Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Chasing away the rust weasels.......


Most gunnies have run across them from time to time. Older firearms, usually cheap even when new, that have been neglected. Perhaps a single barrel shotgun, once a young persons joy and happiness, now relegated to garden shed duty. Maybe an elderly .22 that's been stashed at the back of a closet for a generation, forgotten. In this case, an inexpensive old bolt action shotgun, considered inelegant even when brand new. It was cheap then, it's even cheaper now, and few people give them much regard at all.

This old shotgun came to Carteach's hands in a way that was sad, but necessary. It belonged to an old gentleman, a friend of many years. The old man had suffered yet another loss inevitable in a long life, and was more than a little depressed. Not too far gone to realize his condition, he offered to sell my his firearms, such as they were. None were on my 'buy someday' list, and most were of the same type and quality as the old Mossberg shotgun which this post centers on. Yes.... they were purchased... not because they were especially wanted, but more to make sure they were not used to make a tough situation worse.

That's how Carteach ended up with a rusty old $50 bolt action 20 gauge shotgun.

Now, just because it's a cheap and ugly old shootin iron doesn't mean it should be left to the Rust Weasels as a snack. That would be disrespectful, and poor stewardship. No, it's not much of a shotgun to me, but one day it might make a fine gift to a young man just learning the niceties of carrying arms in the field..... or a giveaway gun for someone who needs to defend their home right now, with anything they can get.... even if it is an inelegant old bolt action shottie.

The shotgun in question had quite a bit of surface rust after years of indifferent care and storage in damp areas. Not terribly deep, nor pitted, but pervasive and unattractive.

It was determined that clean up was in order.... so off to the Carteach secret bunker, reloading den, and cigar emporium we went!

When I had my first professional massage, the good lady told me to 'Strip to my comfort level and get on the table', and then she left the room. That shook me up nearly as much as the first time I ever tore down an old gun I had never seen before, and it's the phrase that came back to me as the old Mossberg was pulled apart.

Step one in this kind of cleanup is a tear down. Take the weapon apart to your comfort level, defined as the point at which you are still sure you can it back together and safely operational again. If this isn't something you are sure about, getting a diagram first is a good idea. If it's still not something you are sure and comfortable doing, then perhaps the clean up is a job left to a firearm professional.

For a simple case like this, we are only going after the surface rust, and perhaps a few generations of gunk left in the internal nooks and crannies. This is a simple job, and the only thing past normal gun cleaning supplies is a pack of four-O (OOOO) steel wool and a can of good penetrant/lube, such as CLP or WD-40.

Working with one piece at a time, soak a pad of the very fine steel wool with the penetrant and begin lightly scrubbing the component. Don't dig away, but use just enough force to dislodge the rust. Turn the pad often, as the loosened rust will embed in the wool pad, and the rust itself can scratch the remaining finish on the firearm.

Be certain NOT to use a regular steel wool pad. It must be the super fine OOOO pad that's found in the paint prep department of most home supply and hardware stores. Using a regular steel wool pad will scratch the finish to the point of ruining whatever finish is left.

Do not assume that surface rust means there is no finish left on the gun. That's is usually not the case. Even a very rough looking old beater can come back to life in an amazing fashion with a little effort.

Turn the pad often, and keep it well soaked with penetrating oil. It should be wet enough that it's necessary to keep paper towels or newspaper under the weapon, on the table or work area. Drippy wet..... and don't hesitate to wipe the whole works down with paper towels often. In fact, it's best just to plan on using the whole pack of steel wool, and a whole roll of paper towels. As an area begins to come clean, with the oil showing a rusty color, wipe it down with a clean towel and turn the pad to a freshly lubed area.

Take the time to do each and every component, and even the screws and pins. Leave no spot untouched. Butt plates and trigger guards, even the plastic ones, should not be left off the menu.

Once done the rust removal, clean the components one last time with paper towels and give them a final lube with CLP or good gun oil. Internal parts may require a paper thin coating of light gun grease.

Reassemble the weapon, give it a final wipe down.... and stand back to admire your work!

Remember.... work slowly and lightly. Don't be overly aggressive, and always trade time and care for fast and rough. Don't neglect the stock, and the same process can often rejuvenate a poly finish on an old 'hardwood' stock. A coat of hard paste wax can do a stock quite a bit of good as well.

There you have it. A short and simple way to chase away the rust weasels and bring an old garden gun or truck beater back from the brink of junkhood.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fiocchi 12 gauge Cyalume Tracer round.... a shotgun shooters training dream come true?


Sometimes, 'ol Carteach gets bored, and goes looking for something unusual to play with. A favorite stop on the journey is the website of ''. Besides being decent folks to deal with, every once in a while they have something..... different. Sometimes, very different indeed.

This time they came through like troopers in the 'different' category, and coughed up a box of the stuff pictured above. Fiocchi's new offering in their 'canned heat' line, 12 gauge tracer rounds using Cyalume chemicals.

