Tuesday, May 29, 2012

M1 Clinic

I’m getting ready for Greenport Tactical Association's M1 Garand Clinic next month.  For more information see:


I don’t really like the M1.  Despite its weight, the rifle beats me up.  It isn’t fun shooting when every shot makes you wince.  Part of that is from a shoulder injury and part of that is from my body type.  I don’t have a lot of tissue protecting the collar bone and shoulder joint.
I’ve taken some steps to have more fun with my M1.  I’ve replaced the steel butt plate with a polymer one that has a little flex.
I see it in movies....Bad guy butt strokes the good guy in the back of the head, but he gets up to save the day.  I just don't believe it!  Anyway, the recoil and this steel plate kicks me too hard!
This took a little installation.  I had to carefully remove a little excess wood so the new recoil modifying butt plate would fit without ruining the collector value of the rifle. 

Cut a little here, trim a little there.  I used the razor knife to make sure the shavings of wood come out clean and no cracking migrates into the rest of the wood stock.

It's alive!!!!!!

Is there any collector value?  I don’t know, but I was told this M1 is a “tanker’s” model which has a smaller stock and a shorter barrel for getting in and out of a tank.  It also has a locking rear sight which I haven’t seen at the CMP store at Camp Perry.

I’ve also got a sorbothane recoil pad that really helps soak up the recoil.

I pulled my M1 ammo out to make sure I have enough.  It’s 30-06 of course. 
30-06 ammo.  Old and new.

It’s a great hunting round.  There isn’t any animal in North America you can’t hunt with 30-06.  Well, maybe not the abominable snowman but what would I do with 500 pounds of snow and ice?

What I really wanted to do was to check my supply of N-blocks.  An N-block is one of those little pockets of black metal that holds 8 rounds for the Garand.  Following the last shot the rifle ejects it and locks the chamber open.  The sound of the ejecting metal clip is quite unique as is the sound of the metal clip striking a concrete surface.

2 N-blocks, 16 rounds.  Imagine having to carry 30 of these while marching!

Recently one of the shooting publications had a series of letters wondering what the Germans heard and thought during the WWII city battles.  The ones alive to comment, therefore either lucky, careful or both, indicated the sound was recognized as a rifle running dry.  It was also perceived as a red herring to draw them from the safety of cover.

I guess that’s the tactical message.  Never assume your opponent is less clever, less intelligent, less informed that you are.

Anyway, while I was digging through my pile of ammo, I found some black tipped military 30-06.  I had lost track of these rounds.  

Back tipped, armor penetrating rounds .  The headstamp indicates they were made in 1943.

They are armor piercing and certainly corrosive.  Being corrosive doesn’t bother me too, too much.  Providing I’m prepared and have the time to properly clean the rifle.
Most likely I’ll shoot them at paper at one of the rifle ranges I go to.  Yes, one of the ranges has rifle proof steel swingers, but I don’t know if they are sufficiently armored enough for 30-06 at 200 yards.

Friday, May 25, 2012

AR Stories

It’s been an interesting day.

My friend was shooting a Colt .22 LR AR at a fun match earlier this month.  Shooting steel from around barrels, open windows and while on the move can be a lot of fun as well as challenging.  You can get a lot of blasting from a brick of .22 LR.  Who would deny the fun aspect of banging and clanging with steel?  

Between the shooting sessions she noticed two things.  One, the rifle’s bolt locked open only with an empty mag in place.  Once the bolt was locked open, you could remove the magazine and the bolt stayed open.  That’s not unusual.  The other thing was that the bolt release on the rifle’s frame moved up and down, but didn’t do anything.

That’s unusual.  You would expect the bolt release on an AR to move in and out, not up and down.  But considering the gun was set up for .22 LR maybe that’s not too unusual.  That fact it moved and didn’t do anything was suspicious but you could pull the charging handle and release the bolt.  A broken minor part that didn’t seem to affect the gun’s safety - it has happened to all of us at some time.

We pushed, tugged, slid and scratched our heads over the bolt carrier release.

Before she took it into the shop she found the manual.  The bolt release on the rifle’s frame is strictly non-functional and is a decoration!  The rifle is functioning exactly as it should; all is well and who would have guessed it?  Pays to read the book.

I also ran into someone at the range wanting to know how to use a "broken shell extractor."  I’ve never seen a broken shell stuck in a chamber.  I don’t know anyone who has had a broken shell stuck in a chamber, but as a reloader I know such things are possible.  A broken shell on a plinking Saturday is a minor inconvenience, but travel to a match and an out-of-commission weapon can ruin your weekend.  I have one and if you’re smart you’ll see it a cheap shooting insurance.

