September 2012 Journal


This month's wallpaper (for those of you who can't see the wallpaper on your computer)

Raquel Welch, Hanna Caulder

August 31, 2012, Friday


August 25-30, 2012

RGR match Sunday. Muddled through. Rifle locked up and cost 10 when the loading gate got out of alignment and stuck open. The next day I had the rifle apart and couldn't get the screw loose to remove the loading gate.The slot, typical Uberti, was very hallow and had been rounded off. I don't remember ever working on it before. I could see the gate had slipped up 1/32" or so and would then rub and stick. Fiddling with it cured it. Still I'll order a new gate, screw, and right side plate.

Shot at Founders Ranch with Tex Thursday. The county allows ranch owners to shoot whenever they want to. The rifle worked perfectly.

Neighbor's Jeep, with bra that covers engine and windshield. Personally, I would have waited until it was attached to the tow bar before I covered the windshield, but that's just me.

August 17-24, 2012

Still recovering. Taking longer than expected.

Don['t know when our kitty posed with these dogs, but whoever did the labeling got it right, at least from the dogs' standpoint.

Got the right hearing aid and accessories from the VA. The gizmo with the cable to go around the neck is the Bluetooth receiver. The cable is an antenna to retransmit to the hearing aids. It works very well with the iPhone, less so with the TV. The other gizmo is a remote volume controller. It enables me to zoom to one direction or the other, theoretically in order to get away from excess noise. It had no effect when I've tried it in noisy environments, such as a Cracker Barrel with ceiling fans. I wound up removing both hearing aids in order to hear The Redhead across the table. All of these gadgets are wonderful. I can hear everything… except human speech. I recommend that you try not to go deaf. Hearing aids don't seem to work very well.

The PUBLIC RANGE at Founders Ranch is closed. I drove 42 miles to be greeted by this sign. Apparently they didn't get the proper permits from the county. This doesn't mean we won't be able to have matches t here and has nothing to do with their canceling Outlaw Trail. They had 14 entries when they did that. Having a match during the start of hunting season generally isn't a good idea.

August 16, 2012, Thursday

We've managed to go 5 years of RVing without a surge protector for the main wiring. Recently we've had several momentary power failures here. That's one of the problems of living off RV park electricity. Unfortunately that can take out one or both AC's. So I broke down and got a 50 Amp surge protector. Since they're easy to steal, and every RV park isn't as safe as this one in that respect, I also got a device that has to be defeated in order to disconnect the Surge Guard from the power cable. Right now it's got a padlock I happened to have, but a more substantial one will be acquired. I don't see many surge protectors on RV's, but I have encountered a couple of motor home owners who have had their electrical system fried. It's a lot of money, close to $400, but frying the electrics will cost a lot more.

AC's can be damaged by power going off and back on within 2 minutes, so this Surge Guard has a timer that counts down over 2 minutes before restarting power. It also protects against mis-wired power pedestals. It will shut down if voltage gets too low or too high as well. It has a LCD readout that tells you what it's doing when, for example, it doesn't restart because voltage is still below 102.

August 15, 2012, Wednesday

Okay, some of you right handed people complained about my showing the left handed version of the new Mernickle Wild Bunch Loading Strip/Magazine pouch. So here's the right handed version:

The new one is on our left. The "old" one is on our right. This is the outside view.

Inside view. Yes, the new one is no longer than the old one.

August 12-14, 2012

State of the art RV rig

Still too sick to go to the Wild Bunch match at FR.

Mernickle Wild Bunch Loading Strip/Magazine pouch

Sometime back Jack Houston sent me a photo of a loading strip with a slot for a magazine held horizontally. He asked me if it was a good idea. A customer had requested it. I said yes, send me one, and I'll write about it. He didn't, but I mentioned it in "Dispatches" anyway. Then I mentioned the idea to Bob Mernickle, and he kind of rejected it, saying he couldn't fill every niche. Fast forward, he showed me a prototype of this strip at EOT:

Bob Mernickle with the prototype at EOT.

This was a serious improvement because the magazine is held vertically, in an ambidextrous pouch (the magazine is shown below for a left-handed shooter in the photo but fits either way). To do this required a custom mold. Now when the strip is cut out it is also molded. It wasn't cheap. But now

a) you probably won't forget to load the magazine into your 1911

b) you may, if you wish, use this pouch for, say, an extra mag on a 35 round stage, 6 mags on your belt, 1 in the pistol, one more in case you drop one, or you may put your "Barney Fife" mag in it. That's a mag with 1 round in it for the situation where, for example, you jacked out a bad round, leaving only 4 to shoot in that mag, but you're shooting 5 from position 1, 5 from position 2, etc. Odds are, if you stick in a fresh mag, you'll shoot the 5th round and move without clearing the pistol and locking the slide back. Instant stage DQ. It's probably the most common reason for a SDQ in Wild Bunch. Now you grab the Barney Fife, fire the one round, and, while moving to the next position, drop the empty mag, inserting the new mag when you plant one foot. Now you're "in synch" with the stage.

I received a production strip today.

outside view. Note the ambidextrous mag pouch

inside view. The clip fits over a 2-1/2" Mernickle belt, of course. The loops are very tight, so leaving rounds in there until your first match is a good idea.

August 11, 2012

Still too sick to go to the HDD match.

