The Tree of Life and the Torah

An acquaintance of mine started a conversation on this subject.  I’m starting this to welcome him.

From my acquaintance:  “The Jews, I’m told, believe that the Tree of Life in the garden is the Torah. I think that it makes sense that the Tree contained/was the Word. Jesus, as the Son of G_d, is the Word. He, even though he had not yet been conceived, had to exist some form before Adam committed treason against G_d and gave his dominion over the Earth to the Serpent. That explains why he still had dominion as well and could be the second Adam. Jesus, as both the Messiah and the Saviour, is the Word.Many believe that Psalm 19 also indicates that the Word was written in the stars before the Fall.The Bible does not contain the full Word, but, I believe, that all it contains is part of “The Word of G_d.” “

I can understand and agree to some extent on the Tree of life being a metaphor for the Torah.  After all, God did say – in Deuteronomy 28 (beginning) “Follow the instructions and live…” (loose Archie translation).  If the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Life mentioned are not figurative, the comparison has to be figurative.  Unless somehow the ‘tree’ has words inscribed in some fashion.  (In contemporary time one thinks of Kindle devices and memory sticks, unknown and bizarre to them.  The future will probably just as bizarre to us.)

More from my acquaintance:  “Most seem to not have looked at the first few chapters of Genesis closely. “Heavens” in the first verse is plural. Some say that is a figure of speech, and it may be. Things get interesting after that. Biblical Hebrew has no passive voice: it has no verb “to be.”The 2nd verse literally says that the Earth became without form and void. Yes, became. Isaiah uses the same Hebrew words to say that it was created without form and void. The destruction of the first Earth was by the devil and his hoard of spirits. However, there is no reason to believe that he destroyed the Heavens.The third verse starts rebuilding. Follow closely and draw pictures as you go. You will see the creation of the second heaven, which includes the atmosphere and at least the Sun and Moon, and maybe the stars. The firmament is very important; don’t drop it from your drawings. Amazing things happen.G_d explicitly redefined “Earth” here. It is just part of what it was before. He does that. If you follow a word through all of the original language text, in the few cases He does change the meaning of a word, He marks it clearly.So now we have existing heavens from the first verse, and the new heaven from the reforming after the destruction of the firsy Earth. Many verses in the Hebrew scriptures reference them. “The heaven, and the heaven’s heaven.Fast forward, way forward. Revelations. The destruction of an existing heaven and the Earth. The creation of the third heaven and the third Earth.”

Yes, the Hebrew word for heaven (shamayim as transliterated )- any of three meanings – is a plural form. However, Hebrew does not have a singular form.  Somewhat similar to the English words ‘deer’ or ‘moose’.  So the thought of ‘heavens’ in the first verse having some ‘hidden’ meaning is not valid.  

The distinction between the first verse “In the beginning, God created…” and the second verse “And the earth was without form, and void;” has long be discussed and debated.  So far, the non defined but semi-consensus is there is a time gap, but ‘we’ can’t tell how long.  Nor can one find any specific reason to conclude the Earth – or entire universe – was destroyed or seriously damaged by Satan and company.  Further, the first verse refers to ‘heavens and earth’ in one act of creation, without any reference to time in our sense.  

I could say a bit more, but I’m going to wait for my acquaintance to appear and speak for himself.


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Reloading: The mistake of measuring powder

No.  I do not suggest one should not measure powder when reloading.  However, the amount of powder in any loading is typically of secondary nature.  

When I started reloading – in the dim, distant past – the amount of gunpowder in the cartridge seemed to be the most important variable under my control.  So, meticulously weighting each load seemed the most important thing I could do.  

Many other reloaders have the same notion.  It is rather obvious.  That seems to be the problem.  

Every bit as important – I’m not fully convinced any one thing is the ‘most important’ aspect of accurate reloading – are variations in bullet, primer and case.  However, I am sure obsessing over exactly uniform powder charges are the least important.  

Primer:  One selects the right size (typically small or large) AND the correct intensity of primer:  Rifle, pistol, and magnum or not.  In large measure, rifle primers have a greater amount of ignition fuel and burns both stronger and longer than pistol primers.  Also, in large measure, rifle primers are built with stronger outer cups to withstand greater pressure.  Magnum primers are ‘hotter’ and stronger yet.  After all that, some manufacturers make ‘match’ primers.  The match primers are held to tighter tolerances for more uniform ignition.  (Read the advertising.)

About the only differentiation is the brand or manufacturer.  Some prefer one brand, while others prefer another brand.  I remember shooting (revolver) Police Pistol Combat competition a long time ago.  Nearly all shooters used Remington small pistol primers (typical revolver was chambered in .38 Special) as the Remington primers were thought to be quite sensitive and required the least hammer strike to ignite the powder.  By the same token many rifle shooters swear up and down a certain type of primer is the secret to their success.  

