Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas 2007

It only seems proper to commemorate the season with a nod toward familial traditions. So far as I'm concerned, the religious aspects have been covered adequately elsewhere, or Inadequately, depending on your personal perspective.

My Beloved Bride, Holly, has commented elsewhere
about HER family's Christmas traditions. I was fascinated several years back, when I learned of them and how they in some ways paralleled those of my childhood.

It never occurred to me to ask about when Mother and Dad reached their compromise about Christmas. Dad was just barely a Texan by birth, being whisked across the Red River as an infant, and grew up in and around Ryan, Oklahoma. Mother's family was centered around a farm outside Itasca, Texas. After nursing school, she took a job at the little community hospital in Ryan, met Dad, and history unspooled.

When I was small, we'd spend Christmas Eve at Ryan and have the major celebration and gift exchange that night. There were my Grandparents, Dad's sister, her husband and daughter, and usually Dad's aunt and uncle. What with other relatives and friends dropping by, it seemed like a nice houseful to me. Happily, my only first cousin, was withing a year of my age, something of a tomboy, and enjoyed climbing the backyard trees as much as I did. The Christmas I was four, my brother Gerald was present but he wasn't a major irritant for a few years.

Early on Christmas Day, we'd pile into the car and drive the 140-odd miles south to spend Christmas afternoon and night with Mother's family. She was one of eight siblings, all of whom had their own families, so the house was full-to-overflowing every year. At least some of my aunts and uncles had already had their own festivities before arriving at the g'parents' place. Somehow, it didn't bother me that the same Santa Claus I'd seen in Oklahoma the previous night made another appearance in Central Texas. Or, speaking of appearance, that he LOOKED somewhat different . . . .

There were two male first cousins in this group when I was still pre-school, with many more cousins to arrive later. The other two guys and I ranged far and wide. The farm was a ways out from town and the blackland fields were almost table flat, so our parents could see us as far as we'd travel.

When we moved out to El Paso while I was in the fourth grade, it was a lot more hassle to make the family Christmas celebrations. As it happened, though, Dad was almost always able to take vacation time, and we made it far more often than not. We did a lot of traveling during that week or so, but it was just what we did, and it usually seemed worthwhile. We always drove, and I'll note that this was before the days of the Interstate Highway system, at least out in our direction, and I doubt there was 50 miles of four-lane road between El Paso and Ryan. Dad liked well tuned, big-engined cars, though, and he wasn't hesitant to drive them a bit, uh, rapidly when he had the chance. Traffic enforcement radar was in it's infancy, and Dad was a very alert driver.

I wonder if many of you did much regular long-range travel during Christmas time, in YOUR youth?

This year, as BB has already blogged, we had a somewhat smaller group than usual at our place. Her mother was here, and both Holly's son and daughter. Younger Son David was here, though he had to go to work later on. Late in the evening, H's stepbrother, his wife, and one daughter showed up to visit. Matt was absent, but for a happy reason - - His wife had already taken their kids to visit her side of the family for the first time in years. Matt drove down to join them in Austin on Monday, and took his mother with him for the celebrations.

What with all the aforementioned activity, our Christmas day was very quiet. I fixed French toast and bacon for breakfast, and we've been grazing on leftovers since. We've talked on the phone with several relatives and special friends. Matt sent a text greeting, and technologically challenged as I am, I couldn't do likewise, so I just phoned to return the greetings.

Withal, we are in relatively good health, warm, nicely fed, and fairly basking in well-being. We are conscious of the blessings we enjoy and are mindful of those less fortunate. A grand Christmas season, and we extend our sincere wishes that you all have had, and are having, the same.

JPG

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Obsolete vs. Obsolescent


To begin with, let's get the dictionary definitions out of the way. Oxford American Dictionary says - -
Obsolete adj. no longer used; antiquated
Obsolescent adj. Becoming obsolete, going out of use or out of fashion.


Obsolete is often used as a term of derogation, mostly by those with some stake in the nifty new model something or other.

A lot of people confuse the two words, but in their place they are very useful and descriptive terms. It'll be no surprise that this blog entry deals with the application of these terms to firearms. In my mind, a firearm is only obsolete when it is completely superseded by something that does the job better.

Back in 1994, I watched the movie “Legends of the Fall” with my girl friend (later to become my Beloved Bride.) Toward the end of the movie, the now-aged protagonist hunts for and shoots a great bear. While he was maneuvering for the shot, I remarked, “Model 1886 Winchester.” She asked later, “Would that model rifle have been proper for the period?” I figured that if Tristan had been twenty in 1915, then to be about 70, the final hunt would have been in about 1965. The oldest the rifle could have been was 79 years, and Winchester produced the '86 until about 1927.

The answer to BB's question, of course, was yes, it would have been proper. NOT the latest and greatest hunting rifle perhaps - - There had been a dozen more modern sporting arms produced by 1965. However, a well-cared-for '86 in, say, .45-70, will kill a bear in 1965 as well as it would have in 1900. An owner satisfied with an old model rifle, who cares naught for “the newest style,” might well decline to spend good money on a modern bolt action rifle. That particular rifle would certainly have been considered obsolescent, if not truly obsolete by 1965, but it would still work quite well for the intended purpose. People seldom toss away a still functional and reliable tool.

Another example might better define an “obsolete” arm. In its day, the Colt 1860 Army revolver was considered by many to be the finest combat sidearm available. Far lighter than the previous .44 caliber revolvers, it had a much-improved loading lever system, and it was powerful compared to the Navy caliber (.36”) revolvers. This fine arm was immediately rendered obsolescent with the advent of reliable revolvers using metallic cartridges. It avoided being obsolete for a time, only because there were so many thousand '60 Armies in everyday use, and because large caliber metallic cartridge sidearms were in short supply for some years. Several things occurred in the next several years, though. The U. S. Army adopted the Colt's Peacemaker, the famous Single Action Army .45 revolver. Smith & Wesson was producing the Russian, American, and Scofield revolvers. Colt's introduced the SAA in the .44 Winchester Center fire cartridge. These factors combined to render the 1860 Army obsolete as a combat revolver. Something far better was at hand, economically and readily available.

Military arms tend to obsolesce with some regularity, at least until recent years. The smooth bore flintlock musket, typified by the French Charleville and the British Brown Bess, were the world standard for generations. With the advent of the reliable, nearly waterproof, percussion cap, the flinters were immediately obsolete. Then the smoothbore percussion cap arm was destined for the scrap heap with the advent of the rifled musket and the self obturating hollow base conical ball invented by the French Captain Minie. For the first time, a rifle could be loaded as rapidly as the smoothbore.. The Springfield Models of 1861 and 1863, and the British Pattern 1853 Enfield were the infantry mainstay long arms in the mass fratricide of 1861 – 1865.

Despite the wholesale carnage wrought by use of rifled muskets, the handwriting was already on the wall with thousands of breechloading arms in use before war's end. The US Army and Navy also adopted the Spencer Repeating Rifle and Carbine. Slowness of production and distribution prevented this repeater from being a decisive factor in the war.

The US Army “obsoleted” the rifled muskets immediately upon the end of hostilities, with the Springfield “trap door” series, chambered first for the .50-70 cartridge and later in .45-70. during 1870 – 73.


