January 2013 Journal

December 26-31, 2012

Took the rest of the year off. Happy New Year

December 25, 2012, Tuesday, Christmas Day

The Redhead with some of her Christmas SWAG. She's showing off a poker book. The diamond earrings were smaller, I suppose. Note Angelique committing dog harassment in the background.

The Redhead also wanted a poker weight. Here it displays one side of her poker personality, the Queen of Hearts

The other side

I received a new cap

and a new Nikon.

Angelique doing her Christmas dance

George doing his

Wild Horse John, in Cheyenne, canceled his barbeque

December 21-24, 2012

Well, the world didn't end. Moving on.

I traded the new H & R Buffalo Classic to Johnny Meadows for his .38-55 and a set of RCBS Cowboy dies. His was well prepped for Plainsman. Using the dies I made up a batch of test ammunition using 245 gr. LRNFP SPG lubed BP bullets from Chey-Cast. A slightly compressed load was 43.5 gr. Goex Express FFg. I also made up some 30 gr. loads with walnut media filler. After someone on Facebook made comments about the full-charge loads being too much for the targets, I made a minimum smoke round. Then on Monday I tested them. They all hit the 25 yard target. I'll make up some of each now.

The first .38-55 round.

Additionally, Doc Noper sent me 3 shotgun belts for testing for an article. I had told him if he really wanted to impress me, he could make one that would hold 12-15 .38-55 rounds that would allow me to pull a bunch at once without them binding. The main reason to go to .38-55s from .45-70 was to get skinnier, easier to handle rounds. I'll have photos later. The Plainsman belt has canvas loops on a leather belt. It is not elastic. The idea works very well with .38-55s. I can grab 5. So far I can't MANAGE 5 at once, but I'll practice. In any case, the limiting factor won't be the belt.

December 20, 2012. Thursday

Last week I bought a pair of extremely expensive hearing aids that I couldn't get from the VA (at least in over a year of fighting I couldn't). Picked them up today. Markedly better than the ones the VA has. They bought from the lowest bidder. Has all of the Bluetooth, etc. The distance I can understand speech is longer. Background noise is still a problem, but not as bad. Loud background noise will overwhelm speech. Dinner at Olive Garden was considerably more bearable, and I could understand The Redhead. It comes with a "SurfLink Mobile". You put that near what you're trying to hear, such as The Redhead, TV, etc., and it will stream to the hearing aids. I have a 90 day trial period. Went through the NRA for an alleged discount. Good treatment all the way so far.

Finished loading .45 ACP. Now I have over 1200 rounds of .45 ACP, nearly all match grade. Ran them all through the EGW chamber checker. The only rejects were the 5 upside down primers in 1000+ rounds. Bullet puller, saved the powder, brass, and bullets. Loaded again. This is probably enough to get through WR because I don't practice WR much. Time is better spent on main match guns, and the 1911 is hard on the arthritic thumb.

December 19, 2012, Wednesday

More loading. 45 ACP is probably the easiest caliber I load. Lube the cases so the powder doesn't bounce out, a little One-Shot Case lube, and everything goes pretty smoothly. The RF100 got just a bit out of adjustment. Got a few upside down primers. Cleaned and readjusted the orange plastic bushing.

December 18. 2012. Tuesday

More cleanup and re-mounted the XL650 and started loading .45 ACP.

December 17, 2012, Monday

Cleaned up, or I should say started cleaning the shop. The leaking ac unit had defied my feeble efforts to catch the water in a big plastic tub, and a lot of things were wet.

December 16, 2012, Sunday

Much better weather. The Wild Bunch match had "experimental" stages. Full magazines were allowed on all stages. With my arthritic thumbs, this became a problem. The 8 round McCormick's don't lock the slide back reliably, which is why I don't use them anymore, but some stages had so many rounds I had to use them, and one 30 round stage was best done with one 8, then a 7, then an 8, then 7. Had to rack the slide after both 8s. That, by the way, is a malfunction, so you can load the magazine then rack the slide.

Stage 4 had 20 rifle rounds (2 rifles), 18 shotgun rounds (3 shotguns used), and 49 pistol rounds.

Stage 5 had 10 rifle rounds, 24 shotgun rounds, and 63 pistol rounds. I won't be able to keep shooting WB if this becomes the norm. The arthritic thumb hurts to the elbow, and the ulnar nerve hurts from wrist to shoulder, and I'm writing this on Tuesday.