Bullet:  First, one selects the right diameter bullet.  In most cases (no pun intended), this is not a hard choice.  30 caliber or .30″ inches is actually sized at .308 inches and remains the same from .30 Carbine to .300 Holland and Holland magnum rifle.  Pretty much all the U. S based cartridges are ‘standard’.  Most of the ‘metric’ calibers are standard, except for a few, for example:  is ‘this’ 8mm Mauser a .318″ or a .323″?  The 8x56mmR cartridge has a .329″ bore.  Due to manufacturing tolerances, The .303 British, 7.7 Arisaka and the 7.65×53 Argentine Mauser (all ‘officially’ the same bore diameter, by the way) are either .310″ to .312″ groove diameter.  And the wartime tolerances for 9mm Parabellum run from .354″ to .362″; which isn’t as big a deal as it may seem.  Oh.  All the 6.5mm cartridges use a groove diameter of .264″, EXCEPT the 6.5 Carcano, which uses a .268″ sized bullet.  Don’t ask me.

But find the correct diameter.  Slug the barrel if needed.

In practice, caliber diameters are not nearly so complicated.  Most reloaders  reload ‘known’ weapons and cartridges.  The only thing to decide is the purpose.  Again, fairly simple.  Small calibers for shooting very small game, not ruining pelts, plinking and general blazing away are very well served with either FMJ (Full Metal Jacket) or the ‘match’ hollow point boat tail which doesn’t really expand like a handgun ‘hollowpoint’ is supposed to.  Hunters usually use soft point (either spitzer or round nosed) bullets designed to expand on impact (or shortly thereafter) and kill game in a more humane manner.  Big, dangerous game in most of the world use an expanding bullet which is more sturdy and does not expand until more penetration is accomplished.  Shooting a Kodiak bear, for instance, one desires some penetration along with the expansion of the bullet.  For large, thick skinned dangerous game (Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Hippo and such) one uses a Fully Jacketed and reinforced – a bit different than the simple FMJ noted prior) bullet of heavy weight.

Cases are usually thought of as “cases”.  What ever one can find, pick up at the range, is on sale or a friend gives… who cares?  Yet cases should be as uniform as possible.  

AFTER trimming, chamfering, removing burrs from the inside of the flash hole, uniforming the flash hole and truing the primer pocket, (all those things which may remove weight,  weigh them, and segregate them by weight.  (Don’t tell any leftists you are segregating, they’ll picket your house.)  If one has a digital (electronic) scale, this task is a pain, but doable.  If one relies on a balance scale, this task is more of a pain, but still doable.  Find ‘sets’ of cases that weigh close together.  I personally stick with a one percent weight spread rather than a specific weight.  Two grains is a lot more difference on a .22 Hornet case than on a .30-06 case.  

After all this, one can start panicking over uniformity of powder charge.

Just for the record, for a hunting rifle, most of this is overkill.  

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07 December – 1818 GMT

The memory of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii will be etched into the minds of the people of the United States for some time.  It should be.

The people of Japan and the Japanese self-defense force are long past blaming.  I urge no hostility toward any.  

However, remember the sacrifice of those who died.  

Remember the cost of being unprepared.  

Only two entities have ever died on behalf of U. S. Citizens.  Jesus the Christ and U. S. military and law enforcement members.

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Basic Reading for Firearms Enthusiasts

Much time is spent correcting newer shooter and firearms interested people about myths and misconceptions of the firearms world.  

Probably, the single most important bit of advice I can give is NOT to give credence to what one sees on television and the movies.  It is a mixed bag, some information is valid and some is not.  Some is downright garbage.  

The same applies to what other shooters and gun owners say.  Some information is valid and some is not.  Some is downright garbage.  One of the problems of other shooters ‘facts’ is some of it was valid at one time.  Telescopic sights are far more reliable and resistant to damage than prior to the Second World War.  Better even than during the 1960s and 1970s.  

If one of the guys starts off with “Well, my Daddy said…” just smile sweetly, nod and double check everything 

But what I really wanted to do with this is to suggest some reading material.  

If one is a product of ‘modern’ education, ‘reading’ is likely a sore subject.  Still books contain vast quantities of information, and information is vital to  actually knowing about firearms, ammunition and the shooting art.  

For the reloader of ammunition, one should have a reloading manual.  Actually, a reloading manual from several different sources.  Nearly all the makers of gunpowder publish an annual (at least periodic) manual.  So do many of the large bullet makers.  Lyman and Lee Precision, who make reloading tools, bullet molds and doo-dads for reloading also print manuals.  

One should have several.  Not all of them have the same cartridges listed.  Most all of them have the typical, commonly used (U. S.) cartridges listed.  For those of the readers who live in other parts of the world, this will vary and you will have to find your own.  

Do not discard old manuals.  They are valuable for reference.  Warning:  Some older books list loadings developed prior to more modern pressure testing methods.  As a result, some loads listed are rather high.  In addition, powders have changed over time, some currently ‘faster’ burning, meaning they develop higher pressures faster than they used to do.  Such a combination of factors can easily result in an overload.  Do be careful, check several manuals and start at a low charge.  Observantly work toward faster loads as needed.

Even non-reloaders should have a couple.  These books usually have brief account of the background of the cartridge, it’s roots and such.  The listed loads will give a realistic view of the performance of the cartridge; often discouraging when compared to the advertising claims.  

I also direct the reader’s attention to some specific reloading works.  There are ‘one off’ books by benchrest rifle shooters on how to prepare ammunition for such precision use.  It may not directly appeal to one’s form of shooting, but cannot hurt in the large view.

