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January 22, 2023

Gun Thread: January 22nd Edition!

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Howdy, Y'all! Welcome to the wondrously fabulous Gun Thread! As always, I want to thank all of our regulars for being here week in and week out, and also offer a bigly Gun Thread welcome to any newcomers who may be joining us tonight. Howdy and thank you for stopping by! I hope you find our wacky conversation on the subject of guns 'n shooting both enjoyable and informative. You are always welcome to lurk in the shadows of shame, but I'd like to invite you to jump into the conversation, say howdy, and tell us what kind of shooting you like to do!

OK! So, January continues its relentless march towards February. Has Weasel been to the farm-o to do some shooting? No. No, Weasel has not been to the farm-o to do some shooting. Weasel has been writing pension footnotes to financial statements which is almost as fun as relaxing at the farm-o and shooting, but not quite. It does pay the bills, however.

With that, step into the dojo and let's get to the gun stuff below, shall we?


Last week the topic of reloading came up in the comments when I inquired about the availability of components. It seems like the consensus was that reloading components; brass, powder, primers and bullets are generally available but still pricey which I suppose is better than being both unavailable and pricey when you can find them.

To me, reloading is both fun and a way to continue shooting when commercial ammunition is hard to find or altogether unavailable. I work behind a computer each day, and reloading is a satisfying tactile activity consisting of precise measurements and processes with a useful product as the end result, both of which I find appealing. I first began reloading handgun cartridges for the range, and then progressed to precision rifle ammunition as my interest in long-range competitive shooting grew. Over the years, I have reloaded tens of thousands of rounds without a mishap. It's not difficult, as long as some very basic safety considerations are observed.

Frankly, I cannot even recall what sparked my interest in reloading in the first place. I imagine it just seemed at the time as another way to enjoy the hobby of shooting, and it turned out to be exactly that. As we will see, a basic reloading setup is not particularly expensive and a reasonably small investment in gear and supplies will get you started. Later, if you find you enjoy it, you can add more complex equipment and tools as your interest grows.

I will tell you right now you probably are not going to save a lot of money over the cost of using commercial ammunition particularly when considering the start-up costs, but you will very likely be able to shoot more for the same price. It's not going to make an enormous difference when shooting handguns at 3 yards, but you will be amazed by how much more accurate you can make rifle ammunition compared to commercial products.

A few years back I wrote a series on reloading the .38 Special cartridge which appeared in the Gun Thread over a period of several weeks. Since there seems to be some renewed interest, or in case you missed it the first time, I have dusted the material off, updated it where necessary, and present it here to you again. The .38 Special cartridge is a very simple and basic place to start and is precisely what I did, and this reloading series focuses on that.

Since this is going to take a few weeks, going forward I am going to move the reloading content to near the bottom of the thread under regular content so the people who aren't interested can skip it. However, if this is something that at all interests you, then I encourage you to read on!


Reloading 101 Pt. 1 - 04/07/2019

So we've been talking a lot about making your own ammunition lately and I thought I'd put together an introduction to reloading. For that, we'll need some specialized equipment and tools, and due to the amount of information and complexity of the process, I am going to spread the material over several weeks. Sound good? Let's go shopping, shall we?

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Basic beginner reloading setup

Not so fast, buckaroos! First, a couple of housekeeping items.

As we begin discussing reloading, I am going to ask you NOT to list powder charge weights in the comments. This is for both liability and safety reasons. If I see a charge weight listed I will delete the comment. No exceptions. You may list a powder type you're using and/or a targeted velocity, and then refer the reloader to a published reloading manual to determine the necessary charge weight on their own. I do not want your typo to become someone else's problem. m'kay?

I am going to write this for the benefit of a new reloader. Please keep this in mind as you comment and make suggestions. We have a lot of experienced reloaders who comment regularly, so I know we can look forward to a lot of good tips and ideas, but let's please just keep things simple and basic and geared to the beginner for now.

