Old Rifle, Old Cartridge… Heaven

As everyone knows, I love Old Gunny Stuff — and a good-looking pre-WWII hunting rifle in a proven chambering pretty much checks all my boxes.  Here’s a Savage 99 in .250-3000 (.250 Savage) at Collectors:

As I’ve also said before, I am not a fan of the 99 when it’s chambered in a larger caliber like .303 Savage, .308 Win and so on, because of the stiff recoil.  But a nice quarter-incher like the .250 Savage?  And in a handy little carbine?  (And did I also say before how much I love the Savage’s slick lever action and box magazine which can hold pointy spitzer boolets, unlike the WinMar lever guns with their tube mags?)

The age of rifles doesn’t bother me at all, provided that they’ve been reasonably well-looked after:  I’ve owned many pre-WWII rifles, and honestly, I’ve loved pretty much every single one of them:  Swiss K-11, Swedish 1896 Mausers, SMLE and Enfield No.4s, Mosin-Nagants, gawd knows how many Mauser 98s, and so on.  The one rifle of this genre that got away, by the way, also gives me the deepest regret at its loss:  a pre-WWI Winchester 94 in .32 Win Special (as I recall, made in 1910), which I bought from a dear friend who a year later demanded I sell it back to him because he was missing it too much.  Now I miss that rifle, still.  Here’s one, also from Collectors.

Were it not for their respective price tags — which reflect how many people love these rifles as much as I do — I’d buy them both in a heartbeat.

So yeah:  old rifles and old cartridges don’t frighten me, and they shouldn’t frighten anyone.  These fine old ladies are flat-out wonderful and gorgeous, their cartridges are just as effective as any modern cartridge, and everyone should own at least one.

Touch history, folks, while you still can.  You can thank me later.

Girly Guns

A comment to an earlier post about sissy guns got me thinking about the above headline:

“I’m with Kim. I don’t understand what Sig is trying to do with this gun. It’s like when Kimber came out with the Bel Air Micro.”

I had never heard of the Kimber Bel Air, so I looked it up.  Great Vulcan’s bleeding hemorrhoids.

The only thing I like about this gun is the Novak sight setup.  I think I’ll buy Daughter one for her birthday, because it has to be better than the Taurus thing she’s carrying at the moment.

And she’s never going to get rid of her Buck Mark:

Just looking at all those girly guns makes my breasts start to grow…

I need to top up the old Testosterone Tank, so if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the range.

Gratuitous Gun Pic: Argentine 1909 Mauser (7.65x53mm)

As any fule kno, I have a love of All Rifles (Mauser), and the 1909 Argie is no exception.  Yeah, it’s chambered in the offbeat (and wonderfully-powerful) 7.65mm Argentine — how offbeat? the “53mm” cartridge casing is actually 53.6mm in length — but like all Mausers of the Gew. 98 or K98 family, the action is almost indestructible and I would have absolutely no hesitation in picking up one of these to go into battle, hunt at medium ranges, or blow away a goblin.  In terms of power, it’s roughly equivalent to the British .303 Enfield of the same era;  in terms of recoil, it’s worse.  I once did a side-by-side shoot-off with two rifles thus chambered, starting with a mag load (10 rounds) from my old SMLE .303.  Then, after three rounds of the 7.65mm, I put the 1909 down gently and had to have a soothing shoulder massage from a maiden of the Orient  a Swedish girl named Hanna  my girlfriend of the time.  The .303 was a pleasure, by comparison.

Another reason not to plink with the Argy rifle is the ammo.  While it’s not especially uncommon (from vendors who specialize in such cartridges), you’re not going to find it at Bubba’s Bait ‘n Ammo Shack.  But thank goodness for those erstwhile Commies at Prvi Partizan, where the cost per squeeze is about a dollar (actually quite reasonable, given the obscurity of the cartridge).  Shooting a serious hunting load from Norma will treble that, but hunting doesn’t require thousands of rounds to be touched off — if you know what you’re doing, of course.  Hornady also makes cheap-ish 7.65mm ammo, but the bullet is much lighter (150gr vs. the “normal” 174gr), which means you’ll have to adjust from your practice ammo to your hunting cartridge — always a little problematic with iron-sighted rifles.

