Monday, December 31, 2012


One piece of very interesting gun store lore I learned last week was that folks in Texas, at least a certain part of Texas, are buying .25 ACP rounds just as fast as some of the other fast sellers these
days, like .223, 5.56, 7.62 x 39, 9mm and so on.

I was in my friend's gun store, and a desperate looking fellow walked in and asked if there were any .25 auto bullets left. The owner said yes, and fetched one, and the fellow quickly paid cash and left. It was noonish and my friend said he had sold several boxes of .25 ACP that day, and would likely sell several more before the end of business.

My friend, the LGS owner, told me that this same run on .25 ACP ammo happened in the early 1990's when the Clinton gun thing kicked in, folks came in and he sold out quickly of .25 auto ammo. Fast.

He says normally, he sells a box or two a month of .25 ACP. It's a slow seller.

Although some of the buyers, like one who came in and bought the 8 or 10 boxes the store had, buy multiples, my friend says most of these .25 ACP ammo buyers just get one box.

The other fellows I know that own another gun shop some distance from the one described above also indicate a similar experience, and had actually stocked up on .25 ACP in case of a run like the one going on right now. Like my friend above, these guys say most buyers are also single box at a time buyers.

I know at least one reader of this blog has some very cool pocket autos, or at least one, and if memory serves they're in .25 auto. I wonder if he sees this .25 ACP ammo sales run phenomenon in his neck of the woods?

I have one theory, and it's one of those that popped into my head. The .25 ACP run is mostly those folks for whom that's the only gun they have, and they figure a box of new bullets might come in handy sometime. They're not preppers, they just want some bullets for their gun.

Which begs the question, does this mean that .25 ACP owners make a run on ammo more than .38 Special, .40 Caliber and .45 ACP owners do, or does this mean there are a ton of .25 ACP owners in my area?

I always figured that lots of folks have Glocks and .38 Specials and .22's and shotguns of various sorts. I guess I've underestimated the number of folks who still pack the .25 auto.

Some of the stores I've been to were low on .22 cartridges, but all have had .38 Special and .45 ACP.

Now that I think of it, I didn't see any .25 ACP ammo at Academy or at Walmart. They both had .38 Special, .45 ACP and lots of non-military hunting ammo and birdshot (all slugs and larger shot and buckshot were gone). Neither store had many .22 rounds either. Academy had .22 short rounds, and Walmart had a small box or two left of 50 rounds each.


Saturday, December 29, 2012


Pickins were slim at gun stores in several parts of Texas this week. Today I visited a brand new Academy in Houston and it's normally full racks were just about bare. I've been in Academy stores many times after Christmas, and while sales of guns certainly increase for gifts, I've never seen bare shelves like I saw tonight, even in the Clinton years.

The long gun rack at Academy was damn near bare. There were three double barrels, a handful of bolt action .22's, a couple of cheaper bolt action/scope combos and that was it. I didn't see any Glocks in the case either, and usually they have a good number of those on hand.
Usually they have displayed about 200 or so guns with many in the boxes above them.

The Academy ammo shelves were bare, of course,  of any .223 or 5.56, 7.62 x 39 or 9mm. At all stores I've visited there were some Glocks and other high capacity handguns, but those are selling at a rapid clip as well.

Interestingly, they had 4 Pro-Mag 20 round AK mags on the rack still at regular prices. That was it as far as high capacity mags.

Last week, I visited another Academy in San Marcos while passing through there. They had some 20 round AR mags that sold before my very eyes, and a couple of the .22 version of the M and P rifle. They still had pump shotguns and other lever and bolt action rifles as well.

Still, they were running low on Glocks at that point before Christmas, and their shelves were bare of the same ammo mentioned above.

One of my friends, Max, was talking about capitalizing on the fact that a lot of folks were trading in some pretty tricked out hunting bolt action rifles to get themselves a so-called black rifle in the past week. He was talking about hitting a couple of his favorite gun stores over the holidays to try to find a bargain on a great rifle with serious work having been done to it.

I have a friend who owns a gun store nearby, and when visiting him the other day I watched several folks come in with some nice Remington 700's to put in trade on a black rifle.

He made so much money last week he decided to book a last minute guided trip to one of the mountain states for big dollars. I don't know what he's hunting but I'm sure it's large and expensive to hunt. Besides, he's sold out of all the same things other stores are now, and business is more or less back to normal for all the other kinds of customers his shop draws, like black powder and hunters and the like. So he left it in able care and took off.

Gone Fishin', as it were.

My friend still had some moderately priced AK's and SKS's on the racks, but none of the AR-15 (I'm old school)/M4 type rifle around. Those were the ones selling like hotcakes. Two weeks ago, he had probably 60 of these rifles on his wall.

Also, he said that any kind of pistol grip or short barreled "home defense" type shotguns are disappearing from shelves as well.

He had, and I say had,  a shipping container full of new 30 round metal Government AR mags stored at his land, and was selling several thousand a day, and basically emptied the shipping container in just over a week. And at greatly inflated prices, I might add.

I've got another friend I emailed the other day, he's a gun shop owner as well. He still had ammo, because he had been stockpiling the above-mentioned calibers and magazines for the AR, the AK and Glocks for years in anticipation of current events.  They, I might add, did not jack up their prices on guns, ammo or magazines in response to recent events. Their prices on magazines were always higher than you could find elsewhere for the past few years, but now they are bargain priced compared to the high pricing going on for these items.

He said sales had been brisk, doing almost a years worth of business literally in a week, and they had sold all but one or two of their black rifles and all but two of many AK's. 

Because they had stockpiled lots of black rifle ammo, they were moving huge amounts, limiting buyers to 100 rounds of each variety to ensure all customers could get some ammo. Again, they were selling Tula ammo for the same low price they've always sold it, a few cents more than Wal-Mart.

He was VERY concerned about getting any more merchandise anytime soon, be it black rifles, high capacity magazines or even ammo. He's no newbie, he's been in business something like 30 years.  He and his partners have multiple suppliers, but many of them are not in a position when to predict they will have more product. His concern is going out of business when their inventory is gone.

Both of these shops make a lot of their money off of either trade in's or folks selling them guns. Both of these stores say that good or great quality trade in's have slowed, with sort of lower tier guns coming in as trades for the black rifles instead of the better and more expensive guns they were getting as trades before two weeks ago. 

He told of folks walking in the door wanting to sell SKS's, and not particularly good examples or models of them, for several thousand dollars. While one day that might happen, that's not today.

I have not checked the ammo cabinets at WalMart to see what their stocks are, although I went as recently as last night for a quick trip. In the past, it's always been feast or famine at the wallyworld ammo cabinet. Either they have lots of everything or they are out of all the stuff I'd be interested in, which is a wide range. 

The nearest WalMart to me doesn't sell guns, only ammo, but other Walmarts in the area do sell guns, and I suspect their business for Ruger Mini-14's has been brisk, as that's the gun I usually see for sale in Wallyworld that would be on the ban list. I do know that on the website wallyworld has a vast amount of firearms that are for sale.

I heard disappointing news about Cheaper Than Dirt and Dick's Sporting Goods regarding their policies on the sales of certain rifles. I've done a lot of business over the years with the former and some in the recent past for El Fisho Jr. with the latter, for several hundred dollars. They have a square stern canoe for sale at Dick's that I've had my eye on since I saw it at a Dick's in Las Vegas, and I recently saw one at a store in Texas. 

