Tuesday, June 21, 2011


We've likely all expressed that sentiment at one time or another, in profession of our love for another and how long that love will last. But for the first time in my life, rivers are running dry in my State of Texas. Rivers that I know well and that are beloved among many people, and indeed, depended upon in many ways by many people and animals.

I'm talking about LARGE rivers. Big and powerful rivers. Rivers that have not run dry in my parent's lifetime or in one case, in over 100 years. Rivers that I've spent an awful lot of recreational time on. Rivers that I've seen low, slow and even pathetically trickling in parts, but never dry.

Two Texas Hill Country rivers that I'm thinking of specifically, the GUADALUPE RIVER above Canyon Lake in the Ingram/Hunt area, and the LLANO RIVER. Both were featured in articles last week discussing this unfortunate result of the long running drought we're plagued with in Texas right now. You can also read about what is called the Lower Guadalupe River, that is, what comes out of CANYON DAM, which according to the articles is flowing at 17% of regular capacity.

KXAN TV NEWS IN AUSTIN tonight said the Llano River is having it's last gasp. Llano has two reserviors outside of town for such emergencies, but  the fear last week was about excess algea growth prohibiting their use, meaning trucking in water as the Statesman article said.

Note to self: A Roof/Cistern water collection, storage and distribution system, purification system and a windmill driven water well with a backup electric pump are a must at the next abode or more likely, the vacation/retirement abode we're seeking right now.

So I have lots of friends in Llano, several of them engaged in the cattle business. Their places front the Llano River outside of town, and if it's running dry, that means their cattle are having to drink from tanks that might or might not have dry wells right now.

Water is, of course, the lifeblood in the River of Life, no matter whether it is the Llano or the Guadalupe or any other number of rivers, creeks and streams that have run dry or are running dry.  

The Hill Country is full of aquifers, wonderful underground water being filtered through limestone and other rock and coming out as close to pure as can be through springs mostly. The Texas Hill Country is an expansive area, bigger than many other states, and when rains are plentiful, the often harsh yet engaging landscape of the Hill Country is supplanted with plentiful water from springs for mostly gin clear creeks and rivers.

Growing up in Houston, learning to fish in sometimes brackish waters of the Gulf Coast bays and canals as well as the sand colored waters of the lakes, creeks and rivers around Houston. Occasionally you would chance upon a lake or pond that was actually spring fed, and we Houston boys in our pre-teens, about 6th grade, would marvel at the fact WE COULD SEE the bass swimming around in the water.

So after my first family spring break trout fishing trip to the Guadalupe River in the 7th grade or so, I was hooked on fishing "attractive" waters. By that term attractive I mean water that at least looks clean, whether it actually is or not, and that smells clean. Spring fed cool waters, green and blue and clear, rushing over rapids and rocks and life growing and flourishing like an oasis, all around it's edges. 

And life underwater. Vivid underwater life. Guadalupe bass. Smallmouth bass (unheard of in Texas until 40 years ago or so, except on the Devil's River where they were privately stocked before that, I think). Stocked Rainbow and Brown trout. Largemouth bass. Hybrid bass. Various panfish and perch. Alligator Gar. And the ever present channel and yellow and blue catfish.

Being a huge Texas recreational river, the Guadalupe also has some huge fish in it. Once, many years ago, when taking a canoe through a side channel of a stand of cypress, I reached my paddle down in the green, clear water to push off of the extended root of the huge Cypress tree so that we would clear an obstacle.

Only it wasn't a tree root. It was a big old catfish, and I could feel it move through my paddle when I pushed on it. We were both surprised, I think. I'm guess 40 or 50 pounds, it was a big one, and it had to be a yellow cat and not a channel because he was big and thick. I could see enough of it to see that it was:
a. a big fish
b. an old fish
c. a powerful fish.
d. with a flat head.
So take that lesson next time you go fishing on a swift river. Them monster cats like to stake a claim under the tree roots and undercut banks. I knew that years ago, that all river fish seek shelter and protection in such areas, but wasn't even thinking about that when it happened.

I've got more river stories than I have time to tell or that the reader would have interest in reading. Some involve catfishing, and some involve drinking. Some involve various canoeing and kayaking exploits, with one of near death (for me) proportions, which was a repeat of what had happened to Billy Ray the year before in the same kayak, at the same location of the same rapid with the same kayaking buddies. Billy had no stitches like I did but did blow out a disc in his back, so that might be a story worth telling.

Probably wouldn't be much danger in Billy Ray and I doing some kayaking in the Guadalupe right now, except getting in and out of a kayak is a pain in the rear under the best of circumstances, and if you run aground sideways in shallow conditions, extrication might be wet and unpleasantly muddy.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


I was at the Academy store the other week shopping with the family and of course spent some time at the gun counter. I know my wife shudders when we go to Academy for sporting goods for El Fisho Jr. or for family shoes or clothes, as they have great selections of both along with good and sometimes really good prices.

And of course they have an "ok" gun department and a pretty good fishing department as well as camping and boating and the other things one would expect at a major line sporting goods store. Their prices can be decent on some guns, and I noticed a new item in their handgun inventory, the REGENT R100 1911A1 .45 ACP FROM UMAREX USA. Go to that link there and read an excellent albeit brief review of this pistol by the excellent gun writer/blogger Jeff Quinn over at GUNBLAST, then come on back here and read some of my ramblings about this handgun.

Ok, now I've never known Quinn or his bunch to sweetheart a bunch of reviews. I've found them to be credible handgun reviewers, which some magazines and websites and blogs are not. For what it's worth, I enjoy their site and have perused it thoroughly. Their articles have influenced purchases I've made and have certainly brought things to mind to think about regarding possible gun purchases and uses and things to look for and and problems to spot. We like GUNBLAST and so do all the friends I've turned on to it.

So'se there I am at Academy having skulked away from my bride amid her concerns of what I might find in the firearm department. I spy, as I said, a new gun for their inventory, a 1911. I get a look at it and see it's from Umarex. It's a gun of tight construction, the steel felt good, and the throat work and slide enlargement were done well. It was a well put together gun, and the only thing I'd change about it pronto is the puny front sight. No bueno. Bad news. Yes, to be true to the 1911A1 I guess that's what it had on it, but the first thing to go on that pistol should be the sights and replaced with at least a set of white dot front and white outline or dot rear sights, preferably night sights.

I've had some older 1911A1's as well as some kind of grip-safety-less Star in .45 ACP that had the puny front sights, and they did just fine for what they were intended, which is short range shooting. I could hit a soda can at 25 yards more often than not, and my misses were very close, so the puny front sight is a serviceable concept.

Then after reading Quinn's review and seeing this pistol I saw one out at the range. The particular range I was at is a gun dealer as well and has a deal on their demo guns that you get five shots for $5. So I demo'd this gun and found it to be a nice shooting firearm. I was shooting military ball ammo out of it, and the gun handled it well. I wasn't shooting 1 1/2" groups at 25 feet much less 25 yards (as Jeff Quinn did in the review), but I got a group of 3 shots into a 4" mid-torso target grouping and was very pleased with that.

I've always been fascinated with the rare inexpensive handgun or firearm that functions very well but is sort of a "sleeper" because it's low on the price scale and because usually these guns tend to be somewhat utilitarian.

For example, in the late 80's and early 90's, you could buy various Norinco firearms made in China. All of the Norinco guns I've owned or shot were of excellent quality, but were cheap in price. I've owned a Norinco AK-47 and have several friends who got theirs, like me, for under $200 pre-ban, way back when.

