Category Archives: Firearms

These are our BOOM STICKS!!!!

Possible Bag

by Woodsbum

The art and skill associated with muzzleloading, particularly traditional designs, has become something of a scarcity in today’s world. The more I gravitate back to those older tools and traditions the more I see that there is less and less support available. Whether this is by design for by consumer preference that drives different industries doesn’t really matter. The symptom is the same either way. I end up having to build or modify my own gear 90% of the time.

Let’s take for instance my pursuit of an old school style possible bag. For those of you who are not sure what a possible bag is, let me elaborate. A possible(s) bag is used to store your odds and ends needed when shooting black powder firearms. These bags are designed to hang across your body with a strap and, in all reality, resemble a colonial purse. You could call it a murse for gun crap I suppose. The real problem I ran into while trying to find one that was “manly” enough and had a long enough strap was that most are built in Asia and designed for the average worker over there. If you are over 5’5″ tall, you no longer have a bag. You have a necklace.

At first I was going to build my own. I figure that it couldn’t be too hard to do. The old school shooters built theirs with less equipment and probable lack of Corona to drink while sewing. That means that I should be good, right?

Lucky for me I found a company that builds the items they sell on site and at a reasonable price. Most “custom” orders or “special order” bags I looked at were in the $180 – $250 range. October Country Muzzleloading hooked me up. A guy names John answered the phone over there, answered all my questions, and they added an extra 12″ of strap to my bag at no extra charge.

You catch that? No extra charge for the extra length strap.

The bag was ordered on Thursday morning. By Friday, the bag was already built and shipped. The special order bag was built the same day as being ordered and was in the mail the next day.

Here is the bag:

Possible bag with really long strap

Possible bag with really long strap

As you can see, I kind of over guessed the length I need. When I told them 72″ long I thought that the very end of the strap would be 72″. They measured from the top most whole. This really isn’t a big deal because I know how to poke holes in leather and can cut the end if I need to. I probably won’t cut it and will just put stropping compound on the back of it so I can sharpen knives in the field. Either way, they definitely delivered.

I am not sure you can see from the pictures, but there are two compartments. The back compartment has a small pouch as well.

Back pocket

Back pocket

Here is the front compartment.

Front Compartment

Front Compartment

I was actually hoping that this would have been bigger. When I read the description I was envisioning one big bag with purse type dividers in it. Instead it is two pouches that are kind of hinged at the top. Ultimately, I may like this design so I am not looking through my colonial murse when I need to reload my rifle. It is 5000x better than using cargo pockets, however. Loading this bad boy up will be a lot of fun tonight.

If I had to grade October Country’s product I would give it a solid A-. The bag is a little smaller than I thought, but the fit/finish push it back up to the grade I gave out. The company’s customer service, quality for price, and speed of build/shipping get a very enthusiastic A++. Over time I know I will love this bag for either the quality and/or the function. I realize this will happen, but at this time I am just a VERY small bit disappointed that it wasn’t just a touch bigger.

From what I can see on their website and after talking with John, I would have to say that October Country is a great source for your muzzleloading needs. When I take into account the way they treated me when I called, the order process, and everything else I have a sneaking suspicion that they probably know better than I do as to what size bag I should carry……  They are colonial murse experts, if you will.

In conclusion, I would not hesitate to call them for help again and plan to the minute I need additional assistance. At this point I am not only an enthusiastic supporter, but a happy customer. I strongly recommend them.

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Muzzleloading Bug Has Hit

by Woodsbum

Lately, I have discovered that I spend WAY too much money on guns and ammunition just so I can go and shoot on the weekends. To make it even worse, I find that most of the time I supply all the equipment to include guns and ammunition in addition to being the only one to clean up afterwards. The entire thing become a huge chore and hit to my bank account. To cut overall investment without cutting the fun I decided that I needed to start taking the muzzleloader. This created a whole new set of problems because cleaning my Knight is anything but fun.

In yet another attempt to spend money to save money I went on a search. It became clear that the only solution that I could live with was to go and find a traditional muzzleloader rifle that was easy to clean, would be fun, and other people would find fun enough to ignore the lack of modern rifles I was taking out. The first thing I realized was that muzzleloaders are not the cheap rifles I was used to seeing when I was younger. Lyman and TC Hawken models ran between $450 and $700 on average. Now, I began to kick myself for not grabbing a $100 kit that I remember back in high school.

