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Issue 1/2005 04.01.2005:
Silent But Deadly
- Part III -
- Ed Harris Comments on the .32 S&W Long In a Rifle
Compact .32 revolvers have been my favorite trail guns ever since the late LTC Ellis Lea (USA, Ret.) introduced me to them in the late 1970s while I was on the NRA Staff. Ever since, I've wanted a light, handy companion rifle which would fire the .32 S&W Long, and now I finally have one. I fooled around with a .32 S&W Long barrel on a Remington 788 action back in my NRA days, but while it was a quiet tack driver, it wasn't something you could carry effortlessly all day up and down ridges and through the woods. Years later the opportunity came to fix that little problem.
I lucked into a tiny 4-1/2 pound, pre-war H&R .410 single-barrel shotgun in a trade. I didn't have much use for the .410 shotgun, but saw that the tiny H&R was well made and had a much smaller action than current production. It was obvious that the makings of an "American Rook Rifle" lurked in there. So I asked John Taylor, of Taylor Machine (3625 Cheney Spangle Rd. Spangle, WA 99031) to make an extra rifle barrel for it, so that I had my .32 break-open small game gun, without having to reline or cobble up the original .410 barrel. With its new 26" rifle barrel chambered for the .32 S&W Long installed it weighs 5 pounds, 4 ozs. Factory 98-gr. LRN loads are very quiet, only 75dB like standard velocity .22 LR and provide 2-inch groups at 50 yards with iron sights. Flat-nosed .32 revolver bullets at subsonic velocities are much more effective on small game and wild turkey than any .22 rimfire, but destroy less edible meat than a .22 Long Rifle HP or .22 WMR.
My favorite ".32 Long Rifle" loads use the Saeco #322, 120-gr. LFN .32-20 Winchester bullet. I load these as-cast, of wheel weights, unsized, tumble lubed with Lee Liquid Alox with the bullet seated out and crimped in the lube groove. This provides an overall cartridge length in a .32 S&W Long case that is the same as would be obtained by crimping the same bullet in the crimp groove of a .32 H&R Magnum case. The exposed, unsized driving band fits snugly in revolver chambers and also engraved slightly when chambered in the rifle chamber, enabling zero jump, for best accuracy.
The minimum powder charge which safely enables the bullet to reliably exit the 26" rifle barrel every time is 1.2 grains of Bullseye. This is a "silent but deadly" 450 f.p.s. BLOOP load, with an almost silent report, measured at only 70-72dB at 1 meter from the rifle muzzle. This "CB cap on steroids" is accurate to 25 yards.
When seated out and loaded with 2 grains of Bullseye it provides 850 f.p.s. in the rifle, 720 f.p.s. in my 4" S&W Model 31 and is accurate to 50 yards or more. This is a full power revolver load for the .32 S&W Long at the modest SAAMI pressures. When the Saeco #322 is seated out to the longer overall cartridge length I have gone as high as 2.5 grains of Bullseye. This gives about 800 f.p.s. in my 4" S&W Model 31 and Ruger 4-5/8" Single Six, and about 950 f.p.s. in the 26" rifle. The heavier FN bullet is far more effective than the usual 98-gr. LRN factory stuff, and still has a mild report, the 2.5 grain load being measured at 85-86dB, which compares to the "pop" of high velocity .22 LR fired from a typical sporting rifle and far more quiet than the 90+dB of a .22 WMR or Hornet.
A heavy load which approximates the .32 H&R Magnum or .32-20 for use in well made, modern post-war solid frame revolvers only, such as the Ruger SP101 or Single Six or any other revolvers chambered for the .32 H&R Magnum uses Federal 200 small rifle and either 6.0 grains of Alliant #2400 or 7 grs. Of either IMR or Hodgdon 4227 with the 120-gr. Saeco #322 bullet. These exceed SAAMI pressures for the .32 S&W Long, but are safe in the Ruger revolvers and strudy post-war .32 solid frames such as the S&W Model 31, giving about 900 f.p.s. from a 4" revolver and 1200 f.p.s. the rifle.
For rifle use only, my most accurate load with the Saeco #322 uses 8 grains of H4198, compressed, using the Federal 200 small rifle primer, seated out and heavily crimped into the lube groove. This is subsonic, barely over 1000 f.p.s., relatively quiet in the 80dB range, and drives 50-yard "bugholes" although it is not dual-purpose in either rifle or revolver.
If you decide to build one of these "American Rook Rifles" the chamber body dimensions should be minimum CIP or SAAMI, but you want a rifle-style throat with .314" diameter forcing cone entrance and 3 degree included angle origin of rifling. Rifling specs should approximate the .32-20, .300 bore x .310 groove, with 16" twist, but if you have a slow twist .30 cal. rifle barrel, such as 12" or 14" twist per turn, this will also work just fine.
