My favorite toy

Retirement Guns

Mr. FM and I were relaxing over a pint or two of whisky the other night and as always, the topic drifted towards that of guns. In this specific instance, it was “retirement” guns — i.e. when one has reached a certain age, and a miserly pension/SocSec payout prevents one from buying lots of rifles and/or ammo, what then are the guns that are most desirable to own, either by outright purchase (assuming the funds are available) or else acquired by selling off other guns to fund the purchases?

As I’m right in this target demographic, it’s a subject of keen interest to me.

The criteria are that they should be:

  • quality guns (high on the quality curve but acceptable costwise), to compensate for failing eyesight, shaky grip and unsteady footing;
  • only a few in number, yet able to address most shooting situations;
  • if possible, having gentle recoil (or at least gentler recoil) than the guns of one’s yoot;
  • and finally, chambered for a cartridge of which one already has a large supply.

Of course, the first priority would be a .22 rifle for both plinking and precision/varminting work. Mr. FM suggests an Anschutz 1416:

…or, if you’re going to go all benchy:

Then there’s the CZ 455 Luxe:

or, once again for the Benchies, the CZ 455 Precision:

I myself don’t need to buy either, as my Taurus Mod 62 / Marlin 880 SSQ / 880 SSV in .22 LR / .22 WinMag respectively, are probably all I’ll ever need for both plinking and varminting.

Yeah, the Marlins are no Anschutz or CZ, but they shoot better than I can shoot them; and I don’t have to spend any more money, so there’s that. And, of course, I do have a few boxes of both calibers in Ye Olde Ammoe Locquer. [/understatement]

In that vein, let’s talk for a moment about the guns which are chambered according to the contents of your ammo locker. As any fule kno, I’m a huge fan of the AK-47 rifle, and I have (let’s say) a sufficiency of 7.62x39mm ammo. So, if I wanted an accurate bolt-action hunting rifle chambered in that excellent caliber, then why not a CZ 527 Carbine:

Incidentally, if your preferred SHTF rifle is of the AR-15 persuasion and you have a boatload of its ammo, then obviously there is a plethora of bolt-action choices for you. But I would respectfully suggest that you could do a lot worse than the above-mentioned CZ 527 Carbine chambered in .223 Rem.

Let’s see… plinking/varminting, SHTF, short-range hunting; what’s left? Oh yeah, I almost forgot.

Everyone needs a rifle with which one can reach out and touch someone / something at distances up to 500-600 yards. I believe I now have that covered with my new Mauser M12 in 6.5x55mm:

Once again, if your preferred assault rifle is of the FN-FAL / H&K G3 etc. type and you have a lot of 7.62x55mm/.308 Win ammo, then you should by all means get a hunting / sniper rifle in that chambering.

So there you have it. By the above criteria, my rifle count is: three rimfires (.22 LR and .22 WinMag), one SHTF and one short-range hunting (7.62x39mm), and one sniper (6.5x55mm): a total of six rifles and four calibers. (I don’t currently own a CZ 527 in 7.62x39mm, but after much discussion / whisky with Mr. FM, I’m starting to like the idea.)

Another retiree’s rifle collection might be: one .22 LR for plinking, two in .223 Rem for SHTF and varminting, a .30-30 lever piece for short-range hunting, and a .300 WinMag for long-distance work: a total of five rifles and four calibers.

See how that works?

Feel free to add your combinations, using the above criteria, in Comments. Remember: funds are tight, you want to cut down on “caliber proliferation”, and you want to be able to address all the most likely shooting situations you’re going to encounter as an Old Fart. Have at it.

