Surplus Ammo for the M1 Garand

Let’s start off by saying I have no problems shooting new, modern ammo.  Its just that when I shoot the M1 Garand, I like to shoot the stuff that was made specifically for it.  That means shooting old surplus .30-06 M2 or 7.62x 63mm ammo.

After World War 2 and the Korean War the United States supplied several countries with hundreds of thousands of Surplus M1 Garand rifles.  Countries like Greece, South Korea and several others used these Garands to equip their entire armies.  As you can imagine, these countries manufactured their own ammo to supply the armies for target practice and to store for possible future armed conflicts.  Once the Garand became obsolete as a battle rifle and was replaced by by more modern weapons, millions of rounds of stock-piled .30-06 M2 became available on the civilian market.

Surplus M1 Garand ammo

.30-06 M2 surplus ammo from around the world. Greece, the US and Korea

While in a military surplus store in Flagstaff Arizona, I came across several hundred rounds of .30 cal. linked machine gun ammo.  I have pulled hundreds of these rounds from their links and pressed them into surplus en-bloc clips.  They shoot well but are corrosive.  Anytime you shoot older military ammo you have to be prepared for dealing with corrosive ammo.

GI Rifle Bore Cleaner

GI surplus rifle bore cleaner in cans that are that are roughly the same size as a loaded en-bloc clip.

The best thing to use for cleaning the rifle after shooting corrosive ammo is GI bore cleaner.  It was designed to clean up corrosive fouling and comes in cute little cans.  The cans were designed to fit into the same ammo pouches that held and 8 round en-bloc clip.  (Yes, its called a clip and not a magazine.  The 8 round clips are fed into the magazine.)

color coded M2 ammo

Clips of different ammo. L to R: dummy/practice rounds, silver incendiary rounds, black armor piercing, red tracer, and plain ball ammo.

Different ammo for the M1 are color coded for quick recognition.  The red tipped rounds are tracer rounds; they leave a red trail so the bullet’s path becomes visible.  The black tipped rounds contain armor piercing bullets capable of penetrating lightly armored targets.  Silver tipped bullets are incendiary rounds.  ( I thought these were incendiary rounds but they turned out to be Winchester Silver Tip ammo)  The plain copper jacketed bullets are the most common M2 ball rounds.

Surplus ammo was canned for long-term storage.  You will find ammo in ‘Spam’ cans that require a key to open or in the more common .30 cal. ammo can.  The rounds inside can be either boxed in 20 round boxes or already loaded in 8-round clips and on bandoleers.

30cal. ammo cans

Flip-top 30 cal. ammo cans can contain rounds linked, in clips or packed in boxes.

Greek 'Spam' cans

Greek ‘Spam’ cans with both boxed ammo and loaded clips.

Bandoleers of 8 round clips

Bandoleers of 8 round clips packed in .30 cal. ammo can.

30-06 surplus ammo also comes in Match Target rounds.  They were made specifically for target shooting and were packaged in specially sealed 20 round boxes.  They are becoming very difficult to find.  I don’t have any.

Collecting and shooting old surplus rifles naturally leads to collecting and shooting old surplus ammo.  At some point I think my stash of ammo may become more of a collection and less of a shootable stock pile.  Then I just might turn to modern rifles and modern ammo.  Time will tell.

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A New (old) Winchester 94 Ranger

Winchester 94 Ranger

Winchester 94 Ranger model in .30-30 Winchester

The Winchester 1894 was created by the design genius John M. Browning, the same man who designed the 1911, the Browning High-Power and every machine gun used by the United States military in World War II.  It was the first commercial rifle to chamber a round that used smokeless gun powder; the .30-30.  The .30-30 or .30 Winchester Center Fire as it used to be called was the first rifle round designed to fire the then new smokeless propellant.  The Winchester 94, due to its modern design and use of new smokeless powder technology became the first rifle to carry the title ‘high-powered rifle.’  With such a pedigree, why would anyone not want a Winchester 94.

