Wednesday, September 14, 2022

A Canoe Gun by Jackie Brown, and Muzzleloaders for Survival

Over on Blog O'Stuff I've already posted about this, but this post will have a different slant.

I bought this "Canoe Gun" (really just a short version of the Indian Trade Gun) at Dixon's Muzzleloading Shop last weekend. It's a 20 gauge percussion smoothbore. It was built by Jackie Brown. As a southpaw I could not pass it up.

I made a sling for it from a cowhide shoulder I had.

Some measurements I took:

  • Overall length 40"
  • Barrel: 24.5"
  • Length of pull 13.5"
  • Weight 6.5 lbs.
  • Width of buttplate 2"

The lock is a large Siler. The barrel has a slight flare at the muzzle end. It may be slightly coned on the inside. The front and only sight is a trade gun-style turtle. It has a large Siler lock and the nipple is sized for No.11 caps. A .580" ball will drop freely down a clean barrel all the way to the breech.

I got a chance to shoot itthe next day over at a friend's place. He has some land and we can shoot safely in his yard. Unfortunately it was raining and the only place I could load while under overhead cover was his patio. I'd then step out to shoot and some tin cans we placed on a hillside.

My load of 1 oz. of #5 shot on top of 65 grains of Scheutzen 3Fg black powder penetrated both side of a #10 can from about 20 yards, so it's got enough power for hunting.

I also tried a couple varieties of ball loads. I shot a half dozen .570 balls loaded in paper cartridges on top of 65 grains of powder. I also tried a few shots with .575 balls loaded on top of a tow wad, with another tow wad over the ball to hold it in place. The balls loads shot high with how I was holding the gun.

Recoil with both the shot and ball loads was very mild. I plan to try some heavier charges.

I absolutely need to put both shot and ball loads on paper.

Everything went mostly well until the gun fell over onto the brick patio, landing on the hammer which was set to half cock. That broke the half cock notch on the tumbler. (Insert vast amounts of profanity here.)

When I was done I used tow wrapped around a worm to scrub the bore. This was the first time I've tried using tow for cleaning and it works pretty well, much like a bore brush. I'll be using it at least for my smoothbores in the future. This is what tow looks like when wrapped around the worm. There's no reason you can't use it in a modern shotgun. It can even be washed and reused. Once it's worn out you can use it as tinder. You can make the equivalent by cutting a 4" to 6" length of hemp, sisal, or jute rope and unraveling it.

The primitive worm I use is just a coil of wire that winds onto the end of my ramrod. It works like a Chinese finger trap and doesn't easily come off.

After getting home I ordered a replacement tumbler from Track of the Wolf and I paid extra for 2 day delivery. My order arrived today and I repaired the lock after work. It took about a half hour with some needle files to fit the new tumbler to the hammer. I also cleaned up the side of the tumbler that rubs against the lock plate, using a stone. The hammer now clicks solidly into both the half and full cock notches.

I may be going upstate next weekend and if so I should be able to pattern shot loads and figure out how to hold it when shooting ball.

OK, Dave, I know you're saying. Why consider a muzzleloader for a survival gun? Sure, when these guns were originally made they were used for real as survival guns, but it's 2022 now.

For a long term/TEOTWAWKI survival gun a muzzleloader has some advantages, IMO:

  • No paperwork in most states.
  • You can make your own black powder and projectiles.
  • You can shoot birdshot, buckshot, ball, or buck and ball in it. In extremis you can shoot rocks or sticks.
  • It can use modern plastic shot cups for better shot patterns, or traditional materials for wads like felt, tow (flax or hemp fiber), or wasp's nest.
  • You can make percussion caps if you have the correct tool, thin sheet aluminum, copper, or brass, and the chemicals which are freely available now.
  • If it's a flintlock, each flint should be good for at least 30 shots and it's possible to make your own if you live in the right area and know how to do it. (For me, making caps is actually easier.)
  • If the gun is constructed like mine with a nipple and drum, the gun can easily be converted to a flintlock by replacing the drum with a vent liner and the lock with a large Siler flint lock.