Don’t Threaten; Shoot The Sumbitch

I was reading this article about a woman who drove off some would-be carjackers with a gun:

Kari Bird just started law school and continues to work full time. Bird got home at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday and when she got out of her car, a group of three or four young guys approached her.
“I really didn’t think too much about it, one of (them) was smiling,” Bird said.
He was smiling, but he quickly pulled out a gun.
“He told me to … give him my keys,” Bird said.
She did turn over her keys, but realizing all her law books and belongings were in the car, Bird made a quick decision. With the gun still pointed at her, she reached into her center console to pull out her own gun.
“(He said), ‘Oh s***’ and then ran,” Bird told Fox 59.

So far, so good. then I read this sentence:

She’s thankful it did turn out alright, but wants those boys to know that this is no way to treat anyone.
“They need to stop this. They’re not going down a good road,” Bird said.

I hate to break it to Ms. Bird, but it didn’t turn out all right. These little assholes know exactly what they’re doing: treating other people as victims, and prepared to kill said victims if they don’t get what they want. And they’re not going to stop what they’re doing, because you didn’t shoot the little prick pointing a gun at you.

So you frightened them off because you had a gun. What will happen next is that they’ll shoot their next victim just in case he or she has a gun, like you did.

Don’t expect criminals to see the error of their ways, because they don’t. The only way they’ll stop is if they’re arrested, or shot. And you’re not a cop.

The old rule applies: don’t ever pull your gun unless you absolutely have to; but when you do pull it, use the damn thing to the best of your ability. You’ll not only save yourself, you’ll probably save others like yourself in the future from a similar fate.

Shootingham, U.K. — Part 2

There are a couple of shotgun ranges at Royal Bisley; the first is all competition-Olympic style, with traps, skeet and sheltered shooting positions:

Long Siberia isn’t at all like that.

Essentially, it’s in the middle of a forest, with only a few open clearings to shoot from. There is no cover for the shooters, no doubt because the Brits need to practice standing in the chilly rain and trying to shoot fast-moving birds flying over the treetops while water is streaming into the eyes — you know, having fun. (An aside: Mr. Free Market has informed me that having fun at Bisley is very much frowned upon, because shooting is Serious Business, don’tcha know.)

I had more fun than a sex maniac in a brothel with a Gold Card.

Granted, it wasn’t raining, so we could leave the rain gear (wellies, Barbour coats etc.) in the Range Rover. But OMG what an experience.

Basically, one walks through the forest until a clearing opens up to a shooting position with clay activators and such. The positions are tailored to reflect the kind of birds one would be shooting: driven high birds, grouse, pheasant etc., all with the flight characteristics thereof: low skimmers, high fliers and everything in between. I’ll shut up now, and just let you take in the fun. (All pics taken by Mr. FM, with my eternal gratitude; I was having so much fun, I barely took any.)

…and let me tell you, those lil’ thangs were moving, Bubba.

got ‘im:

All in all, I think we shot from over half a dozen shooting positions. Best of all, towards the end, I was hardly missing — and when I did, I knew immediately why and where — but as Mr. FM dryly commented, “Nothing like trigger time, dear heart.”

All good things must come to an end, and eventually Mr. FM dragged me kicking and screaming away from this wondrous place.

So massive was my pout that my friend and host had to calm my raging spirit at this fine establishment on the world-famous River Test trout-fishing stream:

A perfect ending to a perfect day…

 

Shootingham, U.K. — Part 1

So last night I spent the evening with The Englishman and Reader John M., doing pints of 6X, plates of fish & chips and in general doing what I’ve become accustomed to doing of a Friday night, with the usual consequences.

However, my trip back to Free Market Towers was by a different route because of road construction on the normal one. That I got back at all was a miracle, because The Englishman’s sole directions were:
“When you get out of the village, turn right till you get to the main road; then turn right, and keep turning right until you get back to Devizes.”
Reader John’s suggestion was equally helpful: “Watch out for some of the corners.”

Okay: a trip in pitch darkness along unfamiliar, narrow country roads, no map/GPS, half-inebriated. As it happened, both sets of instructions were brilliant, because I drove straight home without getting lost once. (That might be the first time ever, along a strange country road in Hardy Country.)

