Writing a guest blog: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

This report covers:

Edith was my mentor
I will help 
Take the time you need
Photos and text
This is what I tell all who apply to write a guest blog.
The rights
What should you NOT do?
Discovery writing
Summary

Every so often a certain blog will hit a nerve and you readers respond. I have seen this happen dozens of times over the 15.5 years this blog has run.  Maybe that is because over time all of our tastes change in a subtle way. One thing is certain, though — you cannot predict the topic that will cause this reaction. If you try, you will fail every time. So you watch for it and respond when it happens.

Yesterday’s blog by Ian McKee, or reader 45 Bravo, was such a report. I think what he did was touch many of you where you live when he said,”YOU know something about a subject that NO ONE else knows, and it is your duty to share that knowledge with someone.” read more


Writing a guest blog: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Today’s report is another guest blog from reader Ian McKee who writes as 45 Bravo. And,with an ironic twist, he tells us how to write a guest blog.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me at [email protected].

Ian McKee
Writing as 45Bravo

Writing a guest blog: Part 1

This report covers:

We are a very diverse group
Sharing
Write about what you know
|Keep it simple, but explain everything
Write it all down
Take a break
Read it again, and again
Tom can help
A photo is worth a thousand words
Remember, Tom is colorblind
Summary

We are a very diverse group

Are you qualified to write a guest blog? Of course you are! Over the years I have read many thousands of comments, by hundreds of very smart readers. We have had people on here that are master gunsmiths, master wood workers, instructors teaching our youth to enjoy the shooting sports, doctors (both the medical kind, and the academic kind), readers that have expertise in photography and mechanical engineering. We have retirees, and we have people that dig ditches for a living, the list can go on, and on.   read more


What about dry-firing?

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • History
  • Luger
  • Soviet SKS
  • One more common problem
  • Designed to be dry-fired
  • Airguns
  • BB — get real!
  • Sillyiess
  • And the others?
  • Under The Gun
  • An aside that is pertinent
  • Pneumatics and gas guns
  • BB’s rule of thumb
  • Summary

Time for another basic report. We discuss dry-firing airguns a lot and things get out of control pretty quick, but I guess that’s the nature of the Internet. My wife, Edith, used to have a little saying about it. She said people would post:

“I have an HW77 that I enjoy.”

“Yes, Weihrauch airguns all nice, aren’t they?”

“I shoot my Gamo Expomatic in the basement every day.”

“I like ice cream!”

I’ll come back to that, but today I thought I would dive into the subject of dry-firing a little deeper, since it’s one that seems to affect all of us to some extent. I think I’ll start with firearms.

History

I’m going to begin with guns that have firing pins, though the subject of dry-firing does go back much farther than that. Older guns are usually not made to endure much dry-firing, if any. Their metal parts are hardened to withstand a lot of use without wearing, but hardness does tend to make metal brittle. The better guns have firing pins made from tool steel that can be both hard and also resistant to breakage from impact, but gun makers didn’t always do that because dry-firing was considered a no-no a century ago.

Luger

The German Luger, for example, had parts that were heat-treated (hardened) and then tempered (treated with heat for ductility) to a medium straw yellow color. The maker wanted the firing pin to work without wear, and also to not deform the parts with which it interacted. But the metallurgy of Luger parts was less complex 100 years ago than it is today and it is not recommended that you dry-fire a German Luger — especially if it is one from history. It can be done if the gun needs to be uncocked, but you run the risk of breaking the pin and other parts in the firing mechanism.

Legends P08 Erfurt Luger
The Legends P08 pistol with blowback is shown beneath a 1914 Luger made at the Royal Arsenal at Erfurt. This century-old pistol should not be dry-fired.

Soviet SKS

The Soviet semiautomatic rifle we call the SKS is another example of a gun that should not be dry-fired — though not because of the metallurgy.

SKS
This Soviet SKS was manufactured at the Tula Arsenal in 1953.