I'll be refraining from any patronage of Dick's in the future, and have a wait and see attitude for Cheaper Than Dirt in terms of what their final statement will be on the subject. It's a shame because I've seen some really nice double barreled shotguns at very reasonable prices at Dick's, and although not in the buying mode for them currently, it was certainly on a list of possibles for the future for skeet and trap shooting.

It will be interesting to see the response of companies in the near future. Please feel free to post comments, with links please for verification, of other companies who are going for politically correct instead of supporting the Constitution.

Friday, December 28, 2012


The folks on the Texas Fishing Forum seem to agree with me about at least one thing. That the fishing for stocked rainbows on the fly gets somewhat slack after the air temp rises above 55 degrees. I realize water temps are slow to change generally, compared with air temps, but for whatever reason it's been my experience that the chillier it is, the friskier and hungrier the trout are.

I have not done a great deal of reading about trout in terms of their physiology and I know our stocked trout are raised in Texas hatcheries. I suspect the water temp is keep cool there, relatively speaking, since to survive during 100 degree plus days requires some cool water.

I figure that these hatchery trout just have an innate and inborn and genetic liking for the chillier temps, and their nature kicks in when it's say 30 degrees outside and something tells them to hit that fly or nymph because it's food but when it's 70 degrees air temp that same fly doesn't seem worth the effort to rise and pursue.

Some interesting recommendations over at the Texas Fishing Forum in terms of flies to use, and I'll list a few in case you don't want to make the jump. One of the posters on that thread, or at least one, seems to have a lot of knowledge about Texas trout fishing as I've read many of his posts and think he's knowledgeable.

This fellow recommends a beadhead or cone head woolly bugger (booger?) in olive or black for topwater and a small, dark beadhead nymph below. Another poster at the site recommends a PMD parachute and a black midge dropper in black and olive, as well as an Elk Hair Caddis with a black dubbed body.

I myself have had great luck with black midge and dark nymph patterns as well as, believe it or not, small Dave's Hopper flies. This is in spite of the fact that grasshopper season is long gone by the time trout stocking happens. In any event, maybe some grasshoppers hit the hatcheries when the fish are small and they see them. I just know that the Dave's Hopper has caught trout for me in Texas in winter.

On another thread at the forum, one fellow mentions that the springs are 80% down on McKittrick Creek in the Guadalupe Mountains. That's the home of the other trout population that survives year round in Texas, the other being the Guadalupe River below Canyon Dam.

The poster mentions he went on a hike with National Park folks to that creek earlier this month and reports on the greatly diminished output of the springs there due to our on-going Texas drought. The National Park forbids fishing in McKittrick Creek for the now native born rainbows (from rainbows stocked there years ago before the Government bought the land) and they flourish with literally no natural predators and the cool water in the high mountains.

It's a shame that McKittrick Creek is having a hard time, but much of West Texas and lots of the Hill Country and other parts of Texas have yet to recover or fully recover from the effects of the bad drought of 2011. This year held some promise early on, with some rain, but we haven't had near enough rain to fill our rivers and more importantly lakes and recharge our aquifers to give flow to the springs.

Our area has water, but it wouldn't take much to put us back on severe water restrictions, as we've had the past two summers. It was sort of like a Seattle day around here the past couple of days, not really rainy but just drizzly all day long. Better than nothing.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Mrs. El Fisho got me a great gift under the tree this year, a vintage fishing rod that came at a bargain price. I had never heard of these before, but it's exactly, and I mean exactly, what I've been looking for.



Information is scarce about these rods. I've found a few for sale at astronomical prices, 10 to 20 times what was paid for my example. Truly a bargain.

And as I've rambled on time and time again about, just what I was looking for. An ultralight fly rod about 5 foot long for fishing the brushy creeks and rivers in Central Texas and the Hill Country. It's a bonus that it has sliding reel rings and can be used as a micro ultralight fishing rig as well.

If anyone has any information regarding these rods, I'd appreciate knowing what you know. What I know has been gleaned off a couple of fishing discussion forums and a few high end auction sites and thus has no cites to verify reliability.

Here's one thread at Fiberglass Fly Rodders that talks about the rod and has some great pics, a couple of which I've posted with attribution. The owner there says it's made by a company called Phillipson.

I'm ashamed to say, after years of fishing with both fiberglass and composite rods and still owning and using both to this day, that I can't tell what this rod is made of. Perhaps fiberglass since the post at the forum above is a fiberglass fishing rod group, but maybe not.

I'll be contacting A and F to seek information on this rod but frankly, have little hope in product archives there unless there is some little old man or woman who has been working there forever with a photographic memory of products gone by or access to old catalogs. I could be wrong. A and F sold lots of sporting goods in earlier times, and some of the stuff I've seen is quite high end.

I'll also contact Dr. Todd Larson, whose website on fishing history is featured in my blogroll. Perhaps he knows something of this rod and it's history.


I've tried it out in the yard with a one weight forward line that seems like it was made for the rod. The reel, a Redington 2/3 (the smallest they make and the smallest I own) works very well and weighs in at 3.5 ounces, which works well with the rod, but the reel is a bit big (with the small grip) to allow my hand to totally fit the grip. The diameter of this reel is 2.6".

I did find mention on a thread that a 2" j. austin forbes avon reel would be a good fit, and I'll be looking for a deal on one of those. I looked at the company website and the reel weighs in at 1.5 oz, which is perfect for this size of rod and so I'll be looking for a bargain on one of these and looking for similar weight reels that would fit the rod well.

No problem there. The Redington reel will work fine and feels great and balances well on the rod.

I ordered some grip cork spacers from a rod building company. One or two spaces properly cut and slid onto the first section of rod that abuts the handle instantly extends the handle length. I've used this method before.

In the past, I've taken a small piece of rawhide thong run underneath the cork spacers as they are being slid onto the rod will keep them firmly seated if the hole is properly sized.

So the grip problem is solved. Until I get the spacers in the mail, I've wrapped some of the camo fabric self-adhesive tape that's 2" wide that El Fisho Jr. wraps around his airsoft guns. It doesn't leave a mark and it works well. And it's cushy on the thumb, which is the part of my hand contacting the grip extension.

One of the forum folks who has one of these said he used a WF4 weight line and was happy with it. I just happen to have a WF4 wt. Orvis line on a lightweight but larger reel I'll try as well.

I was able to get distance of 25 feet or so with the 1 weight line, in a pretty good side wind, and that's awesome with a rod that is 4'8" long. The action is surprisingly good, particularly for having so many ferrules.

Most of the fishing done with this rod wouldn't be for distance but short range casts. The windy conditions kept me from checking out how accurate it was a pinpoint spots but it was largely accurate for my first time out with it and being such a unique rod.


I had just as much fun and far more distance throwing spinning casting weights with a couple of different reels.

In testing. it cast well with up to 8 lb. test but really seemed to like the 6 lb. Of course, 4 lb is appropriate as well but I like that extra heft, such that it is, of 6 lb mono or some kind of Spiderwire type line in the 6 lb size, rather than a 4 lb. I suppose the same would hold true if you used one of the braided lines in 4 lb size but a larger strength.

Most of the places I'd fish such a rod would likely have surface or subsurface vegetation to fish through as well as some abrasive rocks to run over. Thus, the more the better, I think, within ultralight limits.

I have a teeny tiny Pflueger spinning reel I bought for $20 with an extra spool at Wallyworld a few years ago for a Llano River fishing trip. It's significantly smaller and lighter than either of my other favorite ultralight spinning reels, the venerable Shakespeare 2052 and a Garcia Mitchell 308. It's a great reel and has a great drag, a necessity using lines this light where larger fish are a possibility.