At Free Market Towers I encountered Mr. FM, back from a few days’ hard work of evicting widows from their ancestral homes followed by demolition of the latter and construction of glass-walled skyscrapers in their place. (I think that’s what he does for a living, but there’s also some terrorizing of subordinates and glad-handing of Chinese tycoons in there, so I can’t be exactly sure.)

Anyway, I was greeted with a glass of whisky and the words: “We leave at 10 tomorrow. Okay?”

I had forgotten, in my evening’s carousing, that he’d scheduled a day’s shooting for today. Oy.

So this morning I woke up, only mildly hung over, and off we set off in the Range Rover, along the standard leafy lanes of outstanding beauty and vistas of… oh hell, you know the rest.

On and on we went, through various counties, villages and towns until we finally arrived at our destination:

I’ve never been to Bisley before, and I didn’t really know what to expect. What I never expected was to find myself in a massive area (several thousand acres, Mr. FM estimates) devoted entirely to shooting. In other words, Kim’s idea of heaven. To give you an idea of the extent of the place, here’s a map which shows most (but not all) of the ranges and buildings (open in a new window to get the full-sized pic):

The problem, of course, is that Bisley isn’t open to just anyone — you can’t just stroll in there and ask to be given a slot on any of the ranges: oh no, that wouldn’t be British. Instead, you have to belong to a shooting club (approved by the Home Office, don’t get me started), and they will then schedule you a day, time and slot where you can shoot with other members of your club. Being British, of course, each club has an exclusive club house of varying degrees of grandeur, starting from 1930s-era Kenya-style mansions:

…and Shanghai-type establishments of the same vintage:

…all the way down to modest cottages:

…and there are even rental trailer-homes where one can spend the night if doing more than a day’s shooting:

Bisley is almost, in fact, a self-contained town — hence the title of this post. There are restaurants, parks and, of course, gunsmiths/shops such as Fulton & Son and William Evans:

…which contain the usual items of gunny exquisiteness:

But on to the ranges.

There are lots of long-distance ranges (one out to 1,300 yards), and I’m not going to list them all; but here’s one, just to give you an idea. A club was shooting at the 1,000-yard mark:

There are .22 ranges, medium-distance ranges, Olympic-distance ranges, shotgun ranges, and so on — all over the place, and all of which made a certain visitor’s trigger finger itch. Which is why after a quick lunch of bacon-and-egg sandwiches, Mr. Free Market took us off to where we would be doing our shooting — clay pigeons, as it turned out. Here’s the road we drove down:

…and tomorrow I’ll give you part 2 of this adventure, at Long Siberia.

Grabbing Guns

Not sure how this little idea would have played out in Texas:

U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp signed an emergency order allowing the seizure of private guns, ammunition, explosives and property the National Guard may need to respond to Hurricane Irma.

Couple-three questions here:
1) Why would the Guard need any privately-owned weapons in an emergency? Don’t they have enough, and if not, why not?
2) What happens if people are unable to protect their houses and such from looters and other associated filth? (“Bend over and spread ’em” is the likely government response.)
3) How would the government know where to get said weapons?

Oh, lookee here. From Wikipedia:

The U.S. Virgin Islands have a stringent and restrictive licensing process to purchase or carry a firearm. A person must be 21 to get a non-carry weapons license, along with several other requirements. Applicants must pay $75 licensing fee, submit a signed application, be fingerprinted and photographed, and be of good moral character. That process is just for a permit to purchase firearms to store in a residence or business, and not for a concealed carry permit. There are six types of licenses:

  • Blue, Business Protection
  • Yellow, Home protection and handguns only
  • Gray, farming and long guns only
  • White, all active law enforcement
  • Pink, current and retired law enforcement, personal protection, and special circumstances
  • Green, target shooting, sports use and home protection

To qualify [for any of the above] you must belong to a gun club. To acquire a concealed carry permit, or “Pink” permit, a person must meet a specific set of criteria. To apply, you must either be a government employee, valuable goods carrier, firearms manufacturer, or be a bona fide resident or business person of the islands. You must prove you have good reason to fear death or great injury to your person or property and present at least two affidavits from credible persons who attest to that need. Due to this process, in most cases concealed carry permit applications are denied for normal resident applicants unless in grave circumstances.

