Saturday, January 12, 2019

Sling and New Front Sight on Cabela's Hawken

One rifle I've been shooting lately is my Cabela's Hawken, made in Italy by Investarms. At some point I'd like to take it hunting, which IMNSHO requires a sling. Being a more modern design than, say, my long rifle, I didn't mind mounting modern quick detach swivels.

I found this set by GroveTec at MidwayUSA which fit. I paired it with this Hunter carry strap. Installing the rear swivel required drilling a hole in the stock. The front swivel clamps around the lower ramrod pipe. Before installing it, I Loc-Tited the screw securing the pipe since I noticed it was loose already. I also Loc-Tited the Chicago screw holding the strap to the rear swivel. In my experience, thread locker prevents a lot of problems. I even put some on the inside of the part of the front swivel where it clamps over the ramrod pipe.

The other addition I made was to replace the Williams fiber optic front sight with a Lyman 37ML white bead from October Country. The dovetail for the front sight is .360" instead of 3/8" (.375"), which is more common in the US. The Williams sight never fit the dovetail that well and wasn't as secure as I'd like.

The Lyman front sight wasn't as good a fit as I wanted, either. I wound up dimpling the bottom of the dovetail recess to raise some metal and shimming it with a small piece of 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper. After the sight was in I staked the dovetail as well.

The new sight is a little shorter than the Williams it replaced, so I'll have to rezero the rifle. No biggie.

October Country Universal Sling

Earlier this week, I ordered a Universal Sling from October Country, who caters to black powder shooters. I wanted a sling for my Cimarron 1873 Sporting Rifle that would be more secure than the Leatherman sling I used when I hunted with the rifle last month. (The Leatherman sling is extremely well made but the butt cuff doesn't fit the 1873 snugly and the only way to tighten it is with a cord or rubber band. I'll reserve it for my flintlock.)

OC's sling can be ordered for left or right handed shooters with the difference being which side of the butt stock the lacing is on. As a southpaw, I ordered a lefty sling.

It's primarily intended for muzzleloaders but as you can see below, it fits lever actions just fine.

It wraps around the barrel as shown below. There are two holes pre-punched in the strap so you can adjust it. I moved the lacing to tighten it up on my rifle.

The butt cuff has a slot for the strap in lieu of a swivel. Again, there are two pre-punched holes in the strap down below, allowing you some length adjustment without making modifications.

They also offer a two-tone version but I prefer the looks of the all-brown one.

I'm very impressed with the quality. All parts are made from good, thick leather, including the laces. This will make the rifle very nice to carry afield. For $28 and change it's a great deal. I'm tempted to order one for my 1860 Henry because the rear sling swivel popped off it again. On the Henry, I'd use the lacing to attach it to the front sling loop so that it doesn't interfere with the magazine follower.

Aside from the sling, I also ordered a couple French amber flints to try in my long rifle, a primitive forged turn screw to keep in my shooting pouch, and a Lyman 37ML front sight to put on my Cabela's Hawken.

I was also very pleased with October Country's service. A few minutes after I ordered I got a phone call from them asking if I'd changed my address. Apparently, there's another Dave Markowitz who had ordered from them. (I explained that was the evil one. ;) ) My ordered was placed Wednesday and it arrived here via USPS 2-day Priority Mail on Friday.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

The Twelve Apostles of Musketry

In the pre-flintlock era, before the invention of paper cartridges, it became common for musketeers to carry pre-measured powder charges in wooden bottles hanging from a bandoleer. They have come to be known as the "12 apostles," after the Apostles of Jesus. (In my quick research, the term may actually be more modern and not in use in the 17th Century. Regardless, it's in use today.)

Regardless, many modern muzzleloading shooters like to pre-measure their powder charges before heading afield or to the shooting range. There are numerous "quick loaders" available from the usual black powder shooting suppliers, but I found a cheaper alternative:

The modern apostles in the picture are 10ml centrifuge sample tubes with snap caps. Each has 70 grains of Goex FFg black powder in them, which occupies about 5.5ml. So, there is plenty of space in them for hunting loads in my rifles, which will be under 100 grains. I bought a bag of 50 of the tubes from Amazon for $10.39 on Prime. 15ml tubes should handle hunting loads for almost any muzzleloader.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Stolen Winchester 1892

(Post has been edited for clarification.)

Please be on the lookout for a stolen Winchester 1892 Sporting Rifle, serial number 100156, caliber .38 WCF.

I shipped the rifle on 12/21/18 via UPS Ground insured, from Plymouth Meeting, PA to Taylor Machine in Puyallup, WA for gunsmithing work.

On 1/3/19 John Taylor called to inform that all he received was an empty box with some bubble wrap in it. UPS confirmed delivery of the package.

I do not suspect Mr. Taylor. He has an excellent reputation.

Full details of the rifle:

Type: Lever action rifle
Make: Winchester
Model: 1892
Serial number: 100156
Barrel length: 24 inches
Caliber: .38 WCF AKA 38-40 Win
Finish: Metal has turned brown. Buttstock and forend are brown walnut wood.

The rifle is an antique manufactured in 1898 per the factory letter that I got from the Buffalo Bill Center of the Wild West.

Any help in recovery will be appreciated.

