Tuesday, October 4, 2011


should write an article sometime...

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Remington 1858

At a time when many pistols were muzzleloaders, the removeable six-shot cylinder and solid one-piece frame offered huge advantages in firepower and accuracy even over the similar revolvers of the era. It IS a black powder pistol though, which means reloading is considerably slower than reloading modern revolvers. Paper cartridges (which can easily be made with cigarette papers and string) make the process much faster, but you still must seat the ball and load the percussion caps. Alternatively, conversion cylinders which can allow the pistol to fire more modern .45 Long Colt cartridges (which are successfully used to take down bears) can be purchased for around $250. I personally enjoy handmaking cartridges since I like to experiment with different powder charges and ammo modifications. Ammo is pretty cheap, I bought a pound of FFF Triple Seven brand powder for about twenty bucks, a hundred ball rounds for fifteen bucks, and a hundred percussion caps for six bucks from Bass Pro, but I'm sure you could find better deals elsewhere.

I bought mine from an estate sale on for $150 and $20 for shipping (it is a pretty heavy pistol), but new ones retail for around $300 at Bass Pro. One cool thing about black powder pistols is that you don't need to buy them through an FFL in most states (that is, you don't need to be 21 or even 18 to buy one, plus you save from not having to pay the middleman). Modern 1858s are generally Italian reproductions, most of which are made by Pietta or Uberti. Variations on the pistol are offered, including a "target" model with adjustable sights, and a "buffalo" model with a 12 inch barrel, and I've seen versions with 4 inch barrels as well.

 Accuracy: 4/5
 Range: 3/5
 Ergonomics: 3/5
 Value: 5/5
 SHTF/Zombie Coefficient: 3/5

Although I have yet to shoot any paper targets, I can already tell that it's the most accurate pistol I've fired. Its rear sight is really little more than a carefully shaped groove in the top of the frame, which is initially somewhat awkward compared to modern pistols which have a separate piece for the rear sight.

The way the pistol is held is significantly different than modern ones, but once you figure out ow to hold it it's pretty comfortable. Just don't try to use the loading lever as a front grip (although a mono-pod would work) or your hand will get blasted and covered in carbon from powder which burned between the cylinder and barrel. My pistol seems hand-adjusted so that the barrel is extremely close to the cylinder, so that isn't much of an issue. Perhaps something about the grip angle helps eliminate recoil; it feels like it recoils less than a semi-automatic 9mm. Actually, it feels like firing a .38 from my friend's Taurus Tracker which has vents at the end of the barrel which serve to negate recoil. Not bad recoil at all, but enough to be fun.

My pistol seems extremely reliable in that I'm sure it won't break or jam when I use it, but after about twelve shots or so some resistance is felt when turning the cylinder due to the powder buildup on the gun. Spraying some oil down the middle of the cylinder and on the retaining pin fixes this pretty quickly though. Maybe the cylinder retaining-pin could be coated with teflon or something to reduce buildup. I'm sure I'll figure something out.

I think I got a pretty good deal, considering most decent modern pistols are in the $400+ range. I know that it certainly feels like a hell of a good deal whenever I aim down the sights or quick draw at imaginary targets.  As for zombies, I'd sleep more securely during the zombie apocalypse with six rounds of .44 caliber lead sitting in front of 35 or 40 grains of powder, or 230 grains of lead in a .45 Long Colt cartridge, ready to be unleashed at any moment. Not to mention I could have multiple loaded cylinders ready to go, and which can be changed out in mere seconds. Also, in case you couldn't tell from the pics, I love me some spaghetti westerns.
This looks like a version chambered in .36, my .44 is much bigger.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

7.62x39mm article

I'm going to be out of town this weekend, so the next post won't be until at least Monday. The next logical step in the progression of my posts would feature the AK, but much has already been written about it and I don't own one.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Samozaryadniy Karabin sistemi Simonova, or Self-loading Carbine, Simonov's system, better known as the SKS

During WWII, the countries which used Mosin Nagants realized that they were too long, heavy, and slow to be suitable for wide use in modern combat. Although the Russians often severely outnumbered the Germans in combat, the Germans had many different fully-automatic arms, including the Mauser C96 pistol (in some configurations), the MP40 submachine gun, and their sturmgewehrs and maschinengewehrs (assault rifles and machineguns). Mosins were more suited to conventional Napoleonic warfare and were developed in the age of black powder weapons. The Russians scrambled to produce weapons more suitable for modern warfare. Before the M43 7.62x39mm round was approved, Russian weapon designers attempted to make semi-auto rifles chambered in the existing 7.62x54mmR round, but it proved a difficult task considering its great recoil and large size. The designer Fedor Tokarev did manage to overcome most of these problems and developed the SVT-40 in 1940. But the SVT-40 was difficult to produce and difficult to maintain without specific training. After the M43 cartridge was approved, the designer Sergei Simonov modified one of his existing designs (which relied heavily on the SVT-40 and Mosin Nagant) to fire the round. The design of the SKS was a great success; it fitted perfectly with Soviet doctrine that a weapon needn't be terribly accurate as long as it was cheap, durable, reliable, and simple to produce, maintain, and operate.

