Smith & Wesson .40 M&P Shield

I’ll start out by saying I’m not a big fan of double action only pistols.  I grew up shooting revolvers and really enjoy pistols like 1911s.  I started carrying a double action pistol mostly because I was given one (a Taurus Millennium Pro) Double action only pistols tend to be smaller than many other pistols and easy to carry concealed.

Product  Smith   Wesson M P SHIELD™ .40 S W

I bought a Smith & Wesson M&P 40 Shield last year.  I actually entered the store with the intention of buying a Springfield X D subcompact, but once I held the Shield, it was smaller and more comfortable in my hand.  Since then, I’ve only had the occasion to shoot it once until this past weekend.


When I first shot it, I was horribly inaccurate with it, which I wasn’t pleased about.  Mind you, I had been shooting my dad’s old Smith & Wesson revolvers a lot around that time and they shoot much differently than this little pistol.  What I found out over the weekend was I was the reason for the inaccurate shooting.

If you haven’t shot a double action only (DAO) pistol, here’s a tip.  Hold ‘er steady.  I think that applies to every gun you shoot, but the trigger pull on a DAO pistol is unusually long, and in the case of the pounds of pull, the Shield is rated for a 6.5 lbs trigger pull from the factory, which I’m sure varies a bit. What some of us don’t realize is that during the trigger pull, we tend to drift left, right, up, or down, ever so slightly, which can jumble your accuracy a lot.  This was the case with the Shield.

In the picture, I’m pretty much all in the black.  Ignore the holes on the bottom left of the target.  Those are from a catastrophic gun failure with a different gun that I haven’t yet decided if I’m going to talk about on here.  Mostly because it’s not my gun.  Shots were taken at 10 yards with 180 grain Winchester jacketed hollow point ammunition.  While my groups aren’t tight, it’s not bad for double action pistol with a short barrel.


Overall, I like the gun.  It carries well.  Once you get the trigger thing down, it shoots well.  It feels solid, even though it is small and it certainly isn’t as bulky as the X D that I had planned on buying.  Like any pistol, you have to play with it and get the feel for it before you can get guaranteed accuracy. It has quality fit and finish and feels as though it will hold up well in the years to come. After this weekend, I’m really glad that I purchased this pistol.  I think it’ll be in the CCW rotation for a long time.

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel….out.


The drunk carpenter strikes again

Ok, so I’m not drunk (although that apple pie I made is pretty good, and I have a healthy snort setting my veins alight), but I am taking some shortcuts and doing a half-butt job. Do you remember the apple pie, from many months back? 6 months of cure time made it pretty potent – if you lay down a healthy batch now, your Christmas takes care of itself.

I went to the woodpile; scraps and pallet pieces. Perfect for what I have in mind.

Part of the laziness comes from intent. It’s a rough old map of the public utilities of Maine, from many years ago. I wanted to give it an unfinished look, like it had been framed with spare wood and hung on the wall of a workshop somewhere.

I think it had been thrown in a trunk, dunked in a river, drug behind a lumber truck, kicked down a flight of stairs, and then used as bedding for an incontinent pet crow.

This is where I grew up – the B&A railroad, a literal stone’s throw from the station house.

Mike Oscar spent his teenage years in this area, as did I, crashing on his couch. His dad always had a joke – there were 2 couches in the living room, kitty cornered. When Snuffy went to bed, Mike’s girlfriend was cuddled up beside him on one couch. When he’d wake up for work in the morning, she had gone home, and I’d have come off the late shift at the mill and be crashed out on the other couch. He would say, “I go to bed and you’ve got a beautiful women on the couch, I wake up and that homely thing is here! You’re trading down!”

Another one of my favorite (suitable for a family website) sayings of his – when I was too tired, he’d say my eyes looked like ‘two pissholes in the snow’. Very descriptive man, our Snuffy.

Next door are Masardis and Ashland, our hometowns.

I stripped out some pallet wood using my eyeball as a measuring tape. It’s less gory than it sounds. I laid them in place to ensure they were pretty much square.

Yep. Friggin run ‘er, bub.

I used the torch to bring out the grain, to make it look even more like scrap wood, and because Mike and I have endured our share of singed bits during our sojourn in that map.

Since it was somewhat squareish, I put some wood glue on the joints. And because I was lazy, I used the air brad gun and sunk some 2 inch brads in to hold it until the glue set. 2 inch overkill? It was what was left in the gun after my trim job at my mother-in-laws.

Here is the rough frame-in. Yup, it fits. I put three nice torch lines in one corner, for the number of times that Mike Oscar has fought a fire with me, or put one out that was on me.

I found a sheet of paneling that I was gonna use somewhere else, and just cut it up; when I remember what it was supposed to go on, I’ll go buy another one. But I’ve had too much apple pie to head out for a piece now.