Oh my.... now these are kinda kewl. The idea is pretty simple, even though actually making them is fairly complicated I expect. Sporting shotgun shooters don't have the advantage of clearly seeing where each load of shot goes. Sometimes an observer can tell them if they are leading the bird, or following it, usually by judging the path of the wad column as it flies through the air. This can work... sometimes... and the shooter himself typically can't see it as well.

Fiocchi came up with this solution as a training aid for shotgun shooters. It's a 12 gauge loading that features both a 3/4 ounce pile of #8 shot, and a capsule containing Cyalume type chemicals in a two part fixture. The shock of firing causes the container to set back and snap open the inner cartridge, mixing the chemicals together. What happens then is different from the Cyalume sticks we are all used to seeing every Halloween. The chemicals don't take long seconds to activate, but mere fractions of a second. Very short fractions of a second. In fact, the capsule is glowing fiercely within just a few feet after leaving the muzzle of the shotgun.

The candle that burns brightly, burns shortest... and these rounds are no different. The capsule glow lasts only seconds, but that is more than long enough to follow the shot column with the naked eye.

Fiocchi claims the capsule will stay centered in the shot column for up to fifty yards, sufficient for a sporting shotgun shooter to determine where the muzzle was pointed when the trigger was slapped.

Here, exclusively for our loyal Carteach readers.... one of the new Fiocchi tracer rounds is disassembled for your edification and viewing pleasure. That means I cut the blasted thing apart and took pictures to show you what's inside.....

There is no mistaking the shell as anything other than what it is. While it looks normal otherwise, a glance at where we'd expect to find the crimp show us the end of the chemical capsule. By the way..... Fiocchi says the chemicals are environmentally sound and safe.

Aha! The diamond bladed jewelers saw springs into action! Okay.... it's more like it 'slithered' into action, but the idea is the same. Looking carefully at the case, it was easy to spot a safe place to cut. After the powder, but before the shot filled wad. Just the case was cut, which the small saw easily allowed.

The 'shot wad' found inside the shell casing. Giving up the usual springy cushion part of the wad, the #8 shot is found at the base of the cup. Above it, the chemical capsule which peaks out the business end of the shell. The capsule rests directly on the shot load. It should be noted... dropping or throwing the shell harshly can set off the chemical mix, so the shells should be treated gently. Notably, Fiocchi states that merely being in the magazine of a shotgun as it's fired will not trigger the capsule.

The capsule itself.... which I did not take apart. Looking through the translucent case with a bright light, the inner capsule containing one of the binary chemicals is clear. The outer case is two part, and firing causes setback which makes for rapid and complete mixing of the two chemicals.

How do these trick tracer rounds work? So far, Carteach's highly scientific testing methodology has shown that they do indeed work as advertised. In other words, several rounds were fired across the back yard into a stand of bamboo, under evening light. The trace round was easily visible, and the capsule striking the bamboo left a glowing streak that lasted for five or ten seconds.

The shells come packed ten to a box for the early production runs, but should be coming out in cans by the time readers see this. The shells have a shelf life, like all cyalume does, and need to be used up by the expiration date. It's not a short date, but within a year or so would be a good idea.

These babies are not cheap, running in excess of $20 for a box/can of ten tracer shells. That said, it's not like a shooter would be blasted away round after round of trap with these. They are a training aid, enabling the shooter to get on target by showing where the shot column is really going. Just a few rounds would be enough to give a very good idea of needed corrections, and a box of ten could serve several shooting sessions, or several shooters. has them priced right now at $18.95 per box of ten, or $175 per hundred.

Interesting stuff, and 'Ol Carteach will try to get video of them in action if possible. Gee..... that means a trip to the trap range. The things we endure for our readers.....

Inflation looms..... and perhaps there is a better way to store our wealth than in dollars....


As I write this note, I am considering a purchase... or two. Yesterday I saw a pair of Ruger P95 9mm pistols, almost as new and in their original boxes with everything along. $275 each, and I bet I can haggle that down a bit.

The thing, I don't need another 9mm or two, or even especially want them. On the other hand, what I do want and need is a solid place to store what little wealth I have. Since the current administration has cranked up the presses and begun making themselves dollars to spend at an astounding rate..... 'dollars' are not going to be the store of wealth I need. Every dollar I have in the bank today, will have some of it's value stolen away by government caused inflation tomorrow. The rate at which that value is stolen has reached roughly 13% so far.... the inflation rate conjured up using real numbers and honest accounting.... not the inflation rate our government reports today.

Today I may invest in some precious metal as a way to store wealth I have earned through my hard labor. The metals, steel and aluminum... are precious because of the value added them during manufacture. They are useful items, and things that people want now.... and will want far more in the future I suspect.

Folks, as I post this... the US national debt has exceeded $14,000,000,000,000 and is racing upwards. Our debt has actually surpassed our gross domestic product, and there is no end in sight to congress's spending. I see no other conclusion than hard times ahead... possibly very hard times... and thought it might be timely to re-post what follows.....

