Sunday, May 31, 2009

Prvi Partizan ammo test

I'm not a bad marksman, but my riflery skills are kinda corroded.

So when I wanted to know what kind of accuracy could be expected from the Prvi Partizan and Fiocchi .308 ammunition that I had bought, I enlisted the assistance of fellow Raven Eric Eisiminger. He's been to a couple of long range shooting classes at Thunder Ranch as well as a passel of other courses out there, and has a really nice box-stock Remington light tactical rifle topped with a Leupold scope that is just the thing for this sort of shooting. We fired two loads in his precision .308, a 168 grain open tip hollow point match load by PP and a 150 grain soft point hunting load from Fiocchi. The results were very surprising.

(click pictures to enlarge)

While it's true that the two initial groups fired with the 168gr load were the first of the day when Eric was just warming up and getting into his groove, nothing prepared us for the accuracy of the 150gr loading in the third and fourth groups.
After seeing the results, he decided to try again and bear down with that load, and came very close to putting 5 rounds into 0.5 inch in the next group. I was spotting for him and I said
nothing to jinx him and tip him to how well this group was going, right up until the flyer with the last round!


Still, a very nice group. Note that three rounds went into that one large ragged hole!
Properly motivated by then, Eric loaded up with the 168gr cartridges again and gave it one more try, getting this group in his last attempt -

At slightly over one inch, it wasn't nearly as amazing as the groups from the 150gr load but would be adequate for general purposes and for training use. Precision marksmen (okay, snipers) generally demand accuracy of under one inch with their duty loads and in some rifles this round might do that, but not in Eric's Remington and not on this day.
I didn't have either my .308 Remington 600 or Savage Scout with me, having brought the FAL in order to test some other basic milspec ball that I'd bought at the same time as the two other loads, but given that my Savage is a very accurate rifle I would expect it also to do well with any of these.
In the FAL with iron sights the accuracy of the 150gr PP ball ammo was typical and it functioned without any stoppages, so we can add that to the data base. We'll have to conduct accuracy testing on it another time.

And what may we conclude from this abbreviated exercise?

The Prvi Partizan and Fiocchi ammo I've examined to date in all calibers appears to be of very high quality and is at least the equal of commercial ammo currently being made in the USA.  Fiocchi is now producing a lot of their ammunition in the United States in a bid for more of this market, and they appear to be quite serious about this effort.
The cases in all of the three types were annealed and clean, the bullets were free of visible defects and the accuracy ranged from adequate to amazing! There were no failures to fire and no problems noted with any of the ammunition.

The PP 150gr ball ammo would do very well for general tactical requirements in a semi-auto such as the FAL.
The PP 168gr would suffice for training for precision shooters and possibly actual duty use in some rifles.
The Fiocchi 150gr load would do for just about anything you'd like in a .308!

I'm gonna get more of all three of these, and the Fiocchi ammo in particular, if and when I can ever find any of it!

Sinuous sleeper

The pack on our porch

I've never had anyone try to steal my yard signs when these guys were out on the front porch, watching the passing parade.
Wonder why?

Top to bottom - Churchill, Sunny, Fooss, Seamus and Bodi
(click on picture to enLARGE it)

Fuzz filter, feline, foto, Mk 1, mod 0

(klik pic, make big)

Kings of the hill

"Harken, Sir Churchill, dost thou hear the rumble of troops massing to lay siege to our hilly bastion?"

"Naw, it's just Bodi barkin' in the front yard."

"Oh. Well, you coulda fooled me."

Truth in packaging

Peach(es) segments, in box, no syrup.

Lord, how I miss that dog

Seeing a post on another blog today made me think about Vanya, the Fox.

Vanya was running around loose in a neighborhood in Louisville where she'd been dumped, literally. A guy in a pickup truck slowed down and threw her out. She was about six months old.
I got a call from a co-worker who knew that I loved Huskies, asking if I could catch her. She wouldn't let anyone touch her in the two weeks that she'd been running around in her mom's neighborhood. I used a Golden Retriever to decoy her in close and grabbed her by the legs and brought her home with me.
Vanya was SMART. We guessed that she was a Golden and Husky mix. To me, she was 'dog' personified, exemplifying all the things that make up those complex and wonderful creatures. She was really sweet and affectionate, very much in tune with what you were doing and how you felt. She was very gentle with people and small creatures. She didn't pick fights with other dogs, preferring to observe and make decisions about what would best benefit her, but she would NOT back down from a challenge.
She would trick other dogs into abandoning a toy so that she could get it by making a big fuss over another toy or bone and then when the unsuspecting pooch came over to see what was going on she'd swoop in on the one she wanted and scamper off to her den with it.

