Category Archives: Firearms and their use

Discussions of various specific firearms, evaluations of their functionality and appropriate use and employment in every day life. Also discussions of ammunition in the same light. Thirdly, brief discussions of the legal side of firearms ownership and use – Second Amendment considerations and those who seek to destroy personal liberty.

Smith & Wesson Model 10-5 (1962)

While looking for a nameless 7.65 Browning pistol, suggested to me by a friend…
The pistol was post WW2, making it a bit too new for my collection. But I did see and purchase a revolver chambered in the widespread and common caliber of .38 Special. It is as the title describes.

This particular revolver has a two inch barrel. This configuration was intended for plain clothes police under the reasoning it would be easier to hide. In my experience, they are no easier to hide than a four inch. But the short version is far more cool. All the private eyes in the 1950s and ’60s television shows carried this revolver.

The revolver is in pretty good shape. When found it was a bit rusty – but only on the surface, and was terribly filthy. I know how to clean.

The rust was all superficial. There were spots of rust on the barrel and top strap. A combination of oil (I use penetrating oil/lubricant) and very fine steel wool will remove the rust spots without damaging the bluing underneath. Then the arm was detail stripped and the major parts were run through a sonic cleaner. Following that, I used WD-40 (the WD stands for ‘water displacement’) and wiped everything with a clean rag (shop rag).

Upon examination, there is no holster wear. So it was not carried in a holster for any length of time. The rust spots noted are most likely the result of being kept in a drawer of the chest of drawers so common in homes. Some dampness found a way in. The stocks have some bumps. they are used. (Upon reflection, the stocks are more beat up than the metal parts.) They are the original stocks by the way. (S&W numbered stocks on the inside bottom of the right piece.)

The photos show the rust spots. This is after cleaning and removing the rust. (Next time I’ll photograph prior to the process.) (Yes, I should make the photos of such things more uniform. I’ll work on it.) It’s really not bad at all.

As much as I like the S&W revolver, I do have two criticisms. One is the horrible short extractor throw on the two inch versions (only gets about half of a .38 Special cartridge out). The second gripe I have is the stocks are designed for persons with malformed hands. The middle finger does not belong behind the index finger.

The short extractor rod is what fits on a two-inch barreled K frame. (A common alteration was to shorten a four inch ‘pencil barrel’ to three inches, remounting the front sight, allowing for a full throw.) Also when this feature (the two inch barrel) was added, users were expected to actually hit the target or adversary seriously within the first six rounds. Not firing ten or twelve wild shots into the air. But I digress…

In the old days, when these were in production, I would replace the stocks with a suitable aftermarket product. Pachmayr grips were very popular, and I must admit they are comfortable and very utile. However, I preferred Herrett Shooting Star grips. (I was a snob then as well. Herrett grips are comfortable and very utile AND rather handsome. However, this is not the old days and these grips have the diamond around the stock screw, so I am not going to replace them. I’ve ordered a Tyler T-grip. An excellent way to make a revolver much handier and not increase bulk; only increases weight about an ounce.

Speaking of weight, the revolver weighs one pound, twelve ounces, unloaded. It will fit in most trouser front pockets and not sag. It is just heavy enough to allow most any sensible (not over loaded) ammunition and control doing so.

Trigger pull is good to excellent. Using a Wheeler electronic trigger scale, the single action breaks at 3 pounds, 11 ounces: double action requires 10 pounds, 11 ounces. The single action is crisp and free of creep. The double action is smooth and uniform all the way and the hammer releases instantly without ‘jump’ of the arm. One of the nicest double action pulls I’ve found without a revolver ‘smith working on it.

I am waiting the T-grip to arrive to shoot this.

As yet, I’ve not decided to put this revolver in my selection of carry handguns. But all my modern handguns are on the possible list; hence the T-grip coming. And I have appropriate ammunition.

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Controlled Feed or Push Feed?

Controlled feed actions are those in which the cartridge coming from the magazine and being inserted in the chamber is somewhat locked into the bolt – held by the extractor – from the time it is free of the magazine, during firing and until free of the arm. Where upon the bolt ‘grabs’ the next cartridge in the same manner.

As with most things there are two major camps of rifle enthusiasts. Probably not as staunch as large versus small calibers, but still a distinction. Bolt action rifles are – a single distinction, not a combination of factors – into ‘controlled’ and ‘push’ feed systems.

Push feed actions are those which the cartridge in the magazine is merely pushed from the magazine and into the chamber. If not before, the extractor ‘snaps’ over the rim of the cartridge upon chambering. The extractor then extracts the fired – or unfired, as the circumstance dictates – cartridge from the chamber.

The controlled round function has existed since the late 1800s, 1880 or so (I’m not really sure of the date, and I do not find that information important). The push feed type rifles have existing long prior, as any rifle which can be loaded by dropping a round into the mechanism must then have the extractor ‘snap’ over the extractor rim, groove or whatever. So any single shot or rifle with a magazine cut off is push feed unless a rather complex mechanism is involved. I don’t know of any, but I’m not God nor Batman. By the same token, controlled feed rifles are those that are feed only from a magazine.

The controlled feed system was developed for primarily military use. This was in the day of infantrymen being equipped with bolt action rifles and transitioning from selected single shot fire to magazine fire as the officer in charge decided. Controlled feed was considered important for at least two reasons:

A controlled feed rifle can ignore gravity to some extent. Operating the bolt will chamber a round (presuming cartridge or cartridges are in the magazine) in awkward positions. Like shooting from prone in an irregularity in the terrain. Or hanging upside down from a tree.

