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College Students and Recent Grads Sought to be Executive Officers of New Central GA Company

The following ad will be run in The Sandersville Progress announcing a search for new college grads or present students to become acting executive officers of a company with multi-million dollar sales potential that will be located in Central Georgia. This new-concept company will provide franchised services and training nationwide. The  necessary documents for incorporation will be filed in February, 2015. In the meantime, four candidates for the company’s top positions will receive a week-long training program, become acquainted with each other and plan how the company will be structured, financed, operated and run.

Initial capital may be raised through Kickstarter after some demonstration projects have been completed.  Other financing options will also be investigated. The company services will require hard physical work for 8-hour days, and not only must the officers be desk smart, they must also continuously work to demonstrate methods, build cooperate loyalty and expand their franchise business. Initially, the company president will be Registered Professional Geologist Wm. Hovey Smith, but this position will be relinquished to one of the initial four principals, or some other person, once the company becomes established and Smith’s role will be reduced to that of a consultant, speaker and new product generator.  At this time the company’s slate of officers will be installed.

An immediate difficulty expressed by those most closely related to present High School students is that these recent graduates do not want to do physical labor, a key requirement of these initial positions, but had rather manage their future businesses behind computer and smart-phone screens. In short, they seem unwilling to do real work. This is the reason that I am opening this opportunity to the general public, although the business will still need to be located in Sandersville, Georgia, there will also be very profitable franchised operations located throughout the country.

One reason that I am opening this opportunity to those who are still in college degree programs is that once they know what their responsibilities will be in the new company they will be able to take appropriate courses, have particular aims to discuss with their faculty advisors and more fully benefit from their college experiences. While the ultimate attaining of a degree is expected, gaining useful knowledge, making personal contacts with potential sub-contractors or franchise operators is more significant that a MBA or other such degree. The principals are expected to be life-long learners and be willing to adapt new technologies and techniques as they are available.

Although the company officers will have defined responsibilities, the tasks that they will be allotted to do will depend on their mutually agreed upon abilities and strengths, rather than artificially defined by some cooperate document. Selecting these initial four principals is the most challenging part of this new business concept, because the general aim is not for individuals to advance one over another, as is usual; but for the principals to do whatever is necessary for the company to prosper in the most efficient manner using whatever resources that they possess or can obtain from outside sources. They must also be flexible enough to yield their positions, for the betterment of the company, if a more capable individual is found for their position. The initial group of four principals will retain board member positions with significant responsibilities and compensation as long as they are actively participating in company affairs.

The ad that will run in The Progress the first week in November is copied below.

Applications from students and recent college graduates to become CEO, CFO, Chief Communication Officer and Head of IT for new national company in Sandersville, Georgia.

A new concept franchise company to provide services, training and products on a national scale will be started in 2015. Applications are now being solicited from recent college graduates and present college students to become company officers with unlimited earning potentials.

Ideal candidates are those who can do physical labor for an 8-hour day, have farming-related skills, excellent communication abilities, be life-long learners and willing to make the 24/7 commitment to make their company a success.

Resumes must be received by noon November 25, 2014, to qualify for a day-long test to be conducted in Sandersville on November 30. Those who are accepted must attend a week-long training to be held in Sandersville starting December 14.

Along with the resume, a written personnel evaluation of William Hovey Smith gathered from on-line resources must be submitted.

 

Documents are to be sent to Profit Companies, 1325 Jordan Mill Pond Rd., Sandersville, GA, 31082.

 

 

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Will Hamilton: A young vet attempting to reclaim his life.

Will Hamilton with a new vision of the world.
Will Hamilton with a new vision of the world.

It is a regrettable, but still all-to-common practice, for people to put unwanted dogs out on the road in Central Georgia and elsewhere. I am sometimes able to rescue these animals and most of my present crop of Whitehall “hound dogs” were roadside pick-ups. Returning from the recent Conference on Ecological and Ecosystem Restoration (CEER 2014), I saw a young guy with a white plastic bag filled with his things standing by the side of I-65  near Bay Minette, Alabama. It was obvious what was going on, and I stopped to give him a lift.

We Southerners talk, and during the long drive towards Montgomery Will Hamilton’s life story unfolded.  I had heard many similar stories before. He grew up poor in Texas, dropped out of high school, got his GED, went into the Army, got out on a Compassionate Discharge to care for aging relatives, sold his part of a small landholding that his parents owned, moved in with is brother, had a falling out and went on the road. His present plan was to go to South Dakota to experience America.  A few days before in Bayou La Batre, someone had taken his backpack with his IDs, glasses, cell phone, money and personal papers.

He had worked in food service and construction, but nothing above a minimum-wage job. He had managed a little college, and what he enjoyed most was an art appreciation course where he could more fully express his artistic side. He had sold a few found-object assemblies, but never had the tools, equipment or time to see where his talents might take him. He also liked to write poetry and fiction, but had never completed anything substantial. For a time he even experimented with his own band where he did original songs on keyboard instruments. In brief, here was a 30-year-old with unrealized creative potential, but with few solid skills whose life had taken some recent hard hits.

His most immediate adverse physical circumstances were that he could not see beyond a few inches without glasses, had one broken tooth, another that was rotten  and was about half-starved.

The Proposition

If I take in stray dogs, could I do less for a person? As a 72-year-old widower who lives alone, has an active creative life with a house and hunting land to keep up, I could also use some help.  There was the potential that we could help each other do some things together that neither of us could do nearly as well alone. I needed a younger man’s physical labor. He needed a place he could call a permanent residence, a roof over his head, time and some long-term guidance on reassembling his life. This was a possibility. Would he be willing to accept help and stay put long enough to  discover what he wanted to be/do and make plans so that something positive could happen?

