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Ask The Gunsmith Part 2: Ruger Mega Snubbie!

Mr CAMM1520 asks:

I have a 5 inch Ruger Redhawk that never gets any work. I have the crazy idea of getting the barrel shortened to the end of the extractor housing and using it for a giant snubby for home defense. I have seen a wide range of prices for this work.
Any idea of a fair market price to get a revolver barrel shortened, muzzle crowned and front sight reinstalled?

Joe sez:

I think it’s an awesome project, I really like big snubbies. I’ve seen the short Redhawk thing executed extremely well, and I’ve seen others that look like goat crap.

The trick there is shopping around for a smith that you like the look of the work. Some of Hamilton Bowens Redhawk stuff is dead sexy and the guy I’d send it to be done since I don’t have my own mill. Also a guy named Kent Kelly in Burwell Nebraska: Kelly Custom Gun Service. His pistols are amazing. I’ve had him do work for me. He’s a huge revolver smith, that’s pretty much his bread and butter. He smiths as a side gig so he’s inexpensive but it takes him a bit.

Where I work that job would cost 65 dollars for the cutting and crowning of the barrel. The installation of the front sight would be where the cost might bite you, depending on how the sight was installed, or what sight you wanted. Just cutting a dovetail and installing a bare bones basic front sight would likely be around another 65 dollars. Plus the sight, if you blend, or weld, or install the same type of front sight that’s on the gun now you’re looking at machine time. My shop runs 90 dollars an hour for that. So realistically I’d expect to spend somewhere between 200-350 to have it done exactly the way you want it, and the down and dirty cost would likely be around 150 bucks.

Parts not included in prices, of course.

Got a question for the ‘smith? Ask here or there or email it in!

Ask The Gunsmith Part 1: Dat Plunger Tube

Commenter Dave asks:

Best fix for a loose plunger tube?

“The best bet is to restake it if there is enough usable material and if not new ones are pretty inexpensive. They make a fixture for doing it that is the best bet as far as I know to do it.

It came loose because it wasn’t staked as well as it should have been from the factory, and recoil will gradually nudge it loose. Also full sized grips as designed for the 1911 are a failsafe that will hold the tube in place rather than let it run away like thin grips will.”

Got a question for the gunsmith? Comment here or there or email it in!

Ask The Gunsmith?

GunsmithCats01

So Gunsmith Joe, the fellow responsible for taking my box of Norinco 1911 parts from derp to awesome, mentioned that he’s got lots of opinions and wanted to generally raise the clue level of the gunblogosphere, and yet just didn’t have enough attention span and give-a-crap to run his own blog. So what about some guest posting here?

If you’ve got any dumb questions that you’ve wanted to run past a real live for real srs gunsmith and were too ashamed to, here’s your chance! Joe is a trade school educated gunsmith who came to the profession after a lifetime of sport shooting, hunting, and a stint in the US Army. He currently is up to his eyeballs in broken guns for a very large south eastern sporting goods store, is known for his custom AR and 1911 builds, loves a good shotgun, detests crappy guns, tacticool and outside-your-lane bullshit, and loves a good book in front of the fire after a long walk on the beach.

Dwarf-Gunsmith

Please leave your question in comments here, or if you’re too ashamed, feel free to email me.

autotwb1483

And We’re Back, Again!

One year, I will remember to reup my hosting before it’s due. This was not that year.

Remington Has Already Screwed Up The R-51

As I’ve mentioned previously, as both a founding member of the 3913 fanclub and a recovering C&R addict, I am unreasonably excited about Remington’s new R-51 9mm pistol. A rebirth of the unsuccessful Pedersen locking breechblock pistol of the 1920s, the R-51 looks art-deco Raymond Loewy awesome, and is something genuinely new and unique in the carry pistol market by offering (hopefully) a decent trigger in a slim single stack 9mm package that doesn’t have a cheap feeling polymer frame.

