like the bottom pour pots. Either way works. Both have their adherents.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Casting concerns

I was casting bullets this morning and started having problems that all casters face at one time or another. I got my camera and saved my screw-ups for posterity.

The first problem that we come upon is called flashing. When bullet casters talk about flashing, it's generally because some bit of crud or slag got between the mold halves and the mold didn't close properly. That lets the liquid lead get between the halves of the mold.

When you find flashing, take a minute right there and find the problem. I keep a pair of needle-nose pliers on the bench for problems such as this. In this case, a bit of slag had found its way into the mold pins, and the mold wouldn't close.

The base of the bullet is probably the most important part of the bullet and we want the base of the bullet square and free of blemishes. The picture below shows two rejects.

The bullet on the left shows a concave base, and I can't figure out how that happened. When I knocked the sprue off and dropped the bullet I saw that base and muttered "What the hell?" For some reason, not enough metal got into the mold. This bullet is a reject because of the base.

The bullet on the right shows a problem of not putting enough metal in the sprue. As liquid lead cools, it contracts and if the bullet caster doesn't have enough metal in the sprue, as the metal contracts, it runs out of spare metal and you get a hole in the bottom of your bullet. We call this a void. This bullet is a reject.

Hopefully, your reject pile is small and your bullets come out clean, shiny and useful. I'm liable to use just about anything lead-based as bullet material. Old plumbing pipe, wheelweights, roof flashing, all of it can be recycled into usable bullets.

The objective is a big pile of bullets ready for lubing.

After I lube these bullets they'll be ready to load. All this is recycled material that's been transformed over the course of several hours into something completely useful. Bullet casting is a "green" activity that I've been taking advantage of for many years.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Reloading Friday

After I got off work today I started stuffing .38 special cases. My youngest son needs some ammo for a CCW course he's taking next month so I loaded a hundred rounds of Berry's 148 grain hollow-based wadcutters. He used some of this ammo in his revolver the last time he was home and it proved very accurate in his gun.

This load features whatever brass you've got on hand, a standard primer and 2.7 grains of Bullseye under the Berry's plated wadcutter. It gives about 650 fps and is a very accurate load in every revolver I've ever shot.

I also loaded a bunch of 158 grain semi-wadcutters. I use 4.3 grains of Unique over a middling soft bullet. That load runs about 890 fps and it's also one of those loads that is very accurate regardless of the revolver used. I loaded about 150 of those before I ran out of bullets. Tomorrow morning I'm going to get out the lead pot and cast some more bullets. I seem to use a lot of those Lee TL358158 cast bullets.

Now, it's Happy Hour.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Life Intrudes

We've had a rainy couple of week and we began the softball/baseball season at the school house. The teams are trying to catch up on their schedule, playing those games that have been rained out. We've got sunny weather, so we're playing ball.

I was at the ball park last night, and I'll be at the ball park tonight. It's good duty, watching kids play ball and parents cheer them on. But, it makes for long hours. I leave the school house at 3:00 and get to the ball park about 3:30.

Gotta work tonight, so I'll see ya'll for the weekend.

Last night, our girls softball team beat Rapides High 10-5. Tonight, we host rival Buckeye High School.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Recalls and Sales

I see that GM is recalling 1.3 million cars because of problems with the steering. That should lead to hilarity during the Toyota hearings.

I also see that Ford whacked GM in sales during the last month. Ford, you might recall, didn't take any of the bailout money.

Hiding the Science

Did you see this? Dr. Phil Jones, the former head of the East Anglia CRU, the guy in charge of climate data, said that... well you've just got to see it to believe it.
He admitted withholding data about global temperatures but said the information was publicly available from American websites.

And he claimed it was not ’standard practice’ to release data and computer models so other scientists could check and challenge research.
That's funny, when I was taking science in high school, I was taught that the data must be kept so that other scientists could replicate your work. Everything I've learned since then supports my high school science teachers. Open and honest debate in the scientific field requires that the data be easily available to that other scientists can review the data to check the work to support or criticize the work.

