Saturday, May 11, 2019

CZ Scorpion Improvements

Today I installed a few parts from HB Industries in my CZ Scorpion.

The first and easiest was an extended charging handle on the right side. Installation required drifting the handguard pin to the left, sliding in the new charging handle, and returning the pin to its original position.




As you can see, the new charging handle provides a much larger gripping surface.

The second part was an extended paddle magazine release. I'm really glad that HBI included a spring with it because I managed to drop and lose the OEM spring.





Finally, I installed HBI's reduced power trigger and disconnector spring kit. This required the most work but I had it done in under a half hour. While I had the trigger pack apart I took the time to polish the engagement surfaces with hard Arkansas stones. I also put a bit of Teflon-bearing Superlube grease on the contact points.

Incidentally, HBI has some very well done instructional videos on their YouTube channel.

As it came from the factory the trigger pull was at least 9 pounds. Now it's about 5.5 pounds and much smoother.

These are small changes but should make shooting the gun better.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S2 Micro

A gun I got interested in when it was first announced over a year ago is the CZ EVO 3 S2 Scorpion Micro with telescoping PDW-style brace*. This is a shorter, lighter version of the Scorpion carbine and pistol.

CZ's web page for the "pistol" is here.  A good video overview is here.

In light of ongoing leftist violence and especially after the recent Poway, CA Chabad shooting, I decided that having a PDW that'll fit in a laptop bag might be a good tool to have. The Scorpion Micros are still hard to find but I found some on Gunbroker and decided to get one. They are still selling for about MSRP and I don't expect that to change until supply catches up with demand. I took delivery from my FFL last Friday.





I have an old Dell laptop briefcase. The gun fits in it with a 32 round magazine inserted.



Fit and finish on it are excellent. Field stripping is easy. By pretty much all accounts, the larger Scorpions are extremely reliable guns. I'm expecting this one to be as good. What makes it a "Micro" is just a shorter barrel (4.12") and handguard. The action is the same as the larger models.

It came in a cardboard box with manual, warranty card, pull-through bore cleaner, gun lock, two 20-round mags, and an Allen key.

In reading up on the Scorpions, I found complaints about three things: the trigger pull, that the safety lever interferes with one's trigger finger when shooting, and the grip. The trigger pull on mine is creepy and over 8 lbs., so I've ordered an HB Industries spring kit and will do a trigger job. Maybe it's my small hands but the safety lever seems fine to me, as does the grip.

I also ordered from HBI a paddle mag release and extended charging handle, which will go on the right side, since I'm a lefty. I also plan to put a red dot sight on it.

When I ordered the Scorpion I also ordered two Manticore Arms 32-round magazines from Prepper Gun Shop. They arrived the day before the gun.

Today I got it to the range despite the rain. Thankfully, my range has a covered firing line. The crummy weather let me have the place to myself, which was really nice.

A pic of the gun with the factory and Manticore magazines:




Closeup of the feed lips of the Manticore (L) and factory (R) mags:




First 10 shots at 25 yards:



I moved the rear sight 13 clicks to the right to center the POI. After it was zeroed I used up the rest of the ammo banging steel on our 25 yard plate rack.

All told, I put 180 rounds of CCI 9mm 115 grain FMJ Blazer Brass through the CZ. There were no malfunctions. As a lefty, I find that a lot of straight blowback operated guns will send gun schmutz into my face and the CZ is no exception. It's not bad and something you get used to, but it reinforces the need for eye protection.

The sights are a bit low to come up naturally, and like my stocked Mauser C96, seeing the front sight can sometimes be difficult with 50 year old eyes. The gun will definitely get a red dot sight.

The outside of the faux suppressor got only slightly warm to the touch.

I ordered more of the steel-lipped Manticore magazines. Speaking of which, a Maglula is recommended for them unless you have strong thumbs. I found that once I got to about 22 rounds in them, it became very difficult to load more.  https://amzn.to/2VhcE3a

Overall, I'm very pleased with the Scorpion Micro. It's going to be both a fun shooter and a serious defensive tool.


* PDW = Personal Defense Weapon.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Beretta Cx4 Storm and Holosun RDS Range Report

 Last week I bought a Holosun HS515C red dot sight to replace the Bushnell TRS-25 that I used to have on my Beretta Cx4 Storm 9mm carbine. The Bushnell is a good budget optic  Today I zeroed it.

Out of the box the sight was very close to being on at 50 yards, with elevation right on and the mean POI about 3 - 4" to the right with 115 grain CCI Blazer Brass 9mm.




A neat touch with the sight is that the turret caps are actually adjustment tools. The little ridge on them is sized the same as the screwdriver slots on the actual adjustment knobs. This is a brilliant idea, IMO.

Top of the sight showing the screwdriver built into the caps, and the solar cell:




Accuracy at 50 yards was OK but nothing to crow about. Here's a 10 shot target fired from the bench. As you can see I yanked one low. The Storm's trigger is worse than I'd remembered. I am definitely going to try doing a trigger job on it.





I also shot a bit offhand but the target definitely isn't worth sharing. ;) The gun is so light with a neutral balance that offhand shooting is a challenge.

I put a total of 100 rounds through the gun today and as expected, it ran perfectly. However, when I went to clean the gun after I was finished I noticed that the rail was a bit loose. It'll be Loctited and then I'll recheck the zero.

Monday, April 08, 2019

Running Ball

(In this post, I used the word "balls" a lot. Huh, huh.)