Unfortunately, it looks like things are already going sideways. To coincide with SHOT Show 2014, Remington released some promotional materials, including this video:

While slickly produced and showing some good footage of the gun in action, the tone and atmosphere is completely wrong. This is not a pistol for young, tacticool, camo pattern of the moment shooters. It offers neither the capacity nor service cred of modern double stack nines, nor is it small or light enough to be a good pocket pistol. Yet everybody shooting this gun is young and looks like they subscribe to SWAT and Recoil and read Soldier Systems with their morning MRE.

So who should the R-51 be marketed to? I’ll give you a hint:

coltad

The R-51 is, the way I see it, the modern reincarnation of the Colt 1903 or Vest Pocket. A classy, safe, coat-pocket-able pistol that’s easy to shoot even if it’s been a while. It’s not a gun for multi-case range weekend classes or 32 round USPSA stages, it’s for tossing into the glove box of your Mercedes Benz or into a Zero-Halliburton briefcase for a trip downtown.

Back issues of Gun Digest are literal catalogs of excellent, but now dead designs that were marketed incorrectly, and I hope the R-51 doesn’t share that fate. Not only has the runaway .mil and LEO legitimacy arms race done damage to our public image and led manufacturers to market products to people who don’t really need them, but I’m starting to wonder if all this gritty FDE gung-ho isn’t turning off more than a few shooters too? Even though we appreciate the excellence in design, durability and reliability that successful military or law enforcement service brings a gun, we should remember that there’s shooters out there who don’t need a pistol that’s suitable for fast roping out the space shuttle ninja camp. They enjoy taking pot shots at tin cans in the field with their tactically unhip guns and occasionally need to pack something. That’s perfectly okay, and the R-51 is the gun for them.

The R-51 doesn’t need to be advertised in Guns ‘n Ammo, it needs to be in Popular Mechanics or Car & Driver.

Minute of Dip Can

As mentioned while describing the “Nomad” AR, being able to hit a dip can as far away as one can see a dip can is a pretty decent test of rifle and shooter. Seeing as how inducing gum cancer is an increasingly rare hobby around here, I decided to make a printable target instead.

minuteofdipcan

Here’s a .pdf for you to print up yourself: minuteofdip.pdf

So, print up a few and hit the range! How far out can you do it? Remember, it doesn’t count if it’s off the bench!

Even More Open Carry Fail

[h/t to Bob Owens @ bearingarms.com]

December 28: Open carry advocate Derek Poe decides to open carry his AR-15 in a Texas shopping mall to “exercise his rights”, “normalize firearms carry” and such. The popo disagrees and hooks him up for disorderly conduct.

One week later: That selfsame shopping mall, which had previously had a corporate policy against customers carrying concealed pistols on the premises but was all “don’t ask, don’t tell” by not posting against it, now has signs at the entrances banning concealed carry.

Way to go, man! You sure increased awareness and exercised your rights straight into getting lawful carry banned for everybody!

Open carry demonstration advocacy has been politically successful in the past, but only when tightly focused on a contradiction in existing law, like the VCDL restaurant visits or Florida Carry’s fishing expeditions. Every time these guys try to “increase awareness” or “desensitize” or “normalize”, they end up screwing it up for everyone, just like this and in California.

Hey guys, the root word of “normalize” is “normal”. Strutting around the mall with your AR, dressed up in your zombie rig damn well isn’t normal behavior and will make people uncomfortable. If open carry advocates weren’t so goddamned Aspie and had some capacity for being sensitive to the emotions of others, they might understand why it’s detrimental to their cause.

If you want to do Open Carry right, don’t be a dick, put the rifle and MOLLE away, put on a decent pistol in a retention holster (ie, not an XD in a Serpa), dress up neatly, obey the law, don’t be a dick, and go about your business.

Otherwise, this is what you look like to the normal people who you’re trying to convince:

8028_full

Yeah, that’s normalizing all right. How’s that workin’ out for ya, Cali?

Operation: Blank Check

Life is the management of compromises and tradeoffs. Do I buy a less expensive house further away from the city but spend more time and money on my commute? Should I get the full rack of baby back ribs or the giant plate of chili cheese fries? Our desires always have to fit inside the envelope defined by our resources and abilities.

