Monday, February 28, 2011

A pair of 1903s for Zoot shooting.

In the quest for pistols appropriate for the new sport of Zoot Shooting, I ‘ve investigated a couple of new prospects. The two are, the Colt 1903 and the FN model 1903. Both pistols were designed by John Moses Browning, the pistols are similar but not identical. I had always thought the guns were the same, only differing in markings. Not true, the designs are similar but not the same. As you can see in the photos, the FN 1903 is a bit larger in the frame and has a longer larger slide, there are other mechanical differences as well and as near as I can tell, few if any parts interchange.

The pistols have different missions as well. The Colt 1903 is a pocket pistol, we’d call it a concealed carry pistol today. The FN 1903 is a service gun, made for police and military use. Calibers are different also, the Colt came in 32 ACP and 380 ACP. Both are common pocket pistol cartridges sill popular and in use today. The FN 1903 is chambered in 9mm Browning Long, an obsolete European cartridge that is hard to find ammo for and is not widely known in U.S. Here’s where it gets interesting, may FN Model 1903s were converted to 380 ACP when the used guns imported into the U.S. in the 1950s to the 1980s. 380 ACP was much easier for to obtain, but the gun seems underpowered for the its bulk.

Most of the FN Model 1903s on the market were actually built in Sweden under license by Husqvarna as the Model 1907. The pistol stayed in Swedish production until 1943 and was replaced in Swedish service by the M40 (Swedish built version of the Finnish L-35 Lahti pistol).

One odd characteristic of the both the Colt and FN is the grip safety. When firing the pistol, the grip safety must be depressed, however unlike a Model 1911 Colt, the safety pivots from the bottom of the frame. This different feel does take some getting used to.

The FN Model 1903 is a great option for Zoot shooting. The Swedish versions converted to 380 ACP can be found on the used gun market for about $350 and up, making it a very good value. Issue holsters and extra magazines are available at reasonable prices. The pistol can also be used by members of CASS clubs that have more liberal rules on Wild Bunch Shooting Matches. This would be a fun alternative to the Model 1911.

If you watch old movies closely you’ll see FN model 1903s, being a little larger that the Colt Model 1903, they photograph well. The FN’s last great moment in the sun was in a post Ian Flemming James Bond novel in 1980. Mr. Bond use the FN 1903, however, many fans apparently objected and later Bond stories have used more modern equipment. But for Zoot shooting, both the Colt and FN Model 1903s are the cat’s meow.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Silly Analogies

It’s a shame that in the centennial year of it’s design, the Model 1911 pistol is the victim of some silly and misleading analogies. One well known weapons trainer has opined that the 1911 is an “experts” weapon. It requires tweaking and coddling not required in more modern weapons (like the Glock). Another self appointed expert has decided that the Model 1911 is the “muscle car” of pistols it requires special handling. The inference is that the 1911 is inferior older technology that is still a sentimental favorite.
Of course this is all hogwash. The Model 1911 needs no vindication from anyone. It’s credentials as a combat weapon and a target gun, are well established. World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Persian Gulf (in reserve units) and the number that have been in foreign military service (30 countries in varying degrees) have proven beyond question the worth of the Model 1911 design. It is also manufactured all over the globe in the USA, Brazil, Germany, Philippines, Norway, Canada, Korea, and possibly others. It’s descendents include almost every modern handgun which use a design element or principle from the model 1911.
The fact remains that every manufacturer that has design and manufacturing capacity, make a model 1911 pistol. It’s a winning design that stood the test of time. From combat to bullseye, auto pistol shooters turn to the 1911 over and over again. It’s best years are yet to come. That is something to consider.

Internet Firearms Forums

I used to try and help people with questions by sharing my knowledge on internet firearms forums. This has become much more difficult as some real jerks seem to be in control of these venues. On one Black Powder forum I was warned not discuss cartridge single action revolvers. Surprising, since I had NOT attempted to discuss them. I only posted a picture which contains cap and ball revolvers and single action cartridge guns. I can’t take a new picture every time I want to post. Letting a discussion “free range” is not a bad thing either, the control freaks need to let go.

Even more disturbing, was a post I made about the remake of “True Grit”. I thought the movie had some positive aspects , especially the actress that played Mattie Ross. But I felt that Jeff Bridges just did not deliver for me. I grant that it is the toughest acting job in the world to follow a legend like John Wayne, but Jeff Bridges did not make the role of Rooster Cogburn real. It was like watching Crazy Heart II. I was insulted personally and repeatedly because I bothered to express an opinion, in a respectful way, that differed from the some of the stinky turds that haunt these forums. It’s O.K. to disagree, really it is!

