Sarah Palin is allowed first dibs on Alaskan wolfpack kills.

calendar   Tuesday - August 12, 2008

.45-60 Blogging: The 2 Cent Machine Shop

Ok. Last week I took a cut down .45-70 down to my chiropractor to test fit on his new Uberti 1876 in .45-60. While the action closed on the case, it was rather tight. This week I took in another case that I had thinned the front part of the rim down by a few thousandths. The action closed much easier. Question answered.

What question? According to the cartridge specifications, the .45-60 was designed to have a rim that was 0.059” thick. The .45-70 was designed to have a rim 0.070” thick. While the .45-60 is essentially a defunct round these days, the 135 year old .45-70 is still quite popular. The brass cases however, are almost always made with rims thinner than specified. They average 0.064”. Is that an Ok thickness for the .45-60, or does that one want something thinner?

An aside: I do not know why this is done, as the thickness of the rim is the only way to control headspace on this cartridge. For all you non-gun nuts, headspace is the amount of wiggle room a cartridge has within the chamber of the gun. You have to have some or else the ammo won’t fit in. But if you have too much accuracy will suffer. And if you have WAAY too much, you could have an explosion on your hands. Bad thing. You see, gunpowder generates a LOT of pressure in a very short time period. I’m talking about pressure up to 65,000psi in under a millisecond. When things work right, the igniting gunpowder builds up some pressure, which causes the springy brass cartridge to balloon out, fill the chamber entirely, and cling to the walls of it until the bullet has fired. After that pressures fall off super quickly, and the brass springs back to shape. If you have excessive headspace (ie a loose fit, either length or width) the cartridge can expand more than it should. For you scientific and engineering types, this is called “passing through the elastic deformation threshold and surpassing the plastic deformation threshold”. The rest of us call this a case rupture. In severe occurrences this means the gun blows up. In your face. Very bad! In less severe occurrences the rupture doesn’t hurt the gun, but it allows all that white hot burning powder gas to jet out the wrong way. Usually into your face. Very bad also!!

Ok, so to make .45-60 cases for this Uberti the rims need to be thinned. I did the first two by hand, with a file and a power drill. There used to be a saying in the computer world: “Do a task once, do it manually. Do it twice, develop a process. Do it three times or more, write a program.” The same concept applies to making things. Especially if you want them all identical. Since my doc is going to want 100 or so cases, it was time to build a machine. Hmm ... what to do? If I only had a Unimat milling machine! Yeah right, for $500? Not happening.

He has a drill press. Super! Set up properly, a drill press is almost as good as a milling machine or a lathe. So let’s think this through ...

Hmm ...

Ok, here’s a solution. I used a resizing die to hold the cases when I did them by hand. I chucked the end of the decap in a drill, stuck the case up the die until it was tight, then held a file in my hand and went at it. This worked, but it wasn’t easy. Or easily repeatable. And the case was only held by one end, so I wasn’t confident that it was centered. But I had no other choice, since the decap rod wasn’t long enough to both center the decappng pin in the case’s flash hole AND leave enough extra rod sticking out the other end to chuck into a drill.

Solution #1: use a longer decapping rod. The .45-70 is a fairly short case, only 2.105”. Most rifle cases are longer, some by more than a full inch. So the decapping rods for those cartridges have to longer. Die companies aren’t stupid, so all their rods are the same diameter irrespective of what cartridge they’re intended for. So I got out a longer rod, in this case from a .30-30. It was long enough.

Now, how do I hold it still? A lathe works by attaching the bit to be carved between two points, called centers. One center just spins, the other one is driven. Two centers keep the workpiece from wobbling. The longer decap rod could be set so that the decapping pin protruded about 3/16” of an inch. Fine. Good enough. Take a bit of 2x4 and tap in a 6d finishing nail, then pull it out. Ta da, it’s a center. So now I’ve got a gizmo that will hold the case perfectly in a drill press. Just set the stop nuts on the press, and we can file the rims all day long. But how will I know when the rims are thin enough, without stopping a million times to measure? hmm ...

Solution #2: find some spacers. So I’m looking around with my calipers for thin things that are strong enough. Cardboard is out. Plastic is out. Ah ha! It turns out that a penny is just about exactly the right thickness. So I epoxied two of them to the 2x4, one on each side of the nail hole. They will support a small mill file. Cool! I’m almost there. Now, how to I make it screw-up proof? The last thing you want to do is cut into the web of the case while thinning the rim. That could weaken things, and might cause a rupture. Bad. So let’s put some stops in place. Ah, a couple of finishing nails should do it. Now I can’t cut too deep, I can’t cut too narrow, and I can’t cut out of squareness.

And that’s all it took. 2 pennies, 2 nails, and a chunk of scrap wood. And now I can thin hundreds of case rims to exactly the right thickness, nice and square, exactly the same every time. All I have to do is turn on the drill press and just lower the file until it stops. I don’t even need to stroke the file back and forth. See? I told you this was going to be a fun little project!


Untrimmed full length .45-70 case shown with the sizing die and the extra long decapping rod.

Decapping pin fits in the little hole between the two coins. The other end goes in the drill press


Production mock-up. Pretend the blue pen is a small triangular mill file.

The two nails stop the file from cutting in too far,

while the two pennies limit the depth that the file can cut.

