Monday, May 30, 2011


Longtime Houston Newspaper Scribe Leon Hale is cerlebrating his 90th birthday. Happy Birthday, Leon. Leon is a gifted and talented writer, to be sure. The Houston Chronicle, his longtime last newspaper job, is running a series of his articles that are good ones. The one about WWII was well written, hilarious and hopelessly heartbreaking, all at the same time, and all with very few well chosen sentences. I should be so lucky, being as wordy as I am. Can't blame it on law school, as I was wordy way before then.

Back when people, people like me for instance, used to begin the day and particularly Sundays with the newspaper and coffee, Leon was one of the first things I'd read. No matter where I was,  the Sunday paper was a ritual, and I kept it up for many years until a few years ago when online news became snappier and available for free on the internet.

But I digress. Here's a link to some classic Leon Hale musings and writings and they go on and on for your enjoyment.

And for you fishermen and fisherwomen and those Texans who enjoy Hill Country River Fishing Camp stories, here's a few links to get you started on Leon's fishing trips here and here and  here to the James and/or Llano Rivers with his buddies. I guess his last trip over there was in 2008 as that's the last post written on the James River by Leon that I could find.

So Happy Birthday, Leon Hale!


I can't seem to respond to comments as myself right now, and other features are askew. I'll get them back to normal as soon as possible, as soon as I can get one of the children to straighten things out for me. Saying that, and it is true for the most part, particularly with The Princess, and it makes me sound more than a little bit like my parents did back in the ancient days of the mid-80's when they'd have me come over to set up/fix/program their VHS VCR for them.

But that's another subject entirely.

To Richard, happy I could help with the info on Tex Shoemaker Holsters for the COP Compact Off-Duty Police .357 four barreled derringer. Like the Roy Head song says, well at least paraphrased by Amarillo Geetar Scott, "They'll treat you right". Do let us know what you order and how you like it!

And to the visitor who scored the Lew's Speed Stick at the garage sale for a dollar, well, that's a dollar mighty well spent. They sold new, at first, for I think $25 bucks, and depending on action, length, style and condition, they average that to $50 on ebay. So you got quite a bargain there, my friend. I was just gandering at a pair set up in the garage ready to go fishing, a worm baitcasting rod with a Curado and a spinning speedstick with the rubber covered handle (a favorite and very comfortable to fish with, I wish more makers had this type of grip surface on their rods as it's very durable and has lasted in my case over 30 years with nolo problemos.

So thanks for stopping by and send me some pics of the rod and the holster you get and I'll post them here. Email is in the profile.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


The late Joe Raynor was THE drum instructor in Houston from the 1960's until the early 2000's, as well as a noted jazz, big band and popular music drummer for some pretty famous artists over a long career. I met him as an 11 year old beginning student, and although he had me using Pro-Mark 5a sticks, I couldn't help but notice his distinctive sticks, which had different sized tips and shafts on each end. Joe, being a master percussionist, could use those different stick sizes to great dynamic and dramatic effect.

I took lessons from Joe for many years during my teens, and then later in my twenties during law school Joe began teaching at a Brook Mays not too far from downtown in between the massive teaching he also did for the various schools he worked with. It was easy to slip in there late in the afternoon for a double length lesson, since I could record the lesson and work on it endlessly when at home. From the time I began with Joe, he recorded homework assignments on tape for you to learn. Rudimentary exercises. Counting. All kinds of stuff.

So back to these drumsticks. I'm not certain if he invented these. He never made that claim to me, or to any of my many friends who took lessons from him from the 1960's to the 2000's. My good friend El Bar has the actual Rogers White Marine Pearl double bass drum kit that Joe used in the 70's when I was taking lessons from him.

I had the good fortune to get to babysit that kit for about four years whilst El Bar was traveling and buying a ranch/farm (we call it a "place" here in Texas) and moving to his place in the deep piney woods of East Texas.

I've dealt in used drum kits since I started drumming, and I'm very good at restoration and cleaning, which the *years worth of dust* on the Rogers kit had. Soon, it was gleaming again, and enjoyed having it set up in my drum room outfitted with cymbals I've used since junior high school.

So it was also cool to be playing that kit with a set of genuine Joe Raynor sticks. Here's the rest of the drumstick story below.

When I started lessons with Joe, he worked out of Herb Brochstein's Music store in Houston. Herb had started the Pro-Mark drumstick company some years before, and soon became the largest (I'm pretty sure of this) drum stick maker in the world. Brochstein's Music closed as Pro-Mark skyrocketed in the early 70's, but Herb (also a stellar drummer), his store and his drum stick company are legendary in their own rights.

Herb's a great guy. I'm not his buddy or anything, but all the times I've seen him over the years he greets me fondly and shakes my hand although I'm pretty sure he doesn't know who I am. He's a nice fellow and has always treated all the drummers I know in Houston very well.

So in 1970 Herb's growing Pro-Mark drumstick company makes the Joe Raynor stick, which is labeled as such. I bought several pair of those when taking lessons from Joe and still have one intact drumstick from 1971 where the large (glued on) stick tip has not come off.

Over the years, I've mostly played with 5a's and 5b's, until making the switch to Vater drumsticks back in the early 2000's. I still use Pro-Mark sticks all the time, but I've grown fond of one particular Vater stick that is lightweight and yet beefy and a wee bit bigger than a 5a.

The Raynor stick at it's thickest is close (I have not measured) to that of the Pro-Mark 7a stick, and the length I think is also the same. The "regular" tip end and shaft of the Raynor stick is real similar to a 7a, but the stick butt tapers to form an end to which a larger tip is glued (unfortunate because if this tip was milled from the dowel blank it would hang on better).

Interestingly, I have not had the problem of the stick butt tip coming off on the second set of Raynor sticks that I stumbled into about twenty years after I first began lessons with Joe and saw his unique drumsticks.

The Houston DRUM*GUITAR*KEYBOARD Shop was shutting down, and the owner Keith Karnaky was selling everything. So Keith was escorting me through the massive parts bin he had accumulated over the years and I was getting all the available Collarlock and Tempus drum hardware I could find, as well as select replacement parts for other snares like Rogers and Ludwig and Slingerland. Basically, I was buying spare parts for every drum I had at bargain prices.

So as Keith was leading me through his various parts areas behind the counter (well organized as I recall), I came across a bucket of drumsticks that were priced at $2 a pair and spied a familiar butt end stick tip, a double ended Raynor stick.

These sticks were made sometime in the 80's or very early 90's, a "reissue of sorts" if you will, and there were about six pair. So I bought all of them, of course. These sticks were marked "Pro-Mark /W/".

I don't know what the "/W/" designation meant. These sticks are still in great shape, many years later, and I'm glad I found them. I used them for electronic drumming and also on more quiet gigs, rehearsals and musical passages where a softer touch is required, as they are significantly thinner than the several different types of drumsticks I might reach for at any normal rehearsal or performance.

So a couple of years ago I wrote the customer service department of Pro-Mark and asked if they still had the pattern or blank for this stick and if so what would it cost me to get a private run of these sticks. I knew enough well-heeled former Joe Raynor students that would be interested in buying into a one time Raynor stick order that I figured we could pull it off.

