Friday, December 30, 2011


I'm thankful for much this holiday season. Good friends. A wonderful family. Great times together. A good job with great co-workers and boss and a good place to live with mostly decent folks and fairly low crime, being as I originally hail from Houston and grew up with crime. Crime, they say, is my business.

So it's nice to escape crime, in the enclave of your own home and family. Of course, we went to the folks house for Christmas, and although I've never had a bad Christmas, this one was so relaxing that it stands out.

A firefighter friend of mine, still dealing with the remains of the huge fire that terrorized and pretty much destroyed a quarter of our community this year, can't seem to relax, and I've been there. He was commenting that just sitting around was eating him up, about he was ready for the holidays to be over NOW.

I can't agree. We're having a great holiday, particularly this week, and I wish it would last a couple of more weeks up until MLK day.

I'm thankful for visitors like Helene and Zach who actually read my blather and comment. Helene probably doesn't live too far away and apparently engages in many of the same activities I do, like a little hog hunting. She posted recently that her granddaughter supplied their Thanksgiving and Christmas ham, and let me tell you, if you get the right size (smaller) hog, it is tastier than any ham or bacon you've ever had.

Hunting for food is a way of life for folks I know. We may not do it out of necessity and as regularly as my grandparents did in East Texas, but it's a good skill to have and frankly, I think it's embedded in our DNA. For me, same with fishing also, and I mean all kinds of fishing: rod and reel sport fishing, cane pole fishing, seining, trot line fishing, jug fishing and so on. I've never done any "hand grabbing" of catfish or any of that nonsense.

One resolution I have is to do more fishing camps this year. I have several friends with nice places on the Colorado, one of the few rivers (other than the Brazos) in Texas that have much water in them. I like getting some friends together, taking a few campers and some cooking gear and setting up a fishing camp for an extended weekend. Usually there's at least a jonboat along for the trotlining. Once the grills start grilling and the food starts cooking, it's a several day feast. This year, my friend Neal suggested we go hog hunting the weekend before the fishing camp and get a couple of hogs. The idea is to have one processed for grilling and then to have the other one frozen for later use in a Hawaiian Luau style cooking pit, just for the helluva it.

As Helene notes in her comment on the previous thread, it is being predicted by some pretty knowledgeable folks, particularly at Texas A&M, that our drought will likely continue despite our current rainy conditions and could continue not only for months but for as long as ten years. That's very scary to us in  Texas. Some smaller communities are still on the brink of running out of water, and many have not recovered and are teetering on the brink of outage as I write this. Where I live is in good shape water wise but not to fer west of us they've still got water shortage issues.

Our current rain is not enough to recharge aquifers, lakes, streams and such. We basically need it to rain for the next year or so on a daily basis.

We're infested with hogs in Texas. There are many different species I refer to here collectively as hogs, but in the Central Texas/Hill Country areas where I live and roam, I know more than one landowner who has sustained major financial loss to crops and livestock from marauding hordes of wild hogs.

Coyotes are also quite a problem as well, and are much harder to eradicate. Several of my friends who raise goats or sheep or cattle have invested in night vision scopes, expensive ones, because that's about the only way you can get a coyote.

But as always, I digress. There's a lot to be thankful for in my world, and I thank you for reading my musings.

Friday, December 23, 2011


A Merry Christmas to all who land here, and Happy Holidays for all!

I heard from fellow blogger and my friend Zach today, and it inspired me to at least throw a few words out there. It's been an interesting year, with the last 3 months being especially stressful and busy. Strangely, the past 90 days have just flown by, as has the past year.

We've been getting rain in our part of Texas lately, and finally. After the months long drought and heat wave Texas underwent this summer, it's a weird weather warp around here right now. The San Augustine and Bermuda grasses in my yard think it is spring, as do the weeds. Roses in the front garden have been blooming, and many of the trees that would normally be leafless are now where they should have been at the end of the summer. The beech tree in the front is just now, four days from Christmas, throwing out pollen balls or whatever they are, that usually fall from the tree in mid-summer.

I've been through many droughts in Texas over my life, but none as severe and as long lasting as the one this year. I read today in the paper where Texas lost an estimated 500 million trees. Yes, you read that right. 500 Million, or roughly 10% of the trees in the state. My old friend Billy Ray has been making many family visiting trips out to West Texas this year, and has been foretelling of the large number of dead and dying trees he's seen making that journey from the Hill Country. Billy Ray is an old Texas road dog, and has racked up a lot of miles over the years, and he knows the topography of the state well.

On my rear porch, today I saw a new family of birds moving into a gourd birdhouse El Fisho Jr made some years ago. Thing is, usually birds only move in that house in the spring. Well, the new bird family is moving in nesting material and by all appearances is setting up a springtime nest. I'll keep you posted if chicks appear.

The Guest Rooster still lives across the street, and now has a passle of young 'uns that he leads around the area. It's hilarious, like Foghorn Leghorn he's got three small baby roosters following him like robots, roaming the area. He comes by the front fenceline every few days just to annoy my dogs and let them know he's still around, teaching his offspring how to annoy my dogs.

Texas Rainbow Trout stocking season is upon us, and I am going to do some emailing to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and see which lakes and creeks are actually being stocked. Despite the budgetary crisis thrust upon our TPWD by our inept legislators, they've managed to hobble together the trout stocking program yet another year.

For many Texans, it's the only opportunity they'll have to fish for Rainbows. Ever. And of course, they are a culinary delight, and having been raised by the TPWD, are probably as safe to eat as any fish caught in the wild, even though the trout are hachery bred and raised.

I've been fishing for Rainbows all over the state, since I was a kid. My dad was also excited by the stocking program, and it was he who would schedule family vacations during spring break so we could go catch trout in the Guadalupe and in those colder western and northern stocking places in the state where trout were still lingering in early March.

So I've been doing the Rainbow fishing thing every year since then. Somewhere. Somehow, I manage to get to a lake for the trout fishing. I've been remiss the past few year in taking Rainbow Trout roadtrips, and need to make the time for them. El Fisho Jr. mentioned the other day how we had not talked about Rainbow fishing yet when we were dining with his Godfather Billy Ray.

Billy Ray was raised in Houston and like me, had a dad who enjoyed fishing for Rainbows and who took his family in quest of them. Time after time, when I go fishing for the Rainbows at various locations, I meet other folks who've been doing it as long as I have. Like a family tradition in Texas, not unlike the white bass runs of springtime or the crappie and largemouth bass breeding seasons.

But again, back to reality and the fact that many of the locations that are on the current stocking list are probably devoid of enough water to support any healthy fish population. The temperatures couldn't be better, for the stocked trout get that (what I suspect is) genetic friskiness when it gets cold, and that of course leads to more eating and better fishing. It's in the mid-40's at my house right now and would be perfect, except my local stocking location which is due to be stocked soon has about 1/4 of the usual capacity.

I suspect it's the same story for many other places in Texas where the trout are usually stocked. Since Christmas is smack dab in the middle of the normal trout stocking season, I often equate the time off on the holidays with a little trout fishing.

So I'll get in touch with the powers that be and see how the stocking program has been going, and hopefully will muster the effort to post all of that here. I've driven hundreds of miles to fish for these rascals in years gone by, and I'm not above driving hours to a good location.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


When I graduated from law school so many years ago, I trucked myself over to the Orvis store and bought myself the graduation gift of a long-awaited Orvis fishing outfit. Because I was planning to do some traveling looking for a job after taking the bar exam, I opted for a lower end offering of the Orvis company: a four piece rod with reel and line in 6 weight.

I had been getting Orvis catalogs since I was about 11 years old. Of course, I could never afford their higher end rods and reels back then, and although my parents certainly kept me equipped with some excellent fishing tackle in more moderate price ranges, an Orvis rod back then was out of the question. I would by flies and various accessories from Orvis though. Back then, in the early 70's, Orvis ran promotions in the fishing magazines, where if you sent in a few dollars, you would get an item like a leader wallet with some leaders or a streamer wallet with some streamers, and so on. I still have and use the promo items like these that I bought in my pre-and-early teens via these promotions in Outdoor Life, Sports Afield and Field and Stream.

So when I bought my own graduation present, which I think went for about $300 when all was said and done, I remember declining to purchase an extra spool for the outfit. I've always been a WF floating line fly fisherman. But lately, I've been using an outfit I picked up used that had a sinking tip line on it, and found it to be productive in the heat of the day. So I set about to find an extra spool for the Orvis Madison III Disc Drag reel from the graduation rod purchase.

