Posts Tagged ‘Colt Single-Action Army’

What would B.B. shoot?

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Blog reader Kevin asked me this question recently, and I embraced it because I usually don’t even have time to think about which airgun I would prefer to shoot. There’s always another blog, a feature article and 5 other deadlines pressing on my time…so thinking like this is not a luxury. It’s a fantasy! Then, Kevin asked this question and “forced” me to stop and think about it for today’s report. Ahh! Happy Friday!

The first gun that pops into my head when I ask this question is the Diana model 27 rifle. It’s just such a simple, uncomplicated airgun that I guess it serves as my happy place. But as I think about it, other guns pop up. The Air Venturi Bronco, the Falke model 70, the Diana model 25 are 3 more that come to mind immediately. They all share the model 27′s chief attribute — ease of operation. In short, they’re all fun airguns.

Diana 27 air rifle Diana’s model 27 breakbarrel is so light, smooth and easy to operate that it epitomizes everything that’s good about airgunning in my eyes.

Falke 70
Falke model 70 is another vintage breakbarrel that’s light and smooth like the Diana 27.

To take the fantasy a little farther, have these guns always been the ones that do that, or have there been others? Yes! There have been others!

My straight-grip Webley Senior pistol is exactly like the Diana 27 in this respect. It’s small and easy to operate. I still own this pistol, although there’s seldom any time to actually shoot it. But it’s right there in the drawer where I can put my hands on it whenever I want. I guess that’s good enough. I guess it will have to be.

Webley Senior
I’ve owned this straight-grip Webley Senior since the early 1970s. It’s easy to cock, has a nice trigger and is fun to shoot. Not terribly accurate, but it’s one of those rare guns I let slip by because everything else works so well.

When I think a little longer and harder, my Beeman R8 pops into view. It comes in later because it has a scope, and scopes do complicate things. So do target sights, but my Walther LGV Olympia 10-meter target rifle now comes to light. And with it comes the new .22-caliber LGV. The target rifle took longer to pop up because it’s a heavy gun. The .22 took longer because of its power. When I want to play, power is the farthest thing from my mind.

Firearms?
Kevin didn’t ask me what my favorite firearms were; but since this is Friday, I’ll take a little license and include them, as well. Right now, my new PO8 Luger is a favorite because it’s accurate, recoils very little and it eats my handloads like they were candy! And when I think of that gun, I cannot overlook my Ruger Single-Six in .32 H&R Magnum. It has great power and almost no recoil. For cutting out the center of a bullseye, that little Ruger wheelgun is a dream.

P08 and Ruger Single Six
The Ruger Single Six is chambered for the .32 H&R Magnum. It’s light, yet very powerful and will out-penetrate a .357 Magnum on a steel target. The 1917 Luger is such a smooth shooter that it’s like eating peanuts — I can’t stop! Both guns are very accurate.

Then, I think of my O3A3 Springfield. It’s one of the few military rifles that gives me an honest sub 2-inch group at 100 yards. If it didn’t recoil so much, I’m sure it would have popped up even sooner.

O3A3 Springfield
This O3A3 Springfield will smack you with recoil when you’re shooting full-house loads. The short stock gives it a running start at your shoulder. But the accuracy is stunning!

My M1 Carbine is also a favorite — not for its accuracy, which is just average — but for the fact that it drops the empty cases on top of the shooting bench! Most autoloaders throw their cases a country mile, but this little sweetie piles them up for me. With more training, I’m sure I can get it to put them back in the box!

M1 Carbine
My M1 Carbine is well-behaved. Next, I’m going to teach it to put the fired cases back into the box!

Guns I wish I still had
Now comes the Great Lament — the ones that got away! I had a Bernardelli Baby in .25 ACP that would put 3 shots into the bottom of a soda can offhand at 30 feet. Most .25s are lucky to hit dinner plates at that distance, but this little pistol was a good one. I let it get away. I recently bought another Bernardelli Baby in the hopes of doing the same thing. Alas, this one is a dinner-plate special.

Ruger .44 Magnum Blackhawk with 10-inch barrel
They’re very collectible now; but when I had my 3-screw Ruger Blackhawk, they were just good guns. I was too stupid to know that the one I had was an exceptional shooter. I figured I could always get another one.