To my dismay, the customer service rep indicated that the pattern or blank or whatever they use in the drumstick industry had been destroyed and there were no plans to revisit the Raynor or /W/ stick design.

So there is another solution. Recently, a very talented lawyer friend of mine whose hobby is SERIOUS WOODWORKING of all sorts began making drumsticks for his daughter's boyfriend out of all sorts of exotic and regular drumstick woods. No kidding. This friend basically built his own luxury home that's probably 5000 square feet over the course of a year more or less by himself. In his "spare time". And when I say custom home, I mean, custom home. Finest of woods. Finest of workmanship. Innovative design and state of the art materials.

In his spare time, he built this fine home over the course of a year.

He first built a four car garage with a huge garage apartment above it. This was his work and storage area for the beginning stages of building his house, and he basically has a wood shop in his garage that puts many professional shops to shame with his extensive tools and gear.

He has some sort of router or mill or something that is CAD controlled and he can take a drumstick and basically make a pattern from it, if I understand what he's doing.

He then sometimes makes dowels himself, or buys them and makes drumsticks on his gizmos, finishing them by hand.

In any event, the sticks are extremely well made and some are heavy and some are light and all are just works of art unto themselves. So I'll be visiting him soon and taking some Raynor sticks and a few kinds and sizes of sticks and watching him craft me some custom sticks out of probably some very interesting woods.  

Friday, May 27, 2011


But I'll try to describe the excellent customer service and holster that I recently bought from Tex.

You see, I got this gun a few weeks ago, the 4 barreled .357 Magnum C.O.P., standing for Compact Off-Duty Police, which hasn't been made since the mid-1990's and was not probably a big seller back then. I wrote about THE COP here a few days ago, and the picture at the top of that post is from an Auction Arms sale that ended many years ago but the picture is still out there. It was the second picture of a holster I had seen that was actually made for the COP, and by zooming in on the photo I could see it was made by Tex Shoemaker and Sons, Inc., leather gurus.

One of my duty rigs as a police officer that I wore on extra jobs had a Tex Shoemaker holster for my Python. Thirty years later, it's still around, and it gets pressed into service as a field holster on cooler fall and winter and spring days when wearing a Sam Browne rig isn't too hot in my part of Texas.

So the COP is hard to fit. No one, and I mean no one that extensive google searching can find makes a holster for this gun.

Except for Tex.

So after I saw the pic of the holster I went to the TEX website and ultimately bought this holster for the COP. 

But El Fisho, you say, how could you buy a holster for a long discontinued and always obscure gun and have that holster already, because you just got the gun and custom leather holster work often takes 6-8 weeks or more?

That's easy, my friends. Tex is a quality outfit. I sent a customer service inquiry on a Monday night using their website form, and the next day a nice lady named Jolie and I exchanged a series of emails.

I fully expected Tex, after the entire Tex office finished laughing and rolling on the floor at the thought that some Texan would dare to think that maybe, 15 or so years after an obscure gun was last made, that they might still be able to make a holster for that gun, to tell me that nope, they couldn't help me out.

But much to my surprise, Jolie said that they still had the dummy gun and so they could not only make a holster like the one pictured, they could make any holster new or old style from their catalog for this gun.

So I went here and found that I thought this thumbreak pancake belt slide holster  might hold a heavy gun like the COP better than a regular revolver belt holster. 

So Jolie informs me of this and tells me to simply add my comments and special requests (belt loop size, covered trigger, right or left hand and the finish) to the order form and tell them the gun (which by now probably everyone knew that a dusty dummy gun was coming out of storage) and that if they had a problem they'd let me know.

So on a Tuesday, I ordered it. Jolie and I didn't discuss how long it would take. I was willing to wait until Christmas or longer just because I had found someone to make me a holster, and for a reasonable non-custom price.

So I was astonished when just 3 days later on Friday I got an automated email that my holster had shipped out. Three days. Unbelieveable to me, someone who has bought several custom holsters from various makers over the last 30 years. The fastest I've ever had delivery before was probably a month, with the average being about 8 weeks for a custom holster.

So on the following Tuesday at noon, just seven short days after ordering, my new holster is at my door. And just check out the heavy duty TRIPLE STITCHING on each of the belt loops. This is a feature I've never seen (only double stitching) but it really firms up this area of the holster and makes it ride firm at each end of the holster. EXCELLENCE!

So thanks to Tex, to Jolie and the craftsmen/women who made my excellent holster and processed and shipped it and handled any other aspect of this flawless service and excellent holster.

You'll receive first rate customer service at Tex Shoemaker when you order your holster or other goods, and you're buying American and keeping an American institution like Tex going. They've been serving mostly police and firearms enthusiasts for many years now, making quality products for fair prices.

This holster from Tex, who are actually located in California, is as finely crafted as any I've owned at many, many times the price for those other holsters. It's a perfect fit for my pistol, and the quality of the leather is impressive and it was cheap in price. Of course, the ultimate test after fit and finish and so on is how does that leather smell, and it smells wonderful. It's a lightweight yet heavy duty holster that firmly holds the heavy COP and distributes the weight of the COP over it's area. It was a good choice by me.

I'll be buying a more traditional old style  H Revolver Duty Style Holster from Tex in the very near future, which is like the one pictured on my previous post about the COP linked above and much smaller than the "new" style shown at the Tex website now,  and will be asking Tex to make it crossdraw.

The COP is destined to be my four shot snake gun when out fishing, and I've already put a universal fit nylon holster on my 2" cordura?/nylon? "fishing belt". The holster (for a Colt Officers ACP and other guns, no less)  holds the COP very securely, but very deeply. Holding the gun deep in this cheap nylon holster for fishing is fine, and keeps the gun secure near the water. But loaded with snakeshot, it's a four shot snake killa. But I'd rather have a nice leather crossdraw holster for this gun when fishing, and I think the Tex old style H revolver holster would work well for this.

I'll also be buying a 12 Inside the Waistband  IWB holster from Tex for this gun.

So thanks again to Jolie and all the other great folks at Tex! You Rock!

Thursday, May 26, 2011


pictures from The Pharmory

I found a cool new gun blog, courtesy of  a post over at The Firearms Blog and it's called Pharmory and it's apparently a couple home gunsmiths working on various weapons and modifications.

The post that caught my eye was about converting some Mosin Nagant rifles into 16.25" barreled carbines modified to shoot .45-70. Lots of work here, my friends, but I'd like to have one of these guns when they get them working right. Pretty nifty, particularly considering that the fodder for the conversion can be had for anywhere from $79 to $99 with the higher grade pick weapons going for more.

Interesting looking guns that sort of remind me of the larger, bigger brother to a Norinco SKS carbine I saw recently.

Here's another interesting post, also from The Firearm Blog about making a 10 round magazine for the Mosin Nagant and the link to the project is here and he's built a very cool sniperized version of the Mosin he calls The Mosunov.  And here's a link to a directory of his marked gun posts. Cool site and he's big into the steampunk movement and makes some interesting looking computer keyboards and other artworks. Obviously a very talented person.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Growing up in suburban Houston, Texas, it seemed like almost every household had at least one shotgun. Sometimes there were many shotguns in a home, back in those safer and less burgled times people actually openly displayed their firearms in wooden and glass gun cabinets. Sometimes these cabinets were ornate, and sometimes plain, but the contents were works of art.