But the Pflueger is sorta big for the Passport. Not so much size wise but weight wise, coming in a 6 ounces. It's such a lightweight rod, which is amazing for how ever old it is, so the weight really stands out.
I have several of the Zebco closed face underspin trigger reels and they are a much better fit with the Passport rod size wise and but weight wise it's up there at 5.7 oz. and is spun with 4 lb test. It's not a bad reel, but I'd get far more distance with an open face reel.

Still, the Zebco will see duty with the Passport because the Zebco is not so delicate as a spinning reel with a bail, and will thus travel better. Zebco does make a spinning reel about this size but I have not seen it in person to judge the size myself and I couldn't find out the weight online.

One thought is to find a Daiwa Microspin travel combo to look at and see how much those reels weigh. I have the Microcast system version of the travel rod and that reel is about as small as the Zebco above.

I'd like to get some kind of reel going for about 3 ounces. That might be a pipe dream for a micro ultra light spinning reel. What I don't want is one of the super gimmicky micro spinning reels that come on the "pen rods" that telescope and are certainly of low end Chinese manufacture. The reel body is more or less the size of a quarter. I'm not talking that small.

So I've got two reels to use right now, the Pflueger and the Zebco. But I'd like to find a REALLY ultra lightweight reel for this rod. I don't know if anyone makes ultralight spinning reels significantly lighter than what I've already got, but there always seems to be products out there to surprise me.

I've seen something called the Micron Tundra, probably Chinese, but it weighs in a 4-4/5 ounces, which is 1-1/5 ounce less than the Pflueger and only once ounce less than the Zebco.

I'm not looking for a high end reel either for this rig, although I'd like to know who makes any high end reels that are really small, either fly or spinning. So if you know of any, give a holler.

Any ideas, fisher folks, on a tiny but highly functional micro spinning reel weighing in about 3 ounces?


It looks like it might have been made in the 1960's to 1970's, although one forum poster guessed from the 1950's to the 1960's. My reason for later dating is that, apart from the rod section that plugs into the handle, the ferrules are the more modern type. Older style travel rods, and I have a few, with metal ferrules are heavier.

These ferrules might be metal, but they are covered with some durable material and to me appear to be more similar to the composite ferrules that have been common for 25 or 30 years.

The rod itself weighs 1.5 oz. and some other stats according to the poster on this thread are that there were less than 100 made and that the case dimensions are 6-1/2" x 3-1/4" x 7/8". It's a compact package for sure.

I'll post more on this rod and my search for a good match in a spinning reel for it later.


For me, this rod will be perfect to have in a shoulder bag while fishing with other rods, in case small fish or brushy shore cover is an issue. The whole deal can be carried in a small bag, and I found that a small padded shoulder bag once made for carrying the old portable CD "walkman" and some extra CD's fits the rod case, a couple of reels and some appropriate flys and lures.

I was thinking that a cheap and well used repo flap holster that abound at my LGS might be the right size to make into a "reel on rod" case. Simply line the barrel portion with some cordura cloth and then enclose what the flap doesn't cover with some leather or heavy cordura, secured by a velcro flap and you could have a reel on rod carrier that fits on a belt. A reel on rod carrier also allows the rod to be carried with line rigged through the guides and a fly or lure attached and you just assemble the rod and go to town.

I could see this being a primary rod in some of the places I fish. For smaller fish or for brushy shore conditions fishing for larger fish. A 3 lb. bass would be a hoot on this rod, and a 5 lb catfish (I've had many catfish hit flies and spinners under shade trees in the summer) would be a challenge.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


We've been RV shopping, and will continue to do so. It will be a good thing to have when we finally find some land we'd like to buy.

We thought we had limited our future home site and land to an area roughly 100 miles north of Austin, Texas, until the Llano River ran dry in 2011. I'd been wanting to find a place to set up for retirement on the Llano for the better part of the last thirty years, and the past few we had looked fairly hard between Mason and Llano.

Who would have thought the rivers in my dream place would run dry? Without the rivers and the fishing and the wildlife they support, it's just like the West Texas Desert, more or less.

It's made us think about other states, where perhaps water issues won't be as bad as in the Texas Hill Country. That basically means snow, and a snow lifestyle to some extent, as we'd like to live somewhere where I could trout fish. Trout fishing means mountains generally, and colder water from snow runoff and spring fed creeks and rivers and lakes. Which, of course, means snow and a snow lifestyle of some sort.

The bonus of buying land in other states is the cheap prices compared to recreational acreage here in Texas. Of course, we don't want to live off the grid. We want electricity, water and sewage if possible from a system and a water well of our own. These last few years have taught us that it would be a good idea to have our own water supply collected from rainfall and if possible from a private well.

Still, recreational land with creek or river frontage and/or a pond or lake is a fraction of what that land costs here in Texas. And for the most part, much of the land is far more picturesque and the temperatures much more, well, temperate.

All of which relates to future gun purchases. I agree with many things that gun writer Massad Ayoob says about guns, and one thing I agree with is that guns are tools, particularly in the context of living in a rural setting. One tool does it's job better than another tool, which in turn does it's job better than the first tool.

American Handgunner Magazine Editor Roy Huntington, another gun writer I often see eye to eye with, remarked recently that upon moving to rural Missouri, he finds the .22 rifle and the .410 shotgun to be the most useful of tools for issues requiring firearms on the farm. He's apparently bought at least multiple .22 rifles for keeping in different places, so he's not running for a gun when he needs it.

A couple of guns I'm looking for have nostalgic ties for me. Guns we used to own or still own and I'd like another. I won't be running out and buying any bear guns soon, until and unless we get a place in bear country. Well, except for that Model 29-2 that a friend has that he wants to trade real bad....

The H and R  Model No. 929 .22 revolver. Cantankerous, loud and shoots a bit off, but a fun gun to shoot that I've shot thousands of rounds though.



The ROSSI side by side double barreled .22 derringer, with double exposed hammers and triggers.




There's a shotgun I'm seeking, a Spanish .410 shotgun apparently sold and/or made under different names, but the key feature being that the shotgun folds in half. My LGS tells me these are somewhat common. I've found lots of ads for them in closed auctions, and have searches up now for them.

The particular brand I like is called El Faisan which according to internet information/lore was made by a company called Sarasqueta, a side by side, double barreled, double trigger, double exposed hammer shotgun. Generally with a 27.5" barrel, it folds completely in half to 27.5", the length of the barrel. I'm not sure what they weigh in at but I'm guessing around 4 1/2 to 5 pounds in .410 gauge.

I've seen them in .410 and .16 and .20 gauge, but I'm looking for the .410 version. All the ones I've seen have the break open lever on the right side of the action, then a button at the pivot point of the break open barrel that further folds the shotgun in half. The last auction I missed sold one for about $331 dollars, so the price is right.


I'm still looking for a great 3" Model 13 Smith and Wesson. I'm sure there are some other Smith and Wesson handguns that would interest me as well. 

I occasionally stumble across a great price on 7 1/2" Ruger Blackhawks in .44 Mag and .41 Mag. Seems a lot of these guns have been sold and they are usually cheap on the used market. My dad had a .41 Magnum Blackhawk he carried at our several family places for years. I saw him nail everything from large water moccasins and copperheads to bobcats to rather large swamp feral hogs with the .41.

Again, I tend to see lots of them used and have for years, and the ones with the 7 1/2" barrels seem to be priced way cheaper than shorter barreled versions. It's not a CCH, so having the longer barrel length makes sense in the field.

