A Day at the Range

There are trips to the range, and then there are Trips To The Range. Today’s trip was the latter.

My son Joey and I took my brother-in-law Mike to the range for his first shooting outing, and we met a fellow Twitter feller, Michael, a.k.a. @RKBArms.

It was a first for a lot of things: Mike’s first time shooting; Joey’s first time shooting an AR-15; the first time we shot the reincarnated version of my Ruger 10/22, Captain America; and my first time to meet and shoot with Michael. It would not be a boring day.

Captain America

What can I say? The gun is sweet. With the heavy barrel, there is almost no recoil. I was able to get the scope set on the side to side axis in my shop, so it was just a matter of dialing in the elevation at the range, and soon it was shooting just about spot on at 100 yards, or whatever distance it was to the dirt berm at the end of the range. There were several tin cans, pieces of cardboard, and clay pigeons on the berm, and we made them dance at will all day.

I wasn’t able to shoot it for a group measurement, since I found it hard to keep steady when I supported it by the foregrip. I need to add a bipod, or bring a chair and a sand bag.

Bucky

Complementing the 10/22, I brought the Buck Mark pistol, outfitted with my Tasco Red Dot sight. A couple of turns at it was spot on at the berm, too. My brother-in-law fell in love with Bucky, and I think he’s going to get one.

AR-15

Back when I went to the Blogger Shoot, I had borrowed a friend’s AR-15, which lasted all of 4 rounds before it TARFU’d on me. I finally bought the parts to fix it, and took it to the range with us.

I got to shoot about 10 rounds from it. My son then commandeered it and shot all the rest of the ammo. He wants one, bad. Okay, time for Project 3, I suppose.

Shotgun

I also took my newly refinished Mossberg 500 along, and shot about 10 rounds through it. I like the recoil pad that Hogue included with the overmolded stock. I’m going to try to go shoot some trap this week with it, so look for another report.

I also shot Michael’s shotgun, a Maverick 88 with an 18 inch barrel. Nice.

Here’s Michael with his shotgun.

Pistols

I also took Bruce my Glock 17 and the Duke, my Glock 21, and shot quite a bit through them. It was a good demonstration for my brother-in-law, to compare them to the .22LR of the Buck Mark.

My son shot a lot with the Glock 17, and I took the opportunity to try to talk him into his first competition, the GSSF Match at Conyers in September. We’ll see.

Michael also compared my Glock 17 to his Glock 19.

Other Stuff

In the middle of our shooting, up walks a small flock of 6 wild turkeys. They were completely -unfazed by all the shooting, but when my brother-in-law tried to call them over, the ran off into the woods.

We also saw a cheap semi-auto pistol whose slide completed cracked, all the way around, about an inch in front of the ejection port. The person shooting it said he had borrowed it from a friend, and that it was cheap, cheap. I guess so.

Ammo Test

Look for another blog post soon about this, with video.

All in all, a very nice trip to the range for us all.

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My Shotgun, Reborn

One spring day, not long after I had bought my first gun, I was at work, talking with a truck driver, while he was waiting for his trailer to be loaded. The conversation turned to guns. After all, it was spring, we were men, we were in Alabama, and I was a Gun Newbie. After a while, the truck driver mentioned that he happened to have a used shotgun for sale. Would I like to see it?

Sure.

It was a very nice pump shotgun, a 12 gauge. The wood was in good shape, and while some of the bluing on the barrel was worn, there was no corrosion. And the pump action was as smooth as glass. It had only one minor defect – a former owner had written his name on the barrel with a power inscribing tool.

I say it was a defect, but in fact, it was a blessing, because the person whose name was on the shotgun barrel happened to be the plant chief operator, and he was on shift that day. So I went and asked Lee about the shotgun. He told me of the large number of whitetail deer who were prancing in the fields of heaven because of that gun.

Was it worth $100?

Lee said he thought so, because that’s what he had sold it to the truck driver for, 3 years before.

So, at lunch, I went and cashed a check (these were the days before the ATM, friends) and the shotgun was mine. And I named it Lee.