Then, and I use them constantly, there are books of reference listing a multitude of cartridges.  The two primary works are “Cartridges of the World” (CotW) (currently up to edition #15) and “Ammo Encyclopedia” (AE)(now 5th Edition).  These both list all the cartridges they can find and list them by category; Sporting Use, Military Use, a few Industrial Use, Current, Obsolete, Wildcat, Proprietary and so on.  

Additionally, CotW also has features regarding cartridges and various uses.  They seem to vary according the Edition.  (I have several editions and will purchase others I do not have.)  Ammunition Encyclopedia does the same, rather useful in historical information and general knowledge.  

AE has a  ‘glossary’ of firearm and ammunition terms.  Some of which are quite lost on both shooters and others.  I find knowing of what I am talking is always helpful.

So if you have some designated funds for ‘gun stuff’ and nothing rings your bell at the moment, check out the books.  Information lasts a long time.

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What Does He Mean, “Lost”?

In Christian jargon, the word ‘lost’ gets used from time to time. From an outside – that is, non-Christian – perspective it probably sounds pejorative; implying incompetence, inability or worse. This essay is an attempt to explain just exactly what we – Christians – mean. Hopefully this essay will take some of the accusative tone away, while maintaining the meaning – at least what we Christians intend. Maybe it won’t. If it doesn’t, Christians and non-believers will be where they always were, so I don’t think we’ll lose anything. What the heck, it’s worth a shot.

Lost. From Miriam-Webster:

not made use of, won, or claimed
a no longer possessed
b no longer known
ruined or destroyed physically or morally : desperate
a taken away or beyond reach or attainment : denied
b insensible, hardened
a unable to find the way
b no longer visible
c lacking assurance or self-confidence : helpless
rapt, absorbed
not appreciated or understood : wasted
obscured or overlooked during a process or activity
hopelessly unattainable : futile

Of course, it isn’t as simple as picking just one option. Sorry.

From the total message of the Bible, the primary meaning is One or Four, but from the perspective of Almighty God. A non-Christian person is one who does not have a personal relationship with God – through Jesus Christ. That person is – in a sense – unavailable or of no use to God. Obviously, a person who either rejects the existence of God or simply won’t have anything to do with God is unavailable or of no use to God.

“Lost” has essentially the same meaning as “unsaved” or “unredeemed”.  In function, it is to be without God in the sense of a personal relationship with God by the office of Jesus Christ.

“Lost” does not mean one is going to be sentenced or condemned to Hell – eternal existence without connection to God – but is means one is already sentenced or condemned to Hell.

So why does God do that to ‘us’?

The question is worded incorrectly.  “We” do that to ourselves.  When God created humanity – closely associated with His creation of the universe in intent and function if not in time according to current suppositions – God created humanity to be in contact and harmony with Him.  When humanity decided not to be in harmony with God – told in the old story of Eve, the apple and the snake – humanity became “lost” of it’s own will, not of God’s will.

It is much the same situation as not wearing a seat belt and not paying attention to one’s driving.  One cannot blame Henry Ford or the current CEO of General Motors for making automobiles.  If one does not pay attention to cross traffic, one cannot blame any engineer for getting in front of an intersecting auto, truck or train.  Nor can anyone else be blamed if one is not wearing a seat belt.

Back to the topic:  That’s what “lost” means.  Nothing more and nothing less.


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Labor Day A. D. 2018

I moved into this house and set up bachelor housekeeping in 2010.  I moved in Labor Day weekend, as it happens.


I have now lived here in Hastings, Nebraska for eight years.  I moved here from Long Beach, California, now known as the People’s Democratic Socialist Republic of California.  I am so happy in Hastings.  This large town, small city has most everything I want.  Probably the main lack is the absence of mid level restaurants.  There are several fast food and drive in places, and several ‘nice’ places to eat, including a couple of rather fancy places.  No diners.  Still, I’m happy here.


The people are friendly.  Even the grumpy people are decent.  There are bad drivers.  But they don’t make it a career, like in the Los Angeles area.


There are gun shows regularly and gun shops fairly frequently.  One does not have to procure government approval to sell or buy a gun from another resident.  There is a shooting club, with range, within fifteen minutes of my house.  (I belong to the club, naturally.)


Summers can be hot and winters can be cold.  But it’s general livable.


Looking back, eight years I decided I didn’t want to live in PDSR Cal anymore.  I moved.  Thank you, God!!!

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The Austro-Hungarian Empire (Mannlicher designed) M1895

On 24 September, A. D. 2016 I found an M95 ‘stutzen’ rifle (explained later) with Budapest marking at a gun show and bought it. (I also found and bought another French MAB modele D, but that’s another story.) One week later, 01 October, A. D. 2016, I found – at another gun show – an M95 rifle and bought it as well. Then on 14 October A. D. 2016 a gun shop employee (we’ll call him “Bob”) who knows me and my weaknesses, handed me another M95 stutzen, this one made in Steyr, Austria.

So I have to file a report.

The arm itself:  Left side of arm.


There are three major ‘types’ of the M1895. The rifle, the carbine and the stutzen. There are commonalities to all three:

First and most obvious is the action. It is a manually operated rifle, and classifies as a ‘bolt action’ in that the operator moves the ‘bolt’ back and forth.