Reason number two is far more defensible. If one ‘short strokes’ the bolt – that is, does not retract the bolt far enough to eject the fired cartridge – with a push feed, the next round in the magazine will be pushed by the bolt forward creating a ‘double feed’ malfunction and ‘jam’. That cannot happen with a controlled feed mechanism. Since many armies used young men, the tendency to panic was extremely possible when under fire. So the controlled round design was less likely to have that jamming problem.

One notes that nearly all semi and fully automatic weapons currently are push feed. The human factor of not properly operating the bolt doesn’t exist.

So, which is better? Pretty much all bolt action rifles in the current era are for sporting purposes. Battle is now replaced by the possibility of a rather enraged, clawed, toothed, hoofed, just plain huge or some combination thereof. A controlled feed action might be preferred for those times.

But for any occasion, if one retracts the bolt back fully: the fired cartridge will extract and the next round will chamber (presuming the chamber is relative free of obstacles). Then, move the bolt forward, smartly, completely and expeditiously. One might train and condition one’s mind and hand to perform in that manner.

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I Seem to Changing

My reloading has changed priority. I load few handgun rounds anymore. I used to reload for a number of handgun rounds. Among other things, there are simply a number of calibers I just do not shoot anymore.

As a list, I used to load and no longer load: .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, 9x19mm (Luger or Parabellum), Super .38 (a shock to recognize), .40 S&W. None of those calibers do anything that I need done anymore.

Additionally, the calibers I do shoot (and had loaded) were the ‘standard’ loading only of .45 ACP (hardball), .38 Special (standard 158 grain RNL), .32 ACP standard and 9x19mm (hardball, of which I have more than I can use). I can purchase those in sufficient quantity to meet my needs for practice or informal casual shooting.

I happen to have four hundred rounds or so of Federal 230 grain Hydra-Shok ammunition for serious defensive use. I also have 9x19mm hardball. Those are from long ago and a serendipity. I wish I could claim genius and good planning, but they just fell from the sky.

Handgun rounds I will continue to load – probably in fits – are .38 and .44 Special, .45Auto Rim – in loadings not commercially available, .45 Colt, .44 WCF just because they are expensive and hard to find.

.22 long rifle doesn’t allow my preference. Such is life.

Two calibers, .32 WCF and .22 Hornet I may or may not load. Both rifles, I like them but they seem to be difficult. Not sure if I’ll continue to fight the battle.

I will continue to load ‘hunting’ caliber rifles. Rifle calibers which will manifest accuracy and or configurations I desire. Included are 6.5x55mm (Swede or whatever they call it these days), 6.5x54mm Mannlicher-Schonauer, .256 Manlicher (known also as 6.5×53.5Rmm Dutch Mannlicher), .257 Roberts (+p), 7.62x39mm (heavy bullet), 7x57mm Mauser, .308 Winchester, .30 Scott’s Improved and .303 British, which I enjoy shooting.  The .35 Whelen, .375 Ruger, .45-70 Govt (for a sporterized 1903 action). .450/400 NE 3 inch(in a Ruger No 1), .458 Winchester (for a sporterized 1903 action) and 9.3x74Rmm are all more powerful hunting rifles which are NOT fun to shoot.  Or perhaps I should word it, they are fun to shoot; but not fun to shoot very much at one sitting.  

My World War One collection has some odd calibers I will not load much. 8x51mm Lebel comes to mind. PPU makes it ready for use. 8x56Rmm is an oddball which I load only not to fire antique ammunition. 6.5x52mm Carcano is not so useful other than an oddity. 8x57mm Mauser is another caliber rare in original loading. And so on…

I have little idea why I started this track other than to share that activities change and so does what one does regarding such.  At some point, one must admit to one’s self they just can’t carry a 50 pound back pack like in the ‘old days’.  I confess, I don’t ‘bounce’ as well as I did at eighteen.

 

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I Really Appreciate CZ – USA

I am just a bit torn (mentally) in beginning this essay. On the one side, I wish to share with you all how great a company CZ USA is; their high standards of customer care and just how delighted I am. On the other hand, I do want to open the floodgates of ‘self-interest’, causing an avalanche of semi-truthful claims to their Warranty and Service section to get the benefits thereof.

I have a CZ 527 Carbine. I must confess they seem to add and remove ‘variations’ often. (Which is not a criticism, just a difficultly I have in keeping track.) The one I have was sold with a ‘rustic’ (their term, not mine) stock made of real wood, and in what to my eye looked green tinged; not of old fashioned spirit. But it was quite attractive and most functional. It broke.

The stock suffered a crack (I didn’t fiddle or examine to determine how serious) at the ‘point’ of the rear of the receiver where it fits into the inletting (cut out) in the stock. One notes this is common injury and it usually superficial. (Usually.)

Having read about CZ’s customer service and warranty work, I sent an inquiry to CZ-USA about it. They sent me a FedEx shipping label to send it back. This was late October of this year. (I wasn’t keeping track of all dates.) They sent a notice of receipt, and not terribly long after an email telling me the problem had been diagnosed; then fixed by fitting out a new stock (including the barrel bedded).

The ‘bad news’. All the ‘rustic’ stocks are gone. (That carbine model configuration has been discontinued.) The only stock available – and what they used – is Turkish Walnut. Holy Kiss a rabbit! Turkish Walnut! I prefer a Walnut stock to the ‘rustic’. Go figure.

