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Swiss Army life

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Two eventful hunts
  • The moral

Two eventful hunts

A friend of mine received the following call several weeks ago.

“Hey, man. Wanna go hunt some pigs?”

“You’re out of your mind. You don’t have pigs in Maryland.”

“No. The pigs are in Texas. A friend of mine just got special permission to hunt on a big ranch that’s infested with them. The landowner got fed up with the helicopters buzzing his cows, so he grounded them and now the place is overrun!”

“Texas, you say? We’d have to fly because I can’t take off work that long.”

“No problem. He’ll meet us at the airport Friday night and he has guns for both of us. You don’t need a license to hunt pigs in Texas, so all we gotta do is show up. We’ll be back Saturday night.”

“Then I’m in. I’ve got this Friday off already. Can we do it that fast?”

“Sure. I’ll book the tickets and you can pay me. But get here a day early, ‘cause I have another surprise for you.”

So my friend drove from his West Virginia home on Thursday morning, arriving at his buddy’s house in Maryland just after lunch. His friend told him to hop in his car and they drove a short way to Aberdeen Proving Ground where he worked. When they got there they drove through the main gate to the post headquarters. On the way my friend noticed the large number of marmots that were standing along the side of the road. He told me there must have been hundreds! Oh, and I should tell you — marmot is the proper name for the varmint we all know as the woodchuck! On the grounds of the post headquarters he counted 13 ‘chucks standing calmly next to their holes.

“I can’t believe it! This places is overrun with woodchucks!”

“Yeah. Since it’s an Army post, they don’t allow hunting, so the chucks know they are safe. It’s like Rapid City, South Dakota that’s swarming with whitetail deer, ‘cause nobody can shoot them in town. Anyway, I have permission to hunt on a farm near here that has almost as many chucks as you see here. They are destroying the farmer’s irrigation dikes with their holes. We have to use air rifles, but I have a .22 caliber TX200 for you.

After checking in with the owner of the farm they went back to the buddy’s house and he pulled out the TX200. It looked okay, but my friend asked to shoot it, to see where it was zeroed. When he did the best he could do with the pellets his pal said were the best was 5 shots in about 4-inches at 40 yards. When the rifle’s owner couldn’t even do that well he said, “I don’t get it. This rifle has always been spot-on with these Crosman Premier Hollowpoints.”

“When was the last time you shot it?”

“About 6 months ago, I guess. Ever since I got my .25 Marauder that’s all I shoot.”

“When was the last time you cleaned the barrel?”

“I never clean it. You can’t clean a TX200 barrel. The patches fall off inside the baffles.”

“Get your cleaning kit. This barrel needs to be cleaned.”

When the guy brought out his cleaning kit, my friend saw why he never cleaned the barrel of his TX. All he had was a piece of monofiliment line that had a loop at one end for patches. He also had a black nylon brush that went on the end of an aluminum 3-piece cleaning rod, but he said it wouldn’t work, because to clean the TX200 barrel you have to take the gun apart.

“Who told you that?”

“I read it on the forum. But I know it’s right because this brush is too long to go in from the muzzle end. It’ll get stuck in the breech when you try to pull it back out because it’s too long to clear the breech with the gun cocked.”

“Get your keys. We’re going to the store.”

Long story short they went to the local discount supercenter and bought a pistol cleaning kit. When he screwed the pistol brush to the three-piece cleaning rod his friend protested, telling him that a brass brush would scratch the barrel. They had a long conversation about whether steel is harder than brass, but the owner finally consented to let him clean the barrel from the muzzle. Obviously the shorter pistol brush was just what was needed. It cleared the breech so it could be pulled back out again. Half an hour later they were both shooting half-inch groups at 40 yards. But the groups were about 6 inches too low. [NOTE: The link given is to a nylon pistol brush, but what you need for this is a brass or bronze brush. You are removing lead.]

“Yeah. Now I remember. I dialed the scope as high as it will go and the groups were still too low. I forgot that.”

“Got a 2-liter soda bottle?”

“I think there are a couple in the trash. Why?”

“We are going to shim the scope.”

I won’t repeat the next argument but the owner thought that shimming ruins scopes. It was something he learned on another forum. His partner promised to buy him a new scope if they wrecked this one, so they shimmed the scope with two pieces of plastic and got the rifle hitting the target at 40 yards.

The next day they bagged 7 woodchucks (three for the TX) before they had to quit to go catch their flight to Texas. When they landed it was late in the evening. The Texas friend picked them up at the Houston airport and drove them to his house for the night.

The next morning they awoke at 3 a.m. and were at the ranch by 4:30. The guy from Maryland wanted to shoot the Ruger Mini 30 they were offered, so my friend got the well-worn Garand and a box of softpoint ammo.

“Looks like this old girl has seen a lot of rounds. I doubt if she can put five into 6 inches at 100 yards,” said the reluctant West Virginian.