At some point in that time frame, Norinco came out with a parkerized 1911A1 clone that was low priced (maybe around $350 or so) but high performing. Pretty soon all of my friends who are shooters were buying these guns. Of course, back then, we were all buying guns of different types due to fears of the ban that was coming on certain types of weapons.

It's my understanding, and I could be wrong, but the excellent and inexpensive Norinco 1911A1 got banned as a result of who made it and where it was made. Now, I do try to avoid buying Chinese products and have for a long time, but I'm afraid I will bend the rules now and then for something like this gun.

Because the Norinco 1911A1 was Glocklike in it's ammo consumption and reliability and accuracy, it became a favored "fun gun" for my friends and I. We'd buy some bulk .45 ACP ammo and go to one of our places in the country and do some .45 shooting with some old school SA 1911's.

For the person trying to build a gun collection on a budget, the Regent R100 1911A1 is a great choice for a foundation builder. Who of us that actually works/did work for a living is not on a budget nowadays?  I've got one of these on the short list after shooting it. Yes, I've owned and own much finer firearms than this particular gun, but this gun is well constructed. I would replace the sights immediately but that's the only change I'd make.

After seeing and then briefly road testing the Regent R100, in talking to friends I've found several folks I know have bought these Umarex .45's as their glovebox gun or their farmtruck gun. 

One of them, we'll call him "The Country Gentleman", caught up not in western shooting but in the whole Texas idea of having a 1911 in a western style rig a'la "The Wild Bunch", got a rig for his Umarex (or his Norinco or any other of his 1911's) and uses it for his home place gun. He hangs his rig on his coatrack in his living room and straps it on whenever he's heading outside. He lives on a big place out in the country, and the law is a long way away under the best of circumstances. Although like most country folks, he has a locking gate and some cameras on his place to help him watch for trespassers, would be home invaders, cattle thieves or East Texas meth heads looking for an easy score. That's the reality in Texas today, folks.

Another friend, who we'll call "The Houston Cattleman", also a member of the Norinco club of days gone by, keeps his in an old green army web belt rig with leather army surplus (black, non-hanger, alice clipped to the belt) flap holster and canvas magazine pouch. There's usually some kind of folding knife de jour as well, in a case on the belt. One day might be a Buck 110, the next an Applegate-Fairborne. Full of surprises and super well maintained *blasts* from the past in terms of firearms and edged weaponry. I've been friends, dang good friends with The Houston Cattleman for more than 25 years now, and he still surprises me with what he pulls out of his gun safe(s) that he's owned for years that I've never heard about or seen.

He's got another green army surplus web belt that's long enough to hang from or across your shoulder like a bandalier that has a machete and alice clip holder, 2 army issue canteens, a mag pouch for his *black rifle collection* or shotgun shells (which ever he has with him, and he has *extensive* weaponry to choose from) and some kind of general purpose fixed KBar type knife.

That's his tractor and farm truck gun belts, and goes around his property with him when tending to his cattle. Again, this friend has a good many upscale firearms he could be carrying with him, but enjoys shooting the inexpensive .45's and thinks they are a great knockaround/glovebox gun. He can take them to cattle sales with him, his web belt rig and gun rolled up and locked in his glovebox. Worst case scenario and it gets stolen, he's lost $500 vs. losing a far more expensive gun.

Both of these fellows are like me. They won't carry a gun for defense, even snake defense (they might say ESPECIALLY SNAKE DEFENSE), if it's not reliable. They are gonna shoot a gun, and fairly extensively if possible, before it becomes an actual carry gun.

Both The Country Gentleman and The Houston Cattleman have proclaimed this gun is "another Norinco" and in our crowd, that's a big compliment. That means it eats what you feed it without problem, it's reasonably accurate given it's sights, and it has no issues.

I know lots of folks are into highly modified 1911's. You gotta have this, you've gotta have that, and if you don't have this this this this and that by this certain gunsmith then YOU ARE DOOMED to fail if that dreaded time of a self-defense gunfight occurs and you're armed with a gun deemed inadequate by the 1911 gurus.

Here's my take on it. I've owned many, many Colt 1911's. All have had jamming issues with hollow point ammo. Some more than others, but at one time or another, all of them jammed. The most expensive Colt Gold Cup I ever owned, a race gun, that had been worked on by a gunsmith with a sterling rep, jammed like no other auto I've ever owned. It even jammed on ball ammo. It was a far better gun before I had it worked on, but even then, it still had a few jams.

I've been of the belief for awhile that the way the gun designer designed the gun is the way the gun is meant to be used. This means some of the modifications common to custom 1911's were not the idea of John Browning. I don't foreclose all mods that Browning didn't include, but I see nothing wrong with more or less trying to stick to the original design in a gun and see how it works. It works well in the Regent R100.

The Regent, as mentioned by Jeff Quinn, has an updated safety device that renders the firing pin inoperable until the trigger is pulled. That's an improvement that every 1911 that will be carried Condition One - Cocked and Locked needs to have. Really, any 1911 needs that safety feature. Other than that, sights included, it's a pretty fair rendition of the old fella.

And yes, a gun like this will have some "inferior" parts, according to the .45 gurus. Probably some MIM parts to hit this price point, almost certainly.  Something I've always wanted to do, and have never done, was make the ultimate *non-fancy* combat 1911. By non-fancy I mean no fancy BBQ gun with a flashy finish or all kinds of throated this and polished that and ambi safety and extended and flared magazine wells and custom engraving and hand checkered front straps

If you've got a good functioning gun like a Norinco or Umarex, a bargain basement gun that eats all ammo and functions flawlessly, then don't go changing any parts, MIM or otherwise. Put some combat sights (I like Novak) on it, some laser grips of your choosing. If something goes south later, or if you decide to get some trigger work done, then maybe you can replace some internals. But be sure to hang on to the old parts, since they are already "fitted" and in case there is a later failure of the new part. But my philosophy is why mess with something if it's already working?

Both The Country Gentleman and The Houston Cattleman are given assumed names because they are good freinds and know of this blog and don't want their guns being talked about. It's a Texas thing, maybe. They don't want people to know that Joe Blow has this gun or that one and connect the dots and figure out it's them.

I never messed much with the Norinco's shooting abilities past 25 yards, and rarely that far. If I get an Umarex, I doubt I'll do much shooting past 25 yards with that gun either. It's a plinker, although
The Houston Cattleman and The Country Gentleman both have bad hog problems on their places. The Country Gentleman is not running any cattle or other stock right now, so all he has to worry about is his dog getting waylaid by hogs.

But The Houston Cattleman has a fairly large and active cattle operation with several hundred head of cattle. Of course, many of those are calves and part of his life is taking care of his cattle from predators when they are small. Heck, big hogs have been known to attack full grown cows, although that's rare, but it has happened.

The Houston Cattleman often encounters herds of hogs at night when he's out checking on the cattle, because there is also an overpopulation of wolves and coyotes throughout many parts of Texas. Although the hogs are the worst problem for The Houston Cattleman ("They're just like a tick, you kain't get rid of them"), wolves and coyotes are more of a problem for his neighbors who have chicken and goat operations.

The Houston Cattleman almost always has a longarm of some sort handy on the seat of the truck or back of the tractor, but he tells me of some encounters with hogs when he's out of the truck with a flashlight checking on a water or feed trough or a water tank. The Houston Cattleman says more than one time he's rounded a corner through brush or a natural feature like a bluff or ravine and run into one or more hogs. It's then his practice with "point and shoot" with his cheap .45 auto comes in handy.

I tell him he needs a pump shotgun with buckshot and a integrated flashlight/laser in his hand or slung over his shoulder in his nocturnal cattle caretaking. He has several to chose from, both pump and auto, regular or tactical, but often chooses to carry an HK 91. But then leaves it in the truck when he's on foot at night, when the hogs are out.

