Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Ever since I was a wee small lad growing up in Houston, Texas, I've been a watcher of politics and especially political contests. It's probably no surprise that I work for a politician, although many of my friends have always thought me destined for politics. But even as a child, when my dad ran for several different offices both successfully and unsuccessfully, the process has been crooked and the halls of the elections are lined with folks with their hands out, either trying to get into your pockets or trying to put some bribes, er, I mean campaign contributions, in your pocket.

This year is different in many aspects. There's no big surprise as to who the Republican Party's Presidential candidate will be, regardless of the outcome tonight. I say tonight, because this year our Texas Primary Election is two and a half months late. What was traditionally always held on the first or second Tuesday (I forget which) in March has been delayed until today due to various law suits and controvery about a recent redistricting.

So what normally was a cool time of year to have friends over to watch the election results come in is now a hot and humid evening not conducive to patio standing and sitting and the consumption of adult beverages while doing same. You can have a lot more people over for a party like this when they can mill about between the living room and the kitchen/dining room and the back patio. But nobody will want to be hanging out in the out of doors this evening until well after dark. For example, as I write this, it is 98 degrees in the shade at my home right now.

There's one big race in my county tonight, one for a district judgeship. But there are several very important district attorney races going on in the state, and for me those are the DA races in Williamson, Travis and Harris Counties. To those of you not from Texas, I know those county names don't mean a thing. Harris County is Houston, Texas and Travis is Austin, Texas. Williamson County, or Wilco, is not so well known, being immediately north of Austin proper but 180 degrees different in political philosophy. Whereas Austin is primarily "blue", as in Democrat, Wilco is Red and Republican. Wilco has been one of the fastest growing counties in the nation since the early 90's, growing from a small, mostly rural with a couple of small towns to being the big city. Dell is there. Many other companies are there.

In any event, I'll be watching those races for DA and for judge, as well as some judicial and sheriff elections in other counties that friends of mine are running in. I nearly gave a run for a judgeship this year, talking myself out of it as well as I had nearly talked myself into it. It requires a good bit of money and a heck of a lot of time to conduct a political campaign, and I had the money but wasn't sure about the time. As it turned out, what became a minor medical problem (instead of a major one) reared it's ugly head and it's a good thing I didn't run. Maybe next time.

As it is, where I live now we don't have the lightning fast reporting of results that we had in Houston. Even in my childhood, TV was pretty good about getting the latest boxes posted as they come in. Here, where I live now, as in many other parts of Texas, folks gather at the Courthouse or near it and post the results as they come in. It's an exciting party, but I'd rather stay at the house and relax with the family and perhaps a few friends and neighbors than hang out with a bunch of loud drinking folks, because where I live, serious drinking goes along with serious politics.

We'll probably run by the Courthouse for a few minutes about sundown, before everyone has started drinking hard. There's always old friends there that I'll want to see and have not seen in awhile. It'll be before the final results are tallied, depending on turnout, but the early results will have already been in since soon after 7 p.m.

So the internets will keep me up to date with the Houston and Austin election results on a minute by minute basis while the cell phone will keep me posted on the local races. I'm glad my future is not on the line tonight, in more ways than one. 

Monday, May 28, 2012


Image from  http://www.copsplus.com/products/large/58l.jpg

I got my first Bianchi 58L Hip Hugger paddle holster in the summer of 1981 for my Colt Cobra snubnose. That was my first off-duty gun as a police officer in Houston. My duty weapon, a 4" nickle Python, while excellent for a duty weapon at the time, was way too heavy to carry as an off-duty weapon. In the summer, it was virtually unconcealable, at least with the holsters available then, but could be worn off-duty in the winter (read: colder than 50 degrees) when a jacket or coat would be worn.

The Jackass (now Galco) shoulder holster was the best means of concealing this world class shooting machine that is The Colt Python. I also used a Roy's Pancake holster for the 4" Python to some success, but it didn't conceal a Python under a Polo shirt with Levi's worth a crap. As the former Governor of California once said in a movie...paraphrasing him here..."it looked like a toomah".

So the 3rd generation nickle Cobra became the off-duty and back-up on-duty ankle holster gun. Right after buying this holster, literally the moment after leaving Collector's Firearms in Houston the day I got the Cobra and the Hip Hugger I took off for a beach and fishing vacation in Corpus Christi and Padre Island. I was very impressed that the suede covered paddle never retained odors despite the sometimes heavy sweating done in this holster when in the field, and that summer it was swelteringly hot as we fished a variety of locales and hung out until the wee small hours of the morning with some regularity.