Everyone who reloads has their favorite equipment brands and suppliers, and I am no exception. When I recommend a specific item, you can be assured of two things; I have no financial interest in the product or a particular supplier, and I have personally used the item, or something very similar in cases where models or styles have changed, and am satisfied with it. Please keep in mind for the new reloader there is a bewildering array of products offered and the whole process can be a little intimidating, so again, let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. Before fights start over who makes the best gear, let's just acknowledge that it pretty much all works and no one is insulting your grandaddy by recommending brand X when he was a brand Y guy.


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Reloading for Retards - Buying the Stuff
As I've mentioned in recent weeks, reloading can be a fun and rewarding hobby unto itself, as well as providing a shooter with high quality ammunition when commercially made ammo is unavailable. This week, we'll cover the basic equipment and tools necessary, and their function. In later weeks we'll discuss how to set it all up and use it to produce ammunition.

The list below (download PDF here) represents what I think are the basic items needed to produce excellent quality handloads. Some items may not be absolutely essential at first but make the overall process easier and/or safer so I have included them. Beginning on the left we have the item description and a general price range to expect at retail. Moving to the right, you will see an example of what I either now have on my reloading bench, or what I would buy today if I had to start over. In making the recommendations I used Brownells/Sinclair International as a supplier and included their part numbers. You will also note many of the items may be listed as out of stock, attesting to their popularity. Since there are many suppliers, I have also included the manufacturer's part number if you want to shop around which is always a good idea.

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Click to embiggen. I left the original 2019 retail pricing for funsies

You will note right away that I do not generally recommend the least expensive items available. As with many other endeavors, I have found over years of reloading that the least expensive isn't always the best deal, and sometimes the most expensive doesn't work much better. I am usually about somewhere in the middle with an emphasis on good quality and an expectation for years of trouble-free use. Note the range of prices for specific items in the 2nd column. Most of this gear will last forever with minimal care and all of it should fit into a medium size storage tub if space is a consideration for you.

Review of Equipment and Tools
Reloading Manual
This is the very first thing you buy, and you will almost assuredly develop a reloading library over time. I recommend the Hornady manual initially because the loads are conservative and it's hard to get into trouble using them. There is an excellent section at the beginning covering each step of the process in detail. Many, many others exist and you will very likely end up with several, and you can't really go wrong with any of them.

Single Stage Press
There are three basic styles of reloading presses. Single stage, progressive and turret styles. Single stage presses are the most basic and what I use for everything. Progressive presses are much more complicated and produce ammo much more quickly, but I don't think they're the best choice for novice reloaders. Turret presses are a sort-of hybrid of the two. I choose single stage presses because they are simple and afford what I believe is the greatest degree of control over each step of the process. They can also handle rifle cartridges should you want to reload those too.

Die Set
In order to make ammunition you need to prepare the case dimensionally, add a primer and powder and seat a bullet. The set contains three dies that perform these functions. A sizing die to punch out the used primer and return the case to spec after it's been fired, a neck sizing die to flare the case mouth to accept the bullet, and a seating die to seat and crimp the bullet in place. Do yourself an enormous favor and buy the more expensive carbide dies so you do not have to fool around with lubing cases. Note - I prefer to use a separate de-capping die to remove the used primer, but that's just a matter of preference.

Press Shellholder
A small caliber specific part that holds the case in the press

Hand Primer
I'm old and prefer to seat primers using a hand tool. The process gives you a feel for the force required to seat the primer ensuring a uniform depth, and the process also provides an opportunity to inspect the cases for problems as you go along.

Primer Tray
Holds the primers while you work.

Hand Primer Shellholder
A small caliber specific part that holds a case in the hand primer. Some handprimers are universal and do not need this part, but the Sinclair model does.

Powder Measure
This is what dispenses the powder, and is not the place to try and economize. A quality measure will produce consistent results with only requiring periodic sampling necessary, while a lesser-quality measures throw variable and inconsistent charges and are a complete pain in the ass to use. Trust me.