December 15, 2012, Saturday

The forecast was 80% rain, high in the low 50s. Went anyway. Accurate forecast.

The 2 posses of diehards that braved the forecast

The forecast was accurate. The rains came. Here shooters from our posse use up the only roofed structure around stages 1-3. You might note that the photo was taken from OUTSIDE of the roofed structure. No room at the inn. Kept the percussion pistols working pretty well in the rain, 2 cap only ignitions. Both fired when new cap put on after the stage was over. One of those was in the pouring rain at stage 2, the only one used that didn't have a roof over the shooting area. Guns very slippery. Terrible time. Reminded me of the Hell On Wheels I was winning until shooting 12th stage under similar conditions. Good practice. This could happen at Winter Range. It has before. If it's likely I'll have the rain cover on the gun cart. I decided I need a pack of clean shop towels in a plastic bag for days like this. Ran out of dry cloth to dry hands before shooting.

When I got back to the bus the shop trailer's leaky AC unit had managed to defeat my feeble attempts at catching the water with a tub, and some gun cases I was planning to use with Wild Bunch guns tomorrow were wet. Tomorrow's Wild Bunch match is what I call "Wild Bunch From Hell." 220 pistol rounds. One stage has 20 rifle rounds and 24 shotgun rounds. Forgot the pistol count on that one. It's experimental. Good. I only have 300 rounds of .45 ACP.

Deadeye Al sent me this picture, taken at the 2 day match:

Either his camera or one of his programs has a "vivid" mode, or he ratcheted up the saturation. Looks great, better than reality.

Then got the guns ready for two days of matches at Cowtown. Cowboy Saturday, Wild Bunch Sunday.

Yesterday's tragedy: I wrote something about it and deleted it. Nothing written is going to help.



December 14,2012, Friday

Phone meeting with our money guy at USAA. Things would be better if the idiots at the Fed weren't keeping interest rates so artificially low, but we're doing okay. Then took The Redhead to Enterprise so she could get her $9.95/day rental for poker playing.


December 13, 2012

Went to the Luke AFB BX, Commissary, Class 6 store and the gas station. Significant savings are available with planning. It's too far away to go every week, but some commissary items are 40-50% below street prices, and none of the above stores charge sales tax. The Redhead didn't want to go because of the distance, but she bought things at the BX and paid $110 for about $140-150 of groceries at the commissary. Regular unleaded was 20¢ a gallon below Anthem prices. The staff at the commissary were very friendly and helpful. The aisles are very wide, and most of the customers were retirees.

On the way (well, kinda) went to Dillon and picked up the 650 and case feeder. I think the only part of the case feeder that hasn't been changed is the cord and the disk. 3rd motor was put in, $70. It's 13, so that's reasonable. Everything else was free. The 650 rebuild was free, too, and it looks like new. Almost everything but the frame, handle, dies and die mounting plate are new. The case feeder mounting tube was replaced. It works fine but was scratched up because I clamp a work light onto it.

Jack Houston sent this in an email. If you get the Harbor Freight Tool emails or fliers it'll make sense.


December 11-12, 2012

Arthur Pendragon takes "Power nap" to a new level.

I got an interesting letter today:

Hi, I was wondering what your opinion is of the sass vaqueros with the low hammer and 4 3/4 inch barrel? I have two new vaqueros and one old vaquero, all in 357, and 5 1/2 inch barrel. they are all great. I follow your journal regularly, but I could have missed anything you had on this question. I live in Saskatchewan, too cold to go to the range, minus 29 celsius. What's that in Fahrenheit? about minus 15, I think. CAS has quite a following up here, and it is getting bigger.
Ken Granberg
Candle Lake Saskatchewan

My Response:

The 4-3/4. to me, handles just like the 5.5. I shoot 5.5" Old Armies and have 4-3/4" New Vaqueros and old Vaqueros. The small frame of the New Vaquero fits me better and points more naturally. The low hammer was designed for duelist shooting. I got my new Vaqueros used, and they came with both hammers. I used the low (Super Blackhawk) hammers and found that they were easier on my arthritic thumb for duelist shooting, but when I shot two-handed, I was hitting the web of my shooting hand with the hammer, preventing the hammer from reaching the full-cock notch, causing it to skip a round. I changed to the high hammer, and the problem pretty much went away. I've noticed that two-handed shooters who like the low hammers have had their guns short-stroked, which cures the problem.