Result: easy repeatability. Cost: 2 cents plus some scraps

Next I have to figure out a no cost way to trim the cases lengthwise. Carving off a quarter of an inch with a hand trimmer isn’t hard, but it takes several minutes. Fug that, let’s find a way to do it in 5 seconds. You can’t use a pipe cutter though, because the case is slightly tapered and the cutter will just slip off the end. I think. I’ll find out tomorrow!


Why put off for tomorrow what you can design today? This should do the trick. It’s just a block of wood with a groove in it, with a hacksaw blade screwed to the top. It just has to be cut or sanded to the proper height. I figure 1.92”, which leaves just 0.03” to trim off with the case trimmer. That’s like 10 spins. A similar collet arrangement would hold the case in place in the drill press. Actually, in the pictures above you can see the collet that holds the decapping rod in the sizing die. It’s the bit with the bolt head on it. On the inside that collet is just about the right size. A few wraps of duct tape will snug things up tight. Then just slide the case up around the tool, start the drill, slide the cutter over, and it will cut through the case, which is only 0.011” thick brass, in a couple seconds.


Yup, the collet thingy works fine. Now to build the cut off tool.

It wouldn’t be a home project if it didn’t involve duct tape!


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/12/2008 at 12:47 PM   
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calendar   Saturday - August 09, 2008

A fun little gun project

I got all that free ammo last week. Nice. In trade, I’m helping the guy create some ammo. He just picked up a brand new rifle, an Uberti 1876 in .45-60. It’s gorgeous. And it’s huge! The rifle is nearly 4 feet long and weighs almost 11 pounds. It’s the kind of cowboy gun that you need a horse to carry it around for you. Uberti makes some very nice reproduction firearms. They are expensive, but they’re better than the original ones ever were.

This rifle is chambered for the long forgotten .45-60 cartridge. Factory ammunition is very hard to come by and quite expensive. $4 a shot!! Even the brass cases are expensive, and as far as I can tell there is only one manufacturer. But the good news is that the cases can be made from standard .45-70 brass. They need to be trimmed nearly a quarter of an inch, which is a lot of cranking on the case trimmer. And the rims need to be thinned a few thousandths of an inch for proper headspacing, which requires some careful work with a file and a bit of problem solving to build something like a lathe to do the job.

And then the real fun begins: this is a black powder round, but he doesn’t want to deal with the black powder mess. So I’ll have to develop some smokeless powder loads. And it would be good if they performed a bit better than the measly 1300fps the original rounds managed ... and that’s the challenge. An industry group called SAAMI exists that sets the pressure standards for just about all the cartridges out there. But not all of them. There is no pressure spec for this old round, so it’s going to take some research. The good news is that the Uberti is built to close tolerances from the best modern steels, so it should be quite a bit stronger than the original rifles. And the rumor is that it has been proof tested to 2500 bar (33,000psi) for sale in Germany. Not that it would be smart to use all of that strength; it’s best to think of it as a safety margin. But the rifle should be able to handle 22,000 psi loads forever. For the non gun nuts, 22,000psi is quite low pressure, about average for most mild pistol cartridges and well below any modern rifle cartridge. It’s barely half the pressure that a .30-30 can generate. But better to be safe than sorry, and the 1876 is built with an internal mechanism called a toggle link, which has caused people to worry for more than 130 years.

So I’ll start low with a couple of the popgun level smokeless loads I’ve been able to find. And that’s a relative “popgun”; a 300 grain bullet at 1350 feet per second generates more power than a .44 magnum. After that we’ll take things one careful small step at a time, and stop when we find a reasonable velocity that is accurate. I’m confident I can develop something on the power level of a .454 Casull, which would make this an effective rifle out to 200 yards for hunting deer or smaller bears.


“Free" .356 Win. , standard .45-70, shortened and thinned to become .45-60


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/09/2008 at 09:19 AM   
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calendar   Monday - August 04, 2008

Fwee Buwwets!!

My chiropractor is a Marine Lt. And a gun nut. Somebody gave him some ammo about 15 years ago, for a rifle he’d never even heard of. I happen to own such a thundergun, so now the ammo comes to me. It’s all mid-80s production, .356 Winchester. Free! Two and a half full boxes worth, 50 rounds total.

What the hell is a .356 Winchester? Well, it’s not a .357, although the bullet is the same diameter. It’s not a .358, though the cartridge dimensions are nearly identical. A .356 Winchester was an interesting and short lived idea, a highly effective and powerful round chambered in a rifle that hunters had been asking for for 40 years. But the rifle was a commercial failure, and after just 5 or so years the .356 was history. The .356 was a .30-30 rim married to a .358 body, and fed flat nosed bullets for a standard lever rifle OAL of 2.55”.


In the early 1980s Winchester was losing lever gun sales to Marlin. Both companies have a lever action rifle that has sold well for decades. Make that about a century. Winchester started selling lever action rifles around about 1873. Marlin got in the game shortly thereafter. By the end of the 19th century Winchester had several models for sale, Marlin had one or two, but the rifles that would continue to sell were chambered for the .30-30. The .30-30 is now in it’s 3rd century of production, and as an Eastern deer rifle it’s hard to beat. It will do the job, every time, out to about 175 yards. And it does it without a lot of recoil, and without blowing your ears right off your head. It ain’t glamorous, but it sure is effective. But some hunters wanted more. A .30-30 just isn’t really enough gun for hunting big elk, or big bears, or for shots at longer ranges. In the past, long in the past, there had been lever guns that could handle the big old time black powder cartridges. They didn’t shoot their bullets very fast, but the bullets were huge, and huge bullets will go through just about anything. Almost all of the large caliber lever guns were gone by the early 1930s. But both companies got letters year after year, decade after decade, from hunters wanting more gun. Eventually both companies did something about it.

