1911 at 100 yards

So I was at the range the other day – like a few good stories start out – sighting in that scope that I’m still writing the review about. My buddy was shooting, and I was done with my AR. My 1911 was sitting there, so I figured I’d try it. It’s a stock Remington R1, bottom of the line (but I love it). 

  
See those boards way down there? 

  I aimed a little over the boards and sent 7 185 grain FMJs downrange at a 2 foot target. 

  
  
1 little feller is low to the left, but that’s 6 on the paper from 300 feet away. 

I think I’ll keep it. 

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Grey Owl

I’m not a fan of Thoreau, Grey Owl, Muir, or even Teddy Roosevelt, for that matter.  However, I think we do need to be good stewards of the land.  This is a great piece with a fantastic quote.  Enjoy.

“And the mountains looked on in stoney calmness. For they knew that trees must die and so must men. But they lived on forever.”

Mike, Oscar, Hotel….out.

Smoke ring from a muzzle break

Went to the range today – expect a review of a pretty good mid level scope this week. 

While we were shooting, the guy next to us had a neat effect with the muzzle brake on his Mossberg MMR tactical 5.56. I caught a video, I hope you guys like it!

  
I looked into some different muzzle brakes for my rifle – I think I’ll just buy a lathe. They aren’t cheap!

PESTeL analysis of Squa Pan, Maine

DSC05125I have been remiss lately, and leaving our readers and my friend Mike Oscar in the lurch. I am currently learning series circuit resistance equations, and taking two online college classes (Communications and Interpersonal Relations, and Strategic Planning) through a local university – 4 classes away from my B.S. degree! Although anyone that knows me will tell you that I’ve had a degree in BS for a while now.

One of my assignments tonight was to do a PESTeL analysis of my current hometown. Political, Economic, Sociocultural Factors, Technological, and Legal – commonly done on various industries, but we had to apply it to the area we currently live. I’d rather do it on my hometown I grew up in, but I wouldn’t be able to drum up enough verifiable data to pass the class.

I grew up in a complicated area. Technically, I lived in Masardis, Maine. We lived around five miles from the town hall, which was a long way for a town that had a single building for the town office (open every Wednesday afternoon), fire station, sporting events center, and where Santa showed up the week before Christmas. I pretty much claimed Squa Pan… sorry, we recently discovered that Squa is the shortened form of Squaw, which according to a bunch of well-to-do non-Native Americans meant a word describing a Native American lady-of-the-night. Now I’m from Bear Pan, or Moose Pan, I’m not sure (although the Hotel clan generally had Moose in the pan, not bear). So, since my teacher would not have appreciated it as much as you, our dear readers, I will expound on the demographic makeup of The ‘Pan.

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Political – No town hall, no mayor, no meeting place. Pretty sure we were mostly working Republicans, with the exception of those living on government handouts. So that puts us…. 10-25. Yup, it would appear that we were mostly Democrats.

Economic: See last paragraph.

Sociocultural: We were a pretty social bunch; we waved to everybody, and pumped our arms at the trucks and trains going by, so they would blow their horns at us. A few of us kids had face book – our face was always buried in a book. We had to! We only had 3 channels: PBS and channel 8 went off the air at 8:00 p.m., and dad wouldn’t let us watch the Canadian channel after that, because they got a little free with the boobies. His belief of boobs-after-8 carried into the internet age, where he forbid my brother and I to be on the internet after that time, assuming that all the legit websites packed up house at night and just left the dirty websites wandering around.

Culture? We had tones of it! We had a lumber mill that had been abandoned 40 years before, leaving rusty buildings and a monstrous sawdust pile for us to explore.

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We had a junkyard, with a mechanic that would cheerfully launch into a barrage of fun new words to amuse our friends and keep from our parents. We even had a railway station that was easy to break into, and had lockers fully stocked with various magazines of a very educational nature to growing boys, how much more culture would anyone want?! Our mechanic could even speak a different language. Drunkinese is pretty tricky to listen to, but easy to learn, I hear.

Technological: We had oodles of technology! We had a sophisticated and rarely-used method of figuring out how much gas was left in the snowsled! Uncap the gas tank, shake it a little, and take a deep sniff. If you can smell any hint of gas fumes at all, then it is perfectly safe to take it on a 20 mile ride at night, through fields, woods, deer paths, and old bogans. Well, halfway through them, that is. If you’ve ever walked 5 miles to grab a gas can to drag back 5 miles, you will quickly realize that this is not a good way to gauge how far you gonna git.