What is the point in this whinning? Well, in person gun people are usually very friendly and helpful, we love talking and sharing our hobby. On the net, its just the opposite, nasty, controlling, and insulting. How does that make young or new shooters feel welcome???? It does not! The actions of a few reflect poorly on the community. Everyone deserves better!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Hey, wait a minute!

I watch the low budget firearms related shows on the Sportsman and Outdoor channels. While I usually find them harmlessly schilling for modern manufacturers, there is one with a disturbing weekly segment. Two “gun writers” abuse perfectly good weapons in senseless demonstrations. This seems to me to be one step above sadistically torturing small animals. Last week these two fools buried a nice Uberti Winchester 73 in sand to see “if would fire”, they also froze a nice single action in a block of ice. As a person who treasures and takes care of guns, these antics are shameful and unacceptable. They are damaging nice items for no positive reason I can see.

I don’t mind experts torture testing current military and police weapons. This reflects the reality that these sort of weapons are used in harsh unforgiving environments where the stakes are life and death. This is not the case with the clone Winchester 73 and single action. I believe in the beauty of the gun makers’ art, their craftsmanship should be respected. I’ve placed this show on the “forget it list” due to this segment. Maybe when the producers grow up I’ll consider watching again. As of right now, I don’t need their schilling, or their stupidity.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

While at the Range

With the Colt style cap and ball revolver,don't forget to check the nipples! One common problem is that the nipple is not screwed in all the way. This may cause the cylinder to bind and not rotate when a cap is placed on the nipple, or in other cases, incomplete ignition. It is possible to screw in the nipple enough to mount a cap and rotate the cylinder, however, unless it is screwed all the way in, there will be ignition problems with that chamber.

One great practice that people often forget at the range is to fire caps on empty chambers to clean the flash hole in the nipple. This is done before loading and can be done on empty chambers during a long day of firing. This cleans any accumulated gunk out of the flash hole and thus improves ignition. Another tip is to have a paper clip to clean th eflash hole, just ben the wire out straight and it should pass through the flashhole. This does not work on my TRESO bronze caps that I put on my 1851 Navy. On these the flashhole is a small diameter, too small for the paper clip wire.

After the long winter, it's that details that can make your first range trip a success or not!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pre-shooting checks for a Colt Cap and Ball Revolver

After the long winter many of us will take our cap and ball revolvers out for the first time in months. Here are a few points to remember.

1. Check the gun and its accessories. Make sure the nipple wrench is the correct one for the firearm. Ditto with the holsters, lead balls, and caps. Nothing is worse that shooting the Walker or Dragoon and having the incorrect nipple wrench with the shooting kit. Ditto with lead balls and caps, over the winter these things may mixed up.
2. Lubricate the revolver before range day. Pay attention to the base pin and nipple threads. Put a fresh thin coat of bore butter in the bore.
3. Keep a list of all tools and accessories that go to the range. Items like a screwdriver set, rawhide or rubber mallet, tools, hearing/eye protection, and a rag.
4. Make sure everything is packed! Nothing is worse that getting to the range and discovering something essential is left at the house.

Of course, keep the basic gun safety rules in mind. It’s easy to make a mistake after of few months lay off over the winter. Have a great spring shooting!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Few Things

With all the winter weather hitting the country, I’m thankful for my Jeep Wrangler. There are a lot of great 4WD and AWD vehicles out there but I just love the Jeep. It gets me where I need to go and it has brought me home safe. It’s very basic and somewhat Spartan, but that suits me fine. In a world where there is so little adventure left, the Jeep is a symbol of a time when people did things and did not just play videogames or watch TV. Like classis firearms, the Jeep represents another era. It’s an era that I miss, but feel fortunate to visit when I’m driving the Jeep.

On another note, I see where the next season of TOP Shot is ready to air on cable. After the antics of last season, I think I’ll pass.

The magnificent Smith & Wesson Bone Collector 500 magnum by the S&W performance center is on the market. While I have no use for this revolver myself, I can appreciate its brute power and fine craftsmanship. It dwarfs the mighty Colt Walker and 50 AE caliber Desert Eagle. In that respect, I fear the massive Bone Collector may be too big. I know with my Walker and Desert Eagle, I have to actually have to do some strength training to get the most out of these guns with my ability. Good marksmanship takes more than dollars; it takes training, dedication, and sound fundamentals and technique.