Issue 2/2002 13.10.2002:
Silence Is Golden
- Part II -
Text: Ed Harris
A .38 Special Cat Sneeze Load Update In the Marlin 1894 Cowboy Carbine
I went back to the 1967 NRA Handloader's Guide and re-read William Dresser's article entitled "Minimum Loads In Handguns." With the Bullseye powder then being manufactured, the author recommended 1.2 grains behind a 146-grain, flush-seated H&G No.50BB cast full-wadcutter bullet for indoor gallery shooting in revolvers such as the S&W K-38. It has been my experience that the gyroscopic stability of wadcutter ammunition in S&W and Ruger revolver with 18-3/4" twist of rifling is marginal below about 800 f.p.s., so I didn't have great hopes for match target accuracy, but thought I might find something reasonable for double-action revolver practice with my "carry gun" in my indoor bullet trap at 25 feet.
I wanted a quiet "Cat's Sneeze" load which could be used for shooting garden pests without disturbing the neighbors. Another real concern is that today's "Big Brother" technology utilizes computerized noise sampling and direction location on cellular telephone towers around Washington, DC and some other major cities. This has been very well documented in the public safety literature and is no secret. The equipment is adapted from the methods developed by NATO to identify the sound signatures of individual submarines.
Only now we are applying the principle on dry land, and instead of scatteriong sono-bouys by P3C aircraft, they can put listening devices on a multitude of cellular towers which cover every urban area and Interstate highway in the country. The computers can readily discern the difference between a construction worker pounding a nail, and a firearm discharge.
Experimental system now being evaluated as part of the Homeland Defense program in several key cities have the ability to detect and identify a sound anomoly, and if it fits the archival data signature bank of a known weapon, it automatically "polls" surrounding tower sites to evaluate the sound and triangulate it accurately within 100 meters or so, while automating dispatch of the closest police units. A lawful firearm user having a concealed weapon permit, preventing a crime in progress may be confronted instantly by heavily armed law enforcement officers who think they are converging upon a probable terrorist. Not a pleasant scenario for long term survival.
Our only hope for continued civilian firearms useage is to remain discreet and as invisible as possible. We must refine the "silent without silencer" loads so that we can blend in with the background noise level and not attract any attention. This is why, as I quoted the late Frank Marshall, Jr.
"Silence is Golden."
My requirement was to develop one load which I could stock in quantity for use in any .38 Special revolver or "Cowboy Rifle." In my testing with current production Alliant Bullseye power, the lowest charge with the Remington, factory-swged, soft lead 158-gr. semi-wadcutter bullet which would exit the barrel every time (100 rounds, 50 each in rifle and revolver) was 1.2 grains of Bullseye, but only when used with a 3mm diameter enlarged flash hole.
This is about as large as you can go in a case which uses the small size (.175" / 4.45mm) primer. This charge didn't always exist when using a the unmodified 0.078"-0.082" (1.98-2.08mm) flash hole, 2 bullets out of 50 rounds fired in the 18" Marlin carbine lodged within 3" of the muzzle.
The load was "plinking accurate in the basement at 25 feet, but at 50 yards in the Marlin groups strung vertically over a foot! NOT acceptable! Velocity averaged 300 f .p .s . in the 6" Ruger Security Six and 480 fps in the 18" Marlin, but velocity standard Sd was over 100, which set off alarm bells! Had I taken the velocities first I would have quit sooner... Just plain lucky I guess!
All test loads used the Lee Factory Crimp die to hold bullets securely in the case against telescoping from compression of the tubular magazine spring in the Marlin 1894 carbine. I have found that this also improves velocity uniformity, as it seems to prevent the primer blast from dislodging the bullet before powder ignition in light loads. Of course, the powder must be suitable. I have limited myself to Alliant Bullseye so far, because I have it on hand and it would appear satisfactory.
A charge of 2 grains of Bullseye very satisfactory, but much louder (500 f.p.s. in the revolver ) . Point of impact was 6" low at 25 yards, producing a loose 4" group with noticeable projectile yaw from the 18-3/4" twist . Velocities were more uniform and entirely acceptable. Noise-wise in the revolver it was more quiet than a factory-loaded target 148-gr. wadcutter.
In the 18" Marlin it was fairly quiet, producing a satisfying "thunk" rather than a crack, rather like firing standard velocity .22 LR match ammunitionfrom a short-barreled sporting rifle. Not, however, like the "Cat's Sneeze" equivalent of Eley Tenex fired from a long barreled target rifle. The velocityaveraged about 700 f.p.s., point of impact was useful for plainking with iron sights at 25-50 yards plinking without changing the sights from my regular carbine zero for 158-gr. factory .357 Magnum softpoints at 100 yards. I got 2" round groups at 25 yards, larger than I expect with the best loads, but reasonable.
As the powder charge was increased above 2 grains velocities became more uniform and accuracy improved. Using Alliant Bullseye of current manufacture it takes 3.8 grains with the Remington 158-gr. lead SWC to approximate the velocity of factory standard velocity lead-bullet .38 Special loads averaging 800 +/- 20 f.p.s. in a 6" revolver and 950 +/- 20 in the Marlin.
