Monday, November 25, 2013

Double Barrel Shotguns

In recent posts I’ve discussed single shot shotguns as tools for your survival arsenal. The oldest way of making a multiple shot firearm was to add a second barrel. Double guns remain popular to this day. Side by side shotguns have experienced a revival with the advent of cowboy action shooting, while over/unders are very popular with trap, skeet, and sporting clay shooters, as well as hunters.

Over on Blog O’Stuff, I’ve posted recently about the Baikal MP-310 (IZH-27) over/under that I got a couple weeks ago. See here, here, and here.

The Baikal guns in particular offer a couple nice features for the prepper. First is chrome plated bores. That means easier maintenance and better weather resistance. The chromed bores will be especially handy if you shoot any shells loaded with black powder or Pyrodex.  The other is that they come with sling swivels. They are old fashioned Euro-style 3/4” swivels. I bought a suitable sling from Hastings Distribution which fit perfectly and was inexpensive.

A well-made double, whether it’s a side-by-side or over/under, is a good hunting tool and not a bad defensive weapon. Doubles offer redundant firing mechanisms and the ability to load a different kind of ammo in each barrel. For example, if you’re hunting you could load one barrel with birdshot and the other with a slug.

Doubles also allow you to shoot ammo that won’t feed well in a repeater, e.g., Aguila 1.5” mini shells.

A double barrel shotgun is a rather intimidating looking weapon. Having two ~3/4” holes pointed at your face says, “GTFO OR ELSE!” in pretty much every language. While you should not rely solely on intimidation, if it prevents you from having to drop the hammer on another person I’d say you’re coming out ahead. Most defensive gun use doesn’t require any shots being fired, so this shouldn’t be totally discounted.

Another nice feature of break open guns compared with most pumps or semiautos is that they are shorter, because there isn’t much action behind the breach. For example, a Remington 870 Express with a 28” barrel is 48.5” long. The Baikal O/U with the same barrel length is 3” shorter.

Most double guns take down easily without tools. My Stoeger SxS Coach Gun and the Baikal take down by removing the forearm by opening a retaining lever. You then break open the gun and pull the barrels off. With a little practice you can takedown or reassemble the gun in about 10 seconds.

Break open guns make it easy to use a sub-gauge adapter. Savage used to sell the “Four Tenner,” which allowed you to shoot .410 bore shells in a 12 gauge shotgun. There are a few vendors of similar products nowadays (search for “sub-gauge adapter”).

Break open singles and doubles have a very simple manual of arms. They don’t require learning how to use a magazine or a slide release. This is an advantage if you need to use one as a hand out gun.

If a single shot doesn’t provide enough firepower for you but a repeater is more complex than you’d like, check out a double gun.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Built a Compost Bin

This afternoon my 9 year old daughter gave me a hand and we made this compost bin. Most of the wood was salvaged from a friend’s old deck that he had torn down, although I did have to buy a couple of 1x3s to finish the job.

It’s about 50” wide, 3’ high, and 2’ front-to-back. The sides are surrounded by hardware cloth (1/2” galvanized steel mesh). I plan to add a hinged door to the front right, but ran out of time today.

We added 3 bags of leaves that were mulched by going through my Toro leaf blower/vac, and some of the vegetable scraps from tonight’s dinner prep.

I’m hoping we get some good compost out of it for next year’s garden. My girls really want to do a garden next year, so that should help motivate me. The soil in my yard is hard packed clay, so I’m planning on building raised beds and filling them with good topsoil.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

A Small Lathe Built in a Japanese Prison Camp

I’ve been doing some preliminary research into silencer designs prior to filing my first Form 1, and ran across this article about a small lathe made by a British POW being held in a WW2 Japanese prison camp. Link to ~1.1 meg PDF.

This lathe was quite a bit smaller than the modern Chinese lathes made by Sieg and Real Bull, and which are commonly derided as toys. Yet, the author of the article made good use of it, fabricating parts for artificial limbs, among other things.

There’s something to be said for picking up and learning how to use a lathe as part of your preps. It could come in useful in the event of an economic depression when manufactured items become hard to get and it’s a tool with which to earn some extra cash.

Sources for the modern mini lathes include Harbor Freight, Grizzly, Little Machine Shop, and Big Dog Metal Works. Also check out for more info.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

More Shotgun Stuff

I went camping with friends a couple weekends ago. On the way to the property, we stopped at Cabela’s and I picked up a box of the Herter’s Multi Defense load, which is a modern incarnation of buck and ball that was used by the US Army in its smoothbore muskets. The Herter’s load consists of one .650” caliber round ball and six No.1 buckshot, each of which is a .30” caliber ball.

As described on Wikipedia:

The intent of the buck and ball load was to combine the devastating impact of the full-size (normally .65 caliber) ball with the spreading pattern of a shotgun, and served to greatly improve the hit probability of the smoothbore musket used in combat, especially at closer ranges, where the buckshot would retain significant energy, and against closely packed troops where the spread of the buckshot would be advantageous

Obviously, the extra hit probability against massed troop formations is no longer of concern, but the Multi Defense load’s combination of a single large projectile with a half dozen smaller pellets may be advantageous in certain environments. I wouldn’t choose it for use in a city or suburban area due to the potential for stray pellets. But for rural or campsite defense it may be a viable option.

The Multi Defense loads may also be found marketed under the Centurion brand name, and I think also Nobel. They are made in Italy and appear to be well made, high quality ammo. I’d like to see a reduced recoil version.

I put a couple of them through my cut down H&R Topper. Thank G-d for the Pachmayr Decelerator slip on recoil pad, because the recoil of these high brass loads in the lightweight H&R was truly vicious.

I’m pleased to note that the Truglo fiber optic bead sight that I put on the H&R  stayed put after putting two of the Multi Defense loads plus two Federal reduced recoil Tactical OO buck through it.

Aside from the self abuse inflicted by shooting high brass shells through a 5.5 pound 12 gauge shotgun, we did some bird and small game hunting. This reinforced that yes, you can in fact miss with a shotgun. The four of us flushed about a dozen ruffed grouse, got off several shots, and wound up having the beef we brought along for dinner.

I got one shot off with my H&R 20 gauge Topper at a grouse but missed. I might have had better luck with a more open choke. The range when I fired was no more than 20 feet. It’s tempting to have the barrel sent off to get threaded for choke tubes and stick an IC tube in the gun.