The Bianchi Hip Hugger holster got carried in a wide variety of circumstances on that vacation, all of which involved, as I said, heavy duty sweating in the Texas Summer sun. Out to eat. Out fishing on boats and jetties. Around town at various spots. I found it to be quite concealable then and have continued to wear and use this particular holster with several different revolvers for the last 31 years. I've since acquired one of these made for the J Frame, and it's an even slimmer fit and even more concealable than the one for the six shot Cobra.

Bianchi doesn't make this particular holster anymore. They seriously need to reintroduce this holster into their line. It's their basic #5 designed thumbreak holster with a metal paddle that is covered on both sides in suede. The #5 holster was used in belt holsters, ankle holsters and this paddle holster for decades. I'll say that the paddle holster must use a steel shank in the back of the holster as well as in the paddle because it seems much stiffer than other #5 belt and ankle variants that I own. And it's much stiffer than almost all other paddle holsters out there on the market.

Apparently, it was made until sometime fairly recently, as this website indicates it is now discontinued.

Everything comes together in this holster. The paddle is long enough and stout enough to support even heavy K frames (I've never seen an N frame version of this holster, but would like to have one if it exists) and all steel 1911's and Hi-Powers. The length and width of the paddle, although very reasonably sized to me, is different than those dimensions on most other paddle holsters.

The distance between the paddle and the holster itself is scant indeed, making it sometimes even difficult to get the holster attached over a heavy duty gunbelt type of belt. This tightness between holster and paddle is one factor I think helps to keep floppiness down and stability up.

The holster has that famous (at least to me) Bianchi fit of the firearm designed for. I've never had an issue with fit on a Bianchi in over 30 years of using them. Although I am partial to their product lines from the 70's through the 90's moreso than their current stuff, I do have some recent Bianchi holsters. But the guns fit and the thumbreak engages and disengages perfectly.

The suede covered paddle has many benefits. The suede keeps the holster in place when drawing the weapon. Secondly, the suede also keeps the holster and pants/shorts in place during normal wear, being a non-smooth surface the suede creates resistance between the body of the wearer and their pants, thus keeping everything where it is supposed to be.

Third, the Bianchi paddle on these holsters is wide and is situated so that it rides deep, almost to the bottom of the holster. Again, ergonomics and design come into play here, but the the paddle design is another factor in this holster being a stable carrying platform as well as staying put when you draw the gun. The suede covered paddle beats out a molded plastic paddles other paddle holsters use any day of the week in many aspects.

The holster hangs at just the right height in comparison to the paddle. It hangs low enough to lower the center of gravity of the gun to the center of the belt, but not so low as to make concealment difficult. This is key,because it prevents floppiness. This holster rides very secure, and to my mind, is the best paddle holster design I've ever used. I haven't taken a protractor to it, but it seems that when positioned correctly against my leg that the paddle keeps the holster at about a 10 degree forward cant. Of course, you can position the holster for more or less of a cant and depending on your body type, it will stay in that position once set.

For what it's worth on all that about fit, I've been using these holsters since I was in my young twenties and my body then  was far slimmer and far more muscular than it is now, years later. I know a lot of guys my age complain about holster fit and pants sagging and this line of holsters works well with the middle age male body. Used with a good (but not necessarily overwhelmingly) heavy gunbelt type dress belt, you'll have no problem with both gun and pants staying up and staying put. The suede covered paddle acts kinda like Sansabelt slacks in keeping pants up, providing you have a decent fit in the first place with your pants.

The name "hip hugger" is dated and probably was dated when the holster was introduced. But the holster does as advertised and named: it hugs the hip. Other paddle holsters tend to stick out a bit from the belt and body. Not the Bianchi. It's 90% as concealable as a like belt holster worn in the same 4 O'Clock to 5 O'Clock position.

Of course, the paddle lends itself to easy on, easy off while maintaining a secure hold when being worn. It distributes the weight well and is a secure riding holster.

I've never seen one of these hip hugger holsters for a 4" N frame or for a 2.5" K frame Smith or I frame Colt. You commonly see them on auction sites for 1911's, snubbies both J frame and Detective Special, 4" K frame revolver and the Walther PPK. That's the one's I usually see.

