Thursday, February 28, 2013

A quick story from the range.... make you smile, it will.

Just a little while back, Carteach was at the range doing the shooting for the 7.62x54 comparison.   He wasn't alone.  The day was nice despite the bone chilling Winter wind, and other folks were using the club range that day.

So, I'm doing my data gathering and just having a happy time shooting the Mosin goodness.  A few benches down, a father and son are shooting .22's and enjoying themselves as well.  As happens, we exchanged greetings and compliments of the day... and I asked if the youngen would like to shoot the Chinese Type 53 carbine he'd been admiring, using the low recoil Czech training ammo (about like shooting a .22 magnum).

"It has a bayonet mounted right on it, dad! "

Dad was amenable, but the boy (maybe 10?) was really torn up over it.  He wanted  it in the worst way, but was frightened at the thought of the recoil from the iron buttplated beastie.  Hemming and hawing commenced, and it was obvious he was right in the middle between demon recoil and shooty happiness...... and no way out in sight.

Then I recalled something Todd Jarret had done with my girl friend, a training trick I filed away as brilliant.

I had the boy place his open hand on my shoulder, palm cupping the buttplate of the rifle as I brought it into the pocket.  That way he could feel for himself how much recoil it had, while not bearing any of it.

I fired the Type 53 with that Czech training ammo, and before the muzzle blast stopped reverberating from the tree line the young man announced "I'M SHOOTING THAT!!"

Less than two minutes later, as the boy was jacking another round into the chamber, he looked up at dad and said "I WANT ONE!!", and then he fired again, nailing the fifty yard target cleanly.

The Fat Man is still chuckling over that....

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

7.62x54mm ammo variations....


This weekend The Fat Man got to spend some quality time on the range with several rifles, a chronograph, and an assortment of Mil-Surp ammunition.

The rifles: A 91/30 Mosin Nagant ex-sniper, and a Chinese type 53 Mosin carbine. The 91/30 is an old favorite, and has seen many a round down range in my hands.  The 52 is brand new... to me anyway... and it was interesting to wring out the carbine next to the full length rifle.

The ammunition.... well..... there's a story.  You see, the whole grand plan was to shoot in the Type 53 with some new Bulgarian surplus that found it's way to my door.  Then, the 91/30  sneakily chimed in with a 'What about MEEEeeeeski?' that was so pitiful, it got added to the days roster.  Then....  a few boxes of Czech 46 grain low recoil training ammunition were added to round out the package, just to see what the Type 53 did with it.  THEN...... addition to that....  all the other examples of Mosin fodder on the shelves spoke up, and suddenly it turned into a Great Big Comparison Shoot.

On the bench:
  • Bulgarian 148 grain light ball made in 1954, head stamped 10-54
  • Bulgarian 148 grain light ball made in 1971, head stamped 10-71 (silver tip)
  • Polish 148 grain light ball made in 1979, head stamped 21-79
  • Hungarian 182 grain heavy ball made 1988, head stamped 21-88
  • Czech 46 grain hollow core training ammo made in 1965, head stamped BXN-65
Sadly, the crate of Russian surplus didn't show up in time, and will have to be covered another day.

 I'll save the comparison of rifle to carbine for another article, but the differences were substantial when it came to putting slugs on target. Today, lets talk about the ammunition and how it shot.

Beginning with accuracy.... well.... that's not so easy. The 91/30 ex-sniper of mine is fussy.  It likes what it likes, and barely tolerates everything else.  The Czech training ammunition it fairly sneers at, while the Type 53 plugged the same bullets into small groups at 50 yards.  

I suppose accuracy testing is a wash, as the darned Mosins are as picky as rimfires about what they will and won't shoot well.

Moving on to the ammo itself, each and all functioned and fired perfectly.  The Czech training ammo, with it's short round nosed bullet, did not feed as smoothly as the spire pointed battle ammo.  All it took was working the bolt just a bit slower, and it was fine.