Now, the good news. I have my rifle back. It is gorgeous. The magazine fits. I have not shot it yet – although December has days running in the 60’s and little wind. CZ-USA has given me no notice of a bill. None. I did pay the one way shipping by FEDEX. I expected to pay something for the work. Nothing. I rather expected them to glue the crack carefully, gently push it all back together and perhaps a discreet screw, pin or dowel. They gave me a new walnut stock and fitted it!

I have a CZ rifle in 6.5x55mm, the carbine in 7.62x39mm and a .257 Roberts from BRNO (the spiritual and possible physical father of CZ). They are all fitted wood to metal well, operate smoothly and just look good. Did I mention I really like CZ?

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Curiosity of early Berdan cases

Just an historical note regarding early smokeless Berdan primed cases. 

Just for the record, this is the second time writing this essay. WordPress has equipped the construction system of posts with an automatic destruction system that without warning deletes most of a post without warning or possibility of correction. I rather expect some emotionally damaged code flunky is laughing hysterically over this.

Berdan primers were invented (designed, developed) by Colonel (brevet Brigadier General) Hiram Berdan in the 1860s. They are distinguished from Boxer primers invented by Edward Mounier Boxer of England also in the 1860s. (I have not been able to determine which was first.)

The Boxer primer system incorporates the anvil of the primer into the primer. There is a single ‘flash’ hole allowing the flame of the primer to enter the powder chamber of the cartridge.

The Berdan primer system incorporates the anvil of the primer into the case. There are two or more (I’ve only seen two so far) flash holes to allow the primer flame into the powder chamber.

I refer the reader to any one of a number of reference works explaining this distinction and formation. There are explanations on line with diagrams, pictures and such and I suspect one finds this information on YouTube.

Oddly, I have never heard any serious discussion of why a governmental organization should choose one type over another. There seems to be no difference in reliability of cartridge ignition. The problem of complication for manufacture of cases is offset by the simplification of primer manufacture – and vice versa.

Thoughts of anyone? Has anyone read some historical matter (book or publication, civilian or government) on the subject? Does anyone have a logical argument on the subject? Comments welcomed.

Head stamp and vacant primer opening
Head stamp of 8mm Lebel cartridge in question

The casing is of an 8x50mmR Lebel cartridge. It was the first smokeless powder military cartridge (in fact, the first smokeless cartridge) and used exclusively by the French. (Many articles abound about it.) The head stamp on this example is quite simple. The undecipherable mark at the 6 o’clock is the numeral three (3) in the same font as the 86 at 12 o’clock. (My apologies for the photo). This presumes one reads the head stamp from the perspective of the identifiable “3” as the bottom. If one reads all the notations while rotating the case, the “86” becomes “98”. Which strikes me as a bit late for this manufacture.

In a pile of artifacts given to me (something along the lines of “You know about guns. I found this stuff in the attic; so here!”) this (pictured) fired case among the items. There were several other Lebel cases, all dirty, and I included them in a group of cases I was cleaning. The cleaning worked and for some reason this case disassembled.

Case and primer as found
Parts of case after cleaning

I did have to carefully examine the remains of the cleaning operation and remove the smaller bits from the corncob media. The three parts are the case itself (the big obvious part) on the right, the primer cup (without the compound) in the center, and the floor plate of the primer pocket – including the anvil – on the left.

Case insert, Interior side of anvil cap.
Case insert, Anvil side facing primer

Clearly shown are the two ‘flash holes’. These are individually smaller in diameter than the one in Boxer primers, but two of them probably make up for the size. One finds no significant difference in function.

Primer cup

The primer cup is the third piece found. As it is fired, the priming compound (indeed the only explosive in a cartridge) and the moisture cover (some form of paper or other membrane) are gone. The compound was consumed in firing and the moisture cover was either consumed (likely) or blown off in the firing action.

I presume the case was cast or extruded with the large orifice; then the ‘floor plate’ or ‘cap’ for the primer was force fit into place. Only then was the final necking of the cartridge performed. I could be wrong, the ‘floor plate’ would easily fit through the neck of the finished case.

I have no positive information on the formation of this case. Any thoughts? Any knowledge? I would appreciate it.

That’s all. Another twist or turn in the evolution of cartridge ammunition. One more bit of fairly useless information.

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Choice of Three (gun) Powders

On a number of websites and from some personal conversations I’ve had I hear a recurring theme (well, many, but I’ll chew on this particular theme for a bit), the desire to have an absolute minimum of gun powders in the inventory.  Being somewhat of a minimalist myself, I am quite in accord with that sentiment.  However, the more I thought, the less the answer seemed to fit on a bumpersticker or tee shirt.  There are several considerations.  So I’ve put these in the following order as I see consecutive.  As usual, some may consider the matter different than I.  That is probably good for all of us.

First allow me to dispel a rather common and deeply cherished myth.  Fast powders are not intended for short barrels and slow powders intended for long barrels.  NO!  They are not!

Now I feel better.