Designed by Ferdinand Ritter von Mannlicher and adopted for use by the Austrian Army in 1895. (Mannlicher was famous for – among other things – the ‘all the way to the muzzle forend’ stock and a number of sporting rifles.) The M1895 which in three versions – rifle, stutzen and carbine – was a rather well developed specie of rifle. It employed a straight-pull action. It looks like a conventional bolt action rifle, but the bolt handle doesn’t ‘turn’ or lift in the normal manner, it simply pulls to the rear. This motion causes the bolt to turn and unlock and then open. Someone described it as a gas operated semi-automatic rifle with no gas operation or return spring. Once one gets the hang of it, it is really quite fast.

This action cocks on closing and features a checkered thumb ‘flap’ or cocking piece. I find it quite convenient to lower or cock the striker with the thumb of the right hand.

The manual safety is on the left side, rear of the bolt. The safety is ‘off’ when it protrudes from the left side of the bolt. The safety is ‘on’ when pushed into the bolt. On my sample one must push hard (it’s simpler to slightly pull the striker to the rear while pressing on the safety). The safety functions to block the striker in place and locks the bolt shut in place. It does not seem to affect the trigger at all.

Trigger pull is two stage, normal for military arms. There is a ‘take up’ first stage, then the ‘sear movement stage which one can discern. Trigger pulls vary from ‘nearly manageable’ to ‘horrible’. The pull gets progressively heavier and finally breaks around eight pounds or so. (I tried the trigger pull gauge several times, it varied ‘around eight pounds’.) The trigger has a bit of creep. (Just like the Dalai Lama is ‘a bit Buddhist’.) I rather imagine this was done due to manufacturing procedures AND as a ‘safety’ feature to prevent soldiers from prematurely firing their weapon. By no stretch is this a modern target trigger, but it was not intended to be such.

Loading the rifle is pretty simple. Ammunition was issued in groups of five rounds pre-assembled into an ‘en block loading device’. (Similar to the later U. S. Garand rifle.) The ‘clip’ resembles a stripper clip, but continues forward of the rim and head area, somewhat like the British ‘Enfield’ rifle. However, the device is NOT a stripper type and actually becomes part of the magazine and feed mechanism.

One opens the bolt, pushes the entire assembly of rounds and clip device down into the magazine section until the clip device ‘clicks’ into place, preventing the assembly from rising out of the magazine. As the rounds are rimmed, the loading device will only operate one way, there is an up and down; handling the assembled ammunition and ‘clip’, it is fairly apparent.
One notices a ‘bump’ in the forward edge of the trigger guard. It is the lower end of the ammunition container. When pressed forward – with the bolt open – all remaining cartridges and the ‘clip’ are forced from the top of the receiver by the follower.

The follower is built into the rifle and pushes up on the lowest cartridge; this of course passes the force to all the cartridges above AND to the clip device. Once the last round is pushed by the bolt out of the clip device, the follower touches nothing to hold the clip device in place and the clip simply falls out of the rifle – usually. (Some sources refer to this as ‘ejecting’ the clip, but there is no spring forcing the clip, it merely falls. Shooting the rifle upside down could be awkward. Of course, I find shooting any rifle while dangling upside down a bit awkward.)

The bolt does NOT lock open with the magazine empty. However, being manually operated the bolt doesn’t spring shut, either.

Sights are typical of the era. Primarily these sights were designed as ‘combat’ sights. There were intended to be used against human targets at unknown ranges. These were not target sights, intended to hit a relatively smaller mark – like a bullseye – at specific ranges, known to the shooter. More about this later.

Shooter's view of front sight. This photo is much bigger than appears at the end of the barrel

Shooter’s view of front sight. This photo is much bigger than appears at the end of the barrel

Front sight is a long, tapered shape which is wide at the base and comes to a somewhat rounded point. It is however, much taller in proportion than many sights of the same period. It is NOT close to an isosceles triangle shape; the tip is much more defined than some others. Not quite as useful or precise as a squared off post, but relatively better than the shorter triangle. Unfortunately the front sight tip is so thin as to be difficult to determine when shooting on the range. When shooting it, I kept losing track of the actual ‘tip of the front sight blade’. I can’t imagine how difficult this would be in actual combat.

Top view of front sight. Sight Blade mounted on lateral dovetail fitting. No idea what the “4” means.  Possible height measurement.

Front sight is mounted in a horizontal dovetail slot, presumably for installation and removal at need AND to adjust windage. Adjustment performed by either a screw and base type device similar to modern types used to adjust ‘fixed’ sights on pistols, or the traditional brass drift and hammer. (Calibrated in metric, of course.)

The base (with the dovetail) is mounted on the front of the barrel; the front of the base is roughly five-eights to three-quarters of an inch from the muzzle. The front sight base appears to be a band pressed onto the barrel (About where one would expect.)

The bayonet lug is under the barrel, part of the front barrel band. It is a rather ordinary “T” shaped in cross section and is where the base of the bayonet handle ‘snaps’ on. The forward part is a circular bit of the bayonet ‘hand guard’ (or would be on a knife) which slides over the barrel.