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My brother Salt Chuthers was also a technological pioneer in the field of particle acceleration. Like, how much do I have to accelerate to insert this gocart into the garage with the door closed? Or how fast do I have to go to insert this snowsled into this other snowsled? Or, depending on the season, either the gocart or the snowsled into this thick lilac hedge? He was usually half right at his estimation; I’ve never seen him bury it past the rear wheels/middle of the track in anything.

Legal – I hope none of you guys sue me if you figure out who I’m talking about! Just kidding. I write this in jest, even if it is mostly true. I love where I grew up. It’s where I got my name from the railroad that ran through my yard, the Bangor and Aroostook. I hopped on the cars and rode to different places, things that most 10 year olds don’t do nowadays. It’s where I came nose to nose with a bear in the woods, hid out from a moose under a car, and watched coyotes run across a potato field on many moonlit nights.  I still have scars on my fingers from working in that junkyard with my buddy, fixing up field bombers to drive around. The Tin Cup you may remember from another one of my tales,  that was just over the road on the ‘Pan side of the tracks.

Been stuck in river mud, buried right up to the axles in it. Followed sled tracks home, feet crunching on fresh fallen snow, only to follow those tracks back hauling a gas can with me, a bright moon shining on a deserted Polaris a few miles ahead.

I’ve made a PESTeL diagnosis – the PEST moved out years ago, but I’ll always be there in my dreams, fondest memories, and every time I hear a train horn or a big rig honk.

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High Standard Dura-Matic M101

Some people like polymer pistols.  Some like revolvers.  Me?  I like stuff that I can shoot and that I’m accurate with.

My grandfather had a High Standard Model HB.  I’ve fired it a few times.  It reminded me a lot of the Ruger Mark series.  It was exceptionally accurate and solidly made.  Since then, I’ve kept my eye on High Standards.  They’re an enormous amount of fun and while they command decent prices, there isn’t a huge following for them like, say, the Colt Woodsman.

When my dad died back in August, I inherited a Chiappa 1911 style .22 pistol.  Mind you, I’m not a gun snob.  I’ve owned Hi-Points (if you are a gun snob, that should say it all.  If you’ve actually owned a Hi-Point, you get it).  I say it out loud.  I like pieces that are fun to shoot and that shoot well.  The Chiappa didn’t fit that description.

I have two people that I rely on heavily when it comes to gun advice.  One is the Sharpened Axe’s own B&A Stowaway, the other is my Uncle Bern.  I talked with Bern about the Chiappa when I got it.  He suggested dumping a few magazines through it, rapid fire, to see if it had any difficulties functioning.  I did that and it jammed with every magazine.  Beyond that, I couldn’t hit much with it and the sights (IIRC) were not adjustable.

Another uncle showed up as we were going through dad’s estate and mentioned that he really wanted the Chiappa.  I told him about my experience with it and he wasn’t bothered by the news.  He asked me if I wanted to sell it and if I wanted to sell dad’s refrigerator as well.  I was in the throws of grief and wasn’t really processing everything he was saying until he said the magic words.

“I even told your old man I’d swap ‘im a High Standard for that Chiappa.”

I shot him a look. (Pun intended)

“Go get it.  I’m interested,” I said.

In the end, we swapped the refrigerator and the Chiappa  for the High Standard and $100.  I wouldn’t have given $50 for the Chiappa, thought I might have to donate the refrigerator and, well, the $100 bill was a bonus.  I was pleased as punch.  I brought it out the next morning and hit the target well with it.

It’s an interesting piece.  In initially looking at it, it’s hard to believe how simple it is.

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The barrel is held on by this screw by the trigger guard.  Just loosen it and the barrel pops right off.  Apparently, they used to sell different length barrels separately.   I’d love to find something crazy like an 8 inch barrel for it.  I’ve been looking, to no avail.

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The grip is held on by one screw and also acts as the magazine well.  The grip is made of plastic.  The above picture is what’s left when you remove the grip.

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Breakdown for cleaning is really simple.  I like that in a piece.

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It can be a little finicky with ammo.  It doesn’t like hollow points. and it also likes being clean.  Other than that, this is my favorite shooter.  I carry it when hiking and fire it more than anything else that I have.  As you can see, it’s pretty accurate.  This target was from about 10-12 yards.