Still, .44 Magnum ammo is easier to find for sale than .41 Magnum, if not less expensive. I'll note that another fine firearm is the Model 58 Smith and Wesson, an N frame in .41 Magnum, but with fixed sights.  Too bad the Model 29 doesn't come like this. It's sorta like a swollen K frame Model 13. Fixed sights won't get knocked off a gun if it bangs into something or takes a fall. The Model 58 is one of those tough firearms suited for tough duty.


I'd like to get a trade type gun, and there's an entry level percussion long arm I've seen that I'm interested in. Something basic.

As I've mentioned before, I'd also like to finish out a Kentucky Rifle kit over the next year, and perhaps a matching pistol while I'm at it.

I'd like to get a Uberti replica Walker Colt with a Cartridge Conversion system so that low power cartridges can be shot as well as blackpowder loads.

I was real interested in the Pietta coach shotgun, a black powder shotgun with legal 14" barrels, legal I suppose because it's black powder and not cartridge. But it's kinda pricey, despite it's fun factor.


I want to get a single shot barrel pump rifle that comes with a scope and the whole shebang.

I'd also like to get a multi-pump like the Crosman M4 copy as well as something more serious like a Sheridan Silver Streak or Blue Streak.

Wild Ed, over in my blogroll, sometime ago customized a Crosman single shot multi pump pistol, and I'd like to have a go at doing some of that myself. I have one of those Crosman single shot multi pump pistols in stock form, and it's a very useful and fun airgun with some real power.

Wild Ed had a point in the series of article he wrote. If you are ever forced to hunt for your meat, airguns and black powder guns are two very serious choices that should be considered. Hundreds of pellets and likewise, lots of bullets and powder and the like can be purchased for the price of a cheap box of cartridges.

Likewise, Wild Ed made the point that CO2 cartridges for CO2 guns or compressed air for the high powered pneumatic guns available, or for the bb machine guns might render a gun useless without a ready supply of compressed air or CO2. Thus, the spring and pump airguns seem like something good to have around that will always work, and work cheaply and quietly.

It makes sense to hunt squirrel, rabbit and other small game with airguns. Likewise, if you can save a cartridge by using a high powered airgun or black powder gun to take larger game or drive off predators, you're also saving a cartridge.


I messed around with bows as a teen. A friend of my dad's gave us a couple of nice Fred Bear bows complete with quivers and all kinds of target and hunting arrows. One of the bows was a recurve and the other was a simpler bow, which I preferred. I'd like to get back into some archery, and would also like a crossbow.

I used to do quite a bit of bowfishing as a youth for gar. Problem is, nothing to do with them when you get one. Can't eat it, or at least I won't, and have known people who said they do but really I don't care much to do any bowfishing. A bow fishing rig would be good to have for subsistence living, but  Texas laws prohibit the hunting of game fish with a bow. You can only hunt non-game fish by bow.


I'm interested in getting several suppressors. The ones my friends have work great and make shooting much more enjoyable. I'd like to start with one of the Sparrow .22 models that will take .22 LR, .22 Magnum, 5.7 x28 and several other calibers like .22 Hornet and .17 HMR. A multi-use device that could be interchanged.

I've always thought the dedicated Ruger Mark .22 pistols that have an aftermarket integral barrel installed were neat. I've seen several of these, and shot one made by AWC, and they are impressive firearms.

Main thing I've learned in reading about suppressors is to get one easy to disassemble and clean. Most folks seem to use sonic cleaners, just take them apart and drop them in the cleaner for a day.

There are several multi-caliber versions on the market, including one that takes both 7.62 x 39 and 7.62 NATO and .308. Nice combo.

Two suppresors that I've seen shot in the recent past were inexpensive ones for the .223/5.56, and they were quite impressive, as were the 9mm and .45 ACP suppressors pistol I've seen.

I don't know much about attachment systems but will learn and I'm aware that pistols will need extended and threaded barrels for most of these. Rifles would take some alteration as well, although again, that's something I'm learning about.

I do know it's far healthier to be hearing so little report from the gun that you can hear the action cycle on the gun you're shooting. Likewise, in a defense or home defense situation, hearing loss is a particular threat and a real one if a weapon is discharged indoors.

I also have to say I was very impressed with the reduction in sound from the Red Jacket Saiga that they made and showed on their TV show and that they apparently sell via their store.

It would be worth getting a federal tax stamp for a short barreled shotgun to have the Red Jacket suppressor installed ( a short barrel because the suppressor is kinda long), but it's not on the short list because it's a pretty expensive item.

After watching the bad guy in No Country for Old Men, who used a suppressed Remington 1100 that was also short-barreled, I wouldn't mind having one of those either. again with a tax stamp both for the SBS and for the suppressor.

It would be a handy item, that shotgun suppressor, to switch between an 870 and an 1100. A 13" or 14" barrel on an 1100 with a suppressor would be about the right length for home defense.

The popular logic was after the suppressed shotgun appeared in No Country for Old Men that a shotgun couldn't be suppressed, or at least effectively. Until that dude at Red Jacket showed them wrong.


Toyota is doing me no favors here in Texas. Despite being a loyal Toyota owner for many years (there's one in the driveway now and over the past 30 years we've owned three other Toyotas, amongst other brands, between Mrs. El Fisho and I). I think we count as loyal customers.

As anyone who has spent much time reading my musings knows, the past couple of years I've made several posts about why Toyota does not sell the current "real" LandCruiser 70 here in America that they sell elsewhere in the world.

Here's a few pics of what you could waltz down to your local Toyota dealer if you lived down under and drive home, if you wanted. Some very cool vehicles.

They've got one called the Troop Carrier GXL. That's the one for me, a hardtop SUV in the classic design. The pickup truck version, particularly the double cab models, are also really cool vehicles.



You can go right here and see the REAL LandCruiser lineup as it sells in Australia, Singapore, Thailand and much of Europe, to name a few places.

But not in America

In America, we get this bloated excuse for a LandCruiser. Yes, it's much better than most other 4x4's, but very expensive and full of luxury items. It's a Luxury 4x4 that has not forgotten it's off road skills, but it's not a 4x4 like the LandCruiser 70 is a 4x4.


So the American version of the LandCruiser looks like an upgrade on a Lincoln Navigator.

Which vehicle do you think would last the next twenty years with a minimum of problems and a maximum of reliability? Heck, the fancy electronics alone on the American version would be enough to require big dollars 15 years from now when obsolete.

It's interesting to note that Australia gets to buy not only the fantastic LandCruiser 70, but also the LandCruiser 200, which is the same more or less as our American LandCruiser. They also get the FJ Cruiser down under.

I submit there are lots of owners of Land Rover Defenders and Jeep Unlimited Rubicons that would buy this Toyota. All other off road factors being more or less equal, the reliability question alone is enough to make the LandCruiser 70 the clear choice in a real utility vehicle in America.

I didn't really get into the specifics of the Aussie LandCruiser 70, but I read enough to know that it does have airbags and emissions controls (for Euro standards) so it's not like a total redesign of the line is necessary. No doubt some redesign and maybe a different engine or such, but for a carmaker that's easy.

How about it Toyota? How about a real LandCruiser in America?

Truth be known, were I a single man, which I am not and do not intend to be ever again, the FJ Cruiser might well be a great ride for me. It's just a bit small for family + kids. The half-rear doors wouldn't be as much of an issue for a single guy, or even a kidless couple, but add kids into the equation and those doors become a pain in the arse soon enough.

While the FJ would have enough cargo room for me the single guy with the rear seats folded down, with kids in the rear seats, the cargo room is sparse, when considering you've got to load cargo for a family and not a single person.