Burn rate.  To my mind this is the simplest consideration and therefore, I’ll start with that.  I like simple.  Probably most everyone has heard “For the X cartridge, powder Y is the best!”  This was probably truer at one time than now.  When smokeless gun powder was first developed, there was only one type and burning rate:  “Poudre B(lanche)” – ‘White Powder” in French.  Within a few years, several types (and differing burn rates) were developed, but most were relatively ‘fast’ by current standards.  The latest information I possess shows 198 different powders (and burn rates) available in the world.  To be more correct, many of these are not immediately available for retail sale in the U. S. (where I live; no doubt one in Great Britain or Europe or Australia or Tanganyika will find a somewhat different ‘picture’).  Even so, the local gun shop has a display of half a barn door’s full.  I haven’t counted them, but there are five or six shelves probably ten to fifteen (one pound) plastic bottles each displayed.  That’s no less than fifty and probably not more than 90 or so powders and rates of burning.  (I finally counted; 92 displayed at the time I counted.)

This is going to seem out of place, but it isn’t.  What is the difference between handgun, shotgun and rifle powder?  (We’ll leave out cannons and mortars.)  One thing only:  Burning rate.  To the observant, one notes quite a few shotgun and handgun powders interchange.  Some pistol powders can be used for small rifle cartridges.

The upshot of this is if one loads only for one category of arm – handguns, shotguns or rifles – one may exclude a number of the ‘other’ powders.

I don’t load for shotgun at all.  I load very few pistol calibers.  Mostly I load for rifles.  So I can exclude the fastest fifty or so types of powders without further discussion.  I have Alliant Power Pistol and either Alliant 2400 or Hodgdon 110 for handguns.  The fact is, I do not load for .44 Magnum much anymore, so just the Power Pistol is my minimum.

Rifles, however…

Back to the main discussion.  The basic question of ‘what kind of powder do I need for ____?’  The answer does not fit on a bumper sticker.  The prime difference in the required burn rate is the speed with which the arm gets rid of pressure.  (For those that disagree with this, or would word it differently, please read on.)  One of the basic measures of any firearm is what is known as ‘expansion ratio’.  This is the ratio of the volume of the internal burning chamber of a loaded round, compared to the total volume of that same interior of the cartridge case AND the total volume of the bore to the muzzle.  A word of warning:  When buying a firearm, do not ask the seller about the expansion ratio.  A goodly number will just look at you as if you just grew a second head.  A non-reloader will have no idea.  Many reloaders just follow directions in the manual – as is proper.  One may get more curious as time goes on, but one stays grounded in experience.

Consider a cartridge like the .220 Swift or .22-250 Remington.  Both have a rather large case body and a rather small bore.  One should see how the pressure of the burning powder takes longer to exit than a .45-70 Govt or .458 Winchester case.  That is because the larger bore rifles have a larger ‘exit’.  For that reason, firearms with a larger expansion ratio require a faster burning powder.  The faster burning rate keeps the pressure high enough to keep pushing the bullet.  The lower expansion ration arms require a slower burn rate to not overpressure the system and cause a failure.

Then we have another factor.  Bullet weight.  The heavier the bullet, the longer the time the pressure is held in the arm and not allowed to escape.  Therefore, a heavier bullet – all other things remaining the same – the slower the powder must be.  This seems somewhat contradictory to the first principle, but actually works in harmony.  For instance, a ‘light’ .22 bullet in a .22-250 Remington can use a ‘faster’ slow burning powder than a ‘heavy’ bullet in the same cartridge using a ‘slower’ slow burning powder.  A ‘heavy’ bullet in a .458 Winchester will use a ‘slower’ fast burning powder than a lighter bullet.  So even for a ‘one rifle’ person, the minimum number of powders may be more than one.  As example, the .30-06 Springfield – a venerable but somewhat ‘passé’ caliber – can handle bullets of 110 grain up to bullets of 220 grains.  However, one will not get maximum velocity or efficiency using only one powder.  Picking a single powder in the middle (for that cartridge) burning range, the light bullets will tend to limited by the ability of the powder capacity to provide enough pressure and pressure levels limits will not propel the heavier bullets as fast as one might want.  With one cartridge and a single bullet weight – which can be easily done for hunting purposes – one can use one type of powder literally forever.

However, buying a box of ammo for the purpose would probably serve as well.  And be cheaper and less bothersome in the long run.

Add to the confusion some bullets are constructed differently.  To some degree they resist the deformation of the rifling differently than the typical lead core with jacket type bullet.  I always see specific instructions and warnings on their packaging or in load books.  Not likely to sneak up on one.

Then another ugly wrinkle rears its ugly head.  Reloaders have long understood the reality of how one powder shoots better (more accurately or faster) when combined with a certain bullet of a particular brand (of the same weight).  To my knowledge, this problem has never been suitably turned into a mathematical equation so the answer can be predicted.  Experimentation is the word some use, trial and error is used by others.  To further compound this difficulty, many find what works well in one firearm doesn’t always perform superbly in another arm of the same chambering.  Usually it serves ‘okay’ but a special degree of accuracy requires some ‘tweaks’.  In extreme cases, the reloaded ammunition will not fit the chamber properly.

Before I quit, some notes on the various listings of relative burn rates of powders.

Lists do vary from time to time about which powder is ‘quicker’ than another.  Don’t hyperventilate, check a couple listings and most of all, READ THE LOADING MANUAL!  This is a phenomenon of, under certain conditions, two specific powders may react differently.  Not ordinary nor commonplace, but it happens.

Lists are made and ranked in order of burning rate.  HOWEVER, no listing shows the relative burning rates in a percentage form.  Nor are the rankings equally spaced.  Numbers 99 and 100 are not guaranteed to be the same ‘gap’ as between 100 and 101.  Do not attempt to use a relative burn list as a loading manual.