I have always liked the look and feel of the Winchester 94.  It is what I consider the typical cowboy gun. A western saddle on a horse is just incomplete without the butt of a Winchester rifle sticking out of a scabbard.  The Winchester 94 is about as American as you can get.

The gun I just picked up is a Winchester 94 Ranger model.  A lower end model.  Its an older gum but looks new.  The barrel is clean and the rifle looks as if it has only been fired a few times.  No real signs of wear, handling, or shooting.  It looks and feels like a new gun.

Winchester 94 Ranger

Winchester 94 Ranger in 30-30 Winchester. Made in New Haven Connecticut from Winchester Proof Steel.

The rifle, or more accurately the carbine, is one of the last guns made in New Haven, Connecticut.  This particular rifle has the cross bolt safety that many hate.  This one has been disabled so there is no safety button sticking out and the safety is permanently ‘off.’

Winchester 94

Cross Bolt safety on the Winchester 94

Ammo for the .30-30 typically shoots either a 150 or a 170 grain bullet.  The bullets must be flat nosed as they sit end to end in the tubular magazine and you would not want a pointed bullet resting on the primer of another round.  Due to the flat bullets and mild powder charge by modern standards the .30-30 is not a super accurate round.  With the combination of limited bullets and open sights,  I have been able to shoot only slightly better than 4 inch 100 yard groups from this rifle.   Not terrible, but not very impressive either.

If this sounds like I’m putting the Winchester carbine down, be certain I am not.  I’m just mentioning its limitations.  The .30-30 Winchester is a very effective hunting rifle/cartridge combination.  The number of black bears and deer that have been killed with the Winchester .30-30 is countless.

The magazine holds six rounds and can be topped off after rounds are fired.  The tactical reload.   Hardly tactical.

Lever action Winchester 94

The Winchester 94 with lever action loading and cross bolt safety

The Winchester 94 looks harmless compared to and AR or AK.  It only holds 6 rounds.  Its lever-action loading mechanism makes repeat shots fairly slow compared to a semi-auto.  It will probably never been banned even is a state as liberal as California.  All this makes the Winchester 94 a good choice for an armed citizen.

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How Much Rifle Accuracy Do You Need?


Today, people talk about rifles that are capable of sub-Minute of Angle accuracy.  What does that mean?  Minute of Angle or MOA is an angle that is 1/60 of a degree.   As you stand in a field you have a 360 degree view all around you.  MOA is 1/60 of one of those 360 degrees.  A MOA is a very thin wedge shape that expands the farther out is gets from the origin.  At 100 yards the MOA wedge is approximately 1″ wide (1.047″).  At 200 yards the wedge has expanded to 2″ and at 1000 yards the wedge has expanded to 10″.  Most paper targets have circles for the bullseye.  If you have a rifle capable of MOA accuracy you could shoot all of your rounds into a 2″ circle at 200 yards, a 5″ circle at 500 yards and so on.

Minute of Angle accuracy is amazing when you stop to think about it.  If you could shoot with minute of angle accuracy you could shoot and hit a coin the size of a quarter at a distance equal to the length of a football field.  That’s incredible!  When you start talking about rifles capable of sub-MOA accuracy, that is mind blowing!

Say you are shooting a sub-MOA rifle at 800 yards.   Your groups are averaging 6 inches in diameter.  That means your bullets are striking the target within three inches of your aiming point.  At a distance of nearly half a mile your bullets are hitting the target within three inches of where you are aiming?!  Mind blown!

Its been said that only accurate rifles are interesting.   The engineering, design, fit, finish, and quality of components; everything that is required to build a sub-MOA rifle is very interesting indeed.  Lets face it, a super accurate rifle is cooler than hell.  Pillar bedding, floating barrels, crowning barrels, lapping bolts, lapping scope rings, working up handloads then going out and from a long range hitting what you aim at is like bowling 300 or a hole-in-one in golf.  Damn satisfying!