Such as building up an AR-15. When I built my guns, I had a set of requirements in mind, but I also had a fiscal ceiling to work under. More than a few component decisions were suboptimal based on my budget and what was available at the dawn of the Great Panic. Don’t get me wrong, both ARs work fine and I’m quite happy with them, but they’re not what I’d put together if I could get exactly the parts that I wanted and could afford them.

So what would that AR look like? As luck would have it, sick of talking to me about 1911s, Gunsmith Joe and I have been batting ideas for our next AR-15s back and forth. His requirements mirrored mine: a lightweight and reliable rifle, easy handling, friendly to shoot, capable of dealing with targets from bad breath distance to down the street, with an emphasis on up close over distance shots, an all day carry rifle instead of a heavy tack driver for the bench. A fixed stock and mid length gas system for comfort, smoothness of recoil and reliability, and that we wouldn’t be sharing the rifle with others who might benefit from an adjustable stock.

And after a few backorders and horse trades came through, here’s how his turned out:

Jackalope Rifle Company "Nomad" Mk1 Mod0

Jackalope Rifle Company “Nomad” Mk1 Mod0

Apologies for potato grade picture, he still hasn’t gotten around to either getting a real camera or understanding that whole “lighting” thing.

Here’s how the build went down: Starting with a custom engraved lower from York Arms, Joe installed a set of Colt internals, including recoil buffer and receiver extension, except for a Rock River Arms 2 stage trigger group. Buttstock is a noname A2 length fixed stock, and a Tango Down TG-16 pistol grip was fished out of the parts bin. The upper receiver and barrel were sourced from Bravo Company, using their 14.5″ midlength gas and lightweight barrel profile. A Noveske KX3 “Firepig” flash suppressor was pinned and welded onto the barrel per ATF specs to bring total barrel length to 16″. Then a Midwest Industries gas block was setscrewed in place under a 15″ Troy Alpha free float tube. Front and rear sights are fixed with a Troy up front and a Noveske in back. Bolt carrier group and a Gunfighter Mod4 extended latch charging handle are also from Bravo Company.

A few components were selected because they were on hand, and will be replaced when able. In particular, the RRA trigger group will be swapped out for an ALG set and an A1 length buttstock will replace the A2. Sling setup, white light and optic are yet to be determined, but the rifle is ready for use as is. It weighs in at 5.9 pounds empty and test firing has gone smoothly so far, despite the Great Panic limiting 5.56 to what was ratting around in a shoebox. Joe reports the gun will shoot into a dip can as far away as he can see a dip can (You know you’re in the South when…), and is quite agreeable in the hands. Envisioned support equipment include a lightweight Rhodesian style chest rig with 20 round Pmags and a single 30 on the first line belt. It isn’t a “stand and deliver” bullet hose for when the zombies are at the gates, but something to keep Evil at bay while you cover a lot of terrain in a hurry.

I think the “Nomad” has a lot going for it in a setup that isn’t available off the shelf, but within the reach of a reasonably competent hobbyist. I don’t think mine is going to look much different. But about that .300 BLK…

Duckface Bunny Cheesecake: We Must Demand Better, Guys

True to his job description, my friend Caleb brought the controversy on Facebook by questioning Melissa Gilliand’s photo shoot in Sure Shots Magazine, a digital website publication.

I have a serious question for my lady shooter friends: Is this really the image you want presented of female shooters?

No offense intended to Ms. Gilliland, whom I’m sure is a nice person. I’d much rather see women in the industry represented by women who don’t feel the need to pose in bikinis to get attention and instead let their skills do the talking.

I thought this was a good question, and enjoyed the discussion that ensued. But I was bothered by something else.

Sure Shots seems to be a very nebulous, web 2.0 thing that you’re not supposed to link to specific articles, so here’s a screenshot of the opening to Gilland’s article:

"Better pull a duckface while I check my dope"

“Better pull a duckface while I check my dope!”