Evil Roy gave me a pretty good pitch for the high hammer. He says you want your strong hand as high as possible on the grips to keep the barrel axis low to minimize muzzle flip, and the high hammer works best for that--with 2 hands.

World Champion Lady Wrangler Texas Tiger just had Jimmy Spurs build her a couple of new Vaqueros, and she specified the high hammers. They're not short-stroked, but they have the half-cock notch that keeps the gun from bypassing a round if you don't reach the full cock notch. Again, two hands, high hammer, one hand, low hammer.

I had 2 of my Old Armies hammers re welded to the low profile and really like it for duelist, which is required for Frontiersman. Unfortunately one of them just isn't as reliable as the other pair of Old Armies with high hammers, so I shoot the high hammers. They work with light springs, a big deal with Old Armies, and I'm afraid to change anything.

If you want to try the low hammers on your guns, you can get them from Brownell's, and they're drop-in. They'll fit both sizes. Get Super Blackhawk hammers. They might be on back order, but they do get them. Several gunsmiths have them, too.

Of course, if you want an excuse for buying new guns, get the SASS Vaqueros.

Practice at Cowtown:

Beautiful day for practicing, low 50s, light wind. Cowtown is an eerie ghost town when you're alone.

This is stage 1 at Cowtown. You can see 5 pistol targets and 2 of the 4 shotgun knockdowns. The 5 rifle targets are across the "navigable waterway" (that's environmental wacko for what we might call a dry wash.) No targets may be placed on the "navigable waterway, so the rifle targets are either too far, like this, or too close, well, too close for some. Having been in a gunfight where everyone missed at contact range, I'm of the opinion that targets can't be too close. When it's calm, the cross light makes the targets disappear in a white cloud. I worked up some "minimal but legal smoke" loads for the pistols just for here.

Stage 2--4 pistol targets, 4 rifle, and 4 shotgun (2 visible)

Stage 3--4 pistol targets, 4 rifle targets, 4 shotgun targets (not visible). We have had to shoot at the rifle targets with pistols and vice versa.

Winchester Model 12s will soon be legal for Wild Bunch. Tex just sent me this from Mike Daly (Birdshot). Some good information in there if you're considering a Model 12 for Wild Bunch.

A few thoughts on Winchester Model 12 shotguns.

Without a doubt, the Winchester Model 12 it is the finest pump gun
of the time and some would say it is the finest pump gun ever. But the
Model 12 is not some simple design that never fails and is always safe.
If a shooter is going to get into shooting Model 12's in a competitive
manner, they need to learn about the shotgun and they need to find a
gunsmith who knows how to work on them. Very few gunsmiths today know
all there is to know about keeping a Winchester Model 12 safe and
working well. Here are a few of the things that should be looked at
when buying a Model 12.

1) is the firing pin in one piece? Often, the nose of the firing
pin will break off and stick in the firing pin hole in the breech face.
The result will be a slam fire every time the action is closed. It is
possible for the slam fire to occur prior to the bolt closing resulting
in a ruptured shell spewing hot materials out the right side of the
shotgun. Of course, there is no interrupter in the Model 12 and holding
the trigger back while pumping the gun will result in slam fires. Buy
extra firing pins in the correct gauge.

2) learn how to examine the locking recess in the top of the
receiver so you can identify a shotgun that is worn out resulting in a failure
of the bolt to rise into a fully locked position. Repairing a shotgun
that has a battered locking recess requires welding up the receiver,
re-milling the locking recess and re timing the shotgun. Not many
people know how to do this anymore and it is pretty expensive.

3) Make certain you know the chamber length and are using the
correct ammunition. Both 16 and 20 gauge guns have used more than one
chamber length over the lifetime of the Model 12.

4) Make certain that the serial numbers on the forend assembly match
the serial numbers on the receiver. Over the past 100 years, there
have been many fakes put together. Serial numbers on the forend are
easily changed to match the serial numbers on the receiver either
making a fake multi-barrel set to replacing a damaged or ruined forend.
This can result in a shotgun with incorrect headspace and/or timing.

5) There are 5 slack adjusting rings for Model 12 shotguns in 12 gauge. It is not uncommon for the slack adjuster to be improperly adjusted or for a shotgun to have the wrong slack adjuster in place. There is also an adjustable headspace ring that could be mis-adjusted by a home gunsmith or gunsmith who does not understand the Model 12.