Whenever price becomes an issue I find that doing some serious online research will help to find me a cheaper solution. In this case I was not let down. I discovered that there were only a few companies that manufactured production muzzleloader rifles and they were resold under other names. This is no different than the American Arms .44 mag pistol I purchased some years ago. The .44 mag is actually manufactured by Uberti. Muzzleloaders are really no different. Lyman and Cabela’s rifles are actually made by Investarm out of Italy. TC makes their own. The third big manufacturer is Traditions. CVA does make some as well. Some other brands seem to be a bit murky as to who really makes them, so I took some literary license and just ignored those.

After I was armed with this information, I stepped up my search and went looking for used rifles that I might find at a bargain. Lo and behold I came across reference to an unused, never shot Hawken style rifle earmarked as a KBI/Kassnar brand. It had been advertised for almost a month without anyone even asking about it. I did some research on KBI/Kassnar and discovered that this company imported firearms until they closed up shop in 1989. They did business with gun manufacturers in England, Spain and Italy. Considering that Investarm is out of Italy, it didn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out who probably made this rifle. Not only that, but the wood grain was incredible and it had brass accents to include a patch box in the stock.

Sure enough, when I met up with the guy, the rifle was actually an Investarm model 120b, had never been shot, and was in 100% perfect condition (except the brass is a bit tarnished from sitting in a box). There were other “goodies” as well that were also still in their unopened and brand new state. Interestingly enough, the guy I met with was selling the items for a 75 year old man who bought everything in 1987 for a trip that got cancelled.

Now if you are in the market for a muzzleloader or have ever thought about getting into “smoke sticks” it isn’t nearly as expensive as you would think, if you are patient and look around. The majority of shooters and gun buyers completely ignore muzzleloaders and have no idea about them. This will allow you the opportunity to pick up an almost new or completely new rifle at 10-20 year ago prices. Another selling point is that the design of most muzzleloaders is not that different from the originals of yesteryear. Even better is that you don’t necessarily have to stay with the same manufacturer when looking for replacement parts. I have seen TC barrels on Traditions stocks with old, unknown manufacturer trigger assemblies. That is a great selling point as well.

If you are more into the modern muzzleloading products like the inline models, a lot of this information goes RIGHT out the window. My Knight Wolverine 209 for instance is deadly accurate and I can hit pie plates with open sights out to 200 yards. The problem is that most of the parts I might need for replacements would have to be purchased directly from Knight. It is also a royal pain in the gluteal section to clean. The barrel doesn’t just come off with the removal of a single pin. It requires disassembly of the rifle, pulling the breech plug and nipple, scrubbing and a good portion of your evening. For those of you who were wondering why I would want a traditional muzzleloader when I already had an incredible inline model, there you go. Cleaning it sucks out loud…….

Some of my best memories as a kid or with my kids have involved the outdoors and shooting. Being able to increase my options, cut the cost of shooting, and decrease the time spent cleaning really makes buying a new toy worth it. Now I need to get into casting my own bullets.

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Why You Should Always Be Safe

by Woodsbum

Just this week I was in a heated discussion with someone about why it is so important to follow safe gun handling procedures. For some reason this individual thought that it was perfectly fine to pull the trigger and muzzle flash people if he “knew” the gun was unloaded. Lucky for him, I didn’t witness him doing stupid things with a firearm or I would have been raising money for my legal defense.

To help illustrate why it is important to be safe with firearms at all times, please watch this video.

Even though the firearm was on safe and his finger was off the trigger, this shotgun will fire a shell every time you jack one into the chamber. The firing pin is still locked to the rear as well. If someone had been messing around with it and loaded a shell into the chamber while unsafe, there could have been a huge disaster. This literally could get someone killed. Thankfully, this owner is smart enough to follow range safety rules and has common sense.

For those of you who do know know firearm safety rules I have included the NRA fundamentals of gun safety below for you.

  • ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
  • ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
  • ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

For those of you who go to the range or were in the military, here are those common safety rules. These are actually from LtCol Jeff Cooper, the guy that made the scout rifle famous.

