What to do on a cold Winters Day

Old man Winter is back in Minnesota. Limited hours of light and brutal temperatures keep most people inside for days at a time. Please don’t let this time go to waste. Instead of watching movies or taking long naps this time can be used to get your firearms in shape for the coming Spring. Here is a small list I have been using this Winter to keep busy.

I have been using this Winter to improve my reloading. I’ve worked up some great loads for my .45 ACP and .357 Magnum over the last few months.  Loading up some light target loads that are wonderful to shoot has helped me put cold days to good use. I’ve also stocked up on some loads so when the weather finally warms up I will be ready to hit the range.

Besides reloading I have found these days to be great to clean and inspect my firearms. Pulling firearms out for a quick going over and basic cleaning keeps your firearms at the ready if you might need them. On really nice days a quick trip to the range to verify a rifle zero and practice with it gets me out to enjoy the weather!

Visiting Winter time gun shows is another way to break the Winter blues. Seeing new firearms and some old ones can be a great way to spend an afternoon. Looking over tables of all types of firearms and firearms related items you might make a discovery that you’ve been looking for. Some people use these as one way to improve their collection of firearms or trade firearms they never use anymore.

Winters here in Minnesota are long and cold, but we’ve learned to adapt to them. I spend the time inside to be ready for a break in the weather to enjoy a warm afternoon at the range. If it’s been cold for a long stretch of time I find my way to an indoor range. Since it’s just a 25 yard range I’m limited to what I can shoot, but for testing some hand loads, or improving my pistol shooting, it’s a good alternative to my outdoor range. Hopefully this will give everyone a few ideas for putting these long Winter days to good use!

Why I started reloading.

When it’s raining or snowing outside, or the temperature drops below freezing for days on end I find ways to keep busy. Oh, I still take the dog for a walk and get outside as much as possible, but I find those Wintery days a perfect time to make some bullets! In just a few hours I can produce some accurate and inexpensive rounds to shoot from a .38 Special or .45 ACP. With the price and availability of ammo always changing reloading is one way of bringing some stability to my ammunition storage.

Even with my single stage press I find the time I spend very relaxing. By taking my time and following loading data from reliable sources I can produce the exact ammunition I need. From lower powered target ammo to some powerful hunting ammo I get exactly what I need. By choosing different  bullet weights I can match what each firearm likes to shoot for even better results.  After a long day at work the ability to sit for one hour and de-prime and resize 100 rounds of .38 Specials is priceless.

Networking with others that reload is a great source of information. Talking with others at gun shows or at the range I have learned a lot about reloading. If it’s just a tip about different things to try or experience with different powders networking with others is fun. I have gotten boxes of reloaded ammunition from some to try in my firearms. Some worked amazing and I’ve copied their data to produce my own. Others haven’t worked very well and I gave their half used box back to them.

I tried to justified the savings reloading has given me but quickly realized that probably wasn’t the case. If you shoot just a few hundred rounds a year you’re probably better off buying factory ammunition and having fun. But if you shoot quite a bit, or want better results I would suggest reloading. Once you have your press set up and running you will save money on your ammunition, but the best pay out is with the knowledge you gain and the great people that will help you in your new hobby.

So while I have saved a little bit of money reloading, I find the friendships I’ve made and the quiet peaceful time I’ve spent making my own ammunition to be the best part of why I reload.

 

 

Gun Show Report

Need somewhere to go on a cold Winter’s day? Need a hard to find firearm item? Need a place to walk around and look at new firearms and a few old ones? One place that fulfills all of this is your local gun show. Many gun shows are held on a regular schedule and is a great place to get to know firearm experts in your  area. Forget the idea of a bunch of old men wearing plaid shirts trying to out do each other in firearm knowledge. The gun shows I attended recently are a fun place for the entire family to spend a few hours wandering the aisles to find a treasure or two.

We have had our table of clean and sorted brass at two recent gun shows and have had a great time each weekend. The other vendors went out of their way to make us feel welcome and a few gave us a few tips about the gun show trade. Of course there are the big vendors that sell strictly firearms, but most of the vendors we talked with have a few items on one table.

One lady had non-lethal self protection items for sale. Pepper spray, bright lights and the stun gun marketed toward females were very popular. Her table was well set up and was very busy all weekend.

There were several tables of knives to look through. Most were inexpensive copies of popular styles both small pocket knives to huge machetes. I even found a British Commando knife that I just had to bring home!

Leather goods were available also. Custom made belts while you waited, holsters and leather purses designed for firearms carry were all available.