6) Be very careful about having choke tubes installed in Model 12 barrels. Many barrels are too thin to safely have this done. Do not trust the local guy for this. Use a specialist in shotguns who knows thin walled tubes. Briley comes to mind.

7) There are tons of Model 12 shotguns with funky choke devices in place on the barrel. You can get a real bargain on one of these, cut the barrel off so you have a cylinder barrel and add a new brass bead sight.

8) According to a Pre and Post World War II vintage Winchester Model 12 assembler, there were 18 hand filed and fitted pieces in the trigger group of a Model 12. Unless properly trained, a guy with a file will ruin the timing nearly every time. Use care and get a professional's assistance when work is required.


Mike -- many thanks for the "heads up!" We had one of our guys
shooting a Model 12 a few weeks ago. I don't remember the details
now … but as one point he had a loaded shotgun, needed to get it open
and safe … and none of us had a clue how to help him! This will be a
learning experience for all of us!

Thanks again! (I'll pass this to Happy Jack (Wild Bunch RO Committee) for their info. Would there be any problem if we chose to print this?)


Re: Model 12 Winchesters and Cowboy Action Shooting

There would be no problem with printing it but you might want to edit
it to a more advisory piece. I have somewhere around 30 Winchester
Model 12's and don't know near enough about working on some aspects of
them. I just purchased a beautiful 20 gauge that was made in 1954, was
about 95 percent but it was out of time and the hammer would fall
before the bolt was locked. I sent it to gunsmith who has a huge
reputation and told him to replace the butt plate and regime it.
Three months later, I got it back with a scratch on the barrel and
still out of time. When I confronted him about the timing issue, he
had no idea what I was talking about. When I showed him how to
identify an out of time Model 12, he said " That's normal". When I cash
owed him a copy of a Model 12 technical manual that identified the
issue and gave the remedy, he told me Winchester didn't know what they
were talking about. This is typical of younger gunsmiths and older
gunsmiths who did not serve an apprenticeship.

There are lots of parts changers who can get by on a Remington 870
but they are dangerous on a Model 12. There will be cowboy action
gunsmiths who will claim they can safely install screw chokes in a
Model 12. This is very dangerous and should only be done by truly
professional barrel companies. Briley's has an ultra thin tube that
can go into some Model 12 barrels but some barrels are just too thin.
There are also a very small number of 3 and 4 bladed Damascus barrels
on some custom order, early Model 12s.

I also hate to see large numbers of Model 12s ruined or worn out as
happened with the Model 97.

I would advise Wild Bunch shooters who want a Model 12 to buy 12 or
16gauge guns that already have a polychoke or Lyman choke as the value
has already been reduced so they are cheaper to buy and are not
collectors items. (NOTE: ONLY 12 GA ARE ALLOWED--CR)

Model 12's are wonderful shotguns but like all of the old guns, they
are not designed for the abuse that is simply a part of competitive

Reply from Tex:

I ran into something similar years ago with my single actions … took
an out of time Colt to a local gunsmith … two months later it still
wasn't working and he advised me to purchase a new cylinder for the
gun! I thanked him, retrieved my revolver, and gave it to Bob Munden
at the next END of TRAIL. It came back working the next morning! Just
have to find somebody who knows what he's doing!

I really didn't realize those old guns were so involved and
potentially "delicate!"


Subject: Re: Model 12 Winchesters and Cowboy Action Shooting

I think that what we often forget is that the Model 12 design and some
of the guns are over 100 years old. It was not designed for the hard
use competitive speed shooting puts on these guns. They are not so
much delicate as they need to be looked after like any quality machine.

There are many, many Model 12s that are great candidates for Wild Bunch
but the nice ones, the collector quality examples should be left alone
as there are no more being made.

Happy Jack contacted me about writing an article for the Chronicle. I
declined as I do not have the time to do it nor am I qualified to write
it. Mostly, it would be impossible to cover the material with text and
digital photos and actually have anyone understand. These things need
to be seen and felt to be understood.


To anyone looking for a good Wild Bunch shotgun, I'll add that Coyote Cap currently has some 93/97s. These are excellent guns and legal for Wild Bunch. They have all of the reliability modifications that Cap developed (and patented in some cases), and they have a thicker frame than Winchesters. Their steel is harder. Additionally, he has ordered 1200 IAC 97s that will have all of the mods and be race ready.