I'd be nice to have one of these for a 4" N frame and a 2.5" I frame Colt. I don't know when Bianchi quit making the Hip Hugger, but I'd sure like to have one for a Glock 19, 26 and 21. I'd like to have one of these for a SAA, and the Ruger Blackhawk with the 4 and something" barrel. It'd be great to see this whole model of holster come back as originally sold but for the many new guns on the market now.

I have tried other paddle holsters. The Galco paddle holster didn't do it for me. It had a great holster for a J frame, and was an open top affair that fit my Bodyguard Airweight just fine, but the paddle was too small, was affixed too far out from the holster and just didn't have the right ergodynamics to work for me. Even with a heavy duty belt on and holding a lightweight gun coming in at 15 ounces unloaded, it was floppy. Way floppy. To me, if you lowered the attachment point of their paddle and made the paddle larger in both width and depth, it would ride better.

Fobus paddle holsters work well for what they do. They sometimes do draw with the weapon, despite tight belt and proper wearing procedures. They are comfortable but most of the ones for larger guns like the 1911 are not as concealable as the Bianchi Hip Hugger for some guns. They seem to stick out from the body a bit more than the Bianchi model. I plan to, at least one day, get some suede and glue it to the Fobus paddles, then have a seamstress friend with a heavy duty sewing maching sew around the edges of the paddle to make it more Bianchi like. I plan to add a special strip of leather to the "retaining bump or ledge" on the exterior of the paddle to make it more pronounced. I'll note that the Bianchi Hip Hugger does not need a retaining lip because of the suede covering and the paddle design itself.

I've long been a fan and user of vintage Bianchi products, going back to the time when they weren't vintage but were new. The Askins Avenger is a favorite for many semi-autos, and I've been a longtime user of the entire line of holsters made around the #5 holster.

To me, for a double action revolver or a Goverment sized 1911, I'm hard pressed to think of a better carrying holster than the venerable Bianchi #5.  And for many uses, the 58l is my go to holster. Yes, there are designs by custom makers and smaller companies that I like and use as well, but years later,  I still find myself often reaching for the Hip Hugger holster for various guns.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


I spent some time looking hither and yon on the internets again recently, in hopes that I was somehow wrong, that somewhere, preferably within these good old United States but certainly somewhere else in the world, there is an ammo company making .380 ACP shotshells.

I know, I know, I just posted about this very subject a few days ago, but of course now that it's fishing time, which means snake time in Texas, I'm gonna be totin' a firearm with some shotshells in it for snake elimination. I've got plenty of pistols and revolvers to choose from, all that take shotshells that are actually made at this current time in calibers such as .38 Special, .44 Special, .45 Colt, .45 ACP and 9mm. I've long had Thompson Contenders that shoot .45 Colt/.410 shells, for nearly 30 years now.

But of course, I just keep thinking how handy it would be to have this .380 pistol or that one loaded with ACP shotshell rounds for down by the river. Simply because no one makes shotshells for the .380.

If anyone knows of a reloader with reasonable pricing who is willing to entertain such an endeavor as to making some .380 shotshells, I'd love to have their website and email address. This may be the issue that gets me finally started at some level of reloading. No doubt it'd be more complicated than standard reloading but it seems doable it's just a question of how much gear you need to craft the actual cartridge shell.

Here's one final question I'd like to have the answer to. How effective do y'all think the Glaser Safety Slug would be on snakes, since the GSS has tiny shot underneath a plastic and metal case?

Instead of taking a .380 fishing this weekend, I'll take either a Glock 36 in .45 ACP or a snubbie loaded with CCI shotshells.


I got one of those chain prayer emails today, but this one was a little different. It was loaded with pictures of soldiers, their families and many with respect to their fallen comrades. They were truly touching, not like the mass amount of "People From Wal Mart" photos that my friends like to send me.

Memorial Day means something to America and to all true Americans. It reminds us of the extreme cost of freedom. Freedom isn't free, and that's more than just a refrain to a well-known song.

I didn't serve in the military, but I spent a like number of years as a police officer. It's not the same, but it helps me understand the esprit de corps of serving on a team with missions that involve the possibility that you will be killed because of your badge and uniform and what you represent.

This weekend, let's celebrate and honor our warriors, both past and present, here and abroad, The soldier serves and does as he is ordered. Regardless of your politics, I hope you value and respect those who serve in our military as much as I do.

I have several friends overseas, stationed in actual war zones, whether they are called war zones or not. I know or work with other folks who have kids in the service, many of them serving overseas in war zones as I write these very words.