Some 30-minutes outside of Montgomery, he accepted my proposition. He would stay and help me, and I would do what I could to help him  with his immediate physical and paperwork problems. Immediately on arrival, I made contact with the Sandersville, Georgia,  Lions Club who said that they would help get him glasses and also with my dentist to have those bad teeth extracted. Will had been attempting to medicate himself with snuff, alcohol and over-the-counter cold medicines. His previous lifestyle had led to binge drinking and heavy smoking, a not uncommon situation for young men, or even for me at a younger age.  After being relieved from constant pain, these needs were hopefully going to be reduced.

The Results

Nearly 30-days later progress is being made. Will now has glasses, and the two bad teeth have been extracted. We are starting to get some real physical work done clearing my hunting roads from the debris caused by an ice storm and getting the property ready for this hunting season. Advances are also being made towards reestablishing his identity with a new driver’s license, Social Security card and other  items so that he can get a job, vote and act as a normal U.S. Citizen.

Will has produced one painting, a Phoenix, which is particularly appropriate for what he is trying to do with his life. As a writer of some 15 books, blogger, videographer, speaker, broadcaster and comedian, I can expose him to a large number of possible creative activities and see which seems to offer the most potential as a future hobby or business. As in all life, the outcomes are uncertain.  Nonetheless, Will, like my hound dogs, will have a fighting chance.  I cannot give him a life, but I can help out by providing him with the time and opportunity to find his own way.

Phoenix (2 size reduced) (800x533)

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Making Pedersoli’s Bounty into a Hunting Handgun

Pedersoli Bounty .50 caliber flintlock pistol with "saddlebags" and loading components.
Pedersoli Bounty .50 caliber flintlock pistol with “saddlebags” and loading components.

The instant that I saw a photo of Davide Pedersoli’s flintlock Bounty Pistol in about the year 2000, I knew that this was a gun that I wanted to take on a hunt and write about.  The gun’s 16 1/2-inch long .50-caliber barrel was sufficiently long that I could reasonably expect to meet Georgia’s then-existing regulation that a deer-hunting handgun develop 500 ft./lbs. of muzzle energy at 50 yards. In the years before Triple7even, getting this amount of energy from a pistol required barrel length, and the Bounty had that. The difficulty was finding a U.S. importer who carried the gun.  Ultimately I managed to locate a Bounty flinter through Flintlocks, Etc. (P.O. Box 181, Richmond, MA 01254 (413) 698-3822), but I had to wait another month before the gun arrived from Italy.

Flintlock pistols powerful enough to use on big game animals are scarce. Unless one has a gun custom made, or builds it himself, the choices on the replica gun market are the 1805 flintlock Harpers Ferry .58 caliber (more about this one in a later post) and the Bounty. Of the two, the Bounty’s longer .50-caliber barrel with its rifling twist of 1 turn in 17-inches gave it promise of being able to stabilize conical bullets as well as round balls. When I received the gun, I was surprised to find that the recommended factory load was only 45 grains of  FFg and a patched round ball. This was a plinking load in this gun, and was a long way from reaching the energy  that I needed. Pedersoli obviously intended this gun for the novelty replica market. As Italians may not hunt with handguns, I suspect that they saw the Bounty as a gun that would be hung on a wall more than shot, or perhaps used as movie prop thrust through some swashbuckling pirate’s sash.

Detailed examination revealed more about gun. Rather than make up an entirely new flintlock pistol, Pedersoli had taken the existing stock design from their Kentucky pistol, fitted it with a longer brass fore-end cap and attached a 16 1/2-inch barrel. The flintlock action used in the pistol along with the turn-out vent-hole screw was identical to that used on a Pedersoli flintlock rifle that I owned. Even more significantly, my pistol was  proofed to the same standard and carried the same proof marks as the rifle. In short, I could safely shoot  rifle-level loads in this pistol. Again, as a manufacturing expedient, Pedersoli used components that they were already making to produce the new gun. ( I cannot vouch that they still are doing this or say what other makers may be doing with their flintlock and percussion handguns, but this was true of my particular pistol.)

Nonetheless, I took great care in slowly working up loads for the gun.  I used a 295 grain Black Belt bullet which are now sold as PowerBelts.  This heavier bullet would provide more muzzle energy by aiding  in the more complete combustion of the black-powder charge because of its additional weight and higher working pressure.  It soon became apparent that I needed to make some modifications to the pistol. To improve the trigger pull I fitted a yoke of deer antler to the trigger plate and custom smoothed the action to provide an excellent trigger pull and increase ignition speed. I also deeply notched the rear sight for faster target acquisition in dim light.

Shooting "Bouncing Bounty"
Shooting “Bouncing Bounty”

Recoil proved to be more of a problem. I could not hold onto the gun’s slick handle as I increased the gun’s loads beyond 65 grains of FFg. The gun needed more weight. I added a little by making a stainless steel ramrod, but that was not enough. Ultimately, I resorted to making cloth “saddlebags” filled with lead shot and taped these to the end of the barrel. This expedient worked, and I settled on a load of  85 grains of FFg and the Black Belt bullet.  I adjusted this load to shoot to the point of aim at 25 yards. The Bounty and load proved itself by taking a Florida deer with a single double-lung shot at about 20 yards. My story of this hunt was published by the late George “Butch” Winter in the 2003 Dixie Gun Works Black Powder Annual and later as Chapter 13 in my book X-Treme Muzzleloading.

"Bouncing Bounty's" Florida deer taken from a tree stand in a palm tree overlooking a cattle pasture.
“Bouncing Bounty’s” Florida deer taken from a tree stand in a palm tree overlooking a cattle pasture.

