Vaquero .44-40

So…the Pineapple Express brought the freight (UPDATE: 4.88 inches in Hangtown over the weekend), and then roared off over the Sierras to the Mid-West and the East to visit the other Coast with snow and ice and anchorman devastation.
We had some chores to do, and cleaned-up a bit amid clear skies dotted with fluffy white clouds and towering cumulo-nimbus skyscapes.
The backside redbud tree needed a whack and we had “design assistance” from our neighbor’s gardener who needed a spot of work. (We fired the leaf-blowers guys because they didn’t do squat and charged a lot.) Now we chopped and raised some blisters and filled two large green yard-waste bins full of tree-trimmings. Good exercise for the shoulders and upper arms, making mincemeat of the branches in order to fill the bins without a lot of voids – but makes the bins very heavy on the hillside like a runaway freight-train.

And then I drove up to retrieve the El Pistola Vaquero from the clutches of DROS. It’s a fairly ordinary but nice example of the craft circa 1996-97, and has a good trace of case-coloring, and an even blue-black appearance. It’s heavy. I like it.
And on the way home I stopped-off and bought tickets to the upcoming Friends of NRA Banquet. Gotta win me some gunstuff!


After 125 rounds birdshot (between #7-1/2 and # 9loads), 25 #00-buckshot and 5 slugs, there’s only a little redness and a bit of soreness, but nothing like bruising – and the overall impressions from taking training with Joe Truesdale and Sean Young are very favorable. The class was conducted totally with safety in mind, it was well organized with well thought-out drills, and it was LOADS of fun.
The course consisted of a series of well-planned and executed drills that developed familiarity with the operation and manipulation of the shotgun, from correct (the modern method) shouldering of the arm, to “patterning” the gun, to extensive re-loading practice – all the drills and exercises culminated in a new-found capability that was confidence inspiring and rewarding.
My GOOD: As a complete novice to Shotgunnery (apart from briefly playing dumbass with Chris Byrne’s Anti-Feinstein mega-shotgun at the Rendezvous), I would have to say this experience and the knowledge delivered by Joe rates right up there. The exercises repeatedly helped in-gain some pathways and responses in WTF situations. I’m no longer a total unfamiliar spazz with the pump-action.
My BAD: The Mossberg rear ghost-ring I added-on worked perfectly, and it’s a BIG ghost-ring – but without the properly corresponding-height front-sight, the additional thickness of the sight itself added elevation that was a takeaway at distance, and got worse. At 45-yards, in order to hit the target’s head-box with a slug I had to hold on the target’s nuts. So my bad there, we’ll fix it.
Otherwise awesomeness!

Shotgun Fun etc.

Defensive Shotgun Level 1, coming up at tomorrow, so I have to get up at 6:00AM…OMG!

UPDATE: Running the pump all day get’s a little tiresome and wearing. With a full load it’s muzzle heavy, but it disappears fast. Drills were drilled and practiced, and the main thing I come back with its there’s a lot of reloading going on. And then when you find the choice needs to move-up to more blast-o-rama, and you want to switch out to a slug or 00Buck, you have spill a couple onto the ground so the next load going in is the engine-block beater… But the “modern method” of shouldering the arm DOES improve on longevity and usability. Tucking the gun well in-board on the chest, chicken-wing elbow down, instead of resting on the bicep is much preferred and thus the short LOP (13″) required is sufficient.

Meanwhile, FunShow results: anybody got a spare set of .44-40 dies? Apparently I am now (or in ten days) a Vaquero owner…

UPDATE: I imagine reloading a SAA is somewhat like reloading a shotgun – more work, leading to an emphasis on accuracy and minimizing that chore…

Gunny Media

The Enthusiast Press delivers advertising and product announcements to the target-audience, and is still a good source of reading material and sometimes fiction – and each media-outlet has an editorial voice that speaks to you differently. For me it’s an up and down vote, for an up and down voice. Let’s start with the two magazines that are currently in the magazine rack next to my comfy living-room reading-chair.

Handloader is pretty straight-up and across-the-board: it’s necessary to be VERY factual since they are dealing with a topic that is potentially explosive. But there is also a good with a bunch of history and “how-we-got-there” type information – about powders and cartridges primarily, but weapons too. Without knowing where we came-from and being able to touch-base with that, it’s hard to keep (or stay) on course – as evidenced in several different cases of ballistic development. I really like what I constantly learn from Handloader, and that in fact there are historical and ground-level things that I DO learn.

Back in subscription after a multi-year lapse is Shooting Illustrated, primarily because a well know and personal-favorite gun-blogger (two actually) has made the leap into semi-gainful employment therewith. The problem I have with SI now after reading its current issue, is a recollection of why it was among the first subscriptions I dropped. There’s a cozy, arm-around-the-shoulder familiarity in the writing, as everything gun-oriented and gunsteriffic is shootsplained to me. After finishing one article about rifle barrels and nitride finishes, I was thoroughly convinced there was NO OTHER WAY POSSIBLE – and wondered why all barrel makers didn’t follow the procedure. It’s like being in a room where the conversation flows like water at you, and they’re tellin’ you whatcha need to know – and it keeps repeating, and unlike The River in the Zen koan, this water and this Zen-versation can be re-entered into again and again – in fact it’s hard to get-out of it. Perhaps not my best use of metaphor, but the alarming and sustained repeatability…just started to wear thin.