So there's a different kind of take on the Regent R100 1911A1.

The only question is, do I make me a field rig like a Wild Bunch Rig or do I hit some army surplus sites and get me a web belt rig with a flap holster? 

Saturday, June 11, 2011


I bought these two books, or rather my parent's did, back in my 4th or 5th grade year. I had already read the simpler pamphlet type fishing books by Garcia that cost a $1, and they were a bit slim on information as well as pictures and travel stories to spur my imagination about future fishing adventures. These were a bit more expensive, at about $2 or so.

The Fisherman's Bible series of outdoor books which were not only full of good technical fishing information and information on gear and tackle selection but were also full of great travel stories and pictures. Published by Doubleday, they were called THE OUTDOOR BIBLES.

Some other OUTDOOR BIBLE series books you can find on other subjects are:

-Archery (by Fred Bear hissownself!)
-Deer Hunter's
-Fresh Water Fisherman's
-Skin Diver's

The Saltwater Fisherman's Bible was of interest to me. It did have some brief reference to Gulf {of Mexico} Coast fishing in it, but was a compendium of fishing opportunities from coast to coast. Over the years, in travels from east to west, some of the stuff I read in this book many times over the years came in handy when fishing in the Atlantic or the Pacific while on vacation. The Saltwater Fisherman's bible was written by Erwin A. Bauer, who along with his wife Peggy, were noted outdoorsmen, writers, photographers, fishermen, hunters and other such wildlife related pursuits.

Here's a link to find THE SALTWATER FISHERMAN'S BIBLE yourself, or do like I did when my initial copy finally fell to pieces and pick one up at a Half Price Books for $3.98. My new to me copy is a revised addition with yellow and white as shown in the bottom photo.

I personally prefer the older, black cover editions of these books which were first published in 1962, and there is really cool stuff in the gear section. In fact, I have much of the gear depicted in those photos and have had since, well, way back then. Although I supplement fishing gear now and then, I'm pretty tried and true using what has worked for me over the years, both tackle and gear and lures wise. Rods represent the biggest change, as graphite and what has followed have been too strong to ignore.

At the same time, I got a copy of the Trout Fisherman's Bible as well. It was another book in this series by different authors about various hunting and fishing and sporting endeavors. These books sold often in racks in sporting goods stores in Houston like Oshman's and in the sporting goods departments of stores like K Mart, Gibson's Discount Center, Ward's and Sears.

Again, this book was tremendously valuable to me, as well as being highly interested in the great pictures of fishing adventures that it contained. Later in the year after getting this book, and getting a fly fishing rig and a spinning rig, I was ready to go trout fishing in Colorado on vacation with the parents. Custom dicatated that we stop at various public fishing spots, of which there were many at rivers and creeks on our way to Aspen.  

Being a Texas boy with no trout to fish for and no real reading materials other than Field and Stream, Sports Afield and Outdoor Life to try to gleen the basics of trout fishing in creeks, rivers and lakes, The Bible was a big filler in of gaps in knowledge for me. I learned about things like using salmon eggs for bait, and found they worked *well* in a gin clear, strong running creek near Branson, Missouri, which was  the appropriately named "Fish Creek", and later, in a creek near Aspen. 

I can't find any biographical information on Mr. Holland right now, and if you know some I'd be very interested to know more about the lives of Erwin and Peggy Bauer and Dan Holland. I don't have that book handy right now to see if there is anything there. I do know it was published originally in 1962 and has been revised since then. Once revision I found was revised in 1979 by Dan and Gary Holland, with no further infomation found. Again, I've commonly seen this book at Half Price and it's readily available online.

Going back to Erwin Bauer and another book in this series that he authored about bass fishing. Another great book, and although there have been advances aplenty in the last 50 years since this book was written, the same basics he talks about apply, particularly if you're not fishing with the bass boat equivolent of the Starship Enterprise or to make a more current reference, not fishing with the Escalade of bass boats. 

So my advice is that if you're at all into saltwater or bass or trout fishing and you've never read these books, go to ebay or half price or amazon and get the original "old school" editions.

Just check out the coolness of the metal v-hull fishing boat depicted on the Bass Fisherman's Bible cover. Just as functional as it can be, and it's a reasonable size for one or two persons to deal with when launching and loading.

These books are all outdoor classics from the early 60's. My guess is the market was the folks like, well, my folks, who were now into their 30's with some expendable income after serving in the Korean War, going to college and law school while working full time and having kids. I know my folks were ready for some relaxation once school ended and my Dad's career started and he wasn't going going going all the time.

Fishing. Boating. Golfing. Hunting. Shooting. These were the leisure time pursuits of my parents and their friends and our neighbors. About the only thing missing from the list of book titles of hobbies that we had in Houston is BBQ'ing, and I think all those folks already had a great idea of how to do that.

Do you remember these books? Did you like them? Read them?

Friday, June 10, 2011


I do like live bait fishing, but when possible I've been a lure guy since I was in elementary school. At age 11, I got a cheap but functional bamboo fly rod outfit from the Green Stamp folks, and then bought my first Garcia spinning rod and reel and it came complete with various spinners, spoons and plastic lures with which I found some surprising success on vacations to Florida, Arkansas, Missouri and Colorado. All of these vacations took place the summer of my fifth grade year.

All of a sudden, before I was even in junior high school, I was hooked on river fishing for black bass in the swirling black waters of the Suwannee River, worm fishing for largemouths in a large Florida impoundment, trout fishing in some pristine creeks and ponds I still dream about to this day in the hills around Aspen, fishing for lake trout in Lake Tanycomo and rainbows in a pristine and appropriately named "Fish Creek" in then undeveloped Branson, Missouri, more bass fishing at Table Rock Lake in Arkansas and then trout fishing on the White River in Arkansas.

Between my 5th and 6th grades, I got A LOT of fishing all over the place. Great fishing and family fishing. 

But before, during and after all of the above mentioned adventures, I was farm pond fishing every chance I got. My dad had a lot of friends who had ranches/farms/places with ponds and lakes and creeks and river frontage, and then we soon had several places, and between all of these, I fished every chance I could.

Living near a famous golf course, I soon discovered the joys of fishing the large lakes and the small ponds on the course. We'd sneak over there at night, huddling quietly in bushes on vacant lots fronting the large 5 acre lake near our house. We used mostly bait, and found much success with bacon beleive it or not, trying to keep noise to a minimum and not fishing with lures. We caught lots of bass and catfish on bacon.

But when fishing what I'll generically call a farm pond, I have found certain lures to be very effective. Here's a few of them.


My favorite all time topwater lure is the Heddon Chugger Spook in yellow. I've caught so many fish with this lure, and topwater largemouth bass strikes are always exciting. I try to keep several of these lures in my tackle box. The great thing about this lure is, you can pop it or work it with a slow jerking wounded routine or retrieve it fast. I've found the fast retrieve to aggravate many a bass into a hard furious surface slamming strike. There's something about the red eyes and the red mouth of this lure that bothers bass and makes them want to attack it.


I have always found great success in farm ponds and creeks and rivers with the weedless plastic frog lures. They can have legs or no legs, but the Creme Burke variety have always been my favorites. These lures feature a twin upturned set of hooks and a soft plastic body that basically weighs nothing, and it glides across the tops of weeds and lily pads and other water weeds and such with east. Of course, fish are often hiding in this growth and fish like frogs.