The reason you should not dry-fire an SKS is the tapered firing pin can get stuck inside the bolt in the fired position — protruding from the bolt. If that happens the gun can fire every cartridge it chambers. It’s essentially firing from the open bolt, which it is not timed correctly to do. It will shoot full auto until it runs out of cartridges and the action can blow up if a cartridge case lets go before it is fully chambered and the action is locked shut (that’s the timing). This is a common fault with the SKS and owners are cautioned to keep their bolts and firing pins clean and to not dry-fire their rifle. A firing pin return spring was installed in the earliest SKS bolts and can be retrofitted into guns without it to protect against this.

One more common problem

So, breaking parts and sticking parts are two of the most common reasons why dry-firing firearms is not recommended. And there is one more common reason. Many rimfires are designed so their firing pins will make contact with the edge of the chamber if there is no cartridge rim there to cushion them. This makes them fire more reliably. However, if guns like these are fired a lot with no cartridge in the chamber a groove or depression will form in the rim of the chamber and the gun will no longer fire reliably because there is nothing backing up the cartridge rim. Therefore the cartridge rim will not be crushed reliably to set off the priming compound and the guns either start to misfire a lot or they quit working altogether. It’s a real problem with older rimfires made before about 1960, and even some of the less expensive ones that are made today still have the problem. But many do not.

I’ll use the Ruger 10/22 as an example of a rimfire that can be safely dry-fired. The Ruger website even has a video that says so. And so can the Ruger Mark pistols. Their firing pins are purposely designed to stop a tiny fraction of an inch away from the rim of the chamber. You readers who understand manufacturing know how difficult it is to maintain those kind of dimensions across multiple parts so it always works out right after assembly!

I only use Ruger as an example. Many rimfires are designed this way today. But don’t take my word for it. Find out if YOUR rimfire is so-designed before you start dry-firing!

Designed to be dry-fired

Then there are the firearms that are purposely designed to be dry-fired. I’ll use a free pistol for my example. Because bullseye target shooters shoot many times more shots dry than with ammunition to train their eye-hand coordination, their guns have to be designed for it.

Hammerli 100 right
This Hammerli free pistol is a .22 rimfire pistol used in 50-meter bullseye competition.

The Hammerli 100 was produced from the late 1940s until the middle 1950s, when the model 101 superseded it. It has a lever on the left side of the receiver that cocks the trigger but not the firing pin. It allows you to practice with the trigger all day long without ever chambering a live round or cocking the gun.

Hammerli 100 dry-fire
That lever cocks the trigger of the pistol. It works regardless of the action being cocked.

Airguns

Let’s now turn our attention to airguns. I will begin with the target guns that have dry-fire devices to allow practice for the same reasons as the free pistols just mentioned. The top 10-meter rifles and pistols all have them, but so do the informal airguns (mostly pistols) that are designed for informal target practice. Take the Beeman P1 for example. If you lift the top strap, but not far enough to cock the pistol, you set the trigger and you can dry-fire it in the same way as a more expensive target pistol. The trigger feels exactly the same as when the pistol is fully cocked, but no pellet is shot when the trigger falls.

BB — get real!

All of that is nice to know, but it doesn’t answer the question that is in your mind, does it? You want to know about spring-piston air rifles, don’t you?

Silliness

Remember what I told you at the start of this report about conversations on the Internet quickly getting silly? It happens here sometimes, too. I mentioned a few weeks ago that Gamo at one time advertised that their spring-piston air rifles could withstand 10,000 dry-fires without damage and they had even tested for it. Well, that statement morphed into Gamo testing all (as in each and every one) of their spring-piston air rifles by dry-firing them 10,000 times! No — they don’t. If you think about it, they really couldn’t. That would add so much cost to each gun (the time spent putting them all into the cocking/firing fixtures then waiting for them to be cocked and fired 10,000 times, not to mention the vast number of fixtures they would need for a 40,000-piece model run) that a $200 air rifle would have to cost $400 or more.

Gamo doesn’t do that and they never did. But maybe the person who said that only meant that Gamo tests each type of gun (one test per model type — not each and every gun) with 10,000 dry-fires. They don’t do that any longer, either — or at least it’s no longer a part of their advertising campaign. Maybe they still test them that way — but they don’t talk about it as much. I said what I said in an historical context in my report titled, Does dry-firing damage airguns?. In that report a reader mentioned that Gamo addresses dry-firing in their frequently asked questions on their GamoUSA website. I went there to check and they no longer address it.