I have a good friend I played in a band with and worked professionally with in law who now works for the federal government and is on assignment in Afghanistan, and everytime I hear of an explosion over there I have to read about it to see if my friend is safe.

Same with the military folks I know. When you hear of a major blowup at or near the location(s) they are serving near (if you actually know), you have to read about it and wonder just for a moment and often times longer until ID's are released if it's someone I know.

And of course, it really doesn't make it any less personal when you don't personally know the servant of our government who dies on assignment from some terroristic act. No matter who they are, they're Americans, just like us. Those who serve us deserve our respect.

When I was coming up in my 20's, not so very long ago, we didn't have many service related deaths amongst my peers and friends who went into the service. We didn't have any "public" wars going on at that time, after the end of Vietnam. And from the mid-seventies until the First Gulf War came along and here we were, for the first time since Vietnam, in an actual public (i.e. not secret or low profile) war.

We had horrible incidents during that time, like the hostages in Iran. And tons of other trouble all over the world. But no big wars until the First Gulf War. But by and large from the mid-seventies until the late-eighties, I wasn't losing any friends who were serving in the military.

Since then we've been losing too many Americans. Not to mention the tragic civilian deaths from terrorism. Remember what these folks, most of them very young, do everyday to protect your freedom. Thank them for their service if you see them out and around. Thank the ones you know especially. Let these folks know that the people back home care about them.

Back in WWII, when my parents were from about 10 years old to 15 years old, they absorbed the war going on around them and had relatives that served in the military. Although little kids at the start of WWII, they had no choice but to growup in a war-time economy and society. They had respect for the military and those who served.

Vietnam, combined with the many, great social changes that transpired starting in the 1960's, changed the perception of some individuals as to the honor of serving our country in an unpopular "police action". I know there are still folks like that around today. Naysayers to honoring our heros in uniform.

I think a lot of folks are just like me and share my beliefs, and that the naysayers are in the minority. I hope each and every one of you has a great holiday weekend and thank all those reading this who are in the service for serving our country. Whenever I run into uniforms in public, which is not infrequent in many parts of Texas, I always thank them for their service.

I hope you do the same.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


I've long been a consumer of Speer and CCI products. Throughout my lifetime, their ammo has been flawless and very well performing. I've been a big user of their shotshell products as well as their magnum and rimfire ammo. Both their magnum and rimfire, the Maxi-Mag and Mini-Mag I believe, work the best of all ammo I've used in the various .22 LR and Magnum autoloaders I've been shooting lately.

While some .22 semi-autos have a Glock-like diet and will digest anything fed into it, others do not. Others, like a certain black cat I know all too well, are far more picky with what they are fed. Almost all of them will feed and fire the higher end CCI .22 ammo without problems.

CCI, what I'me again writing about is the need for a .380 shotshell. I have several .380 guns that I'd like to take to the lake or the creek as my snake gun when I go fishing, but I have no shotshells for a .380.  And all the parts of Texas where I regularly go fishing are snake infested.

But I can't take a .380 because your company does not make a shotshell in .380.

I'm no ballistic engineer or even a reloader, but it seems a .380 would be fairly easy to adapt from the shotshell you already product in 9mm. A .380 is, afterall, also known as the 9mm Kurtz, or 9mm Short.

Just a thought, CCI, because that's another product I'd buy from you. I've read on other forums from ultralight backpackers and other gun and shooting forums from folks desiring to take a mini-semiauto .380 on the trail with the for protection from two and four legged varmits as well as those that slither. They talk about taking .380's like the Kel-Tec P3AT, a Seecamp, a Walther PPK(S), the recent Ruger and Taurus .380's or a Sig P232.

I think there is a market there for a .380 auto shotshell. Lots of folks choose .380 for their defense or concealed carry weapon, or back up weapon, and the uses for shotshells around the home for snakes or a rapid wild animal like a skunk  are legion. 

I myself sometimes carry a .380 during the hot summer months. I'd love to load up the Kel-Tec P3AT with some CCI snakeshot, a ,380 sized version of the 9mm shot CCI currently makes. I could carry whatever other pistol and/or rifle I desired and not have to have the pistol shooting snake shot.

As mentioned below, one great feature of a lightweight .380 like the Kel-Tec P3AT is that you can carry an additional larger gun because the Kel-Tec weighs so little, less than some loaded magazines for larger guns.