Many thought the lever action repeating rifle, exemplified by the Henry and Winchester 1866, would render single shot rifles antiques immediately. It was clear, though, that the short, low-powered cartridges of these arms would not meet the military need for longer range riflery. Even the .52 Spencer was underpowered, and was soon replaced by the trap door Springfields.

This latter arm lasted for over 20 years until replaced by the bolt action Krag rifle, which served 1894 – 1903. A new Springfield rifle was adopted in 1903, using an already-obsolete cartridge. But three years later it was rechambered for the US Cartridge, caliber .30, model of 1906. The .30'06 round was our military standard for 50 years, being retained when the M1 Garand rifle was adopted in 1935.

Do we see a pattern here? A given design arm or load serves its role well for a shorter or longer period. Then something else comes along, not only newer, but basically BETTER SUITED to the job. This is when the old one is obsolescent, and in due course, if the new item is proven satisfactory, the old one is phased out entirely, and becomes obsolete.

This is getting to be too long. We're at a good stopping point, so I'll close it for now. Stay tuned for more later.

JPG


Monday, December 10, 2007

How Much is WHOSE Blog Worth?


Here's some data I really don't understand.

Reference hereinbelow is made to the content of Matt G's recent post concerning the supposed dollar value of different blogs. Click on over there and read his observations. They are interesting and a necessary predicate to my below-subscribed efforts. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Matt's stuff perked my interest so I checked Technorati's rating of my own blog. The result:


My blog is worth $11,290.80.
How much is your blog worth?



Now, I make no pretense to any understanding of marketing and financial matters. I can just about balance a checkbook and pay bills, but really need an accountant to prepare my taxes. My ego is in pretty decent shape, thank you very much. At my moments of very highest self-esteem, however, I would never claim that my modest blog was equal to Tamara's primary, View From the Porch .

I certainly cannot fathom how in the name of Samuel Colt ANYONE would assess the value of my blog at TWICE that of hers. It just don't compute, nohow, no way.

JPG



Saturday, December 01, 2007

More on-line testing

Okay, it's been a while since I made any kind of blog post, and I've been looking for something significant to write. Still haven't found it, but I've noticed a couple of the little quizzes which caught my eye.

The “What American Accent Do You Have” quiz is of minor interest:
What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The South

That's a Southern accent you've got there. You may love it, you may hate it, you may swear you don't have it, but whatever the case, we can hear it.

The Inland North
The Northeast
Philadelphia
The Midland
The West
Boston
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

I pretty much grew up in El Paso - - Second grade through high school -- WAY out on the western tip of Texas, with perhaps a lot more Western US and Mexican influence on speech than South or East Texas. When I moved to Fort Worth to attrend university, I noticed that not only the accents but even the speech patterns were a LOT different.

Other tests - - My Beloved Bride posted one in her blog. Frankly, I have more faith in being able to assess an accent with a short series of questions than being able to tell how ignorant/intelligent a person is by the same means. Since she scored higher on that one than I did, I'll decline to post THAT result.

There's another one, though, pertaining to IQ scores. My results are a good deal lower than I scored when I entered high school, but that was a LONG time ago. I guess I shouldn't be too disappointed. I haven't dulled out as much as I had feared. In any case, though, - - -
Free IQ Test Score
Free-IQTest.net - IQ Test


**Grin**

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Warmest Holiday Greetings

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

There's some interesting history associated with this holiday. Apparently most are taught that the day of thanksgiving originated with the pilgrims in Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts. I was, and recall the story of the friendly Native American, Squanto, who helped the settlers through the difficult first year. In 1621, following an abundant harvest, a celebratory feast was organized. The Governor of Plymouth invited the nearby tribe to participate in the festivities.

In truth, it appears that this landmark date and occasion are predated by another, very similar event. On December 4, 1619, a group of 38 English settlers arrived at Berkley Hundred, Virginia Colony, about 20 miles upstream from the original Jamestown settlement. Apparently wishing to get off on the right foot with the Almighty, the already-written charter of Berkley Colony specified, "Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God."

The Berkley Thanksgiving celebration continues as a major event, at least locally. President Bush made his annual Thanksgiving address there this year. Apparently they held the celebration a bit early.

In subsequent years, the national Day of Thanksgiving (in the USA) was a matter of proclamation by the president or the congress, and it was done each year. Finally, in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt set the fourth Thursday in November each year as Thanksgiving Day. However, this action was not approved by congress until 1941.

Historical considerations aside, though - - -
I think it is a wonderful thing, that we are all at least influenced to pause and take stock of our good fortune each year. It is so easy to become too busy to recall how good we really have it, compared to so many unfortunates throughout the world. Yes, we all have problems, and worries, and even downright hard times. But few among us in America will go hungry on any given day. There are far too many charities, churches, and benevolent organizations providing meals free to the needy, even the homeless are provided food.

On a personal note, I am fortunate - - In our household, we have our family. Beloved Bride and I have each other, and we have each other's families, including my two sons and Holly's daughter and son. All are healthy and gainfully employed. None have any legal problems. We don't get to see the kids as often as we'd like, but, hey, that's modern life. Elder Son Matt is on duty so he won't be able to attend. That being the case, his Sweet Wife and their two beautiful daughters are away visiting her Mom. Younger Son David is likewise working, but he'll come by for a visit and an early meal. BB's mother will attend. Her Tall Son is off on Thursday only and lives too distant to do the travel and celebration all in one day, so he'll not be present. Happily, her Angel Baby Girl will be with us, and a stepbrother and his wife, both just excellent people.

We're most thankful for our family of course, but also for our circumstances. Our health is generally good. There is adequate money for our real needs. We have transportation, insurance, shelter, and well more than sufficient food. While a bit more disposable income would be nice, we have enough that we can each indulge our hobbies to some extent.

All this personal stuff is very significant in our lives, and it becomes easy to overlook some other, tremendously important facts. We are blessed to live in a place and time where we have freedom and individual rights far better than the vast majority of the rest of the world. We may complain about taxes and governmental restrictions. We are certainly unhappy with our political situation and the office holders and office seekers, but these are changeable, and we give thanks that we have the opportunity to effect such changes. We are thankful for those in America's military services are on duty to provide their efforts and spirit and even blood in support of freedom loving people everywhere. Our gratitude extends to those in domestic public service as well. There are those on duty today who would rather be with their families or friends, but who have voluntarily serve our society. They have taken the responsibility of providing medical care, fire protection, keeping the public peace, and maintaining necessary public utilities.

I hope you all are having a good day, or did have, if you don't read this until later.

Best regards,
JPG



Wednesday, November 21, 2007

“Guns are Good for Only One Thing”


Do you get ESPECIALLY tired of hearing that old scare line? I sure do. Of all the phrases and mottoes fostered by the anti-gun idjits, this is perhaps the shortest, handiest, and most frequently parroted. Their natural extension is, of course, “Guns are only good for killing people!”

Most of us, you and I, would have a ready rebuttal. We think about all the NON-people-killing uses to which we've put various firearms. Plinking with a .22 after a picnic, target shooting with the scouts or 4-H club, three generations of one family busting clay birds or calling waterfowl, the sharp clear air on a deer hunt morning. The joy of handling a particularly historic antique arm.