I'll have to do a separate, more detailed post on the caplock vs. flintlock for a survival gun.

Of course it's nowhere near as good as even a single shot breech loader for defense but it still beats a sharp stick or harsh language. You are far from unarmed with one of these.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

While you're prepping for food shortages ...

It occurred to me this morning at breakfast that while we're prepping for possible food shortages, we should also be stocking vitamin and mineral supplements. Compared with food and water, storing enough supplements for one person for a year is inexpensive and takes up minimal storage space, and are easily portable should you need to bug out.

I'm planning on picking this up for myself.

This is the formulation for women.

A main difference between the two is that women's multivitamins include iron while those for men don't.

Note that while the above are Amazon affiliate links, I'm planning to purchase locally so I can check the expiration date before purchasing. I don't want to buy a 10 month supply that expires in a few months, regardless of how long they'll last past the expiration date.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

TA Outdoors: 10 Wilderness Survival Tips

I ran across this video from TA Outdoors and was very impressed with what he was able to accomplish with a Swiss Army Knife. A lot of these would apply to scout knives as well.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Some new pocketknives

Every so often I go through a knife buying binge.

I had a MidwayUSA gift card and put it towards a large Case Trapper. This one has yellow Delrin scales and the blades are Case's chrome vanadium (CV) steel, which is a high carbon steel rather than stainless. I've found it to have good edge holding properties while being easy to resharpen. The Victorinox Pioneer is for scale.

Next up was an old Imperial Kamp King. One of these was the second knife I ever owned, back in the late 1970s. It was an inexpensive Boy Scout-type knife and to be honest, was pretty cheaply made. The blades are carbon steel and will develop a patina with use. Somewhere along the line I lost my original. They are easy to find on eBay but most are well used. I found this one that looks like it spent most of its life in a drawer. I put an edge on the blade and it'll find its way into my carry rotation.

Next up were a new Hen & Rooster mini-stockman and an old Kabar 1152 camp knife. The H&R was made in Germany and has stainless blades. From what I've read about the Kabar, it was actually manufactured by Camillus for Kabar. 1152s in fine condition list for $90 - $100 on eBay. This cost about half that due to the pitting on the blade. Someone didn't care for it properly and the pitting is the result. However, that puts it into the user category for me.

When I got it the top of the screwdriver blade rubbed against the knife blade, making the screwdriver almost impossible to open without first opening the knife blade. I filed a slight bevel on it for clearance and now it opens normally.

The blades were a bit rough when opening, so I lubricated them with Sentry Solutions Tuf-Glide. (Amazon affiliate link.) I've found this to work really well on pocketknife pivots. After the carrier dries it leaves behind a lubricant that doesn't collect lint and dirt.

This past weekend I brought the Kabar with me on a camping trip to Tioga County. The can opener worked great on a can of corned beef hash we had with breakfast one day.

If you like Swiss Army Knives but are in the mood for something different there are plenty of affordable old scout knives to be found on sites like eBay and Etsy.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

The DEF Shortage

On top of the diesel shortage, we have the Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) shortage. DEF is injected into the exhaust to reduce pollution.

DEF is required in Diesel engines built since 2010. Without some kind of a hack, they won't run. They won't even start.

Without Diesel-powered trucks, nothing in this country moves.

Morning Call: Record Diesel Prices Crushing Pennsylvania Farmers

Warning, doomer post:

The Morning Call is the third largest newspaper in Pennsylvania. It's not what anyone would consider to be "fringe." So, the fact that it ran this should get your attention.

HARRISBURG — A Lehigh County farmer recently called Kyle Kotzmoyer and said something like “I’ve got a tractor hooked up to my corn planter out here, no diesel fuel, and I can’t afford to get any.”


