May 19th, 2019

Blood and Gore — Injury After Pistol Powder Loaded in Rifle Case

Varget Kaboom TiteGroup Hand injury reloading fingers accident

This is a grim tale. A man almost lost the use of his right hand, and did suffer terrible injuries to his fingers. All because he picked the wrong bottle of powder off the shelf. We have run this story before, and we will continue to run it every year, as a caution to our readers. This mistake is easy to make, but the consequences can be dire. Always, always double-check your powder labels before you start the hand-loading process. If you don’t, you may not have a hand to load with next time…

Similar Labels, Disasterous Consequences
The shooter, Denny K., was assembling some rounds for his brand new 7mm-08 Savage hunting rifle. He thought he was loading with Hodgdon Varget. Instead he had filled his powder measure with Hodgdon TiteGroup, a fast-burning pistol powder. The labels are similar, so the mistake is understandable. But the results were devastating. Here’s what 41 grains of TiteGroup can do in a 7mm-08:

Varget Kaboom TiteGroup Hand injury reloading fingers accident

Posting on the Firing Line, in a thread entitled “Lucky to Be Alive”, Denny writes:

“This is the hardest post to post. I know if I had read it a week ago my comment would have been: ‘You have no business reloading’. I had everything perfect, except pouring the wrong powder in the powder measure. I type this slowly with my left hand, embarrassed but … possibly saving someone else a tragedy or, like me, a long drive to the Emergency Room and surgery to save my finger.”

CLICK HERE for bigger, more graphic photo of injury.
Varget Kaboom TiteGroup Hand injury reloading fingers accident

The Still-Sealed Bottle of Varget
Denny did not initially comprehend exactly why the kaboom happened. He thought maybe his new Savage rifle was at fault. Then, on his return home, he discovered something…

Denny wrote: “The seven-hour period it took to go to ER, transport to Trauma Center and surgery made me think it was a Savage rifle issue. Brand new rifle, new brass, triple-checked loading data. The next day I was humbled when I realized the Varget powder was still sealed.

I knew what powder to use. I thought [Varget] was what I used. Not until the following day did I realize the Varget was still sealed.”

At that point, Denny realized what caused the accident — “operator error”. He knew he had to warn others about using the wrong powder: “I knew I needed to share my mistake, even though it is embarrassing, just to remind people. I’ve been reloading for 30 years…”

Editor’s Comment: Denny was not a novice reloader. His experience demonstrates that this kind of mistake can be made by any hand-loader, even one with decades of experience. Be safe guys, take your time when you load your ammo. Remove powders from measures after your loading sessions (pistol powders can look very similar to rifle powders). And by all means CHECK the LABEL on the jug. As the TiteGroup label says: “A little goes a long way.”

It’s not a bad idea to separate your pistol powders from your rifle powders, or perhaps even load for pistol in a separate part of your workshop.

Permalink News, Reloading, Tech Tip 12 Comments »
May 19th, 2019

Sunday GunDay: Historic, Record-Setting M1903 Springfield

George Farr Camp Perry Record 1903 Springfield
Firing an “off-the-rack” M1903 Springfield, using GI-issue “tin-plate” ammunition, George Farr shot 71 consecutive bullseyes at 1000 yards (70 for record), a record that has never been broken.

Today’s Sunday GunDay story is, literally, a blast from the past — 1921 to be precise. We feature a “magic rifle” that set one of the most impressive records in history — one that has never been broken. Here is George Farr’s legendary .30-06 M1903 Springfield. This story is provided courtesy the NRA Blog with photos supplied by the NRA Museums.

An Old Man at the National Matches:
‘Dad’ Farr’s Golden Afternoon at Camp Perry

by Doug Wicklund, NRA Museums Senior Curator

It was 1921. Warren Harding was President of the United States, and “The War to End All Wars” was less than three years past. The nation was getting back to a normal routine, and for competitive shooters, that meant an annual pilgrimage through the state of Ohio to the shores of Lake Erie, where the National Matches had been held since 1907 at Camp Perry. In those lighter days of the “Roaring Twenties”, marksmen from states banded together to make the journey, housing together in tent clusters on green lawns well behind the firing points.

George Farr Camp Perry Record 1903 Springfield
The silver plate affixed to George Farr’s M1903 Springfield states: “With this rifle and using issued ammunition Mr. G.R. Farr of Seattle Wash in the Wimbleton Match, 1921, Camp Perry O., made 71 consecutive bulls eyes at 1000 yards”.

But one man at the 1921 National Matches stood out amongst the rest. George “Dad” Farr was a 62-year-old man from the state of Washington, and this was his first time heading east to shoot in the “big leagues”, as some of his fellow Evergreen State friends termed the annual competitions.

Aptly nicknamed, “Dad” was a good bit older than the average shooter during that late summer season, striding forward hesitantly clad in a khaki shirt and dungarees. He wasn’t a practiced High Power shooter — he showed up at Camp Perry without a rifle, and relied on a crude monocular for a spotting scope that he had fashioned from a pair of French opera glasses.