Around the time I was entering kindergarten, Marlin introduced the .444 Marlin cartridge, in a modified version of their venerable model 336 lever action rifle. It wasn’t anything more than a double length .44 Magnum, but it could push a big fat 43 caliber bullet weighing 240 grains (half an ounce) at almost 2400 feet per second, a full 1000 feet per second faster than a .44 Magnum. This made an awesome woods rifle, even though the pistol bullets it fired really didn’t penetrate as well as other rifle bullets on the market. Winchester did nothing, and Marlin owned the large caliber lever sales for the next 20 years. Not being content with just one large cartridge, they also eventually brought out an even bigger one, their model 1895 chambered in the ancient but highly effective .45-70.

Winchester finally got in the game in 1978 with their Model 94 Big Bore, offered only in the “new” .375 Winchester cartridge. I put new in quotation marks because the .375 is only a slightly (and foolishly) modified .38-55, one of those old time black powder rounds from way back when. “Foolishly” because they made the .375 a hair shorter than the old .38-55, so the new round will chamber in the old rifles. But the .375 is loaded to nearly modern pressure levels, which means it can, will, and has blown some of the old .38-55 rifles to shreds. Not a good thing. The .375 fired a bullet of about the same weight as the .444 Marlin, at about the same speed. But because it was a smaller diameter, the bullets were both more aerodynamic (higher BC) and better penetrating (higher SD, plus the .444 always had an asininely slow rifling twist of 1:38. Bullets with more spin on them dig deeper, straighter holes). So Winchester had a player, but neither the .444 Marlin or the .375 Winchester had the power of the .45-70. Marlin was still the sales leader. And while the .375 bullets could hold onto velocity better than the .444s and .45-70s could, it couldn’t hold on all that well and was effectively range limited to 200 yards. That same old bunch of letter writers still wanted more.

During this time it came to light that most hunters wanted to mount a telescopic sight to their rifles. Winchester’s lever guns had always ejected the spent round straight up, which made putting a scope on one just about impossible. The Marlin 336 has always ejected to the side, so Marlin was ahead on this point too. Winny would have to do something big to recapture those sales. And they did.

A few years later, in 1983, Winchester upped the ante, and released a New & Improved version of their Model 94. This one had a name nearly as big as the rifle itself: the Winchester Model 94 Angle Eject XTR Big Bore, and it was a wonder. The receiver of this beast weighs half again as much as the regular Model 94 receiver, because the walls are twice as thick. It ejects the spent brass up and over at a 45 degree angle - hence the Angle Eject part of the name, so the receiver walls are higher too. And they put a heavy weight barrel on it. All of this was for a reason: the new rifle was offered in two rather amazing cartridges: the .307 Winchester, which duplicated .308 (7.62 NATO) ballistics, and the .356 Winchester, which duplicated .358 ballistics. And that’s a LOT of gun. Plus, to make sure they stole the sales from Marlin, Winchester made the thing pretty. The XTR ("extreme"? “eXTRa range”? nobody is sure) got fancy wood, hand cut checkering, and a quality of bluing and polishing that would never be seen again. It’s a beautiful rifle ... but it’s also an abomination. Remember how I said that market research of the time showed that most hunters were using a scope? Well, when you mount a scope on a rifle, your eye needs to be a bit higher up to align properly with it, compared to open “iron” sights. Which means the stock has to be taller. Winchester went an put a Monte Carlo (ie raised cheek piece) stock on a lever rifle. And the purists just about had aneurysms.  No such thing had ever been done. Practical be damned, a lever rifle MUST have a scrawny, low, flat little stock with all the ergonomics of a fence post! So sales didn’t exactly take off. Especially when Marlin followed suit and chambered their own rifle for these two potent rounds a year later.

The .356 is a high pressure round, and it can shoot a 200 grain bullet just as fast as a hand loaded .30-06: 2400 feet per second. That’s a lot of power. More than enough for any bear or elk that ever lived. Plus it can shoot a 250 grain bullet at 2200 feet per second, just in case you need to hunt Volkswagen Beetle sized mooses or the occasional marauding dinosaur. The 250 grain load is within a hair of the power of the .444 Marlin at the muzzle, but after about 20 yards the better ballistic specs of the .356’s bullet take over, and by 200 yards it has pretty much double the retained power of the .444. And at 300 yards it still has plenty of whack left, while the .444 Marlin bullet has long since fallen to the ground. (you slow bullet shooting, “rainbow trajectory” guys know exactly what I mean here).

But all that power comes at a cost. The .356 kicks like a pissed off mule having a ‘roid rage fit. The XTR quickly gained the reputation as a nasty little rifle. Even the reloading manuals, which would have you believe that shooting a .340 Weatherby is a walk in the park with free ice cream, say things like “recoil in such a light rifle can only be described as brutal”. And it is, oh yes it is.

