Feet Per Second

I’ve got yard rabbits.  Like, rabbits that I let loose in 2014, expecting they’d be eaten by the fox during the night.  They’ve been here ever since.  Many rabbit folk say that a domestic rabbit can’t live on forage alone.  They’re wrong.  The two girls in my yard have done just fine.  In fact, they’re fat with hardly any help from me.

I caught one last year in a live trap and bred her to a buck.  Just to see if it worked.  It did.  A month later, I saw her pull fur.  Four weeks after that, I saw pea-sized bunny babies skittering out from under my shed.  There were seven in all.  All but one were killed by predators.  The last one we figured was a buck, due to the way he was built.  We called him Thunder.

Thunder was about a year old.  Rabbits can breed at 4 months (that’s pushing it a bit), but we’d seen no action between he and the girls until recently.  When he did mount them, they kicked him off.

Apparently, he closed the deal with one of the does, though.  I caught her pulling fur and stashing it under the deck the other day. Being that we’re selling the house, that isn’t ideal.

I went to Sportsman’s Warehouse to pick up some .22 shorts.  I usually buy CCI shorts and look for something in the neighborhood of 710 fps. I know those rounds are quiet and I can do basic jobs without being heard around the house.  They were out of CCIs.  All they had were these.

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None of the boxes listed feet per second.  Based on grains, I thought I’d be be okay with the 20 grain rounds, but the sales guy pushed me to buy the subsonics.  I grabbed the Super Extra Shorts figuring they’d be pretty close to the 20 grains and pack a little more punch at 29 grains.

When I got home, Thunder was out in the yard.  I got the kids’ bolt action Davey Crickett .22 and nailed him in the head with a 20 grain.  It was over long before he knew what was happening.  I looked him over.  He was very healthy.  He had never spent a day in a cage and I’d fed him vegetable scraps at most.  He was a self-made bunny.  He was as big as my cage raised rabbits, if not larger.

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Afterwards, I decided to try the Super Extra Shorts, thinking they would be similar to the 20 grains.  Man, was I wrong.  I stood in the dining room and fired out the back door and the gun made quite a *crack*.  I laughed and slid the door shut quickly and my wife scolded me for a moment.  I’m certainly glad I didn’t try the subsonics.  The .20 grains will do for now.  Though at $5.00 a box, they’re a little cost prohibitive.

I didn’t worry about the cops showing up.  I learned that lesson through my dad.  He came to visit a few years back and was working on my black powder rifle on the back deck.  He got something stuck somewhere and ended up firing off a shot in the back yard with no lead.  It was pretty loud.  I freaked out, but the old man just stood out there, still working on the gun.  Nobody came.  Mind you, my neighbors are probably 150 feet away.  I asked what he was going to do when the cops came and he said he would tell them exactly what happened and ask them if they wanted to fire off a shot.  By that age, he was at the point where he didn’t give a crap.  Now I understand why.

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel….out.

 

 

 

 

Ammo Score and Ammo Shortage

Unless you are not a shooter or you’ve had your head in the sand for the last six or seven years, you know that there is an ammo shortage when it comes to .22lr.  With great demand we’ve all seen rising prices and a hysteria whenever people see boxes on the shelf.  20160304_132205

Before the ammo shortage, I used to pay $15.00 for a bulk box of 500 rounds.  From the time I was nine years old until I was nearly thirty, the price rose from $10.00 a box to $15.00 a box.  That’s over a course of more than twenty years. On the day I bought this box, I paid $35.99 for 525.  And that’s a deal by today’s standard.  I saw it for as high as $75.00 a bulk box when I was in Maine last August, and have seen black market profiteers sell boxes of 500 for more than $100 a box.  If you aren’t buying your ammo at some sort of chain store, you’re likely paying too much.  I’ve seen mom and pop shops charge insane amounts for ammo because they were the only shop in town with supply on the shelf. The other thing I’ve seen them do is get boxes of 500 and break them down to little plastic bags with 25 rounds, charging $10 for each bag.   That puts them at $200 for a box of 500.  Now, I’m all about capitalism and I encourage people to make fair money on items that they sell, but when you blatantly screw people over by tripling, quadrupling or quintupling the price for an abundance of profit, it’s wrong.  These mom and pop shops are the same ones that cry when chain stores put them out of business.  *sarcasm* Forgive my lack of loyalty.  

Let’s talk about what is driving ammo shortage.