Let's be honest here. Take into account all the purely sporting firearms you know, fowling pieces, rifles for small game and large, FUN pinking guns, long range target rifles, the kid's first .22, the stinky black powder guns. Now, set ALL those aside, and stipulate that they will never, ever be misused, and you find that there are still a huge number of firearms designed for anti-personnel use. The short barrel shotgun, so favored for home defense, the police- and military-type handguns and “sniper rifles.” Any small, lightweight handgun specially suited for concealed carry. Each of these WAS designed for use against human beings. There may in fact be some fragment of truth to the statement that, “Guns are good only for killing.” Not precisely, no. Most of those guns are good because they are CAPABLE of killing. There is a LOT of value in deterrence and in simply making the option available to a possible victim of violent crime.

Jeff Cooper once wrote about being asked the “only good for killing people” question. His response was something like, “Unfortunately there are some very bad men who need be killed, when they attack us. And isn't it grand that we're fortunate enough to have such good implements with which to deal with them?”

For the vast majority of us, these arms will have fulfilled their purpose if they simply are available for emergency use. Much the same can be said for the vast majority of fire extinguishers, personal flotation devices, seat belts, parachutes, and smoke alarms in everyday use around the world. These are for unexpected emergencies, and as with the defensive sidearm, are of absolutely no use unless already at hand when the situation arises.

"But guns are too dangerous to even have around!"

Another favorite. The implication seems to be, if there's a gun on hand, someone will probably get shot. Well, no. Having a gun around gives one AN OPTION not otherwise available, but it will take no action of its own accord.


Consider a very efficient and businesslike firearm, say, a .45 automatic. It doesn't matter. I take that .45, insert a loaded magazine, chamber a round, and apply the safety. Or, wait, leave the safety off. I put the pistol on a table in a secure room, walk out and lock the door. Guess what? That type gun, having been used by men to kill other men for 95 years, designed specifically for battle, will set there and do absolutely nothing. It can remain in position until the table rots away. Until the entire building crumbles and falls down. The pistol will not fire, will not attack anyone or anything, unless and until someone messes with it. With any quality firearm, there is NO hazard if no human is involved. The most efficiently designed tool, carefully crafted and ready for immediate use, has no innate will, no independent spirit, and will not function unless directed in some manner by a human. The hammer will not drive a nail, the scalpel will not perform surgery, the chain saw will not cut wood, and the pistol will not fire, without some person's participation.

May we always utilize our tools in a proper manner.
JPG

Monday, November 19, 2007

Why I Don't Name My Guns

Definition: anthropomorphic 1: Described or thought of as having a human form or with human attributes (~ dieties) 2: ascribing human characteristics to nonhuman things (~supernaturalism)

It is an old tradition, naming one's personal possessions, most especially weapons. I think this first shows up in the old Norse sagas or perhaps the Arthurian legends. A warrior dubbed his sword or battle ax Snickersee or Blood Drinker or something else he deemed suitable.

This naming of favored weapons definitely originated in a time when it was thought that many gods and goddesses held sway over the Earth, and spirits were everywhere. It certainly made as much sense to think of a weapon having a spirit, or being inhabited by a spirit, as to think of the spirits of the rocks, and the trees, and the grain. Perhaps even more sense. One tried to stay on the good side of the spirits controlling trees and crop production, because, in a season or two, a harvest might be effected thereby. But the warrior's weapons? Might not these items work or fail, preserve or lose the bearer's life, in the twinkling of an eye? Not some time this fall, but RIGHT NOW! Hey, a fighting person needed every break he could get, and it just didn't DO, not to cover all the bases.

The names of some of the famous weapons have been passed down to us in the legends and stories - - Hrunting,
Sword of Beowulf; Arondight , Sword of Lancelot, and that of his boss, King Arthur's Excalibur. There is an entire pantheon of famous, named swords.

Perhaps the most famous named firearm (actually firearms) were those of David Crockett
: Betsy, Old Betsy, and Pretty Betsy. (Just plain Betsy was the one that Col. Crockett brought to Texas, and which was lost at the Mission San Antonio de Valero . The other two are exhibited in museums.)

The problem with anthropomorphizing weapons is that when you do, you needs must allow that have a certain amount of WILL, apart and separate from the wielders. Such a viewpoint MIGHT start an impressionable person into a spiral of loss of logic and reasoning, a slippery slope which ends with feeling the inanimate object is capable of possessing a will of its own. By extension, it might well be capable of independent action. This would be bad enough, Lord knows, but it goes farther, giving the weapon the power to influence the possessor, or even those nearby.

Now, all this is different from a good workman liking a particularly dependable or finely crafted tool. A carpenter may go through several hammers to find one that "feels right." And every shotgunner above the grade of novice knows the importance of having a well-fitting gun for wing shooting. This has to do with design and balance and ergonomics, not a spirit or demon inhabiting the tool. The US Marine Corps Rifleman's Creed
expresses the interdependence of a highly trained person and a precision tool, edging right up against anthropomorphism, but not attributing free will to the weapon.

I know many shooters who put a name on their favorite firearm. This normally from a sense of tradition, or in memory of long and dependable service. It does no harm to the user, certainly. The problem, though, is when the anti-gun forces turn this benevolent practice against us. When they see us giving human characteristics to a gun, they make free to go a step farther. If you listen to the hoplophobes, the mere possession of a black-stocked rifle, or one with a longish curved magazine, causes an otherwise rational person to become a mass murderer. Simply dubbing (erroneously) a firearm an ASSAULT RIFLE imbues it with the magical power to cloud men's minds, send them to a workplace or a McDonald's full of kids, and start shooting.

Probably, most of those who read my blog already understand the truth of the matter: Certain tools are particularly well designed to perform a certain task, in the hands of a knowledgeable user. It is the user, not the tool, that determines if it is used for good or ill. It certainly has nothing to do with the supernatural or with any magical powers ascribed to firearms in general.

I don't know about you, but I have a hard enough time dealing with everyday aggravations. What with the IRS and the city utility office and the neighbors' dogs, I just don't have time to deal with malevolent spirits in my cherished firearms.

JPG


[TU20NOV2007 Edited to correct spelling error. JPG]

Sunday, November 11, 2007

"The Blog Readability Test"

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I guess I should be happy with this one. I finally granulated college in 1970, and in the next three decades, a lot of supervisors and lawyers kept telling me to phrase my reports in a simpler, less abstract manner. I also drafted a lot of political speaches and came to learn how most candidates wanted to address the constituency.

I'm just now getting over all that.

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Okay. Honesty compels me to admit - - This test, like so many others, can be manipulated to some extent. The first time I checked, I just entered my overall blog address, and it came up with a "High School" level. Then I went to archives and pulled out just one month, and it showed "Junior High School." So I chose ONLY the month of October and got the rating above.

Whatever.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

AIRCRAFT: My first meme

Frankly, I've never taken part in the meme thing, but this one is a Must-Participate. I was very interested in airplanes long before I got my first real gun or ever even thought about becoming a peace officer.

The way I understand it, this particular meme was pretty spontaneous. The esteemed Kim du Toit called for favorite automobiles but NRAhab modified it to be airplanes instead.

Kim's original criteria was "Most Beautiful Cars," and he specifically asked that entrants NOT give reasons why a particular marque or model was chosen. Very good, and I think Kim started a worthy project. With Ahab's changeover to airplanes, though, bloggers and commenters alike make free to give their reasons. I kinda like that. Anyhow, I've seen posts from several other bloggers, most specifically Tamara and Matt and I am shamelessly following their lead.