So, Gamo isn’t telling customers they can dry-fire their spring-piston guns. Except that I did find in the manual for the Swarm Fusion 10X they said that one way to safely test whether the rifle has a pellet in the barrel after it has been cocked is to fire it in a safe direction. If there is no pellet that would constitute a dry-fire, so they are okay with that.

And the others?

What about the rest of the spring-piston airgun makers? Are their rifles and pistols proofed against damage from dry-fires? Yes and no. Yes because of the materials being used today and because of the changes in design that lend themselves to more reliable performance, and no — because in a lot of instances this hasn’t been deliberate. I will illustrate with a scope analogy.

Under The Gun

Spring airguns break scopes. We have known that for a long time. But in 1998, when Leapers learned that was the case, they set out to design airgun scopes that could not be broken that way! They even designed test fixtures to test scope designs over the long term. During the same timeframe they added the name Under The Gun (UTG) to their scope line. Hence today UTG scopes are pretty much bulletproof. They are designed with Smart Spherical Structure (SSS) — a scope body that’s inherently stronger than other bodies because it addresses the interaction between the inner and outer scope tubes.

Now along come all the other scope manufacturers in the world — from the biggies like Leupold, Burris and Hawke to the little guys that make scopes for cheap. The biggies watch the scope market closely and, when some bozo named B.B. Pelletier starts waving his pom-poms, they purchase a couple of the UTG scopes he is raving about and examine them — CLOSELY. They discover that, indeed, there are some design features that are quite worthy and they find their own ways of emulating them. Next thing you know ten years have passed and all of the brand-name scopes are spring-rifle proof or, as in the case of Hawke, they know that certain ones in their lineup aren’t and they tell buyers up front. This migration doesn’t just happen through copying, either. Engineers change jobs and the word spreads.

Last to change are the cheapies, but they do change, because at the same time the manufacturers were getting smarter — so were the buyers. Maybe a full two decades have to pass before there are no more scope problems with spring-gun recoil, but it does happen.

An aside that is pertinent

Back to dry-firing. When major airgun manufacturers like Feinwerkbau, Diana and Walther used piston seals that are made of a synthetic that dry-rotted over time, they all got a black eye when the ship hit the sand. Quick as a bunny and with ZERO fanfare they all switched their formulas for their synthetic piston seals! What else could they do — advertise that their airguns now come with piston seals that DON’T dry-rot?

That, ladies and gentlemen, is why dry-firing should not hurt a spring gun today — but don’t do it regularly. Now — what about the other powerplants?

Pneumatics and gas guns read more


Readers make a difference

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Loose scope
  • Oh, oh!
  • Bob’s drone
  • Nope
  • And?
  • No blog
  • Best for 2019
  • On to the reviews
  • You Tube videos
  • Reviews still important
  • Why I wrote today’s report
  • BB is moving toward You Tube videos
  • Summary

To our readers in the UK, happy Guy Fawkes Day (actually Guy Fawkes Night, but who’s looking?)!

My brother-in-law, Bob (blog handle B-I-L), came up for a visit last Friday and we shot the Umarex Synergis rifle in which he was interested. We shot and shot, but for some reason he just could not get the rifle to hit the bull. It was grouping to the right. Even when I shot it, the pellets still went to the right. No scope adjustment seemed to work, though I did raise the impact point with the adjustments, so perhaps that concealed what was happening.

Loose scope

After maybe 15 disappointing shots he asked me if the scope was tight. Well, of course it was! I’m the Godfather of Airguns, Bob. Would I hand you a rifle with a loose scope?

Oh, oh!

So I grabbed the scope to show him how tight it was — and it rattled! Oh! The bases of the mounts were loose on the rifle. A quick turn of the base screws with a quarter and Bob started shooting dime-sized groups in the bull at 20 yards. It just goes to show you that it’s always something.

Bob’s drone

After we finished shooting Bob pulled his drone out of the box and asked me if I wanted to look at my roof. Then he installed the batteries, paired the drone to the controller, stabilized the gyros, aligned the compass, found the satellites and — nothing! He played with it for many minutes, rebooting it several times and trying to get the darn thing to work, but it just refused. So back in the box it went and Bob said, “I guess I’ve just soured you on drones.”

