The Continuing Saga of the 1712 – And my Eleventh Silhouette Match

So, yesterday was the first silhouette match that I have shot since I got my Anschutz 1712 back. I originally was using my Vortex Viper but after sighting in the last time, I decided to switch to my Weaver T24 because the dot is larger on the reticle and I prefer that to the smaller dot in the Viper. Here it is set up accordingly: DSCN1767 Well what a difference a Boelter makes! I haven’t shot silhouette in 6 months and I come out of the gate and shoot a 31/40! I was ecstatic! Thanks again, Steve! I can really tell a difference with this rifle. I shot much better than I had in the past and was very excited.  Now, I know the old expression, “It’s not the arrow, it’s the Indian” and I understand what that’s all about, but as the Indian, I have to say I really appreciate a quality arrow!  My “arrow” and I got this Saturday too. Very happy! DSCN1766

Categories: Silhouette | Leave a comment

The Saga of the 1712

Ok, so a few months ago I posted about my new Anschutz 1712 rifle chambered in .22LR. The rifle is built on the legendary Model 54 action specifically for Silhouette Hunter class. My first range experience, however was not legendary. I test fired the rifle with 7 different types of ammunition ranging from quality target ammo to some bulk ammo which was largely tested out of frustration. Here are the results: All targets shot at 50 yds. in very favorable conditions. Most were ten shot groups but some were five if they looked horrible from the get go. I even verified the results were not likely my fault by shooting a ten shot group from my CZ Basic 513 with a fixed 4X scope.

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Needless to say I was not happy. This is an expensive rifle and I went to some lengths to acquire it and I had much higher expectations of performance than I received. So, I began checking all the usual suspect issues such as the scope, rings, etc. but came up short, everything seemed ok. I knew better than to panic at this point, but I was definitely concerned. Upon returning home, I did some more careful investigation and discovered the action was not sitting straight in the stock. I thought there may have been a rise in the wood under the action so I removed the action from the stock and examined the stock intently. I found no bumps or rises at all. I returned the action to the stock thinking maybe just a removal and replacement would solve the issue but sadly, it did not. I then decided to contact the man himself, Mr. Steve Boelter, the guy who wrote the book on rimfires, literally and figuratively! He looked at the images I sent of the targets as well as the picture I took of the action in the stock and he said that definitely wasn’t the way it is supposed to be. So after some discussion over the course of a few days we hashed out a plan. Long story short, and lots of details I’m not about to take the time to type, he fixed my rifle up for me. Now, unbeknownst to me at the time of our initial conversation, Steve is the Director of Anschutz for North American Operations. Wow, did I call the right guy or what? Needless to say I was very pleased with Steve’s professionalism, which was only outdone by his excellent customer service. He was patient with me in all my questions and was very knowledgeable. He worked with me to achieve a truly fantastic result, and while I don’t know the totality of what was done I do know the totality of the result. After getting my rifle back from Steve, this is what I was able to achieve.

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A very special thanks to a great guy for helping out a shooter like me. Thanks Steve, you da’ man!

Categories: Rimfire Roundup! | Leave a comment

Disappointment thy name is Red Label!

Well, after a recent shotgun side event at a Cowboy Wild bunch match I decided this shotgun thing is pretty darn fun! My Dad has a membership to a local gun club that has trap, skeet and 5 stand fields and so all I needed now, was a good over and under shotgun. Now I didn’t have the money to get what I thought I wanted but I had a couple of guns I could let go of in trade, so I headed up to my favorite LGS to see what I could find. I found a new, shiny, Ruger Red Label with 30″ barrels, so I traded two for one (with a cash kicker on my end) and I stepped away from the counter with a nice new Ruger Red Label 12 ga. O/U. This is one of the new production guns not an original model that was discontinued a few years ago due to excessive production cost.  The cheek pad in the picture below was something I added myself, it’s a sorbothane cheek-eeze product.