Also mounted on the front barrel band with the bayonet mount and front sight is a forward projecting doodad looking like a very short and non-whippy ‘whip antenna”. That is the stacking swivel, which allowed three soldiers to hook their arms together for quick use without laying arms flat on the ground. (Look it up, pictures are easier than words in this instance.)

Rear sight showing calibration marks. All numerals x 100, and all numerals represent 'paces', not yards.

Rear sight showing calibration marks. All numerals x 100, and all numerals represent ‘paces’, not yards.

Rear sight notch. Sight picture rather vague for my taste.

Rear sight notch. Sight picture rather vague for my taste.

The rifle’s rear sight is mounted on the barrel and is an ‘open’ sight, like the Springfield 1903 (not the ‘03A3 sight) or the Mauser 98. Like other European sights of the era, it has a “V” notch rear and inverted V or “^” front sight. (I find them hideous, personally, but nearly everyone and everyone’s dog in European military rifles had them for a long time. Even when my eyes were much younger, elevation hold was rather vague. It’s worse with older eyes.) The sight is an ladder type sight and flips up for ‘other than battle sight zero’ conditions. For battle sight zero use, the sight is left flat on the rifle barrel.

Your humble correspondent politely suggests the reader also read the prior article herein about ‘Battle Sight Zero’.

The ‘battle sight’ on both the rifle and short rifle is marked with the numeral “5”; examining the rest of the sight, one concludes that mean ‘500’. The sight graduations or markings are in ‘paces’. In German – the language of Austria when the M95 was adopted – the term used is “schritte” translated as ‘steps’. It was a formalized definition, actually, roughly twenty-eight inches. In dog years, 500 schritte is just shy of 390 yards where the projectile crosses the line of sight again, downrange. The bullet drop lower than line of sight gets to about twenty inches at 450 yards. So, by using the battle sight, the shooter can – presuming he or she can ‘hold and squeeze’ properly, score a hit on a enemy soldier out to 450 yards without changing the sights at all. (If the operator cannot shoot worth a hoot, the best sights in the world isn’t going to help.)

Tangential ‘facts’: The Russians – Czarist era – calibrated their rifle sights in arshini, the plural form of arshin, which is the same thing, a pace or step and is also roughly twenty-eight inches. After the Communists took over, reinventing itself as the Soviet Union, the ‘official’ measurement were all in metric, beginning in 1924.

However, when one considers the average person’s ability to measure distance, a “yard” in English measure, a “meter” in metric, or a “pace” (either version) all come out to be just about the same underlying idea. How far a human being can normally step. I do not know of any other language’s words on the subject, but I would not be surprised to find most all cultures have some form of distance based on a man’s ‘pace’ or stride. Probably most have updated to the meter for international trade, but the archaic forms exist somewhere. (See, you learned more than you expected!)

How to Use the Sights:

A word of explanation about sights from the First World War era. Line ‘em up and pull the trigger, right? Sort of. The sights on this rifle – and most of the era, including the 1903 Springfield – were made with a ‘battle sight” setting.

These rifles were NOT intended as target shooting rifles in the sense currently understood. They were intended as combat weapons. So the ‘battle sight’ setting was intended to cause the fired projectile to intersect with a human torso – presumably the enemy – as far as possible, considering the trajectory of the projectile of the rifle involved – WITHOUT changing the sight setting. Normally, the soldier aimed belt level out to a certain distance – varying with the cartridge trajectory – resulting in a hit anywhere on the silhouette from belt level to shoulder level. Past that ‘certain distance’, the soldier aimed shoulder level and the bullet trajectory would be ‘falling’, the projectile would strike from the shoulder level down to belt level at the maximum distance.

In other words, the battle sight ‘target’ is a rectangle roughly twelve to fifteen inches wide and twenty to twenty-five inches high. Therefore, a bullet strike five inches high at 100 yards is actually a ‘hit’. To properly evaluate a battle sight for accuracy, one should employ a silhouette target rather than a small bullseye type target.

To utilize the battle sights as intended, the shooter aims at the waistline of the target out to where the shots are striking the target at or near the waist level, then hold at shoulder level beyond. I do not know exactly the ‘change over’ distance for this cartridge and rifle, but some calculation indicates probably around 225 yards.

So, what about the long distances shown on the rear sight?

No. No one expected a regular soldier to estimate range, move the sights and pick off a single enemy soldier at upwards of 1000 paces, yards, meters or anything of the sort. Maybe a few with really sharp eyes could ding a belligerent over 1,000 etceteras, but not most of us mere mortals.

Go down to a busy street (do not take your rifle, you’ll get too much attention). Do some measuring or calculation and figure out how far away is 1,000 yards. Pick a place you can see people moving about or crossing the street. First off, see how many people you can recognize. Probably not many. Then hold a half-sharpened pencil out at arm’s length with the sort of blunt tip ‘up’ like a front sight. See how well you can line up the pencil point with anyone crossing the street. Likely, the pencil point will cover the person completely. Consider how to hold the (imaginary) sights to correct for that vagary in the aiming process. Unless you’re a supremely visioned person or someone with incredible self-deception abilities, you’ll quickly realize that sort of thing just isn’t done.