After the hearing — in a phone interview — Kotzmoyer made clear that food may not be as available because of the fuel price surge.

“One, if they can’t afford to put it in the ground,” he said of farming using diesel-thirsty machinery. “Or, two, if they can’t afford to take it out.”

Average diesel fuel prices Tuesday in Pennsylvania were $6.19 a gallon, about 75% higher than a year ago, according to AAA.


Asked if food shortages were a possibility, Kotzmoyer said, “If the farmers cannot get crops out of the ground, then there is not food on the shelves.”

Kotzmoyer said he has already heard of farmers selling seed corn or beans back to dealers so they can plant hay, which has “more return on investment.”


Full article.

Of course, the problem is not limited to Pennsylvania. This is nationwide.

This picture was posted by "Lorax" from Wisconsin on yesterday:

They are spacing out bratwurst in a Wisconsin supermarket like they are cars at a dealer with low inventory.

On top of the disruptions in global food supplies due to the Russo-Ukrainian War, none of this bodes well.

Continue to stock up.

Sunday, June 05, 2022

A Couple More Rides

Yesterday I took the Nishiki out for my longest ride since the early 1990s. I started at SEPTA's Spring Mill train station and took the Schuykill River Trail out to Valley Forge National Park. Round trip was 22.22 miles.

I continue to be pleased with the Selle Anatomica saddle. I would've been hurting if the bike still had the OEM saddle.

This morning I wanted to ride again but without a recovery day wasn't sure how well I'd do without some assistance, so I took the Lectric XP out for a bit more than 20 miles on the Cross County Trail and the SRT.

I wound up keeping it on pedal assist level 2 for most of the ride, only bumping it up to 3 a few times for hill climbing and passing. This gave me a pretty good workout. On anyting other than dead flat ground or a downhill, it's a heavy pig to pedal without assistance.

The Vee Speedster tires I installed a month ago make a big difference when riding on pavement, compared with the OEM knobby tires. That said, I've come to the conclusion that the bike would have been better designed to use BMX-type wheels with 2" (at the most) wide tires. It could be made lighter and it would be a lot more nimble, and I bet battery life would be better as well.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

17-mile ride

This morning I got the Nishiki Maricopa out for a 17-mile ride on the Skook. The Selle Anatomica saddle I recently bought is turning out to be one of my best cycling-related purchases. I didn't get any numbness in my danglies during or after the ride.

I think a big part of the comfort is the slot in the middle which provides some pressure relief and improves blood circulation. If you're cycling and experiencing discomfort in your perineum or genitals it's worth looking into getting a better saddle, which doesn't mean one of those big, cushy ones.

Monday, May 23, 2022

New Bike Saddle

Now that I've been getting back on my bikes I've been experiencing some discomfort down below. One suggested remedy for that is a leather saddle that after a break-in period will conform to your anatomy without the extra pressure that a padded saddle can cause (yes, that's counter-intuitive).

So, I ordered an H1 saddle from Selle Anatomica. As you can see in the picture it has a cutout in the center for pressure relief.

Today I took my first ride on it, about 8.3 miles on the Schuykill River Trail. I still need to tweak the angle of the seat but my first impressions are favorable. Assuming that I like it after a couple more rides I'll probably order another one for my Trek 820.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Full Charge Wadcutters

Inspired by this article by C.E. (Ed) Harris, earlier this month I loaded up a batch of full power .38 Special wadcutters. Wadcutter ammo in .38 Special is usually loaded light for target shooting. However, when loaded to the same power level as .38 service loads, wadcutters are effective on game and for self defense use. Expansion is minimal but they penetrate very well and cut a full-caliber hole the entire way.

The loads I shot today consisted of:

Note that Ed Harris uses 146 grain double end wadcutters cast from a Saeco mold. I chose the button nose design cast from a Lyman 35891 mold because they may offer slightly better accuracy at long range (i.e., over 50 yards). The difference is probably minimal, however. The bevel base does make loading them in the brass a little easier.