The next time somebody of your acquaintance suggests that guns be licensed, or that only cops should carry guns… well, you know the rest. Wear Army boots.


Afterthought: here is yet another reason, as if any were needed, that everyone should own at least one gun about which government knows nothing.

Taking A Hammering

So the morning after the day of the Salon Privé at Blenheim Palace (see here and here, below), I was rudely awoken by Mr. Free Market hammering on my door with a cheery, “Come on! Let’s go do a little shooting!”

Now I have to admit that I’m not the drinker I used to be, and the Whisky Hobgoblins were using jackhammers on the inside of my skull. Still, a little plinking at rabbits with .22 rifles somewhere on the Free Market Towers estate couldn’t hurt, I thought as I stumbled from my bed.

Did I say “.22 rifles”? Not really. Mr. FM (who is obviously made of sterner stuff than I) had decided that we were going to do some serious shooting, as evidenced by the rifles he was stowing away in the back of the Land Rover. They are, from top to bottom: Blaser R8 in .300 WinMag, Blaser double in .30R (the Euro equivalent of the .30-06), another Blaser double in .375 H&H Magnum, and my Mauser M12 in 6.5x55mm (in Mr. FM’s words, “so that you won’t get too banged about”).

Fortunately, a couple pints of strong black coffee restored my health somewhat (I turned down a suggestion of “a hair of the dog” from Fiend FM), so off we went.

At the Corinium shooting range up in Gloucestershire, Mr. FM and I first sighted in our single-barreled rifles from the bench — I discovered that the difference in zero between a 6.5x55mm bullet of 140 grains and 120 grains amounted to approximately 1″ per 10 grains, i.e. a zero with a 140-grain bullet meant that the zero drifted up 4″ when shooting the lighter 120-grain one — while Mr. FM fired but two rounds of .300 WInMag, got a quarter-inch group in the bull and declared himself satisfied (as well he should be), and then we went downrange to play with the double rifles. (All pics by Mr. FM, by the way.) Here’s what we were shooting (l-r: Merkel .470 Nitro, Blaser .375 H&H, and Blaser .30R):

…and from the business end:

Dear Readers, I’m not going to use my hangover as an excuse for what followed.

I have always prided myself on being able to shoot offhand competently from a standing position — in the past, I have been capable of sideplate-sized groups at close range (25 yards) — but I haven’t had much (okay, any) practice in this particular discipline in several years, and boy, did it show. Here’s a pic of the fiasco:

Shooting Mr. FM’s .375 H&H double, the first shot was a clear miss of the deer — about a half-inch below the body, the second marginally better (in that it actually hit the deer silhouette), but the bullet strike was still about a quarter-inch outside the kill-zone. Result in real life: a wounded deer. Ugh. Even worse, I fired a few more rounds with range owner Paul’s Merkel .470 Nitro Express (loaded with bunny-fart practice ammo) and I still couldn’t hit anything. And recoil was not an issue, either. Here are the pre- and post pics which demonstrate the recoil — which was not excessive.

Shit. Poor shooting like this is total bullshit, and I cannot allow that to stand. So when I get back Over The Pond in two weeks’ time, I am going to be putting in some extensive trigger time in Texas on my offhand shooting: of that you can be sure.

I can only apologize to Mr. FM and Paul for my pathetic shooting, but I promise that the next time, I will not make a fool of myself again.

On a side note: I have got to lose some weight — fucking hell, I look nine months pregnant — so there’ll also be a lot less fork time when I get back.