As a child who began shooting at an early age, I knew the rule: Look but don't ever touch. My friends and I would stare literally for hours over our youth at the contents, these firearms, and from what we could see and from what we knew about particular guns, we'd talk about the features and good points and bad points of certain guns and designs. Rifles, shotguns and handguns.

Many folks had no handguns in their collections, and some just had one shotgun. Sometimes it was a family gun, like a friend's families Browning A5 shotgun, and other times it was a simple single barreled J.C. Higgens (Sears) or H&R.  Of course, all of my East Texas relatives who lived in or sorta in the country had shotguns near the door. A big favorite was the Remington 870 in 20 or 12 gauge but again, there were all kinds of guns represented as "house guns".

Before I hit my teens, we moved to the outskirts of Houston to subdivisions being built in an extremely rural area. Lots of the kids I went to school with lived on working farms and ranches, and back then in those less violent and crazy times, there was no school rule against having a rifle and shotgun in a window rack of your truck. It was pretty common for the farm kids to have guns or cattle prods in their gun racks in their trucks, and wasn't any big deal back then in the 70's.

There was a huge influx of oil company folks from the land up yonder, north of the Mason Dixon Line, who moved to Texas in the 70's. Many of these folks did not come from gun cultures or families, and were shocked at the prevalance of guns and the guns in the school parking lot. To us from down here, it was no big deal.

But growing up in my teens in that unique rural developing area meant many friends of mine lived on large farms and ranches. We did lots of shooting and fishing on those places. There was always a place to hunt and someone was always having problems with wild hogs destroying crops or coyotes attacking calves/chickens/goats/etc at night. If we took off on a hog hunt or were laying low in the darkness of a barn waiting on coyotes or the occasional wolf to come calling in the midnight hour, most of us were carrying shotguns for night shooting.

Living in the country, one never knows when a stranger might suddenly pull in the driveway at a late hour, with police many miles and many minutes away. Critters also cause issues in the country homestead and here in Texas, it's likely to be mean, wild hogs or wild pigs, coyotes, big poisonous snakes, skunks, bad-arse stray and often ill dogs running in packs and various rabid critters acting strangely.  And if you've got livestock of any kind, then predatory creatures tend to be attracted to feed on your animals.

So it makes sense for the country dweller to have at least a couple of firearms at the ready. Most folks I know had a shotgun and a .22 rifle and a lever or bolt action deer rifle in either 30/30 or 30.06.

But the default weapon of choice, if they just had one weapon, was almost always a shotgun.

I remember trot lining with relatives in East Texas, on a dark Trinity River, and my uncle carried a H&R 12 gauge single shot with the barrel shortened to 18". That was his trot lining gun for shooting the inevitable snakes we encountered and sometimes when a gar would get tangled in his trotline. He had a little wooden rack device on the right rear inside gunwale of the boat to hold the gun in position and broken open since it had no safety, right next to where he sat running the motor and running the trotline. My uncle was a farmer and a rancher and worked pretty hard his whole life, and I had to give it to him for having the foresight to see an accidental discharge from a single shot shotgun with no safety might not be a great thing in a boat with other folks in it..

Other old timers I've fished with over the years in more swamplike and "gator-y" water still carried shotguns, but often loaded with slugs or 00 Buckshot. The first couple of shots would be birdshot for snakes which could quickly be pumped out to get to the more serious ammo if the need arose.

Tales from my farming relatives who trapped, fished  and hunted the East Texas woods extensively to literally survive frmo before the turn of the century until the early 40's. Alligators, panthers and cougars were somewhat common then, and of course the predators stayed near the water waiting for their prey to come to them. My uncle again told of missing a shot while trotlining on a river at what he swore was a mountain lion of some sort, 40 or 50 pounds worth, and other relatives told of encountering panthers and bobcats and sometimes catching them in their traps.

So most all of these folks carried shotguns when they went in the woods, not knowing if they would encounter birds or beast that needed shooting for food. As I mentioned in a previous article about combination guns, my father used to hunt with one of the family shotguns, a double barrel,  as a youth with a slug in one barrel and shotshell in the other. Ready for deer or hog or bird or rabbit. My family, although hungry and absolutely broke like everyone else in the depression and the aftermath, did have their standards, and would eat potatos for days rather than eat any member of what they considered the "rat-like" family, like squirrels and possum and of course the armadillo.

But the suburban folks I grew up around in Houston also mostly were gun owning households, and most homes kept a shotgun locked in a gun cabinet or closet but ready for home defense. In those days, most of the kids I was around had Texas roots, their folks had come to Houston seeking employment and good money from West, Central, East and other parts of Texas.

Many of my good friends all have East Texas roots similar to mine, going back generations. Some of them still have their family land, and one good friends still works that land with a couple of hundred head of cattle. We all share the common gun and hunting culture, as all of our families had very similar lives despite being spread apart by many miles in different counties from large to small.

As I began to visit the East Texas families of my friends, I found they were much like my family members in that region, although they didn't know each other. Hard working. Earnest. Frugal. They liked to drive Chevy and Ford trucks and LTD's and Impalas. And they all had shotguns in their homes, and often in their vehicles.

I've neglected much posting about shotguns thus far on this blog, but the shotgun is often the best weapon in the house for many chores. Self defense, of course, by expert or novice, is often best and most safely accomplished with a shotgun. For the rare skunk or rabid or diseased possum, raccoon or armadillo that periodically have entered our lives over the years, along with numerous poisonous snakes.

I have not shot much skeet or trap in recent years, but that's a sport I'd like to re-enter. Shotgun shooting sports are very popular in Texas and all sorts of outstanding upland and coastal bird hunting is available throughout Texas. In fact, in many rural Texas western locales it seems that bird hunting and deer hunting are the only revenue sources.

I've only hit the high points here about the prevalence of shotguns in Texas for the time I've lived here, and I wonder how it is in other states and other places where we have the freedom to bear arms.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


I know that sometime ago ebay sort of turned into an Amazon like place, with so much of the stuff being sold new, cheap stuff from China and other eastern locales. That was a couple of years ago, but back then there were still lots of private sellers, folks like you and I, not running a business but buying and selling items in their hobbies, stuff like shooting and fishing and musical instruments.

Since the late 90's, when I first discovered Ebay, it's been steadily chipped away at for the average Joe. As far as I know, during much of the time for change at ebay during the 2000's, things I was interested in began to be banned. Firearm parts, magazines and such were banned from Ebay around 2004 or so, and then at some point Ebay decided to ban PICTURES of guns on an auction for a holster only, and the gun in the picture would simply serve to illustrate how the holster holds the gun. Ridiculous.

Over the past couple of years, I've noticed now that private sellers are in much shorter supply than they were a few years ago, and a lot less items. I'm not a big diverse shopper on Ebay, and over the years my searches and alerts are for either fishing or shooting or musical items unless one of the family has me looking for something for them to get.

Now Mrs. El Fisho mostly goes to Amazon, because books are far cheaper there, and that's what she's normally getting online.

I know prices have increased for sellers on ebay, but having sold some extra stuff lately, I don't feel like I'm being taken advantage of. I mean, some of the stuff I've sold, although having good value, would be hard to find a buyer for locally.