Normal extreme spread of these loads with iron sights is "one inch per ten" (yards) in a handgun and "one inch per 25" in the Marlin, out to 100 yards. I used Norma 158-gr. lead RN factory ammunition as a benchmark. It is repeatable at these velocity ranges and gives 1.5" ten-shot groups at 25 yards from the 6" Ruger Security Six revolver and approximately the same at 50 yards from the Marlin carbine.
At longer ranges I can reliably keep 10 out of 12 shots on a 12" steel gong at 100 yards from the 6" Ruger revolver and expoect the same when plinking at 200 yards with my Marlin Cowboy Carbine. I do not change the sights, but use "Tennessee elevation" (centering the "ghost image " of the gong in my other eye between bottom of front sight bead and the sight dovetail base behind the slimmed portion of the front sight blade).
I didn't load any test increments between 1.2 grains and 2 grains of Bullseye. I need to do that, will do so and report. The 2 grain loads I tested here had unmodified, standard flash holes. My next step is to load samples at 1.5, 1.7 and 2.0 grains, with enlarged flash holes and see how they do.
Wrist rockets and "Bean Shooters"
If the anti-gunners get their way, we will soon all be reduced to carrying slingshots, wrist rockets or "bean shooters." It might be interesting to start some discussion of this on Gun Writers.
I remember when I was at NRA the D.C. police crame lab had an unusual homicide in which there was a low velocity penetration of the skull, and the projectile exited, but wasn't found, nor was any expended cartridge case.
At first they thought it was an accidental long range hit from a handgun, but an FBI Agent from the Washington Field Office took one look at the evidence and pronouced that it was a slingshot. He had experience with a similar case in California where a hunter had stumbled across somebody's "pot farm" and met his demise in a similar matter.
Anyway, to make a long story short, we did some test firings and found that we could reproduce the wound characteristics with a wrist rocket slingshot or similar device and that a steel ball bearing from 1/4" to 1/2" diameter would reach velocities over 200 f.p.s.
The Wham-O brand slingshot of my youth is no longer made and some areas restrict the sale of "wrist rockets" because they are used as gang weapons. We may be someday reduced to making our own, and if so we could do much worse than follow the method depicted in the 1960s Andy Griffith TV show, and use the lowly "Bean Shooter."
Look at this web site for how-to information, this is exactly what I used as a boy and I took alot of rabbits and birds with it. In a pinch it would be a quiet self defense weapon.
Issue 1/2002 08.03.2002:
"Wild Bunch" of GOW gunwriters has got a new member, well-known firearms expert, ballistician and designer of firearms & ammo: CHARLES E. HARRIS. (To friends just: "Ed"). Many visitors may presumably still recall his articles, published by THE AMERICAN RIFLEMAN magazine, GUN DIGEST yearbook and other printed sources of information. Ed lives in W. Virginia, U.S.A. He has been an environmental engineer since 1988, a firearms designer of STURM, RUGER & Co since 1984 until 1988 and a firearms expert/ ballistician of (U.S.) NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION until 1984.
We were in correspondence already 20+ years ago, when I was starting "The Magnificent Revolution of Handloading"; i.e. bustle with the subsonic rifle loads. Ed carried out some test-shooting with .308 caliber SCHUETZENPLINKER lead alloy bullets of his design and VihtaVuori N320 powder. Accuracy of this combination was amazing at least from .308 Winchester test-barrel or rifle, especially at subsonic muzzle velocities. Powder N320 (or "Finn-Unique" according to Ed) was not yet available in U.S.A. Small sample of it (recklessly air-mailed from Finland) ran out soon: Amusement was over.
Especially our American visitors shall presumably agree with our wish: Welcome back to The Gunwriter Club, Ed!
1702 MMII; PT.
"SILENCE IS GOLDEN!"
By CHARLES E. HARRIS
Many years ago I had occasion to make up some subsonic loads in 7.62 NATO for use in a suppressed M21 sniper rifle, which is based upon the M14. The NATO-type 148-gr. FMJBT bullet is not adequately stabilized in the 12" twist of rifling barrel at subsonic velocities, but the 110-gr. FMJRN bullet used in the .30 M1 carbine cartridge works well and is quiet with 6 grains of Hercules (now Alliant) Bullseye.
The most effective "Silent Without Silencer" rifle I have is an old English "Rook Rifle" which was originally chambered for the .360 No.5. Most of these rifles will fire .38 Long Colt ammunition without alteration, but I have found it much better to rechamber them to use .38 Special. Standard velocity 148-gr. hollow-based wadcutter target ammunition is very quiet and accurate, and gives about 870 fps in a 25" barrel. The Marlin 1984 "Cowboy" lever action rifles with 24" barrels are accurate and fairly quiet with ordinary standard velocity 158-gr. lead bullet factory loads which provide about 950 fps. For minimum noise, I handload the factory Remington 158-grain swaged lead SWC bullets with 4 grains of W-W 231 or 3.5 grains of Bullseye for about 850 f.p.s. Below this velocity accuracy suffers due to inadequate bullet stability.