Top five only? These are difficult choices, including ALL types of aircraft - - ALL the warbirds, bombers, fighters, transports, trainers, and then some really beautiful commercial aviation and private planes - - Like Matt's choices, mine are subject to change, according to what I've been reading or viewing lately.


5. Douglas A-26/B-26 Invader.
This beautiful and deadly attack aircraft was the cause of some minor confusion. First flown in 1942 as a light attack bomber, while the Martin B-26 Marauder medium bomber was still in service. By 1948, when the USAF renamed the Invader as B26, the Martins were long out of service. This aircraft served through WWII, Korea, and in Vietnam. It was also a would-be feature player in the abortive Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. The majority of the later versions had the solid "gun nose" replaced with a Plexiglas enclosure and a bombardier position.



4. F-86 Sabre.

The Sabre was America's entry into the true jet fighter field. Preceded by a couple of others, this plane had speed, maneuverability, endurance, and handling to cope with the MiG 15 over Korea. It had clean lines, the graceful swept wing, and with external drop tanks, and the range to take the fight to the enemy.

3.. Douglas DC-3.
The DC-3, aka C-47 Skytrain, R4D, Dakota, etc. THE definitive airliner from roll out in 1935 through the 1940s. Even with the advent of the four engined Douglas airliners, it served smaller carriers well into the 1960s. There are some who say that the allies could not have won World War II without this aircraft. Perhaps the C-47's single most famous role was dropping paratroopers into Normandy on the night of 5--6 June 1944.


2. Supermarine Spitfire.


All of 'em are beautiful, but I'd probably choose the MK II or MK IX version. Let's be honest: The Hawker Hurricane made a more substantial contribution to winning the Battle Of Britain in 1940 than the Spitfire. And there were later, better fighters in WWII, but none to equal the sheer beauty of that elliptical wing. Oh, yes, speed and roll rate were improved with the later, clipped-wingtip marks, but they lost something . . . .

1. North American P51 Mustang.

Working to fill orders for Britain, the engineering and drafting staffs at North American Aviation outdid themselves. The first prototype Mustang flew in less than six months after the initial order was placed. The original Allison-powered design, while much faster than the Spitfire, was disappointing above 15,000 feet. An inspired scheme hatched by the Royal Air Force led to installation of a Rolls Royce Merlin 61 engine. The initial prototypes of this hybrid flew at 433 mph at 22,000 ft, and could reach 40,000 ft. This performance, coupled with the relatively lightweight airframe, allowed the "Little Friends" to escort the US heavy bombers deep into Germany, hastening the end of the European War.


Well, those are my choices, and I'll stick with 'em. At least for today. I'd like to read about yours.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Successful Enough

In only a couple of days, two favorite cop bloggers wrote on inventive ways of handling a tense situation.

In the PawPaw's House
installment of 7NOV2007, a veteran recalls the resolution of a would-be brawl with a formidable fighting drunk by application of the “Work Smart, Not Hard” paradigm.

And in a blog entry eititled “Wakey, wakey!” MattG
tells of how an inventive officer managed to awake a proven violent individual safely and defuse a potentially lethal situation.

The latter tale produced a rush of memory from 'way back when - - -


One early evening in the late 1980s, I met a new lady friend for drinks before dinner. Our drinks were ordered but hadn't arrived when my pager went off. I returned the call to a sergeant at a nearby small town police department. Seems they had red hot information on a major drug case pending and needed help moving on it RAT NOW. Their chief of police was seriously ill and literally couldn't leave his bed, their (only) investigator was out of state, and they literally had no one who could draw a search-and-arrest warrant affidavit. The sick chief and I were old pals and he said to ask me to lend a hand.


I explained to the lady friend that duty called and she could take her choice of a rain check on dinner, or she could tag along while I interviewed a couple of guys and wrote up an affidavit. She was an enthusiastic new social worker and wanted to come meet some new cops.

This job should have taken an hour of so, but there are always delays. I needed to interview the informants before I'd write the affidavit for the lead cop. Such a tale of drugs, violence, weapons including a machine gun, and a couple of well known outlaws! Over TWO hours later, the affidavit was finished, submitted to the judge, and the warrant signed. I gathered my briefcase, and went to shaking hands and wishing them good hunting. The sergeant asked me to take a phone call. It was the sick-unto-death police chief who asked me to please, help out his troops - - Organize the raid and go with them. He was frankly worried that he'd lose someone if things heated up.

Well, it's nice to be wanted, and to have a measure of respect. I offered my would-be girl friend my car keys to get home. She was a very good sport and insisted that she wanted to go along. Nope, sorry, impossible. Yeah, she was a public service employee, but no kind of peace officer. Can't do it. Okay, she'd stay in my car so that we could leave the scene as soon as things were secure.

The target residence was at one end of a mobile home park. We left the cars down the street and around a corner. One group went wide left and I took my three other guys round the corner and up the street in the dark. Shotguns, carbines, spare ammo - - It reminded me of the final reel of “The Wild Bunch.” One rookie cop was very eager to “kick the door.” "We'll see. Promise you won't until I give the word."

Perimeter secured, we went up on the front porch. I politely knocked on the door. “Who is it?”

“J.”

“J who.”

“Aw, if you don't want my money, just forget it.” **scamper scamper** Door opens a crack, cautiously.

“Who - - “

NOW, Rook!” The door opened rapidly, knocking the inner guy back, the young officer fell to the floor, the sergeant and I stepped over them, announced, “Police officers with a warrant!” and set about securing the premises. A quick scan of the living room and two young men and two, uh, female persons were set upon the floor to be watched by the eager rookie. I slung my shotgun and went into the front bedroom, saw a lot of pills and some marihuana, and called the designated property logger-and-gatherer.

I heard shouting from the living room and went to see why the excitement. Officers from the perimeter team had entered and the back door was standing open, immediately to the right of the closed back bedroom door. “What's up, Sarge?”

“Guy in there says he just rents that room and says we got no right to come in.”

“Oh. Did you mention that we have an order from a judge to enter and search the entire premises?”

“Uh, yeah, but he's got the door locked and says he wants to go back to sleep. Can we, uh, . . . .?”

“Let me try. Hey, in there - - We're county and city peace officers with a warrant. Open this door at once!” The occupant suggested I engage in an improbable physical act.

“I'm going to count three! One!” CRASH! I weighed about two-forty in those days. The hollow core interior door was no real obstacle to my 13-D black sharkskin Tony Lama boot. The door facing splintered, the top hinge came loose, and there was a good deal of noise.

Two officers with flashlights illuminated the man face down on the bed until the light switch was located. He was well covered with a blanket. His face and both hands were buried in the pillow. I told him, “Mister, don't move an inch until I tell you.” I asked one of the officers to remove the blanket. The fairly large guy wore cut-off jeans. He was bigger and rougher looking than any other occupant.

I told him, “Now listen. You make only the moves I tell you to, okay? Alright, turn your head to the left and look at me. Good. This is a Remington twelve gauge. The safety is off. [A lie, actually.] Good, face forward. That's the muzzle resting between your shoulder blades. Please don't twitch. Now, when I tell you to, you slowly move your right hand out into the open, palm up. Move.” He did so. We repeated it with the left hand. I asked two officers to stand him up.