These lures are great in weedy lakes and ponds and shorelines. In fact, some of the best fishing in any given pond or lake might be the heavy cover that affords both protection and a hiding place to prey on the next meal. It's nice to be able to throw this lure into a weedy or overgrown patch and just jerk it through as a frog would do. It's also great for boat fishing when you can cast onto the shore and then pull the frog off into the water straight on. Fish will come unglued at times and come out from underneath bank/shoreline undercuts and other cover and POUNCE on a frog. Pounce I say. 

I've never used the variety with the legs  as shown in the bottom pic but the designs and functions are the same. I prefer the more classic design. I'm not afraid of change, but I am against change simply for the sake of change. I've had great success with the original version of this lure, and they're cheap compared to the other lures I'm writing about.


This is the RAT-L-TRAP lure by Bill Lewis. It is a great lure. I've had great success with seveal colors but this one and one like it that is just a little darker green have been the most successful. You can use several different types of retrieves to fish this lure but it's a wobbler and a rattler and a diver. I prefer to pull the rod without reeling which causes this lure to wobble and dive, then while the lure is slowing rising I reel in the slack. This is also another great lure for a buzz bomb fast retrieve.

The best time I ever had with this lure was in 1999. A friend of mine whose family had owned the land in question since they came here from Italy in the early 1900's. They began cattle ranching and farming and dug sand and gravel pits on their land and got into that business as well. There was plentiful water in the area and when the pits reached anywhere from 15 to 60 feet, they hit springs that quickly filled the lakes with clear water.

There were five lakes on his property.  In any event, the largest and deepest of the lakes (way suitable for water skiing) had these huge gravel driveways going down from the shoreline to the bottom of the lake, and I found that casting down these driveways enabled me to reach the Florida black bass that my friends dad had stocked there in the 1960's. And it was this exact Rat-L-Trap that drove them crazy.

I'll mention that I've had great luck with specks in the surf and bay with this exact same lure as well. I guess it looks like a minnow and a mullet.


There are many expensive spinners that you can buy, but I've always had great results with the line of spinners called ABU spinners, which are painted spinner bodies with dots, and they have worked well for me in farm ponds. Particularly the yellow with black dots to a lesser degree, the white with black dots. Never caught anything with the black or red ones.


The venerable plastic worm has always been a good producer in Texas in waters large and small. Whether rigged lead headed bass worming style or Texas jig style or june bug style, it's a very effective lure. I only fish Creme brand worms and always have. Purple and ones with purple in them work best for me. The Scoundrel line reminds me of the first Creme worms I bought in the early 70's when plastic worm fishing was just beginning to be a craze.

I often fish worms with the rattler plastic rattle capsules shoved inside them. I know all of the *modern* obsessed amateur and pro bass tourny fisherpeople talk in terms of "hard plastics" and "soft plastics" and I'm not of that generation.

I use worms with a bullet weight on top and a worm hook inverted weedless into the worm with a rattle underneath. Work it on the bottom and over and through bottom cover and structure.


Another great way to fish what I call "complex" structure or cover (meaning there is a 75% chance I would snag my lure trying to get into a fishy looking spot and a 100% chance Billy Ray would also snag MY lure trying to fish that spot) is with a bamboo cane pole with a plastic worm rigged "Texas Style" in a jig method.

A 10 or 12 foot 3 piece cane pole can reach a worm jig in places you can't cast and where your perhaps 5-7 foot rod can't reach to jig a hole. And, if you're bank fishing, if you're not using the cane pole to jig you can rig it up as a live bait rig with a bobber, doing it old school to amuse the young 'uns that might be fishing with you. Throw some bacon on the hook and see what happens.


Any of the chartruese spinnerbaits that are out there have always done well for me on bass. I like to get the ones that have the firm monofiliment weed guard in front of the hook point that makes them semi-weedless but doesn't inhibit a biting fish. I've used a bunch of different colors from black to white and in between over the years, but for some reason I do better with this day glo version.

These are the big six lures that for the past 40 or so years have done well for me in Texas farm/ranch ponds and tanks and lakes ranging from small to 20 acres. I'll generally have at least three and sometimes six or more rigged rods with me. Three if I'm solo and six or more if I've got El Fisho and Billy Ray with me. We'll each fish something different and see what will work, then the rest of us switch lures to the winning lure (if they are biting).

If I'm carrying three rods, I'll often have a yellow, brown or green plastic frog on a spinning rig, the Heddon Chugger Spook on a spincasting or baitcasting rig, and a Rat-L-Trap on a baitcasting rig.

If those three strike out, it's time to switch out, and often if plugs and topwater don't summon any fishy interest, I find that mid-water lures like spinners and spinnerbaits and bottom lures like worm fishing sometimes do.

If it's July or August, my rods are rigged in reverse, with spinnerbait, spinner and worm up first. And yes, that's when you're early morning and late night fishing, when it's cool{er} and {like me} when fish are more likely to be active and moving around.

I've always got at least one fly rod with me, and that rod is going to rigged with either a foam rubber spider with white rubber legs in yellow or green or a Dave's Hopper grasshopper fly. Both of these patterns continually produce for me more than any other. Any survival kit should contain several each of these flies and a yellow Abu spinner.

A few other lures bear honorable mention. The Arbogast Jitterbug in green or yellow is a great lure, but it seems I do better with the Chugger Spook. Silver and gold spoons as well as Mepps silver or bronze/gold spinners are always in my tackle box and are usually the next in line if the above six fail. At one time in my teens the lizard variety of plastic worms were popular, not only with fishermen but with largemouths in my part of Texas.

I had great succuss using Creme black, purple and lime green lizards, rigged in the traditional plastic worm fishing style. Then, like a faucet, fish stopped biting them. It's like they had a meeting and decided, no, we're not going there anymore. Which is surprising because Texas has A LOT of lizards and gekos and such of all types large and small (some of which crawled in one of my air conditioner compressors some years back, shorting out the entire unit = several thousand dollars= went death wish on large lizards with a pellet gun for awhile). So one would think lizards fall in the water all the time or crawl on lily pads and such and become prey for fish.

But although I've fished over and over with plastic lizards in lakes and rivers and creeks and farm ponds large and small, I have not caught a fish on one in decades. And yet, every couple of years, I'll rig one up when fish are hitting on similar plastic worms, and NADA. Boom. Bam. Beep Be Beep beep Be beep be beep. Some kind of fish morse code goes out and all feeding ceases. BAM.

So it's a mystery why my lizard days are seeming over, and have been for quite awhile. I'm sure as soon as I finish this post I'll think of some other outstanding lures I've forgotten, and as I write this sentence, I recall the Hellbender or the Hula Popper. I'm big on old school Arbogast lures as you can see. And used to catch fish with both of those lures. So it looks like there might be a part II of this post...

Thursday, June 9, 2011


FROM: http://adjunct.diodon349.com/attack_on_usa/favorite_all_around_cf_pistol_Colt_Python_357_Mag_files/image002.jpg

Sorry for the title but it's true. Can you have too many? Of course, the answer is an immediate and assertive "NO", you can never own too many guns in general or too many snub nose revolvers specifically.

Recently, although I've proclaimed that in looking around at various Kit Guns that I might one day want to have that I didn't want a snub nose Kit Gun. And then of course, I saw a royally blued Model 43 with a 2" barrel at a gun store. It went fast, and for a reasonable price for being in excellent condition, about $450.

You know, it just looked like a good solid gun. Of course, since I already have holsters to fit a J frame and K frame, I'd have all the based covered no matter what kind of S&W Kit Gun I might find in a snub nose variety. And of course, for the longest time, I've been wanting one of them nice Model 60 snubbies in .357 stainless. Rationalizations abound.

