Monthly Archives: July 2010

Favorite Pills

I have made some mention of cartridges that I love lately, but realize that I have never made a list of little explosive pills that I love. So, in no particular order, here I go:

22LR – The greatest cartridge ever designed. Soft shooting, quiet from a rifle, enough power to get work done, accurate, cheap, what’s not to love? Be it from a rifle, pistol, or revolver, I love it more every time I fire it. Loud, sulfurous, meditation, it is. My addiction isn’t helped by the fact that the little bullet is cheap enough to shoot for hours on end for the cost of a couple burgers.

9x17mm – I only like this for its ability to bring respectable firepower to tiny sidearms. The 9mm Makarov would knock it off the list entirely if it came in itty-bitty guns.

9x18mm – It is just one of those things that I like for no rational reason. If it came in a weapon sized like a P3AT, my love would at least make sense. The slappy recoil and bark-like report of firing a friends angry chihuahua (VZ. 82) is just way too fun. I have no practical use for this round, but I like it anyway.

9mm Parabellum – Cheap for centerfire, light recoiling, offers impressive capacities, easy to shoot well, and packs a decent punch. I find no flaw with this little guy, especially when stoked with 147 grain boolits. If I didn’t regularly have a bear bumming around the property, I would even consider carrying it.

38 S&W Special – This ole’ thing just goes with a model 10 like the 30-30 goes with the Winchester 94. Cheap, potent enough, stupid easy to shoot, everything I like about the 9×19, only in a revolver. I feel like I am cheating on the 357 when I shoot it, but I just can’t stop.

40 S&W – My favorite carry cartridge. It is potent, offers decent bullet weight, still has a decent capacity in a 9mm frame, has a better track record against critters around here than the 9mm, and it just feels right to me. It may help that it was the first center-fire handgun round I ever fired, and that I grew up for most of my childhood shooting my Dad’s before he went to a department that issued a 9mm. The round fits me, and I seem to have a thing for intermediate, jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none cartridges.

357 Magnum – My first love in handguns. If I could only have one cartridge in all of my handguns, it would be the 357. This fine pill is the most hellfire the average shooter can usually tolerate in a handgun for any stretch of time. More than once, the old 357 has been a comfort on long nights in the woods. I’ll admit, the hellacious noise gives me a boyish grin.

30 Carbine – Hehehehehe, best carbine caliber ever. I will hear arguments from the 223 crowd, but only from those shooting carbines in the weight class of an M1. Even the biggest recoil-wuss in the world can shoot this one. This means that someone who would normally shy away from a long-gun for defense can be armed with a more than effective enough weapon around the homestead. Also, one of my favorite calibers for a trunk or home-defense gun. The most fun you can have with a firearm outside of a 22. This little thing is loud as hell, by the way.

5.56 x 55mm – No 223, no Ruger Mini-14. I love Ruger’s little Ranch Rifle. This cartridge is a fine solution to problems of the vermin and predator varieties. No recoil to speak of, ammo available on the cheap, and is just easy to shoot well. The first center-fire rifle I ever fired was a 223.

7.62 x 39mm – I have no practical love for this one, just sentimental. The clankety clunk thunk of a kalashnikov in action reminds me of childhood.

30-30 – 30WCF is my favorite rifle caliber by far. I live in the woods where shots are usually short, and this bullet is more than enough to drop anything that breathes in this state. Soft shooting, enough power, and just makes the lever-action complete. If we could have loaded long guns in our vehicles around here, it would never be far from me. Until that day, I’ll have to settle for rifles that feed from box mags and are quicker to action from empty.

7.5 x 55mm – I like it better than the 308, and it doesn’t kick any differently. No practical difference between the two, I just like the Swiss villain-slayer more. I may custom order a turn-bolt in this caliber for elk some day. Although, if I were ever to become wealthy, a Blaser in 7.5 would just kick all kinds of ass.

303 – My preferred caliber for moose. You can’t help but have an empire moment when you fire it. Those big rimmed cases just feel right to a guy who has been shooting 30WCF his whole life.

30-06 – Power and grace. My favorite all-around rifle caliber. This is also the biggest caliber I can handle indefinitely in comfort, any bigger and I start to feel it after a few rounds. If I lived in a more open area, I would like it better than the 30-30. 

 410 – Fun, no-muss-no-fuss scattergun feed. If only it were cheaper, so that it could be a truly efficient garden gun.

20 Gauge – Cheap, gentle for the load it delivers, and fun in a still potent shell. The 20 bore is the perfect single-shot fodder.