  • RULE I: ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED
  • RULE II: NEVER LET THE MUZZLE COVER ANYTHING YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO DESTROY
  • RULE III: KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOUR SIGHTS ARE ON THE TARGET
  • RULE IV: BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET

Whether you like to go with the NRA fundamentals or Cooper’s rules of gun safety, it all comes down to one thing – DON’T BE A DUMBASS…….  Assume every gun is loaded and will go off at any time without your assistance. If you think in that way at all times many gun related accidents can be prevented.

Be safe!!!!

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Understanding Headspace

by Woodsbum

This discussion has come up many times between myself and my friends once we started building ARs and putting old military rifles back together. The fact is that many explanations are just overly complex in the way that they present it or the polar opposite. Somehow there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground on this subject. Luckily, Hornady has put together a long list of videos that cover a multitude of subjects on their YouTube channel. Their hour long video on headspace is really what every reloader should watch to ensure that they fully know what is going on. Even though I grew up reloading there were many things in this video that helped me to make more sense out of the whole process.

ENJOY!!!

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PSA – Gun Cleaning

by Woodsbum

Consider this post to be a PSA (Public Service Announcement) about cleaning your guns:

This last weekend I finally got motivated and decided to do some gun cleaning and maintenance. I started off with my AR 15 platforms and as things went along, my mountain of work escalated. Let me explain a bit more in detail.

In field stripping all our AR 15’s, I found that there was an extreme amount of build up of carbon especially on the BCG. It was so nasty that even after scrubbing for about 15 minutes, I really was getting nowhere. In the end I was so annoyed that I disassembled the BCG and just tossed them into my ultrasonic cleaner. It took two 30 minute soaks with heat to get the carbon to finally release its hold. I also found that I had to soak the receiver and chamber in Hoppes 9 for about an hour to get the gunk to release from there as well. The caked on carbon had to have been from the reloads I got from someone. These reloads were not as accurate as I prefer and I noticed more sludge on the cases after they were fired, so I will just blame that for now. The real story is that these things were dirtier than I have ever seen an AR 15 or M 16 get, even after shooting blanks. Really, it was horrible.

Once these were cleaned up and looking less embarrassing I moved along to other firearms. Interesting enough, my S&W 629 .44 Mag was also quite dirty. That took a long while to get cleaned up and all the residue off the cylinders.

As time went along and more and more hours were dedicated to this project, I finally pulled out my new Mosin Nagant build and decided to clean up the barrel and action to make it all pretty. I took 600 grit emory cloth and used it to get rid of all the rust, dings and smooth out the worst of the machine marks. Once everything was cleaned up and smoothed over I blued the barrel, action and bolt assembly. It really made the whole thing look pretty good. Although I didn’t take pictures, you will see some later on when I got to the hills to shoot again. The rifle went from “meh” to “ahh.”

Another firearm that I took some time with was my Ruger Single Six. The first and last time I took this old pistol out I noticed that it was shaving copper and lead off the bullets when fired. It actually was doing it on all sided of the forcing cone so I spent quite a bit of time scrubbing years and years of neglect away. The first couple rounds with the Hoppes left several paper towels just soaked in black goo. It was quite disgusting to see how badly this pistol had been treated over the years. When I finally got done I had been forced to rotate 3 different cleaning brushes through my ultrasonic to clean them back up for use. Sometime in the near future I will be sending this back to Ruger to get a spa treatment, outfitted with a transfer bar and get the second cylinder so I have both the mag and lr as options.

I even took the time to rip the VZ25 BRNO 8 mm I acquired all the way down to parade rest and remove all the years of neglect from it. At that time I also replaced the magazine spring and found out that I will need to replace the top section of wood on the stock. It seems to be burned around the receiver and is very dried out and crumbling up to the band.

The overall process for my firearms took almost 7 hours of straight scrubbing and cleaning. It was very nice to get everything back up and into a respectable level of maintenance.

Seeing as how I billed this as a public service announcement, I will add a couple of important things that you should be aware of and not take for granted like I tend to:

  1. Used guns NEVER come clean.
  2. Used military guns come dirtier yet and you have to get the grime of war off them, it seems.
  3. Fine emory cloth and gun blue is your friend in removing surface rust here in the land of slugs and mold.
  4. Don’t be a lazy ass like me. Do your gun maintenance a little at a time rather than needing a full day to complete it.

Good luck everyone. I will probably do another round of cleaning in a month or two just to make sure I got everything properly cleaned and maintained. Consider this part of your own Spring Cleaning regiment.

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