Tuesday, July 31, 2007

S+W M+P off to the factory...

Ok, the rep from S+W did exactly what he said he was going to do.
There was a UPS return label in my E-mail this afternoon.

I packed up my M+P compact in it's original fitted case, along with a letter
describing the magazine drop issue, and it got left at the UPS store
about an hour ago.

I feel funny about that.... I have never had to return a firearm for
service or repair, ever. In my entire life, I have done every repair or upgrade I ever wanted done, except milling the slide on my Colt. In every other case I handled it myself.

This time... it's under warranty, and I can't just build a new magazine release. Replace it, sure, in about 90 seconds flat. Make one? That would take a while.

Not that I didn't consider it, mind you. Knowing this is a problem with the breed, I considered the option of designing a new catch out of aluminum with a high quality steel insert to replace the factory plastic and pot metal unit.

I may do that yet..... it wouldn't be all that hard, I think.

In any case, the 9mm is on it's way to massychewsets for a factory going over.
I'll report here on the results, in painful detail, with range reports.....

But you already knew that. didn't you?

Follow it to the factory if you wish.... here's the UPS tracking number!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Latest on the M+P mag catch issue.... for me anyway

'Lenny' at the S+W customer service call line
is E-mailing a UPS call tag for my 9c.
They want it back to look at the magazin
catch issue. I expect they'll pop in a
new one, with the metal tab coated
with malanite, and ship it back.

We shall see.... we shall see...

You can be sure whatever happens will be reported
here, with photos and commentary.

As if I could ever keep my mouth shut............

Meanwhile the Colt is back on family defense duty.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Uh oh... All is not well in S+W land......

Well.... what I thou
ght was a protruding magazine release button now turns out to be a worn magazine release catch.

The issue is being discussed here.

Preliminary research suggests about 20% of the M
+P compacts have this issue, and S+W has redesigned it several times without any real joy.

Uh Oh.....What's a family friendly way of saying %#$%%#& ?

Here are photos of the
magazine catch. The shiny area is supposed to be larger and more squared off, as far as I can tell. It also has a bevel wearing on one side from the magazine rubbing on the catch. The magazine looks fine, but whatever pot metal S+W made this catch from is rapidly giving up the ghost.

NOT impressive for less than a year, and less
than 3000 rounds.
Especially not impressive for $500+.

The other photos show how far the magazine catch protrudes into the magazine well, and into a stripped body of a magazine. I measured the actual engagement distance as almost exactly .031". That's not a lot of room for error!

For the short term, I shimmed th
e catch spring rod to strengthen the engagement, and, I'm very sad to say, took this pistol off carry duty. It's going to reside in the safe till S+W and/or I can work out the problem.

Once it's fixed, it will take another 1000 rounds through it before I will trust it for
carry, if ever.

For now, the trusty old Colt is back on duty, and for the foreseeable future.
Ya just TRY and move into the latest century......

The call will be placed
to Smith+Wesson on Monday, and I'll report here on the response. Their customer service is said to be top notch..... we'll see..... and tell.

S+W M+P 9c, minor modification, big change

I really like this pistol.

While I have always been a
1911 fan, there is something to be said for modern gun design as well. A full respect for classic models does not rule out quality newer ones.

I bought this S+W M+P 9c to use as a carry weapon (ccw).
To be honest, my wife liked it and said I should buy it. I know that giving in to her will keep peace in the family, so I did.

(You buy that story?)

It has few flaws as I have discovered while carrying it almost daily. None major, only a few very minor. All in all, a good design and well suited to it's purpose. I appreciate good skull sweat built into mechanical devices.

One small flaw, that could be
major if allowed to remain as is...

Many times I carry it in a shoulder bag. My 'purse' if you will. I noticed that often when I remove it from the bag, the magazine has been released. It didn't fall clear as the holster keeps it in place, but still it was released and took a palm tap to re-seat it.

Hmm.... bad news should I ever get in a hurry and forget that one movement.

A few moments with a fine mill file, some small needle files, and a dremel tool to knurl the finish was all it took.