Saw the latest Obama ad:

August 7-10, 2012

Was sick all week. The high dosage of corticosteroids built up, and, as I reached the end of the treatment, I developed a bunch of the side effects listed for the drug, according to The Redhead. I deliberately didn't look up the side effects, and the only thing I was warned about was high blood pressure. I checked that daily, and it was normal. But muscle weakness, shakiness, fatigue, blurred vision all occurred. Then withdrawal symptoms occurred, the worst being a terrible headache the entire week. It seemed to get worse instead of better.

On Friday went to the VA for the audiology appointment. Got the audiologist who fitted my left hearing aid. She ordered a hearing aid for the right ear. The hearing is not as bad there, and the hearing aid should actually work rather than just allow in screaming baby noises like the left one (slight exaggeration for effect). It will have Bluetooth accessories for the phone and TV. She put a rush on it since I have an ENT appointment on the 20th. She had put a rush on the first one. She said she spends a lot of her time talking to Phonak, the manufacturer.

August 6, 2012, Monday

.45 Colt Wild Bunch ammo

It takes longer to quality check rounds than to make them. Since I have thousands of rounds of .45 Colt brass and little money for new brass, unlike main match ammo, I use brass that has been used for big match ammo. I'll spend a lot of time selecting Starline brass, and I check it for splits before putting it into the "select" box.

My late 1990s Cimarron '73 carbine will not accept a round made to "book" specs. 1.600 might be in your reloading manual for OAL, but the rounds are too long, and they stick in the shell lifter. So I have to make sure they're loaded shorter. This isn't a problem as the crimp groove in a 200 gr. LRNFP, if used for the crimp, will result in a round 1.56-1.57. I check every match round with calipers pre-set to 1.58. If the round clears, it goes into the match box. Of course I watch and check the OAL frequently while loading.

When I start loading .45 Colt, I'll clean out the seating and crimping dies. They accumulate bullet lube, which changes OAL. I'll clean again after 500 rounds.

A roll crimp is used. The above shows the correct amount of crimp. I haven't found it necessary to try a Lee Factory Crimp die and use all Dillon dies. Unlike .45 ACP, bulged brass isn't a problem. Even loads that have a power factor of 180-200 don't seem to "work" the brass. The crimp is taken out, but that's about it. It's a big case, and I haven't found a powder that is as consistent as WST in .45 ACP.

Every match round goes into a chamber checker. This will catch bulged case mouths and most split cases.

This round has a burr on the rim, making it not fit in the chamber checker

August 4-5, 2012

Went to Founders Ranch both days, Bighorn Vigilantes Saturday, BRR Sunday. After 6 weeks of corticosteroids for the hearing loss problem, I have no stamina, and the arm muscles start shaking after a while. Not great for shooting 6 states. Last stages not good either day. Very tired when done.

I made the mistake of mentioning the hearing problems on Facebook. I'll try not to do that again. The situation is the left ear went bad last year, no surprise as the left tympanic membrane had been ruptured when a tank fired its main gun next to my head--and then I spent a year in combat and a lot of time in noisy helicopters. It's catching up with me. The right ear went bad in May and has been up and down, now down all of the time. I have a left ear hearing aid from the VA that is now not worth much. The left ear has deteriorated beyond the ability of hearing aids to help, and the ENT was talking of a Baha implant to take the sound from the left side and transfer it by bone conduction to the right. But now the right has gone to hell, so I don't know what they'll do now. Apparently neither does the ENT.

I've been using SportEar hearing protection for several years. They qualify as hearing aids and were adjusted to my audiograms. The right one still gets in enough sound for me to shoot and hear the beeper and commands and the like. I have to get close to the guy reading the stages, and I don't hear people who aren't within 10 feet of me.

August 1-3, 2012

If an 18" machete is a "HOME ACCESSORY," where do you live?

The ears have definitely left the building. The right ear is varying between awful and just pretty bad. Sometimes I can hear the TV without using the wireless headphones. But with some shows the headphones aren't enough. Background music makes the speech unintelligible. This is true in real life, too. Harbor Freight has backgro8nd music, and I couldn't understand anyone speaking near me. Men's voices just disappear. Screaming babies and shrill voices come through loud and clear.

Got an email from Tex at about 1530 that Bighorn Vigilantes are having a match at Founders ranch tomorrow. Fortunately I'm flexible, so I put the gear in the car. They really need to get the word out about their schedule a little ahead of time.

I've been trying to get good pictures of good and bad .45 ACP rounds, and it's a task that seems to be beyond the capabilities of my equipment. What I need is a macro lens and a stand to put the camera on. What I went and got was a set of close up filters from apparently the only camera store left in ABQ. The depth of field is very short even with the lens stopped down to the limits of the light. The in focus point is about .01" from out of focus when hand holding the camera, too, so I had a lot of out of focus shots.

This is about as good as I'm going to get it, I think. On the left is the most desirable style of bullet, certainly the most popular among the people that actually win Wild Bunch matches, nominally 230 gr. The ones shown are from These are by Bang N Clang Bullets (575) 853-3664, email: PO Box 797, Magdalena, NM 87825. The round in the middle is loaded to the proper length, with the case mouth right at the edge of the "groove". A slight taper crimp leaves an edge so the round will headspace on the case mouth. The one on the right has been loaded just a fraction long. It probably will chamber, but it might not.