Something interesting to note in that reading various forum posts over the years about .38 wadcutter loads, it appears that these bullets virtually always give best accuracy when loaded to full power.

In any event, my Smith & Wesson Model 15-3 likes this load. This 12-shot group was fired today from about 10 yards, shooting double action:

I caused the 2 flyers.

I'm going to load up a bunch more of these rounds.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Bike Maintenance Day

Yesterday on my ride I noticed that the derailleur didn't want to shift all the way down onto the largest cog. I probably knocked it out of adjustment when I changed the tires. Today I fixed it.

The Lectric XP is too heavy to put on my regular bike maintenance stand, so I picked up a set of Handlebar Jacks, along with the extensions for a little more lift to protect the brake and shift levers, and especially the display.

Here are the jacks strapped to the handlebars:

And the bike upside down on them:

The bike is reasonably steady in this position but you still need to be careful to not knock it over. A bike with wider handlebars would be steadier.

Here's what they look like stowed for storage.

I recommend the Handlebar Jacks to anyone with one of these heavy e-bikes who wants to work on it himself. Doing maintenance with the bike upside down like this isn't as handy as having it on a proper stand but it beats balancing the bike directly on the handlebars. Plus, you can easily take the Handlebar Jacks with you on rides. I keep them in the rack trunk.

I recommend the book for anyone who wants to do at least basic maintenance. There's a version specific to road bikes, which I also have.

Friday, April 22, 2022

First Bike Ride Since September

After work this afternoon I took the Lectric XP out on the Cross County and Schuykill River Trails for a ~14 mile ride. Aside from a quick spin around the 'hood after I mounted them, this was my first ride since September.

The Vee Speedsters are a major improvement over the factory knobby tires. The bike now rides almost as quietly as my Trek 820 with Serfas Drifter tires.

I must have knocked the derailleur while changing the rear tire as it needs some tweaking. Since my bike maintenance stand can't handle the XP, I picked up a set of Handlebar Jacks which should simplify working on it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Garand Thumb: Basics of Urban Combat Survival and Assault Pack Setup

 Garand Thumb posted this up on YouTube the other day. You should watch it.

Id' say the tone is a bit more serious than most of his videos. Current events in Ukraine are obviously an inspiration for the video. The impression I get (as well as some other folks who have more inside scoop) is that this kind knowledge may become valuable here in the US in the not-too-distant future.

Along those lines, I recommend checking out the Integrated Skills Group website, with these articles in particular:

But don't just be a gear queer, read the stuff on skills and mindset.

Personal Security Checklist

One thing we've seen from Ukraine is enemy action taking place on information given up by people on the other side who are sloppy with personal and operational security. The presence of smart phones on the battlefield is a goldmine for intelligence.

Here's a list to get started on not being a PERSEC/OPSEC dumbass:

Saturday, April 16, 2022

New Tires for my E-Bike

Last year I bought a Lectric XP e-bike. After riding it for awhile I came to dislike the knobbie tires that it came with from the factory, since I ride it solely on pavement. They add drag and a lot of road noise. However, because it uses 20 x 4 tires options for replacement are limited.

I'd read a couple of posts online extolling the Vee Tire Company's Speedsters, which have a smoother, inverted tread pattern. However they were out of stock everywhere I looked for quite awhile. I checked their website in early March and saw that they had a special where I was able to get two tires for $160 shipped from Vee in Thailand. They arrived in a timely manner but I didn't install them until today.

I actually would have preferred blackwalls but all they had at the time were the gumwalls. That said, they give the bike a bit of a retro look.

After getting them installed I took the bike for a quick ride around the block to make sure I had everything reassembled correctly and to get a feel for them.

My initial impressions are very favorable. The bike rides much more smoothly and quietly now. I'm hoping that the reduced rolling resistance improves range a bit, too.