I’m not an expert on ARs.  If you want to know what twist you need for a hand-cast 59 gr bullet or what’s the drop at 100 yard zero with 27 gr of Unique powder, I’m not your man.  But I’m willing to share my limited knowledge and I’ll tell you when we’re out of the shallow end of the pool. 

I was trying to explain my understanding of the way a shell extractor works and it was clear we were not communicating.  Time to get images or models and not just my hand movements.

“You got one?”  I asked.  “Why don’t you bring it out and I can stop making hand gestures.”

“I've  got two.  I’ll get one.”

I admit that puzzled me.  Sure, I’m one-is-none-two-is-one kind of guy, but two shell extractors?  Of course, two different calibers, what a dummy I am….

What was brought out was an AR.  I started explaining how you lock the bolt back and slip the edge of broken shell extractor under the bolt extractor….

“No no no…This!’  He pointed to the little pushy thing behind the ejection port.

“That?  That’s the forward assist.”

The forward assist is circled in red.

This shaggy dog story has been off the leash too long.  The shaved down story is someone who thought they knew more than they did gave him some bad information.  I explained what a forward assist is and what it’s for and everything was fine!

Read the books, find the people who have seen the elephant and get the straight dope.  Good tactics call for knowledge and its application applied to the situation at hand.

Friday, May 18, 2012

M1 Garand Clinic

One of my favorite shooting clubs has decided to run an M-1 clinic. 


The M1 Garand remains one of the hot collectable rifles and one source is the Civilian Marksmanship Program.  If you’re in the Akron-Canton-Cleveland area and you’re not connected with the CMP, you should think about this course.  

Classic American WWII weapon

Did you know there are only two CMP stores in the US?  Only two.  One is at Camp Perry west of Port Clinton, Ohio.  You can inspect and buy government surplus rifles, ammo, guns, bayonets, ammo there.  Oh, well yes, you do have to be a member of the CMP. 
How do you join?  Take a CMP clinic and shoot a match.

For more information see: Greenport TacticalAssociation  http://gta.diablops.com/

Here’s the posting from their website………………..


 June 30, 2012
We will be hosting a clinic to qualify you to buy rifles from the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP). If you are not a member of a CMP-affiliated club, ORPA memberships will be available for purchase.
(See http://www.odcmp.org/ for the complete list of qualifications you must meet to purchase.)
The class will cover basic marksmanship training and the M1 Garand in particular.  All students will learn how to disassemble and reassemble the M1 Garand, hands on.

Cost is $70.00 per person, plus an additional $25.00 for an ORPA membership if desired. Start time is 1:00 pm until approximately 5:00 pm.

You must supply your own centerfire rifle and ammunition.  You will shoot a 30-round (plus sighters), three position, 100 yard rifle match, And because we can, class participants who stick around can shoot a more tactical steel match. 

The course will be limited to 18 students and open to the public.  Club members will be given first priority until the end of May. Open slots will then be filled from the waiting list. Money and contact information must be submitted before June 7, 2012 to be put on either list. Non-participants will, of course, have their money returned.

No entries will be accepted after the deadline, no walk-ons. Sorry!

Call Marty Capito at 330-714-3597 for further information and how to register.  If we do not get enough entrants your money will be refunded.

Gear Load out:
Eye and ear protection
Empty Chamber Indicator for rifle
Minimum 32 rounds and centerfire rifle for CMP match.  Any action, any sights, open, dot or scope will work.
Rounds for free tactical match following class.
Personal items: food, water, sun protection, bug spray, shooting gloves…You’re all adults you know the drill.

Great way to clean the lawn of trash!  At least Clint thinks so.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Magic Bullet

I suspect one of the more interesting areas of shooting research is bullet technology.

The search for the magic bullet may have started thousands of years ago.  I suspect when David stepped out to fight Goliath he didn’t just grab a handfull of stones for his sling on his way out the door.  He had probably pre-chosen the shape, size and possibly the color of stones that worked the best for him and his sling.  Talk about stopping power!

Our recent history is rife with stories of hunters, police officers and shooters who were dissatisfied with bullet performance and went on to design a better bullet.  Joyce Hornady and Lee Juras come to mind, just to name a few.  
The sole purpose of the gun is to deliver a bullet with a specific degree of accuracy to some kind of target.  If the bullet is inherently inaccurate or fails to perform at the target, well, you can imagine the consequences.

