Monday, June 27, 2011

The Importance of Testing New Gun Gear

I was on vacation today and was able to get down to the range for my first extended shooting session with modern guns since February (I have been on a black powder kick since then).

Today is a good example of why you should try out new gun gear before relying upon it in earnest.

The two guns I brought with me were my Springfield Loaded M1911A1 and my 1943 Underwood M1 Carbine, which is currently fitted with a replica M1A1 folding stock, Ultimak, and Bushnell TRS-25 red dot sight. (Purists should note that I can return it to as-issued condition in about 5 minutes.)

I started out with the Carbine. This was my first time shooting it since I mounted the Ultimak and RDS.  I zeroed the gun at 25 yards in about 10 shots. Along with the Carbine I'd brought three 15 round magazines, only one of which I'd used before. The other two were Korean-made mags which I got a couple years ago NIW from AIM Surplus.  I was pleased to see that I had no malfunctions in 100 rounds, mostly fired from the Korean mags.  Ammo was Remington-UMC 110 grain FMJ.

After I got home it looked like the Ultimak mount shifted forward a little under recoil. The barrel band spring on the replica folding stock is not quite in spec, but this hasn't been a problem when there was only a wooden handguard on the Carbine. But the additional mass of the Ultimak and RDS was enough to allow them to shift forward, causing the barrel band to jump the retaining spring. I'll see about replacing it with a GI spring.

I also experienced some annoyance with the Springfield. I wanted to try out two new Metalform 7 round magazines in the gun. I picked them up a few weeks ago from CDNN when they were on sale. From what I've read the Metalforms are good magazines at a low price.

Not in my gun, unfortunately. I had a couple stovepipes and failures to eject. I had a similar problem with a 7 round Springfield magazine that came with the gun. However, I was able to put at least 60 rounds through the gun using two Chip McCormick 8 round Shooting Star magazines with no malfunctions.  Ammo was 50 rounds of Federal Champion and 50 rounds of Magtech. Both were 230 grain Ball, though the Federal seemed a little hotter.

My dad has some Metalforms that have worked well in his 1911s, so I'll give mine to him.

The point to take away from all this is to test new gun gear to see how it works for you, with your guns. Magazines which work well in others' guns may not work in yours. Accessories which seem firmly affixed may work themselves loose when actually used. Live fire is the only true test.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Homemade Firestarters

If you go to any store catering to campers you'll see a large selection of firestarters designed to help you get your campfire going.  Many of these work well, e.g., Lightning Nuggets, but it's simple to make your own firestarters for much less money.  I made some today from cardboard, jute twine, and paraffin wax from the canning section at the supermarket.

To get the cardboard I cut the flaps from an empty beer case, then cut each flap into sections about six inches long.  I then rolled up each piece and secured it with several wraps of jute twine, tied off with a square knot. Then I soaked each bundle for a few minutes in paraffin canning wax in an old pot on my charcoal grill.  After a few minutes I took each firestarter out with a pair of pliers and set it in the bottom of the beer case to harden.

I tested one firestarter by lighting it with a match. It burned for several minutes with a good, high flame. It would work well to help get your campfire going if you had to contend with wet wood.  Note that these won't light directly from a spark but are pretty easily lit with a match or lighter.

Be very careful when melting paraffin.  The safest way to do so is in a double boiler.  It's also a good idea to do this outside in case you have too much heat and the wax ignites.

Aside from rolls of cardboard you can use other household items to make firestarters.  One of the best ways is to take the bottom of a cardboard egg carton and fill each pocket with sawdust or dryer lint.  Use lint containing mostly cotton fibers, such as lint from drying a load of towels.  Then, melt some wax and pour it into the egg carton.  You then cut apart each pocket, leaving you with 12 to 18 firestarters that will burn for several minutes.  Depending on how much help you need getting your fire started, you can even cut each of the firestarters into smaller sections.

Making your own camping gear is fun and can save you some money.  Give it a try.