I think it's a thing, at least with males my age and generation, that we were raised on TV cops and private eyes carrying snub nose revolvers and some of us developed a fixation on snub nose revolvers. Hawaii 5-0. Dragnet (Model 10's or 15's?). Mannix. Barnaby Jones (As I recall, he carried some kind of old school 4" or 5" tapered barrel pre-war Smith or Colt but it was still cool and so was he. He also fished a lot on the show.). And a ton of other movies and shows from back in the 60's and 70's.

My dad was carrying snub nose revolvers as he was a prosecutor and most prosecutors in the 60's and 70's were holding law enforcement officer commissions as well to enable them to carry guns, as were private eyes and reputable defense attorneys all over Houston.  Hell, most folks carried guns then and now in Houston, law abiding and otherwise.

So I grew up in an environment where it was common when you found yourself in the shotgun seat of your friend's mom's or dad's car, when you were maybe in fifth or sixth grade, to sneak a peak in their glove box and see what they were packing. We knew well to look but never touch. Ever.

But I or friends of mine would sneak a peak in that glove box because it seemed almost everyone we knew, save for the liberals, had a resident pistol in the glove box of each car. Usually some kind of .38 Special, and often a snub nose. A smattering of .25 autos and .22 revolvers and pistols. An occasional 1911.

You see, so many of the parents of my friends when I was coming up came from similar backgrounds as my folks. They were from smaller, often rural, Texas towns and had moved to Houston seeking their fortune, and many found it in the 50's and 60's and 70's when Houston was a full on raging boom town.

Their people carried guns in their vehicles back home, and that was the way it had always been. The law was often A LONG WAY AWAY back in the days when my folks grew up, and then like now, there were people that would kill you for a dollar and never blink an eye. As far as I can remember, all of my father's police friends always told me as a kid that if a law abiding person carried a pistol (which term way back then often referred to both revolver and semi-auto handguns in Houston) in a responsible way, then they had no problem with that and were not going to arrest them. Act a fool, go to jail but if it's just speeding or some such thing, well, their wives carried pistols in the car just like these citizens did.

Most of my Dad's police friends carried snub noses of some sort, often fancy with gold plating and gold-silver butt plates and engraving and fancy belts and holsters made by Stelzig's Saddle Company or down Mexico way. His friends were often detectives or big brass in the police or sheriff's department, but he had patrol friends and one motorcycle cop buddy who was particularly gruff and funny.

Some cops carried 1911's and a few carried 4" revolvers but most carried some kind of snub nose at least part of the time and I'll damn sure bet you that all of their wives carried snub nose revolvers in their purses or cars. I know we had different ones in the house, at his office, in the cars and those that were carried by my father on his person.

As I've mentioned before, lots of folks had them for self and home defense. Parents of friends of mine from school, folks who did things like worked for NASA or worked for a paper company or worked for an oil company or all sorts of non-law enforcement types of folks had snub nose .38 revolvers, resplendent in their royal blue hue, shining under the display lights in their wooden living room gun cabinet.

I remember talking to the dads of my friends about their different guns and why they had them and when they used them. Most of these folks were deer and bird hunters and so during the seasons their snub nose was a constant companion to their long gun.

Lots of these parents of school friends in the neighborhood were not handgunners but were hunters and long gun shooters, and had several hunting rifles and shotguns for different situations, but they only had a couple of pistols, a .22 of some kind and then a snub nose and usually it was either a Chief's Special or a K frame snub nose in .38 Special. Some of them had .357 Magnums and I recall vividly the first time I saw a Python snubbie and thinking that was probably the coolest snub nose I'd ever seen. And even at age 10 or 11, which was when that was, I was right about that Python.

{NOTE: Once again, see ZACH who beats me to this by years. I think I am subconsciously riffing off of some of his coolest prose that I've read before. Again, apologies, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery}

Never mind that snub nose revolvers can be a very accurate handgun. My Colt Cobra point shoots better than anything I own except the Glock Family of Firearms, and it dang near points as well as the Glocks. Perhaps it's the fact I've shot the Cobra for thirty years, and it's been carried as a concealed handgun or off duty (and yes, I know, egads, I did carry it on occasion as a plain clothes weapon as a young officer) for all of those years. I have a permanent worn in dent (not really) on my right hip from the Bianchi #6 IWB suede holster holding the Cobra that I've worn all of these years now.

When I'm at this one range that El Fisho Jr. and Billy Ray and I sometimes use, it's a younger urban crowd that is present at this indoor range. Occasionally, someone there has a revolver, but it's mostly 9's and 40's and even some 45's. But mostly 9's and 40's. Males and females in their twenties and thirties. USP's. Glock. Springfield. Beretta. That's what you mostly see.

So when they see me and El Fisho Jr. pulling out snub nose revolvers that shoot well, like the Cobra, they stop and take notice.
I'll shoot a couple of cycles with the Cobra, knocking out some black space in the target at 25 yards, and they'll begin to gather behind our shooting stall and look at the gun and me shooting it.

Then it's time for El Fisho, who is quite proficient and confident with a snub nose already. It's always funny because they look at El Fisho Jr. like he'll barely be able to contain the recoil when it's his turn to shoot. He'll load with the HKS speedloader, and toss it aside like I've taught him to do.  It lands on a mat on the ground, and I'll pick it up later.

The eyebrows of the onlooking shooters raise a bit after his speedloading, but then when he is shooting 3" groups point shooting at 15 yards in double taps, jaws begin to drop and heads to shake.  People ask what kind of gun it is and has it been worked on and I tell them it's a Colt from the factory that has been shot many times. Fixed sights. Never worked on. Stock.

Then El Fisho Jr. will take up a Glock 19 and do the same thing he did with the Cobra. He does the same thing with the S&W Model 1917 in 45 ACP. Now, the Model 1917 is another gun that when it comes out at the range, people stop and stare. Most have never seen the likes of a full moon clip, or a big bore revolver for that matter.

And again, El Fisho Jr. amazes onlookers with the Model 1917, which although it is a big gun, the felt recoil with Pachmayrs is very, very low and it's an easy gun to shoot well. Pretty much like a Glock in that the Model 1917 we have makes you think you're a much better shooter than what you really are.

People ask how long he's been shooting and it's like, well, real guns just over a year and a half now but bb guns and airsoft the 4 years before that. A single shot BB gun. Weekly Sunday afternoon lessons of first safety and then marksmanship on the back porch with the Red Ryder, which he could not even cock himself at the time.  Many years of firearms safety training with the bb guns and airsoft before he actually ever fired a gun himself.

And no, he doesn't have a coach, but we do plan to get involved with NRA and State shooting events and competitions this summer.

But back to the snub nose. I've been reflecting on how I used to walk into certain gun stores in Houston and most of the handgun section, apart from 1911's, was revolvers and a goodly portion of that was snub noses new and used. Nowadays, you see the Smith and Taurus and Rossi and sometimes Ruger selections of snubbies new and sometimes used, but you don't seen the old school revolvers like you used to being sold as used fodder.

It's not uncommon at the larger gun shops or places like Cabela's to encounter the know it all behind the counter who is was born a few years after I bought my Cobra. I ran into a very nice 70's example of a Dan Wesson snub nose revolver at a store recently, somewhere around 30 years old in like new condition, and had a kid behind the counter tell me that they were some kind of Asian made Smith copy from the 90's. I'm no Dan Wesson expert, but I had a friend who had an early Model 15 and this one is identical to that one and it wasn't from the 90's and it wasn't made in Asia.