My most recent work with the pistol was to use it and a holster that I sewed up from an old hunting shirt in a YouTube video that I published on August 25, 2014.  You can see this video at: http://youtu.be/lTDENXYtXYY.  The pistol is for sale, and you may make a bid for it by posting a comment on the video or to this blog. The pistol will be available until Sept. 30, 2014. It comes with the homemade holster, steel ramrod, regular ramrod and original factory box along with a letter of authenticity signed by me.

 

 

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Thompson/Center’s Scout: A Muzzleloading Pistol for Hunters

Thompson/Center Arms' Scout with its distinctive ramrod-short starter combo.
Thompson/Center Arms’ Scout with its distinctive ramrod-short starter combo.

Those who hunt with handguns are a small minority of the total numbers of hunters in the U.S., and those who use muzzleloading handguns are a tiny fraction of that cohort.  It was a bold step when Thompson/Center Arms introduced their Scout pistol and rifle in 1990.  By 1996, when a factory fire had destroyed the tooling and the Scout line was discontinued, T/C had decided that there was a future in producing handguns for hunters. By ’96  they were outfitting  their Contender with barrels that were 14-16 inches long to take full advantage of the .44 Remington Magnum’s and even the .45-70’s capabilities as game killing combinations. The muzzleloading  Scout was a landmark handgun  in that it was T/Cs first pistol to break the 10-inch barrel-length barrier with the Scout’s 12-inch barrel.

The Scout pistol was offered at the beginning with .45, .50 and .54-caliber barrels so that it would be compatible with the Scout rifle’s calibers. To take advantage of the continuing interest in Western look-alike guns, the Scout rifle’s profile resembled the 1894 Winchester rifle and the pistol’s the 1875 Colt Peacemaker. As was true with the modern Encore, the Scout’s barrels were interchangeable. Unique to the Scouts, the barrels were vented in the chamber so that gas escaped through the sides of the frame when the gun was fired.  This step was taken so promote more uniform combustion of large amounts of black powder in the pistol’s 12-inch barrel.  This also necessitated that when the heavy gun was fired using a two-handed hold, that the hands be placed on the grip, rather than one hand being used to support the fore-end, as is usually the case when shooting long single-barreled pistols.

Specialized components.
Specialized components.

Other distinctive features about the Scout was its one piece detachable breech plug-nipple, vented chamber, coil-spring mainspring  and a flexible flat spring that connected to the hammer to prevent cap fragments from being blown from the nipple into the action which could tie-up the gun. This was a problem that sometimes plagued Colt’s percussion revolvers whose nipples could also shed cap fragments.

Dimensionally, the Scout pistol was about 17-inches long and weighed 4 lbs. 6 oz., depending on the bore diameter. The oversized Peacemaker-style grips made it feel good in the hand and roll in the hand under recoil. The gun in recoil was  demonstrated very well in a video that I did of shooting a .50-caliber Scout that you can see at: http://youtu.be/Hi1f8xFt2cM.  I like the way the long, heavy gun feels in the hand or when carried. In the video I also show how to carry the gun in either a factory holster, a homemade version or in the off-side hand when approaching game.

When I work up a gun for articles, I try to stay with that company’s products. In the case of the Scout I used T/C’s 370-grain MaxiBall and 85 grains of GOEX FFg black powder and a number 11 percussion cap. This load generates stout recoil, as did the others that I tried in the video. I wanted to see the results that might be obtained in the Scout using more recently developed powders such as GOEX 1 1/2 FFG Old Eynsford, Hodgdon’s Triple7even and Alliant’s Black MZ.  Just to illustrate that not every charge fired from the Scout needs to be a balls-to-the-wall load, I started out with a .440 round ball and T/C Bore Butter lubricated pillow-ticking patch and 40 grains of GOEX FFg.,  which is a target and plinking load in this gun. The results are listed below:

Bullet wt. gr.               Powder  wt. gr.                  Velocity fps.                Energy  ft./lbs.

.490 rb./179              40 gr.  GOEX FFg                 961                             367

370 Maxi                    70 gr.  Hogdon’s 3-7          1044                             895

370 Maxi                    50 gr. Alliant Black MZ       918                             692

370 Maxi                    70 gr. GOEX OE 1 1/2 F      960                             757

 

Not surprisingly from my previous experiences with Triple7even, the Hodgden powder gave the highest velocity and energy figures . I would happily hunt with any of the MaxiBall loads, but would prefer the higher energy provided by Triple7even powder. On one hunt I took the Scout and a .44 Rem. Magnum 14-inch barreled Encore on  hunts on Georgia’s Cumberland Island. The weather was very cold for the Southeastern Coast, and wind chills were near 0 degrees F. I had Arctic weight gear and hunted, while many hunters stayed in camp. Only six deer were killed on that hunt and I took two, one with each pistol. These were nearly identical double-lung shots through the chest. My impression was that the .50-caliber muzzleloader killed as well as, or even slightly better than, the .44 Magnum due to its larger bullet diameter and heavier bullet. The MaxiBall gave a larger wound channel and it, like the .44 Magnum, passed through the deer.

My .50 caliber Scout is now for sale and will be offered from Aug. 1-31, 2014. You can make a bid by leaving a comment on my video at: http://youtu.be/Hi1f8xFt2cM. The gun will be sold with its specialized ramrod, a signed CD copy of the video and a signed copy of my book,  X-Treme Muzzleloading.

 

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Protecting Shorelines with Barrier Structures

Living Shoreline Solutions' WAD barriers being emplaced to protect a portion of Louisiana's offshore wetlands.
Living Shoreline Solutions’ WAD barriers being emplaced to protect a portion of Louisiana’s offshore wetlands.