In the years since Ebay banned certain firearm accessories, I've gone to some of the gun auction sites, and you can generally find what you used to find on Ebay at the gun sites, but usually for a higher price. Unlike Ebay, at the gun auction sites, you don't often find that many holsters or magazines starting at a .99 cent no reserve auction, where bidding can be fun and where you might get a huge bargain on an item.

So where have all the sellers of items gone to online? Particularly for musical gear like drums and guitars/basses and amps and the things that go with them? Or for fishing gear? Or for shooting accessories? I know a lot of the forums I frequent in different areas of interest have classified sections, but are there other sites where folks are selling mass amounts of gear in these catagories and I just have not discovered them yet?

I know many people sell their things on Craigslist, but again, so many people I know, including myself, don't. I don't care for strangers coming to the house. For over 30 years now, when I sell a car, for example, I have the prospective buyer meet me somewhere, like in the parking lot of the police station or the Sheriff's department. I always figure that this way they are not finding out where I live and that the location would scare off all but the boldest of hijackers or con men.

So I'm thinking Craigslist is not the sole force that changed Ebay, although I think it and other free online classifieds destroyed the newspaper classified ad business.

My item sales have been good on Ebay, in terms of actually selling and in terms of the selling prices I've been getting. But it's not great like it was say 6 years ago in 2005, when things were still kinda fun crazy on Ebay?

I still find bargains on Ebay, but I find sifting through the multiple dealers selling the same crap as each other that I don't want in the same catagory I'm looking in. Say for instance when I was looking at shoulder holsters recently. There's a handful of used leather Safariland and Bianchi holsters, which are what I'm looking at, and a zillion sellers who have Ebay Stores selling the same crap nylon shoulder holsters (hundreds of them, all the same, at wildly divergent pricing for the same item) clogging up the screen.

I try to shop local when I can. I try to buy products first made in Texas, then the USA, then the countries that I think are friends to us. Of course, I end up buying stuff made elsewhere too, but that's my general policy.

On Ebay, I try to buy from folks like me, the hobbyist or garage sale hunter who finds cool stuff and sells it for a reasonable price. I sometimes buy from folks who have an Ebay store, but I prefer to spend my dollars with people like me.

Friday, May 20, 2011


No I didn't turn my childhood 336 into a trapper carbine, but I came across an informative article that makes me want to consider finding a cheap used Marlin and making one. And of course there is always the chance of finding another good lever action chambered in .357 or .44 that already has a 16" factory barrel. All it would need would be a large loop and it would be RTG (Ready to Go, or as they say in Louisiana, Ready To Geaux.

There's also a fellow up in Alaska I think who makes, or at least used to make, modified take down 16" barrel versions of the Marlin 45-70 guide gun. Very nice weapons. I think they were called the Bush Pilot or something, made for bush pilots to take in their bail out bags.

 Two very cool modified Marlins tells the story and has a couple of great pics, and once again it features very nice stock mount shell holders by this baldknobby leather that seems to be out of business.


Recently, AMERICAN HANDGUNNER Editor (as well as being involved in GUNS magazine) Roy Huntington, who answers his own emails by the way to his loyal readers such as I, had an article on great rig made by PURDY GEAR, Custom Leather Goods. To say that craftsman Karla Van Horne has a gift with leather and can create TRUE ART in leather and metal with her holsters is like saying I like having air conditioning in Texas.

Roy had a holster crafted for his customized 1917 .45 ACP revolver that had been converted to a snubbie, and I'm pretty sure that the Purdy rig like his is going to be my request from Santa this year. I need to let Santa know pretty quick so that Santa can subcontract out to Karla for me to have a nice rig like this.

I stumbled up on this rig on the Purdy site, which might be the same rig Roy got, but in any event is in tribute to him, and tell me this is not some cool handgun leather:

If you go HERE, and scroll down the page about halfway, you see the advertisement for this work of art and the various features of this serious holster. Yes, it's not only exquisite in the carving and sewing and design but this is a serious holster, folks. You can see the sturdy nature of this holster. I must have one, I might add.

Here's the description of this rig from the Purdy site, since the description of this extremely cool holster rig doesn't have it's own separate page I can link to:

Roy's Field Holster

Color: British Tan

Holster: Roy's Field Holster with Ranger Belt

Holster Pattern: Huntington Floral with Repeating 9's Border

Belt: Main Body: Repeating 9's and Doc Martin Vine Border

Billets: Huntington Floral

About: We have always maintained that when you have completed your day out in forest or field that you should be able to hang you gunleather on a peg or over a chair and enjoy some memories. This holster is that pretty! But don't let appearances fool you. This rig is Field-hand tough!

Roy's Field Holster varies slightly from our standard holsters mostly from the cut at the throat and toe. The top of the pouch is cut so that the trigger guard is fully-enclosed for protection against brush and debris. The moveable rear sights are protected by an integral shroud. The combination of safety strap and shroud works particularly-well with the N-Frame revolvers which tend to have a wide, bulbous hammer that tends to hang up a thumb tab. The toe on this one is open by request. It can be had with a stitched-through toe or even with a toe plug.

This rig looks like it would work better with a snubbie, and it makes me want to buy a S&W M19 or (in my dreams) a Colt Python snubbie. I'd like to have one of these for a .357 Ruger Security Six 4" as well as a S&W N Frame 4" .44, both of which I already have, and I feel confident that this genius behind Purdy could position a holster such as this properly on the belt so that balance and positioning were optimum.

Check out the other high quality and indeed, artwork on the holsters and rigs on her site. Magnificent!


This is a chilling story, not only for the outdoorsman or woman but for anyone. RIP, Matt.


Monday, May 16, 2011


Until I can locate me a custom leathersmith who can make/modify a buttcuff to hold both some 20 gauge shotgun shells/slugs AND .22 LR ammo. Although I've found several leather cuffs that fit the stock of the gun and hold some cartridges, I have not found anything close to what I'd like.

I didn't know much about such products before launching into a web search this weekend on the subject. I've long had one of the elastic shell holders that I throw on my Marlin .30-30 when I head out in the woods, but otherwise it stays in the Marlin gun case and not on the gun.

I've never seen the need to keep cartridges on my guns, save back in my police days when I thought it wise to use an adapted M1 Carbine buttstock magazine pouch to keep an extra Mini14 mag on the gun itself. I think that's also a good way of keeping a defensive rifle more at the ready in a gun safe, so if the need arises and time allows for a gun safe opening in a time of a home invasion or the like, you can just grab the gun knowing there is a charged magazine attached, with no fumbling through the gun safe for the RIGHT magazine for that gun.

But I digress. I agree with the logic that keeping a homestead/country rifle like the Savage 24 loaded up with a few extra shotgun shells and .22 ammo is a good idea. For instance, the last time Mr. Cottonmouth,  a rather large and wide fellow on this occasion, decided to visit my backyard area, it took 3 shots from a .22 BB Caps to kill it. In fact, in between headshots 2 and 3, Mr. C bit into a large fallen branch with his fangs. He was *not happy*.

El Fisho Jr. was going "Why isn't he dead, dad?" I told him I thought the snake was just "tough", and that lots of times animals and creatures can be "tough". I also I told him I was using smallish ammo to keep the noise down not to bother the neighbors, since it was already dark when Mr. C came by to visit and got the dogs all upset.

