Thursday, January 24, 2008

Local Rack Report (UPDATED)

(Corrections to date and price added)

On the used rack at Gunnies, 400 S. State street in Orem:

M91/30 Mosin-Nagant rifle. Hex receiver, Izhevsk manufacture, dated 1928. It looks like it was originally a Dragoon model - the receiver is date stamped 1928 (Correct date 1925). Markings are grossly similar to this picture. Rifle is rearsenaled. There are no noticeable overstamps. The rearsenal mark is the bisected diamond stamp, and it was applied clear of the original markings. All visible numbers match. I get on okay with the staff here, but didn't want to push it by asking permission to take a look at the tang stamp. Metal fit and finish is good +, with minimum black paint touchup.

(If anyone knows which country used which rearsenal stamp, I'd like to hear it. I've been all over the Mosin boards and sites and just haven't seen any information on that subject.)

Overall appearance is good +. Wood-to-metal fit is remarkably good. It is the best I have seen (and I'm a ROOKIE) on a Soviet example and almost as good as the better Finns I have handled. The wood itself has the traditional gad-fugly arsenal shellac covering some nondescript cartouches. There are no discernible repairs and only a couple of very minor dings. The muzzle crown could have been executed better. Bore is clean and dark with strong rifling. I have come to regard this as common with the current wave of Mosins moving through here.

This is a sweet rifle. It would make a fine addition to somebody's collection, especially if they just wanted one Mosin.

Asking $128.00. (Correct price $149.00)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Unsolicited Advice

I put the following up on the Gun Thing Forum in response to the question "how do I improve my offhand shooting?":

1. Stand easy, weak side shoulder facing the target. A line drawn across your back should point at the target. This is your starting point. Later, as you find your own natural point of aim, you may modify this.

2. Feet slightly more than shoulder width apart. Some folks like their feet parallel. Others go toe in, or toe out. But the key is to not force a too wide stance. Back straight, and keep it as straight as you can when the rifle is in your shoulder. You will be moving; an exaggerated sway-back won't help. Offhand is the weakest position because it requires more balance vice bone-to - to bone support.

3. Take a breath. Let it out.

4. Inhale as you bring the rifle up. Keep the muzzle high, something like thirty or forty degrees above flat, and pointed a little right (right handed shooter) a bit from the target. Drop the butt down into your shoulder , into the the pocket formed by keeping your elbow and right arm as high from your body as possible; try for parallel to the deck but higher is better. You will "roll" the rifle into your shoulder and the at same time acquire your cheek weld.

5. Find your sights FIRST. Establish your natural cheek weld - the position of your cheek against the stock that puts your eye effortlessly behind your properly aligned sights. By standing 90 degrees to the direction of fire, you may rest your weak arm against your body as you rest the rifle across your palm. I said REST. Any pressure in your fingers, any torsion on your wrist - will only lessen your chance of a good shot. This will only be achieved with practice, which is a damn good reason for putting a fifty - foot air rifle bull on the wall of your basement or garage for practice. You will leave the mechanical safety engaged, by the way, until your sights are aligned with the target.

6. Concentrate on your front sight tip. Doing this will center it in the aperture of the rear sight ; if you are shooting buckhorn sights you will be less precise, elevation wise - especially if your eyes are getting old like mine.

7. You've got the rifle in your shoulder. The sights are aligned. You've inhaled just a little beyond the point of natural breathing. Stop breathing. Look over your front sight. Your rifle is pointed at a rough Natural Point of Aim (NPA). If you do nothing else now but concentrate on your sights and squeeze, you will hit what is on the tip of your front sight post.

8. Still holding your breath, it's time to move your NPA to as close as you can get to being on the bull. This is my favorite line in coaching offhand:

Aim with your feet.

You've achieved a natural, balanced posture by this point. All that remains is to make the most minor of corrections, closest to the ground, to put your aim on the frame. I generally have to move my trailing foot an inch forward or back to get on target, but if you find yourself uncomfortably off-line, go ahead and move both feet, making sure that your final position doesn't sacrifice your balanced, relaxed NPA stance. You will breathe normally during this exercise - but always stop halfway on the exhale when checking your NPA.