I knew that Orvis had not made this reel for many years. I think the Madison might have been one of the last "low end" Orvis reels made in England. You can still get that English quality nowadays, but you're gonna pay big for it. I looked on ebay, and didn't find any spools there. On a whim, I emailed Orvis, and over the next couple of days had some back and forth with a very nice gentleman about the specifics of my reel.

Orvis then emailed me that they had an extra spool in their parts warehouse and I could buy it. I figured a spool was going to cost me some dollars, as much or more than an entire lower end fly reel from an asian manufacturer, and was amazed when quoted the price of $11.

$11. That might be cheaper than it was back when it was in production and a regular selling item. In any event, it's on it's way here now, and I've got some backing and a dandy Orvis sinking tip line ready to load on it.

I'm also on the lookout for a reasonably priced spin/fly bamboo Rocky Mountain rod from about 40 years ago. There are several on ebay right now, and failing that exact model, over the next few weeks I'll be looking for a good used 30-40 year old Orvis bamboo rod, in anywhere from a 2wt to 4wt and hopefully of a shorter length, anywhere from 5' to 6.5'. I've seen some auctions end under $200 for decent rods lately, and that's encouraging to a working man with a family who can't come close to affording one of Orvis's few current bamboo rod offerings.

Orvis has been making excellent fishing and hunting gear for many years now. One reason I keep coming back is because there is so much service after the sale. In this case, many years after the sale. And that service I got from two gentlemen and one young lady who took my order over the phone? It couldn't have been more polite, efficient or respectful.

Or productive.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


It seems like the Smith and Wesson Mountain Gun series was something I should have paid more attention to, because I find several of the models that they made to be interesting guns. Not that I spend a lot of time in the mountains, mind you, but as a revolver fan, I like a good shooting sideiron and particularly something that perhaps is function over form and isn't the "same-same".

Just about any gun could be a mountain gun, I suppose. A Glock in 10mm or .45 ACP is considered a mountain gun by some I know, although I think I'd go with the 10mm loaded hot if those were the only two guns for choosin'.

I know my late 70's four inch Model 29 is remarkably similar to some of the "Mountain Guns" Smith has marketed, in fact, several are the same gun.

Likewise, it would seem, but for the caliber, that my Model 1917 with it's 5 1/2" barrel would fit the bill as well. I say, but for the caliber, because whilst .45 ACP is a great manstopper, it leaves something to be desired velocity wise in the field with larger creatures. Again, it's perfectly adequate for what we've got here in Texas that might surprise me in the woods, but I'd rather have something sort of magnum-ey if big hogs or big cats or wolves are involved. But I even think there has been at least one Mountain Gun in .45 ACP.

So the Mountain Guns I'm wanting to learn about are the ones that differed from the standard models. Tapered barrels and various non-standard barrel  lengths. Different grip sizes. I can't recall if any had unfluted cylinders or not. Interesting sights and grips.

I couldn't find a lot of organized information out there on the Mountain Gun line, since it's kinda been a special niche offering by Smith and Wesson going back "pre-web" I guess to the early 90's.

I'd like to try out some of the offerings with the 4" and 5" barrels that I saw in past gun magazines that came in .41 Magnum and .45 Long Colt. Some where 5 shot and some were 6 shot. There were several ultra lightweight guns made of alloy and aluminum and not scandium, some were at or near the regular weight for the non-Mountain Gun versions  and some were sort of a medium weight, if memory serves.

Of course, there were and are scandium versions of Mountain Guns. The 386 SC Mountain Lite in .357, the 396 SC Mountain Lite in .44 Special and the 329PD in .44 Magnum. Great guns as well.

I need to do some digging through some old gun annuals and some more online searching at the gun forums. Smith and Wesson as a company,  I have found, is famous for tacking on designations to old model numbers for new pistols, with the pistols being somewhat different, all of which leads to confusion.

For example, you have the Model 360PD, which is a scandium framed, titanium cylinder .357 J frame that weighs in at 11.8 oz. Then you have the Talo edition Model 360, a .357 with the Scandium frame and steel cylinder, weighing in at 13.3 oz. Then, if not to confuse matters more, you have the Model 360 M&P, another .357 with scandium frame, steel cylinder and 3" barrel weighing slightly more than the other two, but still a featherweight for a .357.

But I digress. One Mountain Gun I do remember liking that I saw in some article years ago was five shot version in .45 Long Colt, and it might have been built on a K or L frame, a square butt but a k frame sized square butt, a 4" or 5" tapered barrel with some nice sights with inserts.

So any links or information you might have about compendium(s) of information sources on Mountain Guns and their history would be very cool to hear about. I'm not looking to start a collection, but like with a Colt  Peacemaker from the seventies that I never could afford back then and really can't now, I'd like to have one example of that gun one day in the safe or on my belt.


I want another long gun. and, as they say, Santa Claus is coming to town. Not a black rifle, or an assault weapon, but a combination hunting and home defense and/or home varmint/predator rifle, depending on the caliber.

I'm very flexible about what would be a cool gun to have, and thought I'd list some of the choices and see what comments I can get from those who know more about rifles and calibers and such. Now, don't start getting excited about me wanting to use a hunting rifle as a backup home defense weapon but there are times it would come in handy.

Or as one of my favorite bloggers who is on vacation right now, TEXAS GHOSTRIDER, used to say is..."All a handgun is good for is for providing diversionary fire until I can get to my long gun(s).".


For instance, one recent spotting: a .243 BAR, 1968 Grade II Browning. Just gorgeous and in like new condition. With rings. $850. It'd be sold already if it was a .30-06 or .270 or even a 300 magnum or .338 magnum. Of course, the wood and metal are just to die for gorgeous, and the weapon looks to be in excellent condition with little wear visible inside or out.

I'm interested in this caliber as I'm old enough to now be weary of shooting hard kicking guns more than a few times. I don't have a .223 bolt action or hunting type rifle, but the .243 has a bit more ommph I think. It still doesn't have enough ommph though, for the only thing I'm interested in hunting right now, which is hogs.

Yes, it'd be fine for smaller hogs, or for that rare head shot hog that's standing still when I shoot him. Most of the hogs I run across have ADHD...they just can't sit still. I read on hunting forums about guys who are claiming that they do a lot of ear shots on hogs, dropping them instantly.

Their hogs must have a water supply laced or poisoned with some kind of antianxiety drug like valium, cause I usually don't see too many hogs in my stomping grounds that pose for head shots. The hogs I see are always moving, twitching, shaking, moving around, and in general, just not sitting still for a ear shot.

As an aside, Massad Ayoob is on record in an article stating the perfect bear defense gun for the outdoorsman would be a BAR in .338 Magnum, for the virtue of fast followup shots. Down here in Texas, there's not much chance of a bear attack, and for hunting smaller hogs, the .243 would be just dandy. It's a popular caliber in Texas, and you see rows and rows of ammo for it in many stores.


A Marlin 336 from the 70's in .35 Remington. I didn't catch the price. You don't see guns new or used for sale in that caliber down in my neck of the woods very often, yet the ammo is readily available. After reading up on the cartridge, it's worth a look if it's priced right.


I still like the Ruger Gunsite Scout rifle, and have had a chance to play with one recently. Ruger announced the releaase of some shorter mags recently, and I can recall they come in 5 and 10 rounders plus something else, maybe a 15. In the internet stuff I saw, they appeared to be made of plastic, while the stock 15 round magazines and the 4 extra magazines I saw recently were all made of metal.

I don't care much for the Scout Scope, although I've used one for the past couple of years on a Mini-14. I prefer my scopes mounted on the receiver, and if I got the Gunsite rifle, it would have it's scope mounted rearward. .308 is a good combination caliber, combining most of the assets and few of the faults of it's neighbors on either side of it. Surplus sealed ammo is available for stockpiling, Serious target ammo is readily available.

I don't much care for the stock laminate material either, but I'm sure some aftermarket stocks will become available. Some of the stocks I've seen on the Gunsite Ruger have been darker than others, and those to me are far less offensive. A nice Walnut or even black synthetic stock like Ruger puts on everything else would be a big improvement over what they are doing now with this laminate thing. My luck is that they'll introduce a hip and happening stock for the new improved next year's model Gunsite that is synthetic (in line with it's state purpose(s) but will have some gidget that won't allow it to fit an old model rifle.

Of course, having a heavy duty, integral, fold-up and hide-away bipod would be in line with the history of other Gunsite models made by other makers like Steyr. C'mon Ruger, even a maker like Kel-Tec is putting a folding bi-pod forend on one of their .223 folding rifles, the name of which escapes right now. But if they can do it, surely you could do it.

Ruger has been busting down the door this past year, releasing some really great guns. They've got too many new guns to mention here, but right offhand I'd like one of the .357 bolt actions, one of the new 1911 tributes (which I've yet to see in person their take on the 1911), The Wiley Clapp GP100 3" and one of the SP101's in .22 caliber.