The ones missing from the rack because I don’t save or horde magazines are: NRA membership-publication American Rifleman. Like American Motorcyclist, the magazine of the AMA, it comes with the membership and covers NRA political issues, owner-interests, and scheduled events – like the matches at Camp Perry. Also missing from the current magazine rack (and in a HUGE departure from norm, saved for future reference) is the multi-layered and practical-tactical and intellectual SWAT (not what it seems at first). There’s a very good advocacy-driven section to SWAT, and a strong basis on actual-experiences that are brought to bear in the articles as-writrten. GUNS Magazine, and American Handgunner – both of which like others in the FMG media stable, tend to be more user-centric than G&A and VERY photo-centric, because there’s a lot to the visual aspect of guns that draws the eye.

Meanwhile industry main-stay Guns & Ammo recently had a senior moment wherein one well-known, senior contributing editor and writer revealed his true feelings about the dirty plebeian, grunting, gun-owner troglodytes beneath him and the need to keep guns out of their hands. This gentleman with a University education and good grammar skills, seemingly misread and did not understand what the fundamental nature of a Right in this country actually is – and how it was threatened by constant attacks from the Left. Instead, from his intellectually superior vantage-point and apparent feelings of “empathy,” he fed the beast that attacks him – and was therefore ousted from his lofty position. Anyhow they’re pretty advertiser-driven and have never met a new product or major Manufacturer’s output they didn’t particularly like or pimp – including weird curved guns… Currently G&A is a read and toss that I no longer take very seriously.


I get the idea of not scaring the people and letting them roam peacefully, free from distraction and awareness in condition-white. When we were taking cased-guns up into the Rendezvous Casino on the elevator we were seldom alone but the rifles were out-of-sight. Mostly other adult riders were in various stages of quiet inebriation and financial-loss – but often there were families with kids who were naturally inquisitive. Sometimes people mistook us for musicians, grunting and groaning under the weight of instrumentation – keyboards are damn heavy! Kevin Baker’s best line in response to such a what’s-in-the-box query was, “Percussion!”
But if it’s really a hair-ball SHTF situation with fire raining down from the heavens alternating on Wednesdays with a rain of frogs…then the cute little fake tennis-racquet holder for your AR might not really matter much. And if people are desperate and weird, that “Fender” or “Gibson” sticker on the guitar-shaped carry-bag might attract the attention of the wrong people – the looter type. Maybe then a golf-bag would be a better subterfuge because looters are seldom aroused by the small white-ball sport. They wear the wrong shoes, after all.

After the chill, sunshine

Morning dawned cold and bleak-gray, and there were chores to do and decisions to make, even (or especially) on a Sunday.
Got my haircut so I could think clearly, and then went on-line and joined the El Dorado Rod & Gun Club – the oldest active Rod & Gun Club in California, 103 Years! 1911 – 2014 – and also bought two dinner-tickets to the Club Banquet & Raffle in a few weeks.
I need to get out and meet some guy-people because the sign at the door isn’t going to be mistaken as an invitation to tea. It’s been a year and my most recognizable best “friends” work the check-out at the grocery store. And after a year my wife is tired of spending ALL her free time with me – she needs a break from this relentless twosome-ness. Also while we’re both struggling with a bit of nasal/respiratory congestion and making awful snot-goober noises, some distance might be preferable.
And so as a birthday present to me I signed up for Joe’s all-day Shotgun class.
Then we went back out to work on the yard together. Like my haircut, it needs some clipping around the edges every three weeks whether it needs it or not. At least we haven’t seen any snakes yet. If you grew-up in a Protestant-religious household this song might tickle a few funny-bones.

Detail Work

Close-up of the new Vang-Comp button. It works well and is larger than the stock Mossberg unit, so somewhat easier to manipulate. It’s just the installation process requires a three-handed grip, with the pinkie reaching up into the receiver cavity – or at least that’s how I did it.

Meanwhile we’re draining the rain-barrels onto the trees as we await a wet weekend with up to three-inches of rain. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Sling Swivel

The GG&G forward quick-detach sling-swivel mounted up pretty easy on the 590, and it’s non-rotating. The rear swivel is coming via Brownells in a few days. I guess I’ll get a Viking Tactics sling so it matches the one on the M4gery – after I swap it back and forth a few times to see how well that works, and on which side to install it…
There are a few guys who run a shotgun course around here so I have that, but I’m sad that I can’t take Louis’ class, very sad indeed – but I can get his book, or the video.
UPDATE: What else? I’m leaning towards the Magpul stock because it’s seems to accommodate the Mossberg thumb safety location, and looks like a good compromise between a “real” stock and a pistol-grip stock: With an especial plus this from the Esteemed Tam (and I’m still pissed-off at the steaming scum-sucking jerkwad sh*tbrain who caused her to flatten the blog to a thin, narrow reminder of what it once was.)

Love the Magpul stock, and I say that as someone who, when she first saw the Magpul shotgun furniture, thought “Okay, the guys at Magpul have jumped the shark now, because that looks flimsy and ghey.” Despite my treatment of the 870 which, like most of my guns intended as range toys and sporting goods rather than collectibles, varies between neglect and mild abuse, nothing on the stock has broken or fallen off yet.
One of the advantages of a pistol grip on a shotgun is that it allows people without superhuman forearm strength to hold the gauge comfortable shouldered with one hand. Unfortunately, the downsides are that it pokes out awkwardly when the weapon is slung, makes operating the 870 safety a pain, and some don’t like what it does to the handling of the gun. The Magpul stock gives the advantage of the pistol grip, in that even my wimpy wrist can keep the shotgun shouldered with just my strong hand, and hasn’t any of the disadvantages. (Well, maybe it wouldn’t handle as well as an English stock if I took this thing hunting for upland birds…)