Pictures of the stolen rifle (click for full sized):

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Zeroed the Hawken

Today I took advantage of unusually warm weather for January 1st and got the Cabela's Hawken out to the range and got it zeroed with its new sights.

It was shooting about 18" low and a little left at 50 yards with my initial load of 60 grains of 2Fg Goex, a .490 round ball, a 0.018" ticking patch lubed with Track of the Wolf's mink oil tallow, and a CCI No.11 cap.

Grouping with the 60 grain load was 3 to 4" from the bench. IOW, not very good. So, I increased the charge to 70 grains and the rifle started grouping nicely. My last three shot group is below. It's the one hole in the center.

That's 2 in the X-ring and one just outside it in the 10. I can certainly live with that. (The target is full of .22 holes from taking my daughter to the range.)

I still want to experiment with different charges, patch thicknesses, and ball size.

Monday, December 31, 2018

New Rear Sight for my Hawken Rifle

Several years ago I bought a Cabela's Traditional Hawken rifle in .50 caliber. It isn't a faithful copy of the real Hawken rifles of the 19th Century, but nevertheless, it's a well made and nice shooting gun. It's more or less a variant of the Lyman Trade Rifle, but fitted with a cap box on the stock and double set trigger. Also, unlike the Lyman, it was available with a left handed stock and lock. Both the Lyman and Cabela's rifles were made by Investarms in Italy.

One thing I did not like about the rifle was the sights. The rear sight, in particular, was a poor design. The adjustable rear notch was a wide open "V". IIRC, the Lymans's have rear sights that are dovetailed in, which makes replacement with a fixed but better sight easy. Unfortunately, the Cabela's rear sight was held on with two screws and nobody made a good replacement.

So, I decided to install a Lyman Model 66SML aperture sight, made for the Lyman Great Plains Rifle, Trade Rifle, sidelock Thompson-Centers, and similar rifles.

The Model 66SML is mounted on the tang with two screws. It uses the rear wood screw which goes through the tang into the stock, plus an 8-32 screw into the metal of the tang. The tang on my rifle wasn't drilled and tapped so I did that today.

Using a #29 drill on the tang:

Before drilling the hole, I located it by mounting the sight on the tang and marking the spot with a transfer punch. I then dismounted the tang from the rifle and used a pilot drill to ensure the #29 drill wouldn't skip. Only then did I put the twist bit in the chuck.

I then tapped the hole with 8-32 threads. I used #3 Morse taper lathe center held in the mill's head to guide the tap so it started off straight:

I used a little Tap Magic on the tap, but I could probably have done it dry with no problems. OTH, there's no reason not to use a lube and save a little wear on the tap.

A closeup of the newly mounted sight:

And finally, the whole rifle:

This rifle has a 1:48 twist, so it can shoot either patched round balls or conicals like a Hornady Great Plains Bullet or T/C Maxi balls. So far, I've just shot it with PRB and it did well.

Simple work like this is a main reason I bought a small lathe and mill back in 2013. It took me about 45 minutes to do this, which included digging out the rifle and rear sight, schlepping them out to my shop, and doing the work. In contrast, to have a gunsmith mount the sight it would require locating a 'smith locally or shipping the rifle, getting onto his wait list, and probably paying about $75 to $100. Since shooting is my hobby, I will eventually do enough jobs like this to largely offset the cost of the tools.

Of course, that doesn't even account for the satisfaction of doing it myself.

Friday, December 28, 2018

H&B Forge Medium Camp Hawk and a Neck Knife

Today I took a spin up to Dixon's Muzzleloading Shop and came home with these:

The tomahawk is an H&B Forge Medium Camp Hawk while the knife one made by a local 'smith from an old trap spring. There are usually several of them on the shelf at Dixon's.

The Medium Camp Hawk's head weighs about a pound and has a hardened hammer poll, which should be useful for hammering in tent stakes. The edge is about 3.5" wide and the handled measures 19" long. The handle is stained but doesn't appear to be sealed so I'll give it a coat or two of some oil.

It came with a usable edge but I'm going to sharpen it some more. I'm also planning to make a mask for it since it came without any cover.

The knife blade is about 3.75" long and measured 0.055" or 1.4mm thick with my calipers. It's stamped with the maker's initials, "JBG." The scales are curly maple, secured with four brass pins. Wood to metal fit is excellent.

The leather neck sheath reminds me a bit of a center seam moccasin and is nicely stitched. The thong doesn't have a quick release but if it got snagged on something I'd expect it to let go. The knife and sheath together weigh only a few ounces and hang comfortably.

They should make nice additions to my bushcraft kit.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

What Really Happens in a Gunfight

This post by Dave Spaulding is from 2010 but I only saw it recently. In my opinion it's worth reading.


Over the last 25 I have made it a point to talk with every gunfight survivor that I could find. Last count, I had spoken with almost 200 individuals. These people include men and women, military (including war veterans), law enforcement and legally armed citizens. These confrontations include battlefield situations, back alley struggles, attempted muggins, attempted rapes (and successful rapes) and the like.

Right after I started my law enforcement career, a local police officer was involved in a shooting incident. I had the opportunity to speak with him and found myself fascinated with his accounting of what transpired. Afterward, I thought that what had happened to him could happen to me and I needed to be better prepared than he had.


Link to full article.