Now, I had no idea what brand of shotgun it really was, and neither did Lee. The brand name on the gun is Revelation, sold by Western Auto. I tried taking it apart, but knowing nothing about shotguns, I didn’t get far.

The next day, my copy of American Rifleman arrived, and the monthly section on gun schematics and disassembly instructions featured the Mossberg 500 12 gauge shotgun. Everything looked the same as mine, and it came apart and went back together just like in the magazine. So, Lee was really a Mossberg 500. Thank you, Lord.

+++++++

A couple of years later, after I had moved away, I went back to my old plant for a visit, and Lee (the operator) asked about the shotgun. He then told me that he had been approached by the truck driver, to try to sell him the gun back, and he had steered him to me.

Again, thank you, Lord.

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Fast forward a number of years, and a lot of trap shooting, later. Now, the bluing on Lee had gotten a little more worn, so I decided I would like to re-blue it. I bought a re-bluing kit at the gun store, read the instructions, and completely de-blued the whole gun. I sanded all the pits and corrosion out, and – no offense – I used my Dremel to erase Lee’s name. Sorry, man.

Then I decided to search the Internet for info on how to re-blue guns, and I was confronted by tales of woe. It turns out that the Mossberg 500 has an aluminum receiver, which doesn’t take bluing well. So I decided I needed a little more experience in gun finishing before I gave it a try.

Fast forward a little more. Okay, probably 5 years more. The shotgun sat unfinished, all that time, while I periodically thought about refinishing, and stopped, because it made my head hurt. To assuage your fears, the barrel and steel parts were well oiled, and stored in a firearms sock in my safe. The small parts were stored in a plastic shoe box.

At last, thanks in part to the false sense of optimism this blog has given me, I decided to finally refinish Lee.

After a bunch of Internet research I decided to use Duracoat firearm finish, and a Hogue rubber overmolded polymer stock, to make Lee look like his Glock brethren.

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The refinishing process began with the fitting of all the parts onto the new polymer stock, to be sure I didn’t need to do any gunsmithing to make it fit.

Everything fit perfectly.

I then laid all the parts out to get ready. In addition to the Duracoat with sprayer that I bought, I also bought painters tape. I also remembered back when I was researching bluing, and they told me to fill in all the holes in the receiver with Silly Putty, so the finish wouldn’t get in the holes, and make them smaller.

I also got some 600 grit sandpaper for the final sanding, and some nitrile gloves to protect my hands.

I then went over all the metal parts with the 600 grit sandpaper, per the Duracoat instructions.

Here’s the trigger group taped off below the parts that will show in the final gun assembly:

I filled in all the holes with Silly Putty, and taped all the threads and other parts that I didn’t want to spray. I then sprayed the whole gun with the degreaser spray provided in the kit.

Here’s the receiver, hanging and ready to spray.

I then mixed the paint and the hardener in the glass sprayer bottle, and shook it all for the time they told me to. Spraying with a smooth even motion, I laid down the first coat:

I also sprayed the barrel:

Three even coats, and all was done.

Sounds easy, right?

Ha!

First – the sprayer that Duracoat sold with the paint tended to sputter periodically. At random. Leaving some parts sprayed smoothly and evenly, and some running and dripping.

Actually, I’m surprised the paint stayed on, with the amount of cursing that I applied to the sprayer. I guess I’m glad the cliche isn’t really true.

So, instead of letting it dry five minutes between coats like the instructions said, I let it dry fifteen minutes, and tried to sand out all the drips.

Stupid idea. All I got was rolled up drips.

Eventually, my curse vocabulary exhausted, I managed to get it sanded well enough to get three coats on, and it not look like I had welded all the parts together.

Lessons learned:

First, I won’t use the sprayer that Duracoat sells again. Instead, I will invest a little more money in an airbrush sprayer and compressor.

Second – while it may work for bluing, I found that Silly Putty makes water bead up. This means it also repels paint, so that all the pin holes had halos around them, free of paint. I need to find something else to use, maybe just balled up paper.