You only hold back data if your science is faulty, or if you're a charlatan.

In Dr. Jones' case, I'm going with charlatan.

McDonald vs Chicago

The big news in the gun world today is that the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in McDonald vs Chicago. Probably the second most important gun case in my lifetime, after Heller.

It looks like we won, but how big we won will only be answered when they publish a decision, likely in June 2010.

If any Supreme Court Justice happens to stumble upon this tiny little blog, they should remember that their primary concern should be to expand freedom, not limit it. Consistently, of course, with the words that the Founders wrote in the Constitution.

SCOTUS Blog is all over it.

**UPDATE** Orin Kerr chimes in. It still looks like a win.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Gunsmith Kinks

After posting the post below, I was browsing through the internet about common problems with Smith and Wesson revolvers, so I took the old Model 66 to the bench and removed the sideplate.

My Gawd! The crud in there was fantastic. Thirty years worth of old oil and grease and who-knows-what-that-stuff-is. I blew it out with brake-cleaner and all manner of crud fell on the shop towel. The inside of that revolver was absolutely cruddy. I oiled it sparingly and reassembled it. It's slick as a gut. Now I have another option for the Special Olympics match.

Or, I might use Joey's 1911. It needs to be run.

Anyway, I went over to the Midway USA site and looked at the order I made today for the holster and speed loaders for the Model 28. It shipped, which is a good thing, because I notice that the speedloaders are on backorder. So I went back to my order and they say it shipped. I bought the last two N-Frame speed loaders that Midway had in stock. What a deal!

Wbile I was there, I browsed some books that Xavier recommends. I put three books on my wishlist, all by Jerry Kuhnhausen. When the kids ask me what I want for Christmas next year, I'll tell them that I need some shop manuals and refer them to my wish list.

It's really nice to have my Model 66 running again. That revolver and I were such close nigh on 20 years that I'm glad I could give it the attention it needed.

Monday rain

It rained all day long today, a big ole cold front pushing through the area.

After work I went to the pawn shop and put a payment on my layaway. They had a Ruger Blackhawk on the counter. It's a blue steel model, a convertible with the 9mm and .357 cylinders. 7.5 inch barrel. The blueing looked 100% on it. The little sign said it comes with the Ruger case. I've been wanting a .357 Blackhawk for a long time and I was certainly tempted.

I passed on it. I'm getting ready for a pistol match later this month. We host a pistol match a couple of times a year. This one's for Special Olympics and I intend to shoot in it. I've spent my "gun money" this month on brass and powder. If it's still in the case next month, I might put it on layaway, but there is no shortage of .357 magnum revolvers in my collection.

The match I'm shooting later this month is billed as a "service pistol" match. You can shoot just about any pistol that might be found on a police officer's belt, but they limit revolver barrels to 4 inches. I had planned to shoot my 6" Model 28 until I read the rules, so I got out my revolvers to see what would qualify.

There's my Model 66 with a 4" barrel, but I need to take it to a gunsmith. I know for certain that it hasn't been apart in 30 years. Oh, I've taken care of it, but it's got several dozen cases of ammo through it and lately it's gotten what the equestrians call "a little hitch in the giddy-up". When you're running it hard, the action hiccups occasionally. I don't know how else to describe it. So, until I get around to letting a smith look at it, it's off the duty roster.

Then I picked up my wife's Model 28-2. It's got a 4 inch barrel and the action on it is as smooth as butter. I asked her permission and she told me I could use it for the match, so this morning I ordered a holster and some speed loaders for it. I haven't fired it in several years, so when the holster gets here later this week, I'll take it to the range and get re-acquainted.

This match is for the kids and I don't care if I win anything or not. I simply hope not to embarrass myself. However, if the pistol shoots as smooth as it feels I might have to start taking it to the monthly community match.