I've seen lots of good deals on used Rugers lately. I've seen two very nice Security Sixes and two excellent Safety Sixes, all blued, all with 4" barrels and and all priced from $300-$400 and they didn't last but a couple of days at the LGS. People in these here parts know those two guns in .357 are keepers. I know. I have a Security Six in stainless, and it'll be around a long, long time. I'll be having me a six inch one the next time I see a bargain on one.

I don't know that the Ruger Gunsite is any better of a gun than one of their fine bolt actions in the same caliber. My LGS is selling the Gunsite for $745, and he sells the more or less identical Ruger bolt action M77 without the detachable magazine, with a longer barrel and no flash hider/suppressor (and with a believe it or not uglier than the Gunsite laminated stock) camo synthetic stock for like $100 less.

.270 and .308 are the other calibers that have come up in my research, shooting experience and looking around. I've already got a very able rifle chambered in .30-06, so that too moves me a bit closer to the .308. Likewise, I've run into a very nice and reasonably priced Browning BLR lever action in .30-06, as well as a gently used and not so reasonably priced Ruger M77 in .270. If I didn't already have a dandy and accurate .30-06 and if .270 wasn't so dang close to the .30-06 in so many ways, those two guns would be in the running here as well.

And therein lies problem number one. I've always shot rifles, but in very limited caliber ranges:  The .22 family, my .30-30 Marlin, a .308 Winchester bolt action, a .30-06 Remington pump, a Mini-14 and various Ak's and CAR's and AR-15's.  Oh I've shot many other different calibers once or twice, just not enough to get a feel for different guns and different ammo in the same and different calibers.

Although I'm very experienced with a wide range and calibers of handguns and of course, shotguns, I'm woefully stupid about many things *rifle* that I'm learning about at this late age. I've been shooting some different guns during the past couple of years to try to narrow the field down and here's where I am:

a .243 Browning BAR, a vintage Marlin 336 in .35 Remington, or the "sorta new and just out on dealer's shelves" Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle in .308. The BAR would have it hands down if it were in a different caliber, and the Gunsite Scout does handle VERY WELL, and I mean, very well for me.

What's your vote?

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Yesterday was not only a very special day personally in our household turned into a gift giving exchange between Billy Ray and I for completely different reasons.

For several months, although Billy Ray lives near the San Marcos river that actually has flowing, albeit slowly, water in it's upper reaches, he hasn't been doing much fishing. And we were discussing what might be good tactics during the heat wave + drought and he commented how he didn't really have a good ultra-light or medium-light spinning rig to fish with.

Something small and preferably a 4 or 5 piece travel rod that didn't cost too much and wouldn't cause a lot of tears if it were stolen from a car, the idea being to have a small fishing kit in your car at all times for those spur of the moment opportunities.

Of course, I have several rigs of that description for myself and El Fisho Jr., and some that Billy Ray uses when we all go out fishing. I had one rig I was thinking about giving him, it's a nice Mitchell outfit, ultralight travel rig but this particular spinning reel has a bad habit of the center drag adjustment knob becoming loose on it's own and just disappearing during fishing. I got several replacement knobs from the maker years ago, and you just have to watch it every minute. So I use the rod and haven't used that reel in years, but it wouldn't last 5 minutes with Billy Ray.

So recently on ebay I found a nice and cheap and NIB Daiwa Executive Travel fly/spin travel rod pack with a new unused ultralight spinning reel. The fly reel was missing from the pack but I also found a NIB Kmart fly reel circa 1972 on ebay for well under the sticker price on the box of $9.97 that is the perfect size for this kit.

I didn't know it, but Billy Ray's dad has one of these rigs, except his is just the spinning travel rod. Billy Ray has been wanting one of these Daiwa Executive kits apparently for some time, so I made a good random pick when I ran across it on ebay. After he left to head back home, I ran across some new Stren 6lb line and some older but virtually unused 6 weight forward Scientific Anglers fly line and some backing he can throw on those reels and be ready to go.

So in return, I got a very cool new Magellen Hydration fishing vest, sort of a far out looking affair with a tiny back/hydration pack on the back and a fishing vest with these modular looking pockets on the front. I've seen these out for sale the past couple of years, and he got it and didn't like it and the sanitary seal hasn't even been broken on the hydration valve yet.

It has some mesh pockets on each of the inside and I think will make a dandy fishing vest. It has enough straps on the outside where some fishing rod cases could be lashed to it for an ultralight fishing kit bag. There are two very strong straps, one on the top of each shoulder, and the Springfield Armory Scout M6 bag could easily be strapped on top of the hydration part via a short 2" wide "Y" strap and some kind of strap on the bottom to keep it from swinging.

So I'll be looking at my new fishing vest tonight figuring out how it will be outfitted.


I'd not had any experience with either of the above-companies until this year. I'm very impressed, and the products I've used were made here in the USA.


The Blackhawk Sportster line of nylon belt holsters, their cheapest holster product, is made here in the USA. It comes in 6 or 7 different sizes, and as you might imagine, there is quite a bit of cross-fitting that can go on between holsters designed for one gun that work great with another. It isn't always the case, and as any holster maker will tell you, it's not recommended, but sometimes you've got a gun that no holster is made for and you're gonna use something.

I like the Sportster line for two related reasons. The plastic belt loop is solid and works against floppiness, even with an ordinary belt. With a real gunbelt, even one on the lower end, it keeps the gun and holster solid. Perhaps it's the material it's made of or the way it's attached to the holster, but it works better than any belt loop configuration on any  nylon holster I've used, whether fabric or plastic belt loop.

The second thing Blackhawk got right is the ride height of the gun vs. holster vs. belt loop. The belt loop and the center mass of the gun are positioned at or near the beltline, where I like it. Less concealable than a high-rise holster I'll admit, but far more stable and comfortable, particularly with large revolvers. The older I get, the more I care about comfort.

So the best part is these holsters are priced under $12.00 at my local wallyland, and sometimes they are in a clearance rack there or at Academy. I got two of my Sportsters priced at less than $7.00.

So I've gotten one of each of most of the Sportster line and am now looking for come cheap used leather or nylon "police duty" belts to throw the holsters on so I can have inexpensive but ready to go rigs for different guns for hunting and fishing adventures.

I set up one old actual clarino leather police duty belt from my past with one of these Sportster holsters for a 6" .357, and it was rock solid on a thick Sam Browne belt. I threw on the old speedloader case, also clarino, that I used to use back in the day, as well as a 12 space cartridge slide that I outfitted with shotshells and some semi-wadcutters. I had a black nylon pouch I attached that holds extra/different glasses, cell phone, sunglasses, personal items and anything else you might want to access quickly in the field.

So the idea is to have a couple of different rigs set up where I don't have to tear them down and put them back together to switch mag/shell holders and holsters on the belt. I don't want to put a lot of money in this and I've got a lot of cartridge slides and mag pouches just waiting to be used, lots of it old surplus stuff that's still in real good shape, so all I need is some good belts.

So it's a universal holster but it's the best I've ever used. They make another line, the name of which escapes me, but that has the extra magazine holder for semi-auto's that are nice as well, and I plan to get a few of those at some point.


For years I've read bad comments on various firearms forums from so called experts talking bad about Pro-Mags, particularly their replacement for the Mini-14. Note that I'm not saying Pro-Mag products are bad but that I never tried them.

Recently, while in Academy, I was overlooking the Pro-mag design on their 20 round AK-47 magazine. It's different than the traditional 20 round magazine in appearance, and if I'm not wrong, is a bit straighter and a bit smaller than the original.

I'm no magazine expert,  but I've owned a lot of different mag fed rifles and pistolas and have seen a few quality mags in my time. I was impressed by the design and quality of materials in the AK 20 rounder by Pro-Mag. It was priced at $20, which is what I can get a very high quality brand new traditional steel 20 rounder for. 

In any event, I bought one, along with a box of twenty Tula shells, and loaded it up. Flawlessly it worked out of an AKSM underfolder. Again and again. With Tula, Monarch and other ammo. No issues. No problems. We ran at least 300 rounds through that sucker, with no complaints. Easy on the fingers to load (some mags are not!) without stripper clips, it was just one flawless episode after another.

All of my companions that day are AK shooters at times, and were impressed with it. In fact, my friend Mikey spied it from across a large picnic table when I first pulled it out, noticing the smaller size and all of sudden got real interested in it. In fact, he snagged onto the package I broke it out of real quick and made sure to note the details and ask questions. Really, I've never seen him get so interested in an ancillary detail on a firearm in the twenty years we've been close friends and certainly talked arcane details of guns to death with each other.