But there is a purpose. The ladder markings are designed for ‘area’ fire conducted by groups, not individuals. Something on the order of a squad or company would all fire – under direction of a supervisor of some level – at extended range concentrating on a particular ‘area’. This was essentially duplicating the effects of machinegun fire and the idea was to attack groups, either in motion or stationary.

Go back to that imaginary scenario of watching people at 1,000 yards. One rifleman probably cannot score a hit on a single target; however, with ten to fifteen other riflemen, one could probably keep pedestrians from crossing the street. THAT is the function.

There is at least two historic records of this happening, probably others not so celebrated.

The tactic isn’t used so much since WWI; most armies have enough artillery, mortar, aircraft and missile or drone support not to bother. The practice can use up a lot of rifle ammunition in short order as well.

Variations of the M95

M95 Rifle
The rifle is the longest version to probably no one’s surprise. The additional length is all in the barrel; from the butt to around the 18” mark of the barrel (which is not ‘marked” per se) they are the same. Barrel length of the rifle is (from the Wiki article) 765mm or 30.1 inches. I measured mine right here with my own cleaning rod and tape measure; it comes out to 30.75 inches or 781.5mm, breach face to muzzle with the action closed. Take your pick.

Total length of the rifle (mine at least) is fifty and one-half inches. Weight – according to my non-commercial kitchen scale – is about eight and one-half pounds. (Wiki says it’s 8.3 pounds.)

The rifle has not – seemingly – been converted to the later and more powerful 8x56R Mannlicher round. It lacks the “S” stamp on the top of the chamber to signify the change. The rifle is still in caliber 8x50R Mannlicher (not to be confused with 8×50 Lebel). As mentioned, ammunition for this caliber is even more difficult to find than the later ammunition, which is not common in itself. I may have to reload to find out how it shoots; a tale for another time as I don’t have reloading dies for it, yet.

A somewhat curious complication is the 8x50R Mannlicher rounds I found – collectable cartridges and NOT for plinking – will NOT chamber. I suspect a bit of broken case ‘stuck’ in the chamber and plan to do a chamber cast shortly. (Which means when I can’t think of an excuse to do something else instead.)

I had planned to compare velocities between the two barrel lengths. I suppose I still can, but since they are different calibers, it means far less.

The full length rifle has sling mounts fore and aft on the underside of the stock, as most rifles.

The rifle barrel and the sight radius is longer than the short guns. Sight radius is 26 3/16 inches or 59 centimeters. The folding leaf sight, similar to the Stutzen Model Barrel length is roughly two and seven-eighths inches or nearly 7.3 centimeters.

Carbine and Stutzen

The Carbine and the Stutzen both have 480mm long barrels. Mine measures nineteen and one half inches. Both Carbine and Stutzen are fitted with an abbreviated rear sight about an inch shorter than the rifle rear sight.

For the short versions, sight radius (from rear sight to rear edge of front sight) is just a touch over fifteen and three-quarter inches, or forty centimeters. The sight is the ladder type arrangement with a ‘battle sight’ notch when folded down. When raised, the ladder is calibrated from 300 to 2400 ‘paces’.

Originally, the Carbine was intended for cavalry troops. The Carbine did not have a bayonet mount. (I suppose the Austro-Hungarian Empire didn’t see a need for cavalry troops armed with bayonet equipped rifles.) The age of smokeless powder and consequent machine guns minimized the need or utility of (horse) cavalry, so all (officially) the Carbines were retro-fitted with bayonet mounts. One of the major indications a particular weapon was a carbine converted to stutzen is the forward part of the stock, forward of the second barrel band. The stutzen is forward exposed wood is seven inches long; the carbine exposed portion is only five inches long.

To add to the confusion, many of the rifles (long barreled) were converted to the stutzen configuration. The most obvious clue is the one time rifle still has the longer rifle rear sight. This and the length of exposed wood forward are mainly of interest to collectors.

The stutzen rifle is short like a carbine but has marked differences. It was issued to special troops (Austrian storm troops) during the First World War. ‘Stutzen’ is the German word for ‘clip’. I am presuming the stutzen is a ‘clipped’ rifle.

The stutzen rifle weighs 7.25 pounds according to my scale. Wiki says it’s supposed to be 7.1 or 7.2, depending on the exact model. Over all length is just shy of 40 inches. That’s nearly a foot shorter than the rifle version and probably more convenient – at least psychologically – to move around.

I do not have a carbine or rifle converted to stutzen, but from the photos on line, they seem to be the same length and weight as the stutzen. Weights given vary a bit, but that may reflect variations in the stock.

Sling mounts on the short rifles are mounted on the left side, not the bottom of the rifle stock. The rear swivel is mounted at the wrist of the stock and I find in the way of a shooting grip. Actually in shooting the carbine offhand the swivel is a nuisance. Obviously, no one in the Austrian or Hungarian Army was left handed. (Ahem.)

The original round for the M95 in all variations was “8x50R Mannlicher”. It fired – according to Cartridges of the World #14 – a 244 grain bullet (15.81 grams) at 2,030 fps (618.7 meters per second). After the First World War, the round was found lacking; probably considered too slow; the trajectory is reminiscent of a black powder cartridge. So in the 1930s they were all (offically) converted to fire a slightly longer and more powerful round, the 8x56R.