I was thinking, Well, that was all pretty melodramatic. I reached and flipped the pillow to the floor. On the dirty bottom sheet was a revolver - - A German-made copy of a Colt Single Action, caliber .357 magnum. The hammer was at full cock. It was loaded with three magnum and three .38 cartridges. A magnum was in the top center chamber. I asked that the evidence guy come and take a couple of photos. I went outside to light my pipe. It took about six matches.

The lady I'd left in my car was standing across the street, about thirty yards away. She had my binoculars and had been looking right in the back door. Walking back to the car, she said, “Well, that was pretty exciting.”

This would be a better story if the guy had been some prison escapee or a wanted murderer. Nope. He had a lengthy misdemeanor record: Theft, drugs, assault, resist arrest – but no felonies. Or, if I'd thought to finish the count after crashing into the bedroom. Or if there was a proper celebration with the new girl friend. We just had a sandwich at a Jack-in-the-Box and went to our respective apartments. Oh, well.

Five to jail, a few pounds of weed, a few hundred pills, some white powder, and one gun logged in. No bloodshed, no shots fired, no uneasy calls to the boss, no interviews with the Rangers or the Grand Jury. Something to laugh about in times to come. Not a BAD evening's work, really.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Of Health and Fame

One of the “benefits” of becoming a senior citizen is that one gets to meet so many different health care professionals.

I suppose it's logical. The more complicated any mechanism, the more different things can go wrong. While the machinery is pretty new and in good condition, it can go for extended periods without a great deal of maintenance. If subjected to hard use and even neglect, more care and repair may be needful. At the risk of straining the human body/machinery analogy, we can also observe that additional upkeep and even parts replacement are sometimes needed when wear-and-tear afflicts the entity.

So, one of my doctors decided I should undergo a diagnostic MRI
to establish that some of my inner workings were in decent condition. No use grumbling about it. When I retired, Beloved Bride and I discussed health issues and decided to spend the extra money on the best insurance plan available on my retirement program. This has proven to be one of our better decisions in light of the unpredictability of life. The relatively high premiums we pay monthly have been more than justified, if only by my broken hip last year. Yeah, there's always considerable out-of-pocket expense, but nothing like what we'd face without a decent insurance plan.
I went to the imaging lab at the appointed time, prepared to spend the standard lengthy period of filling out page after page of history and releases. It was made worse when I realized I'd forgotten to bring along a book I'm currently reading. I checked in with the receptionist who asked for my insurance card and driver's license. When she made the photocopies, I had to ask her NOT to detach the DL from my Concealed Handgun License. (Texas law requires that the CHL be presented to any peace officer asking for identification.) She didn't bat an eye. Lo and behold! She asked only a few questions to verify perishable personal information. No sooner had I sat down than she called my name and sent me through a door. Seated in a comfortable chair before a cheerful clerk, I signed the necessary waivers and payment arrangements. Total time, maybe five minutes. Back to waiting room.

I got a cup of coffee and a dull-looking magazine but never turned a page before being called into another room. A pleasant and professional young woman asked me to fill out a single sheet, front and back, with some health history. No sooner did I finish than she returned and took me to the preparation room just outside the MRI chamber.

MAGNETIC resonance imaging entails some extremely strong areas of magnetism. The young woman and a male technician (technologist??) told me what all I had to leave outside the room. I'd brought my own canvas shoulder bag so I wouldn't need to leave my pocket plunder out in the open plastic tray. When I placed my alloy .38, pocket holster, and Speed Strip in the bag, the only comment made was that it would be secure in the office. (Note to fellow Texans: this imaging lab is NOT part of a hospital, which would entail some restrictions on packin'.)

The male tech made pleasant conversation as he got me situated in the MRI room. My data sheet showed me as RETIRED, and he said something about military or police service. I said that my Air Force Reserve time was long ago, but that I'd spent some 40 years as a peace officer. He said, “I thought you were some kind of expert witness.” Hummm . . . .


The actual MRI scan was somewhat confining and uncomfortable - - One must remain practically motionless for 15 minutes. The noise level is at times very high, and I was grateful for the foam ear plugs provided. In due time, the clamor ended and I was slid out of the chamber. As he gave me a hand up from the table, the tech said, “I thought I recognized you. I read your blog.” The image at the top of my blog page is an unfortunately accurate likeness, and the tech, Rob, is an observant individual. He had my data sheet and noted that my initials matched. He was complimentary about my writing, and I was apologetic for not writing much recently. For several minutes, we had a very nice visit about guns and shooting, until his duties called him.

Hey - - It's really nice to meet a reader. This is the first time it's happened to me. **GRIN**

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A good question . . .

While Beloved Bride was out of town last week, I did a little grocery shopping. I ran into a guy I used to work with, and we passed a couple of minutes talking about the upcoming deer season.

While we were so engaged, another former coworker we knew casually happened by. Once she unnderstood our topic, she blurted out, "Oh, HOW can you kill such a beautiful, gentle creature?"

I couldn't help but answer truthfully: "Mostly with a .30'06 or a .257. Haven't used a pistol in several years." She left without another word.





Sunday, October 21, 2007

Trafalgar: Significant Battle and Death of a Hero

Two hundred two years ago, on 21OCT1805, British Vice Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson led 27 ships of the line into collision with 33 French and Spanish ships of the line off SW Spain near Cape Trafalgar. While bringing the fleet into battle formation, Nelson sent the famous signal, England expects that every man will do his duty.


When the smoke cleared, the Franco-Spanish fleet had lost 22 ships, some 5,700 killed and wounded, and 7,000 taken prisoner. The British sustained 1,685 casualties and lost no ships.

It was the pivotal naval conflict of the Napoleanic Wars, and indeed of the XIX century. The massive losses of ships and skilled sailors was devastating to the French and Spanish coalition, and confirmed Napolean's recently taken decision not to invade England.

Admiral Nelson was felled by a musket ball late in the battle, after victory was already attained. He died a few hours later, climaxing his long and glorious career. He had played crucial roles in the battles of Cape St. Vincent, The Nile, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and Copenhagen, and was a national hero long before Trafalgar.

Honored with statues and other memorials in several locations, the most famous is Nelson's Column at Trafalgar Square in London.


The 18 foot statue of Nelson stands atop a 151 foot granite column. The statue and bronze decorations below the upper platform were cast from British and French cannon used in the battle.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

JPG, BA, M(TV)D

NameThatDisease.com
NameThatDisease.com - http://www.namethatdisease.com">Test your disease knowledge

I guess I should be ashamed, using these quizzes for two-in-a-row blog entry topics. (I'm not, particularly.)

Since I devote little time to watching television, I'm okay with getting the second-highest rating. From looking at the bar graph, it seems that if I'd answered one of those questions with one less clue, I'd have attained the exalted rank of Doogie Howser. Imagine: attaining status of cyber-diagnostician, just by sitting in front of the tube.

Monday, October 08, 2007

"It's not my minkey."

NameThatSerialKiller.com
NameThatSerialKiller.com - Test your serial killer knowledge

I really SHOULD have done better, considering my bent for history as well as cops-and-badguys stuff. What makes it worse, though, is that my Beloved Bride did much better on this quiz than I. I took the quiz and she got interested and rushed me along so she could take it. Five minutes after she finished, she already had it posted on her blog. See Holly's Hystrionics on my right sidebar.

Oh well . . . .

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Happy Birthday, Bobby

As a career Peace Officer (ret.) with a historical bent, I am interested in the background of a lot of cop stuff.