Taking your old lever action to the range may be fun, enjoyable, nostalgic etc.  But if its shooting patterns instead of groups, that’s not very exciting.  Taking that tack driving, hair splitting, bull’s eye punching bolt action and hitting tiny objects at a great distance is thrilling.  How much rifle accuracy do you need?  You can never have too much.


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Modifying the Mossberg 500 for home defense

When the zombie hordes come and you need a good tool to lay them down, the shotgun is a pretty poor choice.  Most shotguns are slow to load and reload, they don’t hold very many rounds and the ammo is heavy and takes up way too much space.  When fighting masses of zombies, get yourself a good AR and a stack of loaded mags.

Mossberg 500A

Plain Jane hunting shotgun.

However, is you are defending your home against an invader or predator, the shotgun can be a very wise choice.  With just a few modifications you can take an inexpensive hunting gun like the Mossberg 500 and convert it into a respectable and efficient defensive weapon.

Mossberg 500 modified for defensive use.

Mossberg 500 after a few simple modifications for defensive use.

The Mossberg 500 has been around since 1960 with very few changes (in 1970 the slide was changed from a  single action bar to a more durable dual action bar mechanism).  They are very common, reliable and inexpensive.  Because the Mossberg 500 has been around so long and in such high numbers the after-market is filled with accessories.  However, just because there are numerous ‘tactical’ accessories for the 500 series of shotguns doesn’t mean they are all practical.

When modifying my Mossberg 500 I chose to keep modifications simple and basic:

Sling:  I chose to put a sling on the shotgun.  I like the idea of being able to sling the shotgun over my shoulder if I need to use two hands for something.  It sure beats laying the gun down or leaning it against something.  I could have chosen a sling with loops for extra ammo, but I didn’t want all that extra weight swinging around when I shouldered the weapon to fire it.

Barrel:  I opted for the shorter 20″ barrel.  The long barrel is great for hunting, but the shorter barrel is much lighter and handier when turning around in a hallway or stairway.

Capacity:  The magazine tube comes from the factory with a ‘duck plug’ limiting the capacity to just two rounds.  The small wooden dowel is easily removed by turning the gun upside-down when the barrel is removed.  It just falls out far enough for you to grab it with your fingers.  No tools required.  Removing the plug increased the magazine capacity to 5 rounds (both for 23/4″ and 3″ shells).  I also added an Uncle Mike’s butt stock shell holder to either load or reload 5 rounds quickly.  With the butt stock shell holder, I am able to just grab the gun and go if I’m in a hurry.

Mossberg 500 duck plug

After tipping the gun down with the barrel removed the duck plug falls out.

Mossberg 500 with duck plug removed

The removal of the duck plug frees up space for three more rounds in the magazine

Ammo:  I like the flexibility of being able to load 00 buck, slugs, or bird shot in the same magazine.  This allows the shotgun to blow the hinges off a door, knock birds out of the sky, or turn a near miss on a bad guy into a hit.  No other weapon has the ammo flexibility of a shotgun.

Ammo for shot guns

Everything from bird shot to 00 buck to high brass slugs can be fired from the same gun with no modifications.

Things I did not change and why:

Sights: The Mossberg 500 comes with only a brass bead from sight.  I left it as is.  I could have put ghost ring sights on the receiver, optics or even a laser,  but I believe in keeping things simple for a defensive weapon.   There are no gadgets that require batteries and nothing to add weight or complexity to the weapon.  At close range you really don’t use the sights on a shotgun anyway.  Just point and shoot.

Stock: Many people put pistol-grip stocks on their Mossberg. I’ve done it myself. I thought it looked cool.  I have since removed the pistol grip stocks because it was way too awkward to work the tang safety.  The pistol grip does make sense on a Remington 870 where the safety is lower, but not on a Mossberg.