A Savage 24 in .22 LR and 20 gauge with some 8 shot in the shotgun and some snakeshot in the .22 for close range dispatching. That would have been just the ticket for a snake situation. That's why having a few extra rounds isn't such a bad idea on a gun like this. Instead of running back in the house to fetch some more ammo because you grabbed the gun and ran in a hurry to dispatch the snake and save the day and make the wife, who could accurately be called *not a big fan of snakes*, very happy indeed. 

So I did come up with a temporary quick fix. I got an elastic butt mounted shotshell holder for a couple of bucks in the used bargain bin at the gun shop the other day. It holds five shotshells. I decided I would remove the label from a vitamin bottle that is roughly the same size as a 20 gauge shotshell, although the loops could accomodate a 12 gauge sized bottle if need be. I've got it soaking the remnants of the label off right now in cup of soapy water, and the plan is to pack it full of .22 LR cartridges, along with one of the small soft (in a bag not a solid) dessicant packs that come in various vitamin and pill packages.

The idea is, fill the bottom of the bottle with some .22 LR or whatever kind of .22 you want, then put the dessicant pack in the middle of the shells, then put another layer of .22 shells until the bottle is filled. If need be, to make rattle free, just add a piece of paper towel or what have you. 

I'm guessing this pill bottle full of .22 ammo is going to be heavier than a standard 20 gauge shell, so two things to mention. First, the overhang of the cap of the bottle should serve to keep the bottle from falling out, and failing that, I think I am going to put one wrap of this non-adhesive camo elastic wrap that El Fisho Jr. wraps around his airsoft guns. We got it from Amazon, and it's rough texture would serve to anchor it in the shell holder if it were to be a bit too heavy. Thicken it up a bit sortof, and provide a gripping surface.

So that's my great interim shell holder idea. I'm fixing to go do some river fishing with some of my friends on a big Texas river. Trotlining for sure, but also some regular rod and reel fishing. The two brothers I'll be going with, who have a very nice WIDE industrial sized HUGE jonboat with high gunwales and a nice open but carpeted interior and a BIG outboard. They actually have gunracks installed in a rodrack on one side of the boat, since they often see snakes and such on the river they grew up on. So when I go, I'll take a combo rifle and try out the shellholder. The brothers have a great rule of river fishing: Find out where the fish are biting or where you want to fish, put in downstream from there, go in upstream and work your way back down to the vehicles, which are generally parked at someone's property they know who front the river. Solves many problems.  This is a throwback to their days as kids on the river with an iffy outboard on their boat. No matter what, by going upstream for adventure, even if the engine conked out, they would be home for dinner.

In surfing around the web, I've found that a lot of cowboy shooting leather companies make various shoulder stock or buttstock pads made of leather. None that I saw incorporated shell holders, but since they build shell holders for the cowboy shooting competition into virtually every other product they make, seems like you might be able to throw some money at them and sweet talk them into modifying one of their designs to incorporate ammo loops on the non-cheek side of the gun as a one-off custom deal.

There must be a rule in the SASS shooting game about having shell holders on your gun, because after visiting several sites that sell such leather shoulder stock pads, none had any shell holders on them. However, one product did have available for upgrade to their standard all leather model a neophrene insert for the cheek side/shooter side of the stock, to provide some cushioning for the shooter's face. I think this would be a great option to have when shooting any combo gun with a larger rifle caliber.

These leather shoulder stock pads lace up at the bottom, and the nice ones I've seen look really classy. I've also seen some that look like what my first attempt would probably look like, except theirs is not supposed to be their first attempt or look like one. Having been enamored with custom holsters for many years now, I know that not only talents but tastes of the buyer vary greatly, and what I think might be crude and not well finished might be the perfect treasure another has been seeking all along.

However, slings that can carry ammo that are available seem to contain, at most, one pocket that would hold 3 or 4 centerfire rifle shells. I have not seen any leather sling of any apparent quality that has either some number of .22 LR loops or a few shotshell loops. So the thought is to buy a nice suede lined sling like an old Bianchi or another current brand and find some .22 loops on some sort of leather strip and sew the strip to the outside of the sling.

I would dread trying to make even 10 loops in .22 LR caliber for such a project. I have rudimentary leather working skills, with the key word being rudimentary. I've made several leather holsters, and modified dozens more to work with guns for which no well fitting holsters could be found. But I've never made ammo loops, and .22 caliber might not be the place to start my loop making. Maybe something bigger, like in the forty caliber range.

Another cool product I noticed at the cowboy leather websites was that many leather makers sell something called a "loading strip", which is simply a strip of leather that holds some 10 to 20 cartridges. There are several designs, some that hang and some that wrap over belts. The purpose is some SASS rule about how you can carry spare ammo.

But the point is, a one sided loading strip would almost fit perfect, or could easily be made to do so, as something to add to a sling for a ready made cartridge loop. You just have to have someone sew the loading strip to the sling and BOOM, you've got ammo.

Tat's a couple of ideas about carrying ammo on a combination rifle/shotgun. If you have any ideas or know of leathersmiths who might entertain custom work at a reasonable price for what I mention in this post, please comment their name and contact info. Thanks!

Sunday, May 15, 2011


In the current issue of American Handgunner, they have an advertisement with their spokesman, Gunny, talking about him meeting a guide in deepest, darkest Africa carrying a well-used 20 year old Glock. The ad says:

"On my last trip to Africa, I noticed my guide had an old Glock sidearm, so I offered to
get him a new one." He said "No thanks. I've carried this one in the bush everyday for
twenty years. It has saved my life five times. It's the only pistol I'll ever carry."

You can go to the digital edition page of the American Handgunner here and see the ad at pages 24-25. You'll have to flip through the online magazine to page 25 to find the ad, and the online access, which is free, is very cool and is one reason why AH is one of my favorite gun magazines. Roy Huntington has assembled a talented if not legendary group of modern day handgun scribes and his massive interaction with the magazine ensures it's excellence.

So my question is, in this series of ads entitled GLOCK AMAZING STORIES, how come they didn't have a picture of the guide and his gun?

How about letting us know what generation it was and what model? 

I say How 'bout?

How about hearing some of those stories about how the Glock saved his life FIVE TIMES? I want to hear those stories. So do a lot of other folks, I'd venture a guess.

Folks at Glock, I already know all about Glock reliability. After carrying numerous reliable and critically acclaimed handguns of the day as a police officer, when the Model 21 was introduced there were no tears in my eyes as a competitive shooter as the 1911 faded away in the rear view mirror in the spring of 1992. And so it's been since then. The street cred of Glock is "Pull trigger, goes boom."

So what kind of rig does this guide use to carry his Glock every day? How many extra mags, if any, does this guide carry with him? Does he carry a long arm and if so what kind and caliber, or is the Glock his sole weapon? What kind of ammo and bullet does he use in his weapon?

These are the things we want to know.

I mean, just mentioning this, I know this guy told his story to  Gunny. Let's here the whole story, Glock. Or as much of it as you can tell without putting him in jeopardy.