As for ballistics, here's a bit of Chronograph data to feed the discussion:

 Now, the Czech training ammo, with it's light weight 46 grain hollow core bullet, is included just for fun.  One of these loadings is obviously not like the others..... naturally..... but it's just WAY too much fun for it not to be included.  I am looking forward to taking the carbine and training ammo out for woodchucks this spring!  Those velocities and it's 46 grain bullet put it in the .22 magnum class.

Of the other four, the heavy ball is an obvious stand out as it's average velocity was significantly lower, as to be expected.  All these are ten round strings, and no obvious bad readings to delete.  

Now, average velocities are interesting, but a real clue towards the quality of the ammunition are velocity variations:

These are velocity spreads within each string.  Handloaders and ammo makers look closely at such numbers, as they are a good indicator of the load quality and suitability to the rifle.  High quality ammunition in a well matched rifle will often show variations under 20 fps.

As the data show, the Com-Block military ammunition may be more about reliability and function than extreme accuracy.  Honestly, I can't argue with that thinking.  More than any other feature, military ammo NEEDS to go bang every time.  3" groups compared to 4" groups place a might bit farther down the requirement list.

Clearly, the Polish light ball has not aged well.  If it ever shot accurately.... well, not so much anymore.   I'd happily shoot it all day long, but with full expectations that it's going to show fliers and larger groups.

The real honest to goodness way to judge mil-surp ammo, once it's assured that it functions and fires without issue, is back to that accuracy thing.  Along those lines, the silver tipped Hungarian light ball made in 1971 is a shining star, at least in my Mosin rifles.  To demonstrate, a fifty yard target shot while my eyes blurred from the frigid wind....

The latest batch of 7.62x54 Mil-Surp showing up on our shores from Europe is looking quite good.  In discussing this recently with someone who has reason to study the situation, the point was made that Russia and the other nations that made up the late/great Soviet Union have declining armed forces, and ammunition stores that number in the billions upon billions of rounds. The late 1970's dates we are seeing now are considered the expendable outdated from their standpoint.  Add in the fact that they have been upgrading their remaining military to new arms in more modern calibers.

So.... the final word.   Any of these are worth having on hand, but the real stand out in quality is clearly the latest Bulgarian surplus.

The 91/30 had no problems showing up the real performer in the batch.  This rates further investigation, and tearing down a batch to measure and test. 

Identify that ammo, and win a prize....

Presented for your edification and pleasure.... a simple contest.  The first three people who can correctly identify this Mil-Surp ammunition (All five cartridges) will win a Tuf Cloth weapons cleaning cloth. We are looking for for year, make, and model here.

No tricks... no gimmicks.... just put your answer in the comments section and cite your source, and Carteach will let the winners know.  It's that easy!

Clicken on the images to embiggun.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Carteach0 is on facebook!

Carteach has 'bit the bullet' and put in a presence on Facebook.

Click HERE to go do the friend thing... please.

Not certain where it'll all go, but join in the fun!

Oh..... and since I am diving into this pool head first.... I set up a Twitter account as well.  Just look to the top left of the blog for the link.

Hey.... I bake my own blasted quiche too!  What of it?


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Speaking about putting some away....

As I am doing my reloading project, and filling cans with ammo for the year's shooting, each container is getting a few of these put in it:

Silica Gel Desiccants

I've seen the results of damp storage over time, and written about it here on the blog.  I expect to use this ammunition before corrosion becomes an issue, but if I don't get to it in the near future I'll be damned if I open that can in a few years just to find nastiness.

Putting a few aside: The Chinese Type 53 Carbine

I recall my Dad used to buy canned food by the case when he saw it at a good price.  It was stored in the cellar, on shelves, and there was no inside door to the cellar.  Not infrequently, 'Boy' got sent for a few cans to round out the dinner menu.  I used to catch a lot of crap because I thought putting on shoes a waste of time when I was only going to be a few seconds going to the cellar..... snow or no snow.

The point is.... my old man would buy it when cheap, buy a bunch, and put it away til it was needed.  That's not a bad philosophy, and applies to far more than canned peas.

This brings us to today's adventure.... unpacking a pair of Chinese Type 53 carbines recently added to the collection.