A recent conference on protecting the world’s shorelines from hurricanes and other events exposed some proven solutions and new thoughts about using natural materials and man-made inert waste products to build protective offshore barriers. Reasons for holding the Conference on Ecological and Ecosystem Restoration (CEER 2014) in New Orleans was that the city is now protected by a new flood-protection barrier system, and the fact that Louisiana wetlands are still being lost at a rate of about a football-field an hour due to coastal erosion, rising sea levels, delta sediment starvation, subsidence and man-made causes. The complex interrelations presented by these problems  was fruitful ground for the 380 speakers and 100 poster presenters to discuss ways to preserve wetlands and shorelines.

Beach-front developers and homeowners who paid millions of dollars for their properties are vitally interested in helping to protect their resorts, condos and homes from loss of beach sands due to shore-line erosion. Very often this may require mining sand from some other location and periodically re-nourishing the beaches after major storms.  Properly designed protective barriers not only protect existing beaches from erosion, but also cause sand to naturally be deposited in the quieter waters behind the barriers and grow the beaches, provided that sand is naturally being transported along the beach, as is often the case along the eastern cost of the U.S.

In South Florida and other parts of the world, the preservation and reestablishment of coral reefs is a major issue. The growing acidification of the ocean’s waters has retarded the growth of natural coral. The emplacements of irregularly shaped structures by the Reef Ball Foundation not only provides hard structures for corals and other animals to colonize, but their Eternal Reef Memorials allows the lately departed to make a contribution to the environment by having their ashes incorporated into the structure (www.eternalreefs.com). At selected locations in the U.S. and elsewhere, the family attends when the memorial reef balls are cast and may put in the concrete any small items that were significant to the individual and inscribe or attach a memorial plaque.  In cases where the Foundation had already placed a ball-barrier structure in front of private homes, the memorial ball might also be included so that the dead remain close to the places and families that they loved.

Reef Ball on barge prior to emplacement.
Reef Ball on barge prior to emplacement.

The WAD triangular barriers and the Reef Balls are made of concrete and cast on-shore as near as possible to the locations where they will be placed. They are then taken out by local barge operators and placed off shore. Although heavy, both structures are hollow and ported to allow a maximum surface area to support natural growth. These synthetic structures are far superior to rubber tires, automobile bodies or decommissioned ships, because they do not leach toxic materials into the environment or degrade into plastic micro-beads.  This technology is now well established, and the companies that contract for the structures are well versed in obtaining the required permits as part of their contracts.

In third-world countries what cannot afford to import expensive rock or use concrete to make barriers, my poster, “The Billion Bottle Barrier,” described how local waste materials might be contained in bags or cages made of natural materials, say bamboo or hemp; and interconnected with  cables made of  animal hair or plant fibers to provide flexible barriers to help protect nearby shorelines. In the example shown by my poster, the bottles are filled with sand with a wad of paper placed in the neck as a stopper. These are placed in a flexible array off-shore and the lines of interconnected containers are secured by pilings driven into the substrate.   In addition, the poster proposed that research on materials and installation methods might be done by small groups of citizen scientists from around the world and that this world-crowd-sourced data be centrally collected and disseminated through periodic newsletters. I am now seeking a university, NGO or private company to take on this project to help protect the world’s endangered wetlands.  Many who saw the poster  said that this was an interesting concept that they thought had merit, but I have received no commitments to date. Because of the numerous permits that must be obtained from multiple Federal and State agencies in the U.S., it is impractical to do this wide-scope research in the U.S., because each use of new materials and each new site would require permitting, even for the emplacement of  small test structures in off-shore environments.

Reef Balls with shellfish.
Reef Balls with shellfish.

A coincidental, but not inconsequential, consequence of placing offshore structures is that shellfish, fish and natural vegetation is attracted to them. Depending on the environment and the purpose of the structure, the accumulated trapped sediment and overgrowth may form the core of a shoal or small island that may ultimately support  terrestrial vegetation to further reduce the impact of  high tides and storm-surge waves. These barriers can offer a significant protection to hard-built structures closer to shore that offer protection for cities like New Orleans.

Alabama and Mississippi now offer property owners incentives and tax breaks to place protective structures off their private holdings. Living Shoreline Solutions  and  the Reef Ball Foundation, who now have a decade of experience, are well versed in local laws and able to assist property owners in applying for these incentives in addition to designing strictures to meet the needs of  particular sites. In general, the WAD barriers are more effective if they are exposed at high tides, but the Reef Balls and other WAD designs can be installed so that they do not protrude above the water and spoil the ocean view from hotels and other on-shore properties.

I had the opportunity to do interviews with Scott Bartkowski  who founded Living Shorelines Solutions, Inc. and Jim McFarlane who represented the Reef Ball Foundation at the conference. These interviews may be seen in a few days as a YouTube video and links will be provided on this blog. McFarlane’s interview is now available at: http://youtu.be/YHTk_zPOr3g.  If you would like more information on their organizations you can go to http://www.LivingShorelineSolutions.com and http://www.reefball.com. To gain a more complete overview of the concept you can see the videos below.

From Living Shoreline Solutions:

From the Reef Ball Foundation:

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Thompson/Center Arms’ Patriot Pistol: Classic Replica Muzzleloaders

The Patriot with the author's homemade ramrod made of resin-impregnated wood with antler tip.
The Patriot with the author’s homemade ramrod made of resin-impregnated wood with antler tip.

Single shot, mass-produced target arms were always a small part of total pistol production, and it was a remarkable achievement for Thompson/Center Arms to make an entirely new muzzleloading target pistol when they introduced the Patriot in the early 1970s. With its one piece walnut stock, semi-saw-handle grip, brass furnishings, set triggers and adjustable sights and price of under $200, this gun was an instant success.  National Muzzleloading Rifle Association shooters quickly started to register good scores with the Patriot at local and national matches. Here was a factory gun that could shoot 10s at the 25 and 50 yard slow-fire targets out of the box at far less costs than a custom-built gun.