Sunday, April 03, 2022

.357 Magnum / .38 Special Opinions

 Over on Bushcraft USA, a member posted the following:

So, I've had this whole .357 magnum revolver idea stuck in my head about long enough now that it's kind of becoming a serious consideration.

I have no interest in concealed carry, this would be strictly a woods bumming gun.

I've owned very few handguns over the years. the two longest running are, a Contender in 7-30 Waters scoped bull barrel for about twenty years. It was fantastically accurate, but awkward to carry and shooting offhand was difficult at best. It was very barrel heavy. I traded it for a milling machine about ten years ago and as much as I enjoyed shooting it I don't miss it. It never really fit my hunting style. For deer I've always been a still hunter in very thick cover. 

I have a Ruger Bearcat .22 that it's only redeeming quality is it is light weight. I hate the fixed sights, to me that ruins the whole gun package. Also we don't have grey squirrels or cotton tails around here except in town pretty much. We can't shoot grouse with anything other than a shotgun. So snowshoe hares are the only thing to shoot with a .22.

In comes the .357.

I seem to think it would be fine for the heavy cover thick brush highly mobile style of deer hunting that I like with shots of 40 yards or less.

Loaded with .38 special it would be enough for the odd coyote or even more rare fox.

Maybe some wadcutter for small game if I wanted or just plinking and fooling around.

And realistically fooling around would probably be its primary job. 

I have most of my reloading stuff yet, so handloads are an option if I decided to go back down that rabbit hole again.


To which I replied:

My favorite handgun cartridge is .38 Special. It handles everything I need a pistol to do, with mild recoil, useful power, and excellent accuracy.

In my opinion, the most versatile handgun you can have is a medium frame .357 Magnum double action revolver with a 4" barrel. They a full sized guns but small enough for concealed carry with the right holster.

With the right ammo you can use them for target shooting, hunting game up to deer sized, training new shooters, and self defense.

Reloading .38 Special and .357 Magnum is relatively easy because they are straight walled, rimmed cases. Carbide sizing dies eliminate the need to lubricate cases. They are usable with a wide variety of powders (even black powder, since the .38 was originally designed for it). There is a huge variety of bullets available in cast, swaged, plated, powder coated, and jacketed flavors.

If you're OK with limiting yourself to single actions, Ruger makes the Blackhawk Convertible that comes with .357 and a 9mm cylinders, further increasing versatility. Taurus sells the 692 double action that comes with .357 and 9mm cylinders.

Check out the articles by Ed Harris about the .38 Special (among other things) hosted at

And of course, a .357 revolver makes a dandy companion to a lever action in the same caliber. Even full house .357s are mild to shoot in a carbine and firing .38s in a carbine is much like shooting a .22.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Shotgun "Violin" Reloading Technique

In the TFBTV video I linked to yesterday, one of the things demonstrated is the "violin" reloading technique. This is a reloading method in which you place the butt of the empty shotgun on top of your strong side shoulder for support while reloading. The supports it with minimal muscle effort and allows you to load rounds into the chamber and magazine after the gun has run dry.

However, when we saw it in the video it was always done by a right handed shooter. I'm left handed and wondered how it would work for us southpaws. So, I grabbed my 1951-vintage Remington 870 Wingmaster and a couple snap caps.

As it turns out, the technique is viable for lefties:

  1. With the action open, place the butt on top of your left shoulder with the gun laying on its side so that the ejection port is skyward. Support the front end of the gun with your right hand.
  2. With your left hand, place a round into the ejection port and chamber it.
  3. Rotate the gun so that it's now upside down with the loading port skyward.
  4. Load rounds into the magazine using your left hand.
  5. After the gun is reloaded go back to a ready position or firing position, as the situation dictates.

Ok, cool. Is this something I really need to practice?