Custom .458 Winchester Magnum
I have written about this rifle many times. I shot it with a 550-grain cast lead bullet, and it would put 10 shots into less than 2 inches (outside measurement) at 100 yards. It was like owning a target-grade 45/70. Stupid me — I thought I would always be able to find another one just as good. Haven’t yet!

What kind of shooting do I like to do?
I’m pretty easy to please. I like whatever kind of shooting I happen to be doing at the time — usually. The things I hate are magnum spring rifles that buzz like bottles of hornets, slap me in the face and have no accuracy. I also disdain black rifles that can’t group in less than 3 inches at 100 yards. In fact, I dislike almost anything that isn’t accurate.

I enjoy shooting a .45 Colt Single Action Army with accurate loads and feeling the plow-grip roll in my hand during recoil. I like shooting a nice 1911 and feeling the slight burp of recoil when I hold my thumb over the manual safety. I shot a Walther P38 recently that had a nice trigger and is very accurate. My experiences with P38s aren’t that good, but this one was memorable. I could burn up a lot of 9mm ammo in that one.

gift SAA
When I came home from the hospital several years ago, I received this Single Action Army as a gift from the readers of this blog. It is a favorite of mine because it mimics the feel of a Gen 1 Colt perfectly!

Same for the PO8 I got for Christmas. The ergonomics are legendary and the trigger is extremely good for a Luger (their trigger linkages usually make for poor triggers). My handloads are moderate enough that I can shoot this pistol for the rest of my life and not put any wear on it!

I enjoy holding a 10 with a target air pistol and seeing the pellet hit the pinwheel. I love seeing 10 shots from an accurate rifle sail through the same hole at 100 yards, knowing the hole they made is smaller than half an inch. I love shooting 5 shots from a 10-meter rifle and seeing a group smaller than a tenth of an inch.

10-meter pistol
Holding a 10 with a pistol is very enjoyable!

I love shooting my Daisy Avanti Champion 499 offhand and making quarter-inch groups. My shooting buddy Otho bought one for himself this past December and has been doing the same thing ever since.

I enjoy shooting a Garand and hearing the shot go off but not feeling the recoil. I know it’s there, but the push is so slow that it doesn’t seem to count. The same holds true for my .357 Magnum Desert Eagle. It’s got enough power to drop a steer, but the soft recoil feels like a 1911 shooting +P ammo.

Best of all
But the thing I like above all is when I solve some problem of inaccuracy and turn a bad gun into a real shooter. It doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, but from time to time I do hit one out of the park. I’m hoping to do that with my Ballard someday. And maybe my Meteor, as well.

Bending airgun barrels: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

A couple weeks back, we talked about straightening bent airgun barrels to improve accuracy. We want to do that so we can hit targets with the sights that were installed. There is, however, another reason for bending barrels. Some guns have sights that do not coincide with where their barrels are pointing, even when they’re not bent. For this situation, we also need a fix.

Many guns have replacement rear sights. I own a BSF S70 breakbarrel rifle that has a Williams peep sight that was either installed by Air Rifle Headquarters (the original company in Grantsville, West Virginia) or was a sight they sold for owners to mount. ARH did inform the customers of the necessity for the rear sight to have a complimentary taller front sight installed, and on my rifle that didn’t happen. I think this was an owner-installed sight that they probably hated ever since.


This is the problem I’m faced with.


The special Williams peep sight is low and fits the rifle well. It looks good, and I want to keep it.


I like the vintage look of the original front sight. Bending the barrel is the only solution!

In either case, the rear sight cannot be adjusted low enough for the rifle to strike the target at 10 meters. Since 10 meters is such a common shooting distance for an air rifle, this is not handy. The other possibility would be to raise the front sight higher, but I don’t want to do that. I happen to like the look of the front sight that’s there and want to leave it as installed. My only option is to bend the barrel.

Several blog readers, including Kevin Lentz, commented on having bent many airgun barrels and how easy it is to do. My buddy Mac has also bent a number of airgun barrels to get them on target.

While a barrel may be bent in any direction, up is by far the most common direction you’ll have to go since the majority of breakbarrel rifles shoot a little low. The second most common direction is down, which is what I need to do to fix the kind of problem I have.