16 Gauge – Greatest shotgun gauge ever. Anyone who says otherwise is a heathen. The guns tend to feel better than heavy twelves for me.

12 Gauge – Only in 2 1/2″ or so blackpowder loads, wrapped in paper, and coming from a Winchester lever-action shotgun. It is a religious experience. God himself hunts birds with an 87 Winchester and paper hulled shells.

Note: Yes, God and John Moses Browning’s own caliber is not on this list. I have fired a fair amount of the All-American Hun-Stopper. I was almost tempted into buying a GLOCK 30 after firing a friends, but only because the gun worked well for me. When I shoot it, it is just a means to an end. Some day, a bone-stock 1911 will keep my Garand and Carbine company, but only to have. If one of the kids were to fall in love with it, I wouldn’t disapprove.


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Look Out!

The poetry is back.

On The Birth Of His Son

Families, when a child is born
Want it to be intelligent.
I, through intelligence,
Having wrecked my whole life,
Only hope the baby will prove
Ignorant and stupid.
Then he will crown a tranquil life
By becoming a Cabinet Minister.

Su Tung-p’o

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The Walk Home Bag

Jay G has himself a spiffy new BOB, and wants to know what he should put in it.

I had one similar back when I was a graveyard shift equipment operator on a mountain. I didn’t have much room for stuff in my rig and I still needed to fit a lunch box, but I wanted to be prepared for a walk down the mountain while banged up a bit. The kit was cannibalized for a break-down kit in the car now that I commute farther to work, but I threw it back together for a photo-session.

I feel the urge to explain the contents:

Fire: I have waterproof matches, strike anywhere matches in a water-proof match case, a mini-BIC, a swedish fire-starting jobby, candle stubs, a film canister filled with vaseline soaked cotton balls, and a refill container of naptha for the zippo that lives in my pocket. Fire makes you warm, dry, visible, purifies water, and cooks food, I like redundancy in my ability to make flame.

First-Aid: I have assorted gauze pads, a roll of cling, assorted band-aids, hand sanitizer pads, alcohol prep-pads, benzalkonium pads, a roll of bandage tape, burn gel w/ pain relief, and baby aspirin. I often work and travel with people with heart conditions, thus the aspirin. The bandages are self-explanatory. There is a spare pair of wool socks in the corner of the picture because I assume that my feet will be wet and dry wool socks are nice to have.

Light & Signaling: I have a 2AA Mag-Light, a couple of chemical light sticks, and a whistle. The light sticks are nice for a variety of reasons, like low level light without wasting flashlight batteries. I forgot to throw the spare batteries in the picture. A lenght of cord also appears in the picture.

Survival Type Stuff: An old-style survival guide put out by NHF&G, a space blanket, and a poncho. I like the old “You Alone In The North Woods” better than the new guide Fish and Game puts out, so I use it in my kits. The poncho keeps me dry, and although I don’t care for space blankets, they make nice reflectors for fires, are shiny and flashy to get attention, and they beat no blanket at all.

Water: I have a canteen and water purification tabs. A sealed store-bought water bottle tied to the pack is what I actually had, but the canteen is what I had handy for the picture. The tabs are easy to use, make the water taste funny, but I don’t care, and the expiration date should be checked periodically. Water, warmth, and not bleeding will be your priorities if you need this kit.

Assorted Stuff: A small fixed-blade, a blue sharpie, a pencil, notepad, and a sturdy water-proof bag. The bag is nice to tote or catch a little extra water, store non-waterproof stuff, store foraged berries, and so forth. The pencil and notepad can leave notes behind, itemize my list of stuff to do to get home, doodle on a sleepless night, and the paper can make for emergency dry tinder.  A fresh sharpie marker comes in handy all the time. I like blue ink, black can go unnoticed, red can be mistaken for blood, a rash, or a smudge of stuff, blue seems to catch the eye better. With the marker I can leave notes on stuff like a person, piece of metal, wood, anything.

The Bag: Nothing special here, just a little shoulder bag I got at Wally-World. It has a shoulder strap, belt loops, a connector for other gear in the line, a clip to hang from stuff, and a few pockets.

Left out: My watch cap, spare batteries, a few assorted zip ties, another length of cord, and food bars. There is still just enough room in the bag for these, but they are burried in a breakdown kit in the car right now. You lose most of your body heat from your head. Even during the summer up here, if you get caught in the rain overnight with no fire, hypothermia will find you, so the wool watch cap is nice to have. The zip ties save cord on small connections, and you can never have too much cordage. The food bars are to keep my stomach happy if my walk home turns into an overnight. A small bite to eat before bed will give your metabolism something to turn into body heat while you sleep.