And yes, it had a great trigger and I bet it shoots very nice. Very nice. In fact, it was bought by the guy standing behind me who also knew more about the gun than the kid working there. It was all I could do to pass up a pristine Dan Wesson snubbie in .357, but I had to that day, and I'm glad the buyer knew what a treasure he was getting. I've not shot a Dan Wesson in many years, but several friends own them, and I shot them extensively in the early 80's. Dang nice shooting irons for not a lot of money. Even today, they're a bargain.

I think the Dan Wesson Pistol Pak was a great idea, and they seem to be going used in the $600 to $1000 range for a complete set in very good to fine condition. The complete Pistol Pak had a .357 frame with 2", 4", 6" and 8" barrels and a variety of grips that could be interchanged. I was skeptical of how good those guns would shoot 35 years ago when they were new until I shot my first one. It was right up there with the finest S&W or Python, and in fact, it shot as well as the Python I carried as a young police officer.

But the call of the snub nose, perhaps a new to me snub nose, is calling in the wind. A nice .357 snub nose would certainly be an interesting proposition for a cold weather carry gun as well as a field gun to carry with a nice combination rifle shotgun in .22/20 gauge.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

LA NOIR: Tales from the Gangster Squad


FROM: http://missrosen.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/noir0521ladec311951.jpg

A couple of years ago on a visit to Los Angeles I fell back into my old 80's habit of reading the L.A. Times. Now, if you're a newspaper reader, like me you probably remember back when newspapers on Sunday were inches thick. Full of great stories and features. Well, the L.A. Times is still like that, whereas many newspapers across the country are not, and several years ago that's what I discovered.

I like history, all kinds of history. And although I'm from Texas and my interests have primarily been in American and Texas history, as well as world history, I've always been interested in crime history. With a degree in Criminal Justice, what would you expect?

The unique American history of crime and criminality can be found in stories from New York to Miami to Chicago to New Orleans and to a thousand other cities and towns. But the big stories, the outlandish and outrageous crooks and their stories, came from the big cities mostly. Not always, remembering Bonnie and Clyde et al, but mostly. And over the years, the stories from L.A. somehow escaped me until I found this column in the L.A. Times called  The Daily Mirror , where writer Larry Harnisch does an excellent job of capturing some of the very interesting history of L.A.

Of course, there are other writers at the Times, and some of them write stories that involve some of the tawdry history of L.A. and it's bright lights of the entertainment industry and how those bright lights and criminal folks mingled in the same circles sometimes, and that's part of the connection. You remember the stars and already know who they are.

For example, the series by Times writer Paul Lieberman that caught my eye a few years ago involved well known actor Max Baer (Jethro Bodine from The Beverly Hillbillys) who was a friend of an "alleged" mobster named Mickey Cohen. Seems like Jethro once chased down a car thief/dog thief for Mr. Cohen. The last of seven parts is here at Noir Justice catches up with Mickey Cohen. Here's the link to all seven installments, a cast of gangster characters from the story and a picture and video link called: LA NOIR: Tales from the Gangster Squad. This last page also has a link to all seven stories.

These stories will keep you busy for awhile and if you have ever heard the names of various crooks and gangsters in American history, you're bound to hear a few names you've heard before in this series. Moreover, it wasn't just in New York and Chicago that the mob was making itself felt back in the old days. There was plenty of money to be made in L.A. and the mob wasn't missing out on that.

There's another column in the LA Times that deserves a mention, and I cannot seem to find a link to it's home page right now. It's called L.A. Then and Now, and it involves some interesting stories as well. Here's a great story from today about Frank Sinatra, Joe Dimaggio, Marilyn Monroe and The Wrong Door.

Here also is a cool story from April of this year about how the L.A.P.D. and their SWAT team had some rough going early on.

Friday, June 3, 2011


A Colt Trooper 6" in .22 LR

This picture is from a great thread on The Firing Line and also appears in google images. It's a Colt Trooper .357 in a Western style SA holster, which I think is very cool. The guy that owns this gun posts a bunch of pics of other cool guns he owns, so check it out.

I never paid much attention to the Colt Trooper in my younger days, when they were actually being made by Colt. I was carrying a Colt Python as a young police officer and so the need for a Trooper never rose at the time. Nowadays, I'd like to buy a .22 in a medium frame all steel revolver, and also on the list of guns I'd like to have is a nice 6" .357 revolver of some sort. I could buy a Trooper of each flavor used nowadays for what one 6" Python or Diamondback (in .22) would cost me.

So I started doing some reading on the Trooper. I've seen a few recently in gun stores, and even though the guns and their finishes were less than optimal, I had to give high marks to the actions of the ones I've seen. Now, I've never expected "Python-Like" triggers out of lesser Colt guns, but to be fair, my Cobra has an excellent set of DA/SA triggers as have many other Colts I've shot and handled over the years. I know that Colt did not put the time or hand work into guns other than the Python and select other high end offerings, and that that Trooper was not a series of gun thought of to be in the same class as the Python.

But I had forgotten that Colt did make a lot of Troopers in .22 caliber, and the later versions (Mark III0 have a solid ribbed barrel and more importantly, a protected ejector rod and apparently the Mark V version had the option of a Python like vent rib. So for me, anything in the Mark III or V catagory would be a fine gun.

Here's a link to a good GUNBLAST post on the Trooper from a few years back. As the author laments, it's a doggone shame Colt is not still making double action revolvers.

I think a double action revolver, particularly and perhaps fittingly due to western history, looks very cool in a western rig. This is one rig I don't have, and I know El Paso Saddlery does make many of their western holsters for DA revolvers as well. The rig pictured above is one of those perfect field rigs to accompany your favorite shotgun or rifle for your foray to the field and stream, or perhaps just the revolver alone.


Although a rifle or shotgun is not technically a kit gun, in reality it's a big part of the "Kit" or gear that folks like me would be carrying on a fishing trip through or into the woods. As I've been expounding on for the past few months, the combination rifle/shotgun like the venerable Stevens guns and Savage 24 guns are a great thing to have on any woods or water adventure. 

As I've mentioned, the availability of different cartridges and shotgun shells/slugs makes the combo gun a very versatile gun for various hunting and fishing endeavors.

But I've got a long delayed project that has gotten my interest lately for a "fishing gun", in addition to a handgun, to take out on various lakes, ponds and creeks in a jonboat and for bank fishing expeditions in this, Texas My Texas, the land of many poisonous snakes.

As anyone who has done any kind of fishing in places that have snake populations of any note, the worth of any fishing hole is directly proportionate to it's remoteness (generally) and thus common sense tells us there are more snakes in more remote, less visited by human beings, places.

To me, it's just a fact of life that many of the places I fish, I get near snakes. Of course, some snakes live near the water, which coincidentally is where I fish when I'm bankfishing. In fact, the gnarly and mean tempered water moccasin and the copperhead are the two snakes I've encountered and shot most in my life of being outdoors. 

Here's an example. Many years ago, our Boy Scout troup was on a canoe expedition in what was and maybe still is called "The Jungle" of Lake Livingston in deep East Texas. Gators ABOUND in the the entire Lake Livingston area, as do LARGE POISONOUS SNAKES. Lots of both of them, so much so that there is a significant amount of signage devoted to warning folks of both all around this large lake and the communities in it's area.

I was young, but had already spent much time in that area fishing and hunting with my parents. My folks had several friends that had places and lake houses in that area and we visited the area often. I was well aware of the GATOR AND SNAKE issues, as was pretty much everyone else.

What I didn't know at age 13 or so was that water moccasins like to climb in trees to catch various prey. So as we were about to get back into our canoes after a shore lunch, I watched my normally mild mannered Scout Leader literally jump about 10 feet back when a moccasin fell out of a tree and landed in his canoe as he was just about to step into said canoe.