In addition to a snake shot loaded Kel-Tex P3AT, I could be carrying anything from a 9mm to a .44 Magnum, with most other calibers in between as well, for any two or four legged predators, or at least larger feral predators.

In Texas, that could include large alligators, various types of wildcats such as bobcats and cougars, rabid crazy critters like squirrels and skunks, the occasional mountain lion and a myriad of types of wild hogs and javalina, depending on where in the state that you are. Wild feral dogs are a problem in some areas, although I've never encountered any, but feral hogs are a different story.

There has been a marked increase in Texas and other states over the past few years in sighting of both black bears and cougar/mountain lions, as well as a few mountain lion attacks on humans in the Big Bend National Park. The mountain lions have been being seen all over the state, with some being described as larger creatures, but the bears have mostly been in far west Texas.

Coyotes and various hogs and javalina and the like are prolific and problematic in many locations all over Texas, from desert to swampy river bottomland. Gators are native and quite populous as well in many parts of the state, and don't always mind their manners, even if you're trying to leave them alone.

Trust me on this. You do not want to be in a jonboat or worse, a canoe when a gator decides to whip his tail into and likely through your craft. Then you're in the water with Mr. Gator.

I've seen herds of scores of black javalina in far west Texas, herds that numbered in the thousands and thousands. Like a sea of black rolling javalina. For miles, pacing alongside my SUV on the road, they were on a large ranch running the same direction as I, on occasion hidden by waist high grasses.

Lots of folks, though, are just going to be carrying a .380 for a trail or fishing or backup hunting weapon and no other or larger gun. Again, the selling point is the light weight of some of the .380 weapons on today's market.

A .380 is a pitiful choice against a trapped or cornered wild hog or javalina, or the plural thereof. And truth be known, I'd be more comfortable with a larger caliber shotshell for most of the larger snakes I've encountered both recently and in the past in various locales. But a .380 with a few shotshells followed by some hi-po ammo is a lot better than nothing, and a lot better perhaps than a .22 in most cases.

The Kel-Tecs and Rugers weigh roughly half of what the PPK. PPK/S and Sig P232 weigh, and are smaller and more concealable to boot. Either the Kel-Tec or the Ruger can ride in a Galco Pocket Holster and be carried even in the top pocket of a fishing shirt as well as in the pant's pocket (in the holster, of course. All guns need to be carried in a holster of some sort that protects the trigger). Or in the pocket of a fishing vest or a life vest, perhaps carried in a fabric Cordura holster with a retention strap  velcro'd to the inside pocket of the fishing vest or life vest pocket.

The diminuative size of the Kel-Tec and Ruger .380's make them an ideal companion for the life vest of a Texas fisherman or in a fishing vest as one wades the creeks and rivers of Texas and elsewhere.

These small guns, by virtue of their small size and light weight, are more likely to be carried at the campsight in the pocket or in a lightweight Fobus holster under a t-shirt due to, well, their light weight and small size. Yeah, there are a lot of potential "kit" guns or field guns that you could choose, some even under 20 ounces, but few are as lightweight as the Kel-Tec or as concealable. Only the .357 Scandium S&W's come to mind as coming close to the weight and size of the Kel-Tec.

My regular fishing attire is some sort of cargo shorts with a belt, a large long sleeve vented fishing shirt and water shoes. The Kel-Tec  P3AT goes well into the cargo pants pocket, one of the shirt pockets, or in a Fobus paddle holster that is like a much smaller scale model of their holsters for larger guns. But the Fobus paddle for the P3AT works great.

As an aside, I put a lanyard on any handgun I'm taking near the water, and attach the lanyard to the belt. Some guns, like Glocks and certain revolvers like the S&W 317 and the 385 SC Mountain Lite, have lanyard receivers or holes for them.

Certain guns that have finger extensions for the magazines can have carefully drilled holes to accomodate a lanyard or even a lanyard ring.

I use Pachmayers on virtually every weapon I have that Pachmayer made/makes a model for, and the Pachmayer rubber grips will tolerate a bit of duct taping around a tied off lanyard near the bottom of the grip or in a place where it won't interfere with gun operation.

If you're dead set on carrying that 1911 or a revolver with no provision for a lanyard into some kind of watery area, find a SAFE way (i.e. not around the grip safety) to securely attach as short a lanyard as you can use to the pistol and then to your belt. 

SO to get back to the point, oh you wise sages at CCI, a .380 shotshell would be a worthy addition to the family of shotshells that you currently make.

Thanks for listening.