For another quiet combination with available factory rifles and ammunition, use .32 S&W Long factory loads with the 98-gr. lead roundnosed bullet in old rifles chambered for the .32-20 Winchester. These were very popular ranchers and farmers guns in the USA prior to 1940 and are highly prized today by turkey hunters. Standard factory .32 S&W Long ammunition is very quiet and accurate to 50 yards or so, although fired cases swell up a bit.
It is much better to reload a reduced charge of 3 grains of Bullseye in the .32-20 case with the standard 100-gr. flatnosed cast lead bullet which is popular for Cowboy Action Shooting. I use the Ideal Nr. 3118 bullet cast for the .32-20 in the .30-30 Winchester with 4 grains of Bullseye. In old rifles with 24" or longer barrels this is very quiet. Newly manufactured Marlin "Cowboy" guns will give the same result.
IMR shotshell powder "PB," which stands for "porous based" is a fine grained and easily ignited, bulky powder intended for trap, skeet loads and upland game bird loads. This powder burns very similarly to Alliant's Unique or VihtaVuori's N320, which makes it excellent for subsonic loads. For cast lead plainbased bullets weighing from 100 to 130 grains, a charge of 4 grains of PB works provides subsonic velocity in .32-20 rifles, and 5 grains in the 7.62x39, 6 grains in the .30-30, and 7 grains in the .303 British, 7.62 NATO or 7.62x53R. If jacketed bullets are substituted, it is absolutely necessary that the bore be thoroughly cleaned, lightly oiled, the bullets themselves lightly lubricated by tumbling in Lee Liquid Alox, and these charges also increased by 1 grain, across the board.
Comment of Chief Editor: Ed Harris is our new gunwriter; a worldwide known authority on firearms and ballistics in 1980s. Ed was also a professional firearms designer since 1984 until 1988. "Hard core" of authorities in GOW is now much more hardened. 1802 MMII; PT.
"ED'S RED" FORMULA
From The Cast Bullet Journal, No. 140, July - August 1999 Dangerously Close to the Beltway "Ed's Red" -- Revisited By C.E. "Ed" Harris
Since I mixed my first "Ed's Red" (ER) bore cleaner five years ago, hundreds of users have told me that they find it as effective as commercial products. This cleaner has an action similar to military rifle bore cleaner, such as Mil-C-372B. It is highly effective for removing plastic fouling from shotgun bores, caked carbon in semi-automatic rifles or pistols, or leading in revolvers. "ER" is not a "decoppering" solution for fast removal of heavy jacket fouling, but because is more effective in removal of caked carbon and primer residues than most other cleaners, so metal fouling is reduced when "ER" is used.
Claude Copper and I researched the subject rather thoroughly and determined there was no technical reason why an effective firearm bore cleaner couldn't be mixed using common hardware store ingredients. The resulting cleaner is safe, effective, inexpensive, provides good corrosion protection and adequate residual lubrication. Routine oiling after cleaning is unnecessary except for storage exceeding 1 year, or in harsh environments, such as salt air exposure. The formula is adapted from Hatcher's "Frankford Arsenal Cleaner No. 18", but substitutes equivalent modern materials. Hatcher's recipe called for equal parts of acetone, turpentine, Pratt's Astral Oil, land sperm oil, and (optionally) 200 grams of anhydrous lanolin per liter of cleaner.
Some discussion of the ingredients in "ER" is helpful to understand the properties of the cleaner and how it works. Pratts Astral Oil was nothing more than acid free, deodorized kerosene. Today you would ask for "K-1" kerosene of the type sold for use in indoor space heaters.
An inexpensive, effective substitute for sperm oil is Dexron II automatic transmission fluid. Prior to 1950 most ATFs were sperm oil based. During WWII, sperm oil was mostly unavailable, so highly refined, dewaxed hydrofinished petroleum oils were developed, which had excellent thermal stability. When antioxidants were added to prevent gumming, these worked well in precision instruments.
With the high demand for automatic transmission autos after WWII, sperm oil was no longer practical to produce ATFs in the needed quantities, so the wartime expedients were mass produced. ATFs have been continually improved over the years. The additives contained in Dexron include detergents or other surfactants which are highly suitable for inclusion in an all-purpose cleaner, lubricant and preservative.
Hatcher's Frankford Arsenal No. 18 used gum spirits of turpentine, but turpentine is both expensive and also highly flammable, so I chose not to use it. Much safer and more inexpensive are "aliphatic mineral spirits", which are an open-chain organic solvent, rather than the closed-chain, benzene ring structure, common to "aromatics", such as naptha or "lighter fluid". Sometimes called "safety solvent", aliphatic mineral spirits are used for thinning oil based paint, as automotive parts cleaner and is commonly sold under the names "odorless mineral spirits", "Stoddard Solvent", or "Varsol".