I swapped out the 2 inch brads I had before and put in some 3/4 inchers, just enough to tack the back on. I put two in the lower left corner, so I could slide the map in, center it, and then I finished putting them in all the way around, to anchor the map in place without going through the map itself (which may have actually made it look better, but oh well).

There she sits! I hung it on the wall of my workshop – notice, it isn’t a man cave. It is a study/workshop, because I’m more interested in getting things learned and accomplished, then hunkering down and hiding from everyone. My son and daughter will learn and build, not hide from the world.

I made the hanger on the back by partially sinking two small nails, then wrapping some safety wire in a loose loop around them.

Here it sits, looking like it was pulled off the wall of a railroad station or the wall of a workshop in the GE manufacturing shop. I’m pretty impressed, but that could be the Crown Royal Black talking. As you can see, not only am I a fan, but I have another fan in the picture there, making it a total of 2 fans admiring the picture. One of the joints isn’t quite perfect, the wood is a little twisted (they don’t make pallets like they used to), but over all, I’m pretty impressed with my efforts.

I have another picture to frame, and I think I might do the same thing. I forget what it is, but I recall it being an older map of that area, that my wife bought me for a gift at some point. Speaking of gifts, it’s my birthday in a few days, so I think I’m getting myself a second hand Old Town canoe off a buddy. I’ll let you know how that goes. Have a great day, all!

Feet Per Second

I’ve got yard rabbits.  Like, rabbits that I let loose in 2014, expecting they’d be eaten by the fox during the night.  They’ve been here ever since.  Many rabbit folk say that a domestic rabbit can’t live on forage alone.  They’re wrong.  The two girls in my yard have done just fine.  In fact, they’re fat with hardly any help from me.

I caught one last year in a live trap and bred her to a buck.  Just to see if it worked.  It did.  A month later, I saw her pull fur.  Four weeks after that, I saw pea-sized bunny babies skittering out from under my shed.  There were seven in all.  All but one were killed by predators.  The last one we figured was a buck, due to the way he was built.  We called him Thunder.

Thunder was about a year old.  Rabbits can breed at 4 months (that’s pushing it a bit), but we’d seen no action between he and the girls until recently.  When he did mount them, they kicked him off.

Apparently, he closed the deal with one of the does, though.  I caught her pulling fur and stashing it under the deck the other day. Being that we’re selling the house, that isn’t ideal.

I went to Sportsman’s Warehouse to pick up some .22 shorts.  I usually buy CCI shorts and look for something in the neighborhood of 710 fps. I know those rounds are quiet and I can do basic jobs without being heard around the house.  They were out of CCIs.  All they had were these.


None of the boxes listed feet per second.  Based on grains, I thought I’d be be okay with the 20 grain rounds, but the sales guy pushed me to buy the subsonics.  I grabbed the Super Extra Shorts figuring they’d be pretty close to the 20 grains and pack a little more punch at 29 grains.

When I got home, Thunder was out in the yard.  I got the kids’ bolt action Davey Crickett .22 and nailed him in the head with a 20 grain.  It was over long before he knew what was happening.  I looked him over.  He was very healthy.  He had never spent a day in a cage and I’d fed him vegetable scraps at most.  He was a self-made bunny.  He was as big as my cage raised rabbits, if not larger.


Afterwards, I decided to try the Super Extra Shorts, thinking they would be similar to the 20 grains.  Man, was I wrong.  I stood in the dining room and fired out the back door and the gun made quite a *crack*.  I laughed and slid the door shut quickly and my wife scolded me for a moment.  I’m certainly glad I didn’t try the subsonics.  The .20 grains will do for now.  Though at $5.00 a box, they’re a little cost prohibitive.

I didn’t worry about the cops showing up.  I learned that lesson through my dad.  He came to visit a few years back and was working on my black powder rifle on the back deck.  He got something stuck somewhere and ended up firing off a shot in the back yard with no lead.  It was pretty loud.  I freaked out, but the old man just stood out there, still working on the gun.  Nobody came.  Mind you, my neighbors are probably 150 feet away.  I asked what he was going to do when the cops came and he said he would tell them exactly what happened and ask them if they wanted to fire off a shot.  By that age, he was at the point where he didn’t give a crap.  Now I understand why.

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel….out.





All the Things I Didn’t Need….

….but I bought anyway.

Yard sale season has finally started here in CO.  Late spring storms have put a cramp on things during the month, but the sun has finally come out.  I begged the Mrs. to throw the kids in the van yesterday morning and check out some advertised sales.  After conceding that I’d help with breakfast and the laundry, we were on our way.

We hit a few sales that were pretty blah.  Sometimes I wonder why people even bother to have a sale.  You show up and they want eBay prices for dollar store material.  Sales like that frustrate me, especially when the signs say “Huge Sale” or “Estate Sale” and it’s really just a bunch of Chinese crap.  And the Chinese make (and we buy) a lot of crap.