Powder Funnel
Small funnel to get the powder into the cases.

Powder Scale
Consistency is key, remember? You need to have an absolutely accurate scale, so you shouldn't try to save money here, either. I have small digital jeweler's scales and large, very expensive digital lab scales, but what I actually use is a basic beam scale. Digital scales work based on magnetic fields which can be affected by things like household wiring and fluorescent lighting, and "drift" considerably. The small digital jeweler's scales actually aren't too bad for making a quick QA check as you go along, but anytime precision is key, use a beam scale.

Powder Trickler
Accessory to trickle tiny amounts of powder into a pan on a scale to achieve a desired weight. This is optional for handgun loads where it's usually easier to simply dump incorrect sample loads during your periodic QA checks.

Dial Calipers
I have digital calipers and I have dial calipers. I prefer dial calipers mainly because they don't run on battteries, but some others don't like them because it takes a small effort to learn to read the dial. I assume you learned how to tell time on a clock with hands, and reading dial calipers is not much different than that. You can spend a ton of money on these, and a cheap pair will be frustrating to use and give inaccurate results. A nice Starrett, Mitutoyo or Brown & Sharpe set can be found on ebay for around $100. Look for 6" length and graduation of .001".

Case Gauge
Helpful in setting up dies and checking finished rounds dimensionally making sure they are within SAAMI specification for the caliber.

Ammo Boxes
Small caliber specific plastic boxes to store and transport your finished ammo.

Cartridge Trays
Holds your cartridges during the various stages of assembly.

A Word on Reloading Kits
There is an alternative to the a la carte method of buying the gear necessary to reload, and that is to buy a kit. Most manufacturers offer them, and the individual items are usually discounted from full retail when purchased separately. They really aren't a bad option and they're certainly more economical, but you will probably soon begin to add items for convenience. If economics are a concern, or you're not quite ready to take the full plunge, then a kit might be a good option for you. One important point about kits - they do not come with dies and shellholders which must be added to your order and increase the cost.


So that's an overview of the gear and an idea of pricing. Next week we'll talk about setting up the reloading operation and work space, so be sure to tune in!


Guns of the Horde
First up, our pal Ed L shares his H&K P7.

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This H&K P7 followed me home from the most recent Chantilly show. I think it's an ex-German police pistol, possibly from Southern Bavaria per the "Ndp" marking on the right side of the slide. Introduced in the late 1970s-early 1980s, the P7 PSP served as a sidearm for the West German police, the West German Bundeswehr, and the West German Border Patrol, including the GSG-9 counter-terror special operations group. The P7 PSP includes some unique features, notably the squeeze-cocking mechanism on the front grip strap. In addition to cocking the pistol, it also serves as a safety, and slide release. Although no other pistol to date uses the squeeze cocking mechanism, the P7 PSP pioneered in introducing the three-dot sighting system used in most handguns sold today.

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The squeeze cocking mechanism produces a very light trigger pull, somewhere around 4-5 pounds. Add in the excellent sights, and this pistol is one of more accurate striker fired pistols available. The target shown was at 10 yards, firing offhand with Federal 130 grain Syntech 9mm ammunition. This is a very tight shot group for such a compact pistol. Although the P7's downsides included getting hot after as little as 50 rounds fired (due to its use of a gas-delayed blowback system), what did the P7 in was its cost. Priced at well over $1,000 when H&K ended production in 2010, it simply couldn't compete with the Glock on cost, despite all its technical advantages. Today, the P7 and its variants have skyrocketed in price as collectors' items.

Despite having served as a police, military, and counter-terror sidearm in real life, the P7 and its variants usually turn up in the hands of the villains in Hollywood. P7 variants featured as the sidearms of screen villains such as Hans Gruber in "Die Hard," William Stannix in "Under Siege," and Bond henchman Doctor Kauffman in "Tomorrow Never Dies."