Acetone is included to provide an aggressive, fast-acting solvent for caked smokeless powder residues. Because acetone readily evaporates and the fumes are harmful in high concentrations, it is recommended that it be left out if the cleaner will be used indoors, in soak tanks or in enclosed spaces lacking forced air ventilation. Containers should be kept tightly closed when not in use. "ER" is still effective without acetone, but not as "fast-acting".
"Ed's Red" does not chemically dissolve copper fouling in rifle bores, but it does a better job of removing carbon and primer residue than most other cleaners. Many users have told me that frequent and exclusive use of "ER" reduces copper deposits, because it removes the old impacted powder fouling left behind by other cleaners. This reduces the abrasion and adhesion of jacket metal to the bore, leaving a cleaner surface condition, which reduces subsequent fouling. Experience indicates that "ER" will actually remove metal fouling in bores if it is left to "soak" for a few days so the surfactants will do the job, when followed by a repeat cleaning. You simply have to be patient.
Addition of lanolin to "ER" is optional, because the cleaner works perfectly well and gives adequate corrosion protection and lubrication without it. Inclusion of lanolin makes the cleaner easier on the hands, increases its lubricity and film strength and improves corrosion protection if firearms, tools or equipment will be routinely exposed to salt air, water spray, or corrosive urban atmospheres.
I recommend the lanolin be included if you intend to use the cleaner as a protectant for long-term storage or for a "flush" after water cleaning of black powder firearms or those fired with military chlorate primers. This is because lanolin has a great affinity for water and readily emulsifies so that the bore can be wiped of residual moisture, leaving a protective film. If you inspect your guns and wipe them down twice yearly, you can leave out the lanolin and save about $10 per gallon.
At current retail prices, you can buy all the ingredients to mix "ER", without the lanolin, for about $12 per gallon. I urge you to mix some yourself. I am confident it will work as well for you as it does for me and hundreds of users who got the "recipe" on the Fidonet Firearms Echo.
CONTENTS: "Ed's Red Bore Cleaner"
1 part - Dexron ATF, GM Spec. D-20265 or later.
1 part - Kerosene - deodorized, K1.
1 part - Aliphatic Mineral Spirits CAS #64741-49-9, or substitute "Stoddard Solvent", CAS #8052-41-3, or equivalent.
1 part - Acetone, CAS #67-64-1.
(Optional 1 lb. of Lanolin, Anhydrous, USP per gallon, or OK to substitute Lanolin, Modified, Topical Lubricant, from the drug store.)
Mix outdoors, in good ventilation. Use a clean 1 gallon metal, chemical resistant, heavy gage PET or PVC plastic container. NFPA approved plastic gasoline storage containers are OK. Do NOT use HDPE, which is permeable, because the acetone will slowly evaporate. Acetone in "ER" will attack HDPE over time, causing the container to collapse, making a heck of a mess!
Add the ATF first. Use the empty ATF container to measure the other components, so that it is thoroughly rinsed. If you incorporate the lanolin into the mixture, melt this carefully in a double boiler, taking precautions against fire. Pour the melted lanolin into a larger container, rinsing the lanolin container with the bore cleaner mix, and stirring until it is all dissolved. I recommend diverting up to 4 ozs. per quart of the 50-50 ATF/kerosene mix to use as "ER-compatible" gun oil. This can be done without impairing the effectiveness of the remaining mix. Label and safety warnings follow:
FIREARM BORE CLEANER CAUTION: FLAMMABLE MIXTURE HARMFUL IF SWALLOWED KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN
Contents: petroleum distillates, surfactants, organometallic antioxidants and acetone.
Flammable mixture, keep away from heat, sparks or flame.
FIRST AID: If swallowed, DO NOT induce vomiting, call physician immediately.
In case of eye contact, immediately flush thoroughly with water and call a physician. For skin contact, wash thoroughly.
Use with adequate ventilation. Avoid breathing vapors or spray mist. It is a violation of Federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling. Reports have associated repeated and prolonged occupational overexposure to solvents with permanent brain damage and nervous system damage. If using in closed armory vaults lacking forced air ventilation, wear respiratory protection meeting NIOSH TC23C or equivalent. Keep container tightly closed when not in use.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE:
Open the firearm action and ensure the bore is clear. Cleaning is most effective when done while the barrel is still warm from firing. Saturate a cotton patch with bore cleaner, wrap or impale on jag and push it through the bore from breech to muzzle. The patch should be a snug fit. Let the first patch fall off and do not pull it back into the bore.
Wet a second patch, and similarly start it into the bore from the breech, this time scrubbing from the throat area forward in 4-5" strokes and gradually advancing until the patch emerges out the muzzle. Waiting approximately 1 minute to let the bore cleaner to soak will improve its action.