Although well received, the market for such a specialized gun was small, and when T/C had a plant fire in the section that made the Patriot in  1996, there was little incentive to resume production. I was fortunate enough to acquire the pistol as a used gun in the early 1980s, and shot matches with it at my local club and elsewhere in the state. It was not unusual for me to be off to a shoot somewhere nearly every weekend. During this process I built a custom loading stand for it using some nearly 200-year-old heart pine planks salvaged from my house and fashioned a custom tapered ramrod out of resin-impregnated wood and deer antler. This rod was much stronger than the original wooden rod.

The load that I used was a charge of 20 grains of GOEX FFFg, a spit lubricated patch made of washed pillow tiking along with a styrofoam wad cut from egg crate foam with the sharpened end of a .45-70 cartridge case. It had been decades since I had last shot the gun and I had forgotten where I held on the target. As it turned out I held below the black bull of the 25-yard slow-fire pistol target and dead center on the 50 yard target so that I could shoot at both ranges without making sight adjustments. I was frankly rusty, but the old gun proved that it could still perform. Had I done my part, it would have shot a nearly perfect score. You can see a video of me loading, shooting and wiping the gun between shots at:

 

Patrior with last targetUsing the old single shot reminded me that there is no better way to learn to shoot pistol than with the Patriot or a similar quality muzzleloader. The beginning shooter does not have the temptation to go bang-bang-bang-bang as with a semi-auto as he must pause between shots as he cleans and reloads. Each shot is a distinct event, and he has the chance to concentrate on sight alignment, breath and trigger control. The gun’s excellent set triggers largely eliminates the trigger-control problem, which leaves only the remaining two factors to concentrate on. Precision work can be done with this pistol at much less costs than shooting center-fire cartridge guns.  Once basic shooting techniques have been mastered with this pistol, the shooter can move on to more powerful muzzleloading hunting pistols, three-gun NRA matches, Cowboy Action or any of a number of other shooting sports that require multi-shot guns.

Patriot pistols occasionally appear on used gun markets at prices between $300-$400 which is less than the cost of having a custom gun built that will deliver similar performance.

 

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Dixie Arms Company’s New Pietta Snubnose: The coolest percussion pocket pistol ever.

Dixie's Pietta-made Snubnose .44-caliber percussion revolver with bird's head grips and no loading lever is an interesting development on what large-caliber percussion pocket revolvers should have been.
Dixie’s Pietta-made Snubnose .44-caliber percussion revolver with bird’s head grips and no loading lever is an interesting development on what large-caliber percussion pocket revolvers should have been.

One of the fun things about replica black-powder guns, is that man’s inventive nature has the opportunity to make guns that never were, but perhaps should have been. One example is the Yank 1851 .44-caliber Snubnose revolver, which is made by Pietta and was recently introduced by Dixie Gun Works.  This is a round-butt pocket pistol, albeit a bit on the large size. This snubnose has a 3-inch barrel and among modern revolvers compares most strongly with the similar-sized Charter Arms .44 Special Bulldog.

Remington used as back-up on deer hunt.
Remington used as back-up on deer hunt.

As I am working on a new book, Black Powder Guns for Self Defense, I  needed to try out one of these snubnosed guns. Its closest existing competitor, a Pietta made Remington 1858 Sheriff’s model with a 5 1/2-inch barrel, was definitely a holster pistol that I carry as a back-up gun on primitive weapon hunts. This new gun with its bird’s head grip promised to be much more pocketable as a hide-out gun for Cowboy Action Shooters where the guns are as much fashion accessories as competition tools.

I have owned and shot numbers of Pietta’s revolvers. The Snubnose has the best fit and finished of any Pietta revolver that I have shot. It features a richly blued barrel,  color case-hardened frame and magnificent one-piece dark walnut grips with exhibition-grade checkering. I examined the gun closely as I degreased it prior to shooting,  and I found nothing to alter my impression that this pistol is a quality firearm.

A home-built stand for the Colt Walker and a commercial stand for the Remington 1858 and similar-sized colt pistols.
A home-built stand for the Colt Walker and a commercial stand for the Remington 1858 and similar-sized colt pistols.

I tried round-ball loads and Kaido Ojamaa’s 220-grain and 240-grain flat-nosed bullets.  Loading of round balls can be done with the separate brass loading rod provided with the gun or using a revolver cylinder loading stand. These stands are available from Dixie Gun Works and others and allow percussion revolver cylinders to be more easily, and uniformly, loaded than charging the cylinders in the gun. My homemade stand allows me to load three sizes of  revolver cylinders with one instrument.  I now use softened beeswax-based bullet lube as a over-ball seal, and this permanent non-sticky lube is much easier to apply when the cylinder has been removed from the gun. A  video of me loading and shooting the gun may be seen  at: http://youtu.be/d_mV62yPpJM.

With the round ball I used 25 grains of GOEX FFFg to produce a velocity of 582 ft./sec.  and an energy of 103 ft./lbs. The heavier elongate bullets produced less velocity with 25 gr. of FFFg and the 220-grain bullet proceeding at 533 ft./sec. and having an energy of 139 ft./lbs. The 240-grain bullet pushed by 22 gr. of FFFg obtained 458 ft./sec. and 112 ft./lbs. By way of comparison, the percussion Remington revolver shot a 137 grain round ball at 628 ft./sec. with a resulting muzzle energy of 160 ft./lbs., and   a .44 Special shot from the Charter Arms revolver had a velocity of 638 ft./sec and an energy of 215 ft./lbs.

Table: Revolver loads

gun                                bullet                    charge gr/ffg                 velocity ft./sec.                       energy ft./lbs.

snubnose                   137 rb.                      25                                   582                                            103

snubnose                   220 KO                     25                                   533                                            139

snubnose                  240 KO                     22                                   458                                            112

Remington 5 1/2     137 rb.                        37                                   725                                            160

Charter .44 Spl.       246 rn                         N/A                              628                                             215

Of these loads, the 220 grain Ojamaa bullet appeared to be the best choice for the percussion snubnose pistol for maximum effectiveness, although the less expensive round ball load is fine for plinking and cowboy-action use.