There she is, feel free to comment good, bad, or indifferent.

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Out Of The Closet

This post by Jay G has inspired me to admit to a few of my guilty pleasures, so I’ll steal his theme. Here we go:

  • ABBA – I grew up in a house full of ABBA and I am not ashamed to admit that I like it.
  • Disco in general, actually – Mindless, fun music, I like it.
  • The Charter Arms Pink Lady – Something about the idea of putting a roid-monster attacker in his place with a dainty pink gun. I will have one.
  • The Jennings J22 – They jam, they don’t last, they are more accurate than they have any right to be, the old wood grips were really nice, and they are fun.
  • 22LR – I love the good ole’ 22 more than words can describe. Given the choice between shooting an accurate 22 and just about anything else, I’ll take the 22.
  • 20 Gauge – While I like the 16 bore for most actual uses, the little 20 is just damn fun and cheap. Every time I see a 20 bore, I have to handle it.
  • Bolt-Action Shotguns – I like them, no real reason, I just do.
  • Tiny Slip-Joint Knives – The Buck 305 Lancer and the like always beg me to take them home. I am powerless to resist. The little buggers are just so useful out of proportion to their size
  • Bite-Size Quiche – I don’t like full-size quiche, but the little mini ones are addictive.
  • The Ford 500 – I am a truck guy. The Ford 500 is just a really freaking nice little car.
  • Winnie The Pooh – I still enjoy watching the little yellow bear and mentally-challenged Tigger.
  • Grease – My sister always made me watch it. It grew on me.
  • Flowers – I like flowers, they smell nice and look cool. My wife almost fainted in disbelief the day she discovered that I knew more about flowers than most women.
  • Chocolate-Vanilla Twist in baby cones – Just brings back memories of getting ice-cream with my grandparents.
  • Toys – I still play with them. Nerf, army men, legos, Tonka trucks. I bought my son a few Tonka  trucks in Maine once while he wasn’t there. I then took them to the beach and played with them. A nice trench system and fortified wall resulted.
  • Tea – I don’t really care for most coffee, but tea is an addiction. Tea from a teapot tea, and no sawdust filled bags for me. Make all the frilly lace jokes you want, but loose-leaf from a teapot is mana from the gods.

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I Know It’s Hard To Live That Way

Mad Caddies, No Hope:

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We Have A Mouse In Our Home

Her name is Elsie Pea:

(Please ignore the dog fur. We hadn’t vacuumed yet. Two dogs and all.)

The cats seem completely disinterested in hunting her down, and the cheese drawer is no longer safe. This little thing has been scampering about the house untamed since mid-winter. In the last week, I have tamed it and become familiar with its ways. I think we may actually like each other now. It will even become a carry piece soon.

Nothing about the 380 ACP excites me. It is a dinky cartridge that requires ball to penetrate, and kicks out of proportion of its size. Most of the guns that chamber it could just as easily hold a 9x18mm and at least the recoil would come with more power. The old 9mm kurtz has earned a place as one of my favorite calibers for one reason, however; its ability to give surprising firepower to a tiny slip of a gun.

Let us compare the little 380 to the lord of all hideout guns, the S&W Chief’s Special:

The Ruger is lighter, thinner, and shorter than the all-steel J-frame. The trigger on the smith is better, but is also metal (the LCP has a plastic trigger) and Ruger was never famous for perfect trigger pulls. The sights on the Smith suck, but are still better than the vague bumps that pass for sights on the 380. The Smith holds five rounds of 158 grain 38 specials to Elsie’s seven ninety-odd grain 9x17mms. They are both exceedingly comfy in a pocket, but the mouse-gun prints noticeably less. While the J-Frame doesn’t kick hard, the LCP amazes me with its light recoil. It didn’t kick much more than a friend’s 380 PPK. Both weapons are damn accurate for their size. The little auto likes to kick brass just about straight up and drop them on my head or into my forehead at times. They are both reliable, and they had identical price tags.

There are days that I just can’t be spotted carrying, and the LCP will begin sidearm duty on those days. While round for round, the 380 is weaker than a heavy 38, it makes up for it with an extra two rounds in capacity. I do not feel unarmed in the least with the tamed mouse in my pocket.