“I’ve never shot her that far, but I bet you’re right,” said the Texan. “No problem, though, because you won’t be shooting past 30 feet. We are hunting in some real thick brush!”

Sure enough, when they got out of the truck the place they headed into was so thick they could hardly see 25 feet. But that was where the pigs were! Within ten minutes of walking less than 50 feet from the truck, a herd of 10-12 animals came crashing past them, snorting and rooting and making all sorts of racket. My friend dropped one old boar with the Garand and was about to drop a fat sow, but nothing happened. He looked at the rifle’s action and the empty cartridge case was sticking out of the ejection port!

“Not again!” he whispered hoarsely. Then he examined the rifle’s action with a small flashlight. The parts were as dry as a desert! He walked back to the truck. When he popped the vehicle’s hood, both other hunters joined him.

“What’s up?” asked the truck’s owner.

“This Garand is bone dry. I’m going to lubricate it,” he whispered as he pulled the engine’s dipstick.

“Garands don’t need lubrication. They can swallow a beach full of sand and keep on running.”

“Then how do you explain this?” he asked as he showed the cartridge stuck in the ejection port.

“It’s been doing that for years. I figure it’s worn parts. All you have to do is pull the bolt back and you’ll clear it.”

“When I get done lubing, you won’t have to do that again,” he answered as he applied the oily stick to the bolt channels.

“Listen!” said the hunter from Maryland. “Here comes another group! We need to get back into position!”

The second herd was twice as large as the first one and my friend shot three more pigs. The Garand functioned flawlessly. Those were the last pigs they saw on the hunt. In all they bagged 11 animals. The landowner was delighted and gave the Texas friend his choice of animals to take home. And the Texas host also got an important lesson in battlefield maintenance.

The moral

Sometimes what you read on the forums is either incorrect or an exaggeration. Also, it pays to know something about the technology before you venture into the field. If you are new to airgunning or to shooting as a whole, keep an open mind and you will learn new things all the time.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

42 thoughts on “Swiss Army life”

        • Siraniko,

          I did mean “life.” My mistake. It could have been a brain blip or a typo. K and L are adjacent on the QWERTY keyboard, so I can’t know which.

          But interestingly “knife” and “knife” do actually rhyme. It is an example of “Mirror Rhyme.” This is only from memory, but I used to teach poetics and prosody, and according to C. Hugh Holman Mirror rhyme was rhyming of identical sounds or identical series of sounds. The Petrarchan/Italian Sonnet makes use of this technique, for example.


  1. Well, that was interesting. I fully agree with the open mind and learning. Of course, that carries into other aspects of life as well, but for air gun related info., this is a great place to be. I am consistently amazed at the wealth and depth of information that lies within the posters here. A bunch of “straight shooters”,.. you could say.

    B.B. says that we have thousands of readers, but we only get to hear from a few dozen regular posters. My message for those that read and do not post is, your missing out. New or old to the sport, high end or low end equipment, it does not matter. Ask any question and get the ball rolling on learning about whatever it is that is of particular interest to you.

    Good Day to one and all,…. Chris

      • B.B.,

        🙂 I do see your point. Growth, at least in business, is considered a “good problem”. At least that is what I have seen and have been told, though not often the most “fun”. At least a few more dozen regular posters would be good I think. You will have to agree that you have “trained” a good bunch here and other’s that are light years ahead of the rest of us that needed none, or little. If and when it ever does happen, we will do our best to have your back and lighten the load. 😉

        I guess that a willingness to learn and to do it in a civil, helping and informative manner is what joins the posters here.


  2. BB it has been a long time since we talked about my .25 cal Airrow purchase! I have learned how to shoot dime sized groups with it using down regulated 22c hpa bottles and a Saul’s made inline prechamber and shutoff. I have enjoyed the blog and just lurked for a few years. My heart was saddened when you lost Edith; she was your better half.
    Marmots are easy Pickens from my kayak all around the Chesapeake Bay and it’s estuaries.
    Why go all the way to Texas from WV to hunt hogs unless you also plan to buy a pair of boots at Wild Bills Dallas’ historic district? Just drop into Culpeper County, Virginia to the Rapidan Flats area and get all the monster hogs you can hope for. Virginia has been stinking full of them since the 2008 downturn caused farmers to go bust and just let their pigs run wild! As far as the Garage it deserved better than a motor oil lube but it works as a field expediant so long as temperatures don’t go Artic on you!
    Hope to contribute what little I can from time to time.

      • Michael no worries and no need to apologize.

        I wondered if someone would notice and then instantly remembered that this was a sharp group and would catch me out. I decided to correct my spelling “error” only to commit at least one additional violation against my elementary school teachers.

        So far BB hasn’t made comment about the correctness of using motor oil from a dipstick to lubricate the old girl. Hmmmm!