For pitted, heavily carbon-fouled service rifles, leaded revolvers or neglected bores a bronze brush wet with bore cleaner many be used to remove stubborn deposits. This is unnecessary for smooth, target-grade barrels in routine use.
Use a final wet patch pushed straight through the bore to flush out loosened residue dissolved by Ed's Red. Let the patch fall off the jag without pulling it back through the bore. If you are finished firing, leaving the bore wet will protect it from rust for 1 year under average atmospheric conditions.
If lanolin is incorporated into the mixture, it will protect the firearm from rust for up to two years, even in a humid environment. (For longer storage use Lee Liquid Alox or Cosmoline). "ER" will readily remove hardened Alox or Cosmoline.
Wipe spilled Ed's Red from exterior surfaces before storing the gun. While Ed's Red is harmless to blue and nickel finishes, the acetone it contains is harmful to most wood finishes.
Before firing again, push two dry patches through the bore and dry the chamber, using a patch wrapped around a suitably sized brush or jag. First shot point of impact usually will not be disturbed by Ed's Red if the bore is cleaned as described.
I have determined to my satisfaction that when Ed's Red is used exclusively and thoroughly, that hot water cleaning is unnecessary after use of Pyrodex or military chlorate primers. However, if bores are not wiped between shots and are heavily caked from black powder fouling, hot water cleaning is recommended first to break up heavy fouling deposits. Water cleaning should be followed by a flush with Ed's Red to prevent after-rusting which could result from residual moisture. It is ALWAYS a good practice to clean TWICE, TWO DAYS APART whenever using chlorate primed ammunition, just to make sure you get all the corrosive residue out.
This "Recipe" has been placed in the public domain, and may be freely distributed provided that it is done so in its entirety with all current revisions, instructions and safety warnings included herein, and that proper attribution is given to the author.
Good Guns I Kept After I "Lost Interest"
By C.E. "Ed" Harris
It wasn't that long ago I thought that reloading 500 rounds to shoot every week, and working for a year on a magazine article that didn't pay enough to cover my expenses, actually was fun! At the range, rude clowns would pester me with stupid questions while I tried to "work." They'd blab on without the courtesy of waiting for a reply, interrupting with an answer they already "knew," being ready to argue for hours, while ignoring any pretext of science, engineering or common sense. Those days are gone for me now, thank God!
I've lost all interest in club shooting and competition, selling my Rod & Gun Club membership. So they won't see me at the range any more. A few old friends I'll miss know who they are and still stay in touch. It's ironic that from a club of hundreds of members, after 30 years I can count on the fingers of one hand the intelligent, well mannered gentlemen still living whom I am honored and thankful to have known.
The shooting game in America is dying because young people are not taking up the sport. Liberals and entertainment media use violence to sell the fearful on big government, trading our rights and freedom for the false security of "Homeland Defense" after September 11. Anti gunners are waiting patiently for the rest of the post WWII "baby boomer" generation to die off, so that the politicians can ban private ownership of guns outright without today's spoiled brats even raising a whimper. They'll get away with it, because most shooters are too stupid to see past the next election.
What was once the honorable hobby of outdoorsmen, citizen soldiers and amateur historians has been prostituted by costly games having no basis in reality. Competition has no purpose other than to sell more guns and accessories in a saturated market. Our head-in-sand Liberals of mis-applied compassion don't even have to ban guns. This is because our own shooting industry, advertisers and mass marketing have turned sport shooting into the pastime of monied elitists.
The cost of sport shooting has been driven out of reach of most ordinary working people and is surely killing our Second Amendment heritage just as certainly as if the cursed liberals had done it legislatively. The "gentleman good guys" such as the late John Amber, Bud Waite and Col. E.H. Harrison are surely rolling in their graves.
America's sport shooters who survive have forgotten that competition is about skill and hunting is an expression of reverence for our great outdoors and the game. The noble simplicity of it all hidden by today's advertising hype. The great outdoorsman Frank Marshall, Jr. killed most of his deer with a sporterized .303 Lee Enfield while wearing a tattered flannel short, bib overalls, smoking a Lucky Strike, watching the wafting smoke and stalking up on quietly upon them from downwind. Today's arrogant kids who learn how to hunt on the Internet need to get out of their tree stands and learn to enjoy nature and walk quietly around the woods so that they may truly enjoy them instead of worrying about how they smell!
After I changed careers and left the shooting industry, I didn't fire a shot in four years and didn't miss it at all. After my Dad died I started going back up to our country place, in the mountains of West Virginia, escaping daily suburban stresses to recall a simpler time. A neighbor invited me to help him zero a woodchuck rifle at his farm nearby and hunt deer with him in the fall. This was like turning the clock back 30 years and returning to my boyhood home. An occasional outing with a few close friends was delightful, 100 miles away from obnoxious newly rich who shoot the same arrogant way as they drive their expensive German cars which seem to have replaced the Fords and Chevy's we grew up with.