The SKS is clip-fed and utilizes an internal 10-round (in some variants 11) magazine. It has the simplest bayonet design I've ever seen and takes only a second or so to extend or fold; the bayonet is attached to the rifle by a sort of hinge and to extend it one merely pulls on the connector at the base of the bayonet, rotates it 180 degrees, and it clicks into place.  On my SKS, a Yugoslavian version, there are flip-up tritium rear and front sights, and the tritium front sight is sighted in for 30 yards, with the day sight being sighted in for 100 yards. My Yugo also has a rifle grenade launcher attached at the end of the barrel, which probably helps reduce barrel harmonics. It also has sights for the launcher and a gas-block switch. At the butt of the rifle, there's a spring-loaded trapdoor which holds the cleaning kit. It also comes with a sling similar to the Mosin's.

 Accuracy: 3/5
 Range: 3/5
 Ergonomics: 3/5
 Value: 5/5
 SHTF/Zombie Coefficient: 4/5

 Accuracy is a 3/5 because I can pretty easily keep all shots on a man-sized silhouette target at 100 yards, but I'm sure I'll get better with some more practice. I'm sure the addition of an aftermarket stock would help with this. You can see how the accuracy of various SKSs compare at

 Range is a 3/5, but that's not really a bad thing; the rifle was designed for more realistic ranges than the Mosin. The rear sight is the same of that of a Mosin and can be adjusted to 1000 meters, although the rifle was only really meant for use between about 100 and 400 meters. I'm sure the cartridge is effective at further ranges, as my SKS seems about as powerful as my old man's Glenfield Model 30A (another rifle I'll write an article about), but I doubt my ability to hit a man-sized target with standard iron sights beyond about 200 or so meters.

 Ergonomics (3/5) are surprisingly good for a Soviet weapon. The grip angle is comfortable and there's practically no recoil which is quite remarkable for a weapon chambered in such a powerful cartridge. The safety is a lever located to the right of the trigger, which is very easy and convenient to operate, which is a stark contrast to the Mosin. Field stripping requires no tools and can be done quite quickly. One merely puts the weapon on safe and twists and pulls a lever to the rear and right of the receiver, and the weapon easily comes apart. It weighs a bit less than my Mosin and handles much better. The grip slots on the front of the stock are comfortably offset, whereas on a Mosin they are parallel. This is really a significant tactile observation, you'd have to pick one up to see what I mean.

 Value is maximum, but as the amount of SKSs has been decreasing, their prices have been steadily increasing. I bought mine over the summer at a gun show for $275, although I've seen people sell them for as high as $600. You shouldn't have to pay more than $300 though. Mine was in excellent condition and obviously well taken care of and the stock was refinished beautifully, which is why I haven't bothered to replace it.

 SHTF/Zombie Coefficient is pretty high. Although the internal magazine only holds ten or eleven rounds, detachable AK-style magazines of various capacities are easy to find. I've got a couple 37-rounders, but I've seen ridiculous looking mags which hold up to 100 rounds. They're a bit of a pain to attach and remove compared to modern assault rifles which drop the mag with the push of a button, but with a little practice and persistence one can change the pretty quickly. Ammo is cheap, common, and powerful, and it fires just as fast as you can pull the trigger, and mine's got a pretty good trigger. The SKS has a number of aftermarket stocks which would make it more suitable for various kinds of combat, so it's a fairly modular weapon. Not as modular a modern assault rifle, mind you, but I'm impressed with the number of roles it could fill given aftermarket accessories and parts. For the price, it's hard to find a rifle more suitable for SHTF.

 Although the SKS was first manufactured in 1945 and quickly replaced by the AK in 1947, it remains a widely used weapon and is almost impossible to beat in terms of cost effectiveness.