Simple changes to Mossberg 500

With just a few simple changes the Mossberg 500 can be an effective defensive weapon

Why choose a shotgun for home defense?   Lots of reasons.  They’re light, powerful, reliable, and flexible.  Maybe not the best choice for taking on hundreds of zombies, but great for taking on just about anything else.

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The SPAS-12:Combat Shotgun



SPAS-12 with accessories

The SPAS-12 by Franchi (FIE) along with sling, hook, and ‘duck plug’.

The Special Purpose Automatic Shotgun in 12 gauge better known as the SPAS-12 may be the most popular combat shotgun ever made.  Not most popular by production numbers or use in combat but by use in movies: Jurassic Park, Terminator, Robo Cop, Jumanji, Bad Boys and many others.  Television shows: Miami Vice, Hunter, Blue Bloods, The Walking Dead, and even Star Trek:Deep Space Nine.  And the list of video games that contain a SPAS-12 seems endless and includes such popular games as: Call of Duty, Resident Evil, Splinter Cell, Area-51, Pay Day, Rainbow Six, and Code of Honor.

Folded SPAS-12

The SPAS-12 with stock folded and hook used as a carry handle.

Though the video version of the SPAS-12 seems to be everywhere the real version has been quite popular too.  Elite military forces in countries like Argentina, Australia, Panama, Lebanon, Ireland, Turkey, Thailand, and Malaysia have used or currently use the SPAS-12.

The SPAS-12 with 8 round capacity

SPAS-12 has the ability to fire 8 rounds semi-automatically

The SPAS-12 is a big heavy well-built shotgun that was designed for combat.  Its extended magazine allows it to carry eight 2 3/4″ shotgun shellsammo.  Its steel stock can be folded to make it more compact or extended for more accurate shoulder fire.  The SPAS-12 has a unique hook that can be fitted to the stock to be used as a carry handle or to allow the user to fire the weapon with one hand.  The fore end features a button that when depressed provides the user to select semi-automatic fire or pump-action fire.  The SPAS-12 is also one of the few shotguns that comes with a sling that allows a person to carry the weapon and still have use of their hands.

SPAS-12 fore end

This button on the underside of the SPAS-12 allows it to be switched from pump-action to semi-auto fire capability.

The shotgun’s heavy weight of  4.4kg or 9.5lbs absorbs recoil so semi-automatic fire is not difficult.  Firing the weapon with its steel stock and no recoil pad is not at all punishing.  Despite it weight, with the hook under the forearm the shotgun can be realistically fired with one hand.

The proper use of the SPAS-12 hook.

The hook on the SPAS-12 used to allow the user to fire the weapon with one hand.

Personally, I think the SPAS-12 is probably the coolest shotgun around.  Its ability to fire high powered loads in semi-automatic mode or cycled by pump-action to shoot low powered loads, makes it capable of firing a wide variety of ammunition.  It looks rugged and the fact that a person can fire the weapon with one hand while driving makes it super cool.

Later SPAS-12s were made with a push-button safety.

This early version of the SPAS-12 has the original safety and has not been updated.


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AA Mini Maglite L.E.D. upgrade

I like Mini Maglites a lot.  I own several.  I keep one in each vehicle, one in my tool box, one in my range bag, and one in my bedside table.  They’re great little flashlights but far from perfect.  There are several features of the Mini Maglite that have become outdated. For one the xenon bulbs are bright but they do burn out, the battery life is not the greatest, and I don’t really care for the twist to turn on feature.

Mini Maglite and Nite Ize L.E.D. uprgrade kit

Older Mini Maglite and new Nite Ize upgrade kit.

While in Home Depot the other day I was looking at the newer L.E.D. Mini Maglites and was thinking about buying a few to replace the older ones I have accumulated.  $25.98 for the newer flashlight seemed a bit high of a price to replace working flashlights.  If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.  However, right next to the display of Mini Maglites was a product by Night Ize Innovation to upgrade the old Mini Maglite to L.E.D. and add an on/off switch to replace the end cap.  For the price of $4.97, I thought I’d give it a try.