First off, we’ve been living for seven years under the rule of the left.  And by rule, I mean rule.  Not that I like the right any better (I’m an Independent), but things have certainly changed in the past two terms.  When Obama first went into office, it wasn’t just .22lr that dried up.  I had a difficult time finding any common calibers on the shelf.  One caliber that I found plentiful at the time was .40 S&W, and that’s when I started carrying in that caliber, but that’s another story.  Just before El Presidente’s second term, supply started loosening up.  That’s when I started quietly buying.  The day after his second election in 2012, I dropped $200 on my favorite calibers.  By January, common calibers had dried up again.  Over the past year, I’ve seen stock return to somewhat normal levels.  However, in checking my normal haunts in the last week, I’ve noticed a suspicious lack of 7.62×39, .223, 5.56 and .45 acp.  It could be coincidence, but I’m keeping my eyes open.  Living with a hard-left president has made people nervous about new gun laws.  As of now, there’s been a lot of talk, but no action. I’m especially suspicious that there’s been no follow up of the executive actions on gun control that he announced back in January.  Here in Colorado, we already live under most of the rules he proposed.  While I can tell you that it is a major pain in the south end of your north bound self, it is by no means monumental and will do nothing to solve our current issues.  It’s sort of like this:

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The second reason also has to do with fear.  We’ve lived under the bombardment of jihad reports since 2001.  We all know that the world is changing, we just don’t know how it is changing until we experience it in the present.  Due to manipulation by the mainstream media, we’ve all become paranoid of people blowing things up, including us.  I’ve heard a figure that you’re nine times more likely to be killed by a police officer than a terrorist.  And frankly, I don’t know anyone that’s been killed by a police officer lately, unless it has been nationally reported on by the mainstream media.  I’m not scared that a cop is going to kill me and I’m certainly not scared of my life being ended by a jihadist, though I know that they’re out there.

Thirdly, we, as shooters, have responded to being programmed.  Who is programming us?  I don’t know.  It happened to me today.  I walked into Sportsman’s Warehouse to look for some .45 Long Colt and I walked out with a few boxes of 7.62×39 and a box of .22lr.  When we see it, we buy it.  We’re so used to not having it, that we have a knee jerk response when we do see it.  I’m not sure how we mentally recover from that.

Lastly, we can thank the suckers and…..ourselves.  People have scooped up ammunition to put it on the second hand market at a profit.  The suckers, in turn, have gladly paid astronomical prices for the ammunition because they couldn’t find it on the shelves.  They couldn’t find it on the shelves because we (shooters) and they (profiteers) won’t leave it on the shelf if we don’t need it.  The profiteers have the supply, the suckers give the demand.  We, as shooters, need to be at least somewhat charitable with what we have.  I’ve given some away to kids that are learning to shoot and to people that are teaching other people to shoot.  This is important.  If shooting becomes an exclusive sport, bad things happen.  Prices rise and close people that don’t have the financial means out of the sport.  Shooting has always been an accessible and somewhat affordable pastime associated with hunting, which provides for families.  I firmly believe that more proper education leads to more responsible gun owners.  It’s the guy whose only exposure to guns has been through action movies that is the problem.  We need more education and we need to teach responsibility along with it.

That’s my .02.

Mike, Oscar, Hotel…..out.

Smith & Wesson Model 17-6

It’s not you, it’s me.  I’ve said that more than a few times.  In this case, it really was me.

When my dad passed last August, I inherited his pistols.  He had some pieces  that I probably never would purchased, mostly because I’m broke.  He was as well, but he appreciated a good pistol and tended to spend his tax returns on fun stuff.

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This is his Smith & Wesson 17-6.   My mom encouraged me and my brother to “help” her buy it for him back in the 1980s.  We contributed money earned from our paper routes, delivering the Bangor Daily News every morning.  She paid for the lion’s share, and we contributed our bits.  Dad had many Smiths, almost all with the Dirty Harry style 8 3/8″ barrels.

This one in particular is fun to pull out at the range.  I get a lot of looks when I point it down range.  However, when I shoot it, I get a lot of raised eyebrows.  It’s chambered in .22 long rifle.  People see the barrel and assume it’s going to roar and knock things over, but instead, there’s a whole lot of *pew-pew-pew* action.

From Wikipedia:  S&W also shipped the Model 17 featuring a 4″, 6″ or 8 3/8″ full under lug barrel. The “under lug” was a solid, blued steel, circular rod, cast as part of the barrel, and running under the barrel from the front of the cylinder yoke to the muzzle’s end.. The under lug not only enclosed the ejector rod, it also added considerable weight to the gun itself. The under lug model shipped with a special round butt wood grip that featured inletted finger grooves. The 4″ Model 17 Under Lug is infrequently seen and quite possibly manufactured as an afterthought using factory shortened 6″ or 8 3/8″ under lug barrels.

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Can you imagine?  No, really!  Make that enormous .22 HEAVIER.  Sure, the designers said.  I’m sure that someone will argue that it cuts down on recoil.  Stahhhhp!  It’s a .22!