I was in my reading room a few days after that; and from the pile of literature lying on the sink, I picked up the 2000 Edition of The Gun Digest and stumbled across an article by Todd G. Lofgren titled, Sighting In Single-Actions. The author describes, shows and tests the results of bending the barrels of numerous Colt Single Action Army revolvers to get them to shoot to the point of aim at 25 yards. He knew that the traditional way of doing this is to either file down or add to the front sight for height and to bend it (the front sight blade) in the direction opposite of where he wanted the bullet to go, but that didn’t appeal to him. He built a jig and used a 12-1/2 ton hydraulic press to actually bend the barrel in the direction the bullet needed to go.

He fixed guns that were off in all ways, but by far the most common directions were to the left and low. And then he shot three groups at 25 yards to prove the guns now shot to their point of aim. Before bending each barrel, the extractor housing was removed; and in every case, it was installed after the bend without a problem, thus proving that the bend itself was only a very small distance.

Lofgren commented that the first-generation Colt barrels are easier to bend than the barrels of guns made today. That means their metal is softer and more ductile, and lends itself to slight deformation better than barrels made from harder steel. That bodes well for airguns, because they’re also still being made of soft steel that should deform easily.

Lofgren also happened to favor the short 4-3/4 inch barrels, and all of the guns shown in his pictures have barrels of that length. Compared to that, bending a 12-inch or longer air rifle barrel made from thinner steel stock should be a piece of cake!

While he uses a hydraulic press to bend his barrels, I think that bending an air rifle barrel that’s sitting between two blocks 12 inches apart will be easy enough to do with a common screw like the kind found on a C-clamp. If the jig is constructed correctly, it should be possible to control the amount of pressure very precisely, which is desirable for collectors who don’t want to ruin their fine guns.

What about guns with fixed barrels?
It should be possible to bend guns that have fixed barrels, as well, provided the barrels are solid. This process will not work on barrels inside jackets or shrouds, which lets out many airguns of modern design.

Don’t over-think this!
Some readers might think this operation through and wonder if bending the barrel in the direction you want the pellet to move is correct. If you bend the barrel, you also move the front sight — and we know that the front sight is supposed to be moved in the opposite direction that you want to pellet to move. But Lofgren cautions his readers not to over-think this and just bend the barrel as they want the strike of the round to move. It’ll work out perfectly that way.

This fixes bent barrels, too
The initial reason for bending barrels was to straighten them after they’re bent from an accident or from their manufacture — not because they weren’t hitting where the sights are aiming. But one bend is the same as the other. It’ll work for both problems — I guess. At any rate, seeing a man bending the barrels of collectible first-generation Colt revolvers and getting the results he was after has given me the courage to try the same thing on this air rifle.

The next step is to damage a spring-piston barrel and then try to bend it straight again. If I can do that, then bending the S70 barrel shouldn’t prove too difficult. In the process, I hope to construct a simple low-cost barrel-bending fixture that will serve all my future needs. It should be a fun experiment!

What is my airgun worth?

by B.B. Pelletier

Today, I want to talk about something different. I’ve been reading two gun auction catalogs from the most recent Rock Island Auction, and something caught my eye. This auction was held last month, and it included hundreds of very desirable and collectible firearms. The first thing that I noticed was the low estimated prices of some really fine vintage guns.

For example, there were some first-generation Colt single-action revolvers that had a very low estimate. One was a Wells Fargo-marked revolver that had been restored to almost new condition, but it had a factory letter proving that it was indeed a rare Wells Fargo model. It was in near-mint condition due to the restoration. I knew that a restoration on a gun like this would lower the value greatly, but not to an estimated $2,500-$4,000, which was the auction estimate! I would have thought that it would still be in the $8,000 to $12,000 range, despite the restoration. And, if original, perhaps $15,000-$20,000.

Yes, I’m aware that auction estimates are not the final prices the guns sell for, and also that auction houses estimate conservatively, but this seems ridiculous to me. However, that is not my point.

Here is what really caught my eye, and what I absolutely cannot understand. On one page there is a “Scarce Sharps Model 1853 Slant Breech Sporting Rifle.” This rifle was manufactured between 1854 and 1859 and is in very good condition. It is mechanically excellent. And the auction estimate is $2,750 to $4,250.

On the very next page, there is a “Special Order Shiloh Sharps Model 1874 Single Shot Rifle with Custom Oak Case.” This is a rifle made within the past few years by the Shiloh Sharps Company in Big Timber, Montana. It is in excellent plus condition in an oak case and the auction estimate is $3,500 to $4,750.