If you need ammunition for an obsolete caliber I’m sure you’ll be able to find it at the next gun show. At our table people asked for .221 Remington Fireball, we don’t sell ammunition, but pointed him to the table that had it! Old surplus ammunition was easy to find for many older rifles. New production ammo was plentiful, even some powder coated red, white and blue made an appearance. Make sure you check the prices between vendors!

Besides the standard firearms, ammunition and reloading supplies many other items are for sale. Training classes to become a better shooter along with permit to carry course sign ups were available.

So the next weekend of bad weather, or if you have a few hours to do nothing head on out to your local gun show. You’ll be surprised at the number of people and the wide variety of items for sale!

What’s in Your Range Bag?

Having everything you need for a trip to the range in one easy to grab bag is the first step for a good trip. Who hasn’t ran out of staples while hanging paper targets? It’s frustrating not to have a spotting scope when you need to see out to 100 yards. I solved most of these common short comings with a range bag that has the things I might need every time I go shooting. The bag is not so big it becomes a chore to carry it, but yet large enough to keep everything organized and easy to get out. Being a workingman I didn’t have a budget to purchase a hundred dollar bad for my use. I picked up a nice bag from Amazon that fits my needs and fits my budget.The following is a short list of what is inside my bag:

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Range Bag Packed and Ready To Go

Spotting Scope- I use a small scope for the 50 yard stage during pistol league and out to 100 yards while shooting rifles.. My older eyes can’t see tiny holes out that far, but this light weight scope makes it easy to see shot groups. An inexpensive scope with 20 to 60 times magnification is a valuable item in my bag.

 

First Aid Kit– Hopefully I never have to use it, but I always have a small trauma kit stowed in my bag. Some of the places I shoot are a long distance from any medical help and this kit might save some ones life if needed.

Eye and Ear Protection– A new shooter might not have safety glasses or hearing protection and I need to be prepared for them. If someone else is shooting a large caliber rifle close to me I will double my hearing protection to save what’s left of my hearing. A small bag of Inexpensive foam ear plugs in my bag can come in handy!

Staple Gun with Extra Staples- I can’t remember how many times I’ve run out of staples while hanging targets. I finally learned and now have staple gun AND an extra box of staples!

Firearm Cleaning Kit– I have a small kit that I have used to run a patch through a rifle barrel while at the range. The small bottle of gun oil has come in handy a few times when my firearms was a little too dry. I don’t clean my firearms at the range, but I what to be prepared if me, or another shooter, needs to clean their firearm.

Pen and Paper– From my earlier post about journaling my pistol league shooting I write scores from shooting. I also mark groups on targets while sighting in optics. A pen and paper comes in handy once in awhile and doesn’t take up little space.

Tools– I always have a firearm multi-tool in my bag. From adjusting rifle scopes to clearing cases that won’t extract this little tool has come in handy for me and I’ve loaned it out many times as well!

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    Items Always in My Range Bag

This list is constantly improving and  changing to becoming the true perfect range bag. I take the scope out if I’m just shooting pistols at close range and add other items I might need for a M-1 Garand match. But most items stay in the bag for every trip. These items are come in handy for me and other shooters that might need them.

One Step To Improve Your Accuracy

Every shooter wants to improve their accuracy. If it’s shooting clay pigeons, a three gun competition or just punching holes in paper targets every shooter wants to improve. I started shooting in my local pistol league last year and was not pleased with my progress. I tried a new grip and anew stance and my score increased a few points. But I knew I could do better and needed a way to track all the changes I was making. So I started a shooting journal! I would write down what I changed that week to help my score and what I still needed to do for the following week.

I kept it short and simple so I wouldn’t dread writing after every match. After a few weeks I noticed my score was slowly increasing. If I changed my grip just a little I would write it down. I moved my sights to the right and I wrote that down as well. I had problems with one stage so I placed my feet wider apart and I wrote that down as well. I would look at my score to see what worked and what didn’t help me much.

I also wanted to set goals for the next match and wrote those down as well. After every match I would journal what I wanted to improve for the next week. Most of these entries where easy steps such as focus more on the front sight, or remember to squeeze the trigger straight back every time.

Shooting every week did help raise my score, but I believe writing down my goals and what I needed to work on for the next week helped my improvement. So if your wanting higher scores, and who doesn’t, maybe a few minutes writing down before and after your match just might be one easy step you need !

 

Take Someone to the Range !