I don't have as many guns as I used to, but the favorites which I kept serve my modest, practical needs. What little hunting I do these days is for deer, varmints in my vegetable garden, wild turkey, rabbits and upland game birds close to home. My target shooting is informal, with revolvers handguns and traditional, muzzle-loading black powder rifles to 100 yards, centerfire rifles to 300 yards, mostly for woodchucks, but certainly not the fantasy 600 to 1000 yard "sniper" ranges anymore.
Ken Warner wrote in his Practical Book of Guns that before 1950 most American homes had a .22 rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and either a .30-30 lever action or .30-'06 bolt action. Most handguns were .22s, but if center-fire, were almost certainly a .38 Special, unless a returning WWII veteran was an officer who kept his .45 automatic. Things were practical and simple then.
I learned to fire the Springfield and Colt Official Police revolver young enough to be confident of their accurate rapidity. They appear far less sinister than a semi-automatic such as a Garand or AR-15 and get the job done without scattering the fired brass all over. My "West Virginia battery" has built-in redundancy, because experience taught me that all essential systems need a backup, whether they be motor vehicles, two-way radio communications, home heating, knives, or firearms.
The Long and Short of It, Two Revolvers
If you would have one handgun, General Julian S. Hatcher, USA, said that it should be a .38 Special. I agree, but prefer two. The which I carry afield and shoot most is a blue Colt Official Police with 4" barrel and fixed sights. It's sturdy, accurate, rugged and reliable. Because I don't see fixed sights as well today as I used to, I also have a 6" Ruger Security Six, which is a .357 Magnum, though I do shoot .38s in it most of the time. The Ruger is for 100 yard plinking and varmint when its longer barrel doesn't get in the way. Both revolvers are carried in military-style flap holsters to protect the gun. As Bill Jordan said: "Speed's fine, but accuracy's final."
My basic .38 Special load is a sub-sonic, standard velocity, not +P 160-gr. cast Redding #358 or LBT flatnosed, traditional style "Cowboy" bullet. I use soft lead, no harder than 12-13 BHN, typically automobile wheelweights, or 50-50 linotype and plumber's lead, . The heavy flat-nosed bullet penetrates clear through feral dogs and is accurate to 100 yards or more.
It "lets the air out" of bunnies, groundhogs and the occasional wild turkey just fine, without damaging edible meat. I do keep a box or two of factory-loaded Winchester X38SPD 158-gr. lead hollowpoint +P "FBI loads" around for defensive carry. This works for me.
Two Walking Around Rifles
Having a revolver and rifle which used the same common ammunition was very important in frontier days. Today's shooters seem to be educated beyond their basic intelligence and defeat the basic purpose by tinkering with specialized loads which don't shoot well in both guns. While I do keep a box or two of .357 Magnum factory 158-gr. Softpoint loads around for my Marlin M1894C carbine, most of the time I use those ordinary subsonic .38 Special Cowboy loads, which shoot to the iron sights at 100 yards and are very quiet and effective small game loads at 950 f.p.s. from its 8" barrel.
The "walking around gun" which I carry when I don't take along a revolver is an old single-shot English Rook rifle. This was originally a .360 No. 5, but I rechambered it by hand to use .38 Special ammunition. It's Medford-style rifling has a large barrel groove diameter of about .366" (9.3mm), which requires use of very soft, nearly pure lead bullets loaded with fast burning pistol powder to provide sufficient base upset to take the rifling. With my Cowboy loads it is accurate enough to shoot the heads off grouse at woods ranges or to kill rabbits at 50 yards. I have a custom NEI mould which casts a 175-gr. flat-nosed hollowbased bullet made especially for it. My best loads are accurate enough to kill groundhogs at 200 yards when my 6X Unertl is placed on the rifle. With my normal charge of 4.2 grains of W-W 231 pistol powder, the combination is VERY quiet, every bit as much so as an MP5SD firing 147-gr. OSM Special Ball!
Two Accurate .22s
If you read my GUN DIGEST article, "Getting the Best from Your .22 Rimfire" you already know the answer. My heavy-barrel Ruger M77/.22 was custom built, but they make one that way now. I have two interchangable barrels, a short, stubby 16.5" bull barrel for the woods and a longer 24" one with iron rights to simulate a military bolt-action rifle for practice. I use a 6X Leupold M8 scope with a "Madison-County dual dot reticle" by Premier. This reticle features a 1 mil "dot" (subtending 10cm at 100m) at the intersection of the crosswires and a smaller 1/2 mil "dot" centered 2 mils below the intersection, to provide hold-over for longer range shooting. Ordinary CCI Blazer high velocity ammunition groups ten shots within 3/4 inch at 50 yards anytime.