This past weekend I'd planned to shoot my Rogers & Spencer percussion revolver but couldn't. When getting my shooting gear together, I found that I had only two .454 balls left. I wound up shooting my Pedersoli Brown Bess and Polymer 80 Not-A-Glock, which I'll write up in a separate post.

Something I've preached about on my blogs has been bullet casting for self sufficiency, resistance to government guns bans, and panics induced by fear of them. I recently picked up Lee molds for .454 and .490 balls, and a Lyman cast iron lead pot. This weekend I ordered a Lee .690 ball mold for use in the Brown Bess and my Euroarms Magnum Cape Gun.

I took a long weekend to decompress from bullshit at work, so with today's weather being decent I setup one of my Coleman stoves out in my shop to run some .454 balls.

Here I have the mold warming while the lead pot comes up to temp. The foil trays are for me to dump the sprues and dross when I flux.





It took awhile for the pot to come up to temperature. I'm finding that keeping a good constant casting temp is an acquired skill that I've yet to master. My balls were coming out either wrinkled or frosted. Wrinkly balls mean that the cast was too cold while frosty balls are a sign that it's too hot. I put the wrinkliest balls back into the pot but I'm keeping some that aren't too bad. These will be fired at a maximum of 25 yards at targets the size of a paper plate or larger, so minor imperfections won't be an issue.

I haven't counted yet, but I should have at least 50 shooters here. I called it quits when I ran out of gas in the stove.




Aside from the Rogers & Spencer, these will also work in my 1858 Remingtons. One could load them into .45 Colt cartridges, as well.

It is possible to keep even percussion guns going without buying factory supplies. Aside from casting your own bullets, it's possible to make black powder and even percussion caps at home. The latter especially is potentially extremely dangerous, so proceed with caution. My plan to deal with future shortages is to stock up ahead of time.

Edit: I wound up with 97 shootable balls from my first batch. After the stove cooled and I was able to refuel it, I ran another batch and came out with another 126 usable balls. That's a decent run and will last me awhile.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Tap and Die Sets

In my quest for self reliance, one category of things I've tried to acquire has been a variety of tools. On the top end are my mini-mill and mini-lathe. Tonight I used something a little further down the scale, a set of taps and dies. I have this inexpensive SAE and Metric set from Harbor Freight.

Yesterday when I shot my Pedersoli Brown Bess carbine for the first time, I wanted to use the ramrod for cleaning. One end has male M8-0.5 threads. However, I found that although I was able to thread on my worm, I could not thread on the adapter (part number SA-10-BESS) that allows me to use regular 10-32 rod tips, like a cleaning jag. So, I had to bring a separate range rod.

After work tonight I gathered up the ramrod, worm, and adapter and went out to my workshop. I first chased the threads in the coupler with an M5-0.8 tap and tried to thread it on the rod. No dice. Then I chased the threads on the rod itself with a die. That fixed the problem.

The total elapsed time was about ten minutes.

Think about how many threaded fasteners and parts you have in your life. A tap and die set may not get used frequently, but when threads on something get damaged, having such a set can allow you to fix it quickly.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

The Original Real Man's Coffee Cup





It is a USGI canteen cup made by Ingersoll Products sometime in the early 1970s. I got in around 1985 after I joined Civil Air Patrol. The outside is black from heating many meals in campfires.

American servicemen have been using canteen cups since the introduction of the M-1910 over a century ago. It's one of the best pieces of gear ever. The main thing it really needs is some kind of a lid. I have an older Heavy Cover brand stainless steel lid that I modified a bit to make it lighter, but for a couple decades I just relied on a piece of aluminum foil.

Newer USGI canteen cups have folding butterfly-style wire handles. I prefer the older L-style cups like this one. It's one feature of the Keith Titanium set that I would change. (OTH, the Keith sets come with a nice lid for the cup, so there's that.)

The horizontal slot in the handle is to allow you to put a fork from the M-1926 fork into it as an extension for when you're cooking on a fire. The vertical slot is to allow it to be slipped over the handle of the mess kit (AKA "meat can") so the whole ensemble can be dunked in boiling water for field sterilization.

Survival Resources has a nice article on useful mods to this style cup, including how to make a lid, adding D-rings to the handle so you can use a stick for an extension, and adding a bail. Check it out. (Incidentally, I recently ordered a few things from Survival Resources including a haversack. I plan to do a post and/or video on that as soon as I can get to it. No problems at all with my order and I got it quickly.)

Monday, January 28, 2019

Townsends: Fire Starting: No Matches, No Lighter (Video)

This is a very good video on fire starting with flint and steel, including the use of a flintlock, from Jas. Townsend's & Son's YouTube channel:




Aside from a flint and steel, they demonstrate how you can do it with a flintlock gun.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

My First Fire with Flint and Steel

I bought this steel years ago at Dixon's Muzzleloading Shop but today was the first time I made fire with it. It was made from an old file.

I cheated a bit and used char cloth bought from an eBay vendor, but now I'm ready to make my own. The char cloth is in the Altoids tin underneath the steel, while the flint shard is laying on some unraveled jute twine from Lowe's.





I held the char cloth on top of the flint and struck it a few times with the flint. The ember took hold quickly and I quickly moved it to the bird's nest. After a little gently blowing it exploded into flame, and I hurriedly dropped it into my fire pit.




You can see where I dispose of my cigar butts and the long matches I use to light my gas grill. ;)

Now I need to make up some of my own char cloth and find some punky wood to char.

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.