I know from owning a Wrangler that having sparse cargo area is a big drawback to taking the vehicle on family trips if you've got kids. Lots of times, we wanted the Wrangler to drive when we got to where we were going, but there just wasn't enough room for all the stuff a then family of three takes in the Wrangler to get there. And once El Fisho Jr. came along, there really wasn't room with all the baby stuff.

I suppose I could have gotten a roof rack and luggage carrier and maybe even one of those luggage trays that plugs into the trailer hitch and packed the Wrangler like it was a bug out vehicle. I do think, after years of thinking about this, that a good roof rack with a luggage carrier is the way to take a trip with a Jeep, even a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4 door.

But instead we got a bigger 4x4 SUV, not quite the SUV that the Wrangler was with it's V-8 and five speed standard but adequate for most family needs and most fishing trips. And now I want something substantial. Something I can ford a fordable river in, at one of my usual fishing spots.

Come on Toyota, give a fella a break over here in America and start selling the LandCruiser 70 over here.

Monday, December 24, 2012


My current boss is a big hunter and shooter, and like me, has been all of his life. Once, when we were out at his family's huge place, about 300 acres, we were doing some target and skeet/trap shooting with the kids. My childhood shotgun was an Harrington and Richardson Topper single shot in .410, and his was the same in .20 gauge.

I had brought mine along for the kids to use, as did he, unknown to each other that we each owned childhood H and R Topper shotguns.

My grandfather had essentially the same gun, in 12 gauge, and it was probably a Stevens as I recall but it is unfortunately gone forever. It was one of his main hunting guns to send one of his many kids out with. Only one shot, so make it count, boy, as I imagine he would say, living poor in the country during the depression.

My father learned to shoot with that single shot 12 gauge. It would have been sometime during WWII, when he was about 8 or 10. 

He had watched his father and brothers and brothers in law shoot a variety of firearms, but had been told he would start with the shotgun when the day came for him to learn to shoot.

Shells and cartridges were way too expensive to allow him to learn to shoot in a practice setting, even for one shot.

One day came, as I said during WWII, when his much older brothers and brothers in law were away in the armed forces, his father was out tending a field or moving the herd to a different pasture and was unavailable.

My grandmother summoned my father with a whispered tone, telling him that a flock of blackbirds had just landed in a big oak tree near the pond and creek. She gave him the 12 gauge, told him it was on half-cock and was loaded with birdshot. She recommended he sneak along the treeline and approach the birds from cover, and off he went.

As he told the story, once he got more or less under the tree he aimed and let fire. Either his posture, his young age or his fear of the "kick" he knew was coming resulted in him flat on his back on the ground, knocked down by the recoil.

His shoulder smarted, but around him lay several dozen blackbirds. His mother was very pleased, and made blackbird pie for dinner that evening. Apparently that was a specialty of hers in those days when meat was scarce and was considered good eating.

He was the hero of the family that night and on into the next day for bringing home the bacon. He was allowed the clean the gun by himself, as he had helped on many prior occasions.

I got to shoot that gun several times when I was a kid, and it did have a pretty stout kick to it. Although it had a recoil pad, I was young the first time I shot it, along with other cousins who wanted to shoot one of the "family guns".

They also had a double barreled shotgun and a few handguns and several rifles of both the cartridge and black powder variety when my dad was coming up. At times, my grandfather was employed as a deputy sheriff and carried either a SAA in .45 Colt or a S and W double action in .38 Special.

That was my father's childhood. In terms of years, it was right at 75 years ago or so. It seems so distant now, but back in my childhood it was only 30 years before and the stories rang direct from my father and grandmother and other relatives about life in those days. Before electricity hit their part of East Texas. Before they owned a car.

Some forty years after the depression, when I was a kid and my father had been teaching me how to hunt and fish and find animals in the woods and various other forms of woods craft, I got to hear a lot of his stories about growing up in those days, when dollars were scarce and folks were often hungry.

So I guess that's why he started me on a single shot shotgun, the H and R Topper in .410. It's still a great shotgun, with a case colored receiver. We had other shotguns already in .410 and .20 and .12 gauges, and soon I was allowed to use them for hunting as well. But my first few quail hunts on family land with my dad in then largely undeveloped Cypress, Texas were with the .410 single shot shotgun.

The H and R line of shotguns, and many of their pistols made in previous years, are great values in guns. I see oodles of 12 and 20 gauge H and R's at gun shops in a variety of conditions but mostly very well used, and I've been waiting for a couple of those 1970's vintage guns in excellent condition.

Every person who has a shotgun for home defense or for sporting use should consider an H and R shotgun in the same caliber(s) as a backup should the need ever arise. If the primary shotgun breaks or malfunctions seriously, it would be nice to have a gun around that takes that kind of ammo to put immediately into service. Yes, it is a single shot, but better than a baseball bat for the minimalist.

Many a bird hunting trip has been saved when an extra shooter appears for the trip with no shotgun or when a shotgun malfunctions or breaks. Having the H and R as a spare saved us on one  trip when a double barrel gun's hinge pin broke.

As I recently posted, the suppressor company AAC recently modified a line of H and R Handi-Rifles for using a suppressor and shooting the 300 Blackout cartridge. It's an interesting gun and according to info on the web, will sell for less than $400 without the suppressor.

I'd like to see the "blackout" versions of these guns in .223 and some other calibers that are more standard. It'd be REALLY COOL to see one with .223/5.56 with extra barrels available in 7.62 x     39mm as well as 7.62 x 54r since both of those are great calibers and are cheap to shoot, especially the latter. The Russian calibers being the Eastern Bloc version of the Thompson Contender Rifle for the Handi-Rifle.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


I have a fascination and interest with old Sears bolt action shotguns, made from sometime after WWII until the 60's or 70's, I believe.

I've got two of these, both family guns. One's a 20 gauge that my uncle famously cut down to be a snake gun, featuring a 19" barrel and a pistol grip. It's several inches over the minimum length overall, and it's really not a bad snake gun at all. It has a large ring attached to the bottom sling loop for attaching a caribiner or rope so that if you've got this gun in a canoe or jonboat and it falls in, you've got it tied to the boat and it's retrieveable.

This 20 gauge ran many trot lines in deep East Texas on the Trinity with my uncle and then many more with me further south on the Trinity and on the San Jacinto River and on Lakes Houston, Livingston and Conroe.

My uncle also had a 16 gauge version which is in unadulterated for, complete with a decent adjustable twist choke. It's the same gun, but in 16 with a 28" barrel and it's just about right for lots of things you might want a shotgun for.

I'd like to find a few more of these in 20 and 16 gauge. There was a a recall over a decade ago of the 12 gauge variety of these guns, and so I'd rather avoid them. They're on a larger frame anyway, and are quite a bit heavier.

I plan to do some rehabbing to my uncle's gun. I think a good parkerizing is called for as would be a cool front fiber optic sight and a nice rear sight with some dots. Maybe even an imitation Eotech type sight. I've seen some cheap ones that work quite well, and I don't want to spend a lot on this gun. The stock is in great shape, and after thirty years of shooting, the cut down pistol grip has worn smooth in all the right places where it was cut and could use a little refinishing.

When I first got my uncle's cut down bolt action shotgun, the pistol grip was well cut but rough around the cuts. I took some varying degrees of sandpaper and wore it pretty smooth, but years of shooting and carrying it with wet or sweaty hands have really worn it to the perfect size and shape.

Some would say too bad it's not a Remington 870 or other kind of pump or semi-auto shotgun, but I do like the old bolt actions. I've been working on them so long, I understand how they function, and that's of interest to me as well.