I'll be buying a bunch of these Pro-Mag AK mags soon, and will be trying Pro-Mag magazines for other guns I have as well. Including the Ruger Mini-14. Also made in America, Pro-Mag products impressed me greatly, and I'll be buying some more of them soon.

So Blackhawk and Pro-mag are two American companies I'm happy to do business with, and encourage you to do the same.

By the way, I buy this stuff, none of it comes in the mail for free and there are no ads on this site. There are no paid reviews. I am writing about products I use in an unpaid review, and frankly, it takes a lot to impress me these days. Like my Orvis fly rods, these Blackhawk holsters and Pro-Mag magazines and their other products are in my stable to stay.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Every now and then I post about guns that need to be made, and sometimes, made again because they have previously been in production. Most of these have appeared before, but hey, they still need to be made. New to this list are some suggestions for Marlin to make.


There are a bunch of very cool and indeed, very function rifles and...wait for it...pistols you could be making.

A little Marlin personal history first, echoed by millions across this nation.

I love my Marlin rifles. My 50+ year old bolt action .22 is still going strong, and my Dad bought it shortly before my birth. Thousands and thousands of rounds have been through that rifle, with no issues whatsoever.  As recently as a few weeks ago, still shooting straight.

A few years later came the first deer rifle, a 336 in .30-30. Of course, I still have it as well. It was sighted in shortly after it was purchased, and has been dead on ever since, which has been nearly 40 years.

So I started shooting with Marlin, and still have arguably the best Texas deer rifle ever, even if I don't do much deer hunting as of late. The 336 has been used, however, on multiple occasions to hunt hogs, and it does remarkably well at that task.

I know Marlin is aware of an Alaskan gunsmith who works as Wild West Guns and who makes a nifty take apart carbine based on the Marlin lever action called The Alaskan Co-Pilot.  They bore out a .45-70 to some wildcat magnum caliber that still chambers the .45-70. It's transformed into a takedown rifle and there is lots of other gunsmithing done to it and just every gun writer I've read stories on this gun just thought it was a great gun. It's been used by a big game hunter in Africa but I guess the intended purpose is not only big game hunting but bear defense in the great white north.
The Alaskan Copilot from Wild West Guns

From the Wild West Guns site, this work of art could
take down a grizzly as well as the most dangerous
in Africa and breaks in half. With a 16" barrel,
it's a compact hunting/bear defense machine.
When I get mine, and I will find a deal on one
of these or just break down and order one from
Mr. West, my scope will be on the receiver, despite
the contrary opinion.

Interestingly, a few years ago this same gunsmith, the owner of Wild West Guns, which is located in Alaska,  created a very cool version of the Steve McQueen Mare's Leg (Laig) out of one of these big lever actions. It's a very cool gun, but the threads and posts I read on various forums, a few purporting to be from the Wild West Guns owner himself, said because he's modifying existing rifles to a pistol the NFA rules kick in for short barreled weapons and such and forms and licenses and fees all get thrown into the mix.



Of course, Marlin knows that they can take a receiver that's never been attached to a rifle barrel and make a pistol out of it, just as Henry and Rossi are doing with their versions of the Mare's Legs.

But what's missing is the Mare's Leg in a rifle caliber, as was originally portrayed on the McQueen show. A .45-70 or  .444 Marlin would be a nice chambering, not to forget a scaled down version in .30-30 based on the 336 large loop pistol grip.

Believe it or not, some pundits on internet forums gave the owner of Wild West Guns a lot of grief about The Bushwacker.Why I don't know. I'd sure like to have one, but as a production pistol and not an NFA weapon.

The other product missing from your line is the above-mentioned takedown rifle in several calibers. Being a Texan, I'd like to have one in .30-30 or .35 Remington, just cause we don't have the bear issue here. Our biggest threat in the woods is a large russian boar, perhaps wounded or cornered, in a situation where it will charge you.

Maybe you could work a deal with the Wild West guy and avoid the inevitable litigation if you made either of these guns part of your product line. Seems like he's created many works of art from your original product. How about making him consultant on a line of innovative firearms like these and working together to put out a custom line AND a budget line of the same guns.

Me myself, I'd like a Bushwacker IN A BIG CALIBER and could only hope that the black synthetic appearing stock was actually made of Pachmayr materials. I'd like a takedown 16" trapper or carbine based on the pistol gripped .30-30 and outfitted with some of the options Wild West offers, particularly the replacement sights and the internal gun work Wild West does.

So that's what I say Marlin.


I fail to understand why your company does not make the PPK/S or PPK in .22 caliber. You make it in .380 and .32 ACP. It was, as you know, made for decades in .22 L.R. caliber. It took several decades of S&W making the stainless Walthers to offer the blued version. I think you'd sell a profitable number of guns if you reintroduced the .22 L.R. into your PPK/S lineup.


You need to make and actually market the pistol version of the M6 Scout Rifle. As i recall, the pistol was chambered for .45 Long Colt and .410 in one barrel, and I guess .22 L.R. or .22 WMR or .22 Hornet in the other. Shown at several mid-2000's gun shows as a product that would soon be for sale.

Likewise, how about selling more scopes and mounts for the M6, or making the M6 again/buying it again from CZ. These guns are selling for a lot of cash now. I'd buy the pistol version I've seen RIOT NOW if you had them for sale.

Are you listening, CZ? 


How about some reasonably priced Single Action Army or Peacemaker guns for the loyal customers of your company. I like the recently (re?) introduced New Frontier but it's too expensive for me. How's about getting that priced down to about $700?

Likewise with the 1911's.

And think really seriously about putting the Python, Detective Special and Cobra back into production.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I've assembled all of the parts and pieces and various stuff that I might use except for a scope and scope rings to modify my M6. All my modifications will be temporary and won't affect the permanant nature of the gun, unlike some I've seen. Each to their own.

I got the cordura bag that holds the broken down rifle. SA sells them and calls them a "holster" but really it looks like a small assault rifle bag. It also looks like it would hold a scoped Contender fairly well. Or a couple of them, as without being baggy or too large, it's got a lot of room in it once the rifle is in there. More about this in a moment.

If I were going into a situation where I was going to possibly have to be hunting small and possibly larger game (deer) to survive, I'd be considering adding a Thompson Contender to the bag. A scoped Thompson Contender rifle setup with the Pachmayr stock in a larger caliber would pretty much solve larger game problems.

But the type situation I've been in, and would foresee myself in where I would want a weapon like an M6 is more likely an injury or accident situation. In the Great Kayak Wreck of 1993, I learned all kinds of valuable lessons about survival gear and adversity. I'll intersperse some of those lessons throughout this series.

Also, as a kid, when we would take to the woods, we were taking knowledge gleaned from authors of library books like Bradford Angier and those who wrote for Sports Afield, Field and Stream and Outdoor Life. Through junior high and high school, we had a group that regularly went fishing and/or shooting. First on bikes, then on motorcycles and then in cars with boats. We practiced woodsmanship and outdoor skills whenever we could. The M6 would have been the perfect companion on many of those youthful adventures, and now I aim to make it even more perfect for me.

COMPANION HANDGUN: The flap front pocket on the M6 Cordura holster is big enough to hold a variety of handguns. Two frequent guns that often fall into my kit bag are either a Glock 19/26 or a S&W Model 66 with a 2 1/2" barrel. Another possibility for ultra lightweight carry is the S&W Model 360 in .357 as well.

The pocket is large enough to hold a gun like the Model 66 in a cordura holster with some kind of firm utility belt, extra ammo and a folding knife.

If I'm carrying a rifle with smaller calibers like the M6, I like to have a readily accessible handgun with enough gusto to take out the threats I might encounter in the Texas woods. Big ole' poisonous snakes, feral dogs, mean bobcats, a cornered hog, rabid skunks and armadillos and gators. All of these critters are pretty prevalent in my part of the state. You'd be surprised how many rabid skunks and dillos I've seen over the years, having once been chased by a hissing and very ill with something dillo until I could get enough ahead of him to get my double barrrel shotgun into action.

On two occasions whilst traversing dry ravines, I've encountered hogs in the hundred pound catagory that got trapped or cornered trying to avoid me or something else and were in a bit of a frenzy and I was glad I had substantial firearms with me in both cases. In case one, a .357 Python, and in case two, a Marlin 336 with a shoot through scope mount for when you need those sights.

CARTRIDGE CONVERTER: They sell these in stainless for $28 through one mail order house. I'd get one to convert .22 Hornet to .22 L.R. It's tiny, adds great versatility and greatly expands the use of this gun.