Also, the 1909’s straight bolt handle makes mounting a scope problematic, and if I were to advise against anything to do with the Argie, it would be attempting this yourself.  If you just have to have a scope-mounted old 98-type Mauser, start with one of the later (e.g. M48 Yugo) models.  Even that can require very tall mounts:

As for the 1909 rifle itself:  it never saw combat with the Argentine armed forces but even so, most of them are pretty battered by now, and all-number-matching rifles are a rare find.  There’s also a lot of stuff said about the Argentina-made 1909s vs. the German-made (DWM) ones, but I’ve fired more than a couple of the Argy Argies, and they’re fine.  In any event, DWM made nearly three times the number of the others, so mostly you’ll find it’s a DWM.

The Argentinians (not DWM, as I recall) also made a carbine model (like this one), but that is even less pleasant to shoot.  When it comes to recoil, heavier is better.

Current prices seem to run anywhere from $300 (gun shows) – $750+ (FFL), but those at the lower end need to be very carefully checked over by a gunsmith — I wouldn’t risk getting a cheap one, myself.  One inherent problem is that damn rifles are most often the target of amateur gunsmithing — usually converted into a more common chambering.  These should be avoided like the plague.

All that said, however:  the 1909 Argentine Mauser is a sound, effective rifle, and I do regret selling mine.  [exit, kicking self]


Reader & Friend JohnC sent me this pic of a Smith Model 629, which had all sorts of electronic drool stains on it:

I have to say, the artwork is well done, and extremely tasteful.

And yet, I have a love/hate relationship with engraving.  On the one hand, I regard the gun as a tool, and adding embellishment like the above often seems to me to be like engraving patterns onto a screwdriver or a chainsaw.

On  the other hand, I will never love any garage tool as much or in the same way as I love my 1911 — or pretty much any of my guns, really.  Guns may be tools, in other words, but not quite so much.

My problem with adding engraving onto a gun is that it makes it pretty, and that means you start treating it differently, either in its actual handling or else in frequency of use.  Turning a range gun into a safe queen… well, I think you all know where I stand on that issue.

Over at the Daily Timewaster, C.W. often has pics of fancy guns, like these two:

…and once again, I’m somewhat conflicted.  While nobody can complain about the craftsmanship in either case, I just can’t get excited about it other than that:  appreciation of the artistry.

Even with fine shotguns, I’m of a more conservative bent.  Here are two examples, from Steve Barnett’s House Of Horrors, of otherwise identical Venere-model shotguns from Abbiatico & Salvinelli:

I love the first, but kinda “meh” about the second.  And of course it’s not just the Italians.  Here are three from J. Purdey, the ultimate stiff-upper-lip Brit company:

Love the first, “meh” about the second, and the last is revolting.

And all that said, I think completely untouched shotguns look like shop tools.  Here are a pair of Winchester Model 21s:

The first is foul, the second is sensational:  understated elegance, defined.

What say you, O My Readers?

Gratuitous Gun Pic: Henry Long Ranger (.308 Win)

A little while ago we were talking here about deep-woods lever rifles, and somebody expressed a wish for a lever rifle that could be loaded with a pointed boolet (i.e. magazine-fed as opposed to the traditional tube).

How about Henry’s Long Ranger in .308 Win?

For me, this one ticks all the boxes except that it doesn’t appear to be drilled and tapped for scope mounts — not that this is a deal-breaker in a setting which seldom requires a shot further than 200 yards (and usualy, much less).

Also, it looks weird without the tube under the barrel, but that’s just a cosmetic and personal thing — if you’ve got a magazine, no tube necessary, of course.

Collectors has one on sale for just under a grand, so if you’re interested… go there and look at the other pics.  And don’t come crying to me if in your perusal, you get sidetracked into the Collectors Matrix.

I have to tell you all:  that is a sweet little rifle.  I’ve had good experience with Henry rifles in the past;  their quality is excellent (hence the premium price), their triggers require no gunsmithing, and their lever actions are a lot smoother than new WinMar rifles.