Oh, the rifles worked fine. The XTR is the best and strongest lever gun ever made. It’s just as polished inside as it is outside; the action is really smooth. But the thing is, the guys who wrote all those “give us more” letters for all those decades were idiots. When you put a high powered (and that’s real high powered, not the MSM’s concept) round in a light little rifle like the Model 94 carbine, painful things happen when you pull the trigger. Especially when you realize that the butt pad of a lever gun is about the same size and shape as an Italian sausage. It’s small. Really small. Half the area of a good bolt gun’s pad. And while it’s made out of rubber, it’s that very special kind of rubber reserved for butt pads: it will last 100 years or so, but that’s because it’s only slightly softer than a brick. The bottom line is you have a whole lot of recoil expressing it’s displeasure into your shoulder onto a very small area. It’s kind of like holding the edge of an axe to your shoulder, and handing a really big guy a sledgehammer and daring him to smack the back of the axe head as hard as he can.

I am prone to exaggeration. You may have noticed this a few million times by now?  I also routinely shoot heavy rifles that have lots of recoil. I shit you not: I am afraid of this rifle. It hurts. It hurts really really bad. When I was young, and in the best shape of my life, hitting the gym every day, I tried to force myself to shoot one entire box of ammo - 20 shots - through this rifle from the shooting bench over the course of an afternoon. I could not do it. I was so battered after a dozen shots that my arm would hardly move. My hands were shaking. Tears started to run when I put the 15th round in the chamber, but, by God, I was gonna tough it out, even though I was actually whimpering. The 15th round loosened a filling, and I admitted defeat. I had to drive home left handed, and had a really amazing bruise for the next two weeks.

After that I learned that you can reload the .356 using pistol bullets. D’oh! It can launch a 125 grain bullet at 3200 fps - the kind a typical .357 Magnum pistol can shoot at 1400 fps - and the recoil is pleasant. And the thing is quite accurate, able to group these little bullets inside 2” at 200 yards. It will also shoot 180s at a pretty good clip (still a hair faster than the same weight bullet in a .30-06) and they don’t kick so bad. So it’s a moose gun that’s better suited to hunting armored woodchucks. It really has no good niche, and that’s why both the cartridge and the rifle became orphans in just a couple of years.

The ammo I got from my chiropractor has sales stickers on it from 1987. One half of one box has been used, and a few rounds have scratches on them. I guarantee what happened: somebody bought the rifle and a couple boxes of ammo, went to the range, and had his ass whupped by 10 rounds. Then he traded the thing in on something softer and saner, or gave up shooting altogether. A half a decade ago I put a nice thick recoil pad on my XTR, but I haven’t fired it since. I think I’ll take a trip to the range soon, just to see if I’ve gotten any tougher over the past 25 years. It’s a guy thing I guess.




Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/04/2008 at 06:32 PM   
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calendar   Thursday - July 17, 2008

When gun owners attack … each other

Get a grip people ... and take a pill.

Comment flames surround Tammy Bruce over her “me and Snuffy” picture she uses for radio promos and stuff. (Snuffy is her snubby):


People just drop their biscuits over this one, because she has her finger on the trigger. Comment flames ensue. It’s a publicity pic folks, not the Eddie Eagle safety program manual. Tammy then saddles up her high horse and goes for a trot around the paddock, labeling them what object to pics of violatin’ Gun Rule #2 as “Trigger Nazis”. More flames ensue. Publicity stunt, honest expression of her rights, deserved chastising of the over reactive busybodies, or an irresponsible untrained individual mouthing off? You decide. I can see both sides, and I also tire of the “watch every move you make so you don’t give gun owners a bad name” idea. And where did this “training” meme come from? The phrase don’t say “the right of the properly trained and forever safety paramount people to keep and bear arms”.

Such a reaction is actually lame compared to the sparks generated at Jeff’s page when he objects to the “sport” of live pigeon shooting. Add a bit of booze to the comment stream and it gets really nasty. And every one of these commenters are gun people. Every last one.

Some people are willing to have their pictures taken wherein they exhibit a more casual attitude towards guns. I think that’s supposed to make them look sexy or dangerous. All I know is, if I see them acting like that around me in real life with real guns, then it’s time for me to go. Posing for a picture? Big whup. Just don’t load live ammo, m’kay?

Some of the shooting sports and outdoor recreational activities don’t sit well with others. Does that make those activities wrong? OTOH, try putting yourself into an 1855 “states rights” frame of mind, or think about the old Dred Scott decision before reading the “pro” comments over at Alphecca. Strangely parallel ain’t it?

This kind of thing goes on all the time. What Jeff labels the “People of the Gun” need to cut each other some slack once in a while. Right Zumbo?


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/17/2008 at 01:59 PM   
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calendar   Tuesday - July 01, 2008

Here They Go Again …

Own a gun? You’ll probably kill yourself

CNN runs the wire story that plays with statistics to imply that gun owners are inherently self-destructive. Completely ignoring statistics from other countries that show that suicidal people will find a way too off themselves no matter what, even if they don’t have access to firearms. Typical obfuscation from the left.

More than half firearm deaths are suicides

The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on gun ownership last week focused on citizens’ ability to defend themselves from intruders in their homes. But research shows that surprisingly often, gun owners use the weapons on themselves.

Suicides accounted for 55 percent of the nation’s nearly 31,000 firearm deaths in 2005, the most recent year for which statistics are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There was nothing unique about that year—gun-related suicides have outnumbered firearm homicides and accidents for 20 of the last 25 years. In 2005, homicides accounted for 40 percent of gun deaths. Accidents accounted for 3 percent. The remaining 2 percent included legal killings, such as when police do the shooting, and cases that involve undetermined intent.
The high court’s majority opinion made no mention of suicide. But in a dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer used the word 14 times in voicing concern about the impact of striking down the handgun ban.