So, while trying to sand out the drips, I also had to take out all the Silly Putty, and use the degreasing spray again. Then I could spray.

Third – in retrospect, I would not have Dremeled Lee’s name off the barrel. I now think it would have lent a sense of history, which I am trying, in a small way, to preserve here.

After drying overnight, I put the whole thing together. Of course, I had to watch a Youtube video, because I hadn’t done anything with this gun for 5 years. But the action is still smooth as glass, and it looks mean.

Behold, Lee, the Mossberg 500:

Tying Up Loose Ends

Well, I didn’t get to shoot any over the Independence Day weekend. There was a Steel Match I had penciled in, but I didn’t get to it. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t get to do anything with guns.

First, I finished Lee, my Mossberg 500 shotgun. It feels good – I now have a functioning shotgun in the safe. I got a wild hair a couple of years ago, and stripped the bluing off my shotgun, before I read up on how hard it was for a dabbler like me to do a goos job bluing. I will post a more detailed report of the work I did, but overall I am satisfied with the results. I learned a lot about using Duracoat, and I would do it again, just with different spray equipment, Again, more later.

Second, I spent some time dry firing and practicing magazine changes. In particular, I spent some time changing magazines without looking at my gun, to test whether this was a viable reason for the changing my magazine orientation to “bullets forward” in the mag pouches.

My conclusion: after probably 3 dozen repetitions at various speeds, with my magazines oriented so that the bullets faced to the rear, I didn’t find that I had a difficult time changing magazines without looking. In fact, it was easier to do with my eyes closed than it was with my eyes open when I changed the orientation to “bullets forward.” I did find that I needed to slow down a little to make it smooth, but that’s probably not a bad thing.

For me, it is all about muscle memory, and I think that supports my original observation.

However, I think that when the time comes to teach someone else how to change magazines, I will tell them to orient the bullets facing forward. The idea of using the index finger on the nose of the bullet, to guide it to the magazine well, is valid and can be used effectively. No surprise, since much better teachers than I have been teaching it this way for a long time.

Live, Dead, or Undead?

Last week I talked about my upcoming gun projects. The three projects on my plate are to refinish my shotgun, build an AR-15, and pimp out my Ruger 10/22.

I did some research on the first pieces for my AR. I think I’ve settled on the lower above – the Zombie lower from Spike’s Tactical. The brand comes well recommended, and I especially like the labeling on the safety selector – Live > Dead > Undead. I spoke to my guy at Lakeside Guns and they can order it for me. I’ll stop by this weekend and get it coming.

I should be able to order the rest of the AR lower by the middle of July. In the meantime I’m going to try to find a local gun shop that carries them.

Also, after trying in vain to find a local shop that carried Duracoat, I ended up ordering some flat black and a Hogue overmolded stock for my Mossberg 500, online. It should be here in time to complete the project the second weekend in July.

Of course, I will document all my work and post it as it happens.

Other People’s Money

I am the proud owner of three Glocks. That’s Bruce in the middle, flanked by The Duke and Liberty. I’ve built this modest collection all on other people’s money.

Bruce was bought with the proceeds of some stock options that I had to exercise after changing jobs in 1992. I was fine with just one Glock for a while, but after a few years I wanted to add a second gun. My company had a sales contest one fall, and I managed to win enough Visa gift cards to buy a G21SF using my GSSF discount. This one I named The Duke.

Then, 2 years ago, I won a Glock in a random drawing at a GSSF match. A Glock 19 named Liberty joined the gang.

It doesn’t stop with Glocks. I’ve also used a company safety bonus to buy a very nice used Mossberg 500, bank bonus money to buy an SKS, and another sales contest to buy a Ruger 10/22.

The best deal – a coworker called me one Saturday from a gun show. He had found an excellent deal on a couple of Mosin Nagants, which he described as in excellent mechanical shape but needing substantial cleaning. His offer: if I would clean one of them for him, I could have the other one for myself. I agreed. Welcome, Vassily!

Now, if I could just figure out a way to get other people to pay for ammo!