When the gun was clean, it’s hammer tended to pluck caps, but functioned well once the hammer was dirty with black-powder fouling and if it was operated sharply to encourage spent caps to fall free of the action. Putting a dab of grease on the face of the hammer prior to shooting also helps prevent the caps from sticking to the hammer face.

For potential self-defense uses I think that this revolver would have enjoyed good sales in the 1860s. This is the second attempt that I am aware of for Pietta to put this style of grip on its reproduction Colt revolvers. Colt used a similar grip on its first double-action revolver, The Thunderer. Although it is non-authentic on percussion pistols, using these grips results in a large bore percussion revolver that can be carried in a pocket for those who have use for such an arm. As with all percussion Colt single action revolvers, this pistol is best carried with its hammer resting on an empty nipple, rather than depending on it’s staying securred on the small pins located on the rear of the cylinder.

 

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Making a Hunting Gun from Brunswick Rifle Parts

At the start of the project I have a completed rifle to use as a guide, along with original and replacement parts.
At the start of the project I have a completed rifle to use as a guide, along with original and replacement parts.

My primary interest in black-powder guns is hunting with them. While I appreciate the usefulness of historic reconstructions and fine art as done on Golden Age Pennsylvania rifles, I am much more interested in taking original and replica guns back to the woods and using them to take deer, hogs and other game. With the release of stocks of old military pattern guns from the Royal Arsenal of Nepal that are available from Atlanta Cutlery, the supply of historic British Empire Guns from the 1750s-1940s was enormously increased.  Over the past decade I had purchased, used and cleaned a number of them. They went on waterfowling and deer hunting adventures with me, including using an original Brunswick rifle to take a deer at Hard Labor Creek State Park in Georgia. The video, “Brunswick Rifle at Hard Labor,” may be seen on YouTube at: http://youtu.be/0d63j4XCVYY.

Rifle lock before cleaning.
Rifle lock before cleaning.

The Nepalese did not throw anything away, and there were numbers of Brunswick rifles with broken stocks in the Nepalese arsenal. Atlanta Cutlery sold these as “parts guns.” To insure that I had spare parts for the rifle that I owned, I bought one of these $99  “parts gun” packages. I cleaned these up and discovered that the barrel was apparently better rifled than the one on the gun that I owned, and I begin thinking about building a new gun around this parts. Although the old parts were very grimy, showed signs of hard use and had  some mangled screw heads, they were mostly intact. I noted a crack on the brass trigger plate, but thought that I could repair the trigger plate with solder, which I did. You can see what Atlanta Cutlery has available at their website http://www.atlantacutlery.com.

I was able to purchase the needed replacement stock and brass parts from The Rifle Shoppe in Jones, Oklahoma. The patch box lid, head and hatch were the only parts that I could not immediately obtain.  You can see their webpage at http://www.therifleshoppe.com and request a very complete catalogue of  replacement parts for historic muzzleloading  guns.  In the meantime, Atlanta Cutlery began to offer brass patch boxes that they had made in India to sell with their completed guns. I received the patch box from them and found that it was a better fit on my Rifle Shoppe stock than on my original gun. I was not surprised as these hand-made guns are very individualistic. Among the 13 (and continuing)  YouTube videos that I did/am doing on the gun, one was on inletting the Atlanta Cutlery patch box to my newly-stocked rifle. I discovered that the Cutlery patchbox was a much better fit on my new stock than on the old gun. So, I  fitted the patchbox to the new stock, and you can view this video on YouTube at: http://youtu.be/-dpk5uhtlf0.

BR Brunswick Rifle with patch box and balls

The  Brunswick rifle hunting gun is largely finished with the salvaged parts installed on a new finished stock with the addition of a brass patch box from Atlanta Cutlery.

Starting off cautiously with a patched round ball load and increasing from 60-85 grains of FFg black powder, I found that my optimum hunting load was likely to be 80 grains of  GOEX FFg, an 11-gauge 1/4-inch cardboard wad (available from Dixie Gun Works), 30 grains of Cream of Wheat filler, one thickness of Thompson/Center Arms Bore Butter, lubricated pillow tiking cloth, a thinner canvas patch of top of that and the belted ball cast from a custom mold made by Jeff Tanner in England who has a website at http://www.j-tbullet-moulds.co.uk.   The double patching was needed because the ball cast for the older rifle was slightly small for the new gun’s barrel. Although this set of components was not ideal, it did indicate that the new barrel would, in fact, shoot better than the old, although the original sights could not be adjusted to hit the point of aim at 50 yards.  I had a tang-mounted peep sight and a fiber-optic front sight that seemed likely to work on my new gun. These new sights would allow me to sight in the rifle at reasonable ranges and determine if it seems worthwhile to order a new better-fitting mold.

The refinished Brunswick rifle is shown with fired patches and the lock and barrel from the author's original gun. The hand lens was used to inspect the barrel between shots for signs of gas leakage.
The refinished Brunswick rifle is shown with fired patches and the lock and barrel from the author’s original gun. The hand lens was used to inspect the barrel between shots for signs of gas leakage.

Old guns like this put together from 150-year-old salvaged parts may be dangerous or unsafe to shoot. Have any such gun inspected by a competent black-powder gunsmith before use and frequently inspect for any signs of failure. The Brunswick rifle is particularly prone to get balls stuck down the barrel after a few shots. This was a historic problem with this gun and continues. Wipe the barrel between shots to help prevent this problem at the range. Should the problem persist,  work the barrel with a 12-gauge brass bristle brush and re-clean. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO SHOOT OUT STUCK BALLS. These are hand-welded barrels that were forged from strips of steel pounded around a mandrel that can become unwound like a spring. If you own this gun buy a ball extractor, like the end of a wood screw, that fits on your heavy range rod and use it to pull these balls.  