EXTRA FOLDING PINS: I don't know what to properly call them, but it is the pin that holds the two halves of the gun together. I ordered some extras from SA. I plan to put one in one of the cartridge compartments under the stock in lieu of a cartridge and then put a piece of the non-adhesive camo tape over the pin to secure it in the socket, so I have an extra in the field.

I found some pins at the local hardware store that are a bit too long but have nice holes drilled in them. I don't want to use a cotter pin arrangement as others have done to retain this pin in the gun but will use something that won't cut or abraid me if I accidently strike against it like a cotter pin would. I'm kinda thinking a large split ring, smaller than the split ring you'd use on a keychain, but that's the general idea.

SCOPE: The scope rings are on order. I have a see-the-sights rail I found that fits the holes on the receiver. There is already a short rail in place that is big enough for a red dot and works well with it. This new rail is see through and just a wee bit longer so I can mount a larger scope on it.

QUESTIONS ABOUT SCOPES AND MOUNTS FOR THE M6: I have a bunch of questions, but here are the main ones:
1. What is a recommended scope for this outfit? I know SA had one but no longer sells it, so what's a good similar scope both brand and size?
2. I'm using an improvised scope mount. I'd be interested in buying an actual mount made for this gun and even better, a whole setup. If anyone is so inclined or sees any of these scope for sale somewhere, throw an old dog a bone and please comment or email and advise.


I originally planned to wrap both barrels together with paracord, as some have done, to provide some protection from hot barrels. But then I read that this could warp the two barrels and cause problems. But the solution is to wrap each barrel separately, and then warping them is not an issue. So I plan to wrap each barrel separately.

I had the great idea that if I could mount a short rail under the bottom barrel, that one of the "assault rifle pistol grips" could take the place of a foreend. I envisioned using one of the pistol grips that can fold back horizontal against the barrel, as this would also provide an excellent foregrip for the gun and solve all problems in that regard.

El Fisho Jr. even supplied a nifty heavy duty rail mount desert camo pistol grip that not only folds back but has a pop out 6" bipod legs built in, thus making a bipod of about 11". A cool grip that came with one of his airsoft guns a few years ago, I thought the bipod plus the function of the folding grip was just the low profile grip for the M6.

Alas, the problem has been finding a clamp that fits between top and bottom barrels, and there is only enough space for something like a metal hose clamp (I'm afraid it would scratch me or the finish of the gun) or a plastic flex tie. I've seen clamps for some lever actions that had similarly tiny space in between the barrel and the magazine and was just a thin piece of metal on a forum somewhere, and I'll find it again.

So as it is, I'll use the scavanged Rossi carbine fore end that I found laying on the shelf at my lgs. I'll rest it against the bottom paracorded barrel and paracord it to the bottom barrel only. I've had it on in sort of a dry run and it'll work well. The Rossi fore end actually will fit OVER the bottom barrel with careful sliding from the front end of the barrel, but then that requires binding the fore arm to the top barrel, which would create tension possibly between the top and bottom barrels and contribute to warpage. Maybe. So I'm going to avoid that.


I have not found the right shoulder sling for this gun yet, but it will have some sort of ability to carry ammo on it. El Fisho Jr. is pretty intent on putting one of the rubber GRABBER slings on the gun, so I may be adding a Mosin Nagant or SKS sort of ammo pouch(es) onto the bottom of it for holding a knife, lighters and extra booletts.

I'll write some more later about what else I want to include in the gun bag with the M6, like a Zebco travel fishing kit, a first aid kit, something to eat and drink and things like a water purifier, flashlight and other survival type gear.

One thought I've had is that some of the more hardcore survival components of this kit could be "seal'a'mealed'" inside plastic so as to reduce the mass it takes up as well as waterproofing it. I'm gonna keep thinking about that.

One final consideration in a survival situation is water and as much of it as you can take. I've noticed some of the camelback setups that come with elongated and skinny backpacks are large enough to hold the M6 Holster bag and that's got me thinking that might not be a bad way to carry the M6, with a supply of water. I've got an old top fold down dry bag from my kayaking days that's just perfect for the M6 Holster, and it would probably be a good idea to put the M6 holster in a dry bag if toting it with a bag full of water.

So that's some thoughts about my M6 project. Tell me five things that hopefully I haven't mentioned that would be in your survival bag.

Likewise, I want to order one of the padded Allen shoulder stock pads that has a padded cheek pad on one side and a large velcro pocket on the other. It fits on the stock like a regular shell carrier, except it has the pocket instead of shell loops.  And then of course you can always remove it for accessing the shells in the shoulder stock.

Monday, October 17, 2011


The past two months have been absolutely crazy. I've made many attempts at writing here going back to late August, and part way through writer's block or just plain dissatisfaction sets in and I save it to a draft file.

I do have a lot to say about a lot of things political, and I'm going to leave those alone right now, and maybe forever. Who knows. All politics is local, pretty much, and I've adopted a wait and see attitude on this situation I'm alluding to.

More importantly, we'll be doing some shooting in a variety of settings over the next few weeks. El Fisho Jr. and I were starved of much outdoor shooting this summer due to the stifling temperatures and string of record-breaking 100+ degree days in my part of the Heart of Texas.

We've gotten a bit of rain lately, and my very localized area has had no real water issues during the drought, owing to a lot of man-made factors that do a little rerouting of nature. Still, my Bermuda grass is coming back well and the San Augustine has shown signs of life outside the shaded areas where it survived the summer. Despite watering and all sorts of hired gardening and lawn help, the part of the yard hit by the direct sun  for most of the day just gave up the ghost about mid-August.

Our rose gardens made it and are doing pretty well, but thanks only to some shade and lots of drip watering.

One day soon we'll be in a locale and residential setup where we'll have gardens and crops and no yard to speak of. Not self-sufficient by any means but certainly able to move in that direction over time.   

Getting back to the lack of shooting we were able to do this summer, I mean, stuff was and really still is so tinder dry that the flame discharge from a firearm could easily ignite a serious fast spreading fire. As we had in our area just a few short weeks ago.

Indoor range shooting is always a mixed bag. There are certain ranges in Houston and College Station that are well-ventilated. Being well-ventilated is the key not only healthwise but as far as having as much as a level of comfort as one can in a shooting gallery with loud hand cannons blasting away.

Still, a well designed HVAC system that not only keeps it cool but keeps the air filtered is always the mark of a great range.

We'll be shooting at a competition next weekend, an informal qualification  in some sort of combat handgun competition. I'll be shooting a stock out of the box Glock Model 19 with the only modification being a Pachmayr slip on grip. I'll be shooting cheap ammo too, yet I think I'll do well.

My buddy who is one of the organizers says they're big on Sigs in this group and not so big on Glocks. Pity.

Then it'll be off to a friend's HUGE family farm about 100 miles or so west of Houston. Rolling hills. Water. Several homes and cabins. Several places set up to shoot shotguns and rifles and pistols. Without any pressure from time constraints or someone wanting our stall or shooting position at the long distance rifle range.

That's what I miss about not having our own place, as it's been for a few years now, but that will soon change.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


As a drummer now for 4/5th's of my life, going back now 40 years, I was heavily influenced by drummers of the sixties like Ginger Baker and Mitch Mitchell. Not that I play like either of the two, au contraire, but if I could I certainly would. Yeah, I can play their parts on most of their works, but having seen videos and listening to some of the stuff they laid down that wasn't more commercial in nature, I know well what these folks are capable of. Massive hyper-technical drumming that would blind the drummers who play the massive hyper-technical zillion drum and cymbal setups.

A brief example of this virtuosity can be found in the double Sonor bass drum kit phase that Mitchell briefly visited in the late sixties, the album of which escapes me but I'll try to update late. Sheer lightning drumming of a blinding nature, unlike anything else he played with Hendrix.

What Mitchell and Baker share are several things. First, both have a strong jazz backround, which they merged with a hard blues drumming style to make what became the blueprint, if you will, for hard rock and roll drumming in a trio format.

Second, taking their respective jazz backrounds, they each had their own take on setups. Mitchell's became much emulated (24" bass drum, one wing tom, snare, two floor toms and one ride and 2 or 3 crashes, and a high hat) while Baker's double bass kit was more idiosyncratic with stacked cymbals and such. Both players used kits were mostly Ludwigs.

I'll say this: if you have the right folks in the rock trio, meaning guitar-bass-drums, it can be no tighter musically. Three people can merge better than four, anyday of the week. Sometimes four or more is better, but with the right three members, you can't beat a trio.

And therein lay the lesson of Baker and Mitchell. Be simple, be sparse, but when you do speak, speak loudly and say something worth hearing.