Nope

Not at all! I didn’t know they were so affordable and that guys like Bob and I could operate them. On Saturday I cruised the web looking at drones priced from $90 to $1,100, thinking I might find a use for them in some of my videos. Bob actually put that idea into my head, so I’m not the only Enabler on this blog.

And?

Here is what I found. Every drone on the market is wonderful, except for the ones that aren’t. It doesn’t matter what they cost — they all work great until they fly away and get lost or fall in a lake. That doesn’t count the ones that crash into trees and houses, fall on people or stop accepting commands from their controllers. The support teams at the companies that make the drones are extremely helpful and quick to respond, except for the ones that laugh at you. When your drone goes rogue (flies away to who-knows-where) the support team asks you to return it so they can examine it. Duh! And, there are no blogs for drones.

No blog

Whaddaya mean, BB? There are hundreds of blogs about drones. Yes, there are hundreds of commercial advertising pages that CALL themselves blogs, but each one I examined is either a thinly disguised sales platform, or an outlet for some esoteric drone research project.

What I mean when I say there are no blogs is I couldn’t find any blogs like THIS one! Places where those new to drones can go and ask fundamental questions and also where drones are tested without regard to who makes them. The “tests” I read about some drones were a joke — obviously written by someone in marketing.

Who are the Weihrauchs and Air Arms of drone makers? And who are the makers to avoid?

Best for 2019

So I did some research of my own. First I looked up the best drones of 2019 and discovered that, of the 10 listed, four were no longer available. The next day I tried that site again and found those four had been removed from the test results, replaced with 4 different drones that were available. Okay — that is not a “10 best” page. That is a “Here is what we have on hand today” page! Since one company’s models were rated best over most others, I have to assume their marketing department runs that “test” page.

So, I searched to find the 10 best drones of 2017. Here is a quote I pulled from from that page.

“This article will be continually updated as new drones are released and reviewed, so be sure to check back if you’re not buying a drone right now.” read more


A peek over BB’s shoulder

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

  • Labor Day
  • What to do?
  • Oddball listing was hidden!
  • Lesson from the old guy
  • Fresh from a score and ready for more
  • The deal
  • You can play, too
  • The catch

Labor Day

Happy Labor Day! It’s a holiday for you American working stiffs; another day at the office for me.

Labor Day started in New York in 1882, as an unofficial march to protest long hours and low pay, plus a protest on using convict labor to do jobs free men could do. The marchers were in danger of loosing their jobs for skipping work, but the American Labor Movement was in full swing at the time. It is said the bars were all filled on that day, so bartenders apparently didn’t get the day off.

The goal was to get a 40-hour workweek and a day off each week. Yes, many people worked 7 days a week in the early 1800s. That’s too much for anybody.

Their plan worked for some, but not for others. Restaurants, amusement parks, bands and most entertainers work harder on Labor Day than on others. There is no religious, family or even national reason for the holiday. It exists because the labor movement pushed for it and, after getting everything they requested, they were unwilling to give the day back.

Ironically, with cell phones and tablets, many people now work a lot more than the ideal 40 hours each week. But it’s a day off for many, and who is going to complain about that?

What to do?

I was wondering what to write about today. I have plenty of vintage airguns to show — that’s not the problem. I even have some things to show you that are quite unique. But for some reason, I didn’t want to do that today. So I went on the internet and looked for some inspiration — and I found it in spades!

First I went to Ebay. A search on “antique BB guns” brought up several oldies and some not-so-old. Apparently, when you were born in 1990, anything from 1970 is an antique! But there were several legitimate 100+ year-old airguns, and among them was a Heilprin Columbian model 1906. Those are the cuties that have cast iron receivers with fancy raised “engravings” and figural patterns. This one was listed as a “Buy it Now” offering for $900. Like that will ever happen! The gun doesn’t even work! I can get the same gun in shooting condition with more nickel for $650 at any good eastern (east of the Mississippi) airgun show.

Oddball listing was hidden!