The Shiloh Sharps rifle is a beautiful gun to be sure, but they make them every day of the week. It has no historic connection. It’s a replica of a 19th century rifle that went off the market 125 years ago, and an original Sharps in very good condition should be worth more than a gun you can buy today, in my opinion.

The auction house estimates a newly made “Sharps” to be more valuable than an original! Yes, the condition of the new gun is better than that of the original, but not that much better. Who in their right mind would even want a newly made replica gun when they could have an original for the same money OR LESS?

I’m not finished with this. Obviously, there are people who will want the newly made gun and are willing to pay more for it than for the original. Maybe they’re afraid of shooting an original gun and want the better metallurgy in the modern gun. Beyond that, I don’t understand the thinking. That tells me I don’t know everything there is to know about people and their buying habits. I’ll come back to that thought in a bit, but let’s move on.

Two “BB guns”
While watching American Pickers, a reality TV show in which two guys travel all over the country buying up dirty, rusty antiques to resell, they happened upon two vintage underlever pellet guns in one episode. They called them BB guns, of course, and the owner agreed with them. One of the pickers said he had never seen a mechanism quite like this before and the seller said he never would see one like it again.

Yeah! But only if they stay away from airgun shows! The “BB guns” the pickers found were vintage BSA underlevers made after World War I, and on a good day in the condition they were in, both guns might bring $300 at an airgun show. But the pickers paid $450 for both and they expected to double their money, because, as the man said, these BB guns were “real rare.”

Then, to compound their mistake, the pickers asked Daisy what the guns were. Of course Daisy has very little knowledge of vintage airguns that they didn’t make (oh, that’s right, these are BB guns), but they got to flash a still of their 2009 remake of the 1886 wirestock gun on the screen as the narrator babbled incoherently about BB guns.

I bet you think I’m ready to pounce on the American Pickers for their faux pas? Not at all. Because they probably will double their money, since the rest of humanity knows even less about vintage airguns than they do.

It’s mostly about people
And that’s when it hit me. Buying and selling collectible things has very little to do with the objects themselves and a lot to do with the ability to read people. I recently bought a .22 Winchester rifle from a gun store here in Texas. It was an unlovely thing that had been languishing in that store for over a year. I think they wanted $200 for the gun. I examined it for a long time, and I think I attracted the interest of the store owner, who thought he might finally have a sale for this rack queen. He offered it to me for $100 out the door, tax paid! What he didn’t know and I did, was this is a rare variation of this model rifle and it was made in 1939 — the first year of production.


This chrome-plated (not nickel, but chrome) Winchester model 74 Gallery Special is so rare that even the Blue Book of Gun Values doesn’t list it. But, the NRA Book of Firearms Disassembly does, which is where I discovered what this rare rifle is.

I owned it for a brief time, then I used it in trade for my Ballard. I was allowed $500 credit for the rifle from another gun store. Only this time when I went in to trade, I took all the proof of what the gun was, and when they took off the stock to examine it, the year 1939 was stamped into the underside of the action.

So successful buying and selling is really about people and your ability to read them. The first gunstore owner was a don’t-wanter, who just wanted to see that rifle go out of his store. Any deal he could get was better than no deal at all. The second gunstore owner was intrigued by the (truthful) story I told him about the history of this rare gun. In all honesty, this is one of the very few times I’ve actually been on the winning side of such negotiations. Usually, I’m the one returning home with a handful of magic beans.

People are the key, which is why the American Pickers are successful at what they do. They don’t need to know every disgusting detail about every object they buy. They just have to know what people will buy.

It’s also why the Pawn Stars (another reality TV show about a pawn shop) are able to buy fabulous things for trifling money — because they can read the sellers and they know their customers. Rock Island Auctions does the same. They know what buyers are looking for and approximately what they might be willing to pay for it.

I wish I could boil all of this down to a few simple rules that would help us do better when buying and selling things, but I can’t. In fact, the only rule that seems to come out of all of this is that there are no simple rules. But there are things to think about.

Some buying and selling tips
If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Greed is a powerful enemy, and just when you think you’re about to make the deal of a lifetime, it strikes. You wind up with pockets full of anecdotes instead of treasure.

Blood attracts sharks. If you don’t know what a thing is worth, for gosh sakes, keep that to yourself!