Most important though, I'm curious about whether this is man or beast we're talking about here that the Glock saved his life from, because either are equally possible in Africa. Now if we're talking man, then I could see any type of Glock being used, but I'd be betting on the 17 or the 19, due to the popularity and availability of 9mm ammo around the world. But, if were talking dangerous situations involving a beast and not man and the Glock saved his life 5 times, then I'd really like to know the caliber. Since .45 ACP or 10 mm or .45 GAP are the largest calibers that Glock makes guns in, it would seem a guide in the African bush would be carrying one of those calibers, to maybe do some double duty on two and four legged threats.

Who knows. We don't know if this guy is killing humans in self defense as a bush guide or whether cheetahs or lions or any other number of meat eating animals have bum rushed this guide and lost against the bite of his Glock.

Did it save his life because the guide stumbled upon a band of poachers and was able to run them off and safely extricate himself from the situation at gunpoint without firing a shot?

Or was he attacked by said poachers, weary of his interference with their illegal actions and weary of our guide's good citizenship, and guide threw down on the poachers with some 33 round extended 9mm magazines until our hero emerged unscathed from battle with the nefarious killers of animals?

There are many possible scenarios, all of which would be highly interesting to Glock enthusiasts like me and to the general handgunning public, regardless of their temperature on Glock pistols.

But Glock just throws a teaser with this ad.

Now, if someone at Glock reads this post and runs it up the flagpole there at corporate, the first thing you need to do is to decide NOT to try to cover this topic in the Glock Annual magazine that comes out. I know your intentions are good, but it's a catalog with a bunch of hype written by paid writers (and not feature writers but technical writers and PR writers).

Glock should get some leading handgun writers and bloggers who are Glock believers and have them do some articles. And something like this guide's story, with accompaning pictures of the places and scenes of these events, would translate into an ad campaign that would really catch the interest of the target audience.

I suppose there is a chance that this guide might risk prosecution or retaliation if the life saving exploits of his Glock involved other humans, and if so I understand then keeping all the details a big secret.

Still, he's got a story to tell, and I think I'd like to hear it.



I like it. I like it a lot. I guess that's because I AM retro myself. No, I've changed with the times. See, I do blogging and email and I'm a websurfaholic. I love the information access of the internet. It's like an encyclopedia of all things, and I love how I can skip from one subject to another without getting another volume of the Brittania down from the shelves as I had to do as a kid.

I've been a reader of the venerable Field and Stream Magazine for at least 40 years, since I was in elementary school. Soon, by junior high school, I was a subscriber to F&S and Outdoor Life, among other magazines like Downbeat! and Guns and Ammo and Scuba Diver and Dirt Bike. Later, magazines like Hot Rod! and other car magazines would dominate my late teens, but back then and even now, I still read F&S quite often. Although for many years OL was my favorite, sometime in the last decade F&S became my purchase at the grocery store, based on the articles in it.

So this month, at the local grocery, the intentional "going retro for a month" tactic employed by F&S really worked on my subconscious. I didn't think when I looked at the cover that F&S was telling me the issue was a "retro" special issue. No, when I looked at it I though how odd it was that a normal inexpensive jonboat was on the cover.

Maybe it's the fact I read so many of the magazines over and over back then, keeping them for months and often years as a reference point, going back for info recalled about fishing or hunting or boating.

I still have a favorite issue of F&S I've kept since the early 70's, with a story about a Golden Trout fishing adventure in California's High Sierras that looked very cool. To be fair, I've kept one OL mag as well from that era, with a story about a family vacation to the Gila National Wilderness in New Mexico. In both cases, they were great stories, better pictures and all of that allowed me to daydream about being there. And to go places like that when I grew up, which I have.

So I realize that F&S must chase their younger demographic, no doubt elusive these days like all else, but I wish they'd just return to the retro concept, say about 50% worth in each issue. Some retro covers. Some articles about retro guns and fishing gear and tactics and articles from the past, supplemented with current day updates.

I really liked the cover and the layout and the content of the Retro F&S issue. I wish they'd do it more often.  And it would have been very nice to have seen them flesh out the 1911 diagram they did with a nice long article about all the tidbits that were in the diagram.

That's one of the problems with lots of magazines dealing with popular subjects. They keep their stories and articles short because they don't think the readers have the attention span for longer material. If it's an interesting subject and it's well written, I like longer articles.

Now, about attention spans, what were you saying?

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Showing a Tex Shoemaker and Sons Holster Model 59 HM

Monica Belluci with rare pearl grips on her COP loaded with silver bullets from The Matrix Reloaded



Through a series of good luck, I recently acquired one of these pistols, a four shot, four barreled derringer chambered in .357 Magnum. Now, there's a lot of internet lore out there about these guns, and even as the internet was in it's infancy when the company making these pistols went under in the mid-90's, I've heard lots of tales over the years.

About 15 years ago, a good friend owned one of these guns, and didn't want his wife to know he had it, so he asked me to keep it for awhile. I ended up shooting it a great deal as well as carrying it as an CCW. I also found great use for his gun in the field, loaded with snake shot, it did a fine job of dispatching two water moccasins while stock tank fishing in deep East Texas.

Ultimately, the COP pistol of my friend returned home to him, and over the last 15 years I've looked at them selling on line every now and then and thought about getting one. That's because I don't think they are a terrible pistol at all. I think they are a highly functional and useful self defense weapon. My experiences with this gun have been 100% reliable in terms of functioning and with very good accuracy at self defense distances (up to 25 feet, but more commonly from 5 to 15 feet).

Again, I've only had this gun a few days, but I expect based on the condition of this new gun [excellent with great bores (4 of them!)] that it'll be the same as my friend's gun from 15 years ago.

Back when the COP was introduced, it was a small concealable gun in terms of the powerful cartridge it shoots. It's flatter than a j frame cylinder, at least "in feel" in the way it carries in an IWB holster, and the edges are well rounded. It feels as if it was milled from two pieces of solid stainless steel. There is nothing shakey or "skinny" or thin or underbuilt on this gun. Obviously, that's what makes it a heavy gun but again, mass is your friend when shooting a .357 Magnum cartridge, particularly from a teeny gun.

The design of the handgrip is something I like on a small pistol, and in terms of grip size it compares right on with a flat bottomed magazine Glock Model 26 Subcompact or the Beretta PX3 Storm Subcompact using the magazine without the 3rd finger extension. The bottom of the handgrip has a hook portion, as you can see in the photos above, that sort of firms up the perch of the ring finger on the gun and grip itself, and it also acts to support the little finger, which is otherwise dangling in space.

So I find the COP grip much more firm than that of a Glock Model 26 without a Pearce Grip Extension (a great and CHEAP product, by the way, that turns the Glock 26 and other subcompacts into a "perfect grip" handgun, at least for me).

Rather than think of this gun as a bad or unsafe design (as many so called experts on the internet would have you believe), once I share with you the story of their design, and their designer, I think you'll agree with me that it was designed by a competent gun designer and is in fact a safe and functioning design for a self defense gun.

In fact, when you begin studying the work of the designer of the COP, you'll see that for decades before the COP was a reality, he was designing other cutting edge military assault and insurgency weapons with multiple barrels as shown in the pictures above.

First off, rumors abound on the internets ("I seen it, I seen it, I swears I did") about the COP discharging either all four barrels at once or two barrels at once. A look at the schematic and the design of the gun will show that this is likely impossible, barring some ammo/primer freak ignition unrelated to the gun itself.