“If a resident has a handgun in the home that he can use for self-defense, then he has a handgun in the home that he can use to commit suicide or engage in acts of domestic violence,” Breyer wrote.

Oh, just STFU already. You lost Heller, now get over it. 17,000 people killed themselves with a gun. 15,000 people found some other way. Meanwhile, 90,000,000 people who own guns didn’t kill themselves, nor did 210,000,000 other people who don’t own guns.

“Other methods are not as lethal,” said Jon Vernick, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research in Baltimore.

Golly gee whiz, do you think that’s why suicidal people choose to use a gun in the first place? Idiot.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/01/2008 at 09:28 AM   
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calendar   Sunday - June 29, 2008

To keep and bear - a bit of original intent

US Constitution, Article I Section 8
“The Congress shall have power to ... grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;”

What the heck does that mean?

Congress has the power to grant Letters Of Marque And Reprisal. This power allows them to write a bit of paper that can turn a privately owned boat into a warship acting on behalf of the nation.

So Congress can create what used to be called privateers. Instant Navy, just add ink to paper. Privately owned ships that are semi-pirates, but our semi-pirates. Pretty cool, but what of it?

Well, there isn’t any point to writing Letters of Marque if possession of such a letter causes a citizen to go out and have a ship built. The Navy could build the same ship in the same time. No, Letters of Marque were a bit similar to Rights of Angary in that both used pre-existing ships. But you can’t just go sticking a few dozen tons worth of iron cannon on a sailboat all willy-nilly and call it a privateer. It will either sink or tip over. Not good. Those pre-existing privately owned ships had to be designed and built from the get-go to carry cannons. And carry them they did. No one took a Letter of Marque down to the foundry and said “here’s my note, give me 3 dozen of the big ones please, plus a few tons of gunpowder”. No, those private ships were already armed.

Already armed, with privately owned cannon. Weapons of minor mass destruction. Weapons of a completely military nature. Weapons capable of, indeed designed specifically for, projecting explosive “destructive devices” with the specific intention of killing and wounding as many people as possible at one time.

Those are the kind of “arms” the Second Amendment is also talking about. Cannons similar to the privately owned ones that the British attempted to seize at Lexington and Concord. Artillery in the hands of the citizenry. Weaponry that put them on par with any standing army of the day.


and Heller was argued over pistols?


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/29/2008 at 02:18 PM   
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calendar   Friday - June 27, 2008

yeah, what they said

Via Kim, via Hog On Ice ...

RE: DC v. Heller, a 5-4 Decision

“Petitioners and today’s dissenting Justices believe that it protects only the right to possess and carry a firearm in connection with militia service.”

That should send chills down your spine. Look how close we came to losing the right to bear arms. If you’re one of the many idiots who do not understand that a vote for a liberal President is a vote for judges who will destroy your rights, you need to have your face rubbed in this sentence over and over. And if you’re stupid enough to stay home as a protest or vote for Bob Barr, helping Obama get elected, you deserve to live in North Korea. All four far-left judges wanted to repeal the Second Amendment, and the only thing that saved us was the presence of that perpetual embarrassment, Kennedy.

Had Al Gore won the 2000 election, we would not have Alito or Roberts, and the individual right to bear arms would no longer exist, and every one of us would be facing the possibility of total gun confiscation, with no constitutional remedy. We would have to rely on the good judgment of our state and local governments to protect us.

Justice Stevens is 88, Ginsburg is 75, Kennedy is 72, Scalia is 72 and Breyer is 70. Souter is only 69. Remember this in November.

So, hold your nose, close your eyes, squeeze your butt cheeks nice and tight, and pull the lever for McCain. Don’t stay home as an infantile protest. Don’t waste a vote on Barr, even if he does have a few good qualities, because he stands no chance of winning. Because with McCain in office, the chance of him putting in one, two, or three proper justices is about 60%. With Obama, it’s 0%. And that’s a stone cold guarantee.

This little warning applies to all the lower Federal judges too. If for no other reason than that, we have to elect McCain and as many other Republicans representatives as possible. We have no choice really.

Mr. Hog points out several of the weaknesses that I noticed yesterday. Ok, Heller is a step in the right direction. But this part, Scalia’s own statement, is just dead fuggin wrong:

Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.

a) Oh yes it is. Any weapons, any way, anywhere. Go read Jefferson again.
b) concealed carry is part of the Any Way I just mentioned.
c) common use? Give me a break. “Any weapons” includes ... any weapons! Common or uncommon. If I want a Morning Star made up of razor blades, that’s my choice, not yours.
d) Dangerous? WTF? Show me a non dangerous weapon please. Dangerous to myself? Gee, life’s a risk. Dangerous to my target? That’s the weapon’s job. Dangerous to other people not targeted? Ok, that might be a valid point, but stepping down that road will soon lead to the “overpenetration” argument, and we’ll be right back at Romeny’s (et al) “excessively powerful” bullshit. Better to just sue me later for negligence.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/27/2008 at 01:33 PM   
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calendar   Thursday - June 26, 2008

Speaking of guns … some bad news?

Army thinking about retiring Ma Deuce

After nearly 90 years of service, the US Military is looking at replacements for the venerable 50 caliber M2 machine gun, designed way back when by John Moses Browning. Egad! As far as I know these things are still being made, though I have heard that many of the M2s mounted on tanks and Humvees today started life attached to B-17s back in WWII. That would make the guns as old as the grandfathers of the young men who are using them in combat.