The first to speak loses. When it comes to setting a price, don’t be the one to do it. Let the other guy go first. You’ll be surprised at how many times you’ll be surprised.

Be slow to talk and fast to listen. Let the other guy do the talking while you try to evaluate his motivation. If you sense the seller is a don’t-wanter, you may be able to strike a favorable deal.

Honesty is always the best policy. On one episode of Pawn Stars, a woman came into the pawn shop to sell a broach. It was a large 18-karat gold spider that she thought was festooned with crystals. In fact, it was Fabregé, and the “crystals” were precious gemstones. When she asked $2,000 for it the pawn shop owner countered with an offer of $15,000. Sure, he could have bought it for what she asked and kept that segment out of the TV show, but I think he wanted the message of honesty to get across. And it certainly did.

When I buy an airgun to resell, I tell the buyer everything I know about it, including the price I think it could bring. Then, I make an offer that will be 40 to 50 percent of the price I named. While some people are turned off by this tactic, others understand where I am coming from. I may say something should sell for $500, but when I finally do sell it, I might only get $375 for a variety of reasons. The fact that I paid $250 isn’t bad, because I still made a little money. I may have had to make repairs to the gun or I may have held onto it for three years before it finally sold at the reduced price, so it’s not like I’m making money hand over fist.

Other times things work out in my favor, and I really do make a windfall. Lucky me. But that only happens often enough to offset those times when I let my own greed get in the way and get taken like a country bumpkin. My last such bad deal lost me about a thousand dollars, and I’m sure the other guy is still laughing over it.

While we’re on the subject of losing…when it happens to you take it like a man. If you don’t ever want to get taken by dishonest people, don’t buy and sell things. It’s a simple as that. Larceny is embedded in some people’s DNA, and they cannot do something unless it is illegal or immoral. They usually don’t look different than all other folks, and the best of them look like angels. That’s why they’re so good at what they do. If you can’t stand losing, don’t play the game.

So, my friend, what is your Daisy Buzz Barton, Wintzel CO2 pistol, or Falke model 90 worth? I don’t really know; but if it was mine, I would think long and hard about how best to sell it. A garage sale is probably not the place to start.

The art of collecting airguns – Part 6

by B.B. Pelletier

Happy New Year!

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

This report is being written to satisfy a promise to blog reader Kevin. Last Thursday, I took my new Ballard for its first shoot at the range. The experience parallels shooting a brand new pellet gun, so I think there’s something to be learned from my experience.


My Marlin Ballard turned out to be a special order factory-made rifle.

A very good friend gifted me the authoritative book on Ballard rifles by John Dutcher of Denver. Mr. Dutcher looked at the photos of my rifle and said that he thought it was a special order factory-made gun. I’d thought it was a Union Hill No. 9 rifle with some custom touches, but he knew that the rifle was more likely made purposely as a special order. John Lower of Denver had ordered many such rifles in the 1880s, because buying them in volume got him a better price.

I called Mr. Dutcher and had a long conversation with him. He convinced me to take the rifle apart to view all the serial numbers because he thought the buttstock would probably not be the same as the rest of the rifle. He thought that it was most likely a restock by Marlin, or at the very least a restock by a Marlin stockmaker. The job is just too good to be from an outside stockmaker.

TAKE THE GUN APART! I was scared — like an apprentice gem cutter about to cut his first valuable diamond. What if I slipped with the screwdriver and buggered a screw slot?

Well, according to Mr. Dutcher’s book, all the screws on a Ballard are both handmade and flame hardened. They don’t bugger easily. Let me tell you what handmade means. It means that even after 120 years on the gun, each screw comes out of its hole as if it has been oiled. There are no burrs on any of the threads. The gun came apart like opening a safe from the 1890s.


Under the forearm, the serial number is on the barrel.


The frame serial number is the only one that can be seen with the rifle assembled.


Ballard rifles even serial-numbered the wood. This is the forearm that rests against the receiver.


The Ballard is unique in that it has a two-piece breechblock — split vertically. Each block half is serial-numbered.


There are no numbers on the butt, where there should be. Dutcher was right! The rifle has been restocked.


It took guts to do this, but the rifle was easy to disassemble.