New powders are being introduced constantly.  As mentioned, ‘Poudre B’ was the only smokeless powder in the game in 1886 or so.  That was not the case for long.  In the 1953 printing of Complete Guide to Handloading by Phillip B. Sharpe, the author discusses fifty-eight ‘known’ gunpowders available to the public at the time.  Some were noted as ‘discontinued’ as of a certain date.  As a young man in high school, I remember older reloaders talking about powders; for a long time I thought the (then DuPont) IMR (improved military rifle) line of gunpowders were the only ones made.  Now there are far more and from many places in the world.  No doubt, more change will come.

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My Choice for Favorite or Most Useful – Universal Cartridge. And Rifle.

With the Coronavirus panic, being more or less confined to home and most all my money spending haunts closed or severely restricted, I have watched more ‘YouTube’ in the last two months than all my life prior.  Much of it is animals of all shapes and sizes being ‘cute’, animals of all shapes and sizes being annoying.  Women, especially younger woman being ‘cute’ (in one way or another); women, especially younger woman being annoying.  Stunts that work and stunts that don’t work with automobile, motorcycles, bicycles, skateboards, skates and gymnastics.  Crafts, like woodworking and such.  Science, from making great growing messes from chemical reactions to blowing stuff up to the nature of nature, including the larger view of the Universe.  I have come to the conclusion any video of anecdotes of life beginning with an overweight person and a rope will not end well.

And firearms.  From well meaning guys with videos of shooting a mostly identified rifle several times without much expertise or explanation to people with good, solid experience and learning of the matter.  All kinds of subjects, from marksmanship to forming cases, to reloading ammunition to choices of cartridges.  I do not agree with everything said (surprise!) but do really respect the experiences and differing viewpoints.  

All that said, I am more comfortable with the written word.  I do not feel showing myself to be of great interest, nor am I a mellifluous speaker.  (Neither are all the folks on You Tube and they should be more self-aware.)  Therefore, I choose this medium to express myself.  (Maybe I should include some videos of dancing girls?)  

Favorite cartridge?  That is a rather subjective choice.  My thought is that all such choices begin with purpose.  One’s choice for hunting large, dangerous game must needs be different  than a choice for a casual afternoon of shooting informal targets or ‘varmints’ like rabbits or tree squirrels.  One CAN shoot squirrels with a .458 Winchester Magnum, but that isn’t nearly as pleasant for the purpose as a .22 long rifle with a good trigger.  I do have a .30 caliber M1 carbine (with aftermarket stock prior to my acquisition) and a ‘red dot’ type sight (since my acquisition).  I think that rifle is pretty good for house defense; a bit underpowered and under sighted for deer and such game, and drastically unsuited for anything dangerous.   One might kill a mountain lion or wolverine with such a rifle, but one (me at least) would not select such a rifle were I planning to hunt such a creature.  

My hunting plans – few and probably imaginary – are limited to deer and similar sized critters.  I live in the Great Central Plateau of North America, and will likely not encounter any bear, or carnivorous animals or any critters large enough to step on me by mistake, even.  Those opposed to circuses have forced an end to elephants being included and the nearest zoo is more or less 150 miles away.  The chance of an escaped elephant going rogue in my neighborhood is nil.  The likelihood of something in the mountain lion, wolf or even coyote category is also quite low.  Probably of slightly greater possibility than an elephant, but not much.  Nor are great distances involved.  Most of the people who have experience in rifle hunting (as opposed to shotgun or bird hunting) seem to indicate most game – deer – are taken at ranges of less than 200 yards, and probably closer to 50 than 200.  So I have little use for a 600 yard or greater range arm.  My financial income and budget do not suggest I will be traveling to hunt larger game, North American Bison, large bears, or African Big Five subjects.  I might get to Texas and hunt hogs.  Maybe.  

With all that in mind, I want a rifle of moderate power and range.  I have long admired the .30-06 cartridge, but have no need of such power.  And I’m older than I used to be, and recoil is not a major problem, but I prefer less of it.  No doubt this will continue and perhaps intensify as I age.  I prefer less weight to carry about.  I am probably not going to walk through miles and hours of heavy growth forest, but I’ve carried enough burdens in my life.  I opt not to do so.  

At the same time the rifle I carry should be possessed of suitable powder to properly and humanely kill game.  Along with this, the low recoil factor will assist me in delivering a shot where it need be.  Moreover, the cartridge I select should be readily obtainable so I have a suitable supply for my needs.  One cannot help but encounter .308 Winchester ammunition suitable for hunting (presuming one is seeking hunting ammunition.)  .270 Winchester ammunition is fairly widespread.  7 or 8 x57mm ammunition – suitable for hunting – is to be found but likely not everywhere.  I cannot find an outlet on line for 6.5mm Gibbs.  One has to form their own cases from .30-06 or .270 cases.  It is possible for a dedicated shooter/reloader but one cannot just buy the ammunition.  And the 6.5mm Gibbs round doesn’t give me more of something than I can get.    I admit, there may be a boutique outlet selling 6.5mm Gibbs that I haven’t found.  Probably most of you have never heard of it.

Therefore, the rifle and cartridge I seek is possessed of sufficient power to probably kill game animals in the deer category, reasonably light, reasonably low recoiling and has ammunition available without a lot of bother.  