The
London Metropolitan Police was established on September 29, 1829, by Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel. His names provided early nicknames, "Peelers" or "Bobbies," for members of the force. It was the third official non-paramilitary city police force in the world. The predecessors were the City of Glasgow Police (1789) and the Paris Police (1667 –1789 under the monarchy, and reformed under Napolean I in 1800.)

Most police historical references of which I'm aware tend to stress the London “Met” as being “the origin of modern municipal police.” This takes a bit of creative interpretation, but it is accepted useage. There were earlier efforts to provide a police presense in London, but they were not organized on a citywide basis.




London Bobby on traffic duty, 1950s

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Different States, Different Attitudes

I received a nice personal e-mail from Seth from Massachusetts. He made a passing mention that he would have more pistols if he didn't live where he does, and he's looking forward to aligning his situation so he can relocate to a free(er) state. I could only commiserate with him, living in a commonwealth keeps re-electing Teddy Kennedy and his like-minded minions.

I was reminded of some remarks by the late, great Allen Wayne Damron. He was a tremendous all around entertainer and a fast, loyal friend: Singer, songwriter, storyteller, historian, teacher, hunting guide, Second Amendment activist, CHL Instructor.


Upon return from a tour, A. Wayne mused about on a certain difference in attitudes toward personal freedoms, as reflected by by highway signs at state borders. He cited several examples:

"Welcome to Texas, Drive Friendly, The Texas Way,"
"Oklahoma is OK!,"
“Welcome to Colorful Colorado,"
"New Mexico, Land of Enchantment."
“Welcome to Wild, Wonderful West Virginia."
And: "Entering Massachusetts. WARNING--State Law provides mandatory ten years imprisonment for unlicensed possession of a handgun."

Good luck to Seth and his right-thinking neighbors.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Great Motion Picture Chase Scenes

I menitoned early on that I really love movies. Wyatt, at his 19SEP installment of his Support Your Local Gunfighter blog listed his pick for the
Top Five Film Chases Of All Time.


I suggest you drop by and read what he has to say. There's no question, his were some really good choices, but I'd ether substitute in some others, or opine that the list should be increased to the TOP TEN. Now, in the Comments section, Wyatt granted that there were a couple he left out, which indicates he is indeed a wise man, and ready to discuss differing opinions.

There are at least two I'd add - -

Ronin (1998)
This film at times seems to be one long car chase across Europe, with occasional intermissions to get more cars and ammunition. So central to this movie is the automotive pursuit, that Internet Movie Database (IMDb)

included these factoids in their Trivia section for the film:

--80 automobiles were destroyed during filming.

--During one of the car chase sequences where Gregor (Stellan SkarsgÄrd) is dictating directions to Sam (Robert De Niro) from a computer terminal, Avid film editing software - the software used to edit the film - is visible on the screen.

--One of the stunt drivers was former Formula 1 driver Jean-Pierre Jarier.

--To make it look like Robert De Niro and Natascha McElhone were actually driving during the car chase, right hand drive cars were used, with the passenger side made up to mirror the real controls. The actors then mimicked the stunt drivers movements.

--Skipp Sudduth requested to do his own stunt driving during the car chases and John Frankenheimer agreed. Frankenheimer told Sudduth "I don't wanna see any brake lights."

Pretty good plot, beautiful photography, and a couple of GREAT lines of dialogue, which might make a decent blog topic, later on.

Also:
Its a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963, 1970 re-release)
This one is another in which practically the entire feature is an extended chase scene. As the participants are racing to attain a goal, and are NOT fighting one another, there is no gun play, and little violence at all. Still, a wonderful, FUN motion picture. There are some quite decent instances of special effects, given how old this really is.


Check out a bunch of details at IMDb.
Unfortunately, they don't tell us how many cars were wrecked in the filming. They nearly sacrificed a Beechcraft 18 twin-engined aircraft to the movie, though.

Again, my choices are just an additional opinion. I really wouldn't want to start an argument with Wyatt. Students of history will note, gunfighters avoided going head-to-head when possible. ;-)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Excuses, excuses

Believe it or not, my creative muse has not deserted me. I actually have two or three decent topics bouncing around in my head. Problem is, it takes me a while to write up a topic, remedy the obvious glitches, proof read it critically, revise THAT, and then prepare the images, if any. While I'm becoming fairly comfortable with THAT procedure, it takes me a wile to arrange the format, and distribute the previously written text around 'em. Then there's the captions, if any.

So, I really hate to begin writing until I have a bit of time to do it properly. I've been doing some housekeeping, mainly on the blog. I feel remiss in not linking all those who gave me such a cordial reception when I was getting started, so I've been putting up a list of links to a lot of people whose efforts I respect and enjoy. I finally have a list, of sorts, along the right-hand side of this blog, and I'll undoubtedly be finding others i've neglected. My apologies in advance to those I may have missed.

Holly, my beloved bride, (BB - - Maybe that'll do for an abbreviation) is about to go visit family for a few days. At least we won't be competing for use of our single computer during that time. I probably won't get any writing done on Thursday, though. I have this part-time job that keeps me out all night, twice a week, and I live over an hour from the site, and I have twelve hours to do on TH night.

Also - - I have out of town company arriving Saturday afternoon, so I may or may not be able to shoot in a match that morning. You know, I have no idea how I had time to work a full time job, before I retired.

So - - I'm off to run errands for a while, and BB needs to do some computer stuff before she leaves town tomorrow. More later.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Dangerous Strays – Unpleasant Duty

Just t'other day, Elder Son Matt blogged about a bothersome dog. He's a cop in a nearby small town –call it Smallburg-- that is fortunate to have an exceptionally good police department. I don't say this merely because I'm proud of my offspring, which I surely am, but because the outfit delivers the populace a lot higher quality service than you'd expect from such a small agency. The chief sets a high standard for his officers, sees that they have good equipment, and fosters A Good Attitude amongst the troops. They, in turn, preserve the public peace, protect the citizenry, and generally serve the community. They do the stuff that Peace Officers are expected to do, but the rather trite old phrase, “Protect and Serve” pretty well sums it up.

Protection is a lot of different things - - People can't do much high speed driving on residential streets without being taken to task. Frequent patrols discourage burglars. Prompt response to calls for service allows residents some peace of mind.

There are always budgetary considerations for any public entity. One of these is that Smallburg hasn't been able to pay enough to keep a full time Animal Control Officer on staff. It therefore follows that the local police must answer most animal complaints. I'll not rehash the story Matt has already told in “Dog Problems.” Click and read when convenient. As with so much of life in general, and peace officering in particular, “the devil's in the details.” SPD cops are not trigger happy. Once the circumstances dictate that a dangerous animal must be put down, there are considerations: Safe field of fire, least disturbance to the peace, and proper choice of tools. Matt's a conscientious peace officer, an experienced hunter, and a fine marksman. He takes all those factors into account, and will step up and Do What Must Be Done.

As I say, it's Matt's story, and I'll not retell it for him. I am impressed with the responses made in the comments. He invited it, so there's a goodly amount concerning the ballistic aspects of the situation. But there are also some thoughtful remarks on the morality of the matter which bear examination. I'm happy to see there's no, “Oh you brute! How COULD you kill one of God's creatures?” trend.