The gun has four firing pins, one for each barrel, and a rotating striker that is activated by a heavy DAO trigger pull. There is no safety mechanism save for the DAO trigger mechanism, but it's a serious DAO pull and long and hard enough not only to keep a child from pulling the trigger but many adults as well.

I've found the trigger pull to be heavy but smooth travel and with predictable point of ammo ignition. Again, it's not like shooting any other kind of gun around. I have a hard time calling it a derringer, because to me it little resembles in form or function a derringer. In fact, the only attribute it shares with a derringer is the stacked barrels.

It is my very limited understanding from being a normal person with common sense (and not someone claiming to be knowledgeable about gun design), and from looking at my friend's COP disassembled, that until the trigger is engaged, the rotating striker is not able to have the force to strike the stationary firing pin until the spring is cocked via pulling the heavy DAO trigger.

Which means that internet follies about this gun having issues with multiple barrel ignitions/discharge or accidental discharges upon dropping should be over at snopes.

It is shaped like, and looks like, a small auto pistol. It is compared by the maker with a .25 auto pistol, but to be accurate, it'd have to be a .25 auto pistol on steroids. The COP is a thick gun. It's a solid gun that weighs 28 oz. unloaded.

The COP reminds me much more of the equally unique self defense handgun called the Semmerling LM4, which was a .45 ACP gun remarkably similar in appearance to the COP that was cocked manually via moving the front of the slide back and forth to eject and chamber a round from a 4 round magazine. I mean, look at the Semmerling and look at the COP and tell me they don't look alike! Here's an American Handgunner review of the Semmerling, in case you're interested. I beleive some more of these guns were made again in the recent past by the derringer maker in Waco, The American Derringer Corp.

I don't know about you, but assuming you are desirous of shooting a small handgun loaded with .357 magnum cartridges, you don't want a light gun. Not me anyway. I've shot the S&W j frame 12.5 wunder .357's, and although they're a joy to carry, a few shots of full on magnum ammo was all I really cared to shoot.

So based upon my looking at the design of this gun, since the firing pins are not under pressure (except the one with the rotating striker actually behind it), I fail to see how more than one barrel could accidently discharge either in a dropping event or when shooting the gun normally.

I found a copy of the manual to this gun online, and was astonished to know that the maker strongly advises that shooters only shoot the gun in a one-handed hold, rather than the two handed hold I generally shoot defensively with and was taught thirty years ago. The manual mentions that muzzle blast or a bullet could injure the supporting hand if it ventures too far in front of the triggerguard.

That's nice to know, since way back when I borrowed my friend's COP, at least 2/3rds of the shots were fired in a two handed hold. I did shoot the gun with one hand, as per my usual practice regimen, but I had no problems with slippage or my hand being too far in front of the triggerguard. Then again, I have a long used almost instictual hold that positions one hand directly on top of the other, with the support hand completely wrapped around the gripping hand and not using the triggerguard for support.

As wiki indicates, the COP was designed by Robert Hillberg, who had previously designed some extremely cool firearms. Mr. Hillberg is responsible for the insanely cool Wildey .45 Auto gas-operated pistol, the Whitney Wolverine, the Browning BPS shotgun, the Colt Defender Mark 1 eight barreled combat shotgun and the Winchester Liberator pistol, among others.

So we can first assume that based upon the success and the acclaim by users of the other guns, particularly the Wildey handgun, that Mr. Hillberg is no dummy when it comes to guns. There is some material, all interesting, about his life as a gun designer.

You can go to this 1956 edition of Guns Magazine and find an article about Mr. Hillberg from way back then. He works for Colt, and Pratt and Whitney and Republic Aviation. Here's the link to one of his many patents on firearms, and this patent is for what appears to be the firing mechanism for the COP and the abstract was filed in 1983.

Here's another internet page with some interesting information about Mr. Hillberg and the Winchester Liberator. Mr. Hillberg became known for his insurgency weapons and their excellent design, with excellence being defined by the terms reliability and real work funtion.

In my next post, I'll write about the holster options I've discovered for this hard to fit gun, and trust me, it is one of those "in between" guns that is very hard to fit. There were not, I suspect, that many holsters made for it to begin with, and I've only seen a couple of examples, which thanfully are simple enough that with a little initiative I could make one myself from leather.

And I'll do some more researching on the COP specifically and on it's interesting designer Mr. Hillberg and his gun designing life.

I hope that some of this history of the designer of the COP opens the eyes of some who have looked down on it in the past. It's a solid gun. It's not cheaply made and it's well made. The trigger design might not please those who like a light single action trigger but that kind of rig wouldn't work on this gun anyway. There has to be some kind of force to get the spring to get sufficient energy to both rotate and cock the striker, hence the DAO trigger, which also serves as the safety mechanism, at least as far as I'm concerned.

I'll be writing another post about holsters I've found for the COP and those that I'm looking for as well as what I plan to make from scratch or even fashion from another holster. I'll also do a follow up part two for this post at some point in the near future with more facts and figures and specs and maybe, just maybe if'n I can get off'n my lazy rear end, some actual real bonafide pictures by me.



In surfing the web and doing some research and learning about combination rifles and shotguns, particularly the Savage Model 24-V, I've come across some interesting sites with reviews of these guns and some others. I previously posted that no one is making combination rifle/shotguns and selling them in the US, and I did find one company, Brno, owned by CZ that makes a highly expensive large bore rifle and 12 gauge shotgun combo gun. Not sure if they are sold in the US but they are making these guns and the one price I saw was in the three thousands.

Here's a great and well-written review of two Savage 24 Combo rifles by John Dunn and A.K. Church. Here's a great page about the Springfield M6 and another also on the M6

Here's one by Beartooth Bullets and it is an excellent discussion not only of the utility of the Savage 24 but some talking about the .22/20 vs. the .223/20. He also mentions, as I have found, that the 20 gauge models are lighter than the 12 gauge models, and for that he prefers the 20 gauge. He says if he lived anywhere other than where he lived and carried the gun in the field that he'd use the .223/20 rather than the .22/20 that he currently favors.

I'll note that I've been looking for both a rifle sling that holds spare ammo (preferably .22 LR) as well as a leather lace on buttstock shell holder that holds both 20 gauge shells and a few .22 shells, so that the gun is always ready to go. Several of the guns in the Beartooth Bullet article have some nice slings with shell holders, and in the pictures of the two gun review linked above by Dunn and Church, you'll see that both guns have a nifty leather buttstock shell holder holding both shotgun and .22 shells. They give the name and phone number of the maker of these items, Baldknobby Holsters, and I can't find any current reference to them on the internets. I may call the phone number, but I hesitate to do that.

So in surfing the web looking for slings and/or buttstock shell holders that can or will accomodate both shotshells and some .22 cartridges, I can't find anything that holds both. In fact, although there are a ton of shotshell buttstock holders and numerous for larger rifle cartridges, there are virtually none for .22 cartridges.

So I may have to buy a sling or buttstock holder already set up to take shotshells and then add a few .22 loops myself out of leather.

So maybe if I decide to start making holsters and such again I'll develop some items like a combination shell holder or sling since it doesn't appear that anyone is offering products to meet this need.