Probably the longest serving weapon in the U.S. military arsenal is the Browning .50-caliber M2 machine gun. Often referred to as “ma deuce” for its M2 designation, the weapon entered U.S. service at the end of World War I, being scaled up from the Browning .30-caliber M1917 machine gun. The .50-caliber weapon was initially designated M1921.

Using a round designed by Winchester, the .50-caliber machine gun was originally intended for ground troops to use against enemy troops. Subsequently, it was employed as an anti-aircraft weapon and then became the standard armament of U.S. warplanes. In 1932, the design was updated and redesignated M2.

Now, after almost 90 years of service, the U.S. Army has moved to replace Browning’s remarkable machine gun. The Army recently ordered three prototypes of a lightweight .50-caliber machine gun. Produced by General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products, the weapon weighs about one-half of the current .50-caliber M2HB (Heavy Barrel) machine gun, fires with less recoil and is equipped with technology to improve accuracy, according to the company.

The Army and Special Operations Command (SOCOM) will test the new guns and then apply the lessons learned to a potential production design. Low-rate initial production could begin as soon as 2011.

It would take several years for the new weapon to replace the “ma deuce” in U.S. service. But even if it does so, the M1921/M2 would have been in service for a century.

Damn. But I wonder ... half the weight but has less recoil? That sounds like breaking the laws of physics. Unless they’ve somehow incorporated some kind of recoil sled, like on artillery. And those hydraulic buffers tend to overheat even at 1/10th the cyclic rate. Notice though, that the cartridge itself is in no danger of being done away with. Heller no!


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/26/2008 at 12:38 PM   
Filed Under: • Guns and Gun Control •  
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Heller Decision Released

  • 2A - Yes, it’s an individual right
  • DC ban unconstitutional !!
  • Miller overturned? No.
  • Gun Laws tossed? No.
  • 2A applies to the States (ie 14th Amendment)? MAYBE

SCOTUS splits 5-4 ... that alone should scare the shit out of you. This story is fresh out, all over the news, so go look there. And then jump to SCOTUS Blog for a bit of analysis and links to the documents.

At this instant in time I can only call this a tiny victory. The scope of it may take some time to become apparent. Certain things are not to my liking, but better a small victory than a major defeat?

Quotes from SCOTUS Blog:

Examining the words of the Amendment, the Court concluded “we find they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weaons in case of confrontation” — in other words, for self-defense. “The inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment right,” it added.

The individual right interpretation, the Court said, ”is strongly confirmed by the historical background of the Second Amendment,” going back to 17th Century England, as well as by gun rights laws in the states before and immediately after the Amendment was put into the U.S. Constitution.

Justice Scalia’s opinion stressed that the Court was not casting doubt on long-standing bans on carrying a concealed gun or on gun possession by felons or the mentally retarded, on laws barring guns from schools or government buildings, and laws putting conditions on gun sales.

In District of Columbia v. Heller (07-290), the Court nullified two provisions of the city of Washington’s strict 1976 gun control law: a flat ban on possessing a gun in one’s home, and a requirement that any gun — except one kept at a business — must be unloaded and disassembled or have a trigger lock in place.  The Court said it was not passing on a part of the law requiring that guns be licensed.  It said that issuing a license to a handgun owner, so the weapon can be used at home, would be a sufficient remedy for the Second Amendment violation of denying any access to a handgun.

Quotes from the robed 9:
“Thus, we do not read the Second Amendment to protect the right of citizens to carry arms for any sort of confrontation, just as we do not read the First Amendment to protect the right of citizens to speak for any purpose.”

Excuse me, say what?????

It this a pussy decision by the Supremes? Right now it looks that way to me. I have to spend time reading and thinking about it. And who knows what other decisions will come after this, perhaps every 70 years or so.

UPDATE - my goodness, the work that went into this decision. They have dissected each and every word, and every phrase, and it’s alginment and strength relative to every other word and phrase. Then traced the history of each word and phrase, back to the year 1. Now I’m at the part where they discuss the history, and who wrote what when, and what that author meant when he wrote it. And every part they bring up, so far anyway, says essentially “HANDS OFF”. So I’m very interested in reading more to see how they go from these dozens of utterly unequivocal statements to the “it’s Ok for the right to be a limited one” that I think is the bottom line. It’s going to be a long night, or a long couple of days, as I’ve got things to do.

But, seeing how this right is universal to our citizens, I will venture an opinion: do we really need anything more than the Instant Background Check thingy we have today? As long as it can check to see a) have you been convicted of an offense that takes away your right to guns and that penalty still applies? and b) have you been found to be mentally incapable of handling the responsibility, and that judgement still applies? and that the government can be responsible in keeping the data up to date and accurate ... that’s enough. All transactions would have to go through one of these checks, and that’s it. No other rules are needed, anywhere. None. They aren’t needed. Because RIGHTS specify some of the things that you may do, and LAWS punish you for what you have done. It’s a Before and After thing. Anybody who has passed the check should be able to buy, own, and carry any kind of weapon anywhere at any time (my wife adds the interesting viewpoint that on private property if the owner wishes to deny you that right, then it should then become his duty and responsibility to provide security for you!). It is only when you MISUSE that right that the laws come into play. That’s all that laws do. They aren’t made out of magic. Passing a law doesn’t somehow make it impossible to take a certain action. Not at all. At best, law becomes part of a feedback loop; the citizen knows that X is illegal and understands why, and why this is right, and then adds X to the things he or she doesn’t do, and eventually incorporates the idea into their moral base. That’s the only way that law stops anyone from doing anything. For the most part, law only comes around later, after the fact, and puts the bite on you. And that’s my 2 cents at this point.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/26/2008 at 10:22 AM   
Filed Under: • Guns and Gun Control •  
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calendar   Wednesday - June 25, 2008