The Chinese worked hand in hand with the Soviet Union for quite some time, and that included transfers of technology.  Thus, the Russian M-44 carbine, itself a shortened version of the 91/30, which in turn was derived from the Mosin Nagant of 1891...... became the Type 53 carbine.  Obsolete before it was ever built, the Type 53 had the feature of being cheap... very cheap.... and very easy to manufacture by the boat load.  That, and the fact the Soviet Union would quite literally trade/sell ammunition for the rifle by the shipload, and  suddenly the recycled Mosin design looked pretty good.  At least, to the Chinese it did, when they had a stupendously large army and a stupendously tiny treasury.

Now collectors and shooters are seeing the Type 53 in the United States at deeply discounted prices.  A few years ago, they were available for $69 at every gun show, by the dozens.  Now, one will bring $130 or so pretty easily, and have been seen changing hands at $200 since the crazy times set in (Thanks Mr. President!).

The Type 53 (slash M-44) is indeed a Mosin rifle, chambered in the full power 7.62x54mm Russian round designed at the turn of the century.  The last century.  As in the 1890's.  It's a rimmed cartridge of roughly 30-06 ballistics in it's modern loadings.  Loaded for shooting from the longer barreled 91/30, the short barrel of the Type 53 gets rather 'barky' when fired on the line.

To paraphrase something The Fat Man overheard from a nice lady the last time someone brought a Mosin Carbine to the match..... "Who the %$#@ brought the %^#@!$^%# CANON??"

Looking exactly like a shortened and much handier copy of the Mosin 91/30... because it is.... both the M-44 and the Type 53 bear a rather unusual feature.  That being a permanently attached bayonet that is hinged to the barrel and swings back alongside the stock.

The rifle itself is .... um..... how  to say....... ugly.  There is no other way to put it.  It is, in fact, so ugly that it's attractive in many ways.  Like a scraggly puppy who's the runt of the litter, you just want to pick and up and play with it.  Shooting it reveals this puppy to have a hell of a bark, and a pretty stiff bite as well.  That said, it's a fairly effective battle rifle for very little money, no matter how one looks at it.

Now, regarding that whole notion of 'putting things aside'.  Here, the relative cheapness of the Type 53 carbine, and the ammunition to feed it, make it a natural for such things.

Depending on local markets and the power of bulk buying, a Type 53 and a 'spam can' (440 rounds) of surplus Russian ammunition can be purchased for roughly $200 to $250.  At that price level, hiding away a few of these rifles and a case of ammo is not such a crazy idea. At the very least, it's an investment who's value can only grow.  At the very worst.... well, lets save that thought for another day.

There is a bit of work associated with owning such a beastie.  They will typically arrive as packed by a Chinese conscript, and that means in occasionally rough condition and so-so preservation.   Care must be taken to thoroughly clean the rifle, with special attention to scrubbing the bore.  The 7.62x54mm round has always been corrosively primed, which is no problem when a weapon is properly cleaned after use.  Not all the Type 53's were, sadly.  

It's not uncommon for the first swab pushed down the barrel to pile up an eight inch plug of grease ahead of it.  This is the equivalent of a blocked bore, and under NO circumstances should any surplus military weapon be fired till the bore is cleaned out and the unit function checked by someone who knows what they are doing.

Completely stripping the rifle down would be a good idea, and is not difficult at all.   Remember.... these rifles were designed to be used and maintained by peasants drafted into the military. Much of what the rifle might need can be done with little more than a crude screw driver and a handy rock.

Consider the possibilities.   Despite being more than a little outdated, the little carbine is quite powerful, fairly effective, and extraordinarily cheap. Ammunition is plentiful and inexpensive right now, and stocking away a case or two and a few rifles won't break most budgets.  It can be used for recreational shooting, hunting, and...... for hard times.  As this cost, a few can be set aside for giving to the neighbors in a 'Katrina' like emergency, even, or whatever other perilous time should come along.

Think about it.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Scenes from the Manhiem Appleseed shoot in Frigid February....