I still prefer the model 36 that I pulled from my pocket for these pictures, but Elsie P. will be a welcome and trusted companion when my Beretta and Chief aren’t invited to the ball.

Update: Here is a group I fired with the little Elsie from Ruger:

Target was shot from about 15 feet fairly rapidly. The two rounds, one above the other, to the right of the 9 were aimed, the rest of the group was fired by pointing once I knew I was close enough. I was aiming for the 9. It was the best group I fired that day with the little loud mouse. Nothing special, but pretty good for me.




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Lazy Summer Days

A rod and a reel has kept me out of trouble every summer that I can remember. Day after day spent in the pursuit of a tender trout supper. The blazing sun, and choking heat, tempered by the cool river water gushing over rocks. The sudden chill as a slip plunged me into a pool. My finger feeling the twitch of my line as a brook trout snatched at my worm. My father’s proud smile as I cranked in a rainbow the size of a whale. Memories not to be forgotten.

Today, anyone watching the outdoor channel will see fishing as a man in a boat that cost more than my car, with a pole that can double as a divining rod, a baitcasting reel that is more expensive than the Chief’s Special in my pocket, using lures that seduce only record-setting bass into clamping onto a hook, on lines that are braided from kryptonite and fairy-unicorn hair by mystic pygmi shamans, wearing spiffy sunglasses with built-in fish-vision, and shirts that cost more than my Ka-Bar. People may think that this is the only way to fish. They couldn’t be more wrong.

I caught my first sunfish on a safety pin, strung on floss, and tied to a branch trimmed with my first pocket knife. The bait? Balled up bread from my sandwich. I filled half a five gallon bucket in short order. Years later, on a boy scout overnight trip, I forgot my fishing pole. I did have a safety-pin, a knife, and some floss. I rigged up a pole and began catching perch. The guest chaperone began yelling at me that I could not fish if I didn’t take it seriously. I was evedently making a joke of the entire trip. My rod was confiscated and cast into a fire. The other kids laughed. He then forced me to use his old-delapitated rod and reel. I spent more time clearing tangles in the reel than fishing. I will never forgive the jerk.

Fishing does not have to be complicated. Allow me to describe what works for me. The following list is my everyday fishing setup:

Rod: My rod is a 4′ 8″ Ultralight action Ugly Stik. It cost me about thirty bucks with an okay reel. The reel was loaned and lost, but the rod is great. I like to fish brushy little creeks, so the short length is a blessing. It casts pretty well for its size. None of my poles cost as much as this one, but I felt like treating myself after I met my aunt’s now-husband. He swears by small ultralights for the small and brushy creeks like I fish. Smart man. I like long light or medium action rods for open water fishing, but this little guy is so handy.


The Reel: I use a Shakespeare Agility ultralight reel. It cost a whopping thirty-one dollars and ninety-six cents. It is the most expensive reel I have ever owned. It is amazing. Smooth action, decent cranking power, and a cool green color. I prefer spincasting reels for general fishing, or open-water fishing, but this little spinning reel is mustard for cramped spaces. It even came with a spare spool for quick and easy line changes.

Line: Nothing fancy here. I just use basic Trilene monofilament four pound test on the reel and keep six pound test on the spare spool in case I run into some big fish. I’ve never felt like I was handicapping myself with this simple line.

Tackle box: I hate tackle boxes, but they serve a purpose. I keep a cheap little divided plastic box in my creel, or hang it off my belt if I don’t bother with a creel. Only cost two or three bucks in the Wally-World fishing aisle. Perfect for me.

Tackle: I don’t bother with much tackle. I keep a few assorted bobbers, assorted split-shot sinkers, a few smallish swivels, some assorted pre-strung hooks, a stringer, and sometimes a lure or two. The tackle box is mostly just a repair kit for snapped lines and the stuff lost with it.

Creel: When I use one, I prefer wicker. No special reason, they just feel right. I like the cloth ones, too. Either way, I like them small and unobtrusive.

Bait: I am a disciple of the sacred church of the worm. All else is sacrilege and sin. Every now and then I’ll use a rattletrap or similar lure when the bass and spunky perch are around.

All of the above came in at under one hundred dollars. My spiffy indulgent setup cost less than some guys’ rods alone, and I am never short of fish in the cast iron skillet.

Fishing is about simplicity, solitude, deep camaraderie, and just being outdoors. You don’t need fancy, or expensive. The next great pool may be down that rocky face, and around the corner, would you be willing to bouce hundreds of dollars of gear down to see? I have no problem risking my relatively cheap setup to find out.

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