We called her kennel 'the Vanya cave' for all the things she cached in it and the fact that it was where she hung out all the time. She even carried her food bowl into it at feeding time so she could eat in peace.
She loved stuffed toys, and whenever we were at a yard sale we'd bring home a stuffed toy for her to adopt as her 'baby'. I would have loved to see her mother a litter, but she was already spayed when we got her.

She was my daughter Julia's favorite dog from the very start.

But for all her gentle nature, when she hunted she was a stone killer. And she NEVER stopped hunting, from the moment she first came to our house. Whenever she was awake, she was listening and watching and scenting - especially scenting. She found things that the other dogs never knew were there by following her nose. No mole was safe from her if the air and ground were the least bit warm so that she could follow their scent. If we got near the woods and I wasn't watching her like a hawk to call her back, she'd get her nose down on something, bolt off on the track and there was nothing I could do but wait for her to come strolling back in, tail wagging and that big grin on her face about the deer she'd just run to exhaustion, or the raccoon she'd treed.
She had no vices. I expected her to live forever, because in my heart I could never think about what I'd do when she died. But she did, after collapsing one day in a field like she'd been struck a blow. She was diagnosed with hemongiosarcoma at the age of ten years during an exploratory laparotomy done to see what was wrong with her. We let her go and she never woke up.
I still grieve for that sweet lady. After almost two years, her kennel still stands empty with her toys in it. I can't stand to let another dog sleep in it. Maybe someday, but not yet. Not yet.
I have a tuft of her hair that I found a few weeks after she died in the grass in the field where I take the pack to run, left there from when I was 'plucking feathers' from her undercoat poking through her outer coat.
It sits on the desk, a sad little 'Vanya ghost', next to Julia's picture.

I do miss her so.

Think those Para mag springs have marinated long enough?

Chef Bloggo does.

So at the end of the week we'll try to get out to the range to see how the long-term test LTC and all the mags are going to handle JHPs now, after a couple of weeks of compressing the springs by leaving them fully loaded per the suggestion of John May at Wilson Combat. It would help a TON if ammo prices weren't still through the roof and if I could actully FIND any 9mm JHPs, but that's how it goes. We might have to content ourselve with shooting ball just to get some rounds through el pistole, and defer the JHP testing bis spater.

Ain't it the truth?

Pinocchio, Snow White, and Superman are out for a stroll in town one day.

As they walk, they come across a sign: "Contest to find the most beautiful woman in the world."
"I'm entering!" said Snow White.
After half an hour she comes out and they ask her, "Well, how'd you do?"
"First Place!" said Snow White.

They continue walking and they see a sign: "Contest for the strongest man in the world."

"I'm entering," says Superman.
After half an hour, he returns and they ask him, "How'd you make out?"
"First Place!" answers Superman. "Did you ever doubt?"

They continue walking when they see a sign: "Contest to crown the greatest liar in the world!"
"I'm entering," says Pinocchio.
After half an hour he returns with tears in his eyes.
"What happened?" they asked.

"Who the hell is Nancy Pelosi?" asked Pinocchio.

One good thing leads to another

Got a comment on a post that led to all kinds of good things this morning.

"Come on Bob, don't die on me now!"

I'm still just barely posting here at the ol' blogstead because of a new job that keeps me away from home, and not having a laptop I can't post from out on the road. Bummer.
But this morning I got a comment on the photo of the Rottie puppy doing CPR and that led to the photo above from Smartdogs' blog, which led to another couple of dog blogs and now they're posted on the 'blogs we like' link on the left of the page. If you love dogs, give 'em a gander.
'Blogs we like' is a reference to an album called "Things we like" that Jack Bruce, best known for his work with Cream, did in 1970. The album cover is pictured below. You can imagine why Bloggo likes it.