These are some images from the Appleseed clinic, Manhiem, PA., held this fearfully frigid February.  Now, the weather was not BAD per se, but all day out in the below freezing temps and occasionally stiff wind can be draining.

The shoot boss, Gary, intelligent man that he is.... brought a fire pit and a big barrel of oak cut offs.  We certainly were not going to heat the grand outdoors, but it gave a welcome respite from the cold.

Saturday had only one hearty shooter, and he drove from out of state to learn the skills.  That left a two instructor to one student ratio, and you can bet his ability skyrocketed in just one day.  He put up with all the guff he got, and did very, very well.

Sunday saw five on the line, and one man earning his Winterseed patch.  It was more than gratifying to see kids out on the range, learning to shoot better, and doing it by choice. One young lady was shooting with her support arm in a cast!

All in all... a cooooold weekend, but a rewarding one.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Review, and thoughts: Taurus PT-809

In today's economy, people are turning to stores of wealth somewhat outside the norm.  

Most days, people keep their hard earned shekels in the bank, or in a money market account, or perhaps in a stock market fund.  Many people, prudently, keep some cash on hand as well, if they can.

This day, as The Fat Man writes this, all those means of storing wealth have become suspect.  The stock market is more unpredictable than ever.  Savings accounts, money market accounts, CD's.... all offer interest rates lower than the true inflation we face, which realistic non-government funded economists peg at roughly 10%.  This means the money we have worked so hard for is being hit with an invisible tax that grows every day, leaving us less value in our money with each passing minute.  It also means every dollar we save, over and above what we spend to live, is actually losing value.  

Cash on hand can be a different story, to a person willing to work the angles.  Cash loses value minute by minute as well, but often times purchases made with cash bring with them a discount that more than makes up for the inflationary losses.  In terms that us shooty folk understand, a little cash in reach can make that snap purchase of a friends old Browning happen, when a credit card won't.

Right now, saving money is problematic. As our government's printing presses crank full blast 24 hours a day, 7 days a week....  the tax of inflation is hurting us in ways not seen in generations.

To be honest, friends, Carteach simply cannot afford to pay that tax right now.  Income has shrunk below outgoing, and handing away the value of my wealth for nothing just isn't going to fly.

To some folks, that would mean buying Gold and Silver, an investment that's held the line for all of recorded history.  The thing is.... it takes money to play that game, and the system is set up to milk a lot of that value away if one buys from standard commercial sources.  Even here, there is a cost to investing, and a tax on poor planning.

To Carteach, a poor (unemployed at the moment) fat old man living in the farmlands of Pennsylvania, buying typical precious metals as wealth preservative is a non-starter.  On the other hand.... there are commodities that a person can buy now, which will serve better as investment in these troubled times.  Not all precious substances glitter like gold.... sometimes they come in small packages of plastic and Tennifer coated alloy.

This brings us to a place where Carteach has parked a few dollars; A place where the tax of inflation can't reach, and real value is likely to hold perfectly well without loss.

Today, that store of wealth comes in the form of a Taurus PT809 9mm pistol.  Bought at reasonable price, it's a fairly steady and sure store of wealth.  Not a lot of wealth, to be sure, but certainly substantial when considered as a portion of Carteach's vast estates (smiling sardonically, I am).

A silver bar bought today at $30 would sell tomorrow at $25, once taking into account buyers premiums and sellers cuts.   The PT-809 bought today for $360 is already worth more than it cost, even on the very day of taking possession.  That is as much a factor of the current turmoil in society as anything else, but it's still an important factor to consider.

Soon enough, the same thinking may apply to other commodities, like lead.... brass..... copper.... 

So, here is presented the Taurus PT-809, bought as an item to store some small wealth in, while still being useful in it's own right.

The pistol is a full sized weapon, holding 17 rounds of 9x19mm ammunition in the magazine and another in the tube.  If carried with both supplied magazines filled to the brim, and one chambered, that means a loadout of 35 rounds on tap.  Given that modern high end 9mm ammunition has comes leaps and bounds from the military hardball our fathers played with, that is a significant self defense potential.