9. You are standing. You are unsupported. Your NPA is on the paper. Stop breathing, observe your front sight. Move your front arm in or out for elevation, move your feet for windage. The conventional wisdom here is to arrive at a situation where your sights track the width of the target in a "lazy eight" pattern. Imagine an eight drawn laying on its side, with the left and right extremities just touching the edges of the target (or even shorter, between the edge of the paper and the bullseye) , with the amplitude of the eight equal or less than the diameter of the bull, with the waist of the eight centered on the bull.

10. You feel like you've got a solid sight picture now (sight alignment = correct rear sight/front sight relation. Sight picture = sight alignment + target correctly on front post) and are ready to get down to business. Inhale. Hold half of it. Close your eyes. Hold it. Open your eyes. If you are off the target, aim with your feet.

11. Safety off. BREATHE IN. Sight picture good. Manageable racetrack. RELAX - breath halfway out and hold. Feel for wind on your cheek. AIM - frontsightontarget frontsightontarget frontsightontarget STOP frontsighton SQUEEZE slacknoslack frontsighton BOOM.

Recoil. Keep your cheek on the stock. Roll back into your NPA. Follow through - do not come off the target until you have a good sight picture. Safety ON. Rifle down to rest, and have a seat on your stool.

12. Mark your call (what you saw when the round left your rifle) in your range book. Look up to see white disk in front of bullseye, marking your "x". Repeat the process. Collect your trophy.

Disclaimer: I haven't shot a formal match since the nineties, and that was merely silhouette shooting with my old M1; it was the day that that barrel died, as a matter of fact. Today I do shoot offhand at milk jugs or steel plates with modest success at ranges between three and six hundred yards.

Don't spend a lot of time practicing offhand live. It becomes a race between getting frustrated and getting tired, and both states will end useful expenditure of ammo. Find out how many rounds you will be required to shoot in a match, then limit your live fire training to twice that amount per range visit. You get more value out of dry fire training for offhand than for any other position.


There. If you ever have to make THE SHOT, now you know how.

Snowy as all get out today. That means I get to stay home and clean house. Have a fine day!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Range Report 19 January 2008

Yes, Virginia, it was a cold one. I arrived at Lee Kay around 0915 to find that there were already twenty or thirty cars in the lot. It turned out that Hunter Education students would be shooting their qualification exams all day long.

Last Tuesday I had commitments from four folks to show up and shoot. I couldn't confirm anyone last night and ended up shooting solo this morning. Mrs. Tmj Does Not Do Teh Cold and the goddesses have been spooling up for THE BIG DANCE all week. One of my coworkers called me at 1130 to let me know he'd slept through his alarm, but I was almost packed up by then. Coaching strangers is all well and good but once in a while it does no harm to confirm the friends' and neighbors' suspicions....

I ended up breaking in the two newest Mosins: Model 91/59 built on a 1937 Izhvesk and the 1943 retired Tula PU sniper.

Temperature at 0930 was 24f, light overcast, with light wind coming mostly from behind, or blowing west, since the firing line runs generally north - south. I decided to shoot for zero at 25 yards using a fore stock rest from a seated position. I had intended to move over to the hundred/two hundred yard ranges if things looked promising but I ended up coaching some kids practicing for their Hunter Safety shoot.

If you don't have a headspace gage or access to a smith who does, it is necessary to treat "new" milsurps gingerly. Since both these weapons are new (to me) I opened the ball for each by loading one round of my crappiest old combloc ammo (Russian/Barnul brass case light ball, 1951 production) then bracing the wrist of the stock between two sandbags. I then fired a blind round while crouched beneath the table. It's clunky and looks funny, but then again so does walking around with an improperly - fit bolt sticking out of your forehead. In the field I'd normally just lash the rifle to a spare tire and fire it with a string.

This is the final target for the 91/59:

I was mighty pleased with this one. The ammunition used here was Albanian light ball, and I've been happy with it in all my Russkis. The trigger has reasonable travel and breaks very clean and light for a Mosin.

The Tula retired PU doesn't have a great trigger, but then this is RUSSIAN rifle. GOOD is just fine:

I had a case failure the second round after the "sandbag proof" round. Nothing spectacular - just some gas venting back around the bolt. Most of the ammo I shoot in these is from the nineteen fifties so some slop is going to happen. I puttered around on one target to warm the barrel, then shot the final target (shown above) using eighties manufacture Czech light ball (silver tip). The wind had come up a bit but at twenty five yards it would really have to howl to make a huge difference. It was cold...