The use of modern sights on this gun does not disturb me as I am not attempting to make a historical replica, but to use these old parts to construct an effective hunting rifle that I can use on primitive weapon hunts where scope sights are not allowed. Should I need to use a gun without fiber-optic elements, I still have my old rifle. The patch box latching system provided with the lid was not satisfactory to me because it apparently required a wooden block to be put into the box cavity to attach the spring. As I also needed to have the sights attached and other parts drilled to set pins and screws, I shipped to gun to Gunsmith Terril Herbert, who is now located in Daytona Beach, Florida. Herbert specializes in muzzleloaders and British Empire guns, and may be contacted at http://www.mark3smle@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

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What You Missed at the 2014 Atlanta Blade Show

The 2014 Blade Show was the largest and best attended show ever.
The 2014 Blade Show was the largest and best attended show ever.

 

The annual Blade Show at the Cobb Galleria is always a mix of the useful, wonderful and strange along with a good dose of useful seminars, demonstrations and vendors who sell bladesmithing supplies. Southern knife people are usually a friendly bunch, and it is not unusual to sit and  strike up a conversation with a fellow enthusiast, talk about knives and soon exchange life histories as I did with a young Air Force vet who had returned from Afghanistan. He had purchased an Emerson clip folder and a Swedish belt knife with scabbard, fire starter and interchangeable belt clips. I showed him a folding German melon knife that I had a knife-making friend re-handle with mastodon ivory. This ivory was cut from a tusk that I had brought back from Alaska in the 1970s, when I was about the same age as the officer.

After the knife talk, I found that even though he was serving now and my service time was in the Viet Nam era, our feelings of “what the hell are we doing over there” were remarkably similar. Although there was a generational gap, the bonding of the two of us who had faced (or potentially faced in my case) the shared experiences fighting for people who hate us was quite similar. All the lives, money and time spent seems futile. The British had tried, the Russians had tried and now we have tried to bring order and stability to the country, admittedly with different systems and intentions. Both previous efforts had failed, and the odds are heavily weighted that our efforts will be no more successful.

BS Case camoMy taste in edged tools runs very much towards the practical side. I am not too taken with “art knives,” although I do appreciate them, and the newest re-introduction of some of Case’s historic patterns, such as a single bladed teardrop design, are only of passing interest. Case did; however, also have their Muskrat and two and three-bladed Stockmen with camo scales that they will be selling in 2014. These knives  would tempt me if I did not already have a hundred pocket knives.

Canal Cutlery's Swell-Center Jack knife.
Canal Cutlery’s Swell-Center Jack knife.

Among the makers of high-grade examples of traditional designs of American knives is Canal Street Cutlery which is located in Ellenville, New York, in the traditional steel and knife making country of the Catskill Mountains. Each year they reintroduce an old American knife pattern. For this year it is a Swell-Center Jack, which is unique in that it has a heavy base so that it will set upright when the two blades are extended, has an enlarged center section for better grasp and is intended to be used for whittling or carving wood. In the South this design is more commonly called a “Coke-Bottle.” Among the company’s best sellers is a series of folding knives handled with  the now-nearly-extinct American Chestnut, which the company recovered from the timbers of an old barn. You can see these knives at http://www.canalstreetcutlery.com. I have known Wally Gardiner and the other company officers since their first exhibition at the Shot Show in Las Vegas. They have kept true to their promise of continuing to offer bench made quality American knives. They have also expanded their line to include some excellent patterns of hunting knives that are produced to the same quality standards.

 

Field's Hybrid leather knife used here for cutting a thick piece of cow leather.
Field’s Hybrid leather knife used here for cutting a thick piece of cow leather.
Josh Fields with his Hybred knife.
Josh Fields with his Hybred knife.

I have a deep respect for working knives and the people who use them. One such is Josh Fields who grew up in Texas. His dad made knives, and be became interested in leather work as a teen. His first interest was in carving scenes and portraits in leather. He soon discovered that he also needed to make the tools to do his art, and his dad served as a ready source of  information, materials and knife-making skills. The mix of his artistic talents and practical experiences resulted in more than 30 different knife patterns designed for the leather-working trades. These go through thick cow hides like cutting butter. My primitive leather work has been restricted to easily cut deer leather, but these tough knives will work anything. The two basic classes of leather-working knives are those designed for cutting and for skiving (thinning the leather so that it can be sewn).   The knife shown in the photo is a hybrid that has blades to do both functions. These are available in both right and left-hand versions with a variety of handle shapes. Because Fields makes his own knives, he can incorporate wood that you furnish as the handle or provide a selection.  You can see his work on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ARTKnifeandTool, E -mail at josh@artknifeandtool.com or call him at (817) 258-4497.

Josh is an interesting, fun guy, and I am attempting to arrange a trip to Texas to do a story about him and his knives. This trip may also be linked with a hog hunt to provide useful work for my Colt Super Walker in Col. Walker’s home country.

A variety of knives as well as an axe can be cut from fiberglass-resin composites.
A variety of knives as well as an axe can be cut from fiberglass-resin composites.

I have used knives made of stone, bone, copper, ceramics and plastic. I am always interested when someone introduces a new material to knife making as has been done by Travis Wilson with TW Brands Gear. These knives are made in a variety of patterns that are cut from a fiberglass/resin layered material formed in sheets under very high pressure. This material has more resistance to breakage than ceramic or stone knives and can take a sharp point and edge. I obtained a sample knife and will be using it during the next deer season. Because of the nature of the materials, these knives can be made in a variety of colors including a burnt-orange and black laminate which was my choice for a deer-skinning knife. The orange color makes is much easier to locate the knife if you put it down in near-dark conditions.  For more information on these products go to http://www.twbrandsgear.com or call (407) 923-7862 .