Meanwhile, what's a good scope for the combination rifle/shotguns? I've heard something referred to as a shotgun scope, and I have no idea what that is but would like to learn more about scopes for combination guns.

UPDATE: I got tired last night before I finished this post and left out a few links. These are excellent articles by Zach talking about his new combination rifle/shotgun and others he has. As you can see, Zach came to the party of liking combo rifle/shotguns before I did, and knows a whole lot more. Just check out his ammo kit on the Springfield M6. Cool, huh?

Zach's Stevens Model 22-410 combo is a good recent place to start, and truly I recommend any gun guy or gal take some time, put Zach's blog in your favorites, and when you are looking to do some interesting reading about guns and firearms, as well as a plethora of other subject, go to Zach's blog and read his archives of gun reviews.

I don't know what Zach did for a living in years prior to now, but it's my feeling that Zach should be scribin' for one of the gun magazines, imho. If he wasn't a writer in his work life before blogging, he is a writer now. Here's a great post with some very cool pics of his Springfield M6.

One major source I omitted above was the which has a plethora of information. It appears it could use some livening up with some more current activity, but there's some good stuff there.

Here's another well-written tribute to the Savage 24 over at out your backdoor

Friday, May 13, 2011


There are  questions that I have about combination rifle/shotguns and the fact that none are currently being manufactured or even made elsewhere and sold in America. Why are none of the companies continuing to make this great idea for a firearm? 

Second, why are there no intermediate or custom shop copies of these guns being made, instead of the basic lower grade quality that most of these rifles exhibit?  A common complaint with the Savage 24 and other combo guns is based upon inadequate design of the way the rifle barrel is mounted, accuracy suffers. Surely this could be rectified through design and modern technology. I'm sure there are people who could afford some over the top engraved and otherwise accurized custom shop versions of these guns, but I'd want an intermediate grade gun made of stainless steel with a nice stock. Something more than the basic entry-level version of combo guns that Savage made for years.

Third, why has no company marketed the Savage 24 equivolent to the legendary Thompson Contender pistol with interchangeable barrels? By this I mean that the same receiver could be used for different barrel combinations. You could have a .22/20 and a .30-30 or .223/20 if you, like me, prefer the lighter weight 20 gauge gun frame/receiver over the heavier one used with the 12 gauge model of the Savage 24 series. Since many of the variants of the Savage Model 24 can be taken apart at the barrel-receiver junture into two pieces, it begs common sense as to why no company ever sold a combination gun where you could switch barrels. It's an idea whose time has come, and I'll elaborate on that in a moment.

Fourth, if there had to be just one combo gun made for marketing and sales reasons, I would think a take apart travel gun would be the one to make, as the kind of person who would be interested in a combination gun to begin with would often be the kind of outdoorsman or fisherman like myself who would take such a firearm on fishing expeditions. If there was just one model, a .223/12 gauge would be the way to go. That's two of the most popular calibers in America and although.30-30 is up there and might even be more popular than .223 in America,  the .223 size has the advantage of being able to chamber a .22 long rifle shell with the use of a cartridge adapter.

In terms of a multi-purpose camping and fishing and outdoors gun, having three potential calibers to shoot (.22 Long Rifle, .223 and a shotgun shell in either 20 or 12 gauge) out of one gun makes this combination versatile indeed. I'm guessing Remington and Savage discontinued these combo gun models due to poor sales, but it would seem if a mid-quality gun were made in this one configuration that enough outdoors enthusiasts might buy it to provide a profitable line for a rifle making company.

I want to revisit the third question and discussion from above. I have thought for years, every now and then and then recently about the great design of the Thompson Contender, and how it was a shame that the company had never branched into either a double barreled weapon with interchangeable barrels/calibers. Billy Ray and I used to discuss this in depth when we were shooting my two Contenders A LOT back in the mid-80's.

And it's a logical progression that a combo gun like the Savage 24 that already breaks apart at the receiver/barrel juncture is a prime candidate for having replaceable barrels with different calibers. The lighter weight 20 gauge receiver could be paired up with one of several popular calibers, or the rifle caliber could be paired with a smaller .410 gauge barrel.

The larger 12 gauge receiver used in the Savage 24 line could have combinations with both the .410 and .20 gauge, since the larger receiver used with 12 gauge guns can handle the pressure of smaller shells but not vice-versa. It's significanly heavier in weight than the smaller receiver used in 20 gauge guns, and given preferences at this time in my life in a plinking gun, I'd go for the lighter in weight as well as recoil 20 gauge.

The key point is, one could have a lightweight, take apart gun with two barrels that would allow the use of 4 different kinds of ammo: a .22 LR/.410 barrel and a .223/20 or .30-30/20, for example. Different situations would allow use of different barrels and calibers.

Snakes. Predators. Game Animals. One gun for them all. It might not be for everybody, but based on the crazy high prices I've seen on the gun auction sites for some of these guns, they are quite popular and people are willing to pay high prices for excellent condition guns. And these are not collectors guns. I suspect most of these folks are buying these guns to shoot, not to invest in.

So maybe one day soon some gun company will have the idea to make a combo gun or two in their line.

Here's my dream gun:

-A decent mid-quality gun with heavy duty parts.
-Stainless steel receiver and finish on barrels
- It doesn't need rails all over it, but a detachable scope rail would be nice as a stock feature. A real "thinker" that wouldn't cost a lot extra to offer is a shoot through scope mount/rail that allows use of the stock sights with a scope mounted.
-An 18" set of barrels.
-The shotgun barrel could be steel, but the rifle barrel should be made of some lighter weight alloy to allow it to be made larger and mounted in a better fashion to the shotgun barrel. Pundits of combo guns always complain that rifle accuracy suffers because of the mounting method of the rifle barrel.
-Having some spare ammo storage in the bottom part of the stock would be in line with the purpose and use of the gun.
-Pre-drilled for scope mount and sling.
-Be innovative and pre-drill either the side of the front portion of the foregrip stock or the bottom of the shotgun barrel and include a short rail FREE so that the user could install a flashlight or laser or both, since both would be handy to have as the "go to" varmit gun around any household that has one. Varmits are usually out at night anyway. If you don't want to go this route, how about including a METAL clamp mount with short rail(s) attached that can be clamped to the front of the shotgun barrel for this purpose. Something durable that works. Not plastic. 
-Speaking of innovation, how about partnering with Hogue or Pachmayr and making a synthetic stock and foregrip out of the infamous recoiling absorbing material in their grips. Again, the durability of the material in these products are in line with the purpose and use of this gun by outdoorsmen, and would render great service under adverse weather and environmental conditions but also would provide a solid and comfortable grip as well as major recoil relief. I would also think that the Pachmayr and Hogue grip material that I'd want the foregrip and stock made of would absorb shock if they were banged against an object or dropped, or at least would transmit less shock to the gun than a wood or hard synthetic stock would do. I also think a properly constructed Pachmayr stock would not shatter or break if dropped or banged hard, as I've seen some wood stocks do. I would think an interior polymer frame with an exterior Pachmayr grip covering would be just excellent.

Right now, I'm thinking that a gun in .223/12 or 20 would be a damn near perfect combination, and that using a cartridge adapter for .22 L.R. as well as slugs for the shotgun would make this gun versatile for many situations.

And that's it. That's the dream gun.