I'm spending this holiday season very relaxed today, not thinking about politics and the gun control debate or any of that which is so popular around the web right now.

I came across an interesting thread last night that had several years of posts about Baikal and other low priced Double Rifles, mostly made by Baikal but perhaps branded as Remington or USSG. It is mostly about the .45-70 Caliber Baikal Double Rifle but like many long discussion threads has twists and turns.


I'm still interested in a double rifle, and the Baikal or one of it's sub-brands, and preferably a used one, is all I can afford. I've seen some Baikal shotguns and even a few Baikal combo guns (.22 caliber only, not the centerfire versions) and the build quality wasn't bad. No, it wasn't a finish comparable with 1960's Browning from Belgium or of that nature, but I think some nice stock polishing and finishing could help the appearance of these weapons immensely, as well as a little careful polishing of the metal of the gun itself.


Of course, like every other double rifle fan, I immensely enjoying seeing James Bond use one to save the world in Skyfall. Nobody does it better on screen, and this time it was done (save the world) with a vintage and gorgeous double rifle. Well done.

I'd like to have a double rifle like the one shown above, and here's a description of it from IMFDB:

Anderson Wheeler 500 NE Double Rifle

During the assault on Skyfall Lodge, Bond uses his deceased father's Anderson Wheeler Double Rifle chambered in .500 Nitro Express. Anderson Wheeler is a London-based maker of luxury rifles and shotguns whose custom made double rifles are also available in calibers from .375 to .600. Bond's depiction of recoil is akin to that of a nail gun, despite the mammoth cartridge.

But I'd gladly take a Baikal double rifle and maybe redo the stock. I surely do like the stock and high cheekrest on the Anderson Wheeler!

And onto the subject of 4x4 fishing trucks, and again, my moaning and groaning about why Toyota won't market a vehicle they sell elsewhere in the world here in the good old USA, their largest market of cars anywhere.

So one can see from this Getty Images picture posted on a BBC story about the political problems in Mali that this patrol vehicle from Niger is a Landcruiser truck, replete with snorkel for fording water. Go to this link to see this great fabulous truck that Toyota won't sell in America!

Saturday, December 22, 2012



I'd like to find one of the Spanish made .410 double barrel and trigger and exposed hammer shotguns. They were also made in some number in 20 gauge, but the .410 is more useful to me. It is a break open side by side and then you hit another button and it folds in half. Very handy and portable. These were made under several different names from the 40's to the 70's, and I've seen them on various gun auction sites. I need to put out some searches for one of these because they are very handy guns. Very lightweight and I'd like to cut one down to about 20" barrels to make it more handy for taking fishing.

The older I get, the more I enjoy shooting 20 gauge at skeet and trap over 12 gauge. I remember being a young teen and wanting to move up from 20 to 12, and I completely skipped the venerable 16 gauge. Sometime back, I got a 16 gauge from an uncle. It's a bolt action Sears, probably made by Stevens or Savage, and it's a great shooting gun.

But I'd like to try an over/under 16, and also a Browning A5 in sweet 16.

I'm not saying my 12 gauge shooting days are over, because they are not. But there is no denying that my body finds it easier to relax after a day of shooting a couple of hundred rounds or more of 20's versus 12's, and I don't feel it so much the next day.

So I want to give the 16 a try and see how I like it. It might be the perfect in between size for me to use at the gun club for skeet and trap.

The 12 gauge will always be the gun of choice for home defense. Nothing wrong with using a 20  or 16 or even a .410, but that extra umph that a 12 gauge has is what you want if an intruder singular or plural are trying to come into your home.

I recommend smaller gauges to those who have problems with the recoil of the 12 gauge. I myself choose not to shoot a 10 gauge because the recoil is WAY too much, and the same thing applies down the line with other calibers. You're going to do better with a caliber you're comfortable with in almost any sporting or defense situation.

And the past couple of years, I've reached for the 20's on almost all occasions except one. This past spring, while staying at a resort that offered trap shooting, El Fisho Jr and I had to use some Remington 870's in 12 gauge. I must say they were fine shooting guns, but the shell and gun combination left us both with bruised and aching shoulders after the session.

I'll note they were fine shooting guns, though.


I've shot, but never owned any black powder weapons. But I'm ready to expand to a few weapons in that area. I'd like a nice, simple percussion rifle like the used one I have my eye on at the LGS. He doesn't sell many black powder weapons, although he does sell a lot of the blackpowder shooting supplies. He has several used percussion rifles in good shape with good bores that appear little used.

The first rifle I want, as I say, is a simple percussion rifle. Something akin to what might have been referred to as a trade rifle  a couple of  hundred years ago.

You can read some good posts about both black powder and air weapons over at Wild Ed's located in my blog roll. You'll have to search back through prior posts but there is some good stuff there.

Next, I'd like to finish out a pre-made Kentucky Rifle kit, since my kin onced used rifles of this sort. I'm sure they more likely used trade rifles too, but as they were part of the Westward Ho movement across the expanding US following the Revolutionary War, they probably used a lot of different types of rifles and smooth bores.

But somewhere along the way, several generations used what are referred to as Kentucky Rifles.

Basically, all I'm competent to do is finish out an already milled and drilled and ready to go sans finishing stock. Sand it and finish it and assemble. That's what I'd like to do. I'll either get a kit with the parts and barrel already blued or have it done somewheres. I'd prefer it to be ready to go except for the finishing.

I'd also like a Walker Colt black powder pistol. There is a cartridge adapter you can buy to shoot black powder cartridges from the Walker Colt and that would be a fun accessory to have.


I have a couple of good air guns, and a great Crosman pump pellet/bb pistol, and would like to add a couple of more spring air guns to the stable. I've had my eye on one they sell at Cabela's that comes with a premounted and bore sighted scope and is one of the high power spring air guns that you cock once by cocking the entire barrel.

It shoots at something crazy fast like 1200 fps and there are a whole bunch of different kinds of guns for sale in all price ranges that are powerful like this one.

A friend has one of the Chinese barrel cocking air guns that shoots like that, and I think he got it for something like $25 somewhere. He's had it for a couple of decades and it's going strong.

Airguns are always handy to have around for pest control. I want to trick out my Crosman pistol this year like Wild Ed talked about doing over at his blog a year or so ago. He had some great links over there but I'm too lazy to go look for them now but I will one of these days.

I've wanted one of the Sheridan Silver Streaks for about 40 years now, and I think I might get one soon. I've just never gotten around to getting one. A friend back in 1972 had one and I used to shoot it a lot. I liked it and thought it was a good shooting gun. It's not as powerful with many pumps as the newer single pump high power guns or the pneumatic guns, but it's right up there almost as powerful as they are.

I wish Crosman or Colt would bring back a single action pellet pistol, CO2 for sure, like the old spring cock BB gun Daisy used to make, which resembled a single action Colt. Crosman has for decades made various CO2 versions of S&W K and N frames, and it'd be nice to see Crosman or even someone like Beretta make a nice Single Action pellet pistol.

It would also be cool to see an airgun maker make a Mare's Leg cut down lever action pellet rifle, just for fun and for plinking. There are some really cool, and in some cases pretty powerful replica pellet and bb guns out there and I hope that market keeps expanding.

Friday, December 21, 2012


What would I want in a vehicle if Toyota or Ford or Chevy would build it for me? Here's a list, and I'd appreciate any suggestions like the one Zach made in a comment on a recent post regarding a metal interior on a prior 4x4 he owned.

I want to use my ride for fishing and shooting and camping and those kind of outdoorsey activities. I'll drive it to work, and as a family ride as well.