I'm happy to provide links to commentators I quote. Jenna writes a good one and I hope you read it.
Labrat says, “a feral dog or a dog that has gone over that way is every bit as dangerous as any medium-to-large predator with no terror of humans. From the dog's perspective, it's in hell. It has no security, no packmates, and it's either frightened or aggressing most of the time, and neither state is pleasant or peaceful. Put the poor thing out of everyone's misery.“ A profound observation.
KCSteve said, “It's the less pleasant part of The Contract.They gave themselves over to us on the promise that we'd take care of them.When it's this kind of care needed the best thing is to make it as quick and clean as possible.”

Over the years, I've needed to put down several animals, for a variety of reasons. The only ones that gave me any gratification were when some strays had packed up and were actually driving picnickers away from their food in a lake park. Another officer and I were detailed to solve the problem with our rifles. Even then, there was the later letdown, thinking that those destroyed animals had probably at some point provided companionship to someone. Then they were “taken out to the country” and dumped. Likely, someone had rationalized, “Oh, he'll hunt his own food, he'll be fine.” Or, “She'll find a new home where she'll be happy.” Wonder what other lies those people told their kids. Or themselves. I know most of these pet dumpers are just weak, but I think it a despicable practice.

Most of my experiences in this line have been to destroy some sick, starving stray. Occasionally it was the beloved pet of a friend who just couldn't bear to do what was needed. I've heard, “JP, you're a hunter, so you don't mind this sort of thing.” How to tell such a person that this is different from harvesting game that'll be eaten and cherished for the experience. Or carrying out predator control. A couple of times, the old, sick dog had licked my hand when I visited, or a big blind cat had curled up beside me on the couch . . . . Yeah, I rationalize it by the certain knowledge that I cared enough to not botch the job. “If 't must be done, 'twere well it be done quickly.” Quick and clean, and that's the sole comfort in doing such a favor.

One more personal note. I was six when we lived a little north of Ryan, Oklahoma. My Dad built and fenced a chicken coop near the house, and it seems we kept around 50 chickens. We ate some and gave some away, and, presumably sold or bartered most of the eggs. I'm not sure
.
Just before we had moved from town, my Collie dog Duke had been killed while chasing traffic. A friend of the family gave me a nondescript, full-grown dog, thinking he'd be happy on our 40 acres in the country. I dubbed the dog King, and he hadn't been in residence long when one afternoon, there was a huge clamor out back. I ran to the back door where my Mother was yelling at my dog. It, and a neighbor's dog, were in the chicken pen, killing chickens. I mean, wantonly slaughtering them, left, right, and center, just for the sport.

Mother said, “J, bring me the twenty-two.” I ran and got the rifle. Sure, I knew where it was, and that it was always loaded, and that I wasn't to bother it unless told. I took it to the back door and pleaded with her not to kill my dog. She shouldered the Stevens autoloader –it's in my safe now – and killed the neighbor's dog. One shot, clean and true. I don't remember a kick.

Mother lowered the rifle and yelled, “GIT!” King paused in his labors, looked up at her, and then turned and grabbed another chicken. She may have glanced down at me, I dunno. What I DO recall is two sounds: Another little brang and the sound of the empty case hitting the porch. Again, no thrashing, no kicking; what I'd later learn to call DOS, dead on the scene, or dead on the spot.

Of course, I went out and sat by my dog, and stroked its coat. I recall a little blood on the head but I didn't examine it closely. The other dog was exactly the same. In a short while, my Dad came home. He walked out and said some gruffly comforting things on the loss of my dog. Well, I'd been sitting there, trying to work up a mad at Mother for killing King. It didn't take, though. Somehow, even at that tender age, I understood that a chicken rancher could NOT harbor a hen killing dog.


Mother had grown up on my Papaw's farm, one of nine children. They were all expected to take a hand in the family enterprise, and have some proficiency with all the farm tools. She was the eldest girl, expected to set an example, and the tools included rifle and shotgun. She never had any interest in handguns, but she and Dad joked about their first dates being rabbit hunting excursions. She was a pragmatic farm girl who later went to nursing school, and she had no difficulty dealing with bloody matters.

It helped that I'd only had King for a short while. I'd not known him as a playful, big-footed puppy. Yes, when I thought of feeding him and such, I snuffled a bit that evening. When I later went to say good night, I thought I heard Mother coughing in their bedroom. When I looked in, she had tears in her eyes. One does what must be done, but there's a price.

A New, Old Colt, Part III -- a late answer

In the comments area of Part I, tom said...
Nice pistol Mr. JPG. Are all the parts on that pistol machined as they would have been back in the day or does it have MIM parts in it?Also, I know what you mean about the flat main spring housing. I replaced the plastic, flat mainspring housing on my Kimber Custom I carry for duty with a steel arched mainspring housing. It seems to point better with it. Not something you would want to do with a nostalgia pistol like your new Colt but its a good addition to a duty pistol.
tom - -


Sorry to take so long to answer, but it gives me topic for another entry.

Re: the parts.

I'm sorry, but I really can't detect MIM parts unless I can see the casting seam. I see none on this pistol, but that could simply be the shop paying close attention to finishing. I notice that, on the Colt site, they mention, "Forged knurled slide stop." They make no mention of other parts, so I'd wager at least SOME are MIM. If I can't tell, and if they're not high stress parts, then it makes little or no difference to me. See
Colt's site for their specs.

I hear you, concerning the plastic MSH. Several years ago, when Matt got his Kimber, the first thing he did was to raid my parts box and abscond with a steel, arched, checked MSH with lanyard loop. Not that he was ever gonna use a lanyard, but I'd shown him how to use the loop to open a be - - uh, soft drink bottle. (How long since you've seen a soda pop bottle without a twist off cap?) ;-)

Anyway, I did check the flat 1911 MSH with a magnet. It's steel.


In all fairness, though - - The plastic MSH on my Colt Officers ACP has been satisfactory. Remember, it is not a high stress part. The cross pin below takes the load of the mainspring. But, yes, I far prefer good ol' Connecticut Yankee steel.
JPG

Sunday, September 16, 2007

New/Old Colt Part II, IDPA Match

The local shooting club puts on an IDPA-based match pretty much every month. I say, “-based,” in that it is recognizable as such, and it has some of the less-logical restrictions of full bore IDPA, but the club guys are a bit more flexible.
I'm not a member, but they allow non-members to compete for an extra five bucks entry fee. Perfectly reasonable. They have a safe place to shoot, and a LOT of really good hardware that makes it a pleasure to shoot with them. Probably most importantly, the organizers have a sense of humor and make everyone feel welcome. Last time I had a fistful of dollars (tm) in my pocket, I looked into joining the club. Good idea, bad timing. Their initiation fees and monthly dues had both gone up since the last time I'd checked. Most importantly, though, was the fact that they seem to have a more-or-less constant, fairly lengthy waiting list for membership. Oh, well - - I can still go out and shoot with 'em occasionally. They also have frequent carbine matches, a good opportunity to exercise an AR15, Mini 14, or a pistol caliber carbine. With current prices on .223 ammo, it becomes a touch pricey, but every couple of months - - Why not?