Very nice gun and very nice shooting, Ed L! Thank you for sending this in for us all to enjoy!


Next up, Long Time Lurker reports on a range trip and a tragic boating mishap.

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I read about 496's reader tips. It worked. Here is a picture of my Sig P365 and target from 7 yards. I'm satisfied. No picture of the results shooting my Kimber 9MM Night Patrol 1911, but it was as good or better a grouping as this at 15 yards, and at 25 yards all but one was in the rings, including six in the black.

Unfortunately, the guns were lost coming home from the range when I rolled my kayak crossing the Rio Grande.

Very nice shooting! Thank you LTL!


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Our pal Duncanthrax shares a helpful article on the 1911 and a Five Step Safety Check from American Handgunner.


Flying Guns
I recently ran across the following video on Naval Aviators who were recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor and believe it's worth your time. Amazing stories of heroism.


Colorado Legislative Alert

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Colorado Morons listen-up - a lurker sent in the following article from the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) group website.


Musical Interlude
Here is SRV and BB King with Texas Flood - Live.


Gun Basics 101
New video from the She Equips Herself gal! This week's video is on church concealed carry, among other things.


Cigar of the Week

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This week our pal Diogenes scores again with this excellent review of the PUNCH 1840 Rare Corojo

The PUNCH 1840 Rare Corojo

In my 29 (slightly plus) years I have found PUNCH to be a hit or miss choice. In this case, the Corojo was a solid hit, think of a single laced into right field. Cigars International says it has a well deserved well-deserved 92-rating. Well, lets not get carried away. I discovered this was a very fine smoke. 40 minutes of relaxation in a rare sunlit afternoon. The good points: an easy draw, a very fine and even burning ash, and a really wonderful aromatic smoke. Easy to hold and a pleasant experience. The down side: the Corojo has a Sumatra-seed wrapper which I found to be heavily influenced by a cedar flavor, so much so it was almost bitter. This taste lasted well into the second third of the cigar. This was disappointing, although the flavor didn't linger. But, that said, well worth the time and I give it 3 lit match sticks.

Excellent, Diogenes! I am going to give these a try. Thank you very much!


Here are some different online cigar vendors. You will find they not only carry different brands and different lines from those brands, but also varying selections of vitolas (sizes/shapes) of given lines. It's good to have options, especially if you're looking for a specific cigar.

Bobalu Cigar Company

A note about sources. The brick & mortar/online divide exists with cigars, as with guns, and most consumer products, with respect to price. As with guns - since both are "persecuted industries", basically - I make a conscious effort to source at least some of my cigars from my local store(s). It's a small thing, but the brick & mortar segment for both guns and tobacco are precious, and worth supporting where you can. And if you're lucky enough to have a good cigar store/lounge available, they're often a good social event with many dangerous people of the sort who own scary gunz, or read smart military blogs like this one. -rhomboid

Anyone have others to include? Perhaps a small local roller who makes a cigar you like? Send me your recommendation and a link to the site!


Ammo Link-O-Rama
I'm really very seriously not kidding around anymore. Buy Ammo
AmmoSeek - online ammo search tool
GunBot - online ammo search tool
SG Ammo
Palmetto State Armory
Georgia Arms
Target Sports USA
Bud's Gun Shop

***Mail Bag***

This week's mailbag entry is from our pal WTM. Ha!

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Please note the new and improved protonmail account gunthread at protonmail dot com. An informal Gun Thread archive can be found HERE. Future expansion plans are in the works for the site Weasel Gun Thread. If you have a question you would like to ask Gun Thread Staff offline, just send us a note and we'll do our best to answer. If you care to share the story of your favorite firearm, send a picture with your nic and tell us what you sadly lost in the tragic canoe accident. If you would like to remain completely anonymous, just say so. Lurkers are always welcome!

That's it for this week - have you been to the range?

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posted by Weasel at 07:00 PM

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