DSCN1761 OK, so let’s start with the good stuff. On the positive side, Ruger provides a nice semi-hard padded case with 5 chokes (IC, MOD, Full and 2 Skeet, installed in the gun) and a nice choke tube wrench. They also provide a nice lock and a strange locking mechanism, which I promptly discarded as I always do. The lock, I kept, they are great for the fence gates out back. The receiver, now a single cast part, is reasonably well done. Additionally, the gun comes set up to have the safety automatically activated when the gun is opened up, in the field this would be an asset, in competition, not so much. I don’t really care for this feature because during competition it’s really in the way and could cost you a bird, however Ruger smartly provides an alternate slot where the rear of the spring strut responsible for activating the safety can be placed. In this new slot it travels above the other slot where it activates the safety thus bypassing this feature. However, here is where the positive part of the story ends.

DSCN1752 DSCN1753 DSCN1754 Now for the negative, and get ready, as far as I’m concerned, it’s ugly. Needless to say, I was disappointed as the title of the post clearly states. Having said that, the receiver, while well cast (as mentioned above) was far from well finished. The internal portion was left rough and where holes were drilled and metal was cut the flash was left with no regard for removing it at all.  The below image shows the inside of the receiver after I have removed some flash but some still remains.

DSCN1760 The lever that opens the action was also not finished well and it was scratching the the top of the receiver tang just below the serial number. I had to polish the underside of the lever to eliminate this issue.

DSCN1757 I realize that cost is a factor and the human labor required to do such a task is expensive but then again so was the shotgun. The ticket price for this long gun was $1129.00 So while I can understand their need to keep costs low I feel taken advantage of here. My wife owns an Italian made O/U made by Fausti with a retail cost of around $450.00 and my dad owns a Turkish made Yldiz ($500 at Academy Sports) and both have better fit and finish by comparison. The ejector cam on one side was not properly sized and required me to remove metal to get it to properly slide back and forth against the inside of the frame. Ruger put really tight springs in the ejectors and this massive force simply overcame the resistance but it was apparent it was rubbing because you could see the marks on the side of the ejector cam from when the shotgun was opened.

DSCN1758 Next, the forend iron was leaving marks on the underside of the bottom barrel and I had to polish and remove some metal there to get a better fit to prevent further wear.

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Both the ejector sear plungers were rough and did not slide in and out of their recess holes smoothly and I had to remove them and polish them to achieve smooth operation. The ejector sears also needed some deburring and polishing to achieve ideal movement. The forend iron head is not well fitted to the wood of the forend at all.

DSCN1759 Comparing it to the fit of the other aforementioned shotguns they are done better, which is troubling because apparently they were able to provide a better fit and still charge much less. Now make no mistake I like Ruger, always have probably always will but this gun has been a disappointment. Will I keep the gun? Most likely. Will it all be ok? Probably. But is it disappointing to pay that much for a O/U shotgun, or any gun, and have to bring it home, tear it down and file and polish parts to get them to function properly and prevent what would certainly be damaged parts after even minimal use? Yes, yes it is. But this is just how it is I guess. I was used to it when we paid $350 for Uberti revolvers for Cowboy action, you expected to have to do the work on it.  But almost $1200 for a shotgun from a reputable company here in the US?  Nope, I expected better, just didn’t get it. Ruger will soldier on, and post modifications so will I. I expect it will run well now and serve me well on the skeet field. After the work I did the gun is much smoother.  Maybe some more aftermarket accessories will be called for, perhaps not, but they could be necessary on any shotgun I would buy for clay shooting. We’ll see. Let’s just hope there are no more surprises, I think I paid enough to avoid any more.

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SC State Wild Bunch 2014

WB A couple of weeks ago I participated in the SC State Wild Bunch match. While it can easily be said a good time was had by all, I especially had fun. My man Lorenzo Kid came and stayed with us and of course I got to hang with him and my main pard, Sgt. Dork.  As always it was great to see Mat, Semper Fi Sexy, Knothead, Shamrock, DD, and the rest of the Cotton Crowd.  The crew put on a great match so a very special thanks to Hondo Jackson, Pork Chop, Cowboy Junkie, Kid Ray, Slippery Stew, Carolina Girl, and Suerender. Can’t go without mentioning the cowboy clays 5 stand side event shot with our model 12s! That was so much fun! Bob did a great job running the clays for us and I really appreciate his participation. Overall, how could you not like a match where almost every stage has 20 rds. with the awesome 1911? You can’t! It’s great! Hamburgers on the range Friday night, BBQ Saturday night, it was all great fun. As far as the match itself went, for me it was an unmitigated disaster! I had a tragic train wreck and watched several others follow suit. Mostly gun problems, magazine problems, equipment malfunctions, you name it! They say, “Welcome to Wild Bunch” and boy do they mean it! It seems the home of malfunctions. I actually was match DQed but they didn’t do it. I had two stage DQs which is an automatic match DQ but I shot all ten anyway and had a great time. As an aside update to my previous post on my Springfield 1911 I have to say it ran great! Not a hitch at all from the gun. Had a bad mag but figured it out and culled that one from the mix. Very happy with the results of the action work on that gun. My man Sgt. Dork won his category as well as Traditional State Champion. Congrats you ole’ coot and sorry about the sear issues, we got it all worked out now though and it obviously didn’t cost you! ;) Below is a video of one of my better stages. Hope it looks good, it was sure fun!

