17 January 2009

On Guns and Ammo

OK, so I'm an ammo geek. I totally get absorbed into the minute details of handloading vs factory loading, maintained energy, bullet drop, shot patterning.... I love it. It's the best possible combination of tech geek and gun geek.

And I come by it honestly. Grandpa taught me.

And when I say Grandpa taught me, let me modify that. He gave me the Atlas Powders Shotshell Reloading recipe manual the same time I was working my way through Everybody Poops. This man is the definition of a shooter. By the time he retired from McDonnell Douglas in the early 90's, he had more shooting trophies than he could fit on every available counter in his basement. They were stacked on the floor in the bathroom (next to the Johnston 55hp outboard that he kept in the shower, and anywhere else he could put them that would keep Grandma happy.

In other words, many an hour of my formative years were spent in the basement of my Grandpa's house, working up new 12 gauge loads, and then taking them to the range to chrony and pattern them. And I wouldn't trade a single moment. Well, other than the time I got my hand caught in the 12 gauge press between the wad guide collar and the shot drop tube. Even then, I learned an important lesson about the left hand remembering what the right hand is doing. A painful lesson, but a lesson nonetheless.

So, it's fair to say that I come by love of things that go bang naturally.

In my last guns post, I got a wonderful question from reader JPG as to why there were no bolt guns or wheelguns in the the pics I posted. That's an excellent question, and one that has a good answer.

I was out of ammo for them that weekend, so they stayed in the safe. Mr. Toad had been deficient in keeping his loading up to spec, and was therefore (gasp!) out of the plinking rounds that tend to go with bachelor parties.

Personally, I only have two wheelguns, though I am lusting after a nice 8 shot .17HMR revolver. The funds situation being what it is, I'll likely be waiting for a while on that one.

Wheelie number one is a beautiful Smith and Wesson model 60 in a satin nickle finish that my Dad gave me a few years ago. Chambered in the oh-so-potent .357 mag, and with a 4” barrel, she shoots like a dream, but is a little too big and heavy for everyday carry.

Number two is an ancient Smith and Wesson model 10 police special with a special provenance. I inherited it from my dad's dad when he died, and he had received it from a buddy of his in the late 1930's. The story goes that this particular pistol was stolen from one of St. Louis's first FBI officers in the 20's, and then used in a triple homicide in St. Louis city. The city police recovered the pistol, and after using it as evidence to send the killer to hang by the neck, it was passed to the chief of police the newly formed village of Bel-Nor in north St. Louis county. This gentleman, who was good buddies with my granddad, then passed this revolver on to him, so that he could help protect the neighboring community (and our home village) of Bellerive Acres.

And from him, it came to me. Kind of a cool story, and good proof that the gun will go bang when you need it to. She's a safe queen, but I love her nonetheless.

And then there are the bolt action rifles. I personally have 3, and they're all straight shooters. That being said, as two of the three wear glass that is significantly more expensive than the rifle itself, I generally don't bring them out for plinking. They're serious guns, for serious purposes. A Remington 700 in .270 is the bambi slayer, and a Remington 700 police edition in .300 win mag for anything bigger.

And then there's the war horse from Grandpa Charlie. A stunning Springfield 1903 in .30-06, fully restored. Grandpa, in 2001, agreed to help his local VFW post as a volunteer gunsmith. The post has a HUGE collection of 1903's for parade and funeral use, and they were falling into disrepair. Several weren't functioning, and none of them were pretty. So, 5 rifles at a time, Grandpa took these old warhorses, and restored them to a state of beauty that hadn't been seen since they left the factory in the waning days of the 1920's.

As thanks for his services, the post offered him 5 of the rifles to sell to pay for his time. Grandpa, wonderful man that he is, refused, and asked that the post transfer one rifle to him, and one each to my dad, my brother, and myself. And I got a beauty.

Sleek of stock, with perfect bluing, and almost no wear in the chamber or on the bolt, this rifle shoots as true as the day she left the armory at Springfield, Mass. And with her massive weight, she's the perfect transition step from a .22 rifle to a modern bolt action. She doesn't kick, just pushes on your shoulder to let you know she's still there.

If she wasn't so pretty, she'd be my deer rifle. But, I have a fugly 700 with a synthetic stock, and she doesn't care what the temperature or humidity is, and if I mar that fugly stock with a barbed wire fence, I don't care. If I were to do that to my 1903, I just might cry.

Now, I'm not one of those pantywaists that refuses to take a pretty gun out of the safe. The 1903 makes many a happy trip to the range. I just think that she's served her time in the field, and it's time to live a life of sweet semi-retirement. She's a piece that I look forward to giving my son or daughter someday.

1 comment:

  1. Hey bro: had to link you. You hail from the area that has my favorite named BACA chapter (Toadsuck).

    Welcome to the internets!