IMO it depends. It will be very useful when shooting a match or taking a shotgun class. On the other hand, if you're a civilian relying on a semiauto or slide action shotgun for defense, the odds of you ever needing to reload in a gunfight are very, very slim. As Greg Ellifretz recently posted on his blog:

I dug deeply into the details of almost 1800 shootings for my study on firearm stopping power.  Outside of cops shooting at barricaded suspects, I never saw a single gunfight where the defender emptied his shotgun.  If you plan to miss a lot, you’ll probably want to have some extra ammo on board.  But the reality is that if you hit your target, I rarely see cases that required more than two shotgun rounds.  One or two hits with 00 buck or slugs tend to be very decisive stoppers.

With most defensive shotguns holding between four and eight rounds, you probably will not need any extra ammo for your home defense shotgun.  I would not criticize you a bit for wanting to minimize weight by just carrying the rounds in the magazine tube.  Take a look at my SBS 870.  It only holds four rounds in the mag tube and I have no spare ammo on the gun.  The reality of the situation is that I’m exceedingly unlikely to need more than four 00 buck cartridges in my home defense gunfight.
Emphasis added by me.

Now, with that being said, practicing reloads is a good idea because it builds familiarity with your weapon, which makes it more likely that you can manipulate it properly under stress, and if you need to clear a malfunction it will be easier.

Of course, if you're a cop or a soldier armed with a shotgun, you should definitely practice reloads because as Ellifretz notes, there are fundamental differences between those who seek to avoid trouble and those who are charged with running towards it.

Finally, I recommend that anyone who has a gun for defense should buy a set of functioning dummies and/or snap caps. They are vastly safer to use when checking function or running drills at home than using live rounds.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

TFBTV: Combat Shotgun Basics with Clint Smith of Thunder Ranch

 This video is one of the best I've seen on using shotguns for defense.

It's about 23 minutes long and worth watching the whole thing.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Esstac Shotshell Card

The old, cheap elastic butt cuff that used to adorn my Mossberg 500 stretched out after several years. Rather than purchasing another one, I decided to try putting on an Esstac 4-round shotshell card. It's attached to the stock with heavy duty Velcro tape.

Since I'm left handed, it's mounted on the left side of the stock so the right side is unobstructed.

I actually purchased two of the cards, so if I'm camping or the SHTF I can throw the second one in my pocket for another 4 rounds.

I've also seen pictures of shotshell cards attached to the left side of the receiver. This won't work for me because I keep the gun in a Mossberg Loc-Box that surrounds the receiver.

Anyway, the sewing on the Esstac card appears to be very high quality. The loops are tight, and it was a bit of a struggle inserting the shells. I expect they'll stretch a little. We'll see how the Velcro holds up.

If this doesn't work out my plan is to get a stock cuff from Hill People Gear.

Good reading on home defense shotguns

I recently found a few posts on the MDTS Training site that are worth reading, regarding defensive shotguns:

Recently, I bought 100 rounds of Prvi Partizan 2.75" 1200 FPS 00 buckshot. Full power buck is generally rated for 1300 FPS so this should hopefully have somewhat less recoil. The Prvi ammo is old school: non-buffered, it looks like it's not in a shot cup, and is held in place with a clear plastic over-shot card that's roll-crimped to secure it. I expect it to open up much more quickly than Federal Flite Control but for inside use in a subdivision that may not be a bad thing.

In a couple weeks I'll be heading upstate again and hope to test the Prvi buckshot for function and pattern in my Mossberg, after which I'll post a report.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

New Stock for my Mossberg 500

Like millions of other Americans, I keep a 12 gauge shotgun for home defense. In my case, it's a Mossberg 500 Mariner. It's basically a regular 18.5" barreled Mossberg 500 but with an electroless nickel finish on the metal and it came with black plastic furniture.

Several years ago I replaced the too-long factory stock with a Hogue youth-sized stock, giving it a 12" length of pull. Even though I'm only about 5'5" tall that was too short to shoot comfortably, so I added a Kick-Eze slip-on recoil pad to add another inch or so. That wasn't ideal because it just didn't feel solid.