When I was in Maine taking care of dad’s estate, I test fired it.  My accuracy with it was horrible. I threw it in the pistol case and sent it home to Colorado.  I pulled it out a month ago when I was at the range and had much the same experience.  It made me not want the pistol, which I was struggling with because of its origin.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – I’ve got two people that I really look to when I need gun advice – our very own B&A Stowaway and my dear old Uncle Bern.  Uncle Bern knows Smiths, so I dropped him a line complaining about the pistol.

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The grips are similar to the ones shown in this picture (calguns.net)

He suggested that I change the grips.  I was a little puzzled.  It came with these funky grips,mentioned above in the Wikipedia article, which were a bit big for my hands and contoured in a way that just wasn’t comfortable to me.  I dug through Dad’s stuff and came up with the grips in the first picture.  They weren’t a perfect fit on the pistol, but they fit my hand better.

I’ve also been talking to B&A about stance and hold on pistols.  He’s a certified NRA Firearms Instructor and had some great tips.  For years, I’ve been standing side-to, right arm extended, with pistol in hand.  I changed my stance to facing forward, left hand cupping my right hand.  That also seemed to improve things.  I think my dad taught me the first position, stating that standing side-to made you a thinner target for enemy fire.  Being that no enemies have fired on me thus far, I found it okay to change my shooting stance.

I’m learning a lot about trigger pull as well, more in action than theory.  In the past if a piece had a poor trigger, I either worked around it or got rid of it.  My Dad’s Smiths have no trouble in that department.  He either had them worked on by a professional Smith repairman or fixed the triggers himself.  Some would consider them very touchy.  I’m starting to understand that’s part of accuracy.  Why?  If you’re pulling a six-mile-long trigger on a double action only pistol, the muzzle is going to move ever so slightly as you’re pulling on that trigger, knocking off your accuracy.  Sometimes you move much more than you ever could imagine.  All of this is making me rethink my purchases of DAO (Double Action Only) pistols in the past.  Revolvers have fallen out of favor in recent years, but I’m starting to understand what my dad meant when he used to say, “There’s nothing more reliable than a wheel gun”.

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All of these things have repaired my relationship with this gun.  I brought it out over the weekend and implemented everything.  Needles to say, things have changed.  I’m not a crack shot with it by any means, but I’m hitting targets decently and found myself walking away with a positive attitude on the gun.

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Stay tuned.  I’m losing my vision capabilities in my right eye, so I’m experimenting with shooting with my left.  This should get interesting.

Mike, Oscar, Hotel…out.

 

 

 

 

High Standard Dura-Matic M101

Some people like polymer pistols.  Some like revolvers.  Me?  I like stuff that I can shoot and that I’m accurate with.

My grandfather had a High Standard Model HB.  I’ve fired it a few times.  It reminded me a lot of the Ruger Mark series.  It was exceptionally accurate and solidly made.  Since then, I’ve kept my eye on High Standards.  They’re an enormous amount of fun and while they command decent prices, there isn’t a huge following for them like, say, the Colt Woodsman.

When my dad died back in August, I inherited a Chiappa 1911 style .22 pistol.  Mind you, I’m not a gun snob.  I’ve owned Hi-Points (if you are a gun snob, that should say it all.  If you’ve actually owned a Hi-Point, you get it).  I say it out loud.  I like pieces that are fun to shoot and that shoot well.  The Chiappa didn’t fit that description.

I have two people that I rely on heavily when it comes to gun advice.  One is the Sharpened Axe’s own B&A Stowaway, the other is my Uncle Bern.  I talked with Bern about the Chiappa when I got it.  He suggested dumping a few magazines through it, rapid fire, to see if it had any difficulties functioning.  I did that and it jammed with every magazine.  Beyond that, I couldn’t hit much with it and the sights (IIRC) were not adjustable.

Another uncle showed up as we were going through dad’s estate and mentioned that he really wanted the Chiappa.  I told him about my experience with it and he wasn’t bothered by the news.  He asked me if I wanted to sell it and if I wanted to sell dad’s refrigerator as well.  I was in the throws of grief and wasn’t really processing everything he was saying until he said the magic words.

“I even told your old man I’d swap ‘im a High Standard for that Chiappa.”

I shot him a look. (Pun intended)

“Go get it.  I’m interested,” I said.

In the end, we swapped the refrigerator and the Chiappa  for the High Standard and $100.  I wouldn’t have given $50 for the Chiappa, thought I might have to donate the refrigerator and, well, the $100 bill was a bonus.  I was pleased as punch.  I brought it out the next morning and hit the target well with it.

It’s an interesting piece.  In initially looking at it, it’s hard to believe how simple it is.

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The barrel is held on by this screw by the trigger guard.  Just loosen it and the barrel pops right off.  Apparently, they used to sell different length barrels separately.   I’d love to find something crazy like an 8 inch barrel for it.  I’ve been looking, to no avail.