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Refugee Reunion – An Outbreak Event: Chapter 37

We traveled in silence for awhile. Everyone was exhausted, tired from our gun battle and the general stress of suddenly being thrust into the world of the walking dead. Eventually, Mom, Molly and I put away the food we had acquired from the store. As we worked, Dad and Mom recounted what they had been told by Ben, my father in law. As we finished our task the cabinets were overflowing but we found a place for everything nevertheless. It seemed like a lot of food but I was afraid it wouldn’t last as long as we would like it to. Afterward, I collapsed onto the chair at the kitchen table. Mom headed into the back bedroom to lay down. Jay was sitting on the sofa, his head back, hand over his eyes. I could just make out the salt stain of tears on his cheeks. The day had taken it’s toll on each of us. The adrenaline was gone and the fatigue and reality of the situation was settling in, now that we had some quiet time to reflect on everything. For awhile there was so much happening so fast there was no time to consider the details, to think too much about the loved ones lost, but as Dad piloted the RV up the lone and empty interstate toward my brother’s home we had time to come down, to settle and begin to ponder our situation. Molly was curled up on the opposite side of the sofa from Jay. I stared long and hard at her wondering who she was, how she was feeling how she was going to handle the loss of her family. We were good folks but we all knew each other. Jay and I go back years and then there are my parents. I’ve got lots of people I’m close to and my parents think of Jay like another son, so he has me and them. Then there’s poor Molly. She is with us but in a way she is all alone in this new world. I know she is attached to Jay because of their experiences together earlier but having said that this has all just happened today.

The sun was just beginning to shift in the sky. It was late in the afternoon now and we still had a ways to go. The sun was cutting through the windshield at a sharp angle throwing a lot of light in my direction. I looked toward the sky. The blue crispness was beginning to fade into the orange and reddish hues representative of the close of the day. It was then, as I contemplated the sky and what lay beyond, that I decided it was time to do something I hadn’t done yet today despite all the horrors the day had presented. I spun the chair away from the table, rested my elbows on my knees, bowed my head and began to pray. I suppose I was muttering under my breath which served as enough sound to attract Jay’s attention. “What?” He said, “Are you talking to me?” His muffled inquiry drifting from beneath his hand. I guess when I didn’t respond in a timely fashion he looked out from under his hand. He blinked his eyes, wiping away a few remaining tears from them. “Are you….praying?” He asked with some confusion in his voice. I didn’t answer him immediately but could sense he was waiting. He wasn’t a believer but always respected the fact that I was. In the past I had spoken to him about Christ at least a couple of times. I had done my part but ultimately the conviction comes from the Holy Spirit and I have no way of knowing if that had happened yet other than he hadn’t said anything to me about it. We have always respected one another’s beliefs and never let that interfere with our friendship, he’s my brother and I love him like one, regardless, but I always like to think one day he’ll accept Christ. He waited patiently until I mumbled “Amen” and looked up. “Yeah I was praying.” I said with a smile. “Really?” He replied. “You still think there is a God? After everything we’ve been through today? I mean, it’s the end of the world? And He’s making it happen. He’s letting the dead walk the earth and destroy everything. How could you believe in Him and even want to talk to Him?”