This picture manages to be more insulting and condescending than the usual “booth bunnies” holding and displaying firearms. It’s arranged to be an “action” picture, yet it’s obviously and ridiculously artificial. The layout of the photo is supposed to make her look like an expert, but the details make her look like she has no idea what she’s doing (although she is a competitive shooter when she’s not posing for pictures). We’ve crossed the line from “sex sells” window dressing into “men will only listen to female industry reps if they’re flawless 10s”.

So turn the “page”, and here’s what we see:

THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS

THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS

Not only does the 30 Cal Gal, an accomplished, match winning, expert shooter in several disciplines, have to share column space with a woman whose only qualification is her appearance, but she has to take second billing! And compare the content of their pieces: Wachter is introducing people to long range competitive rifle shooting, Gilliland is explaining what it’s like to pose for a calendar shoot. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Wachter is smokin’ hot, but she’s never had to rely on going desperate to succeed. Unfortunately, a quick check of their Facebook fan pages reveals preferences: 246000 “likes” vs 6000.

I don’t mean to blame Gilliand and Sure Shots specifically for this situation. They are merely responding to market pressure, and that market says that we want boobs rather than substance. There is certainly a time and a place for cheesecake, and it can be done better and tastefully while remaining sexy and aspirational.

homerchoice

The continued survival of the shooting sports and gun rights in general is going to increasingly rely on our ability to sell our culture to groups that have not historically shared it before, and women in general are perhaps the most important and relevant. Young girls aren’t going to be inspired by Gilliand to take up shooting any more than the supine and greased models on the cover of Lowrider Magazine will inspire them to become ASE mechanics. So guys, let’s be more selective with our support and dollars. Are we really going to be satisfied with shallow titillation, or should we instead do what we can to get more ladies involved and active in our world?

Life In Obama’s America

So in Chicago, model city for the nation, a round of applause for the police as they quickly tracked down and apprehended Luis Alberto Pantoja for the brutal rape and assault of a 15 year old girl, who remains hospitalized in critical condition. The attack was reported at 5:25AM, and after feverish work by detectives and evidence technicians, a solid case was put together and Pantoja was in cuffs that afternoon.

But as reported by my favorite CPD blog, Second City Cop, that’s not the whole story! Not only is Pantoja a frequent flyer in the Cook County corrections system, but not even 8 months ago:

In August of 2013, Pantoja was arrested for criminal sexual assault. The attack happened at about 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 15 on the 5400 block of West Diversey Avenue when a 24-year-old woman was walking.

According to court records, Pantoja grabbed the woman by the arm, pulled her into an alley and sexually assaulted her. Pantoja was arrested after an investigative alert was issued in the case.

On Aug. 29, a public defender was appointed and appeared before Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil, who set bail of $200,000.

On Pantoja’s next court date Sept. 17, Judge Laura Marie Sullivan dismissed the charge on a finding of no probable cause, records show. Details were not available.

Emphasis mine. So not only was Pantoja previously convicted of violent felonies, but they caught him out raping women and the Chicago system let him go to do it again, and someone in the court system disappeared the documents to fuzzy the trail.

What gives?

Perhaps the evidence was obviously skimpy, but I can’t imagine the DA’s being that sloppy. No, what I think was more likely was the relentless pressure from the Mayor’s office to do something, anything about the crime rate.

But how does letting a proven sociopathic scumbag back onto the streets reduce crime? Oh no, the point isn’t to reduce crime, but to reduce the printed crime rate. A charge that is dismissed is a crime that never happened, and putting a thumb on the scale is a lot easier than piling more gold on it. As we say in engineering, you get what you measure.

Republicans are constantly accused of being part of a “War on Women” and men are demonized as maintaining a “rape culture” “patriarchy”, but who is it letting rapists escape punishment so they can violate women some more? Somehow I doubt (the female) Judge Sullivan is a Romney voter.

But do not lose sight of the larger picture. The current occupant of the White House is a symptom not the disease itself. The real disease is the culture of corruption, graft, payoffs, exemption granting and beak-dipping in America, and the epicenter of that cancer is Chicago. I can’t imagine that a narcissistic sociopath like Rahm doesn’t have designs on higher office. We should prepare.