My not so humble opinion puts this into the range between .243 Winchester and .30 Winchester Centerfire (know colloquially as .30-30).  Which is to say, of bore diameter between six and seven millimeters or .24 to .30 caliber.  My opinion excludes all the ‘magnum’ calibers of this group on the grounds they don’t do anything the others do already.  Calibers such as .308 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield are in the caliber range, but are overpowered for my criteria.

examples of deer appropriate cartridges

243 Win, 257 Roberts, 6.5x53mmR Dutch, 6.5×54 MS, 6.5×55 Swede, 7x57mm Mauser, 7.62x39mm (154 bullet), 30-30 Win and 30-06

The .243 Winchester is rather popular.  I think it is on the small end.  It was intended as a ‘dual purpose’ cartridge; those two purposes being small game and varmints (ground hogs, squirrels, foxes in the hen house, coyotes raiding the sheep and such) and medium game in the deer category.  There are claims and a few examples of elk being taken by shooters with .243 Win rifles.  It is not automatically dismissed as ‘too little’ – I would choose the .243 Win over the .30 M1 carbine. or any .22 caliber rifle.  And before the .22-250 supporters get worked up, yes, the .22-250 with heavier bullets and a proper shooter could do deer, but that’s nearly a stunt or a circus act.  Not to my taste as a normal activity or for ‘typical’ hunters.

Next on my list of candidates is the .257 Roberts.  The usual story I read is the round was developed by (Major) Ned (H.) Roberts using the 7x57mm Mauser case as the starting point.  There is some question in my mind, as all the Mauser (standard) cartridges are ‘something x (by) 57mm’ with the same head dimensions, the U. S. .30-06 is a blatant copy of the basic Mauser case, with the same head size but four millimeters longer  (total of 61mm).  However, the .257 Roberts was first used as a wildcat and custom built on the 1891 Mauser action – the Model 1893 Spanish rifle – and due to the action demoted to the lower pressure realm.  (So I think the 7mm story is reasonably founded.)  Which is why most modern rifles – sadly quite few – have been marked “.257 Roberts (+p)”.  I prefer the .257 Roberts to the .243 Win as the largest bullet weighs 120 grains (.260 sectional density) versus the 105 grain (.254 sectional density) top weight in the .243 Win.  The slightly wider bullet appeals to me as well.   Not much difference, really.  

I tend to be impressed with the 6.5mm cartridges.  The ones from the WWI era are the 6.5x55mm Swede (or SKAN), the 6.5x52mm Carcano, the 6.5x50mm Japanese, the 6.5x53mm Rimmed Mannlicher (aka Dutch and Romanian)(not much commercially produced and cases have to be formed from other cases) and the 6.5x54mm Mannlicher-Schoenauer (‘Shoenauer’ is not quite right in spelling, as the German language (Austrian) spelling requires an ‘umlaut’ or two and one of those  “u” shaped thingies and my computer skills are not up to it.  Nor do I speak German or Austrian – presuming dialectical differences.)  Recently, the U. S. firearms industry have developed such as the .264 Winchester Magnum (excluded as more powerful than needed) the .260 Remington (which seems potentially the U. S. successor to the 6.5x55mm Swede), 6.5mm Creedmore and 6.5mm Grendel.  The 6.5mm continuum of bullets range from 87 to 160 grains from varmints to large game.  The caliber is quite flexible.  I tend toward the larger bullets as their greater sectional density gives positive and deeper penetration.  

The .30 WCF is normally carried in a lever gun.  Savage did make the model 340 bolt gun but is no longer (in my knowledge) in production.  Steven (owned by Savage at the time) made one in the late 1940s.  Some single shots.  The cartridge has a rim (flange, if one is from the UK) which do not work as well in bolt guns.  Perhaps a bolt rifle in .30 Remington?  (.30 Rem is essentially a .30-30 rimless cartridge.  However, the cartridge is not reasonably suited to use in an AR platform or exceed 3,000 fps, so I doubt the buying public will flock to it.  

On a similar note, I see some promise with the 7.62x39mm cartridge with a heavier bullet.  Tula makes such a round commercially using the 154 grain bullet which seems quite similar to the 7.62x54mm Mosin-Nagant bullet.  (Both bullets are a .310 groove diameter.  I use bullets from a .303 British tradition that is shown on the box as .312 diameter; so far the rifle hasn’t complained.)  From my CZ bolt rifle (not shocking, I trust) the commercial round develops 2150 fps, my handloads run about 2250 fps; in the low .30-30 range.  I have not worked on a 170 grain bullet yet.  

7x57mm Mauser is the last candidate on my mental list of possibilities.  It has history of success.  For nearly as long as the 6.5mm calibers, the 7x57mm has been killing every game animal on Earth (in hands of precision shooters) with the initial loading a an FMJ 173 grain (actually 11.2 grams) at a muzzle velocity of  just under 2300 fps (700 meters per second).  

Now I’m going to spring something I haven’t mentioned yet on you all.  I do not follow tends, fads or what is referred to as  ‘fashion’.  I prefer not so popular stuff.  I wear ties on ordinary occasions.  I prefer fedora hats.  I really want another three piece, pin-stripe suit.  I have been described as pretentious, but I’m really just cool.  (So there!)

I want a rifle with class.  A true gentleman’s hunting rifle.  I am awaiting delivery of a 6.5×54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer rifle built on a Greek (Mannlicher design) action.  It suits all of my criteria.  I expect it sometime this summer.  But I’ve been waiting a while now.  The second choice is 7x57mm Mauser.  I have plans on a classic rifle in that caliber, but subject to the whims of income and budget.  I have to do some upgrades on the house and replace some of my wardrobe.  