Friday, May 18, 2012


An open letter to Springfield Armory:

Your guns are the bomb. I have an MIA Scout and a M6 Scout combination rifle. I've shot both some of the XD and 1911pistols your company makes, and as soon as some deals come my way on new or lightly used examples of either, I'll be snagging one. Probably a 1911. I have supported your company with my dollars and I'm sure I will in the future.

I wasn't that "into" the M6 Scout survival rifle.shotgun back when it was being made by CZ and sold by you. I thought it cool and very functional, considering the fact I've long been a Savage Combo rifle/shotgun fan. After owning one, it's become one of my favorite guns.

In looking on the *internets* over the past years, I saw an example of the M6 Scout Pistol that would chamber and fire .45 Colt as well as .410 and then a barrel with .22 LR or Hornet. Pundits all over the internet contend alternatively about whether the M6 Pistol ever actually hit the market. If it ever was on the market, it was for a very short time.

from http://www.weaponeer.net/forum/uploads/Weaponeer/images/2009-03-23_190656_M69501.jpg

The gun pictured above was the released version of the M6 Scout Pistol.

I'd buy one of these if you'd starting making/importing/selling these M6 pistols. I'd buy more than one if there were other caliber options for .22 barrel, like maybe .223 or the 5.7 x 28mm over the .410/.45 L.C.

The difference is, that the M6 pistol was built to chamber and fire the .45 Colt, which has a slightly larger sized bullet than the barrel of a normal M6 rifle/shotgun chambered for .410 is sized for. Meaning if you fire a .45 Colt from a gun chambered for .410 only, you risk catastrophe, injury and even death. Big chance of having the bullet get stuck in the barrel, from what I hear.

Some claim on the *internets* that they do shoot .45 Colts out of .410 guns with no problems. I know there are guns chambered to shoot various dual cartridges (.45.-70 and .410, or guns like the Thompson contender, the Taurus Judge and Public Defender and the S&W Governor to shoot .45's and .410's both) but some guns like the M6 Scout rifle .410 barrel are not.

I've read of the name of a gunsmith that will bore the chamber and the.410 barrel of the M6 Scout rifle ever so slightly to accept the .45 Colt cartridge. I think he also has to rifle the barrel which may affect performance of the shotshell loads.

So the bore itself and the chamber have to be just a wee bit larger than the standard .410 bore to accomodate both the .410 shotshell and the .45 L.C. cartridge. As the venerable Thompson Contender pistol in this dual caliber designation does.

But the M6 Scout pistol was designed from the get go to chamber the .410 and the .45 Colt. It had a different trigger design and obviously the grip was different. It debuted at a SHOT show and then either never made it to the marketplace or was on the market only a short time.

If I recall correctly, these pistols were made by CZ and imported and {to be} sold by Springfield Armory. How about it, ladies and gentlemen? How about making and selling this fine firearm?

As an aside, I never understood why Thompson Center never built a double barrel version of it's great pistol the Contender. Especially 30 or so years ago when all kinds of shooters were all a ga-ga about the Contender. Like my Dad and I. We've loved them, and soon after buying one, bought another for me.

Sure, it would've required some engineering and some r&d, but not too much. All kind of barrel and cartridge combos could've been possible, but in a double configuration. Interchangeable double barrels on a double barreled receiver. Maybe now that Smith and Wesson owns T/C, they'd consider such a project.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Some years ago, I walked into a gun shop and found a  Model 22 of 1917 Smith and Wesson that had been converted to a 3" barrel, endured a decent parkerizing job, had the proper original wood grips (or that appear to be so) and an interesting front sight attached to the shortened barrel. It was bargain priced,  and I've never seen such a low price on a "customized" 1917. The trigger had been worked on and I have never measured it, but it's like the one on a Python.

 The gun shop owners, who I've known for some time, said an old customer bought it, had a gunsmith cut and re-crown the barrel, do action work and had the new sight attached. The new sight is taller and more angular than the stock sight on these guns, and somehow a white/creme color for the tip of the sight was acheived. It's a highly functional sight, despite it's unique appearance. Whoever designed and attached that sight knew what the heck they were doing.

The other customer wearied of the gun, and traded it back to them in this highly modified condition. It was just what I had been looking for, and at a bargain price. I snagged it then and there on the spot.