So, last week I replaced the Hogue with a Magpul SGA, which is adjustable via adding or removing spacers. I set it up for a 13.5" LOP.

The pistol grip section is more vertical than either the factory or Hogue stock, but it's comfortable for me. I was initially concerned that the comb was a bit too high but after shooting the gun with the new stock, it's not.

Last weekend I was camping on private property where I had the chance to shoot it with a couple different loads. First were a few Herter's buck and ball (a single .650 ball plus six No.1 buckshot) from Cabela's. Second were some Remington 00 buck that I bought years ago at Walmart.

Both were high-brass 1300 FPS 2.75" loads, and of course they kick quite a bit. The Magpul's recoil pad made them bearable for a few rounds.

At home, the Mossberg is kept ready with Federal reduced recoil 00 buck featuring Flite Control wads. They are a lot more pleasant to shoot and will be plenty effective in the unfortunate event I ever need to use it.

No doubt someone reading this will wonder why I'm using a shotgun for home defense in 2022 instead of a pistol caliber carbine or an AR-15. Shotguns remain highly effective defensive arms to this day. Greg Ellefretz has a recent post that mirrors my thoughts on the matter.

You'll note from the picture that my shotgun lacks a light, red dot, laser, sling, or curb feelers. IMO, home defense shotguns should be kept as slick as possible. It's been awhile but I've shot in multigun matches and my shotgun with a simple bead was always at least as fast as guns with ghost rings or optics. (Read Ellefretz's article on why I don't have a sling or light on it. I might add a light, but in the house a sling has too much potential for getting caught on something, IMO.)

Yes, it kicks a lot and doesn't carry a lot of ammo. But the Mossberg is light, handy, reliable, fast on target, and the terminal ballistics are basically unmatched at the range I would need it at.  I live in white bread suburbia, not a war zone.

As Ellefretz notes, it's extremely uncommon for someone defending his home with a shotgun to need to reload in a fight. That said, I had an elastic butt cuff with 5 spare rounds on it on the stock. I am replacing that with an Esstac 4-round card. That will allow me to grab the shotgun have nine rounds of GTFO in/on the gun.

One thing I found interesting during the early days of the pandemic was that aside from all the military-style rifles and handguns that sold out, so did fighting shotguns. Americans get combat shotguns more than most other people.

As an aside, when I got the Mossberg I sometimes ran into sticky extraction. I did some online searching and found that I wasn't the only Mossberg Mariner owner to experience this. I resolved the issue by polishing the chamber with some Flitz metal polish on a cleaning patch wrapped around a 12 gauge bore brush, chucked in an electric drill. Since then the function has been flawless.

Edit 3/25/22:

After some more consideration and seeing how it felt, I removed one of the stock spacers, so LOP is now at 13". This enables me to more easily tuck it into my shoulder and will also be helpful if I need to use it while wearing more than a T-shirt.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Ultra Compact Pistol Cleaning Kit

Several years ago I put together the first version of this cleaning kit to accompany an M1 Carbine I used as a road trip gun. I updated it today to keep with my Beretta 71.


  • 1 pull through with loops on each end to hold a cleaning patch. This was made from two of the conductors stripped from a piece of CAT5e network cable. It's plastic coated so it won't damage the bore, and coils up to fit in the plastic bag at lower left. A boresnake or sectional cleaning rod could be substituted. I might make a short brass cleaning rod for the kit because then I could use it to push out bore obstructions.
  • 1 plastic bag containing some .22 - .270 cotton flannel cleaning patches, and two pipe cleaners.
  • 1 "Norton's Universal Cleaning Stick" from This is a thin plastic bar that can be used for scraping or pushing a cleaning patch through crevices.
  • 1 USGI-type gun cleaning brush.
  • 1 plastic bag containing a 1 oz. bottle of Rem Oil and a rag torn from an old T-shirt. Rem Oil isn't the best gun oil but it works well as a CLP for short term use and the bottle size is handy. Use your favorite gun oil or CLP.
  • 1 USGI Vietnam-era surplus "Chieu Hoi" bag, into which everything fits. These were originally intended to use as covers for 20 round M16 magazines in Vietnam. The idea was that they'd be discarded on the battlefield to induce any Viet Cong who picked them up to defect. They are still readily available and make good storage parts for small parts or kits like this one.