All things come to those who wait and plan.  Insert evil laugh here.

I must add to this essay.  At a recent Gun Show I bought a BRNO (antecedent of CZ firearms) commercial bolt action rifle.  It is caliber .257 Roberts.

During roughly the same time period, I found and purchased (on line) an 1895 Mannlicher rifle adopted by and known as the ‘Dutch Manlicher’ in caliber 6.5×53.5Rmm.  Yes, it’s a rimmed cartridge.  The rifle has been rather skillfully sporterized – stock completely restyled and rather visible iron sights employed.  

Both these last two rifles are stocked in the light weight ‘stalking rifle’ style and are light enough to carry (by a gentleman of mature years) when seeking out a suitable deer.

And I’m working on a Lee-Enfield, .303 British rifle as a lightened sporter as well.  

Favorite Cartridge?  I have several, why choose?  Hopefully my thinking will possibly assist you.

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A Rant About Bullets

No one makes the bullets I want.  Privi Partizan makes one close enough to use, but it isn’t right.  And EVERYONE used to make it!

I find the 7x57mm Mauser to be an excellent cartridge for hunting.  Historically, the 7x57mm has taken all manner of game animals around the world.  Even used to kill elephants.  Most of the large, dangerous game was taken with the military loading originally made for the rifle.  A 173 grain (11.2 gram) FMJ bullet @ 2300 fps (700 mps).  Not legal to use fmj bullets to hunt in the U. S. I want a heavy bullet (175 grains seems right) at around 2300 fps.  However, most of the bullets made currently are spitzer types with boat tails, instead of the flat bottomed, round nose configuration for which the 1892 (Spanish) Mauser was designed.

As a result, the longer bullet gets forced into the case (so the loaded round fits in the magazine) and reduces the powder space.  As a result of the deep seating and the long leade of the rifle, the bullet is quite removed from the rifling.  [Extremely rude noise made]

Privi Partizan Uzice (PPU) makes a seven millimeter bullet of 175 grains that is flat based.  It is also a somewhat spitzer shaped bullet but allows the ogive to get closer to the leade.  It is a soft point.

American companies used to make a round nosed, flat based seven millimeter bullet of 175 grains, but no more.  Why?  Probably as they can’t make much money due to the demand being low.  Why is the demand low?  It isn’t ‘fashionable’.  People have the idea a bullet must be somewhere around the speed of light – at least more than 3000 fps – to kill anything.  Except for the non-hunters who shoot targets at 1000 yard or a couple miles.  Where do those ideas derive?  Write ups for new rifles and cartridges going faster and accurate enough to do those things.  The idea that high velocity is ‘in’.  And therefore, all ‘old’ cartridges (7x57mm Mauser comes to mind) are obsolete.

The 6.5 Grendel and Creedmoor spring to my mind.  The .260 Remington as well, but not so strongly.  They are all 6.5mm or .264″ bore diameter.

The Remington and Creedmoor are both based roughly on the .308 Winchester.  The Creedmoor is just a bit shorter and this apparently allows it to work in a semi-automatic rifle a bit better.  The Remington round was intended for a standard hunting role, but seems to do well on the long range target circuit, as long as a bolt gun is competitive.

The Grendel is based on the 7.62x39m Soviet case.  It works well in prepared AR -15 type rifles and (obviously) the SKS and AK platforms.  The case is smaller, but will still reach out to 1000 yards or better for target work.

None of them have any mention of bullet weights higher than

In the Lyman #50 loading manual, the .260 Rem has data for a 160 grain bullet, the Creedmoor has data up to 140 grain bullets and the Grendel tops out at 129 grain bullets.  The 6.5x55mm Swedish (1894) uses 160 grain bullets and regularly harvests moose in European nations.  But use of such a heavy bullet is passé in the ‘now’ crowd.  It doesn’t go fast enough; it is old.  It just kills large animals.

The 7x57mm has much the same story.  It has the needed power to take most game in the Western Hemisphere; possibly excluding some of the large, dangerous and determined critters in some places.  Most of that attributed to the heavy for caliber (that is high sectional density) bullets used by the cartridge.  However, it doesn’t seem to be as popular as the 7mm Remington Magnum, Weatherby, Winchester Short Magnum, Remington Short Action Ultra Magnum and no doubt others of the “Umpah Woopee” class belted magnums.  Similar to the .260 Remington in the 6.5mm group, the 7mm-08 and the .280 Remington would be fine to do the same job as the 7x57mm.  Except they aren’t cool enough.

So.  What to do?  I’ve looked into swaging my own bullets.  It’s possible, but costly to set up.  I will struggle through with the PPU bullets for the moment.  They almost do it.

 

 

 

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Hunting Large Game – Again!

Regular readers (presuming there are some) will recall (probably better than I do) about the works of Elmer Keith and Terry Wieland who used different wording, but agree on the importance of bullets with strong jackets, resistance to deformation and high sectional density in hunting dangerous game.  

Elmer Keith

Terry Wieland

Now I have a third, experienced hunter of dangerous game (along with the first two) to weigh in on the matter.  One Walter D. M. Bell; ‘Karamojo’ Bell who killed more elephants than any other hunter in history.  He killed elephants with a 6.5x54mm Mannlicher-Schonauer or a .275 Rigby (7x57mm Mauser) or a .303 British.