First I used the large flat mill file to carefully reshape and re-angle the release. Rather than stick out past the grip, it's now just under flush and sloped down towards the trigger guard.

Then a few moments with the needle files to bevel the edges of the release and remove any flashing for the rough filing. After checking for function, and a few days of normal carry to be sure, I used the dremel tool with a thin stone to cut some scallops into the surface, almost mimicking the factory finish on the plastic.

It no longer releases on it's own, and still works easily when used intentionally.
A small item, easy to modify, that could make a big difference down the road.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Wolf 7.62x39..... What's in it?

Wolf 7.62x39 black box
stuff shoots pretty decently
from my Chinese SKS.
So..... I chopped some up
for one of my 'inside Look' articles. There you will find
more information and
photographs, along with
commentary from folks.

Here I'll post a few pictures
and some observations.

Most interesting to me are the bullets used.
These 122 grain hollow
point bullets have the largest
nose cavity I've ever seen.

The steel jacket is copper plated, with a pressed in
core of lead. The boat tail
is then formed at the base,
leaving some of the lead

The steel case is coated
with a polymer. You know, plastic. This does protect the case from corrosion and also
seems to promote smooth feeding and operation.

I was surprised to find the plastic coating does not seem to foul the chamber at all, even when hot.

All in all, it's not a bad deal
for the price.....

Time to buy a case or two
I suppose. It's cheaper than hand loading my own too.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A neat photo for shooters wallpaper

Nothing to get excited about.

I use this photo as wallpaper on occasion, and thought I would share.

Click on it to enlarge.....

Is your Mosin 91/30 an Ex-sniper?

(click on photos to enlarge them)

Wondering if your Mosin 91/30 might be an ex-sniper?

Wondering what an 'ex-sniper' Mosin is?

Wondering if I'm dumb as dog poop for even asking these questions?

Well.... I can help on a couple of these points.

Back when I first bought a few Mosin 91/30 rifles I posted a few pictures. It was quickly pointed out by the learned ones that I had an Ex-sniper on my hands.

How did they know, just based on a few pictures? Were they channeling a dead Soviet sniper lady from the battle of Stalingrad?

Nope, they just looked at the markings on the rifle. The CH on the receiver pointed the way, and the welded in plugs proved the truth.

During the patriotic war the soviets built a LOT of sniper rifles. I can't answer for the Soviets, but the Russians are not stupid and they knew every shot that hit an important target was better than ten thousand rounds hitting dirt.

For some reason the soviet
battle doctrine changed, or Druganov rifles were adopted, and many of these rifles were converted back into infantry weapons.The optics were removed and the mounting holes had plugs installed. These plugs were welded in and the welds ground off on the outside of the receiver.

My ex-sniper was chosen from a pile of a hundred on a dealers tables at a gun show. At the time I had no idea what an ex-sniper was, and chose based on bore and mechanical quality.

The rifle shoots pretty darn nicely for a $100 Com-bloc mil-surp.

I wonder how many people will read this, then trot off to the closet and
pull out their old Mosy? Gotta love it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Why hand load your own ammunition?

Why hand load your own?

These photos are an example of one reason.

Same rifle, same day, same range, same shooter, same everything but one...

The ammunition fired on the first target was 1950's Yugoslavian military surplus. Good stuff and reasonably accurate too.

The second target was fired moments later with hand loaded ammunition put together with care, assembled for that rifle.

Notice a slight difference? (g)

The rifle is a plain Jane 1938 model Turkish Mauser with no modifications at all. Bought at a local gun show for $125 (with a bayonet!), it performs pretty well.

Many rough and tough old military rifles can shoot nearly as well as match rifles, with a bit of effort. Modern commercial rifles, while usually good right out of the box, often excell with proper hand loads.

There is nothing wrong with commercial or military ammunition. I shoot a LOT of it...... That said, when I really want to shoot straight I roll my own!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Range time! 7.5x55 load research

Range time again this morning.
Man, I LOVE being a teacher!

Today's contestants were the 7.5 Swiss and an SKS. I am working up a load for the K-31, and like to let it cool between five round groups.