M1895 Mannlicher (AHE) en bloc loading device and 8x56Rmm cartridges. Note the cartridges loaded are PPU manufactured and are soft pointed.

The 8x56R (sometimes identified as “Hungarian”) round – also found in Cartridges of the World, fires a 208 grain bullet at 2,420 fps. The size of the case, and the level of performance is very close to the better known and slightly less powerful .303 British round (firing a 175 grain bullet at about the same velocity). The 8x56R is a full powered rifle round. Not currently used by any army – nor likely with the rim and all – it strikes me as a suitable hunting round for less dangerous game up to the size of the North American moose or so. It would probably kill a lion in the right circumstances – sneak up and shoot it while it’s not looking – but isn’t what I think of as ‘suitable’ for dangerous game that might attack. (Right out for larger bears, for that matter.)

An ‘odd’ quality of the round is the bore size. Although identified and named as “8mm”, the bore size measures .329 inches. The Mauser 8mm has a bore size of .323 inches and the earlier version of the 8mm Mauser measured .318 inches. The French 8mm Lebel is .323 inches. The 8mm Siamese round is .323 inches. As far as I can ascertain, no other rifle cartridge in the known Universe uses the same bore diameter. As a military cartridge, this might be thought desirable as no one else can use the rifle. It also means the nation has to make it’s own bullets. (Happily for reloaders currently, there are a couple of manufacturers who produce projectiles for reloading; however, they are limited.)

As an infantry cartridge, it is quite suitable. Except for possibly one little detail, noted in several places: it recoils abusively.

The M95 Carbine weights just under seven pounds, four ounces – according to my non officially calibrated nor laboratory quality scale. By all accounts, that 200 grain bullet kicks like a mule. Did I mention in true military fashion, the butt plate is steel?

By comparison, the British SMLE used from around 1895 to 1957 (in the military, also as a sporting round, still currently) fired a similar round as I mentioned, but the bullet weight (after a bit of changing bullets and settling on what seemed best) was 175 grains. The rifle weighs just shy of nine pounds. There’s a difference in recoil.

It is possible reducing the bullet to close to 150 grains in weight might have eased this problem. It never happened. Why? I have no idea. The sights would need replacing, I suppose. The shorter bullet length should easily stabilize in the twist for the larger bullet.

There are several sources of ammunition for this rifle in 8x56R. There is still surplus German (NAZI) produced ammunition – most marked 1938, oddly enough – available; sort of. I checked some of the online outlets for ‘surplus’ ammunition and there isn’t any cheap left over stuff left over. All that remains is going over over one dollar a round at the cheapest. Surplus ammunition is NOT a viable shooting alternative. At least not right now.

NAZI made ammunition (M30) has a 208 grain boat-tail bullet and a powder charge of 48.9 grains of unidentified small, flake powder; demonstrated in a YouTube video by Penny Pincher Firearms by disassembling a dud round.

Hornady manufactures soft point hunting ammunition (not widely distributed, mostly on line). It is a 206 grain soft point for hunting purposes. All the advertisements on the web show a price of $31.00 or over for a box of twenty rounds (over $1.50 a shot). Its better than no ammunition at all, Hornady makes quality hunting ammo and the cases are reloadable, but plinking ammo it isn’t. I didn’t buy or shoot any.

Privi Partizan Unize (PPU) makes both FMJ and soft point ammunition in limited quantities. One does not find this ammunition commonly. It is available on line for about a buck a shot, but it’s the best offer going. Additionally, PPU makes both FMJ and Soft Point ammo in the proper diameter (.329/.330 inch) for not outrageous prices. At last count, Graf and Sons has them. I did buy PPU ammo via SGAammo, which figure in this report. FMJ Bullets from Graf and Sons are on the way; which will hopefully become duplicates of the original military loading.

Other than some collector’s items, there is NO surplus 8x50R – the earlier chambering – ammunition extant. One or two custom type ammunition loaders make it up, mostly from 7.62x54R (.30 Russian) cases. Once can also resize and trim new 8x56R cases to function.

One can also trim and reform 8x56R cases to make 8x50R Mannlicher.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!  (Let the good times roll! or, shooting.)

Just for the record, the firing was done on two different days, about three days apart. Between daylight to shoot, putting the chronograph together, moving downrange to set up targets and other shooters, the process was a bit extended.

Shooting the rifle was fairly easy. After watching several videos, I was under the impression this is a hard recoiling rifle. It recoils about as much as any other full sized rifle round – .30-06, .303 British, .308 Winchester – in a like sized and weighted rifle. However, the rifle is fairly light, just over seven pounds. It most certainly has recoil, but not extreme by any stretch. Perhaps strong compared to ‘modern’ military rounds. I suppose I should admit here I was wearing a ‘recoil shield’ device over my shoulder. But a jacket would probably be adequate.

I mentioned the rear sling swivel earlier. Recoil does NOT make the placement of the swivel – on the left side of where one grips the stock and operates the trigger – any more convenient. Were this a ‘using’ rifle I would remove the swivel and remount it in a ‘friendlier’ place.

The straight pull action works fairly easily. I was expecting a bit more resistance in initial extraction of the fired round, but with the arm clean and not over heated – I didn’t fire a lot in a short period of time – the action was reasonably normal in operation. Oh, I didn’t throw any sand or dirt in the action, either.