If you’ve been thinking about a light caliber semiautomatic pistol, High Standards are worth considering.  They are cheaper than the Colt Woodsman and very, very fun to shoot. I really wish they were still making these.  I’d have a safe full of them.

Mike, Oscar, Hotel….out.

Awesome light switch idea

I’m at a sweet cigar bar here in Wichita Falls, TX, called G and Rs (http://gnrcigarswf.com). Really awesome place, cool cigars, and fun guys to hang out with. 

In the bathroom, they have the coolest light cover; I’m thinking it will look good in my workshop. Granted, I thought it would look great in the kitchen, but you already know I got outvoted on that. 

  
Maybe a little more sanding, smooth out a few rough edges, recess the screws a little bit, and you have a Pinterest win!

A Mediocre American Road Trip

B&A Stowaway here. I live in Michigan, literally two miles outside of Detroit.

I recently switched careers in my military unit, from a jet engine mechanic to electro-enviromental mechanic, so I need to be retrained.  

 
  
That means another stretch in Wichita Falls, TX, at Sheppard AFB. Yay! This isn’t my first rodeo there (pun intended), but I get to write about my road trip there this time!

My first stop was to Beef Jerky Unlimited, in Dundee MI.

  
    
   
http://beefjerkyunlimited.com/index.php?route=common/home

Oh my goodness. My brother and I always stop in here when he flies into town. This place is amazing! And perfect road trip fuel, amiright?! Add to that a beautiful military discount, and I walked out of there $40 lighter but with a nice full bag of Cherry Maple jerky, homestyle, A1, and honey jerky, made with real, non-processed slabs of beef. Oh my word, best decision ever!

After that, I pointed my car’s nose south and followed it. I’ve always road tripped alone, I’ve never gone more than 6 hours with anyone. Road tripping is an art – there are only three people that I think I could handle a road trip of that magnitude with. Two of those three crossed a narrow, snowed-in mountain pass with me in a Volvo with slick tires; a pass filled with switchbacks, another person headed in the other direction who needed both lanes (“Thanks for taking it wide, f*ck*r!” I believe the other blog moderator was recorded as saying), and at the far end, a large ROAD CLOSED sign. You can’t road trip with just anyone.

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The six hour trips were my family (grandparents, down, we didn’t joke around) sojourning on our yearly vacation to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We had large family and large cars, so you could generally cram whatever cousins were getting along with each other that day into the backseat of a ’78 Impala.

The other fun thing about the Stowaway family was that we were all broke as churchmouses. So, the vehicles were mostly junk. SO, a six hour road trip generally turned into twelve plus hours, while we parked on the side of I-95 replacing an alternator on an ’76 Olds 98. The plus side of living in Maine, there are a lot of trees, so somewhere along 95, all the cousins at one time or another trooped into the forest with a roll of toilet paper and keen eyes to make sure you didn’t follow anyone else’s path.

Yondering aside, this trip was fun but uneventful. I find that packing my S&W Airweight .38 special assists in keeping things uneventful. Granted, it also means either detouring or driving quickly through Illinois, one of the ten states that doesn’t honor Michigan CCW/CPL permits, but oh well.

  
Did you even notice that road trips sharpen your sense of smell AND your prayer life? Every time I got a whiff of burning rubber, funny exhaust, or any other vehicle odor, I started chatting with my old buddy J.C., and reminding him that I didn’t have the money for a transmission job in East Bum, Missouri. I did have the pleasure of driving a 2005 Honda Civic Hybrid down. Not a manly car, but I rely on this blog to fortify my testosterone. That, and whiskey. And guns. And the baseball bat I had in the backseat for my drive through Illinois (not that I DID drive through Illinois, that’s pure speculation on your part). The nice thing about the hybrid was, I only had to stop 4 times for fuel. So that meant no restaurants either, just straight driving, with my fuel stops grabbing another Clif bar, another Cranberry Red Bull, anything marshmallow covered in chocolate, and back on the road.

  
I left at 2 p.m., and spent the early hours of the morning driving through Oklahoma and talking to Mike Oscar on the phone. Mostly, we talked about guns, and how much easier it was to do this roadtrip was I was in my 20s and early 30s, and how much more fun the last road trip was.