I always liked Jack Bruce's work, most especially his voice.
So check out these blogs. Some really amazing things on them about dogs and dog training and pit bulls and other breeds, and in the case of the LASSIE, GET HELP blog a very beautiful design and format.

Monday, May 25, 2009

In memory of our fallen warriors

I served several years in combat arms in the Army and then as a nurse in the Kentucky National Guard, but I was fortunate in that I was never called to war.

I came close to being killed in a couple of training mishaps while on active duty, but I never had to serve under fire. That can be counted as a mixed blessing, though most who've spent time under fire will tell you that they'd just as soon have skipped the experience.
But on Memorial Day, we remember those who not only served, but who paid the ultimate price and made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.
God bless those who have given their lives so that our freedoms endure.
May God always bless those who serve our nation now in their struggle against the savages who would destroy our way of life.

God give victory to our fighting forces and bring them safely home.
God save our Republic!

When riches are gone and friends have fled....

Your dog will still be with you.

(homeless man on the street in Toronto with his dog)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Not just working on our tan 'round here.

Okay, so the weather has been really nice lately, even with all the rain that's blown through, and it's been a great time to be a bit lazy.

Truth is, I just started a new travel assignment and had to go to orientation all one week, then work a bunch of night shifts in the last two weeks. All that driving, working both days and nights and keeping up with all the stuff that goes with a new gig with a new company has tied up my time. When I get home, I just want to collapse.
All kinds of stuff going on - the NRA annual meeting just concluded and the Second Amendment Bash Bloggers were in full view this year, even had an article posted about them in the MSM.
Woulda been nice to be there, but things didn't work out.
Gotta go! Catcha later!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dogs now being trained for CPR

A new generation of specialized companion dogs are actually being taught how to perform CPR on their owners if they have a cardiac arrest.

They have to start them in training as young puppies in order to be able to accomplish this.

"Don't you die on me, damn you!"

Beeee Happy

"It's wonderful to be alive,
To be a bee in this beehive.
It's tough as nails, it's smooth as silk.
It's milk and honey - without milk."
(Loudon Wainwright - "B-side")

Monday, May 4, 2009

Not just another pretty gun

I was able to get out to the range with the Belleau Wood 1911 despite the intermittent rain that came and went all day.

I set up one of the Riposte-1 targets, designed by our friend and Gunsite alumnus Jim Higginbotham for use by the Kentucky National Guard, at seven yards. I figured that was about the range that most soldiers would have used a gun like this in the trenches of WW1.
I loaded the plain Jane Colt factory magazine with seven rounds of S&B 230gr ball, chambered a round and topped off the magazine. I took up a basic one-handed offhand bulls-eye stance of the sort that they likely would have taught to doughboys in 1917, took aim with the front sight obscuring the 'A' on the target and pressed the trigger. This is how the target looked after the first 8 rounds - (click on picture to enlarge)

It seemed to be hitting just a bit high and to the right, even at seven yards, but eight rounds of hardball in a group that size would likely have sufficed to unsettle even the most determined German shock troop, I venture.
Loading up again, I fired another 17 rounds, for a total of 25 fired at 7 yards. Here's how it looked then -

Okay, so I got a little sloppy and let two shots drift high and right. I was shooting at a fairly brisk pace, about the cadence of rapid fire in bulls-eye competition, and the front sight was picking up some glint even in the diffuse light of this overcast day. Still, while Higginbotham will never forgive me for such sloppy shooting, I suspicion that even those high hits would have inconvenienced or at least annoyed our imaginary German infantryman.
Moving the target out to 25 yards, I fired the remaining 25 rounds using a two-handed grip and a slightly more deliberate cadence, though still not as slowly as slow fire in bulls-eye. I began to notice a problem -