So, I made sure I had plenty of .45 ACP loaded up, and my 1948-built Colt Government Model was clean, so I . . . BUT WAIT A SEC! What about my latest acquisition? I've written that it's the spit-and-image of the principal sidearm, carried by US forces into harm's way in the first quarter of the XX century. (Second eighth??) And, in the waste not, want not spirit of that bygone era, the 1911s weren't junked just because the 1911A1 was adopted. Some were updated, many were not. I've seen several photos of WW II personnel packing pistols with flat mainspring housings. I'd hazard to guess that thousands of1911s still do nightstand duty, to this very day. (And wouldn't some of us eagerly swap the present owners a new 9mm for them?)
So - - why not shoot the match with my new production, WW I style 1911 Colt? On SA morning, I loaded up my gear and set out. Yes, I took along my Number 1 Govt. Model, but forgot the Band-Aids. I mean, test firing a 1911 with short tang and big broad hammer is one thing, but doing rapid deployments through an entire match is, perhaps, another. During the testing, I'd done a couple of draw-and-fires without drawing blood, but I had no delusions.
I met my pal Cliff – another old fart – and we visited while I rigged out with an old Cobra Gunskin holster and an ancient Milt Sparks double mag pouch.



I won the pouch in one of the first IPSC matches I'd shot, back in 1979. I bought the holster to use in the 1981 IPSC Nationals, and both items had seen a lot of use over the years. I also wore a Safariland single mag spring clip.





In the retro spirit of the day, I wore my Gunsite T-shirt I'd gotten while Studying at the Feet of the Master: Arizona, 1980. It fit me better back then..












"Shooter, make ready"
















Stage One -- Headshots











Cliff, on the steel plates




Shooting the Texas Star

Well, I didn't exactly cover myself with glory this month. I wasn't in last place, but I was closer to the bottom than to the top. I attribute this to a variety of reasons. The very small sights of the 1911 simply DO NOT pick up as quickly as do the broad, high profile sights fitted to my “regular match” Govt. Model. In fact, they're not near so rapid as even the regular, low profile sights on a 1911A1. And I found myself taking an extra instant to raise the point of aim on the targets. There's a lot of muscle memory built in after so many years of shooting with an arched mainspring housing.





Heading down the hallway.




Speaking of muscle memory: I'd given some thought to really doing it the old way. There's always a stage or two that begins with firing a series of quick shots at close range targets. I'd done some one hand shooting during the initial range testing and it worked well, but for mostly low impacts. I figured it'd be fun, and entertaining, to do the single-hand point-and-fire thing at the close up targets. Well, conditioning took over, and when the timer buzzed, I came to Weaver as rapidly as I could and was shooting before I recalled “the plan.” Oh, well, I did poorly enough anyway.


One excuse I cannot play, though. The pistol ran perfectly. I took along five good magazines, and hand loads made with Ranier plated bullets over W-231 powder. Every round had been gaged by dropping it into the chamber of an extra barrel. With only some sixty rounds fired during the initial range testing, functioning was flawless. This course of fire would have run about 75 rounds, if fired “clean.” Most stages allowed makeup shouts, so I probably fired around 85.

SOME unkind individuals might venture the opinion that I'm slowing down with age - - That the old hand-eye coordination isn't what it once was, that my visual acuity through my bifocals is not what it was at Orange Gunsite or traveling the IPSC circuit. A crippled hip and a bad back prevent truly rapid movement. Well, all I can say to that is - - -Maybe. Okay, certainly. There was a time, boys and girls . . . . Yeah, there WAS. So I rely on stealth and cunning instead of blazing speed. Maybe I can't “beat the drop” as in days of yore, but some of the ol' dogs still have some bite. That's why I keep shooting with the youngsters.

So the day was beautiful, the company was pleasant, the course of fire was challenging, and a good time was had by all. I didn't win the match, or even scare the leaders, but I was there, and I had fun, shooting the old pattern pistola. And you know, I don't even have a bloody spot on my right-hand thumb web. Well, I've lost some weight since i last did a lot of shooting with a short-tang gun with a broad hammer.

Impressions? About what I expected. The 1911 served me just as well as its ancestor would have served an AEF Doughboy in the Great War. I wouldn't hesitate to carry it into a cold, dark place, in preference to most handguns. Sure, if available, I'd prefer my later style commercial .45. The good sights and arched housing are indeed improvements on the old design. But the old design still works.

More on guns and gear in future installments.

Friday, September 14, 2007

A New, Old Colt, Part I

This posting is about halfway experimental. I need practice in inserting images into the blog, and I guess the only way I'll learn is to try it out.

Recycled paragraph: Last weekend, after much penny pinching and hand wringing, I finally bought a pistol I've wanted for some time. The unsuspecting LawDog was passing through, and I dragged him along to a Fort Worth Gun Show. With him cheering me onward, I spent a pretty fair chunk o'change on a brand new, old model Colt. It certainly deserves a well-documented range session with some decent photos and a good write up. I'll not get it all done in one posting, but here's a start.

A 1917 pistol, just 90 years late.

The pistola under discussion is one of the new production Colt Model 1911 -- NOT the 1911A1 -- World War I types. It is a near exact copy of the sidearms Colt's began producing early in 1912, and kept making as many as possible until late in 1918.


Part of the charm of this piece is the original-style packaging, complete with reproduction manual, a combination tool, and extra magazine. Actually, the throughness of the packaging is impressive, in and of itsownself - - Pistol in light grease, wrapped in brown waxed paper. This is put into the reproduction cardboard box, along with spare magazine. This, in turn is in a large, modern, blue box with the Colt emblem. And to protect THAT, the whole is shipped in a white cardboard box (sleeve.)

The piece looked subtly "wrong," and then I realized: All the old 1911s I'd ever held had been handled by dozens, if not hundreds of people before me. The WW-I large diamond stocks (NOT "grips," but that's another matter) are universally a little worn. On THIS pistol, the stocks are checked (no, not "checkered") and the little diamonds are still sharp on the top. It doesn't take much handling and use in a flap holster to smooth the top edges off these lil' points.



Illustrating the low-riding, narrow U-notch rear sight. It is great for deliberate shooting, but doesn't "pick up" as quickly as a higher, broader sight would do. Also note the VERY sharp little diamonds of the stock checking.


This shows the tiny little, tapered post front sight. Above comments apply.

Matt and the 1911

Elder Son was kind enough to accompany me to the range for photography and such. Naturally, he deserved to shoot it a bit. It's not as if he didn't cut his teeth on (unloaded) .45 pistols, but who turns down a chance to mess with a bit-'o-history, even if not an antique? And, like the Colt's Black Powder Historical Series, this is a true COLT. It is a real Model of 1911, not somebody else's copy. It was just just produced about 90 years behind the ones carried to France by our guys in 1917--18.


Distance, 15 yards. Matt was standing on his hind legs, and it was the FIRST time he'd put a round through this pistol. Somebody taught that lad something about "Front sight, p-r-e-s-s."

The trigger was surprisingly good, probably about five pounds, with just a hint of creep before a nice, crisp release.




We were running out of daylight, and someone had moved the 25-yard bench. I wanted to do at least a little accuracy testing. Notice the ole dude with his head rocked back to see the itty bitty sights. Also, you gotta hold your mouth JUST right.





Not my best-ever 25-yard target, but, given the drawbacks, not too bad at all.





Okay, I could go on and on, but that's about enough for today. Looks as if the image insertion will work out. More artwork and range testing later, in the next thrilling installment.

(Can you tell that I'm pretty taken with my new/old pistol?)