The frame is polymer, akin to pistols almost every manufacturer builds these days. The slide, a tough but light alloy coated with Tennifer to reduce friction and corrosion. This would seem to place the PT-809 in the same ball field with Glock and S&W offerings, although there are significant differences.

The Taurus PT-809 is a double action pistol with a hammer..... not a striker fired pistol like the Glock or S&W  M&P.  This means it has a double strike capability, and in the event of a misfire another yank on the bang lever will give it a second go.  It also means the pistol can be carried hammer down, safety off, with a loaded chamber.... and be just as safe as any revolver.  Put in more easily understandable terms to you youngsters raised on Glocks....  I would never slide my G-30 into my pocket for a walk around the property, as it would leave the trigger free to be snagged and the pistol to fire.... and that would be bad.  The PT-809, on the other hand.... no problem.  Hammer down, long firm trigger pull, and even a safety I can engage.  No problem sliding that in my back pocket and going walkies.

Speaking of safeties, the new Taurus has one, and it's a three position one at that. Up is safe, so those used to sweeping off the safety on their 1911 will be right at home.  All the way down against spring pressure drops the hammer, making for a completely safe way to decock the pistol.

Carteach, when carrying a weapon such as the PT-809, carries it hammer down on a loaded chamber, safety off.  This means putting the weapon into action requires no more than drawing it, aiming, and squeezing the trigger.  Exactly the same as the Glock, the M&P, Elsie Pea, and every revolver I own.  It also explains why I so seldom carry the Commander any more.  It has a different manual of arms, and it's one I set aside for defensive carry a long time back.

The pistols controls are ambidextrous, working easily as well for righties and lefties.  In addition, the now mandatory Picatinny rail is built into the frame, and the pistol is just large enough to perfectly hold a full size weapon light like the new Surefire unit.

Accuracy wise, the Taurus performs to acceptable standards.  Two inch groups at 30 feet were not difficult, shooting off hand.  The rear site is adjustable for windage by loosening a small set screw and drifting the sight in it's slot.  There is no adjustment of elevation, although that's not unusual in a defensive carry pistol.

The 809's sights carry the now typical three white dots, and are designed to be relatively low snag.  The rear sight looks like the Novaks designs of 20 years ago.... in fact, it IS a Novaks, while the front is a simple forward raked post, wide and sturdy.

Like the S&W M&P design, the Taurus PT-809 comes with replaceable backstraps for the grip.  Swapped out by pushing a pin free (Tool included), the lower swell of the backstrap can be sized to fit the shooters hands. This gimmicky sounding trick is actually quite nice, serving to fit the weapon in better fashion to more hands. Oft times, that additional fraction of an inch can make a cludgy feeling pistol into a something that shoots naturally.

Unpacking the pistol, we see it comes with two magazines, a magazine loading tool (nice touch), a selection of grip swells, a bore cleaning brush...... and very sadly..... a tool to activate the internal safety lock.

Yes, the Taurus 809 has the dastardly built in key lock that we can thank the lawyers for.  On the other hand, it's not obvious, being placed far down the right side grip panel, and there are no reports of it coming on unintentionally as some other companies pistols have been seen to do.

On shooting, the PT-809 managed to stovepipe a few cases in the first two magazines full.  This was with Winchester white box generic hardball fodder, and the pistol as it came from the case.   After field stripping, wiping down all the internal and external surfaces with a solvent covered cloth, and then lightly lubing with gun oil..... the pistol had no more failures of any kind.

Trigger pull is reasonable for a defensive carry pistol, and not unduly heavy nor gritty feeling.  It will never match a finely tuned S&W revolver, but for a decent quality comparatively inexpensive double stack DA pistol, it's not bad.

All in all, the Taurus PT-809 is exactly what it seems to be. A relatively inexpensive full sized defensive carry pistol of decent quality.  While it will never be a 'Barbeque Gun', it will serve quite well in either holster or nightstand.  As a storehouse of wealth........ ya, it'll do.... and a hell of a lot better than just leaving dollars in the bank to lose value like a tree sheds leaves in the fall.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Appleseed weekend.....