Then, for no reason I can remember, I entered the search term “Heilprin” and got a different page of listings. Many were books written by authors named Heilprin, but there was a second BB gun listed — also for Buy it Now, but this time at just $300 for a working BB gun! That’s a steal, folks! And, I stole it! I can pocket $150 or more if I sell it, plus I get a blog series. In fact, today is the first installment.

Lesson from the old guy read more


Nothing new under the sun

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • You made me do it
  • Air shotguns
  • You don’t understand!
  • BUT — it’s been done
  • All-metal 760
  • Summary

You made me do it

I should give credit for today’s short blog to you readers, because if it weren’t for your investigations into a more efficient insect killer this past weekend, I never would have written this report.

Air shotguns

You talked about an air-powered shotgun all weekend. Veteran readers are aware I have written about air shotguns many times in the past.

/blog/2015/06/air-shotguns/

and

/blog/2005/12/air-shotguns-part-5-the-yewha/

and

/blog/2005/11/two-more-air-shotguns-paul-and-vincent/

and

/blog/2005/10/air-shotguns-part-3-the-crosman-trapmaster-1100/

and

/blog/2005/10/air-shotguns-part-2-the-fire-201/

and

/blog/2005/10/air-shotguns-part-1-the-farco/

and we can’t forget my 3-part test of the Gamo Viper Express

/blog/2006/11/gamos-new-viper-express-air-shotgun-part-3/

or the 2-parter on the Air Venturi Wing Shot

/blog/2015/10/shooting-the-air-venturi-wing-shot-air-shotgun-part-2/

You don’t understand!

No, BB — we mean an air-powered shotgun that WE invented!
And that gun was the Crosman 760, using either coarse salt or birdshot. You were trying to do the Bug-A-Salt one better.

/blog/2015/07/the-bug-a-salt-2-0/

BUT — it’s been done

This is where a good library comes in handy. All the while you were writing your various experiments and results, I was thinking of Airgun Digest, first edition, in which the Crosman 760 is shown to also be an effective air shotgun. In 1976 Robert Beeman wrote about Jim Dougherty shooting his 760 loaded with multiple BBs.

He started with plastic cups at 10 feet, then stretched the distance out to 20 yards. He shot at cups until he knew what he was doing, then graduated to mice on the run. After that a rock pigeon was taken in flight and finally several jackrabbits!

He discovered that 6 steel BBs was the best pattern and 20 pumps (!!!) were best for taking birds and other game out to 20 yards. While I can’t recommend that many pumps, I also don’t know how worn out his gun was.

All-metal 760

Because it was written in 1976 and because the work he did happened even earlier, the 760 airgun Dougherty used was all metal with a wood stock. But hey — the car he drive probably needed a tuneup every 10,000 miles, too! Times change, but the things people find as fun last longer.

Summary

This is why I read. And why I stress the importance of a library.

It’s true Dougherty never shot salt or birdshot, but our readers have yet to take a bird in flight. So wake up guys — there is still plenty of old road to travel!


Dinosaur ballistics

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Reading room
  • Discussion
  • The absurdity of sub groups
  • What lit the candle?
  • Why?
  • Advertisers
  • 10-shot groups and dinosaur ballistics

Yesterday’s series on collecting was a story that just burst out of me. I couldn’t stop it — it’s writing itself. Well, today’s report is the same way.

Reading room

Like so many of you I have a dedicated reading room in my house. It’s a small room across the hall from my office, and I go there periodically throughout the day to sit and ponder the meaning of life. I also do other things, but they aren’t the subject of this report.

I was in my reading room last Friday, flipping through the pages of the September 2017 Guns magazine, when I came across a statement that stunned me. It was the caption to a table of group sizes for the .22-caliber Ruger American Rimfire Target rifle. I’ll present it here and then discuss it.

” NOTES: Groups [ listed above ] the product or 4 out of 5 shots at 50 yards.”

Discussion

Well, they are honest! That caption is below a table of group sizes for 7 different rounds. All of them were under one inch. Excuse me, but have we really sunk this low?

The best 4 of 5 shots tells me next to nothing about the accuracy of this Ruger rifle — other than the fact that author didn’t want to print the size of the group made by all 5 shots! Of course the “groups” are small. They are manufactured that way. I will explain what I mean in the remainder of this report.