Naturally, this isn't a comprehensive maintenance kit. Rather, it's intended to be an ultra compact cleaning kit to keep in the pistol case to keep it running as part of a grab and go kit.

The pistol, extra magazines, and cleaning kit all fit into this US Peacekeeper attache-style gun case (Amazon affiliate link). A 100 round box of .22LR ammo should also fit.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Compact .22 Handguns

This is an interesting article:

It was referenced in this thread on BCUSA (I think you can read it w/o being registered):

I currently have three compact .22 pistols:

A Beretta 71 "Jaguar".

It's a great, sweet shooting, and very reliable piece. However, I it might not be the best choice for hard use  due to the lack of spare parts or factory magazines. That said, I managed to find a couple sources for used factory Beretta 7x magazines on eBay. I have one on order so hopefully it'll work well.

This afternoon I dug out the Jaguar and painted the front sight with a white base coat and a high-viz green. I've been doing this on most of my pistols because it really helps with visibility cf. a plan black blade.

A Ruger SR22.

Mine has the threaded barrel. DA/SA, reliable, polymer framed, and very light. Has current, American factory support. With good ammo it's reliable but IMO it could benefit from a stronger hammer spring.

A High Standard R-101 Sentinel revolver.

Even though the HS revolvers are long out of production, I wouldn't have a problem relying on this gun. They are known for durability and of course, magazines are not an issue. It holds 9 shots in the cylinder, which gives it an edge over 6 shooters. I just got it a little over week ago so I need to run a variety of ammo types through it to see if it prefers anything in particular. Accuracy with Federal Game Shock was mediocre. I got it to the range for the second time this weekend and it seems to like Aguila Super Extra and CCI standard velocity ammo. It also shot OK with CCI Mini Mags and Remington Golden Bullets.

I also have a Ruger 22/45 Lite, which while lightweight it's not very compact, and another 22/45. An advantage of the Lite is that aside from having a threaded muzzle, it also came with a Weaver rail so mounting a compact red dot sight is easy. Mine has a Bushnell TRS-25 red dot sight on it.

Friday, January 28, 2022

Thawing a Frozen Padlock

The padlock to my generator shed was frozen solid. I wanted to unlock it in case I need it for an incoming storm. The lock is in close proximity to plastic so I didn't want to use a torch. So, I took two disposable, stick-on toe warmers and sandwiched the lock between them, then waited awhile. (The rubber band was for a little extra holding power.)

I ran out to the hardware store and when I got back about an hour later, it opened right up.

It was in the upper 20s when I did this. If it was colder you could wrap some plastic around it to hold in the heat and block the wind, but I'd leave the bottom open to allow in some oxygen for the heaters.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Sometimes Even High Quality Guns Break

Don't let anyone tell you that revolvers are 100% foolproof. If you shoot them long enough you'll run into functional issues and sometimes, parts breakage.

This afternoon I was shooting with a friend and this happened to his revolver:

That's a 1980s-vintage Smith & Wesson Model 64 K-Frame chambered for .38 Special, with a broken hammer nose. The gun is down hard until my friend replaces it. The fix shouldn't be difficult but it will require tearing down the gun pretty far.

This is the first time I've personally experience a broken S&W revolver firing pin. However, my brother owned a Rossi .357 in the 1990s and it experienced a similar failure.

If you have a small battery of guns, it's a good idea to have a spare of the one you use the most, so that you can rearm yourself if it goes down. Likewise, for small, easily lost parts, or parts known for breakage, keep spares on hand.