I found the ejector is a fixed bar which contacts the fired case when the bolt is fully withdrawn. Which means, for best results, one should open the bolt with firm decision and alacrity. It is not required to abuse the bolt against the bolt stop, but briskly open the bolt all the way. When one opens and withdraws the bolt slowly, the fired case is not ejected smartly.

Getting the rifles on target was somewhat frustrating. From rifle “81” (identification of individual rifle based on serial number) rifle, I fired a total of ten rounds, all chronographed. All shooting was done assisted by a standing rest. This consisted of a camera tripod with a ‘bed’ of wood attached instead of a camera. The idea of a standing rest is to give greater accuracy AND allow the rifle to move in recoil much as it would ordinarily. The idea is to test the rifle, not the shooter.

Ammunition results are almost boring. They are just what they ought to be.

All velocities according to a Competitive Edge Dynamics (C. E. D.) chronograph. According to the advertising, it’s the absolute berries in home chronographs. I must say it works well for your humble correspondent.

The primary chronographing was performed using NAZI marked ammunition in original packaging and ‘en block’ loaders made in 1938. All ammunition fired on the first try, no hang-fires, no duds and no surprises. A couple of the en bloc devices didn’t fall freely as they should, but nothing’s perfect. Thirty seconds on a belt sander and all is well with the world.

According to internet lore, this ammunition (M30 ball) is a 208 grain jacketed bullet with a muzzle velocity – from the rifle version I gather – at 2440 fps. (Rifle barrel is 30.75 inches, stutzen is 17.875 inches. So the rifle barrel is nearly a foot longer.) (Except in millimeters.)

Very much in the .303 British ammunition category, except a heavier bullet.

Shooting was recorded at 33 yards or 42.5 schritte (our range did some ‘work’ and covered what should be the 25 yard line), 100 yards (129 schritte) and 200 yards (258 schritte). The sights are calibrated in schritte, but I simply refuse to set up targets accordingly.

Toradh (results):

“81” clocked ten (10) of the 1938 NAZI rounds at an average of 2340 fps. About 100 fps below the full length rifle barrel length. Stutzen “09” clocked the same at an average of 2317, just a bit slower. The two rifles average out to 2329 fps. Not bad consistency from two rifles made between 1895 and 1920, using ammunition made in 1938.

Stutzen “81” with PPU ammunition show a thirty round average of 2011, while “09” clocks 2019. Average of both rifles is 2015 fps. About 300 fps slower than the military surplus.

All shots from both stutzen rifles were on target at 33 yards. They were low, near the line of sight through the sights. (Look at the picture.) Both rifles register to the left of center.

Rifle “81” gave mixed results. The first five rounds of M30 surplus ammunition was fired at 33 yards – and the five shots held together in a two-inch group about 6.25 inches high and 1.5 inches left of the aiming point. Fairly encouraging.

Extending that to 100 yards, the group would be roughly six inches in diameter, striking about twenty inches high and four to five inches left of the aiming point. According to the rules.

The five shots at 100 yards – using a standing rest – resulted in no holes in the target. Not a one. More than likely, I was shooting over and somewhat to the left of the target. Which is just a bit embarrassing, as I was using a B27 (full sized silhouette) target and thought I could at least see my misses. I couldn’t.

In retrospect, my mistake was in not following what I already knew to be true. The rifle sights are intended to be used as ‘battle sights’. That is, the strike of the bullets will be well over the line of sight from somewhere in the seventy yard range out to 200 yards or so. All the rounds were going high, as I was aiming at the center of the target. This was corrected in subsequent shooting sessions. Nor did I – as was obvious – move the front sight to the left to correct the windage problem. (Such adjustments require a brass drift and a suitable hammer.) So at 100 yards the rifle was no doubt shooting considerably to the left.

At 100 yards both rifles still hit a bit to the left. Rifle “09” raised the strike of the bullets about five inches high and moved about three inches left from 33 yard. I didn’t fire any surplus ammunition at 200 yards.

At 33 yards with rifle “09” and PPU factory ammunition, the group was seven inches lower than the surplus ammunition (no doubt resulting from the lower velocity), but close to the center line; just a bit to the left. At 100 and 200 hundred yards, there were no hits on the target at all. I am presuming they are all off to the left. It could be me as well.

In summation of the initial shooting evidence, one should shoot at either a B27 or an IPSC/USPCA torso target for testing. Also, one should use the bottom edge – what would be the waist line of an adversary – as the aiming point.

(We will not discuss my shooting ability or my aging eyes any further, thank you very much!)

Examining the fired cases, I have good news. No signs of high pressure. All primers are flat, non-extruded, and show no cratering. No indication of case stretching. Measuring five unfired samples of each type of ammunition, and five samples of each type fired from each rifle, the largest expansion of the head area is .004”; which is indicative of full power, but not excessive pressure in this type of round.

This leads me to believe I can develop a safe load to duplicate the M30 round and ballistics. Speaking of reloading, the package from Graf & Sons just arrived. I have 300 bullets duplicating the original 208 grain FMJ. I’ll have to post a follow-up article.

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