Sorry for the lack of posting this weekend, folks.   Carteach spent the time volunteering at a local Appleseed shoot.  Despite the bitter cold wind, and occasional snow squalls, people still came out to challenge that Rifleman score.  All the shooters showed some measure of improvement, some a large measure indeed.  One gentleman did achieve a score entitling him to the coveted Rifleman patch, and considering the low temps and 30+ mph wind gusts, it earned him the much rarer 'Winterseed' patch.

Folks... if you haven't attended an Appleseed clinic yet, I can't encourage you strongly enough to do so.  The skills alone are worth every second, with the history lessons being icing on the cake.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Reloading Wolf steel cases.....

Well..... THIS should be interesting.....

In the process of working my way through my Mound-O-.45 brass, I stumbled on a few Wolf steel empties that somehow made it through my sort process.  Hey.... we all make mistakes... and that's why I have a quite a few 'quality control procedures' built into the reloading methods I use.  Part of that is examining each case at several points, before, during, and after loading. It was at one of these checks I discovered a couple Wolf cases hiding amongst the thousands of pieces of .45 brass.

Setting them aside, I continued with reloading.... but there they sat... challenging me to think about them.

The Wolf Brand .45 acp is part of their 'Poly Performance' line, and the steel cases are coated with a polymer.... not lacquer as is commonly believed.   Problems involving the steel cased ammo are usually discovered to be caused by small amounts of blow by on firing.  The steel case does not expand as far or as easily (Obdurate) as brass does, and is less effective at sealing the chamber.  Not in any dangerous way, but enough to allow small amounts of the combustion gasses to blow back between the case and the chamber wall, leaving some carbon deposits.

Normally, this would not be an issue.  On the other hand, using steel cased ammo in a firearm with a precise and tight chamber may be problematic, especially when shooting steel cased ammo is followed up by shooting brass, without a good cleaning in between.  The carbon buildup in the chamber can cause the softer brass cases to stick, sometimes badly.

All that aside, lets travel back to those Wolf .45 acp cases mocking me from the reloading bench.  Exactly WHY should I not reload those cases?

First to mind, Berdan Vs. Boxer priming... as much of the steel cased rifle ammo I've seen is Berdan primed.  Examining the Wolf pistol case, I found it be Boxer primed.  

Second to mind, after seeing the Boxer primer in place, was questioning the size of the primer pocket.  Would a standard large pistol primer fit the pocket.  Towards that question, a few of the cases were deprimed and then put to the measure. It turns out the Wolf primer pocket matches US commercial cases to less than a thousandth in dimensions.  Scratch that as an issue then.

How about the polymer coating?  The cases I was looking at had been fired, scrounged from the ground with other range brass, and been through hours of vibratory polishing along with all the other fired cases.  Despite all that, it appeared the polymer coating was still intact both inside and out. 

How about sizing in the carbide RCBS die?  Only one way to tell with that... try it.

At this point, Carteach decided to just 'Bite the bullet' and load those Wolf cases just like any brass empty being recycled.

A few points noticed during the process......
  • The Wolf cases sized easily.  Very easily.  I suspect they do not stretch far on firing, and rebound to almost their original size, unlike brass cases.
  • Seating primers in the Wolf case required firm pressure, but it was quite smooth and definite. There was a good feel to the process, and the primers seated perfectly flush and normal appearing.
  • Case mouth expanding.... happened, but certainly not the extent a brass case would with the same die setting.  The steel case springs back, as might be expected.
  • Bullet seating... felt exactly the same as with a brass case.
  • Taper crimping... left the loading round looking for all the world like a factory fresh Wolf round straight from the box.
The fully reloaded Wolf cases processed well, and reloaded easily without incident.  All that remains is test firing.   I propose to make a range visit soon, and search the ground for more Wolf cases to experiment with.  I'd like to make some measurements pre and post sizing, and compare the reloaded Wolf ammo to factory fresh Wolf ammo.

As always, The Fat Man will report out here on the results, good or bad.   What are your predictions as to outcome?