You can learn more about the SKS at:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Mosin Nagant

There's been so much written on it that I'll only give 
some basic information along with my experiences.
The rifle itself was designed by the Russian captain Mosin, and the magazine was designed by the Belgian engineer Nagant. It's bolt action and has a 5-round internal magazine. Production of the Mosin Nagant started in 1891 and continued well into the sixties. According to Wikipedia, the USSR/Russia produced 37 million of them. They fire a 7.62x54r round, which is rimmed and a bit longer than 7.62 NATO, and is dirt cheap at around 20 cents per round if you buy the 440 round surplus tins.

 I got mine from a gun show in Dallas for $100. Mine's a M91/30 manufactured in 1942 by the Izhevsk plant. I later bought a 17" long spike bayonet for $15 from Ebay. I'm a pretty tall guy at around 6'3", and with the bayonet attached and the butt of the rifle on the ground it stands nose height. Carbine versions are a bit shorter and some models come with side-folding bayonets. When purchasing a Mosin Nagant, make sure at least the receiver and bolt serial numbers match. The receiver serial is behind the rear sight and in front of the bolt. This serial and these manufacturing stampings identify what kind of Mosin you have and when and where it was made. These stampings are referred to as "headstamps". The bolt serial is behind the cocking knob. The other serials are located on the buttplate and the magazine. Also, make sure you don't pay extra for the Mosin's accessories, it comes with a cleaning kit, two two-pocket bandoliers, and a sling.

 Accuracy: 4/5
 Range: 5/5
 Ergonomics: 2/5
 Value: 5/5
 SHTF/Zombie Coefficient: 3/5

 I gave accuracy a 4/5 because the way it came was somewhat less accurate than my .22lr. But with a few modifications (as demonstrated here and and with the addition of a new stock (if you really wish to do so), Mosins in good condition can be made to sub-minute of angle rifles. Of course, you could just buy a Finnish Mosin or sniper designated Mosin (the ones with bent bolt handles), but those are a bit more expensive and harder to find.

 Range was given a 5/5 because it uses a high-power cartridge which is probably effective as far as you can hit your target. That being said, the standard iron sights go out to 2000 meters, which is about 1.24 miles! Simo Hayha, the sniper with the largest number of confirmed kills in any major war, used a Finnish modified Mosin Nagant and only iron sights.

 Ergonomics are usually quite bad for Russian weapons, Russian military doctrine calls for cost-effective, reliable, and versatile weapons. I find the grip angle to be uncomfortable and the stock to be short, but that can be easily remedied with a cheap butt pad. Recoil is also severe, but also easily fixed with the addition of a butt pad. Hearing protection is a must; I once experimentally fired a round without any and I couldn't hear for a few seconds and my ears rang for an hour.

 Value is max because for only around $100 you get an accurate hi-powered rifle, two 30-round bandoliers, a complete cleaning kit, sling, and sometimes a bayonet. Sentimental value is also high; when you hold a Mosin, you feel a piece of history in your hands. Modifications and after-market parts are cheap and common. You could easily and cheaply arm a militia with various Mosins.

SHTF/Zombie coefficient is a factor I added just for grins and giggles. It gets a 3/5 because although ammo is cheap and not too uncommon, the rifle is unwieldy and cumbersome. Although it could be used for a great number of things (javelin, spear, tent pole, boat oar, cooking spit, club, etc.), I'd hate to carry around such a large bolt-action. If I had say, a five man squad, then I'd want one of us to have a Mosin, but other than that the rate of fire just seems too slow to fend off zombie hordes solo. Don't get me wrong though, I can fire off five aimed rounds with it faster than my dad can with his lever action .30-30, and one round would penetrate several zombies, but the idea of reloading frequently under stressful circumstances doesn't appeal to me.

 Well, that's about all I've got for now. You can read up more on Mosin Nagants at:
The next post will feature the SKS.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Whether you like to hunt, compete in target shooting, go hiking, prepare for SHTF or home defense, be a S.T.A.L.K.E.R., or just enjoy shooting, I think we can all agree that firearms are both useful and entertaining tools. Unfortunately, even with modern manufacturing techniques and engineering designs, they usually aren't built to be cost-effective. Hence, cost is the main factor which prohibits people from purchasing a firearm. Many people shop for firearms and buy what appeals to them in terms of cost, appearance, and reputation of the weapon, and are unaware of the number of excellent firearms which were designed to maximize cost-effectiveness rather than to catch the eye of a potential buyer. This blog will be focused on these generally less well-known but efficient weapons.

Since Russian firearms have a history of being designed to maximize cost-effectiveness and were mass produced in such large quantities, the first few posts will focus on them.