I want an SUV with some cargo space behind the 2nd row seat . I don't want third row seats, but I'd like the rear to be large enough to hold third row seats if it did have them.

I don't want a sunroof.

I'd like about as much storage room behind the second seat as the 1980's Toyota Landcruiser FJ-60 had, which was quite a bit more than 4-Runners have and A LOT more than what the current Toyota FJ Cruiser offers.

Nice buckets in the front, with an armrest and storage unit between the front seats. A nice bench in the back that can fold down in some manner (50/50 or 60/40 as well as fully fold down) to expand the cargo area.

An option I'd pay for is nice leather seating, and waterproof seat covers to go over them. Nice tough leather is far more comfortable and will wear far better than any cloth seat. And will smell nice as well.

Another option I'd pay for is a steel heavy duty safe type set of drawers situated on the floor of the rear cargo area. I mean, heavy duty construction and welded to the vehicle. For transporting weapons, fishing gear, computer or photo gear or any kind of expensive gear you wouldn't want a vehicle burglar to steal in a smash and grab.

As options I'd pay for, I'd like a real roof rack with a basket attachment on two thirds and one of the Thule type storage containers on the other third. Like a Land Rover, I'd like a ladder in the rear to access the roof rack and a wide enough bumper to stand on. A step folding down from the bumber to access the ladder and bumper would be nice.

A heavy duty front bumper that was also a cattle guard type of guard around the radiator and the lights with a winch attachment/mount would be another feature I'd like to have.

The spare tire should be mounted on a swing away carrier behind the swing up rear cargo door. An extended jack and shovel could be mounted and locked on the lower portion of the rack.

Another option I'd pay for is super duper insulation all around the passenger compartment to keep the road noise factor as low as possible. Carpet should be removeable with well constructed insulation under the thick carpet with both hook and velcro attachment. Drain plugs in the floor under the carpet please.

Perhaps some kind of rubberized or paint coated flooring (like the truck bed coatings) but hopefully with a layer of some kind of foam or other noise reducing material under the flooring. Then when insulated carpet was added, the sound reduction would be serious.


I don't want tons of electronic devices. I'd like a great anti-theft and keyless entry system. A decent stereo system. Multiple A/C and D/C outlets in front seat, rear seat and cargo areas please.

As an option in this catagory, I'd like two fold down TV screens for the rear seat passengers with a dvd and with gaming interface.

Electric windows and door locks are the only way cars are built these days.


I'd like the engine to have as many heavy duty components available as possible. I'd like to have dual batteries, which makes sense on any ride really. Heavy duty everything, including but not limted to the alternator, generator, water pump, braking systems, radiator and cooling systems and fans and of course the suspension system.

It should have a really big air conditioner compressor that cranks out the A/C and heat. I'd like to have dual zone A/C in the front of the vehicle, with rear seat A/C as well.

The engine should be a V-8. There are so many well designed classic V-8 engines with tons of torque out there. Moderate horsepower and tons of torque.

It should have a really trick six speed transmission and some high performance brakes as standard. Likewise, as mentioned below, the drive train and 4x4 components and transfer case should all be heavy duty.

The 4x4 should use one of the classic and very serious four wheel drive systems, and again, the classic FJ-60 is hard to beat just as the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and Wrangler Rubicon series is hard to beat as far as VERY serious off roading is concerned.

It needs to be a 4x4 that has a shift lever on the floor, not some kind of quadratrac type deal with a knob on the dashboard.


The body should be solidly made and designed without protruding tail lights and should be made with durability in mind.

It would be nice if there were an interior six point frame mounted roll cage system, like a Defender has. It would be nice to have a shoulder strap safety system coming off of the roll bar as well as a detachable conventional shoulder strap so that one could choose between the two torso securing systems.

Since it's a tough outdoors vehicle, it needs a full skid plate underneath. A separate skid plate over the exhaust system and gas tank is also a feature I'd like. I'd like two gas tanks or one large one. Bigger than the average vehicle of it's size.

It needs good ground clearance and the ability to ford high water. A snorkle air system, while looking silly and out of place on a yuppie owned Land Rover that never ventures off pavement, is a good feature on an outdoors truck that might see water to drive through.

Of course, it needs tow hooks fore and aft. It needs some kind of tube side step or tube sort of running board to assist entry into the vehicle.

Trailer hitch receivers front and rear could be used to mount a metal baskets that hook into hitches and provide storage for ice chests or anything what will fit into and can be lashed to the basket.

So what I'm talking about here begins to sound to me like a Land Rover, again sadly, some of those that are currently made in and for other countries that fit this description are not available in America.

I REALLY don't want to spend the money for a Land Rover, primarily due to the experiences of friends with problems with their more luxurious American versions of the Defenders and Range Rovers.

If they would make a more basic and thus trouble free (i.e. no tricky electronics) vehicle likely to give good service like the bare bones Defenders or the Toyota Landcruisers of the days of old, it'd be worth what they ask for it. As it is, American Land Rovers are luxury vehicles.

Gone are the days of the all steel interiors and great rides like International Scouts and other such vehicles like the old Broncos and Blazers and Landcruisers. True serious off roading vehicles.

Why can't Toyota, or more importantly Ford or Chevy, create a vehicle for the outdoorsman that is something other than one of their current line modified?

All of these car makers used to make heavy duty outdoorsman vehicles and Toyota still does in other countries.  I had high hopes for the FJ Cruiser, and it and the Wrangler Unlimited Rubicons are close approximations to what I'd like to have, but they are not what I really want, or what I think other sportsman and normal working family guys would buy. Almost but not quite.

Chevy and Ford both make throwback references in their Mustang and Camaro lineups, so why not the same thing for new versions of the Blazer and Bronco, built heavy duty with some cargo room and a wide cabin as I've described above.

In my opinion, Jeep and Toyota have no competition for their serious 4wd vehicles, and although Ford, Chevy, Dodge and others have very capable and sometimes exceptional 4wd vehicles in their lineups, none are unfortunately what I want.

So now we just gotta figure out how we're gonna settle when it comes to a new ride.


I've moaned and groaned many times about the fact that the kind of vehicle I want is not available to me in America, although it's currently made in many places around the world. I'm talking about the old school Toyota Landcruiser SUV and pickup models, evolved from the FJ 60 series of the 1980's.

In pictures of conflicts around the world, a couple of die hard models of Toyotas are often seen. The FJ Cruiser and Pickup models, and the old late 80's Toyota 4x4 Hi-Lux series trucks, off of which I believe also the 4-Runner of those years were based.

Here, I can't afford to buy a new Toyota Landcruiser, and we make pretty good money. But spending $80k plus is not an option.

The FJ Cruiser, while a great ride, would be not unlike me buying a Vette or a Camaro as my next car. Either would guarantee a constant series of complains about no rear seats or inadequate rear seats and the difficulties of a coupe for back seat passengers. Although the FJ Cruiser has the half back doors, it's not the same as a 4 door. Also, the FJ Cruiser has inadequate rear storage area for my family and the trips and gear we take and tote.

So if the FJ Cruiser were longer (It's wide enough for my liking, wider than the 4-Runner), and had 4 real passenger doors, it would be a good choice.

If such a thing happened, it'd be nice to see a V8 version with some serious drive train and power train gear available for a real off road ride.

But how much could it cost, in terms of future profits, for Toyota to fit their currently produced international models like the FJ60 derivatives for the US market?

Some airbags, some emission stuff, some engine alterations to compensate for emissions stuff and maybe a few other minor changes for the US market and it would seem like you'd be ready to go, and I believe the talents at Toyota could arrange all these things in a few months if not weeks. How hard could it be?