December 9-10, 2012

Mouser is a SASS 9 Life member.


Ran put of hulls and stopped reloading. 55 boxes of BP shells (color coded by hulls used). 22 boxes of factory smokeless.

I take a lot of time loading shotshells, lots of double-checking. Then all the rounds are inspected and run through a chamber checker. Those that pass are wiped with a cloth with Break Free on it and put in boxes marked "Match." Those that still look ok but failed that are put in "Practice" boxes without being lube wiped. Some rounds go directly into the trash, but not many. Usually the checking keeps me from having too many defects getting repeated too much. I did miss the fact that rounds started coming out crushed and wrinkled slightly. 8 that wouldn't go through the chamber checker resulted. The Dillon manual says to turn the stage 5 die up 1/2 turn at a time. It worked, then not enough crimp, so adjusted the center part down. Problem repeated, readjusted. After that it held for several hundred more rounds. Hulls are hard to get. I'm definitely looking for a new source.

December 8, 2012

Went to the ACSA match, 111 shooters. Excellent match as usual. 12 of us went to Chili's for lunch. Couldn't hear a damn thing in that environment.

December 5-7, 2012

I've had a Black Powder Conversion Chart in Captain Baylor's Ranger Camp for several years. When I made it up I had an adjustable powder measure that I adjusted to drop 100 gr. of Goex FFg. Then I filled it with several substitutes and weighed them, then made a chart based on that. I decided to do a new one starting with a known volume, in this case, a Lyman dipper of 4.0 cc's. Then I weighed that volume of Goex FFFg, Goex Express FFg, APP FFFg, Jim Shockey's Gold FFFg and FFg, Triple 7 FFFg and FFg and Pyrodex P and computed from 1 to 100 gr. volume conversions from that. BP Conversion Sheet (revised) Also there are a grains to ounce (for lead shot) and Drams to Grains BP.

Reloaded shotshells. One trip to Sportsman's for more shot. They actually had Federal Small Pistol Primers. Bought all they had.

December 3-4. 2012

Took the XL650 and the case feeder to Dillon. The 650 is getting a rebuild, n/c. The case feeder is getting a motor, $65. Also got a replacement 1" open end.7/16" box end thin wrench. The old one's jaws had stretched. The "H" series has the new heat treating.

Got 1000 Speer .457 round lead balls via the internet. They're getting hard to get, and Sportsman's is getting $15.99 for 100 Hornady. Whenever I see Speer's there I buy them, but I'm not the only one in Phoenix doing so. They've gotten fiendishly expensive just like everything else in the reloading world. I'd given up finding any and was going to order cast round balls from Track of the Wolf, but shipping for 1000 was $26.95, which seemed a bit excessive. I normally get 65 lb. of bullets from S and S Casting for $15, Priority Mail, and they pack them well. Called TOTW and was treated snottily. Asked for someone in charge to call me back. Still waiting. While waiting, though, I found a place that was charging $13.10 for 100 Speer, but for 1000 they charged $6.95 for shipping, making the total about the same as Wolf's cast balls.

I understand the shortages of Federal Small Pistol Primers, but Remington #10 caps and .457 round balls aren't exactly 21st century tactical. Both are very hard to find at any sort of reasonable prices.

December 1-2, 2012

Judah Macabee using a loading stand to load his 1860 Armies. He has done all of the mods Larsen E. Pettifogger wrote about in The Cowboy Chronicle and Brimstone Pistoleros, and they're very smooth and easy to cock. If the hammers were re welded to Super Blackhawk angles I could shoot them. The hammers are too high for the arthritic thumb. Usually the clones are too stiff for me.

Went to Cowtown's "Shooting in the Saguaros." We hadn't made it since 2007 because it always conflicted with the SASS Convention (or the Convention conflicted with it depending on your point of view). Nice match. 78 shooters. Shot with Judah Macabee in Frontiersman. The smoke was terrible, dead calm almost every time I shot. Kid Thunder won Frontiersman (no surprise). Judah was second, I was 3rd. At least we had 4 so I wasn't dead last. Thought it was 5, with Lefty Dude shooting percussion, but he was entered in Frontier Cartridge Duelist, 1st out of 1. Catlow won FC, 1st out of 1. Choose your category wisely.