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The grip is held on by one screw and also acts as the magazine well.  The grip is made of plastic.  The above picture is what’s left when you remove the grip.

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Breakdown for cleaning is really simple.  I like that in a piece.

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It can be a little finicky with ammo.  It doesn’t like hollow points. and it also likes being clean.  Other than that, this is my favorite shooter.  I carry it when hiking and fire it more than anything else that I have.  As you can see, it’s pretty accurate.  This target was from about 10-12 yards.

If you’ve been thinking about a light caliber semiautomatic pistol, High Standards are worth considering.  They are cheaper than the Colt Woodsman and very, very fun to shoot. I really wish they were still making these.  I’d have a safe full of them.

Mike, Oscar, Hotel….out.

Thoughts on First Firearms

When I was six-years-old, I arrived at my grandmother’s house to celebrate my birthday.  The usual festivities were had, but on my special day, my Uncle Scotty was in town from Massachusetts.  He brought in a long present, barely wrapped and handed it to me.  I opened the package and was confused by what it contained.  It was a Harrington & Richardson Youth Model .410 shotgun.

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There was a lot of talk along with it.  Guns are a right of passage in my family.  My brother didn’t get his first gun until he was nine.  Then again, he was a small nine year old.  At six, I was already as big as he was.  The talk was whether or not that little shotgun was going to drop me on my rear end when I shot it.

My dad promptly put me on the back of his  pickup along with all of my cousins and drove us all to the camp, located on the back part of the farm.  My uncles followed us down and everyone gathered around as my dad and uncle showed me how to break open the chamber and insert the shell.  I put the shotgun up to my shoulder and wobbled endlessly as my dad cocked the hammer for me.  On his command, I pulled the trigger.

The little shotgun exploded into a sound that this six-year-old didn’t expect.  It reached out and kicked me in the shoulder like an insane mule, setting my body back at least one foot.  All of the fun was over when I began crying because my shoulder hurt.  I didn’t shoot the gun again until I was eleven.

Fast forward a few years.  My dad was a fur trapper.  We were in Portage Lake, Maine at the home of Wayne Flint.  Wayne sold Allagash Fur Call (of which I will write more about later) and other trapping scents.  He showed my dad a rifle made of plastic. My dad looked perplexed as he shouldered the plastic stock.  He talked about how light the rifle was and Wayne showed him how to load it through the buttstock of the rifle. It was a Remington Nylon 77.

Photo: Chuckhawks.com
Photo: Chuckhawks.com

We were in Wayne’s basement, which like most basements in Maine was loaded with firewood.  Wayne handed the rifle to me and told me to shoot it into the wood pile.  I looked up at my dad for approval and he subtly shook his head no.  I handed the rifle back to Wayne, but not before admiring the fact that it was light and I could easily shoulder it.  Dad got it for me that Christmas.  By the following grouse season in the fall, I was deadly accurate with it.

My children are reaching the age where they are ready to learn how to shoot.  It’s hard to justify to most folks in this day and age that I want my children to know about guns and I certainly don’t want them to be scared of them.  Media poisoning has worked at making people scared of these tools.  I want to pass on the heritage of shooting and hunting and at the same time help them to be responsible and careful while using them.  V.E. Lynch, in his book Trails to Successful Trapping (written in the 1930s), said that any boy over the age of seven should have a trap line and a gun.  I can’t hold up to the trapping part (it is illegal in Colorado), but I did get them a gun.

My brother had a Chipmunk .22 when he was young.  I liked shooting it.  The frame was small and it had a peep sight.  Fast forward thirty years and I found the same set up, but now it’s called a Davey Crickett.  Single shot, bolt action with a synthetic stock.  The bolt feels a lot cheaper than I remember on my brother’s gun, but everything nowadays is outsourced.

I decided to pick up a Davey Crickett .22 for my children.  With a single shot bolt action rifle, it’s easy to control when and how they shoot.  If we’re done shooting, the bolt gets removed and goes into my pocket.  Then, they are able to safely carry the rifle back to camp.  My dad did taught me that and I always thought it was a valuable lesson.

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I have them use .22 shorts when they are target practicing.  Why?  Lower velocity.  The rounds they are firing are about 700 feet per second (fps), as opposed to a regular .22 round, which is usually somewhere around 1,200 fps.  In addition, shorts aren’t quite as hard to find as regular .22s right now and…..they’re quiet.  The rapport from .22 shorts at the fps that we are using is very quiet.  That allows me to talk to my kids without raising my voice or risking that they might not hear me.

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So far, so good.  We’re working on the basics.  Tin cans and wooden posts.  Soon, we will move onto targets.  Then, rabbits.

Stay tuned.  I’m planning a post on shooting basics for kids sometime in the future.

Mike, Oscar, Hotel….out.