I smiled. “Funny you should ask.” I noticed out of the corner of my eye, Molly had woken up upon hearing Jay’s voice but she chose to remain still, with her eyes open and I could tell she was awaiting my answer. “I think we need God now more than ever. He doesn’t cause bad things to happen, I suppose you could argue He allows them, but this is not His fault. Remember what Dad said awhile ago, this is some kind of man made bomb attack thing gone awry.” “Yeah but He let it happen He let so many people die.” Jay responded. “True, but God doesn’t say we won’t die, we’re human, we’re all gonna die sometime. The real question is have you accepted His son before you do? That determines where you’ll spend eternity. We’re all gonna go, someday, somewhere, somehow. I guess zombies is as good a way as any. Not that I’m in any hurry, mind you.” I said with a smile. “God gives us free will, which is important because He wants us to turn to Him on our own, by our choice, that way it’s genuine, not motivated by worldly benefits. The only true benefit is our salvation which He guarantees if we choose Him.”

Jay smiled. “Still holding on, huh?” “If you’re gonna hold on to something I can’t think of anything better.” I said returning his smile. Dad piped up from the driver’s seat, “You can say that again, WG. ‘The way the truth and the life,’ now, more so than ever it seems.”

Breaking the subject Mom appeared from the rear of the RV inquiring through sleepy eyes and a weak voice, “How much farther?” “Not long now.” Dad replied, “We’re turning off the highway now. Should be about another 20 minutes.” I rose from the chair and approached the front of the cab, patting Jay’s knee as I passed by, shooting him another smile. I sat down in the passenger’s seat next to Dad with a springy thud. Mom followed and stood at the back of my seat, leaning into the space between us. We three stared out at the road ahead as 460 East bound came into view. “I wonder what we’ll find when we get there.” Mom muttered in her weak, still groggy voice. “We’ll have to wait and see, and just have faith.”

Categories: Zombie Short Story | Leave a comment

Paragon Shooting School Experience

broken-clay Well Friday was my wife’s birthday. (Happy Birthday, Sweetie!) 8 years ago for her birthday I bought her a 20 gauge over and under shotgun and an introductory lesson so we could take up the shotgun sports together. Well, my lack of interest at the time in the shotgun sports coupled with a few other issues led us to not taking up the activity after all. In retrospect I wish I had tried a bit harder but nevertheless I thought maybe the time had come to revisit the idea. I have recently established my own interest in shotgunning and approached her about the subject again. She was ok with it but I knew, at least for her, she wouldn’t feel comfortable unless she had lessons again. So after some mods to her shotgun to reduce recoil and a call to Paragon we were back in business. Eight years ago, along with her shotgun, I also got her a lesson from a Paragon instructor, a very nice lady named, Wallie. She was patient and very knowledgeable and we both had a great time and my wife learned a lot. Well fast forward to this Saturday and her lesson was scheduled with the man himself, Dan Schindler, the founder of the Paragon School. Now, not to take anything away from Wallie but Dan certified her so needless to say he was truly an exceptional instructor as you would certainly expect. He has been doing this so long that he has distilled the training program down to a very simple process. If you choose to take the course you will not be unhappy and while it was a bit pricey it was well worth it. What he teaches is not simply how to break clays.  Unlike others who mostly talk about leading targets, or this technique or that, he teaches from a whole different perspective and it’s not only worth it, it’s simple in its revolution. I think my wife is off to a great start and I think we will enjoy shooting together. What was the most remarkable part of the day was watching my wife come out of her shell so to speak, really enjoy herself and feel confident about performing well in something that only a few hours ago was unfamiliar to her. It almost brought tears to my eyes.

Dan is a very soft spoken man who is confident and obviously very knowledgeable. He is very organized and structured and if you arrive with an open mind and answer all of his questions and listen to his advice you will have a very positive experience. He leads you where you need to go to succeed and after you get there you will realize the simplicity. He takes his time, works patiently and most importantly positively. You will really feel better about your skill when you leave. He takes extra time if needed and let’s you learn at your pace as you go through the training. He is very conscientious of women and children making sure that what might be their first experience shooting or at least learning to shoot is a positive one. I was thankful that he did not use any negativity in his training as this really makes a big difference. Ultimately perhaps the best endorsement was that my wife has expressed an interest in going back to take another class to learn more! So I suppose we’ll see you in the spring Dan!