That's where the SKS comes in.... It fills the time nicely.

The Swissmeister responded beautifully to loads using the Speer 168 grain match bullet.

To be honest, I chose these based on price as much as
anything. Match bullets at about $20 a hundred....

Using PRVI brass, CCI 200 primers, and IMR 4320 powder I tried ten rounds each of three powder loadings. The highest load is just under max in the Sierra book.

As is common, the groups settled down nicely as max pressures were approached. Some powders just need to really be in the right pressure range before they will perform their best.

The best groups were with 46.0 grains of the 4320. (YOU should start lower and work up. You have been warned! Always follow procedures in the loading manual. Always brush your teeth. Always be kind to small children and puppies. You know the rules.)

That load placed four of five into 3/4". I pulled the fifth round into a flyer, and called it.

All shooting was at 50 yards with open sights, in deference to my aging eyes.

The same load using a Nosler 165 grain ballistic tip printed to the same point of impact, with a group 1/2" high by 1.5" wide. The K-31 is very forgiving, and shoots just about everything I try decently.

The loading at 46.0 grains of IMR 4320 was just starting to show pressure signs as judging by the primer. It almost takes a magnifying glass to read them well, but it's there. This seems to be just about right, and I'm going to settle on this charge and bullet combination. Next I'll work on seating depth, but the K-31 offers little choice in the matter. The throat is just about non-existent. Once if fits the magazine and chambers smoothly, seating depth is about what it's going to be.

As for the SKS..... It's a Chinese type 56 and is mentioned in a prior post.
It's a ball to shoot, but I had more of a purpose today.

The next Military rifle match is themed to the Vietnam war, and I thought I'd try this SKS. There is a fair chance it saw combat there, so it's seems fitting.
Towards that end, I tried off hand and sitting positions today, actually bearing down and concentrating.

This target is offhand at fifty yards, and is not bad for me. The sitting rapid fire groups halved that size, but the point of impact changed almost four inches from the offhand, and that IS a problem. Four inches off at fifty yards will turn into a non-scoring group at 100 yards.

Practice is in order!!

Ah HA! More range time!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Reloading PRVI brass, a primer pocket issue

While setting up to reload some 7.5x55 Swiss brass today, I noticed
an issue that needed attention.

The primers were quite difficult to seat, and more than difficult to get started.
It's not that the previous primers were crimped in, but the primer pockets
had no bevel at all to the hole. This made starting the new primers a bit
trying, and certainly time consuming.

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Not to be beaten up by a lousy primer pocket, I reached into my bag of tricks.
Actually, I reached into a box marked "Assorted case prep tools" and here
is what I came up with:

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This is a Lyman primer pocket reamer. Unlike my others, this one specifically takes off crimps and nicely rounds the corner on the pocket.

The fluted cutter is sharp and well shaped to do it's job. Only a few twists are required to ream the pocket to SAMMI dimensions.

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The results, priming operation time was cut in half and the primer fit
was very consistent case to case.

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This might be something to consider if you are trying to reload the PRVI brass.

With all the unusual European calibers being so popular in Mil-Surp shooting and collecting these days, the availability of ammunition can be a problem.
Hand loaders have no such problem, as long as components are available.
Importers are now bringing in strong lines of Igman and PRVI ammunition at good prices. In most instances the cases are brass and boxer primed, a great thing for hand loaders.

Occasionally we must adapt to small issues as we makes the brass work for us, and adaptability is key.

Remember, it's only technology! Never give up!

A must have book, for the cause if nothing else

Ok, I know money is tight. That said, there are some things too important to ignore.

For the cause,
here is a book that must be ordered.

Now. Just do it.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Ruger Bisley, custom Maple stocks, home-whittled!

This Ruger Bisley .44 has been in the stable for decades.
Acquired at a gun show long ago, it's become an old friend.

It's seen it's most use as a cowboy action pistol, with lots of range time tossed in.

It's also fired it's share of hot lead at game in the field, and been a bear backup gun during some Maine fishing expeditions.