Happiness is new lead

Sixteen to the Pound


Happy Day!! Not only did my tax return check show up today, I also got my first batch of new bullets from my west coast friend Maurice. You think I’m a gun junkie? Ha!! He made the last batch from straight wheel weights and they worked just fine. This batch is cast from a complicated formula that uses wheel weights, bar solder, birdshot, and linotype and results in an alloy very very close to the proverbial Lyman #2 alloy, but with added arsenic. This means they can be heat hardened to a very high degree, and that the hardening should last a long time. And hardened lead can be shot faster without leaving a mess.

You see, the thing about lead is that it is very soft. So soft, in fact, that you can’t actually shoot pure lead bullets very fast without them tearing up a lot inside the barrel of your gun. So bullet casters add some tin, some antimony, and sometimes some arsenic to the mix. In the right proportions you wind up with an alloy that is thick enough to carry plenty of mass for a good hard hitting bullet, thin enough so that the liquid metal can easily fill all the little nooks and crannies in the mould, soft enough so that it will distend - what shooters call mushrooming - when it hits something, thereby cutting a much bigger hole, yet hard enough so that it can take the high pressures necessary to launch the bullet at a respectable velocity. This ought to be the perfect mix. I have to send him a quick Thank You email, and find out if this bunch has been water hardened, or heat hardened, or just air dropped. Then I have to go about figuring the proper amounts of the right kind of gunpowder to shoot them at the right pressure, and see if they’re accurate. If he hasn’t oven treated them, I’ll set a dozen aside and cure them in my own oven, and see if that makes a difference.

Ooh, what lovely things these bullets are. They might look pretty messy to you, but that mess you see is the lubricant. He gave them a double dip in the Lee Liquid Alox lube, before and after sizing them to .460”. I’ll wipe the extra off after they’ve been loaded up. The bullets pictured here are cast from the very well designed Ranch Dog TLC 460-425 RF mold and weigh in at 433 grains each - almost exactly one entire ounce per bullet. Which is exactly what they should weigh. The bit of brass on the end is actually a bit of brass. It’s called a gas check and helps to keep the furnace hot burning gunpowder gases from messing up the end of the bullet when you shoot it. Plus it helps seal the bore a little, and that usually adds to the velocity. There are two aspects to the Ranch Dog bullet design that make it superior. All their bullets are actually designed to shoot in lever action rifles, which means the bullets can’t be very pointy. Ranch Dog developed the nose shape to feed perfectly in these rifles, plus made the nose as aerodynamic as possible given that it has a significant meplat. The meplat is the name for the flat end of the nose of the bullet. A big meplat cuts a big hole in your target, instead of just pushing things to the side the way pointy bullets do. A large meplat adds to the drag, but vastly increases the bullet’s hitting power, even if the bullet doesn’t mushroom.  The other great part of the Ranch Dog design is the number and shape of the lubrication grooves. Most cast bullets only have one or two grooves. Sometimes 3. This one has 8. Nearly half the bearing surface - the parallel sides of the main body of the bullet that rub against the inside of the barrel - is lubricant. This means the Ranch Dog is a very low friction bullet, which means it will shoot faster at a given amount of gas pressure. And faster is almost always better. Now add in the nature of the alloy and the hardening, and you’ve got a bullet that can be pushed very hard but is still soft enough to expand to about 1” in diameter when it hits the target. Like a deer. Or a bear. Or an elk. And a bigger hole, all the way through and out the other side, is always better. Always.

I have a very strong “magnum throated” .45-70 (almost a .45-90) rifle so I can safely test these bullets at pressures in the 52,000 psi range. With the right powders it should not be hard to get these babies going 2000 feet per second. Maybe 2100. Yes, that’s nearly as much power as an elephant gun. But I figure, hey, what with Global Warming and all, I’d best be prepared in case those pesky polar bears starting invading New Jersey.

Whoo hoo! I needed an excuse to go shooting anyway. 


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/25/2008 at 01:44 PM   
Filed Under: • Guns and Gun Control •  
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calendar   Saturday - June 21, 2008

A well deserved Darwin Award

Man accidentally kills himself while trying to rob a Grand Prairie home

A 19-year-old man accidentally shot and killed himself Tuesday morning while he was attempting to rob a Grand Prairie home, authorities said.

Cameron Sands, 19, of Fort Worth kicked in the door of the house and then shot himself in the stomach as he pulled a gun out of his pants to shoot the homeowner, Grand Prairie police said.  The homeowner was not injured.

After Mr. Sands shot himself, he dropped the gun and ran out of the home.  Police found his body around 5:30 a.m. in the driveway of the home in the 2800 block Garden Grove Road, said Lt. John Brimmer, a Grand Prairie police spokesman.

“This is the first that I’ve heard of a robbery suspect killing himself as he is drawing a gun out of his waist band,” Lt. Brimmer said. “The criminal evidence points to that. It certainly isn’t common.”

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner has ruled the death an accident.

And the homeowner didn’t even have to help. Too bad. Guess genius boy here forgot one of the basic ideas behind guns: gently squeeze the trigger after aiming the gun. D’oh!