All us workingmen enjoy going to the range with our favorite firearms. The best way to improve your time on the range is to bring someone who normally doesn’t shoot with you. Last week I had a chance to bring a new shooter with me to the indoor range. Since he hadn’t shot in many years I thought a reminder was in order.

New pistol shooter !
A New Pistol Shooter

 

We went over the basic safety rules to keep everyone safe, set up some close up targets and then got to shooting. A .22 pistol at 5 yards was our starting point, but we quickly moved to larger calibers and further distances. The 9mm pistol at 10 and 15 yards went very well. I shared a few tips on grip, sight picture and stance with the new shooter the entire time at the range. He  did very well with the pistols (extremely good with the .357 magnum) and kept all the rounds on paper!

After a couple of pistols I thought it would be a great idea to finish off with the Workingman’s AR from a previous post. Easy to shoot, low recoil and let’s face it, shooting an AR is cool! A few adjustments on the stock, a couple magazines of 5.56 FMJ and a 25 yard target is all it took for the fun to begin.

New AR shooter !

So the next time your headed to the range please take a moment to think about someone that hasn’t been in awhile and give them a call. Remember we were all new shooters at one time, so please take it easy on them. Bring enough eye and ear protection for the new shooters with you. Take some time to explain basic operation of the firearm as well as how the controls operate. The most important thing is to be safe and have fun, because that’s what it is all about!

These firearms are fun to shoot

There are a few firearms that are not used for hunting, not practical for a carry piece or are obsolete in a rapidly changing market. These firearms might not be the first ones out of your gun safe, but they are a blast on the range.

RUGER SINGLE SIX 

The .22 is one of the most popular cartridges in history. Inexpensive, low recoil and, now that has become more available, most stores carry a few selections. How many of us working men starting shooting with the mighty .22? Combine this fine cartridge with a single action revolver and a working man can spend an afternoon having fun punching holes in paper targets. New shooters will enjoy the simplicity if this pistol to learn the fundamental’s of aiming and trigger control.

The combination of the .22 with a Ruger Single Six isn’t a good choice for home defense. Reloading this firearm takes a lot longer than a double action. While pushing each casing out and then putting an unfired  cartridge in the cylinder takes time, it makes it impractical for anything besides a range firearm. This firearm could be pressed into a small game hunter if ranges were kept to 10 – 15 yards. But it really shines spending a few hours punching tiny holes in paper targets!

MOSIN-NAGANT M-44

The American market used to be flooded with cheap model 91/30 Mosin-Nagant rifles. While this standard 91/30 model can be used for hunting, defense and range work , the M-44 model is better suited to punching holes in paper targets. The video shows the massive muzzle blast coming out of the M-44. It takes a while to get used to it and you will get some attention on the range ! This particular rifle was built in 1945 and has a heavy trigger. Shooting it is really a blast (pun intended), but this one is strictly staying on the range.

The sights are typical Mosin-Nagant, so accuracy isn’t the best. I read somewhere to aim at the belt buckle area and you might hit the target. It seems to work with this rifle. These were sighted in with the attached bayonet extended from the side and shooting it like that seemed to help with accuracy. The ammo I used was made in 1973, is corrosive and came packed in a heavy tin steel can. I have used some modern ammo in the rifle and got the same results as the corrosive ammo.

I probably won’t be walking through the woods with this M-44 with the bayonet extended during deer season. You might find me and this M-44 putting some corrosive ammo down range at some paper targets and waiting for the on-lookers to come take a look at it and possibly a few shots of their own down range.

 

CZ-83

The .380 cartridge has become a very popular self defense round over the last few years. Better bullet designs coupled with modern pistols has driven this cartridge into the main stream off personal defense. The CZ-83 pistol is not one of these new modern designed pistol made for every day carry.

A heavy steel pistol that shoots the .380 is easy to shoot at the range  and that is where it mostly belongs. Carrying a heavy pistol every day wouldn’t be an issue if it shot a heavy magnum cartridge, the CZ-83 is not one of those pistols. Since it is too heavy and bulky to carry around everyday it should remain at home for defense. Of if leaving it at home doesn’t work take it to the range! New shooters will find the mild recoil help improve their aim and grip while firing the CZ-83. If you happen to have one of these pistols at home or find one on the surplus market, punching holes in targets at the range is right where this pistol belongs.

Final Thoughts

Every firearm has a purpose. These three are just examples of firearms that can be pressed into service, but, honestly, just shooting and enjoying them are probably the best use for these firearms. These firearms fit into a workingman’s budget and are easy to find ammo to keep them fed. So if you have an older firearm you haven’t taken in awhile, please take them out and enjoy them!