200 grain puff loads to 300 grain super boom-en-splat bear loads, it's gobbled them all with no complaint.

One issue, nursed over the years, has been the original factory walnut stocks.

Now, the factory wood was nice, and had the nifty Ruger squawking chicken emblem on them. For many people they would have been fine.

For many people.... but not me. See.... most people don't have paws like mine.
Big hairy creature paws that tend to fill up any space they are jammed into. Especially tight little spaces jammed in behind trigger guards on magnum pistols.


My answer was to whittle my own stocks from rock hard birdseye maple.
It took me only a few hours, and they happened on the first try which is amazing.
The directions are out there on the net.... and wood is around. I highly recommend trying this activity if you have the desire.

These fill my hand like the gun was fitted to me personally. Oh, wait... it was.
The full house magnum loads are nothing big to deal with, now that the pistol has something to really hang onto. The puff target loads... like shooting a .22, only WAY more fun.

I mean... the WORST that could happen would be a wasted evening and some fancy toothpicks.... It's not like the order of the universe will be altered if it doesn't work.

If wood can't be found, E-mail me. I have a connection.........

Winter military rifle shoot...... BRRrrrrrrr.....


I was 'perusing' some files on one of my PC's this evening and found these pictures.
This is certainly the proper place to share.....

Just goes to prove: Military surplus rifle shooters LOVE their hobby more than comfort or health.

Neither Frostbite nor common sense will delay a match!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

.303 British, cases before and after firing, comparison

The .303 British round headspaces from the rim of the cartridge, not the shoulder.

This means military rifles chambered for the round can, and often do, have large chambers of unusual dimensions. Despite that these rifles will function fine and shoot with decent military accuracy despite the chamber tolerance.

The idea of an over sized chamber actually has some good thought behind it, at least with rimmed rounds such as the .303. A chamber a bit over sized makes the rifle much less fussy about manufacturing variances in the ammunition. During a war time rush, this could be critical. Also consider, the British empire had armories on several continents at once, and tolerances sometimes had to be loose to make the ammo from colony 'A' fit the rifle from colony 'B'.

The .303 british cases shown are a military round (Greek HXP), a case fired from an Enfield No4MkII, and the same case ready to reload.

Notice the fired case compared to the unfired case. This pushing of the shoulder forward is caused by the case expanding to fill the chamber.

This rifle is not worn out. In
fact, it appeared nearly unfired
when acquired. The chamber is normal for an Enfield of this type.

When shooting factory loaded
.303 ammunition, military or commercial, this large chamber makes no difference to the shooter. An Enfield owner who wishes to reload his cases had better pay attention to the phenomenon.

In resizing the case, the shooter has many choices.

If full length sizing, care must be taken regarding setting this shoulder back and overworking the brass. On the other hand, if more than one .303 rifle is owned, then the fired case will sometimes only fit that chamber and no other unless it's fully sized. Hand loading owners of .303's usually segregate their cases by rifle.

There is an opinion that the .303 is very hard on brass. Maybe, in some cases, it is. I believe the real culprit is not the rifle nor the cartridge, but the hand loading process. As for myself, my thirty year old .303 brass is on it's fifth or sixth loading with no issues apparent. Below-maximum pressure loads and careful sizing have given me .303 ammunition that functions well, is surprisingly accurate, and lasts as long as any other high power cartridge brass.

Monday, July 16, 2007

An Enfield #4MkII.... A nice one.

This one has been in the collection for years.

Refinished? Yup.....

By me. Purists may gag at this point, but it's MY rifle.

I took off the black grill paint
the metal had been dipped in, and found a beautiful parkerized finish. (Along with about a dozen markings never seen before).

The wood has been redone in a plain old fashioned hand rubbed oil. Many coats, over weeks of time. Then, rubbed out to a stain sheen with stock compound.

It's bore is perfect, and it shoots like a dream. 2" inch groups at 100 yards are not uncommon with decent hand loads.

All in all, a nice rifle that always attracts attention, just by it's good looks and classic lines.

Military rifle shoot, Sunday the 15th

I made it to the shoot! Ye Haa!
My score got worse! Aww crap!