The buttstock was tight on the tailpiece of the receiver, even after the stock bolt was removed, it took several hundred pounds of force to ease the buttstock back off the tailpiece. That quality stock-fitting isn’t seen anymore! To get the butt back on, the stock bolt had to be helped by judicious tapping with the heel of the hand.

On to shooting: What’s the load?
Right off the bat, I discovered that Winchester had changed the specification of the .38-55 cartridge that Ballard invented. They shortened the case by over a tenth of an inch. I’m thinking the length of their 1894 rifle frame made that necessary. Until 1896 or so, Ballard was the only .38-55 on the market.

Unfortunately, all I was able to obtain were the shorter cartridges. They work just fine, but they’re not the perfect fit in the Ballard chamber. My good friend Mac cast some 255-grain Ballard bullets that came from the mold at 0.381 inches. I still don’t know the Ballard’s bore size, but these bullets are overbore for sure. I finger-lubed then with SPG, a well-known black powder bullet lubricant. By finger-lubing, I mean that I applied the grease to the bullet with my finger and made no attempt to get all the grease grooves perfect. The bullets were loaded and shot as-cast.

I searched for the lowest-pressure smokeless powder loads because I didn’t want to fight the mess of black powder or one of the modern equivalents. I settled on Hodgdon 4198, which has been a wonderful black powder substitute for me. The lowest load I could find was 18 grains, so I backed that off to 16 grains and loaded up 40 rounds. Standard Russian large rifle primers finished the load. They’re very reliable and cost half what American primers cost.

On the range
The day was blustery, with a 12 o’clock wind blowing from 25-35 mph. It wasn’t a day to shoot groups with anything. I shot off my MTM rifle bench and rested the rifle in an MTM Predator rifle rest.


Despite the wind and a new unproven load, the Ballard rifle showed its pedigree.

It took three rounds to sight in at 100 yards. Then, I shot the first group of five from this rifle. Five rounds sailed through a group measuring 1.947 inches center-to-center. That was with peep sights in a windstorm with an untried load! The bull I selected was far too large for 100-yard work. It was almost as large as my front aperture post. I put up a smaller bull, made a slight adjustment to the rear sight and shot a second group that measured 1.879 inches c-t-c. This rifle can shoot! By the way, I out-shot a .219 Donaldson Wasp and an 8mm Mauser, both of which were scoped! They were fighting the wind even more than I was. (Instead of shooting 10 shots per target, I did only 5 because it was my first time out with the rifle.)


The very first 100-yard group from the Ballard after 3 sighters. This rifle wants to shoot.


The second Ballard group was at a smaller, more well-defined target. It’s smaller than the first. Three rounds are in a tight hole in the center.

On to the pistol range
I also brought out some of my .45 Colt revolvers for a tryout on the range. I was on the 15-yard range and found that I couldn’t hold the gun one-handed the way I prefer. However, in a two-handed rested hold, the beautiful Colt SAA I was given by some blog readers last summer proved it can shoot.


Isn’t she a beauty?


She can shoot, too. I just need to get back into the swing of shooting handguns.

I had a wonderful time at the range. It was the first time in many months that I’d shot firearms. It was a lot like shooting a new pellet rifle and looking for that ideal pellet. But, with these guns, there were the added complexities of finding the right loads, too.

A day at the range

by B.B. Pelletier

This isn’t Part 2 to yesterday’s report, but it could be. Today, I got out to the range for the first time since February. And, man, did I need it! I took a bunch of guns that I’d never shot before and tried them all out.

1862 Peabody
This rifle was patented in 1862 as a breechloader for the U.S., but it was never ordered. However, three states did buy it for their militias, including Connecticut, which later returned all their rifles to the maker to be converted to .45/70. That is the caliber mine is, so I quickly cooked up 20 rounds of my Trapdoor Springfield load, knowing that the stronger Peabody falling block action would have no trouble with it.


Like a Sharps rifle only different, the Peabody isn’t as well-known as some of the other big bore single-shots. This one is a .45/70 made in about 1868.


The Peabody was the forerunner of the Martini falling block action. The difference is the Peabody has an exposed hammer that must be manually cocked. The rifling is Alexander Henry-type, and the bore on this rifle is perfect!


A good friend of mine takes a shot at the 50-yard bull.


Compared to a .45 ACP (bottom), the .45/70 rifle cartridge is huge and imposing.