The absurdity of sub groups

Sometimes when something doesn’t sit quite right for me I think about it for a while before realizing what’s wrong. Last Friday was such a time, and, because I often spend a little longer in my reading room, it was the perfect place to reflect.

I can give you three different reasons why a 4 out of 5-shot group is wrong.

Reason 1. If I take this approach out to its absurd limit, I can illustrate just how slanted and biased it is. Instead of 4 out of 5 shots, let me present the best 5 of 20 shots for my groups. Yes, that is not what the table I’m citing did, but it’s headed in the same direction.

best 5 of 20 shots
Five pellets went into 0.354-inches at 50 yards. All 20 shots are in 2.681-inches. Which group best represents the rifles’ accuracy?

I sometimes comment on sub groups within a main group. But I never tell you that is the main group’s size.

Do you see how not including all the shots is deceptive? If you can’t see that then the rest of my report may not make any sense, either.

Reason 2. Instead of reporting the best 4 out of 5 shots, what if I report the number of bullets that land in a certain-sized group — one that we are all used to reading — say one inch? That is a take on the first idea, but with a twist. That table might look something like this.

Shots landing in less than one inch between centers at 50 yards. All these groups are based on 10 shots.

RWS Superdome…………………………..9
JSB Exact RS………………………………6
H&N Baracuda Match w/4.50mm hd……4

RWS Superdome group
Nine RWS Superdome pellets went into 0.947-inches at 50 yards. Ten shots are in 1.443-inches. Which group represents the rifles’ accuracy? Incidentally, I can carve out a couple good 5-shots groups if I want to.

Here is the same table presented in a conventional fashion. All these groups are 10 shots, measured center top center of the two widest holes.

Pellet Group
RWS Superdomes………………….1.443-inches
JSB Exact RS……………………….1.916-inches
H&N Baracuda Match 4.50mm……2.73-inches

If I want to take the emphasis off true accuracy I can disguise it by the way I present the data.

Reason 3. Only report the ammunition that groups within a stated parameter. Maybe I test 5 different pellets, but only 2 give me the results I’m looking for. Those are the ones I present and the rest get shoved under the carpet.

When I write about the accuracy of an airgun I do publish the best group. I do that because I want my readers to know what that gun is capable of. But I almost always show the rest of the story, as well. I at least show other representative groups. Sometimes, if a particular pellet is going everywhere I might not show that group, but that’s more because that group is so large that I would have to shrink it to fit the size constraints of the images I am allowed to publish in the blog. When that happens, though, I do tell you about it.

What lit the candle?

I didn’t react to this magazine issue out of the blue. No — I was already spring-loaded by a certain Guns author who has been reporting 3-shot groups for years. I won’t name the writer, because in this particular issue of the magazine, sub-group reporting was across the board! Not just one author did it. It was done by no less than five different authors in as many articles. Only two gun writers in this issue reported all the shots they fired, and they reported 3-shot groups and 4-shot groups, respectively! Folks, this type of reporting is not one man’s decision; this is an editorial policy!

Why?

Why would an entire magazine format its technical reports this way? Well, you have to be around this stuff all the time to know why any writer would do this and why an editor would not only permit it, but seemingly encourage it. I know because I have seen behind the curtain. I almost want to turn this into a contest, to see how many of you can guess the reason. But I won’t make you wait.

Advertisers

Advertisers want to sell products. The days when a company was proud of its name and the things it made are mostly gone. They will never go away entirely, but when a company buys its principal product from another manufacturer and then sells it without laying a finger on the item; when they can push it into a high-volume distribution network, the marketing department of that company needs to be able to say something good about the product. I am not the man you want to test your gun when you want to push product. You want somebody who is willing and able to massage the data into a pleasing format that can be presented in a compelling way.

I toyed with the notion of taking a well-known inferior product and writing it up in the same fashion as the gun writers I’m slamming, but then I remembered Orson Wells’ famous 1938 radio broadcast dramatization of War of the Worlds that put thousands into a panic. I would put a disclaimer at the beginning and end of my report, but I know that some folks just read the captions. Marketing departments know that, too.

10-shot groups and dinosaur ballistics read more