The search for a magic bullet continues today.  Visit any shooting forum and you’ll find a discussion of bullet performance, often disguised as stopping power or penetration.  Gun writers practically leap-frog over each other proclaiming the current month's magic bullet. 

Shooters have their favorite bullet and will spend serious money to find the round they think will provide them with the expected performance.  At  recent gun show I overheard a shooter tell his buddy that he would not even think of shooting 160gr .40S&W, preferring to shoot only 180gr regardless of price.  I’ve seen marriages last for years with less commitment.

I’m interested in .223 Rem bullets.  I was fortunate enough to have access to mounting presses and metal grinding and polishing equipment.  So I took advantage of them.  I potted a round in clear mounting media from three different, but representative bullets.
  • SS109 62 gr
  • Wolf 55gr
  • Hornady 55 gr

If you grind too far, the bullet can fall out of the mounting media, so I only ground about a third of the bullet away. And I finished up by polishing them to a 1 micron diamond finish.
I don’t remember what I macro-etched them with.  It might have been Wheeling’s or Kahling’s. It doesn’t really matter for my blog.

The 55gr FMJ Hornady is a basic bullet. 
55gr FMJ in  .223Rem   It's a plain Jane bullet.
The lead core is surrounded by a thick copper jacket.  You can see a ridge in the copper to help hold the lead core in the jacket.  Having brittle fragments fly apart when it hits a hard surface helps reduce ricochet, but it can decrease penetration.  You’re not likely to be hunting moose with .223, but even with large calibers like .300 Win Mag, bullet strength is an important feature.

We’ve all heard of SS109.  It’s the dreaded Penetrator with its steel core.  It’s a heavier round so it shouldn’t (in theory) be pushed around as much as the lighter 55gr bullets by wind.  I don’t know about wind drift.  I know I shot a match at Camp Perry with 55gr.  I think my light bullets toured the neighborhood, stopped for a beer and then wandered into the target.
The black text doesn't stand out, but the steel core sits on top of the lead.  A small bulge can be seen on the copper jacket to left.  I can't find another one that would balance the bullet's spin.
A lot of ranges don’t want you to shoot this guy at steel and no wonder, the steel core is meant to punch holes in light armor.  Even if it does splatter on impact, the steel core is capable of bouncing back quite some distance creating a safety hazard.

There’s a little asymmetrical ridge of copper that can be seen on the left side of the bullet.  It may be an artifact of mounting and polishing.  Or it could be designed to destabilize the bullet.  More on that later.

The last is the  Ukrainian Wolf.  Its steel case is vilified by most shooters and banned on some ranges.  Non-reloadable cases, having no significant scrap value, are often left to weather into thin-walled rusty shells of their former selves.  Not very attractive.
223 Wolf.  The thin layer of copper between the lead and steel shell is a mystery.  It could be from the metal etch.  Some etches can deposit copper metal, or it may be plating on the steel to provide better bonding to the lead.
The bullet, surprisingly, is also steel with a thin copper wash.  The core is lead, but you wouldn’t see very much deformation from this bullet.  It makes a little hole in and should make a little hole out, at least in theory.

Modern warfare can be a bit grisly at times.  Most nations accept the concept of total warfare.  The extension of this is, it takes only two people to bury a dead hero, but caring for a wounded hero takes dozens.  Wounded warfighters (modern lingo…) use lots of resources as compared to dead and now idealized heroes.
The Wolf ammo has what I think is an oval ridge in the steel case to help lock the lead core in place.  I suspect it also destabilizes the bullet so it tumbles and makes a more aggressive wound.  I also think the SS109 may have a little of that same feature.  It does show a little bulge on just one side.

I know people prepared for the END! based on the Mayan calendar.  Maybe the Day of the Zombie is closing in, what do I know?!  Many of them have a little stash of SS109 just in case they have to shoot through something.  I haven’t tested it, but I suspect Wolf ammo will work just as well as the SS109 for penetrating that Mad Max DIY armored car terrorizing your neighborhood.  If you’re concerned about that, keep a box or two around.

I will say, in my opinion, SS109 shoots smaller groups than Wolf steel jacketed 55gr, but not bullseye accurate.  That also stands to reason.  Most militaries aren’t really interested in shooting out the heart’s left ventricle valve.  They just want to put 3 or 5 holes in the big part of the body.  Works for me too!