My last road trip was when the third Guanella pass adventurer (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guanella_Pass) needed a car delivered to Vail, CO. My date showed up at a News Years Eve Party with a date of her own, so I bugged out early, told Machine Gun Dwyer to pull the car out of the snowbank it had sat in for two years, change the oil, and get it to Bangor Maine, and I’d take the rest from there. And God Bless Subaru, it made it just fine! I had a roll of duct tape, Swiss Army Knife, and a pair of vise grips in case any emergencies did occur. The duct tape was useful for hanging Red Bull cans out of the moon Roof to keep them cold, and for keeping various panels in place when they fell down. She’d had a rough couple years parked next to the garage.

Getting back to Texas, I started getting pretty sleep in Oklahoma, and if you’ve ever driven through the Oklahoma City area, you know the highways are pretty tricky. I pulled into a truck stop, grabbed a few winks, then completed the trip by 9:00 a.m.

I have to drive home towards the end of April, and I’m not looking forward to it. Home yes, drive, not really! I think I’ll take it slower, and maybe spend the night at a hotel somewhere. Remember when we were young and dangerous? Good times. On the way back, maybe I’ll stop and hit a few restaurants for meals, and not rely on a bag of jerky and wash it down with a Red Bull. Maybe I’ll sell the gun here, or mail it to an FFL in Michigan and pick it up when I get there. Maybe I’ll get out and stretch my legs a bit more, and see a few sights on the way home.

But I’ll probably try to cut my 19 hour trip down to 16 and set my cruise control exactly at 70 mph through Illinois. 

 

Bone Candle Holder

I’ll preface this by saying that my wife thinks this is a little creepy.  I don’t.  I’m really just practicing and I’m going to craft no matter what.  Frankly, my rotary tool works better on bone than on wood.  Maybe it is creepy, but if I keep practicing, I’ll put some pretty flowers on the bones and maybe that will be less creepy.  I just think they are a cool and free resource.

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On wood, I’m constantly fighting the grain.  It makes the bit jump around, which adds for messiness and inaccuracies.

I used a 3/4 inch paddle bit to drill the holes for the candles, which proved to be too small.  I had to round out the holes with the rotary tool to make them wide enough for standard candles.  That was pretty time consuming. Next time, I’ll use a 1″ bit.

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We’ve been crafting a lot.  We sat around last week for an hour and made wreaths from alders we cut out of the washout when we were down at the bus.  It was nice to sit and talk to each other while we were all working.  It’s what I love best.

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Mike, Oscar, Hotel…..out.

Free Education

Is anything really free?

I decided to jump on the free education bandwagon.  I put out an ad on a local forum and asked for something free – wood.  I asked that if anyone had downed trees on their property that they wanted rid of to please call me.  I got a few responses.  One from a lady less than two miles from our place.  She’s on 32 acres and had some fire mitigation done a few years back and they left all of the wood.  This load was all aspen, but she has spruce, fir and pine as well.  She’s got a lot of dead standing on her lot, so we might just have to become friends.  I clear the dead stuff, her land gets safer for the insurance company.  Win/win.

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I brought the wood home and sawed it up.  Then I told the children that they were going to help me split and pile.  When the boys found out they were going to get to use axes, you would have thought Christmas was this week.

Child #2 (oldest boy) is a natural at all things physical.  I gave him my Snow & Nealley 2 1/4 lb. on a 28″ haft.  It seems to work perfectly for him.  He’s got good form and loves splitting aspen because it’s light, dry and easy.

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He split a lot for a little guy.  His brother, who is a year younger, was hard at it as well.  Books are his thing, but he wanted to be like his big brother and split.  He struggled to swing the axe and I spent a lot of time with him working on his form.  He’s still a little young, though his brother was splitting at his age.  Kids are different, that’s all.

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He got discouraged at one point and started to cry.  He said he’ll never be a good wood splitter.  I assured him that he had plenty of time in life to practice.  Then I offered to show him how to split kindling and explained that it was the most important part of starting a fire.  He relented and used the old Lakeside double bit to make some small splits.

We’ve had more fires this year than in all the other ten years we’ve been here combined.  So far we’ve saved $100 on our heat bill, and an as-yet undetermined amount on our electric bill.  In the process, the kids have learned how to split and pile wood.  I’d say that’s better than a free education.

Mike,Oscar, Hotel……out.