Find him here: http://www.paragonschool.com

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Update to the Tiger-ized 1911s

Well, impatience got the better of me and after investing in the tools necessary to do action jobs on 1911s as instructed by my good pal, Surly Dave, I went to work on my Commander 1911. I installed an Ed Brown bobtail mainspring housing and cut and polished the frame myself. I then worked the action over but had to replace the short trigger with the original modified match trigger. This worked much better in the long run and I now have a very nice trigger breaking at 3 lbs. with no creep. It’s not the best looking thing in the world right now but it will be. Once I can get back to Surly’s place I’m hoping to be able to get a lesson on bead blasting and bead blast the slide and frame to one uniform appearance. Stay tuned for more pics!

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Springfield GI 1911 Review

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Well here it is. My recently acquired, brand new Springfield GI Mil Spec 1911. As you may have noticed I have become a HUGE 1911 fan. I shoot them well, they feel better in my hand and after my experience at Shootrite, I feel very comfortable “running” the gun.

The Springfield, however, has left a bit to be desired. Now let me say that I like Springfield Armory, I believe they are a good and reputable company and they make a solid product. I have owned Springfield products in the past and would recommend them to other shooters without hesitation. This review is a singularity, it’s my own experience with this gun, not an indictment of Springfield itself.

Having said that, on to the review. Upon purchase I was pleasantly surprised. Springfield provides you with a nice hard plastic case, a sturdy, serviceable holster, a double mag pouch and even a second pair of rubber type grips. The external finish on this pistol is parkerized and it was very well done. The lines are crisp and sharp and they pay good attention to detail. All in all Springfield makes a good looking 1911.

The sights are very serviceable with the three dot system being employed. They are an upgrade from the original GI sights (thank goodness) but still look like they fit with the GI appearance. The hammer, slide safety, and grip safety are all the old GI style in appearance. The short trigger, and the rounded mainspring housing complete the look.

I was not initially aware of the ILS locking system contained in the mainspring housing when I purchased the gun, I simply overlooked it, but while inspecting the included accessories I discovered what it was. Immediately I decided I did not want that feature on the gun. It seems unnecessary and not something I would use and certainly far from consistent with a GI style gun. I researched the issue and determined the best course of action was to order a new MSH and the associated internals to go with it and replace the whole thing.

I went online and ordered the parts, but before they arrived I decided to shoot the Springfield in my very first Wild Bunch match anyway. I figured it would be a good test run. I had reloaded ammunition to shoot for the match which had Winchester primers. I figured a right out of the box, factory gun would have no issues reliably breaking primers as almost every company sends guns out of their factory with very heavy springs. This was also the case with the GI but it did not reliably break the primers. I found out during the match that in 6 stages, with 20 round strings of pistol fire in each stage I had failures to fire at least 5 times per stage. That’s 30 out of 120. This was not only aggravating, but worrisome as I had just purchased the gun. Now I’ve been shooting long enough that I didn’t panic, it’s almost always a solvable problem. After the match was over I performed some investigation and discovered the firing pin spring was extremely heavy. I compared it to two other 1911s and found it to be at least twice the tension! (If not more.) I had a Wolff brand firing pin spring on hand, so I installed it and could immediately feel a considerable difference. I also noted that the firing pin stop was uneven and irregular. I removed it and stoned the face on a flat stone until it was uniform and flat.

Before any testing could be done to see if that alone fixed the issue, I was scheduled to head to a friends place who is a gunsmith. He has been teaching me some tricks of the trade and while there, we did a complete action job on the pistol and it made a significant difference in the performance of the gun. As we worked on the various pieces however I noted that they were cast parts. While this alone does not necessarily mean they are poor quality, these were not finished very well at all. Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed. I will say the gun was in the $575 dollar price range and is not Springfield’s top of the line model but I was nevertheless displeased. My friend indicated that that was simply the type of parts used by a lot of the companies manufacturing 1911 model pistols. It took us some time polishing the requisite parts but we were ultimately able to achieve a desirable result.

I would very much like to see manufacturers move to utilizing better finished parts but I know all that does is raise the price of the gun. I suppose it’s the difference between a $600 1911 and a $1500 custom or semi-custom 1911. As a shooter it’s just a little frustrating. It seems purchasing a gun these days in that mid-range price point means gunsmithing will be needed for ideal and sometimes even just functional performance.