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/21/2008 at 11:46 AM   
Filed Under: • Guns and Gun Control •  
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calendar   Friday - June 13, 2008

Where the Hell is Heller?

NRA/ILA email de jour:

New Jersey Assembly Committee Passes Gun Ban!

Jeez, that didn’t take long. It was only a couple days ago that this stinker was even introduced. I guess it was golden as written, and hardly needed any changes or debate.

Please Contact Your Assemblymembers Today!
Today, Thursday, June 12, the New Jersey Assembly Judiciary Committee passed A2116 by a vote of 5-1.

As passed, the legislation will ban virtually all firearms over .50 caliber. While the Committee attempted to address some of the concerns of gun owners and sportsmen, it still bans many popular hunting guns, historical American firearms, and large bore target firearms, based on alleged public safety concerns.  Included are historical American firearms and replicas, including those from the Revolutionary War and Civil War eras. The legislation makes the fundamental mistake of banning guns based on the size of the barrel rather than punishing criminal behavior.

Proponents of the ban attempted to demonize a whole class of firearms and their owners by claiming the only intent of these firearms is criminal misuse. Testifying before the committee as legal and technical experts of .50 caliber firearms were NRA Board Members Scott Bach, Bob Viden and John Burtt.

Please call and thank the lone opponent of this legislation, Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (R-12), at (732) 866-1695 and thank her for her efforts in defending New Jersey’s sporting and firearms heritage.  Also please immediately email, call, and/or fax your Assemblymembers and respectfully urge them to oppose A2116!

Because we all know that terrorists and gang bangers are out there shooting down airplanes with muzzle loading black powder muskets. “the only intent of these firearms is criminal misuse”. What a load of whore shit. I own a black powder revolver. While it’s fun to shoot, the damn thing takes nearly 8 minutes to load. No let’s consider how many thousands of otherwise law abiding people who would become criminals because of this bill. Every family with great grandpa’s rusty boomstick in the attic or over the fireplace. Every restaurant with a colonial past or motiff. They all have old guns hanging up too. Bada bing, instant criminals.

This is death by incrementalism. First they ban the really large caliber stuff. Then they ban the regular large caliber stuff - because, you know, there is only 0.049” difference between a .50 and a .45. And only 0.091” difference between a .50 and a .40 (which are actually .409"). Then they go for the middle calibers. What a dose of crap. Fuckin communists.

Introducing the new Drew Jersey bill A0001: A bill to ban the government of New Jersey, because the only intent of this government is criminal misuse.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/13/2008 at 11:56 AM   
Filed Under: • Guns and Gun Control •  
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calendar   Wednesday - June 11, 2008

Ants in the Pants

Where the heck is the SCOTUS decision on DC v Heller already? It’s the middle of June for crissakes. You don’t want to start a revolution in the middle of winter you know. Do it when the weather is still nice.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/11/2008 at 12:32 PM   
Filed Under: • Guns and Gun Control •  
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calendar   Tuesday - June 10, 2008

You have Got to be Kidding Me

today’s email from the NRA/ILA:

New Jersey Assembly Committee to Consider Gun Ban Bill!

Bill is an Attack on Sportsmen, Collectors, and Target Shooters!

On Thursday morning, June 12, the New Jersey Assembly Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider legislation that would ban the purchase, transfer, or inheritance of many popular hunting guns, historical American firearms, and large bore target firearms, based on alleged public safety concerns.  The bill would ban any rifle with a bore diameter larger than .50 caliber, including many modern and antique hunting and target firearms.

Touted as a ban on .50 caliber and larger firearms,
Phone: 609-395-9911
Fax: 609-395-9032

Assemblyman Peter Barnes, III (D-18), Vice Chair
Phone: 732-548-1406
Fax: 732-548-1623

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (R-12)
Phone: 732-866-1695
Fax: 732-866-4262

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-15)
Phone: 609-292-0500
Fax: 609-633-2179

Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-13)
Phone: 732-787-1170
Fax: 732-787-0356

Assemblywoman Grace Spencer (D-29)
Phone: 973-624-1730
Fax: 973-589-0716

Even in the lunatic state of New Jersey, does this bill even stand a chance? It’s going to lump large caliber rifles and pistols under the “destructive devices” category. Not because they’re used in crime. Not because they shoot explosive ammunition. Just because. Because the government has decided that a half inch or large hole made by a bullet is too big. Except, shotguns, which can fire bullets known as slugs, are very often larger than half an inch in diameter. Actually, shotguns are the only modern firearm you’re allowed to hunt deer with in the state of NJ, because rifles are a no-no. And we’re hip deep in deer.

So gather up the pencils and get out the phones. It’s time to take these idiots to task once again.

On the 3rd hand, this bill isn’t up for a vote in the Senate. It’s going into Committee. It could be in there forever, or never come out. So, is this just more scaremail from the NRA? Or is it necessary to watch these asswipes in Trenton like rabid hawks, and pounce and tear the very instant they get another dipshit idea in their empty little liberal heads?


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/10/2008 at 08:46 PM   
Filed Under: • Guns and Gun Control •  
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
  1. Keep a firm grasp of Right and Wrong
  2. Stay involved with government on every level and don't let those bastards get away with a thing
  3. Use every legal means to defend yourself in the event of real internal trouble, and, most importantly:
  4. Keep talking to each other, whether here or elsewhere
It's been a long strange trip without you Skipper, but thanks for pointing us in the right direction and giving us a swift kick in the behind to get us going. Keep lookin' down on us, will ya? Thanks.


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