I spent no effort making accurate rounds. These were just for function firing, and the bullets varied in weight by as much as five grains. Still, I shot a very decent first group with the rifle. Good enough that I’m now interested in seeing what it can be made to do. Anytime you get bullets landing near each other with a big bore rifle on the first go-round, you’re doing something right. I suspect this rifle can shoot into less than a minute of angle when everything is perfect.


While this is no screamer, it does indicate that the Peabody wants to shoot. Better sights, a refined powder load and finding the correct seating depth will all serve to tighten the group considerably.

This rifle recoils heavily with the test load, so I’ll have to load differently to reduce the felt recoil. The buttplate is narrow compared to other big bore single-shots such as the Trapdoor, and that magnifies the felt recoil. So, I stopped shooting after 10 rounds.

Single-Action Army
I then tried out my Uberti Single-Action Army, which was a homecoming gift this summer. All I had were light cowboy action loads, and the range was 50 yards, so although I did hit the bullseye, it wasn’t worth talking about. But the revolver certainly is! I really like the way Uberti copied the original Colt narrow grip profile, giving this replica the exact feel of an old black powder model Colt. It felt great, and recoiled with about the same energy as a .38 Special.


The Uberti SAA is a delight to shoot. The plow-handle shape of Colt’s grip makes the gun turn in your hand, absorbing most of the recoil. With the right loads, a 2″ five-shot group should be possible from a rested position at 50 yards.

I need to start loading for this revolver, because I know I can tighten those groups by quite a bit. And the cost per round will drop to about 7 cents. The only bullet worth loading in the .45 Colt is the legendary Keith 452424 semi-wadcutter from Lyman. Look for a more in-depth report on this gun in the future.

M1 Carbine
I recently scored a beautiful M1 Carbine in a large trade. It’s a 100 percent S’G’ gun, made by Saginaw Steering Gear at their Grand Rapids plant. Saginaw took over the plant when gun maker Irwin Pederson failed to deliver on their carbine contract. This builder of marine transmissions quickly organized the operation and began cranking out very acceptable carbines from the same machinery and using the same workers as Irwin Pederson. The difference was senior management. The Army was so impressed by their success that a second carbine contract was awarded to the company, plus they also made guns at another plant.


My new M1 Carbine. I’ve been searching for this rifle for 10 years!

My carbine is the most accurate M1 carbine I’ve ever owned or even shot. And it deposits the empty cases right in front of the shooter, instead of scattering them all over hell’s half acre. I really scored well on this trade!


This may not seem like a great target, but it’s the tightest group I’ve ever shot at 50 yards with a carbine. And this was just the first group!

The final tale
Last evening I did submit a bid for that David Lurch Primary New York crank airgun I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, but it was less than the reserve. So after my morning at the range, my friend and I headed over to the gun store where the Winchester 74 Gallery rifle was. I discovered that they knew what it was from reading the entry in the Blue Book of Gun Values. Because the book didn’t mention the Gallery model as such, the store personnel didn’t know what it was. And I’m sure it looked as garish to them as it does to me.


Like Marilyn Monroe, the Gallery Winchester model 74 looks better in pictures than in person.

So, I hemmed and hawed and danced around the store with the rifle in my hands, acting surprised when they told me that it shot only .22 Short cartridges. At one point, I passed on the gun at their price, and then five minutes later they knocked off $100 and ate the sales tax. Apparently, this rifle had been in their shop way too long.

And that’s the full circle of this two-day tale. I resolved the conundrum by investing in a rifle from which I know I can make good money.

Top-notch springer
Air Arms TX200 air rifle

When it comes to spring-piston air rifles, the Air Arms TX200 Mk III is a favorite of many airgunners, including airgun writer Tom Gaylord. His favorite caliber is .177. While the gun will initially impress you with its beauty and superior craftsmanship, you'll be even more impressed with the incredible accuracy! Tom claims this is "the most accurate spring gun below $3,000." Beech or walnut, left-hand or right-hand stock. Isn't it time you got yours?

All the fun, none of the hassles!
Uzi CO2 BB submachine gun

You've seen tons of movies with guys spraying bullets from their Uzi submachine guns and probably thought it would be a blast. Except for the cost of ammo! You can have all that fun with this Uzi BB submachine gun at just pennies a round. Throw shots downrange for hours on end with all the fun, none of the firearm hassles and a fraction of the cost.

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