There was a sale not advertised on the main roads.  We were headed from one place to another and there was a solitary sign for an estate sale on one of the side roads.

It was a score.  I wasn’t looking for things for me, as we are trying to move, but I was looking for things to flip, as we are in the hole in a bad way at the moment.  Here’s the rundown:


Elk Mount$10.00.  It’s an older mount, but I couldn’t say no for $10.  Worse comes to worse, I’ll knock off the antlers, save the glass eyes, throw away the mount and sell the antlers for $30.  I’ve currently got it on craigslist for $125, though I doubt I’ll touch that number.  We had fun getting it in the van.  The youngest wasn’t fond of this guy at all.  It’s hard being my kid.


James Swan Co. Auger bits$5.00.  I took a chance on this one.  The box looked old and the augers are in good shape. Looks like they’ll fetch quite a bit more than I paid on eBay.


Valor Esso Blue oil can$2.00.  There was an estate sale tag on it for $25.00.  I asked the guy and he said $2.00.  I put it on eBay and got a hit for $15.00 within the hour.  Not bad.


Assorted traps$5.00.  I got five traps in a box for $5.00.  All but one are made by Victor, so, not worth much.  One is a Triumph 315-x, which immediately bid up to $50.00 when I put it on eBay.  It’s a single spring.  If it was a double spring, it would be worth hundreds.  I’ll take what I can get.  I’ll keep the Victors for myself.  If there are any pessimists reading, buy some traps.  When the collapse happens, they will hunt for you when you’re not there.

Stuffed Pheasant$2.00.  I’m not sure it’s worth anything, but I think it’s cool and that’s worth the $2.00.  I’ll get it on eBay eventually.  Looks like they’re getting about $20.00 on auction.


Various Ford Mustang Items$10.00 per box (2 boxes).  To me, this was risky.  The guy was obviously a Mustang enthusiast.  I got a box full of manuals and buyer’s guides and a box full of 1:18 scale models and other models still in the box.  In the mix was a five book set of Ford manuals from 1969.  They immediately hit for $20.00 on eBay, so I’m at least covered on my losses for that batch.


All in all, I’m already up by about $30.00.  That’s better odds than going to the casino.  More fun, too.  I’m hoping to make more off of this batch, but if not, I’ll hit the sales again next weekend.

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel…out.



















Garant Axes

As I discussed a few weeks ago, it’s hard to find a decent, well made, affordable American made axe.  The one of the few games in town (or in the nation, as the case may be) is Council Tool.  They’ve recently tapped into the bushcraft/hipster community (I think they are somewhat related) and their  prices have risen with the increased interest in their tools.  I think you can partially thank the Best Made Company for the increased popularity.  Good for them.  I encourage capitalism.

However, I’m cheap and I’m not into shiny.  Broke is really a better descriptor.  In my search for the  great American made axe, I stumbled onto the neighbor next door.



Yup.  Lots of  trees in Canada and I imagine there are less tree huggers, though I have no proof of that.  I started looking into Canadian axe companies and happened upon the Garant company.  They’ve been around for a long time and in America, you’ll find our hardware stores carry their snow shovels and rakes, but you won’t find their axes.  Why?

In the last incarnation of the Sharpened Axe, we actually looked into starting a retail business and looked into selling axes.  I knew plenty of companies that sold Gransfors and Wetterlings and even a few Snow & Nealleys, but I knew of no store that sold Garant axes.  Come to find out, there’s a hefty price tag associated with importing “bladed weapons” from Canada to the U.S.A.


You read that right. “Weapons”.  I’m holding up my thumb while I say it.  Like a politician.  I also hold my thumb up when I talk to people I don’t like.

I’m sure she wouldn’t want to be associated with this blog.  The feeling is mutual.  (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images, additions created by Mike Oscar Hotel, a fictitious entity) 

Mother.of.PEARL.  How many Lizzie Bordens were there?  Really?  An axe is a weapon?  I’m betting in all of the stores in Times Square, you couldn’t find an axe if your life depended on it.  Because nobody does drive by axings.  It isn’t an efficient murdering tool.

But I digress about stupidity.

In all of my email correspondence with Uncle Bern, I mentioned that I was looking for a Garant.  He mentioned that before the stupid law was passed, you could buy a Garant in the hardware store in our hometown.  He said he bought one of the last ones before the .gov saved us from all of the mass axings that never happened in our globally warm environment.

He knew a couple guys who crossed the border into Canada now and again and we talked about placing an order, but it never materialized.  Later, Uncle Bern sent me the axe pictured, along with scripture, which he usually adds to all of his axes.


It’s a great axe, especially for hiking and utility work.  Sharp as you want, which I expect has a good deal to do with Uncle Bern.  I keep the sheath on it when not in use, which I can’t say for every axe I own.  I’ve had this one at the bus for awhile now, but now that plans are changing, I thought it would be best if it was a little closer to home.

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel…..out.