Hard times and good times, people look for ways to save wealth. I'd like to say 'save money', but too often money (cash) is only an illusion of wealth. During times of inflation a savings account earning a few percent interest can result in a loss of capital. Saving 'money' can mean losing money.

But... you may say... how can earning interest on money in the bank mean we are actually losing money? It works like this.... We deposit money in the bank. In our case, dollars. On the day we deposit that money, we might be able to buy a gallo
n of milk for $3.00. We begin earning interest on that money on the day we deposit it, and lets be generous and say it's 5%. In a year, even with compound interest, we are only going to have about $3.15. If, in that same year, inflation has driven the price of milk to $3.50 a gallon, we have lost about 10% to the inflation factor, even while our 'money' earns interest in a savings account.

Money (or cash) is not wealth, it's just a representation of wealth, and sub
ject to manipulation and the effect of economic factors. The milk.... it's a gallon of milk. It's not a good long term repository of wealth, but at least you know where you stand with it. The same can't be said by so many folks who had their wealth 'invested' in 401k plans, and have seen their wealth diminish by 50% since the One took office.

It can be worse... inflation can turn rampant, and many a nation has been brought to its economic knees by triple digit inflation. In every case, heavy debts and overheated printing presses turned that countries cash to toilet paper, and sometimes did so overnight. Cash, especially the American dollar, has long been thought to be a nearly perfect play on security. After all, cash is cash! The problems begin when the government that backs that cash becomes unstable, or loses the trust of those they deal with and govern.

Some people store wealth in valuable metals, such as gold and silver. Since
history was first recorded, these have been regarded as stable investments and wise ways to sock away the egg money. While stocks and nations can and do fluctuate, gold retains value, as does silver. I suppose, if one had a large amount of wealth to tuck away, buying gold and silver might make sense.

The problem with precious metals is not buying them, nor in storing them... not really. It's in spending them. During good times, turning them to cash means dealing with a broker who takes a cut. Sometimes a ruinous cut. During bad times, when cash has lost much of it's value, finding people who will trade goods and services for precious metals can be tough. Not many people anymore know what an ounce of silver is worth, nor do they really care to trade their labor for a lump of metal. Likewise, buying a truckload of produce with an ounce of gold can b
e difficult.

There are, however, other forms of metal not so precious just now. Not silver, but aluminum. Not gold, but steel. Not platinum, but copper and brass. All these cheaper metals turn into their own kind of precious when worked into firearms and ammunition. In these value is stable in ways that gold lovers only wish their store house of wealth was.

As an example, allow me to present a decision I made today....

In this pay period I had a few hundred dollars not already aimed at bills. No deb
t pressing at the moment, I still understand the future must be looked after and spare money should not be simply blown away in a moments folly. I am not one for shopping sprees, buying crap useful for nothing but sucking up floor space and emptying checking accounts.

Ordinarily, that money would be click/dragged over to a savings account and tucked away as ones and zeros on the bank balance. Maybe at a measly few percent interest, but saved none the less. But... with quite literally trillions of new dollars being pumped into our flagging economy recently, inflation is beginning to rear its ugly head. Is a savings account based on 'dollars' the best way to store wealth just now?

I had an opportunity to buy a different kind of precious metal as an investment, and it made sense to do so. That same $200 which might have been dribbled into the savings account, instead bought me a Ruger p85 9mm with two magazines. Knowing they have recently sold for much more than that on, my investment earned a return the second I took possession. Not one or two percent, but nearly fifty percent.... immediately.

While the p85 is not a firearm I ever really desired owning, that doesn't effect it's value as a store place for wealth. Knowing it's not gold nor silver, it does have something better than both those metals... it's useful. I can use it, over and over again, and it's value won't go down while I do. Better than that, it's easily recognized wealth that's commonly desired, most especially when times go bad. The farmer that might not care to trade a side of beef for my ounce of gold, is far more likely to willingly make that swap with the Ruger as his price.

In good times.... even the best of times.... firearms retain value better than any bank account, and better than most other store places of wealth. As an investment, looking for return, firearms bought used at good prices almost invariably outperform the stock market, hands down.

Ammunition, bought inexpensively, can serve just the same. A case of Chinese 7.62x39 I once bought on sale was later traded (unopened) for a rifle worth five times what I paid for the ammunition. 8x57 Mauser I paid $2 a box for by the case lot, sold a year later for twice that.... and all parties were very happy with the deal.

As a way to squirrel away wealth.... firearms and ammunition are hard to beat. In good times or bad, quality used firearms bought at the right price will always be a solid store house of wealth, and a good investment. When I look at this Ruger, I don't see a new shooty toy, but instead I see $200 turning into $300 overnight, and next year maybe into $400, and the year after... maybe a side of beef.

Priorities my friends..... priorities.
  • Have a nest egg in case of job loss
  • Have on hand what you need to live, should it be hard to come by
  • Pay off debts
  • Protect what wealth you have, in the best ways possible

Thursday, June 9, 2011 Link earned

Lucky Gunner just earned the link, with this post on their blog.