Iver Johnson .410 shotgun

This is one of those guns that was neglected for years and finally brought back from near ruin.  Had the gun sat out in the garage much longer there may have been nothing left of it.


There wasn’t one good thing about the gun


The receiver was rusted so bad the lettering was completely hidden.


Paint dotted most of the gun

This poor little .410 was kept in a garage for the past 17 years.  It stood in the corner rusting away out of sight and out of mind.  As you can see the stock was taped because of a deep crack and paint spots were left when the garage was painted.  All in all a pretty sad little shotgun.  There were marks on the barrel from a vise or pliers that held the barrel while it was shortened with a hack saw.

Numrich Gun Parts was the source of a replacement spring.  Brownell’s was where I purchased a new front bead sight and cold blue.  The rough end of the barrelwas squared up and tapped for the front sight.  The barrel was sanded, polished and reblued.  The crack in the stock was cleaned out and then glued.  The whole stock was stripped, steamed, sanded and treated with several rubbings of boiled linseed oil.  Every part was disassembled and cleaned.  Then all parts were either greased or oiled.


The barrel was sanded, polished and cold blued.


The receiver was cleaned with oil and 0000 steel wool.


The receiver was left looking vintage.


The crack is barely visible after repair.

Today the Iver Johnson .410 is one of the family and lives indoors.  It looks nice and is now treated nice.  Only a few hours per night for a week with simple hand tools brought this neat little shotgun back to life.

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M1 Carbine for SHTF

M1 Carbine shooting .30 Carbine

M1 Carbine

M1 Carbine with bayonet and magazines

The M1 Carbine has been around since 1942.  It was intended for Army personnel who didn’t need the full sized M1 Garand but wanted something with more power than the 1911-A1.  The M1 Carbine was issued to American soldiers and saw action in WWll, Korea, Vietnam and too many other hot spots to mention.  With such a long service life, you can be assured the carbine is plenty durable.  If it meets the military’s rugged standards, it will meet yours too.

Some people may think the the M1 Carbine is just a smaller version of the Garand.  Not so.  They both shoot a .30 caliber bullet, but they are dimensionally very different.  The carbine round is 7.62mm x 33mm and fires a 110 grain bullet.  The Garand shoots a .30-06 round that is 7.62mm x 63mm.  They fire very different rounds and the M1 Carbine and the M1 Garand share no common parts.

What makes the M1 Carbine such a great little gun is that it is light and shoots a compact load.  The carbine itself is about 35.5″ and weighs just over 5 pounds.  The .30 carbine round propels a 110 grain bullet at 1990 fps.  This produces about 967 ft-lbs of power.  This is significantly more power than a .357 magnum revolver.

The M1 Carbine originally came with 15 round magazines.  These magazines could be carried in pouches on a pistol belt or mounted to the gun itself.  Later, 30 round magazines became available.  A fully loaded 30 round magazine still only weighs about one pound.  High firepower with just a little weight.  Interestingly, the 30 round magazine is where the expression ‘banana clip’ comes from.  The magazines are about the size of bananas and GIs were used to loading the Garand rifle by using en bloc clips.


10 magazines (150 rounds) easily carried on a pistol belt

Most retired military M1 Carbines have been arsenal overhauled or upgraded from their original configuration to now possess bayonet lugs and adjustable sights.  The carbine pictured above contains these later features.  If things go really bad, its nice to have a bayonet on the end of your rifle to keep the bad guys from getting too close.

Today’s modern .30 carbine ammo is much better than GI ball ammo.  Remington, Winchester and Federal all make a nice soft point bullet with an exposed lead nose loaded in .30 carbine.  These make a nice load for hunting small game.

Its light weight, moderately powerful round and combat proven durability make the M1 Carbine a handy little rifle to have when things go bad.  It can also be used as an effective hunting rifle if it is all you have.

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Long barrel on a Smith & Wesson=Long range accuracy

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Smith & Wesson Model 686 with 8 3/8″ barrel

That’s not a photo-shopped image.  The barrel really is that long.  Smith & Wesson used to make the 686 model with 8 3/8″ barrels (other models could be had with 8 3/8″ barrels too).

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686 Smith & Wesson with 6-shot cylinder

This particular revolver is an older Model 686-1.  It is a 6-shot .357 magnum.  Later models could be found with 7-shot cylinders.

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Firing pin mounted to the hammer

Being an older model, the firing pin is in the hammer.  No frame mounted firing pins or transfer bars here.  This is the same hammer design that Colt Peacemakers employed way back in 1873.


Wide target trigger

This particular revolver has a standard hammer and a wide ‘target’ trigger.  You can also see the rubber Pachmayr  grip has replaced the original wood grip panels.