 

My best of show in the "art knife" design category.
My best of show in the “art knife” design category.

My selection as Best of Show in design for an “art” knife was made by a member of a Japanese knife-making family. Unusual in Japan where regimentation often forces young knife makers to make traditional patterns, and woe to them if they do not, this knife by  Dew Hara uses anodized sculptured aluminum handles that have smooth-flowing organic lines. This knife looks as if it might even swim. This is a knife that deserves to be in an art museum, and that may be where it will ultimately reside, having never cut anything more that a test sheet of paper.  Knives made by his dad and other members of his family were also represented at his table.

A large extendable folding knife intended for serious cutting.
A large extendable folding knife intended for serious cutting.

Many ex-military knives from all of the world’s armies were represented at the show. One of the finest example was of a U.S. issue extendable folding machete in new condition complete with its original sheath. This knife was made by Imperial in Providence, Rhode Island. The blade not only folds into the handle, it is protected by a steel blade extension and is mechanically locked into place once the blade is deployed. Most often these knives are seen in worn and rusted condition.  This knife will be included in an article that I will do for Knife World on knives with these types of extendable blades that were, and are, used as utility, fighting and hunting knives.

CRKT Tomahawks.
CRKT Tomahawks.

Not all edged things are knives and CRKT introduced two new tomahawks that were designed by Ryan Johnson of RMJ Tactical. These “hawks” are unusual in that one has a distinctively useful hammer head on the back while the other’s point could, woodpecker fashion, rapidly chip away at some serious wood if you needed to  make a hole, say to push an air or water line through a wall in a rescue situation. The momentum of these heavy heads will tend to promote the tapered wooden handle’s flying from the hand, and I would drill these handles and wrap them with paracord to provide a better grip.

 

 

Walking staff with accessory blades, except for a large double-pointed fish gig.
Walking staff with accessory blades, except for a large double-pointed fish gig.

Spears are nothing more than knives with longer handles, and Bahram Khoshnood conceived of a hickory walking staff with a polymer grip which has an interchangeable saw, slingshot, fish gig and combo axe-spear point. This instrument will not only help you get to your camp but maybe feed you along the way and clear your camp spot once you arrive. The only improvement that I would make to his design would be to slip on a non-slip rubber protector on the bottom, as is often used on chair legs,  or a metal end cap to protect the wood.

If your tastes run to things on the large size, among the collectors’ exhibits was this display of exhibition-size folders that were meant to be displayed at trade shows and other gatherings as practical advertisements for their maker’s products. These eye-catching knives have blades that are two, or more, feet long and contain all the components of the knife’s operating system expanded to a giant scale.

BS Big folding knives

 

 

 

 

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Stands for Loading Detached Percussion Revolver Cylinders

 

A home-built stand for the Colt Walker and a commercial stand for the Remington 1858 and similar-sized colt pistols.
A home-built stand for the Colt Walker and a commercial stand for the Remington 1858 and similar-sized colt pistols.

 

Attached loading levers on Colt’s and other percussion revolvers would seem to be such an obvious advantage that many people assume that all percussion revolvers were made with loading levers. This is not correct. The first Colt Patterson revolvers did not have loading levers. They were sold with a separate lever that fitted into a slot in the cylinder pin and required that the barrel be removed for loading. There were also Storekeeper and Wells Fargo models that had short barrels so that they could be unobtrusively carried, but had insufficient barrel length for a loading lever.

In modern replicas, the full size percussion replicas of the 1873 Colt Peacemaker may have extraneous cartridge-extraction rods, but no loading levers. In addition,  about a half-dozen old and new designs of percussion pistols are made sans loading levers. One recent design is Dixie’s .44-caliber Pietta-made Snubnose, which has birds’ head grips and a 2-inch barrel. I should be receiving one of these guns for testing later this Summer.

Advantages of using a separate cylinder-loading stand are that it is easier to load powder charges without  spillage, elongate bullets may be loaded in the chambers that would not fit in the unmodified loading ports of the original guns, a longer lever arm is used which makes loading easier, alloy bullets may be used without danger of bending the loading lever on the gun, more uniform pressure can be applied to the loads which promotes accuracy and the detached cylinder makes it easier to apply a melted beeswax seal over the balls for better long-term stability of the load.

All of these advantages are significant to me as a hunter where I would consider myself fortunate to have one shot at a deer and may not see another deer for days. If I have well-sealed loads, I can clean a single chamber and the remainder of the gun, without having to shoot off the remaining rounds. Using this stand I can reload my cylinder prior to a hunt on my kitchen table, protect the uncapped cylinders it in two airtight plastic bags and put the cylinder in the gun before I walk out of camp for my hunt.

These needs have been recognized by the industry, and there are several designs of table-top revolver cylinder reloaders that are small enough to take to hunt camp. Unfortunately, these are mostly made for .44-caliber Colt and Remington revolvers of common Civil War patterns, such as the 1860 Army and 1858 Remington. If you want a cylinder loading stand for a Walker or Dragoon, you may well have to build it yourself, as I did for my Super Walker revolver. I made several YouTube videos of this process with the last in the series being “One and Two Station Revolver Loading Stands” that you may view at: .

In this video I describe the repair of a commercial loading stand to make it stronger that it was when it was new. On the same video I also show how   I modified my Mark I loading stand so that I could load not only Walker and Dragoon cylinders, but added a second station for the Remington 1858 and similar-size Colt percussion revolvers. Although I had no immediate need, I could have added a third loading station for another size of  revolver cylinder.