Counting his second sighting shot, George Farr fired 71 consecutive bullseyes at 1,000 yards using an unfamiliar rifle plucked from an ordnance rack earlier that day. It was an amazing feat.

At the previous day’s shooting, he had experienced issues with the initial .30-06 rifle he had chosen from the rack, a Model 1903 Springfield that didn’t seem to hold a consistent zero. This day, he chose a different gun, just another off-the-rack rifle no different from the one next to it. Though he didn’t realize it, George Farr had just made the best selection of his life.

Farr readied his bolt-action and prepared a clip of five rounds of Government Issue ammunition, then went to his position. He was ready to fire on a 1,000-yard target with a rifle he had never shot before.

George Farr Camp Perry Record 1903 Springfield

Perhaps he had resigned himself somewhat to the outcome — after all, it was the last relay of the day on September 9. Off to the west, the sun was beginning its slow trip down to the horizon. But Farr shouldered his Springfield and prepared to fire. The time was 4:30 p.m. Shooters nearby were puzzled by this shooter who squirmed and shifted repeatedly, but were amazed as he made his first hits on paper. Farr was shooting Frankford Arsenal tin-plate ammunition, the standard G.I. .30-06 rounds. More experienced marksmen, like Marine Sgt. John Adkins — who had just won the Wimbledon Cup — were using commercial Remington match ammunition and had spurned the government ammo.

The Historic String of Bullseyes
At that distant 36-inch target, Farr scored two hits for his two sighters, with the last sighter being a bullseye. He then prepared to fire 20 shots for record. Each of those 20 shots went into the center. Each scored as a “5”. At the end of this amazing string, Farr gathered up his monocular and prepared to depart. His fellow shooters quickly advised that match rules required him to continue firing until he missed “the black”, the inner 5-Ring bullseye at the center of the target. Farr had only brought one box of ammunition with him to the firing line, and had run out. As he waited for more of the tin-plate ammo he had been using, the sun continued its retreat. Farr continued his shooting, racking up growing strings of bullseyes – 30, 40 50, 60 – each impact on target being carefully recorded on his scorecard in the growing darkness.

Then, at the 71st shot with daylight completely gone, the bullet strayed outside the target center, and Farr’s incredible string came to its conclusion. But counting his second sighting shot, George Farr had fired 71 consecutive bullseyes at 1,000 yards using an unfamiliar rifle plucked from an ordnance rack earlier that day. It was an amazing feat, one immediately recognized by those in attendance. His fellow shooters quickly took up a generous collection, contributing in recognition of Farr’s natural skill and enabling him to purchase that bolt-action Springfield he had worked magic with on that distant target. Enough funds remained that a silver presentation plate, inscribed with the names of the states whose competitors had contributed, was ordered and mounted on the side of the rifle’s buttstock.

George Farr Camp Perry Record 1903 Springfield
CLICK HERE to zoom image

The next year, the Civilian Team Trophy was re-designated as the Farr Trophy, and George Farr’s record, fired on the old target system, was never beaten. Farr’s rifle went home with him to Washington and remained there, never again traveling eastward to Camp Perry. In 2011, The Farr family donated this legendary piece of shooting history to the NRA National Firearms Museum collection.

In 2013, as NRA Museums curators began assembling the collection for display at the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Missouri, the museum staff created a unique exhibit featuring George Farr’s Model 1903 Springfield rifle and its special place in competitive shooting history. Alongside the rifle rests Farr’s simple monocular, another mute witness to Camp Perry history made on that September evening in 1921.

Farr’s Springfield… is one of thousands of historically significant firearms found in the NRA Museums collections on display across three locations. To view the collection and learn more about the incredible stories behind each gun, visit the NRA Museums in person or browse the NRA Museums website.

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May 19th, 2019

Flying with Firearms — What You Need to Know

Massad Ayoob, Flying, FAA, TSA, airport security

Shooting Industry Magazine has released a helpful blog article concerning airline travel and firearms. Written by well-known shooting instructor, gun writer (and part-time police officer) Massad Ayoob, the article covers key points travelers must understand before carrying firearms into an airport zone. In his article Flying with Firearms, Ayoob warns travelers that “State gun laws change frequently” and that “our country is a 50-piece patchwork quilt of gun laws”.

Here are some of the recommended resources gun-toting travelers should consult before they head to any airport in the United States:

Flying with Firearms — Familiarize Yourself With The Laws
by Massad Ayoob
State gun laws change frequently, including reciprocity on concealed-carry permits even in the gun-friendly “red states.” Here are a few sources I recommend for you and your customers.

Online, the best and most up-to-date source of gun laws I’ve found is www.Handgunlaws.us. For smart phones, the best app I can recommend is Legal Heat (www.mylegalheat.com).

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are the authoritative sources on flying with firearms.

The controlling TSA regulation can be found at www.tsa.gov, search “Firearms.” The FAA’s controlling regulation is 108.11. To view the FAA’s controlling regulation, visit www.govinfo.gov, click “Advanced Search” and enter “14 CFR 108.11” — the first result contains the report.

TSA Tips on Traveling with Firearms:

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