The whole origin of this post just came when for some strange reason today I recalled an article I read in a music magazine about Baker way back in the mid-80's. It was a short interview piece with Baker, who by the way my good Irish friend Patrick and BIG "THE CREAM" fan calls "JEN-JAR BAY-KURR". It was one of a now defunct group of magazines, like Musician or Rhythm, that had the article. I tore the article out and stuck it in a notebook that houses a few other articles I've been struck by over the years, and perhaps one day I'll update this reference as well.

At the time, the mid-80's, Baker was living in Italy outside of some small village on an olive farm. His home was a plaster and rock type home, if memory serves, on top of a huge hill on his property. There were pictures with the article showing a relaxing terrain with a white washed plaster house on a hill, perhaps a several hundred year old home, with large windows cranked open.

His Ludwig White Marine Pearl double bass set was also in a picture or two, more or less what he played with Cream. The article said that when Baker would jam out, that his neighbors and the nearby villagers would gather and listen as his sounds resounded through the hills and valleys.

At the time, Baker had released a great CD with Bill Laswell producing called Horses and Trees, an instrumental CD I still listen to regularly. The story was that Baker just walked into the studio and laid down tracks on the drums, and then Laswell came in with a crowd of NYC and Middle Eastern and African musicians and laid down the music. It's a great CD and it rocks like nothing else.

The focus of the article was not all of that, however, but involved Ginger's pontifications about "How all time moves in Four", with which I agree wholeheartedly in terms of music. Mr. Baker does understand his mathematics when it comes to applying them to music and various time signatures, all root based in four.

When you think of four, and play in four, and subdivide four, and play different parts of the count of four, then you're moving in time and you're making time. Add to that, a drummer has four limbs, capable of playing independently of each other. They call that four way independence.

So all of those thoughts have been floating around my head today, thinking of various Baker tunes moving in four. And how I'd like, right now, to be esconced in that Italian hilltop home from that article, with a nice drum set and nowhere else to be but there, watching the olives grow.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Funny how you can stumble upon very informative web pages, just what you were looking for but not finding in your googling, and BAM! COOL WEB PAGES.



No, it's not like Elmer Keith himself is writing a compendium of history of the .357 Magnum, but the author does a very nice job of concisely covering the history and guns of the .357 Magnum in a very interesting short read. I'd recommend it for anyone wanting to know more about the .357 Magnum, which is much forgotten by many nowadays it seems, and for them I say go read the ballistics testing again.

The site has some great pictures of some great guns, some old and some new. I like the S&W tricked out Performance Center gun with a laser under the barrel and a red dot atop the gun. It would be nice to see the Performance Center do a gun for sale based on the XXX S&W Performance Center gun carried first by Vin Diesel then by Ice Cube in the sequel.

I realize the gun used in the XXX movies was a S&W Model 629 in .44 magnum, but the concept remains the same.

Or how about the simple but cool scoped S&W Model 67 4" barrel revolver from the Escape From New York movie? You could make that now with the very cool S&W Performance Center Model 67 and a holographic scope and update it a few decades. Just for grins. Throw a green laser and small flashlight on it too.

Last year I wrote about this cool gun, the Smith and Wesson Peformance Center Model 67 Carry Comp and it could only be cooler as a replacement for Snake Pliskin if he ever does a follow up to the Escape movies.

The past year has been a .357 Magnum revival for me personally. My slavery to cheap 9mm ammo has overwhelmed much of my shooting time and dollars the past few years, by virtue of finding good and cheap 9mm ammo in bulk. I can shoot 3x's as much right now with the 9mm ammo I have versus what the most reasonable but decent 38 Special ammo is going for. And we can't even talk about .357 ammo prices without shaking our heads in disbelief. It's almost unAmerican how expensive ammo has become, for the guy like me.

Nonetheless, I've been scouting and finding deals on .38 Special and even .357 ammo. Finding a screaming deal on an Australian police trade in Model 66-7 with a 2 1/2" barrel in just great condition. It looks much carried and little shot, and an exam of the innards seems to confirm that theory. 

It's as tight as the day it walked off the assembly line, and on that day S&W disabled the dreaded safety lock that lies next to the cylinder release. It just turns and turns and does not lock up the gun in any way. Web lore says you can get this fact noted in a S&W factory letter, as police guns apparently can have this feature deactivated at the factory.

I thought it was cool in this day and age that a department was still issuing revolvers and that they were the Model 66-7 in .357 and not some bogus .38 Special +P "rated" revolver. I found reference to the practice of governments trading in old service weapons for new and the controversy it can relate about these very pistols. Various social critics in Australia just think these deals enrich the gun companies. And maybe they do.

But what else are you going to do with hundreds or thousands of basically combat level handguns, guns issued to police to keep public order? Who does the agency sell these weapons to once they decide to change or upgrade?

In any event, for the past year or so, these Australian Model 66-7 police trade in's have been making the rounds. I've since seen several 4" and one 6" version of these guns, and although their bores looked a little more used than the 2 1/2" version I bought, the guns were uniformly in excellent condition with really, really nice trigger action.

The Model 66-7 didn't go into production until  sometime into the early 2000's, so I found it cool that ten years ago or so a major Australian police agency STILL went with revolvers, some 10-15 years after pretty much every other police agency IN THE WORLD went with Glocks and Sigs and other brands and 9mm's and then 40's. 

Behind the times, yes, because of course they traded in the Model 66-7's on new S&W M&P semi-autos some twenty years after the rest of the world.

Sounds like my kind of place. I'll write more about the gun and department later. Happy Labor Day, fellow laborers! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I've had the Fishing For History: The History of Fishing and Fishing Tackle on my blogroll for sometime now, and the above link is to a recent post about ultralight fly fishing. Excellent post and pictures. That is exactly what I need is a nice 5' two weight fly rod with a nice cork seat. One day soon I'll find a nice one like that.

Dr. Todd Larson is the author, and I haven't read his bio so I can't tell you much about him, other than I share some of his arcane interest in old fishing tackle and the history of it and the companies who made and sold it. Why, it's the story of fishing in America itself!

I'm particularly interested in efforts like this, however. This rod and reel is a nice little find for the good doctor.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


under my Christmas tree!

Mrs. El Fisho replaced our keyboard and this one has some sort of wildcard key on either side bottom row that basically BLANKS OUT everything you've typed into explorer even if saved. Bummer. This is the third time I've attempted this post.



I bought mine in the 70's, and foolishly sold it in the 80's. I think I paid about $276 for mine new, now used they go for about $900-$1500. I recently saw one for a grand and it was gone in minutes.

I don't know why Smith and Wesson/Walther don't offer this model. They make the PPK/S in .32 and .380, why not .22? I mean, all the design and heavy lifting has been done, and I guess there would be some firing system parts to be changed for rimfire and the barrel and magazine but basically you're slightly modifying an existing product.

And given the quality of the PPK/S and the raging popularity of "replica" guns in .22, I this the PPK/S in .22 L.R. would sell, sell, sell!





I can't afford to pay what is quickly becoming the  low end pricing for all the older Colts I want, i.e. about $1,200. I'd like to have a 3rd generation Single Action Colt. A 1970's series Government and/or Lightweight blued Commander. A 6" Python.

You can find deals on all the above guns, although I'm sure feeling ready for some more deal-stumblin'-into as it's been awhile. I see 4" and 6" Pythons (as well as .22 caliber Diamondbacks, another fine gun) in Very Good to Excellent condition on auction sites going for less than $1200 at times, and see the 1970's series 1911 guns going for $700-$900 in excellent condition. The Peacemaker or it's variants are always the pricey guns. I don't have a real Colt single action, and I'd like one.

What I'd really like to see in a Colt under my tree would be a very good condition Government 1911 that's at least 50 or 60 years old. It can have patina. It can be holster worn. Well cared for but with some use. It could be in .45 ACP or even .38 Super.

If you're wanting a Colt but can't afford the guns mentioned above, I'll note that I've seen a few Detective Specials 3rd generation lately in excellent condition going for from $500 to $700. IMHO, these are amongst the finests snubnose 38's available. I'd like to have a 2nd generation Cobra or Detective Special as well, because they are fine firearms.


An ingenous design that makes for a compact and handy rifle. Available in numerous chamberings and corresponding barrel lengths, it's a classy, quality weapon. I've hefted one recently in 30.06 Sprgfld, and what a nice gun. Beautiful wood. Serious metal. Flawless action and trigger.

Although the Southern Man in me feels the need to have a 30-06 in this gun, the experienced shooter in me says a lightweight gun is not the forte for the 30-06 for me. I'd have to go for the .308 for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that I find it much more pleasureable to shoot.