Upon opening the package I found very cryptic instructions and very few replacement parts.  The swap was quick and easy.  The old end cap unscrewed and the new switch screwed on in its place.  The new bulb has two wire leads that had to be carefully inserted into the two holes for the bulb.  There is a positive and negative lead and they must be in the correct holes.  There’s a 50/50 chance you’ll get it right the first time. If the bulb lights up you have the leads in the correct holes.  If not, just rotate the bulb 180 degrees and re-insert the leads.

Mini Maglite reflectors

The new reflector with the larger hole to accommodate the larger L.E.D. bulb

The Nite Ize upgrade does appear to truly be an upgrade.  The flashlight does seem brighter and they claim battery life will be increased to 25 hours with the L.E.D. bulb up from the 8 hours with the xenon bulb.  It may be a persona preference but I do find the end cap switch to be much easier to work than twisting the head of the light to turn it on or off.  You can still focus the light beam by rotating the head; that feature has not been lost.


Mini Maglite

The grip used to turn on and off the old Mini Maglite.

Mini Maglite

The grip used to turn the upgraded Mini Maglite on and of.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with the upgrade.  I see no downside to it.  For approximately $5.00 I was able to get a flashlight has longer battery life, has a more ergonomic on/off switch and still fits in my handy flashlight holster.

Upgraded Mini Maglite

Mini Maglite after the Nite Ize L.E.D. upgrade.

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Putting a sling on a Ruger 10/22

If you own a Ruger 10/22 you know what a great little rifle it is.   They’re small, light, inexpensive and tons of fun to shoot.  That’s why I own several.

One thing about the 10/22 that can be improved upon is the lack of a sling attachment.  Its much easier to sling a rifle over your shoulder than it is to carry it all day.  Especially if you need he use of your hands.  So, I decided to put a sling on one of my 10/22s to see how I liked it.

I decided to put two sling studs on the stock.  I didn’t want to use the barrel band as a sling attachment point.  If the polymer barrel band were to break, I’d end carrying the rifle.  With studs placed in the stock, should one pull out I could easily relocate the stud to a new hole with very few tools.


First, I taped white paper to the stock so I could draw where to drill and drill without marring the stock.


I decided that 3″ would be a good distance from the ends of the stock to drill without the fear of splitting the wood.

Use a straight edge to find the center of the stock

Use a straight edge to find the center of the stock

Take the time to be sure the stud will be centered in the stock.

Take the time to be sure the stud will be centered in the stock.

Nothing looks worse than an off-center or crooked sling stud.  Take a little extra time to be sure you will be drilling into the center of the stock.  I used a straight edge to locate the center of the for the front stud.  Just line things up with the take-down screw and you should be fine. For the butt end of the stock get that stud squared and centered any way you can.

Be sure you are drilling perpendicular to the stock

Be sure you are drilling perpendicular to the stock

The set-up takes longer than the drilling.

The set-up takes longer than the drilling.

Check your work.

Check your work.

You will have the rifle for years.  Take a few minutes to be sure it looks good.  No one wants to show off their rifle to friends who will notice a crooked or off-center sling stud.  Before you drill make sure the stock is secure in your padded drill vise.  Double check that everything is level and square.  Don’t rush.

Use the correct size drill bit.

Use the correct size drill bit.

Before you drill, be sure you choose the right size drill bit.  Its not too difficult to drill a bigger hole later because you chose a drill bit too small.  Its a whole different story if you drill a hole too big.

Hand tighten the stud.

Hand tighten the stud.

You can use a drill bit or even a nail to assist turning the stud into the stock.  Stop when the drill bit is at a right angle to the line of the stock.

Ruger 10/22 ready for a sling.

Ruger 10/22 ready for a sling.

Now you have a Ruger 10/22 all set to wear a sling.  With the use of quick detach sling swivels, you can take your favorite sling from your deer rifle and put it on your favorite squirrel or rabbit rifle.

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