        • Shootski,

          Is motor oil correct for a Garand? No. The Army created white grease (lithium-based) for the Garand and it works well when you have it, but motor oil works, too.

          I actually wrote many years ago about lubing my Garand at the range when it began malfunctioning, so this story was based on past experiences I have had.


          • On, “special” lubricants – the best way to have a fishing rod that is easy to disassemble is to lubricate the ferrules by rubbing the male end of the joint along the outside of your nose.

            The natural oils on the skin do an excellent job and you always have some handy 🙂


  3. BB

    Cloth patches can indeed fall off and get tangled in shroud baffles. And they may defy your efforts to remove. Most airguns I own don’t lead up but those with fast pellet speeds do and they are the very ones that usually have sound baffles. I just use a dry brass brush and avoid creating the goo which is difficult to remove. Solvent anyone? I would like to hear more on this from you or readers.

    Surprised that pigs are not in Maryland. I thought feral hogs were everywhere these days.


      • There are so many feral hogs in Texas that there is actually a popular show on the Sportsman channel called “Pigman” which features “Pig” and his rascally Dad “Dap” hunting the hogs throughout Texas. A very entertaining show, however the episodes are not limited to either Texas or hog hunting. “Pig” has harvested a moose in Maine as well as hogs in Africa. Last year, the Texas legislature passed a bill making hog hunting from a helicopter legal. A recent episode featured Ted Nugent and “Pig” in a helicopter with automatic weapons eradicating this invasive species. When it was “Dap’s” turn to ride in the helicopter, he used a shotgun with a large capacity magazine to harvest a number of pigs.

        The end of the show featured a trailer from a charity that feeds the homeless. The hogs were all butchered and then donated to the folks who would appreciate the delicious pork products. Nothing went to waste. Bacon. BBQ ribs.,. Backstrap. Ham. YUM!


        • Bob,

          Hey, brother-in-law. It’s good to hear from you! I put the hunt in the Houston area to see if you were reading.

          I’ve eaten smoked pork from a harvested sow and it was delicious. I hear the boars can be gamy, but I’m sure there are recipes to deal with that.


        • Yes, I’ve seen shows where people are firing automatic weapons at feral pigs from helicopters. How is that possible anyway? I thought that any machine guns made after 1985 are prohibited except for law enforcement, and the shooters were definitely not using Tommy guns. I suppose if you wanted an ideal weapon for that work you would pick the automatic shotgun, the AA12 I think it was, recently rejected by the U.S. army. Otherwise, I think there are a couple of models of automatic shotguns, one of them produced by South Korea, although getting access would be a problem. Regardless, from what I’ve read, the feral pig problem (like the barbarian invasions of the Roman Empire) is really a matter of demographics and not a military problem to be solved with firepower. The projections I’ve read say that the feral pigs have already exceeded some kind of threshold where regulation efforts cannot keep up with population growth. Where this will end, I can’t imagine although mathematical models suggest that exponential growth only stops when the resources that sustain it are completely depleted…

          I’m still holding out for my own solution. Tigers in Asia are struggling against extinction. Juicy feral pigs are running wild in the southern United States. If you could just put the two together, both problems would be solved. I imagine portable fencing that could be quickly set up with a series one-way gates. The curious pigs would go in and find a tiger in the middle. The fencing and the tiger could be relocated when the pigs figure it out. The replenished tiger population fitted with tracking collars could be rounded up and sent back to Asia…


          • I believe the shotgun used was semi-automatic with a long magazine or a drum.
            As old Dap was leaning out of the helicopter with a harness to hold him, an accomplice sitting inside was loading the magazines so he could swap them out as they emptied. I believe they used buckshot but cannot remember for sure.

            The tiger importation theoretically sounds like a win-win situation, except the “good old boys” down here would go crazy for a chance to add a tiger skin rug to their double-wide trailers.
            Result: tigers gone. Best hog hunters in jail for killing endangered species. Now more hogs than ever,

            Agriculture Secretary wanted to use a blood thinning poison but there was such an outcry that the idea was dropped. Too many unknown side effects to other critters. Can humans consume these porkers if they are poisoned?

  4. Great story BB! I used the dip stick oil trick on a friends Browning Auto 5 when it started to jam. It worked great. However, the Pheasants didn’t care for the fix at all!


  5. Wasn’t there a danger of the pigs charging out of the thick bush in a group? I don’t think those guns would have been enough to stop them. From reading safari stories, it seems like animals know that they can ambush hunters in heavy brush, so I bet the pigs could figure this out since they are very smart.

    It’s nice to hear accounts of how tough the Garand is. While cleaning mine from my last range trip, I accidently put in a snap cap for a 7.62X54R round by mistake, and its tapered case got stuck in the chamber very tightly. Removing it essentially demolished the snap cap and put a lot of stress on the follower with all of its intricate parts, but I suppose there was no damage. My Garand gunsmith said that there is very little I can do to hurt that rifle, and he’s probably right.


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