I'd personally opt for using the receiver scope mounts, but it can also be set up like a scout rifle if one prefers. A very versatile weapon.



I got to handle one of these, including some dry firing on snap caps, a few months ago. Saw it at a Cabela's and at one other small local gun shop. Since then, nada. Have not seen one and the dealers say they're like the other new, in-demand guns that they can't keep or sometimes get in stock right now.

I was surprised by the weight. I knew the weight of the gun before I picked it up, but was still surprised that it was lighter than it looked. I didn't care for the appearance of the laminated stock, to me it is just not attractive. I'd rather have a rubber Pachmayr composite stock or some good old American Walnut. Anything but the depressing gray laminate.

The gun itself, other than the stock, was an attractively built weapon. It felt solid and the bolt felt like almost any other Ruger M77 I've shot. I don't know if the Gunsite Scout bolt is a M77 but it felt as solid to me as the M77 does.

Ruger makes a good gun. No doubt about it. I'm hoping they tweek this design a bit. Take a few cues from the Steyr Scout. Composite stock with a built in disappearing bipod. Space in the stock for an extra magazine. An adjustable cheek piece. These mods wouldn't cost too much and would make the rifle actually worth it's current MSRP of a grand. Cabela's was selling them for something like $750.

You can read some of the late Jeff Cooper's thoughts on his Scout rifle design here at Eric Ching's Scout Rifle Archive. You'll note that the Ruger does not meet some of Mr. Cooper's criteria, for example, Mr. Cooper lists things like having a stainless barrel that's about 19" long. I have no doubt that the Steyr Scout rifle, which costs about twice what the Ruger does, is a better, more accurate approach to the rifle Mr. Cooper envisioned.

The Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle has been both hailed and cursed by the gun press and online critics. On the one hand, it's a handy length ranch rifle, by a gunmaker known for reliability, durability and product support. Critics attack the magazine as unnecessary, but I like the feature of a detachable mag.

This rifle should not sell for more than $600 street. It is overpriced and it sorely needs some different stock options. I'll have one ultimately, but I'll be waiting for a used one and then putting a different stock on it.


Yes, everyone wants this low priced, 30 shot .22 magnum pistol that weighs 13.8 oz. unloaded and less than 20 oz. fully loaded with 31 rounds (one in chamber) of .22 magnum. According to Gunblast, it fits perfectly into holsters for the Glock 9mm's like the 17 and 19, so those with Glock holsters are ready to go.

Some folks call it a poor man's 5-7. The .22 magnum hardly holds a candle ballistically to what the Herstal 5.7 round can do. Indeed, as we've discussed here in a previous thread about the FN Five-seveN pistol, it's combat ability was fully proven by the traitorous Army officer in Killeen.

The Herstal 5.7 round behaves far differently than the .22 magnum once they enter into ballistic testing materials, with the theory that in practice the effect would be similar on a live target. I need to look up some more data on this subject but from the limited amount I've read the PMR-30 may be a poor man's 5-7 in terms of capacity and low recoil, we are talking the difference between low end Ford and perhaps a Benz/Beemer here in terms of design and performance.

In any event, the ammo cost for the PMR-30 is less, of course, and the cost for admission is 2 and a half times less. I look forword to shooting, or even seeing, one of these guns in the near future. They're scarce right now, with one large Houston gun dealer telling me he hopes to have them in stock by the Christmas holidays!




We've talked about it before. American Made. Street price at one of the higher priced gun stores is $750, but they don't have it in stock yet. There have been a few here and there, but like the PMR-30, there's waiting lists everywhere for them.

Made in America. Slide milled from solid steel. Selling for the price, give or take a couple hundred bucks, of far lesser quality foreign made clones of so many brands. Even the brands who have high end 1911's import their low end entry level models.

Ruger has never made a 1911. That's ok, I figure the design is sound enough that Ruger's crack team figured it out. It's a full size, full weight 1911 with nice aftermarket features, and I can say before even seeing it that it will have that Ruger build quality.

I personally have 40 years of off and on shooting experience with a small variety of Ruger firearms. Blackhawks. Super Blackhawks. Single Sixes. Bearcats. Mark I-III. 10-22's. Mini-14's. Security Six. Model 22/45. I've either owned, still own or my family at one time owned these various models. And there remains a list of Ruger guns I'd like to have. 

I'd like a Ruger 99/44 carbine, or it's predecessor model. But the more recent model that uses a 4 shot rotary magazine would be more my liking. A .44 magnum rifle and a great companion for when I'm toting a .44 Magnum handgun. Of course, this is another example of a rifle I could have picked up "back in the day" before it was discontinued for a reasonable price. Now they are selling for a big old high price, and I'm not likely to spend that kind of money on that gun. But if I find one a little less than pristine in finish but mechanically sound for a decent price, I'd buy it in a minute.



Searching high and low I've been for a variety of acceptable caliber combinations in several brands. I'd be happy as I could be with a late model Savage 24 30-30 over a 20, which is built on a lighter frame than the 30-30 over a 12 gauge. However, either would be fine. But nary a one at a reasonable price have I been able to find. In fact, I found one on a gun auction site a few weeks ago and it disappeared a day into the 10 day auction.

The few .357 over 20's that I've seen, Savages, have been going and going strong on auction and ending up in the $1,300-$1,500 range. That would be a nice combo to have, as I bought into the whole .357 thing as a young police officer studying ballistics and police shootings. I think it's a magnificent round, and in the right gun it's a sheer joy to shoot.

I have several of the "right guns", both hand and long, with which to shoot the .357, and now El Fisho Jr. has caught on to the long distance accuracy (for a pistol anyway) and knock down metal plate shooting power that this round has. El Fisho Jr. has found that his dear old dad was right about heavier guns having less felt recoil and the miracle of Pachmayr Presentation grips on a K frame (or any gun, really) sized .357. 

So I'm totally discounting the .357/20 due to the out of control pricing on this particular combination gun unless someone starts making them in a newer, cheaper combo rifle.

Frankly, it would seem that if Savage, for who so long was THE GUN to have in a combination gun in this great country (along with Stevens and a few others), would see the writing on the wall and say hey, people are paying into the mid-$1,000's for these guns, maybe we should make them and sell them for like $700. With a Walnut stock. Scope ready. Nice blue and case finish.

This is a favorite gun for one of my favorite things in the world to do, which is take a walk in the woods. My next post will be about that, so I'll pick this combination gun thread up there.

I'm also interested in the Baikal IZH94, which has been in and out of importation the past decade, and like the SKS, I never got one on the cheap just 7 or so years ago when you could get one for 3 bills. These Baikal combo guns are supposedly now being imported by EAA and are on their website, coming in either .308 or .30-06 over 12. I'd prefer the .308 but would pretty much jump on the other as well at a reasonable price.

Remington also sold these Baikal guns a few years ago under their brand, I forget the model number, but likewise I'd take one of those as well. Certainly, I'd also consider the 7.62 x 39 over 20 that Baikal once made, as well as a .223. There are several Savage 24-V's, .222 over 20's for sale that I've seen, but again I really would like a .308 or 30-06. Besides, I want something if possible that shoots cheap, or cheaper ammo, as in mil surplus. Also, I'd like a popular caliber, not because I want to be popular, but because I'd like to be able to get ammo for it. Calibers like .223, .556, 7.62 x 39, .308, 30-06 are mostly reasonably priced and good bulk deals can be found. Calibers like .222, very popular in Europe due to the fact they can't use calibers like the ones I listed above because they are military calibers, are a wee bit expensive here. 30-30 is a bit more pricey but deals on good quality ammo can be found, and that's when you stockpile.

And although I have a few guns in calibers that are somewhat expensive for ammo, it's just a couple. And every purchase into a new ammo area, particularly one where cheap ammo is not now available nor expected to be available in the foreseeable future, is a carefully considered prospect.

In any event, help a brother out. If you see a combo gun such as I've mentioned in your LGS or elsewhere, send me an email and a link. I'd be mighty grateful.




Yeah, I know. But I've shot one, and I LIKED IT! A LOT! I've also shot the .410, and the problem with that one, which was an older one from years ago during their first run, and it would only function with metal cased .410 shells, which are el expense.

The 12 gauge, owned by the same fellow, digested everything. All plastic. Cheap shells. Expensive slugs and buckshot. Cheap buckshot. Medium and expensive priced shells. Like a Glock, it'll eat anything.

In fact, he had numerous 20 round drums loaded with everything from the cheapest of the cheap on sale mil surplus 00 buckshot to expensive 12 gauge rounds and slugs and sat up all night at the deer feeder at a friend's ranch that is plagued with big ole' hairy and toothy East Texas Hogs, with night vision goggles on awaiting the evening feeding crew. They came en masse,  about 50-75 of them large and small, he saw, he conquered. Massively. With the shotgun forearm resting on a heavy duty bipod and a laser sight going, it was like a .50 caliber plowing through the herd of nasty beasts. 