Likewise, as always, the home team is not doing it for me in their 4wd SUV and truck department. Jeep comes close, but bad experiences with our long owned Wrangler some years ago scare me about spending tens of thousands of dollars for a Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, which is the only kind of Jeep to have if you want some real off road capability.

Ford used to make the Bronco, and I believe in some years in the early 70's before the design changed in 1977 or 1978, that some hot rod versions were available.

Why isn't Ford making a very capable 4x4 off road vehicle perhaps a wee bit longer than the pre-1977 Bronco and put a Mustang GT engine in it with a serious transmission and some serious DANA drive trains and serious suspension (think like the old Bronco which is like the Wrangler, a real off road vehicle).

I know the car makers couldn't resist making upscale models to sell for tens of thousands of dollars more than a very functional and more base level model, and that would be great as long as they'd make the car to begin with and have a reasonably priced model for the working man and woman.

Likewise, I could afford but don't want to spend that kind of money on a Quigley 4x4 van conversion of a Ford or Chevy Van. That would be a very useful vehicle for my family. Why isn't Ford or Chevy or even Dodge making a real 4x4 built on a truck frame instead of having some kind of AWD system. There's a big market for these, as evidenced by the companies converting vans to 4x4, and I'd think a cheaper priced 4x4 van from the factory instead of a custom shop would be a good seller and might get folks like me in the saddle if you'd bring the price down 10 or 15 grand.

Chevy, of course, doesn't really have the illustrious history of a model like the Bronco of the old days, but I know some Blazer models back in the 70's were available with some heavy duty components and powerful engines.

Let's see that again, Chevy.

How hard could it be to built a sport utility vehicle sans the excessive luxury?

Instead of leather seats, how about dual batteries, heavy duty alternator/water pump/radiator/transmission cooling system and the like?

Instead of a knob on the dashboard, how about the old school shifting lever for 4x4 options on the floor, where it belongs?

The list could go on and on. But a real 4x4, something comparable to a Wrangler Unlimited but a bit longer like the FJ 60 or even like the venerable Land Rover Defender 90 model.

American car makers or Toyota for that matter could make a vehicle comparable to the Defender 90. Performance. Torque. Available in soft or hard top 4 door hatchback versions or a 4 door truck version. Spartan and heavy duty. Made more for off road than the road but is street legal and civilized enough to be a daily driver.

If I had the cash for a used vehicle costing as much as the used mid-90's Defender 90 models available that I'd be interested in, I'd be driving one. A more pristine and less likely for problems Defender 90 with low miles have sold for as high as $45k. Lesser models or higher miles trucks have gone for much less, but then you're also going to be paying money to fix your rid.

Except for the higher performance of the engine in the Defender 90, the old Landcruisers fit the bill for what I'm asking for. I think the market is huge for a Jeep like vehicle from other car makers as well.

Perhaps I don't understand the market trends or international business enough to understand why Toyota isn't selling a version of the new model of the FJ 60 in America, and likewise why Ford or Chevy or Dodge or other makers have not pursued making real sport utility vehicles.

In the 80's, Mitsubishi made the Montero 2 door hatchback model in 4x4, and it had a serious drive train. I drove one on several occasions off road and gave serious thought to buying one. The problem was, as with the shorter Wrangler, was that there is not much room in the back. Although a later model of the Montero came out in 4 door hatchback size, I don't think it was the off road capable vehicle that the 2 door jeep like version was.

The late 80's and early 90's Isuzu Trooper are also vehicles known for long lasting and hard core off road use. Later, the Trooper line got luxuried to death, and although still a good 4wd vehicle, it was not the off road capable truck like it's earlier versions were.

So why isn't Isuzu or Mitsubishi competing with Toyota and the FJ Cruiser market with a slightly longer version of some similar SUV's? Or competing with Jeep and building a Wrangler like vehicle?

 I know other car makers make rugged 4wd versions for sales in other countries, and again, why not up these rides to US standards and sell to us here in America? 

It's been so long since any of these car companies have made a real SUV for the outdoorsman that isn't a luxury ride. Decades, in some cases.

I really don't want to get in the vintage car or restoration situation. If I had more freely expendable income and had an extra two car garage to do the project, having a vintage ride would be great, as I could afford to fix as needed and would want to have a more recent car for when the vintage ride was down.

I've helped in restoring several vehicles with my dad in younger years, two ground up restorations of  Mustangs, and a semi-restoration (it was in pretty good shape to begin with) of a 1972 El Camino with a 454 4 barrel. The El Camino was not a great handling ride on anything other than straightaways and slight curves, but made it for it in brute force "smoke the tires if you punch it at 20 mph" type of power.

One of the Mustangs was a Mach One with a highly rebuilt 351 Cleveland engine. We added Gap and Rousch (sp?) heads for better oiling, bored .30 over and added new pistons and such and a 3/4 grind cam. Various Edelbrock manifold and Holley double pumper carb combos ranged from a 4 bbl to a mid-rise manifold sporting double 4 bbl setups.

It had a C6 instead of a 4 speed manual. It was a lot of engine. I was constantly having to tinker with the engine as it was a bit too radical and required constant attention. That was fun for a while but only for a while.

The other Mustang resto was a 1967 with a straight 6 engine and two speed automatic. It was a ground up as well and I did the engine and transmission and rehabbed basically the frame up build up. My dad handled the body work and got the painting done and did the interior. I'll take rebuilding a 1967 six cylinder engine over refitting a complete interior  of any classic car any day of the week. Getting the interior done right, even with prefab pieces, is no easy chore and one I'm not good at, especially headliners. Or fixing crank wind window assemblies. 

So I know   it's not only a lot of work but incredibly frustrating for me personally when bolts are frozen or seemingly unsolvable problems arise since although I have mechanical skills, I'm no master mechanic in all areas.

So I really don't have the gumption to restore a Landcruiser although I've nearly pulled the trigger many times. I looked with serious intent to buy some of the more pristine used models or restored models I could find and all had major flaws in the steering or electrical systems I couldn't accept because they were seemingly unfixable. Many lesser models were looked at and instantly rejected on other grounds.

I gave that up some time ago and went with several other SUV's. I've been very happy with the reliability of these rides, lots happier than with the problematical and leaky Wrangler we had for years. After the extended warranty expired, and pretty much right after, the Jeep began being leaky. By leaky, I mean fluids, not the top. The fabric top of our Jeep was great. But the engine leaked like a sieve when the extended warranty expired and it hit age 7. Mysterious leaks that only stopped when the car was taken in for service for the leak. Brake fluid leaks. Power steering fluid leaks. Oil leaks. Coolant leaks. It had them all and some in multiple locales. Starting and stopping and sometimes with no evidence of leaking but a recently filled device being way lower with no explanation or evidence of the fluid loss.

If I had the time, I'd look at modifying some vehicle the way I want it. But I don't have that kind of time. I could muster the money for such a project, but not if I had to pay custom shops to get what I want, only if I went the route of using a friend with a shop and paying less money to him for the big jobs and me doing more of the grunt work myself. But again, that's if I had the time and the extra space so I could do the work with climate control (a/c and heat).

I once thought about buying a 1950's model 4x4 truck and merging it with a more modern 4x4 drive train and engine, perhaps one from the 1970's or 1980's. I could do an interior restoration, but would have to contract out the mechanical work and the paint job. That to me would be an interesting combo, as the front end of some of these trucks was behemoth in size and coupled with a more powerful engine and a DANA set of running gear, one could have a formidable vehicle.

More in the next post about what an ideal vehicle would be for me.