A large water moccasin. Did I mention it was large?

The snake was ultimately dispatched but never forgotten. It made me think about another dimension other than the ground or the water where a snake could come from in my fishing trips, and I always try to look up in the treetops since then.

Which brings us to the Gator Gun. Here's the disclaimer: I don't hunt gators. I've never shot a gator. I hope I never have to shoot a gator, but if I did it would only be in a dire self defense situation where there was no other alternative. But seeing as how I live in gator country, and I fish a lot, and so me and gators tend to be in some of the same places at the same time, it's a good idea to be like a Boy Scout and be prepared, as I have mentioned before, not so much for gators but for the ever present snakes at the places I fish.

So I've mentioned before that an Uncle of mine had a bolt action 20 gauge shotgun with a tube magazine in his teens. At some point in time in the 40's or 50's, it got slammed in a car trunk and broke the back end of the stock off. My uncle cut it into a pistol grip and then cut the barrel down to about 19".

Although my Uncle didn't consult the lawbooks to check what a legal length would be, fortunately it's legal by several inches under today's Texas and Federal law.

The problem is, it was crudely done. The barrel cut is at an angle, and the cut at the pistol grip could be less janky and jagged and have been finished a little better. I've shot the gun, not in a few years, but back when he gave it to me in a state of very lightly surface rust on the barrel exterior, it shot well and I shot it a lot. I cleaned the rust off of it and lubed it down and basically have stored it and occasionally lubed it and cleaned it but have done nothing to it otherwise over the years except to shoot it and clean it once every five years or so.

And that's gonna change. My plan is this. Have a gunsmith who lives down the road fix the uneven barrel cut and polish it, have some sort of front sight put on the gun, clean up the uneven stock cut with a file and sanding and have the gun refinished in something durable like parkerization.

Everything will be done by the gunsmith except for the stock, which I can do. I want to put a short leather sling on it with ten loops for shells and slugs. The magazine with the plug removed holds five shells with the chamber empty, more than plenty. Because of the age of this gun, and although it has a safety that appears to function properly, I've always carried it chamber empty until ready for firing. 

I want to add a flashlight mount. There is plenty of room between the end of the tube magazine and the end of the barrel for a mount and flashlight to fit, and a cheap and tiny green daytime laser sight wouldn't be a bad addition either.

It's gonna be a fishing camp gun, a daytime as well as nighttime fishing gun, and a good flashlight and aimed laser sight would be good things to add for not a lot of money.

Note that most of my guns are not outfitted with lasers and lights and rails, but I think this gun would be a fitting candidate for both laser and a good flashlight.

I had a friend who once said they preferred cheap cigarettes and expensive beer. To make my analogy, I have a friend who bought a cheap teeny tiny green laser sight that works extremely well and it's from a reputable maker. I was amazed at the brightness of the laser spot in the broad daylight, and want to get one. Chances are, it would get moved around from gun to gun like the flashlight, but a nice cheap laser and a good more expensive flashlight would be a great addition to a Gator Gun.

I've also found a few used stocks online for this gun, and when I find one for a bargain I'll be buying it as well. Probably transform it to a stocked 18.5" barreled gun. It's been waiting for many decades for some action and perhaps a complete stock, and I'm going to get going on this project for this summer.

When I was talking to Billy Ray about this project, without me mentioning the Gator Gun name I'd given it, well he up and calls it the Gator Gun too, proving that great minds do think alike. And El Fisho Jr. mentioned it sounded like a "Tactical Pistol Gripped Bolt-Action Shotgun". Hmmmm...


One song that was and is a big favorite of mine is a lesser known tune by the Marshall Tucker Band called "Property Line", as in "Well, my idea of a good time, is walkin' my property line". It's off the 1976 Long Hard Ride album, and the youtube link above is a recording of the song.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I'm embarrassed. As I was surfing the web today reading about kit guns new and old, I came across a two year old post about the Model 63 by my good friend Zach over at The Next Chapter, which you'll conveniently find in my blog roll.

Now, at first blush, I said "Well, great minds think alike. This is not the first time I've had the idea to post on a firearm and then discover Zach already plowed that ground at some point before me." And maybe that's true, because what I do know about our taste in firearms from reading his excellent blog is that we do share a great deal of common ground in liking or owning certain firearms.

Which then raised the real question, to which I must plead that it's likely true. Sometime back, when I discovered Zach's website, I read through most of his posts. I'm sure I read the one about his Model 63. Thus, my original post idea wasn't that original after all. Thanks for inspiring me, Zach and I just wanted to give credit where credit was due.

Now, the term kit gun never really fell into use with my generation. I heard about it from my grandpa and father and read countless writers in outdoor magazines talking about them. I remember looking at the gun magazine annual catalogs that were big for us in the pre-internet days as far as seeing what guns were available for sale, and I remember that S&W still sold a few Kit Guns back then.

Although I'm not a big fan of the "new" kit gun that S&W sells, the   Model 317, I see that Jeff Quinn over at Gunblast (a great website, by the way) tossed his long beloved Model 63 to the back of the gunsafe for the ultra lightweight 12 ounce loaded Model 317.

By the way, I snarfed those Gunblast links directly from the linked post above from Zach. Thanks again, Zach.

I agree with Zach on other points regarding this class and catagory of firearm. Or in fact, any firearm. I want no locks on my firearms, particularly those motivated and engineered by litigation. I don't own any weapons with locks on them (anymore) because of a lock up I had at the range with a .44 Special Taurus (in excellent condition, I might add) equipped with this monstrosity. One round threw it into lock mode, and the entire gun locked up until after several minutes I jimmied it open. I unloaded it and away it went from whence it came.

So whenever possible, I buy gently used guns over any newer model of the same gun. Because I don't want no stinkin' lock on my guns.

Like Zach, the Model 18 and 63 are guns that generations of police and military began their handgunning careers with. I still see them frequently at the range, the ever popular 4" Combat Masterpiece in both .22 and .38 Special, and I see parents teaching their kids, one friend teaching another, etc with these fine time honored weapons.

For the first year of handgun shooting, El Fisho Jr. was only allowed to shoot .22 revolvers. After learning to shoot and the manual of arms for a single action .22 revolver, my son El Fisho Jr. was moved up after several months with the Single Action .22 to my S&W Model 67, which is the stainless version of the Model 15 Combat Masterpiece in .38 Special. I loaded some very low recoil wadcutters and away El Fisho Jr. went on the Model 67. Since then, he's graduated to all kinds of other pistols and revolvers and calibers but the Model 67 remains one of his favorites. Because it's fun to shoot.

So although El Fisho Jr. didn't learn to shoot with the .22 version of the Combat Masterpiece, the centerfire version served him well through the remaining 8 months of his first year of firearm practice and training and safety classes. Like his dad, there is something about revolvers that he likes, and he's taken the time to learn speedloading and has learned the manual of arms for various revolvers and has responded perfectly to malfunctions we've encountered as per his training and safety education. People we shoot with and people at the ranges we frequent are always complimentary as to his safety and his manners, not to mention his marksmanship.

I'll write more on kit guns later, and think about this one. Why won't Walther a/k/a Smith and Wesson make a .22 LR version of the Walther PPK/S? I had one of these guns in my teens in .22 LR, a beautiful German made blued version, and it was a great kit gun and I was an idiot for trading it away. But seemingly like all other guns I really like from the past, it's way expensive.