Most people seem to think the long barrel is what makes this revolver such an accurate long-range shooter.  That is only partly true.  The longer barrel does provide more time for the bullet to be accelerated by the burning gunpowder.  Longer pistol barrels will yield greater bullet velocities over shorter barreled guns.  However, an eight inch barrel will not stabilize the bullet any more than a six-inch barrel.

What really makes this gun so accurate is the distance from the front sight to the rear sight.  This distance is referred to as ‘sight radius’.  Guns with longer sight radii are inherently more accurate.  As you set your sights on a target, you center the front sight in the rear sight notch.  With a short sight radius, it is easier to be off-target as only a slight misalignment of the sights greatly affects the barrel angle.  With a longer sight radius, the same sight picture will mean much less angle movement of the barrel.  The 686 with an 8 3/8″ barrel has a near rifle-like 10 1/4″ sight radius.

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.357 Magnum with a loooong barrel.

Long barrel means greater bullet velocity, improved bullet stability, but most of all a long sight radius.  If you are really good, you can shoot well with any length barrel.  The long barrel just makes accuracy easier.

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Colt Frontier Scout .22cal.

No history lessons here.  If you want to learn more about the Frontier Scout there are plenty of good places to go on the web.  I’m just going to be talking about this one single-action Colt.


Colt Frontier Scout

Often I’ll refer to those ‘ugly black guns’.  I’m usually talking about Glocks and ARs.  This is one of those rare times when black plastic actually looks good on a hand gun.

I bought this little Colt because I was able to see the potential others had missed.  It sat on the shelf at the gun store being looked over by nearly every one.  It was well used and looking like it had been neglected for quite some time.  The action felt gritty when cocked and the cylinder barely turned.  The previous owner must not have cleaned it in years.  Frankly, I haven’t seen too many guns dirtier.  The guy who was selling it told me, “most of that will clean up.”  He was right.


The flutes are nearly full of carbon


Residue left from years of firing


Recoil shield covered with fouling

The poor little Colt certainly needed a good cleaning.  Every little crease and corner was a hiding place for some form of dirt.  By the serial number, I was able to find the revolver was built some time during 1964.  It looked like it may have not been cleaned since then.


Disassembled for a thorough cleaning

I disassembled the Scout.  Wanting to leave the screw heads sharp and crisp, I selected different screw drivers to fit each of the screws.  The key to a good take-down is leaving no trace that the gun was ever disassembled.  The neglected little Colt was so dirty, .22 dummy rounds would not chamber and the cylinder pin had to be pried out with pliers.  I padded the jaws to leave no trace on the bluing.  Once apart, the gun cleaned up with liberal amounts of Hoppe’s solvent, mineral spirits and elbow grease.


Detail of the ejector rod


Base of the grip frame


Rampant colt on the frame

With Colts, its all about the little things.  The finish and details are what set Colts apart from the Colt clones.  Minor touches like the scroll work on the grip frame and the Rampant Colt on the frame really add class to a little .22.  Whoever came up with the idea of putting the ‘Serpent C’ logo on the ejector rod hopefully got a big bonus.


Black plastic never looked so good.

Once cleaned, oiled and greased the Colt was put back together.  The screws were all snugged.  As I cocked the hammer and listened to the revolver spell out C-O-L-T, I was amazed how smooth the action was.  On half-cock the cylinder spins freely.  Makes me feel kind of proud how this little single-action can now be displayed to friends and taken out of its case at the range without apologizing for its looks.  Its no longer one of those ugly black guns.

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I found a keeper in the Feg P9R


Feg P9R 9mm

Feg P9R

What if Browning and Smith & Wesson had a baby?  It might look something like the Feg P9R.  FEGARMY Arms in Hungary has combined the Browning designed cam locked barrel with the Smith & Wesson double action trigger.

The Feg P9R is a short recoil operated, locked breech pistol.  The double action pistol has an external hammer and a slide mounted safety that acts as a decocker when the safety is engaged.  The double stack 9mm holds a 14 round magazine.


Feg P9R with slide open

Like most pistols, the P9R is set up for right handed shooters.  The slide release, safety and magazine release button are all on the left side.

This particular Feg possesses a nice blue finish with wood grips.  Synthetic grip panels can also be found.  The sights are low with the front sight being permanently mounted and the rear sight dovetailed into the slide.

The author has fired approximately 500 rounds through this pistol with no jams or misfires.  The action feeds and cycles both hollow point and full metal jacketed ammo with ease.  The accuracy of the pistol has been good to very good with shot grouping consistent with similar firearms.

Though I’m personally not a huge fan of the 9mm round, I’ve decided to keep the Feg.  Its fun to shoot and has proven itself to be reliable and accurate.  The 14 round capacity is also comforting should the need for high volume of fire ever be needed.

Appearance wise, I prefer wood and blued steel over plastic on any gun.  With its wood grip panels, the Feg retains the look of a classic Browning High Power.