... but that's when Mosins are at their best. That's four groups of three on the target: The dime group was aimed at six o'clock on the orange dot with rear sight set for 500 yards. The quarter group was aimed at the same point with 100 yards set on the rear sight. The other two groups were shot offhand and kind of hung out a bit wider and more right.

I am saving pennies for a repro PU mount/scope combo. The PU is going into the gunsmith next week for a formal headspace check and I am getting the bolts turned down on both rifles. The 91/59 will move into my pickup as soon as the bolt is done.

Not a bad day. Got home just before noon, cleaned up and put away, and here I am. I hope yours was good, too.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Range Date

Heading out to Lee Kay tomorrow at 9 a.m. for a few hours of shooting.

I'll have two Mosin variants, a Bushmaster carbine, and some miscelleneous pistols to work on. I always bring extra ammo for guests.

Stop by and say hi if you are in the area. I'll be the stumpy individual with the four-wheeled shooting cart on the seventy yard range.

It's going to be true well digger weather. Perfect for shooting Mosins!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Quickly, Now...

Christmas was in Maryland this year, at Mrs.Tmj's sister's new house. Sweetest line of the morning, upon my oldest goddess' entrance to the room wearing her new azure blue cowl neck sweater:

(from Uncle Lee)"Set phasers for stunning!"

Mrs. Tmj joined Weight Watchers at her work and has so far achieved ten percent of her weight loss goal as of this past Friday. That's a significant number all by itself but when measured by the fact she did it through both the Thanksgiving and Christmas feasting seasons it's downright amazing. When our extended family gets together, we cook like Al Capone sold hooch. She got a four-sensor scale for Christmas.

The goddesses are both as tall as I am now... depending on what shoes they happen to be wearing and whether or not I'm in boots. They got - well hell, they got everything they asked for EXCEPT a car. What part of "goddess" don't you understand?

I am in pain. The thyroid meds, however, so seem to have positively effected the mental aspect of the problem. I still feel half a step back and the pain sucks. And if I get any bigger I will have to buy my next belt buckle at the commercial plate window at the DMV.

Silly high point of the year so far:

Thursday last I found a true retired sniper Mosin-Nagant 91/30 on the rack at the Big5 right here in Orem. CH stamp on the receiver, all matching numbers*, two filled holes below the wood line on the left side of the receiver where the scope mount used to be bolted, and a dark but clean bore with a 30 degree counterbore at the muzzle. The stock has some intriguing cartouches buried under the gunky red arsenal shellac.

I am going to shoot it for groups at fifty and a hundred yards this weekend. If I can get under three inches at a hundred yards (using Czech light ball ammo of eighties manufacture)I will proceed to clean it up and hang a reproduction PU mount and scope on it.

Politics? Well, there are no fit candidates on the Left side. It is entertaining in a sick and twisted way to watch the Dems feeding on each other, though.

I could vote for Giuliani, Romney, or Thompson with a mostly clear conscience. Leaning toward Thompson but really don't have a dog in the race yet.

If John McCain or Huckabee should end up being the Republican candidate or even on the ticket I will not cast a vote for president in the 2008 general election. If it even looks like that situation may arise I will execute our plan to convert the bulk of our retirement from funds to commodities or physical assets.

Our country used to be stinking rich. Rich enough to afford excesses like campus communists, Democrat majorities in Washington, and creatures as simply bad as the Clintons or as feckless as the current Republicans. No more. Not nearly; what with Dubai bailing out CitiBank and our other leading financial institutions reaping the harvest of thirty years of unsolicited credit card debt and stupid mortgage loans, we are getting ready for some bumpy times.

Oh, and then there's the eighth century boys slavering over the possibilities presented by our candidate choices... feh.

I've never been more grateful to be living in Utah. There's no state in the Union better prepared to survive a shitstorm than here... even if our current political leadership is casting dangerously nanny-ish at the moment.

* There are three distinct sets of numbers on the receiver ring. The earliest markings are so faint as to be illegible but the size of the script resembles what I've seen on barrels from the 1920's. The second set of marks are the Tula numbers dated 1943. The last set is composed of two Cyrillic letters followed by three digits and is common (stamped, not electro penciled) to all the metal parts on the rifle.