My other .22 is a single-shot Remington bolt-action which I bought "a piece at a time" for $5 at a barn sale. The old woman who sold it to me surely wouldn't have let me have it or would have charged me at least $50, has she known the bird dropping encrusted pieces would assemble into a rifle! This old barn rifle dates from the 1930s and looks terribly "agricultural," but after soaking in a mixture of automatic transmission fluid and kerosene the dirt, pigeon droppings, feathers and most of the rust cleaned away well. Best of all, thanks to long use with greased lead bullets, the bore in its heavy 28" barrel was perfect. My windfall is both accurate and silent when used with standard velocity ammunition. Its original factory peep sights were rusted firmly in place still as perfectly zeroed when left many years ago! The rifle takes apart easily with one screw and fits easily on my WWII surplus U.S. Army packboard, and fires penny-sized iron sight 50-yd. groups on demand.
Two Shotguns for Bunnies or "Business"
Many shooters think double shotguns are delightful, but I don't own one any more. I used to have several, but they are like women, delicate, dainty, fussy, inflexible and demanding. Give me a sturdy "pump gun" that always works, I don't care how ugly it, if it handles reasonably and is dependable. It took me thirty years to wear out my first Remington Model 870, in however many thousand rounds it takes for them to run out of places to stake new cartridge stops. I replaced my old gun with a new 3" Magnum 870 police model with Parkerized finish, plain wooden riot stock, 20" rifle sight slug barrel and a spare 26" ribbed barrel with screw-in chokes. If I live long enough to wear it out I'll be happy.
My other shotgun is the smoothbore equivalent of the walking around rifle, a skinny, 4-pound, 20" barrel, chopped off, cylinder bore H&R .410 single-barrel hammer gun. It used to have a 26" barrel until one day an oversized, handloaded round ball had trouble getting through the choke. The gun actually recoiled forward, opening up the muzzle end like the spreading hood of a cobra! A few minutes with a tubing cutter and file cured that and it now patterns better than ever! Its original 2-1/2" chamber was rechambered by hand to accept 3" shells, so it now can use any .410 cartridges shells I may find cheap at yard sales (not too darned likely!) It is as good a 25 yard bunny and quail gun as you could want. I buy skeet loads of No. 9 shot for fun, and use 3" No. 6s for small game. Three stacked .40 cal. round balls loaded in .444 Marlin brass with a .44 cal. Ox Yoke Originals with 16 grs. of IMR4227 make a formidable close range varmint load and get out the bore fine now that there isn';t any more choke in the way!
One Switch-barrel and a Rough and Ready Bolt Rifle
Townsend Whelen said that only accurate rifles are interesting. I agree, but ad the caveat that they must have field utility. I sold all of my competition rifles because they epitomized the contrived, NRA money-eating games. I kept one single-shot, bolt-action Sako switch-barrel, McMillan stocked hunting rifle with barrels for .22-250, 7.62x39, .308 Win. and .30-'06. The .22-250 when used with full loads is a reliable 400 yard varmint rifle, but is also highly accurate even when throttled back to quieter .22 WMR levels with 6 grs. of W-W 231 and a 50-gr. Sierra Blitz. Just be sure to lightly lubricate jacketed bullets by tumbling in Lee Liquid Alox diluted 50-50 in clear mineral spirits, letting them dry before loading, so that the bullets don't stick in the bore!
The 7.62x39 barrel has no purpose other than as an accurate plinker with cheap military ammo, which lets me practice as much as I want without chasing brass, reloading or wearing my "good" barrels. The .308 and .30-'06 barrels are accurate hunting rifles which enable me shoot use common, plentiful ammunition. I change scopes with each barrel and do so as needed, in a few minutes, going right back to zero. This is much less trouble than storing four scoped hunting rifles.
Some shooting enthusiasts will be bothered by the obvious lack of an "assault rifle" here. I don't need one because I don't fantasize fire fights against hordes of AK-armed adversaries. Lets get real! All I want is an accurate, reasonable deterrent which doesn't appear aggressive or attract too much attention. What a 12-ga. Model 870 riot gun won't handle, a ten-shot bolt-action does. My customized, heavy-barrel No. 4 MkII Long Branch .303 is as accurate as a National Match M1 rifle. It can deliver ten accurate aimed rounds in thirty seconds before having to reload. Rapid reloads are possible shoving a charger down alongside its offset scope. The folding A.J. Parker 8/53 conversion of its Mk.I battlesight doesn't get in the way.
The above concept is well tried and proven. In the early 1970s I marveled at Maj. J.N. Blashford-Snell's "expedition rifle" featured in the British publication Guns Review. While working at the NRA I had the opportunity to fire an Enfield Envoy and a similar Canadian Long Branch sniper rifle. I took the features I liked, cloned them and added a few personal touches such as a "machined from the block" side-mount which uses Ruger quick detachable scope rings with oversized knobs I lengthened the butt to a 13.5" length of pull, and installed a Winchester M70 steel buttplate. The fore-end was cut off 2" ahead of the lower band, the upper handguard discarded and the works glass bedded. Oversized knobs on the quick detachable side mount permit the scope to be removed easily. The cheek piece is also quick detachable, but the scope is actually quite useable without it.
Gunwriters on the Web Ed's Essays: http://guns.connect.fi/gow/ed.html