W. D. M. ‘Karamojo’ Bell

Now someone is scratching their head thinking “Those cartridges Bell used are all small bores; not elephant cartridges!”  They are, but they are all high sectional density small bores.

In an article Mr. Bell wrote for the American Rifleman (probably the last article of his life) he spoke of “…three or four diameter bullets…” Which is to say the length (and therefore greater weight) of the bullet be three or four times the diameter of the bullet. So a 6.5mm three diameter bullet should be (.264 x 3 =) .792 inches or 20.12 mm long at least.

7mm x 3 should be 21 mm or .850 inches. .303 would be .311 x 3 = .933 inches (23.7mm) long. I can only extrapolate the weights suggested.  The 175 grain 7mm bullet I just measured is 1.569 inches long. Which is partially due to the rather long spitzer shape. Since the bullets he had at the time were generally (in the three rifles he used) round nosed, one presumes weight is a bit more linearly proportional to length.  I have a bullet pulled from 7x57mm ammunition of the early days (a 173 grain FMJ from FN, it is) which is 1.215 inches long. That bullet has a sectional density of .306.  Here is a 160 grain round nose (soft point) flat based which is 1.238 inches long (just over four and one half diameters) with a sectional density of .328.  A 215 grain RNFB bullet of .311″ diameter (.303 British) is 1.228 inches long with .318 SD.  As it happens, those are the same (quite close) to the bullets Mr. Bell used.  They all will all (in FMJ form) penetrate to the brain on an elephant (Mr. Bell said they did when he used them) and logically to the vitals of any smaller critter. To spell it out, the 6.5 MS used FMJ bullets of 10.1 grams or 156 grains, the 7mm used the 173 grain bullet and the loading of the .303 used by Mr. Bell was 215 grains (he says).

6.5mm 160 grain, 7mm 173 grain, .303 215 grain

With the ‘long for caliber’ (sounds ever so similar to Mr. Keith) bullets Mr. Bell suggests, we are back to high sectional density. Pardon me whilst I whip the dead horse just a bit more. A flat base (not boat tail) and a nearly one diameter round nose is about the heaviest bullet for weight possible. The boat tail and long spitzer point are great for long range shooting (and they look cooler). So what?

 

Sounds like I’m going on to something else, but I’m not. In a book called Gunshot Wounds by Vincent Di Maio (medical examiner) bullets in bodies normally are found pointing backward.  That is, the base of the bullet is the leading end in the wound.  Dr. Di Maio and others witnessing the same phenomenon consider the center of gravity in a long nose bullet or even handgun is to the rear of the midline of the bullet.  Thus the ‘heavier’ portion of the bullet leads.  A round nosed rifle bullet has a center of gravity much closer to the mid point so the bullet tends to penetrate straight (straighter?) to the vitals desired.

Okay; doing so will decrease the range a bit.  How much large, dangerous game is hunting at 500 yards?  (We’re not talking about driving to the next county or state or half-way around the world, but shooting at extended ranges.)  For bears, this might mean something.  But no manufacturing company will make anything (including bullets) if they cannot sell enough to make a profit.  That is bad business.

That’s this installment of collected wisdom and stuff.  Working on more stuff, but not ready yet.

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Why are some European Cartridges so odd?

For instance, why is the standard infantry rifle of Germany in the Second World War in .312 inches bullet diameter and have a bullet weight of 154 grains? Why is the rather famous, well respected dangerous game rifle have a diameter of .366 inches and a bullet weight of 186 grains.

Because it’s both are metric cartridges. The former round above is the 8mm Mauser, or more properly the 7.92mm Mauser. The bullet weight is an ‘even’ ten grams. The latter cartridge is the 9.3x57Rmm cartridge. Bore diameter is a simple 9.2mm and bullet weight is 12 grams. See? Simple numbers.

Consider the .45 ACP cartridge. In metric it is 11.5mm – which is reasonable – and bullets – for military load – is 14.9 grams. Which is close to a tenth.

Then the Europeans are as goofy as the U. S. about some things. 7.92mm gets rounded to 8mm. Look at cartridge lengths for most anything in Cartridges of the World.

Consider the .32 ACP (Automatic) round. It’s not .320 inches. Usually it’s .312 inches, but that doesn’t have much of a ring to it, huh? In Europe, (metric) the round is known as .7.65 Browning (after the designer) and would actually measure .3012 inches. But it is exactly the same as the U. S. cartridge.

The British aren’t all that innocent either. Officially, they use ‘English’ measurements (go figure) the same as the United States. But they fudge as well. The militarily obsolete but very useful “British .303” round is actually sized for .312 inch bullets. Since that cartridge has been around since 1888, that may have something to do with it. The U. K. also uses a different – than the U. S. – method of measuring bore diameter. We measure bore (the inside of a barrel) by the groove diameter. The British measure the land diameter. So a particular rifle once quite popular for medium sized game was called .256 Mannlicher; while the U. S. thought of it as a .264 bore and in Europe it was known as the 6.5x53Rmm or 6.5 Dutch. It’s very close in size (no matter which system is used) to the 6.5mm Carcano or 6.5mm Arisaka. With a huge rim.

We should be remiss not to mention the different names for the same cartridge. But that is a whole new discussion. So, I’ll leave it with the information the .38 S&W (not special) is the same cartridge as the obsolete British revolver cartridge .380/200. The 200 refers to the bullet weight in grains. Which was lowered to 176 grains at some point. But the name was kept.

No point in confusing anyone. :rimshot!:

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