Here's a short list of guns I think are cool that have skyrocketed in price on the used market:

1. Any centerfire HK semi-auto sporter hunting rifle
2. HK P7 and variants
3. The Colt Python and Diamondback revolvers

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


When I was reading Outdoor Life and Sports Afield (RIP) and Field and Stream as a pre-teen and teen, the "old timers" often talked about their "kit gun", a gun carried in their "kit" or backpack or tackle box or gear bag or fishing vest or whatever.

The guns referred to as kit guns were actually all S&W, since that was a copyrighted brand name, but in reality it could be any kind of handgun that one could tote with them. Mostly, the kit gun school of thought involved guns ranging from J frame .22's (I think this is what is called a 22/32, meaning a .22 on a .32 frame). to K frame .22's and .38's.

Many a Ruger .22 graced a kit bag and tackle box, and like wise the various Ruger, Colt et al single action .22's, particularly the smaller framed guns. Our kit gun was a rather decent shooting if not *function over form* H&R 9 shot double action revolver with a 4" barrel.

But let me tell you a story about one such kit gun adventure I had some years ago.

One of the family traditions the wife and I began was going certain places year after year with the kids for mini-vacations. One such place is in the East Texas Piney Woods, nestled in hundreds of acres on a private ranch. The lakeside  cabins come with your choice of a cheap rental canoe or v-hull rowboat to traverse the five joined lakes this place features, and the lakes have different types of structure and even construction that gives a lot of different kinds of fishing opportunities from deep swamp thicket jungle bass fishing to gravel bottom fishing to several other designed lakes.

Knowing the area like I do, which is pretty well from an outdoors sense, I know that there are gonna be snakes and possibly alligators, although the property claimed they kept gators vetted and moved to other locales. Gators are gonna be gators, and they can move into new habitat as I've seen it happen. I've been happy never to have to shoot a gator, but there have been several close calls where it was nearly trigger pulling time before the creature from the deep backed off.

Besides, it's illegal in Texas to shoot gator but I'm willing to risk a fine if it's self defense, mano a' gator.

No, the much more prevalent creature at this property was snakes. Big ole snakes. Copperheads. Water Moccasins. These are two of my least favorite snakes, because they are what I have encountered most of my life.

So when I journeyed around the lake, in the front pocket of my Stearns combo fishing/PFD inflatable was my trusty S&W Model 38 Bodyguard Airweight with three rounds of snake shot and two of solid nose bullets.

I ran into several very large mocs as I was fishing near the banks and under some thick bankside growth, but was able to avoid them and was glad I saw them before I stumbled across the lily pads they occupied, sprawled in the shade with their camo skin making them hard to discern amongst the vegetation. So we both came out as winners on that one, but I was struck with the thought that I was glad I had the .38 Special snakeshot backed up by two solid bullets, rather than a lightweight .22 loaded with .22 snakeshot and cartridges.

You see, at that time S&W had introduced a super lightweight .22 revolver that came in under 10 oz. My M38 I think weights 14 or so unloaded, but at the time I thought the lightweight .22's were sort of cool and certainly when carrying a gun, ounces sometimes do count.

So all my envy for having some .22 caliber gun that weighed a few ounces less than what I was carrying went right out the window. Upon seeing the abnormally large size of the snakes, I was kinda wanting a shotgun and not a pistola, but I was glad I had the extra ommph of hte Model 38 if'n I'd of needed it.

Hence the new offering from Smith and Wesson, the   Governor , might be the ideal outdoorsmans gun for carry afield. It can chamber and shoot a combination of .410 2 1/2" shotshells, .45 LC and .45 ACP in two-shell or full moon or half moon clips. I like to know   if it would chamber (without clips) the .45 ACP auto-rim, but I don't know and you should ask your gunsmith unless the gun's manual says it's ok.

I've never gone for the Taurus Judge series, something which has frankly astonished Billy Ray for years, given my fondness for the Thompson Contender chambered in .45 LC/.410 for a fishing snake gun, or as he calls it, a gator gun. (note: we don't hunt gators, we leave them the hell alone and steer a wide berth and if they are active we go somewhere else. We respect them, and fear them, and go prepared but in over 40 years of fishing we've had a couple of close calls but made it out without problems)

But I've never been a fan of any of the Taurus revolvers made since the early 80's, as it seemed to me the earlier ones more mimicked real Smith and Wesson guns, and were made better. I had one very bad experience with a Taurus revolver and likely won't own one again.

So the Governor does interest me, and it is reasonably priced.

In the article I linked to by Skeeter Skelton in the previous post, he talks about two great guns of yore, the legendary REAL kit guns in .22. Those would be nice, but it would be nicer if Smith would make one of these guns as a classic reissue WITH A REASONABLE PRICE AS A THANK YOU TO LOYAL WORKING MAN CUSTOMERS.

Perhaps the epitome of the trail gun is the beautifully made little Smith & Wesson Model 34 .22/32 Kit Gun (the “32” indicating that the gun is built on the .32 frame). This fine revolver has been around in one form or another since 1935 and is now offered with adjustable lengths, and round or square butts. Its name, .22/32 Kit Gun is copyrighted, else I would have used the term “kit gun” here instead of the less descriptive “trail gun.”


This 24 ½ -ounce beauty is as accurate as any shooter can hold it and manifests all of the Smith & Wesson refinements. For my own use, I prefer the slightly larger square-butt model, with four-inch barrel for steadier holding.

This S&W is also available with a 3 ½ inch barrel on an aluminum-alloy frame, weighing only 14 ½ ounces. In .22 LR it is known as the Model 43 .22/32 Airweight. "


TEXT FROM SKEETER SKELTON http://www.darkcanyon.net/What's%20The%20Best%20Trail%20Gun%20For%20You.htm

I've seen examples recently of the Model 43, unfortunately with too much cylinder movement. Not a tight gun. But it seems they are around and go for around $300 to $600 on the average going for about $500. If I could find a decent one that was tight, I'd be having to have that. It's a big contender for when you do want a .22 as a sidearm.


Another gun that would be a nice gun if one wanted to occasionally shoot perhaps a hog at closer range or some other type of Texas type predator (we don't see many bears in Texas. I think some live protected in Big Bend although once black bears roamed East Texas) would be the venerable and time tested  Smith and Wesson Model 60  yet with a new barrel design on the 3" barrrel, a danged nice looking gun as well. Weighing in a 23.6 oz., it might have enough bulk to allow the shooter to tolerate shooting full .357 loads yet be light enough to carry enjoyably. 



I have a Model 67 Combat Masterpiece in .38 Special +P. My father thought it one of the finest combat revolvers ever, and gave me mine many years ago. It's a fun and easy gun to shoot, and is heavy enough to have little bite from heavy +P loads. I just wish I had one with a 2 1/2" barrel for vertical shoulder holster carry as a trail gun.

Smith and Wesson has a dandy .22 version of the Combat Masterpiece, the Model 18, but unfortunately I could buy two or maybe three very good to excellent condition used guns for the price they want for the new "classic" version of this gun. Like it's big brother, it's a heavy gun, but it's a nice K frame and fits nicely in my hand.

And although the Model 67 in .38 Special +P is a generally much better choice than the Model 18 in .22 for a field and stream gun, it's a heavy gun, and I'm more prone in the July and August Texas summers to go for my Model 38 Bodyguard Airweight with snakeshot and solid flat nosed bullets out of comfort. Still, I'd like to have a reasonably priced Model 18 since I'd already be good to go on holsters and because it's a great shooting gun.

There are other Smith and Wesson .22 revolvers out there, and I'm talking about the pre-1980 guns mostly. I have little interest in a snubnose .22 and like these guns with at least the 3" barrels.

In another post, I'll talk about some other cool guns for the field and stream and trail.