I threw a pair of N frame Pachmayer Presentation grips on it and El Fisho Jr. and I ran about fifty rounds through it, then let El Fisho Jr. have at it for a couple of 50 round boxes. El Fisho Jr. is a big fan of the other S&W Model 1917 that we have, a 5 and 1/2 inch barreled Brazilian contract version in excellent condition. In any event, the gun shoots like a dream and to point of aim at our usual practice distances, ranging from 7 feet to 25 yards. Of course, those groups broaden as distances increase, but are still "in the black" on a standard FBI target, but at 7 feet to 25 feet, you'll hit a coke can sized group without much effort.

I wish more bargains like that would come along in my life. The newer 1917 hasn't been shot much either. The cylinder is as tight as the day it left the factory, and the bore is in great shape, even better than the barrel on the little fired Brazian Contract model my dad bought many years ago.

 I don't claim to originate this idea, but someone somewhere whose musings I read in a blog or magazine article once talked about the 1917 with it's tapered 5 1/2 inch barrel was really the first "Mountain Gun", way before Smith and Wesson began producing the Mountain Gun line of large framed and usually limited run guns sorta suited to being good guns for hunting or hiking or fishing in the Mountains or other locales where one might need a large handgun for a predator threat.

Both of these guns are well suited to forays into the Texas wild. 3 rounds of snakeshot and 3 rounds of ball ammo and some speedy quick reloads with full moon clips. The short barreled version I have actually shoots better for me than the longer barreled version, but El Fisho Jr. has developed far more proficiency in their accurate use than I have. He likes WWI and WWII era guns, particularly handguns. He will focus on shooting them over more modern guns every time when out at the range.

A 1917 makes a good Mountain Gun for Texas. Although our mountains in Texas are in the far Western part of the state, a good Mountain Gun can be of use in the desert, in the swamps, in the hills and valleys throughout much of the state and just all kinds of places. Ammo for these guns is readily available at semi-reasonable prices, if one shops around particularly. With a set of Pachmayers, the recoil from the gun becomes "puny" at least to me in terms of recoil from other large frame handguns goes.

For me, a Pachmayer equipped 1917 is an easy shooting large bore handgun. I'm pleased with the accuracy and more than pleased with the low recoil nature of this round in this sized gun as equipped. The 3" version is a great carry gun, and I've got a Galco shoulder holster for a 4" in frame that also fits the 1917 well, despite the 1" in difference between barrels..

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I awoke to news that a 20,000 acre wildfire was raging out near the Davis Mountains in far West Texas. It's dang near a state of it's own out there, although it's part of Texas. Heck, Brewster County, which is to the south and east, I believe, of the Davis Mountains is larger than several of them there east coast states. Brewster county is the home of the Big Bend National Park and of the glorious bergs of Alpine and Terlingua, Texas. It's sixty miles, more or less, by highway from Alpine south to Terlingua, home of the yearly big chili cookoff and right next to the National Park on the west side of the park.

I've mentioned before that one of the best filet migion meals I've ever had was at the Starlight Theater in downtown Terlingua. It pretty much is downtown Terlingua, except for the expansive general store next door to it. It might have been because I was absolutely exhausted after a day of Mrs. El Fisho and I rambling around the park, enduring a 12 hour Amtrak ride from Houston to San Antonio to Alpine, renting a car and stocking up on water and some groceries for our trip to Big Bend and getting some lunch at about noon.

In any event, regardless of why I thought it was the best steak ever at the time, it was certainly up there in the top five steak dinners of all time. I've eaten at all the famous steak eateries in Texas, California, New Orleans, Vegas and other places, and some some truly excellent meals in those places. But sometimes, all the ingredients come together in steller form and an above-excellent meal occurs.

The Starlight was one of those meals. I got to meet a member of the Flatlanders, and ended up having a drink with some of the river raft guides, who were sorta living on the Alpine-Marfa-Austin social circuit. Turns out we had some friends in common that were musicians in Austin, and some lively conversation was had between us. They related to me their favorite, and almost only, fishing spot in the area: The Langford Hot Springs in the National Park. Seems catfish often flock to this spot, particularly during cooler times, and dead shrimp are a potent bait.

I have a ton of stories from times spent in West Texas both recent and from longer ago. So whenever I see that a wildfire is raging in the Davis Mountains, I'm concerned for all the hardy folks who live in that area.

Likewise, as I said last week in a post, summer is here in Texas. It's in the low 90's as I write this. Fortunately, we're still maybe a month away from the oppressive heat and humidity that will begin in June. Although it's hot, we're not at the near 100% humidity rate that's coming down the tracks like a train with no brakes in the next few weeks, so it's still possible to engage in outdoor activities in the heat of the day without becoming drenched in sweat.