Of course, it would be a poor choice indeed to invade this man's home if one were of the home invasion criminal persuasion as guess what gun is this man's home defense weapon. You guessed it. A folding stock Saiga with drum magazine, flashlight and laser. BAM! 

He and his crew were cleaning small hogs until the early morning light and then off to the processing plant to get it all butchered up. They began hauling it after he was halfway threw his first drum, but they were so clustered to begin with that it was shooting the proverbial fish in a barrel (which, by the way, Outdoor humorist Ed Zern once wrote a hilarious article about how shooting fish in a barrel is actually not that easy of a task). Literally, many small, medium and large hogs fell from the first drum of the shotgun alone, and several of his companions were using rifles with the cheaper, spotlight fed infared scopes to pick off some of the larger, more destructive hogs.

So the Saiga was proven in battle action to me from those exploits, and it seems like a dandy home defense weapon. A Saiga could very well end up under my tree this year. Besides, relatively cheap to shoot, a proven and simple basic AK design, and it works with all kinds of ammo. And if for some reason I don't like it, one of my friends will and they'll have something cool to trade. What's not to like?

I blew about 10 boxes of pretty cheap #7 shot shells through the Saiga 12 a couple of years ago on the visit to the friends place when other Houston friends did the great hog hunt. It had no failures to feed or eject. It worked like it should. It was a hoot to shoot, and it shot well point shooting from the hip.




I'm waiting to see the Browning version. It would be nice if someone would make a reasonably priced Gold Cup version WITH NO RAIL and if it didn't feel janky when you handled it. I've been almost ready to buy one of several different makes of these guns when on extreme sale recently, only to decide to keep on waiting after handling them. 

The Sig version is the same as one of the other imports, and looking at all the guns has left me unexcited. Critics of the Browning cite their 7/8th size scale to the real 1911 but that doesn't bother me. Although I have medium hands, the 1911 itself fits me just perfect, as if it were made for me. 

But in the same breath I'll say that one of the  more fun .22's I've ever shot was the mini-1911 Llama .22 (also sold in .32 and .380, I think) back in the 70's. It was bigger than the little Sig .380 single action 1911 clone, but not by much and smaller than the 3" mini-45's being sold by so 1911 makers. Wish I'd have bought two of them at the bargain sub-$100 prices back then.

So the idea of a not exactly exact clone in size doesn't bother me. I'm more interested in the feel of the gun and how well made it is. Again, some of these guns have been through some of the larger gun shops I've traded with, but they go right away, like in less than a day, and it'll be some while before gun shops have these just lazily laying around awaiting a willing purchaser.

That being said, with all the guns mentioned above, you never know when you'll walk in a gun store at the right time to find a new and in demand gun being traded in that someone just bought but didn't like or perhaps a new shipment of a new gun that isn't spoken for. It happens, but it's all contingent upon being in the right place at the right time.


After seeing my cousin Jimmy's extra fine handmade gun (see my previous post), I've been eyeing and spying the Super Blackhawk with the non-fluted cylinder in blue with the 4 7/8's (or something like that) barrel, realizing that even if Jimmy kicked up production today, it'd be a long while until I could get one.

That being said, as I've mentioned ad nauseum, my dad and I shot Blackhawks and Super Blackhawks pretty extensively at one time. They are easy to find on the used market, along with the regular Blackhawk, for reasonable prices. Like all Ruger products I've owned (the ones made from metal), they're a gun you can rest assured given a reasonable amount of care that your great-great grandchildren could still be enjoying a Blackhawk, and lamenting your memory for having such fine taste in guns.

In terms of "if you could only have one handgun", if some kind of dangerous game or long distance hunting was involved, it'd be hard to beat the Ruger Blackhawk in .41 or the Super in .44. Neither of these guns would be at the top of the list (sorry, Glock beats out the Blackhawk as does the venerable Ruger Security Six, but the Blackhawks are in the top five).

But I have not been seeing any Super Blackhawks with the short barrel in blue with the non-fluted cylinder. I DO keep seeing a plethora of very tempting Ruger .357/9mm Blackhawks in both new and used. Some months ago, I saw a pristine version of the .357/9mm with no cylinder line and really, it looked unfired. $325. I didn't have the cash that day and it was gone two days later.
But even new, which lately the prices I've seen have been right around $450, it's a deal.

Lots of internet critics bemoan the lesser accuracy of this type of setup of combo cylinders, stating the .357 bore is larger and thus doesn't allow the 9mm to get enough stability to be as accurate as it could be. That may be true, and I'd make the analogy to those folks who claim to have "dog's ears" that can hear the difference between sounds that I would suspect could only be differentiated digitally.

I spent a very enjoyable afternoon many years ago at a friend's cattle ranch near Crockett, Texas. His several cattle tanks (small usually shallow ponds) and two large lakes (what I call a lake, which is a pond over 1 acre) were low on water due to a drought. Nutria had somehow multiplied like the members of the rat family they are and were everywhere.

My friends tanks and lakes were dependent upon several springfed creeks that originated on his property, and his ancestors had spent much time and effort, as had succeeding generations, in keeping these springs unplugged and in arranging the watercourses so they fed the lakes and tanks with clean water.

The nutria, and an astounding number of cottonmouths had basically located themselves around the spring head that spawned one of the larger creeks. The nutria kept building dams at the wrong places and diverting the water flow to other natural creases, bypassing the lakes and ponds.

My friend who owned the place recruited me and another of our friends for a day of nutria and snake cleansing. He got about 1,000 rounds of 7.62 x 39 ammo and another 1,000 of 9mm. We were going to do some shooting.

We made the trip from Houston, and long story short, I ended using the Ruger Blackhawk with the 9mm cylinder for most of the day. I found it to be an accurate gun, or at least accurate enough to take out big thick 4'-6' snakes and lots of nutria with head shots. So call me skeptical when folks on the internets are saying thay can't even hit the inner torso of an FBI target at 25 yards with the 9mm equipped Blackhawk. Like the late, great Houstonian Issac Peyton Sweatt's most famous song "The Cotton Eyed Joe" proclaims repeatedly, I call B.S.

I'm getting interested in doing some more shooting with my Contender. My LGS has a ton of extra barrels he took in trade, and I do plan to get a couple of those before too long. They've been under his counter for several years now, and I think the time is getting close to making a deal on a few to expand my library. 

The Contender has many uses. First, it's a fun gun to shoot. For over 30 years, my .45LC/.410 has been one of my go to snake guns. LARGE Copperhead or Cottonmouth in my yard? Contender. Snakes when fishing? Contender.

I always meant to expand my barrel selection, but then I quit the police department and went to law school and the funding for barrels dried up, more or less. Back then, my good friend Mike the Mercedes Mechanic, who more or less re-built my first engine, a 351 Cleveland out of a Mach 1 Mustang back when we were in high school. Truth be known, he basically rebuilt the entire vehicle.

In any event, post high school Mike, dubbed by his friends THE RAVEN, who was probably voted least likely to succeed by our high school hypocrits, actually became far more successful than the doctors and lawyers spawned by our class. And lots happier than the professional crowd as well. I've always been so proud of The Raven.

Anyway, about the time of our fifth year reunion, The Raven was doing exceptionally well with his own shop after leaving Mercedes (he still is doing fabulously, by the way, 30 years on) and had accumulated through trades and good buys an incredible collection of Contenders and barrels and accessories. So I got to do lots of shooting and experimentation with various calibers and setups.

I want to get a stock and some rifle barrels, as well as a few pistol barrels. Double up on some of the calibers I have in other handguns that work well in the Contender. There's also custom barrels available, and I'd like to have a 10" or 12" barrel in 7.62 x39 done custom.

The coolest thing about the Contender, which by the way can be found in the Harrington and Richardson Handi-Rifle, is that a man or woman of very limited means can acquire a nice variety of caliber options with a few interchangeable barrels and one receiver. The H&R version even sports full length shotgun barrels in addition to some large caliber centerfire choices.

No, the trigger, feel and overall stoutness of the H&R is not what the T/C features, but again, on a budget the H&R comes in much cheaper for rifle alternatives. A trigger job and a good scope goes a long way on the H&R rifles.

The H&R's are not in my future, but expanding the Contender barrel collection is certainly a long term goal.

That, of course, is the artist formerly known as EL FISHO's recreation of twenty rounds of 12 gauge being fired very quickly from a Saiga 12 with a 20 round drum.