All in all, I am glad I bought the Springfield. As previously stated they are a good, quality company. I suppose this shooter longs for the days when everything wasn’t CNC, or EDM machined or even parts made through PMP processes to the finest tolerances and then these parts just dropped into to any gun on the production line. Seems like back in the day they weren’t built on a price point but on a desire for solid craftsmanship by a group of highly qualified, talented gunsmiths. I guess those days are gone unless you can afford a Les Baer, Wilson Combat or Ed Brown custom pistol or you can do it yourself which is exactly what I’m trying to learn to do.

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My “Tiger-ized” 1911

Well, after my experience at Shootrite a few weekends ago I came home with a whole new perspective on fighting with a handgun. Tiger left us with some modifications he suggests and why. So, I took my full size 1911 and “tiger-ized” it. The only part I did not change was the safety. Tiger uses and recommends a low mount style safety but I installed one on my gun and it didn’t work for me. The safety was so low that my right thumb dropped too low on the frame and was competing for the same space with my left thumb with regards to my grip. So back to the factory safety where my thumb rides on top just above where my left thumb rests. Below is a full picture of the gun.

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Right away you can see some of the changes. Perhaps the most prominent are the grip panels. They are magpul’s new 1911 grips. I liked the contrats of the black color as well as the rough texture. Also the generous relief on the left panel allowing for better access to the magazine release is really a nice feature.

While I didn’t adopt the low mount safety I did opt to break the edge on the factory safety as this caused me some discomfort on the range clicking the safety on and off repeatedly. You can see here I rounded it slightly and then polished it smooth.

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Next, I installed the short trigger as Tiger recommends. I have long fingers so it may not have been as necessary for me but I still found it to be more comfortable and easier to control the trigger press with the short trigger.

Moving on, I took a file to the Novak rear sight and cut it into the notch shape seen below so they would be able to be used to rack the pistol one handed if the need arose.

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Next, I ground down the exposed portion of the opposite side of the slide release. I had never heard of this being a problem but one of our classmates kept indexing his finger on this protrusion and by pushing ever so slightly on the pin he would cause the piece to move and the gun to lock up. Tiger then showed us his gun which had this part ground flat so as to not create this issue. (The black line is not really on the gun, it’s blocking out the serial number.)

One change not visible in the pictures is the “softening” I did to the checkering on the backstrap of the pistol. The factory checkering was deep, prominent and very sharp and after two days of manipulating the gun that checkering wore my hand out! Needless to say it got some much needed attention and it is now a lot more comfortable.

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Now some of you may be wondering why the gun has no manufacturing marks on it. Well this was all me and had nothing to do with Tiger’s suggestions. I don’t point that out to sing my own praises but more so to absolve Tiger of the idea if it doesn’t make sense! Truthfully, I’m not entirely sure why I did it but if I think the reason is two fold. This gun is a Ruger and while I like Ruger firearms and own several, in this case they were a bit obnoxious with their markings. They used some kind of etching that had a raised surface and I didn’t much care for it.

However, perhaps more importantly was a psychological reason. I chose to disassociate myself from brand with this gun. This gun is a fighting tool not a show piece. The removal of the brand suggests to me, in my head, that this gun serves a singular purpose with no attachments or assumptions. I know it’s really just in my head but I don’t want to get hung up on the idea that this is my Ruger or my Kimber or whatever and I have to baby it or keep it from getting scratched, etc.

You want a “Sunday-go-to-meeting gun” or a “BBQ” gun as they call them in Texas? That’s fine, more power to ya. I’ll probably have one, who knows? But this gun is a fighting/training tool so no special love. No identity.

Anyway, that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

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Some gave all, all gave some.

Today is Memorial Day, a day when we honor those who gave their lives in the service of our country, supporting our patriotic ideal of liberty. This is a day of commemoration which began just after (or during) the War for Southern Independence when people decorated the graves of fallen Union and Confederate soldiers, hence it’s original name, Decoration Day. Some years later it was renamed Memorial Day to honor all those lost in the service of America, regardless of the war in which they fell.

Today, let me say, thank you to all who served, thank you to the families of those who paid the ultimate price. We can never get them back, but they did not die in vain. May we, as their fellow countrymen, honor their sacrifice by maintaining and upholding the values for which they died.

God bless them all and though their ears can no longer hear and their voices are forever silent in some way, some how may they know we appreciate them and what they did, I know I do.

Memorial-Day

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