Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Autumn always finds me racing the weather.  All spring, summer and early fall finds me shooting, but not cleaning guns.  Come the time change, I always have to squeeze in my cleaning so my wife can get her car back in the garage.

My garage goes from summer “wood butcher” shop to gun-cleaning station.  I set up saw horses, lay sheets of plywood over them and drag out my dip tanks, cleaning chemicals, patches, good screw driver set and rubber gloves.

It’s a one-man production line; dirty guns enter, shed their grips, are field stripped to my reassembly confidence level and are dipped, scrubbed, wiped, oiled and re-wiped.  Each gun gets disassembled to a different level.  Glocks get completely taken apart.  My 1911s get field stripped to the frame (pins alarm me) while the slide gets detailed stripped. 

I was cleaning my first .22 Ruger many years ago when disaster struck.  I turned it sideways and a pin fell out of the frame followed by several components.  I was afraid I would have to buy another Mark II so I could figure out how to reassemble the first!  I finally doped it out.

Sometimes things don’t go together quite the way you think.  I’m not one to pry, hammer or file, thinking I can make it better than the factory or a professional gunsmith. 

So when I had a little trouble getting my .380 Beretta Cheetah back together I stopped for a few moments and studied the parts.  It’s a little tricky. The blow-back barrel isn’t fixed to the frame, but slips out with the slide like its big brother, the 92F.  The barrel has to line up with the frame just right in order to reassemble the Cheetah. 


The surprise came when the gun locked up and the hammer was frozen in the cocked position.  I looked at the parts diagram, checked the dip tank for dislodged parts, made sure everything was where I thought it should be.  Checked, rechecked and doubled checked but no joy.  Time to turn to a professional.

I called Dave Laubert at Defensive Creations and arranged to come down to his shop.  I’ve known Dave for several years both as a shooter and a gunsmith.  A professional machinist turned gunsmith, Dave has a reputation for high quality work and customer satisfaction.

It didn’t take long. Dave zeroed in on the magazine safety spring.  It looked like it was in place, but the right hand grip didn’t fit as tightly to the frame as it should.  He moved the spring so it dropped into its channel in the frame and the gun works fine.  I still have to fire it, but the rest of the functions - safety, magazine safety, double/single action - work fine dry.

The spring was still attached, but had come out of the frame channel and sat next to the grip screw.  This was enough to prevent the gun from working.  The spring is now in the correct position.

I want complete confidence in my self-rescue tools.  I get that from having the professionals work on my guns when I’m out of my comfort zone.  My mind will be on solving the problem and not on “Did I fix it right? and “Will it go BANG?”

Random crap: 
According to a Ripley’s Believe It or Not cartoon, a Brown Bess musket will shoot a candle through a barn door.  Believe it or don’t!

I can’t help wondering how someone figured that out.  Was someone trying to waterproof a black powder load or lubricate the barrel and had to shoot the stuck candle out of the barrel?  Did someone reach into an ammo pouch and mistakenly pull out a candle stub and not know it?  Today I would suspect beer was involved, maybe then too.

I know!  It was an early step in the development of the tracer round!

Ripley didn’t indicate if the candle was lit after the test.

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