We've had no rain for several weeks now. We have been fortunate this past "winter" and "spring", such as they were intermingled for many of us here in Texas this year, to have had some big rains. Of course, we need more. We are far from recovered from the huge drought of last year, drought that brought fires and came with heat waves that were devastating on so many personal and environmental levels. Our rivers and lakes and aquifers have not fully recharged, and that's a huge problem looming over many communities who just got past the danger point in water supplies.

Numerous towns in Texas, and not out in dry West Texas I might add, have been having water supply problems up through this rainy spring. I've been surprised at some of the places whose lakes ran out of water or whose rivers ran dry. I never thought I'd see the day that the immense Llano River would run dry, or nearly so, as it courses through some of my favorite parts of the Texas Hill Country, like the picturesque Llano, Texas.

Although I was horribly sorry for all the folks affected by the drought and heat wave last year in my state, the good side of that bad news was that it gave insight on places where Mrs. El Fisho and I don't want to buy a weekend place. We're currently in the search and see mode for weekend places, and we're still searching the net for candidates. Also, when we visit areas we like, we see lots of places for sale that are not on the net, or that we haven't found on the net anyway, so just getting out and around is a great way to find a place.

Billy Ray and his Missus just found a place up in the San Angelo area. It's a nice one. It's not exactly what we're looking for but it is what they're looking for. Also, like me, Billy Ray is interested in finding a few acres to buy with at least a getaway cabin on it. The land deals are far more attractive in the counties out near San Angelo, and there are lots of properties for reasonable prices with ponds and/or live water.

Most of the areas around San Angelo did okay as far as their larger creeks and their rivers went last year. I know that several friends of mine who have kinfolk in Mills and Brown counties and who visited there last year said there was water in the creeks and rivers. I've always considered the area of San Angelo to be very nice, since first visiting there some 27 years ago, but we never really looked in that area for weekend property. But there are some plenty nice places and frankly, I'd be happy as a clam with a place with some elevation that had some amount of frontage on Spring Creek right outside of San Angelo. It's a nice creek and would pass for a river in some places, and best of all it's a great green color.

So in any event, we're getting ready as best we can for the up coming summer. Last summer killed much of our San Augustine grass, despite my best efforts at watering as the law allowed. The heat just knocked the whey out of the San Augustine. Later in the fall, I seeded Bermuda grass all around and since we had the bizarre springlike conditions in our so-called winter, the Bermuda took on great in most places. I've got a few areas I want to reseed where it didn't take, but 90% of the area seeded is at least green and covered and not creating more dust around our house. Bermuda does much better in heat and drought but like most folks brought up in Texas, I'm used to having a lush, green carpet of San Augustine grass in my yards.

So here I sit, and as Soulhat, one of my favorite Austin band from the late 80's and 90's used to sing...I'm "Praying for Rain". 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


In truth, he's never been lost. It's not surprising that many of the stories used to explain his absence are not true, such is the nature of internet lore. But I am glad that he is alive and well.

A few years ago, I posted several posts about Rod, here and here. Earlier this year, I was contacted via email by the editor of Classic Rock magazine, an excellent UK based publication that I've always bought via Barnes and Noble. I think the editor was surprised that I had heard of and even bought their magazine, and he advised me that he was on a quest to find Rod De'Ath and had stumbled across my blog. He inquired as to whether I had any direct contact information for Rod.

I didn't, but I did have the email addys of one of his cousins, and after going through checks to see if it was ok if I released the email information, I assume that Classic Rock magazine and Rod's cousin were able to get in touch thus enabling Classic Rock to do a short feature on Rod.

Wes Callihan was nice enough to send a comment via one of the old Rod De'Ath posts I had made advising me of Rod's appearance in Classic Rock magazine. Here's the link to the story and pics of Rod.

I'd been meaning to write about this, but had not. Thanks Wes, for reminding me what I needed to do.

I don't know if my information helped, but I asked the editor a few months ago if he would send me a link to whatever story he came up with. Believe it or not, the editor DID REMEMBER and last month sent me a link to the story and pic of Rod De'Ath, alive and well.

I really appreciated the fact that this great editor from Classic Rock magazine remembered to email me and tell me he had found Rod and sent a link to his story. It's nice not to be forgotten, as so many folks we deal with nowadays seem to do.