Yesterday I attended the military rifle shoot at our local club.
Mil-Surp rifles..... shooting.... hamburgers.... whats not to love?

I shot in both squads this time, first with my new K-31 and PRVI 174 ammo, and again with the Grand Old Turk and my match loads.

First time thru.... scored a 367 with the Swiss.
Second run thru.... scored a 372 with the Turk.

Both times, my off hand scores could have been way better, but out of 100 rounds fired for score only three were un-scorable. For me, that's not bad.

The good news, my prone scores were excellent, for me at least.

A few things I noticed:

  • The K-31 is far and away the best and easiest shooting military rifle I have ever fired. In fact, it's better than any commercial rifle I have owned as well. It operates fast and smooth, the trigger is excellent right out of the box, recoil is easily manageable, and it's way more accurate than I am.
  • After shooting 58 rounds through the K-31, the next 58 from the Turk 8mm kicked the snot out of me. There is a real difference in felt recoil between the two rifles.
  • I was surprised at how close the scores were. I have many hundreds of rounds fired from the Turk, and consider it my match rifle. It has a load developed for it, a beautiful Timney trigger, modified sights, and is just a sweet rifle to shoot. That said, I scored roughly the same while shooting a K-31 with cheapo ammo, in it's first match, with less than 60 rounds practice.
  • Shooting 100+ rounds of real high power stuff from positions, with 60 from prone, can catch your attention. That last ten rounds prone slow fire is a real test of will sometimes.
  • Concentration is everything.
  • Shooting Mil-surps is FUN!
  • Shooting Mil-Surps well is even Funner!

I didn't take many photos this time. My mind was on the match and trying to shoot well.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Never give up.......

Sometimes we really just like that one old rifle (at least, to us Mil-surp shooters who have been bitten).

There's one that just looks right, or feels right to handle, or looks like it would be so much fun to shoot.

Ever been there? Done that?

For me that list used to be topped by the 1916 Spanish Civil Guardia Mauser.

7x57 or 7.62, I just wanted one. Preferably in 7.62 as the ammunition is SO easy to build.

As fate would have, one was on the used rack at a local gun shop. $189 later it was mine! A beautiful copy with a near perfect bore. Un-bubba'ed and in excellent condition. The only flaws were an electropenciled importers mark that has since...... 'faded'..... away, and a small wood chip missing at the butt plate.

Mine is in 7.62, and yes I am well aware of the discussion regarding
.308 vs 7.6x51 vs 7.62 Cetme. I am also aware of the pressure properties of the small ring Mauser vs the large ring. Frankly, I don't care. I don't expect this rifle will ever see a factory loaded round again. I can make whatever I please to shoot, at whatever pressure I please.

In fact.... that's what saved this rifle from a future as a wall hanger.

My first attempt at a moderate handload showed me patterns rather than groups. Not 1" spreads, but 8" at 50 yards. Not good. Especially not good with what looked like a perfect bore. The next three loads with different bullets at differing velocities were no better. REALLY not good. Groups like that are signs of serious issues.

Exhausting all the normal items, like loose actions screws, I turned at last to something I should have done at the first. I slugged the bore. A soft lead slug pushed through the bore, giving me a perfect reverse example of the bore diameter to measure.

That near pristine 7.62 Mauser bore Mic'ed at .311". All of a sudden the 8" groups made sense. The .308 bullets must have been bouncing down the bore!

My answer....... .312" lead, gas checked, bullets cast for my 7.62x54 Mosins. Loaded over a moderate charge of IMR stick powder, I now have a handy and fun Mauser that shoots 2" groups all day long. Recoil is light and velocity testing shows this would actually be a decent hunting load as well (for someone who can place their shots).

A lot of wall hangers can still be amazingly good shooters. Sometimes it takes a bit of work, but that's rewarding in it's own right.

While I own my share of modern scoped wonders that can put five bullets into a nickle at 100 yards, they aren't nearly as much fun as this simple old Mauser.
It's challenging and enjoyable, and it's MINE.