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Black sheep of the Colt family

Colt SAA New Frontier


Colt SAA New Frontier in .357 magnum

In 1961 Colt introduced a ‘modern’ version of their famous Single Action Army.  The Colt New Frontier had a squared off frame and came with adjustable sights.  While the rest of the gun remained identical, it lost the look of the traditional Peacemaker.

Colt produced what is known as the 2nd Generation SAA starting in 1956.  The 2nd Generation New Frontiers were made from 1961 until the production of all SAA revolvers stopped in 1974.  During those years only about 4,000 New Frontiers were made.  In his book, Colt’s Single Action Revolver, ‘Doc’ O’Meara states that any New Frontier in a caliber other than .45 Colt should be considered rare.  However, on sixguns.com John Taffin claims the .357 magnum (like the one pictured here) was the most commonly produced caliber.  Either way, New Frontier models make up only a small portion of SAA revolvers produced.  Even with scarcity on their side, New Frontier Colts just don’t seem to be highly sought after.

While most people would agree that adjustable sights are an improvement in a lot of ways over fixed sights, the New Frontier has just never seemed to catch on with shooters or collectors.  It just doesn’t look like the same gun as the cowboys used.


Colt Logo


.357 mag barrel

As both the frame and barrel indicate, the Colt New Frontier is 100% a ‘real’ Colt.


Colt New Frontier adjustable sights

The rear adjustable sight and the high ramped front sight changed the profile of the revolver.  Even with the traditional walnut grips, case colored frame and dark blued barrel and cylinder, it no longer looks like the old cowboy six shooter.

When Colt began production of the 3rd Generation of SAA revolvers in 1976, they continued making the New Frontier model.  Though traditional SAA revolvers continued to be produced, Colt stopped production of the New Frontier in 1982.  2nd Generation Colt SAA New Frontier revolvers can be found in .38 Special, .44 Special, .357 Magnum and .45 Colt.  3rd Generation New Frontiers and can had in the same calibers as well as .44-40.

In 2011, Colt announced the re-introduction of the New Frontier.  If you like the looks of an adjustable sighted traditional single action revolver you can once again buy a brand new Colt New Frontier.

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Another good choice for SHTF handgun.

Ruger New Model Blackhawk Covertible

Let’s start by me saying: This is not my only gun.  It is not my first choice for a defensive handgun.  It is however a good gun to have on you if you need one.  Its also a fun gun to shoot.  Ruger Blackhaws are very durable and reliable.  They almost never break down and if they ever do, they are easy to work on.  Cowboy action shooters put thousands of rounds through theirs with very little maintenance.


Ruger Blackhawk with 9mm cylinder

The Ruger Blackhawk Covertible comes with an additional cylinder so multiple calibers can be fired through the same gun. In this example, the revolver is primarily a .357 magnum, but with a quick change of cylinders, it can fire 9mm pistol rounds.  Because .38 Special and .357 magnum fire a bullet .357″ in diameter and the 9mm bullet is .355″ no barrel changes need to be made.  The adjustable sights on the Blackhawk allow you to adjust the sights for one cartridge or the other so you can always have a 6 o’clock hold or dead on hold.

What makes this revolver great is its versatility.  As you probably already know any .357 magnum can fire .38 Special rounds with no problems.  In a pinch you can also shoot .38 S&W and .38 Super Auto.  The .38 super Auto is semi-rimmed and will work in a .357.  Don’t tell me it won’t, I’ve done it.  With the addition of the second cylinder chambered for 9mm, the gun becomes quite valuable when ammo is scarce and hard to come by.


9mm cylinder for Ruger Blackhawk

As you can see in this photo, the second cylinder has a step where the rim of the 9mm round stops.  This little step basically head spaces the round.

Besides holding just six rounds, the only real down side of the Ruger Balckhawk is that it is a single action revolver.  Single action means the trigger only fires the gun.  It must be cocked manually.  On a double action revolver, the trigger both cocks and fires the weapon.


Ruger Blackhawk with a Bisley hammer

On this particular revolver I fitted a Bisley hammer.  The new hammer is much lower than the original making it easier to cock with one hand.


White outlined rear sight and low Bisley hammer

Single action revolvers are loaded and unloaded through the loading gate.  Unloading and feeding one round at a time through the loading gate makes single action revolvers slower to reload than a double action revolver with a speed loader and much slower to reload than an auto loading pistol with multiple loaded magazines.

If you are looking for a reliable handgun with the capability to fire the most common handgun ammunition in the world, here it is.  If you want big bore capability, Ruger also makes single action revolvers that can convert from firing .45 Colt to .45 ACP.  I chose the .357/9mm because I thought those rounds were more common.  When the SHTF I want the ability to shoot what’s available.

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