When I wasn't seeing the hits in center mass like I wanted them to be after I'd fired about five rounds, I deliberately held low and aimed at the center of the bottom line of the 'B' zone where the 'X' is marked on the target.
It became apparent that the pistol was printing about 5-6 inches high and 3-4 inches right at 25 yards. Some of the error might have been the light on the front sight, but I would attribute most of it to the short front sight, of the type that some refer to a the classic 'thumbnail'. Still, once I'd found where it was hitting, it wasn't that hard to bring the rounds down where they should have been and get hits that would have done for most combat situations.
A doughboy issued this pistol wouldn't have won any formal pistol matches with it, perhaps, but if he'd taken the time to find out where the sights were regulated he'd have been able to get adequate hits at what would have been considered any reasonable range for a pistol in that era. And at close range, belly-to-belly and nose-to-nose in the slop and slime of the trenches he would have had no trouble hammering down an enemy with it.
Other observations from today:
The trigger was crisp and predictable.
While I sometimes have problems tripping the standard grip safety on a 1911, this one worked for me in the limited and controlled firing done today.
The tang on the safety chewed a nice blister on the web of my hand the same way that every stock 1911 I've ever shot more than seven rounds through has done.

The fall of the hammer is magically musical on this gun. It must be the combination of solid carbon steel that's blued, not parkerized, and the harmonic convergence of the parts of Browning's genius.
With a little practice and a little tuning, I could have used this gun to win the pistol matches that my Dad and brother and I used to shoot in with the KPOA (Kentucky Peace Officers Association) long ago.
And right now, today, I have no doubt that I could pick it up, charge it with hardball and go out into the dark to win a fight with it.
It has the feel, it has the accuracy, it has the power. It's a 1911!

Belleau Wood 1911 pistol

In the late 1960s Colt's Mfg. company released a 50th Anniversary commemorative set of 1911 pistols, comprising four pistols for four battles - Belleau Wood, Chateau Thierry, Meuse Argonne and the 2nd Battle of the Marne.

My father ordered a full set, but somehow by the time I inherited them in 2006 one of them, the Meuse Argonne, had gone missing. I vaguely remembered a story about how the other one got away, but since it won't be coming back it doesn't matter. What does matter is the three that remain.
Over the last few months I often thought about selling them in order to raise funds for more modern gear as a hedge against the anticipated Holder-Dark Lord axis. I'm not much for fancy guns and commemoratives as a whole never set me on fire. I started researching the prices being offered for them on the web and was surprised to learn that they were only going for about $1000 per gun, even if you had the entire set of four. Mine were still in their cardboard shipping boxes and brand new, but how would I settle for getting only $1000 each when a current production Colt 1911 pistol, which is nowhere near as nice as these guns, is going to fetch about that much anyway?
Then I got them out, looked at them and handled them - and changed my mind. Let go of three 1911s of this type, made the way that Colt used to make them, for that little money?
No way.
These pistols have a beautiful deep almost-black bluing. The surfaces are polished almost mirror-bright. The metal is solid and the hammer falls onto the firing pin with a ringing musical sound like no other 1911 I own. Where would I ever replace them for that money?
Straight out of the box, they'd do to fight with.
They're staying here.
The pistol shown here today is the Belleau Wood version - a classic 1911 with a solid long trigger, lanyard ring, straight mainspring housing and small but usable sights. There's no checkering on the grip frame anywhere, and the stocks are smooth dark wood of an unknown species.
Later on today I hope to take it to the range.
If I'm gonna keep 'em, you better bet that I'm gonna shoot at least ONE of them if not ALL of them, friends!

After opening the carton and unfolding multiple layers of cardboard, like a Russian doll, you come to this very plain and unadorned paper box.
Nothing in it hints at the treasure hidden inside.

(click on pictures to enlarge them)

Lifting off the lid, you see a brochure that could have been printed many decades ago, with drawings and text which would have been consistent with those enclosed with the first 1911s.

And here it is, the Belleau Wood Colt Model of 1911 Caliber .45 pistol -

The gun is gorgeous, pure and simple. When lighting conditions permit I'll have better photos of all three of them here on the blog. The overcast on this day just doesn't do justice to the polish and lustre of this pistol.
These guns commemorate the actions of the American Expeditionary Force that went to the aid of the Allied powers in 1917. Their vigor and determination turned the tide of the war. They were more than the German army, exhausted but still dangerous after years of trench combat, was able to handle, and they earned the name "Teufel Hunden (Devil Dogs)" from the Germans who fought against them. The Marines in particular were regarded as fierce, savage fighters.
Retired Colonel of Marines Jeff Cooper is said to have owned and carried one of these Belleau Wood commemoratives at some point in his life.
I like to think it's true.