June 25th, 2019

Living History — Custer’s Ghost and the Trapdoor Springfield

1873 Springfield trapdoor carbing musket

1873 Springfield trapdoor carbing musketA few season back, our friend Kevin Thomas acquired a bit of living history — a reproduction Model 1873 Trapdoor Springfield. Here is Kevin’s story of his new rifle and the legacy it carries.

Today marks the 143rd Anniversary of Lt.Col. George Armstrong Custer’s historic ride into the valley of the Little Big Horn, along with 200+ men of the U.S. Seventh Cavalry. June 25, 1876 did not go well, as Custer and his men became a well-known, sad footnote in U.S. history. [Editor: Well it was sad for Custer fans. Native Americans have a different perspective.]

For years now, I’ve wanted one of the rifles Custer and his men carried that day, a Model 1873 Trapdoor Springfield, chambered for the 45/70 cartridge. I finally acquired one, when I walked into a gunstore a while back and saw a handsome repro Trapdoor sitting peacefully on the shelf. It called to me.

Somewhere in the distance, I could hear the bugle calls, the Sioux and Cheyenne war cries and the thundering of cavalry across the plain. It simply had to go home with me, and so it did. It seemed an especially insistent demand with this being the 138th anniversary and all, so I took it along to our regular Wednesday night practice session. All I can say is, I’m glad we don’t have to do rapid-fire with one of these in our matches today, because they do have a mule-like kick to them!

1873 Springfield trapdoor carbing musket

The Trapdoors were a cost saving measure that the Armory came up with at the end of the Civil War, to convert muzzle-loading Springfield muskets into breech-loading cartridge arms. A quick look will give several dead giveaways that many of the parts on the “new” rifle were actually interchangeable with the old 1861 and 1863 Springfield muskets. The parts that were altered or newly fabricated were relatively minor changes.

1873 Springfield trapdoor carbing musket

Above, you can see where these rifles got their name. Loading was done by flipping a lever which opened up a trap door that provided access to the chamber. Flipping that same lever and opening the trap door then ejected the case after firing.

1873 Springfield trapdoor carbing musket

Here is the opposite side, trapdoor open. The ring and slide on the side of the stock was to facilitate an attachment point for a lanyard that the troopers wore over their shoulders. Remember, they often used these while at a full gallop, not an easy feat!

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June 25th, 2019

Wonders of Wood — Amazing Reloading Room Projects

Wood fine furnitures Reloading Room cabinet project exotic wood
Bullet sorting station — quilted Maple with marble tile inlay, created by JVW2008.

We have a master woodworker in our Shooters’ Forum, Jerry from Colorado (aka JVW2008). In a recent Forum thread, Jerry showcases multiple examples of his handiwork — various wood projects for the reloading room. Beautifully made, these one-of-a-kind custom cabinets and tool stands deserve to be on display in a museum.

Jerry’s creations exhibit exquisite craftsmanship and some very clever design features. What is your favorite item among the Jerry’s wood wonders shown here? You can reveal your favorites in the comment section below.

Throne for a Sartorius Analytical Balance
Jerry built this “Throne” for his ultra-precise Sartorius Entris force restoration scale, which is linked to a V2 Auto-Trickler. This is a true state-of-the-art powder measuring system on a beautiful base unit.

Wood fine furnitures Reloading Room cabinet project exotic wood

Cabinet for Balance Beam Scale
Here is an oak balance beam scale cabinet and weighing surface. Note the mulitiple tiers, side wings, and other smart design features.

Wood fine furnitures Reloading Room cabinet project exotic wood

Custom Arbor Press Base
Below is a handsome, well-designed base for K&M Arbor Press and Wilson dies. Look at the fitted recesses for the hand dies — very nice!

Wood fine furnitures Reloading Room cabinet project exotic wood

Jumbo Walnut/Maple Loading Block
And here is a beautiful 100-cartridge reloading block, crafted from Walnut over Maple. It’s impressive to see 100 cartridges all lined up like that!

Wood fine furnitures Reloading Room cabinet project exotic wood

To see more impressive wood projects by our Shooters’ Forum members, visit the Wood Working Ideas Forum Thread. Along with Jerry’s reloading toom wonders, you’ll see cleaning cradles, shooting benches, transport boxes, and much more. Check out this amazing inlaid rifle case crafted by Forum member Nando-AS for his son.

Wood fine furnitures Reloading Room cabinet project exotic wood

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June 25th, 2019

Weatherby Opening in Wyoming Draws Big Crowd

Weatherby Sheridan Wymoing

Rifle-maker Weatherby Inc. has finalized its move to Wyoming, after leaving the politically hostile, high-taxation state of California. On June 13th, Weather had its official ribbon-cutting ceremony at its brand new facility in Sheridan, Wyoming. An estimated 5000+ visitors were in attendance. Weatherby’s directors are pleased with the move to Wyoming, which has many advantages for the company — not the least of which is getting away from the anti-gun policies of California’s corrupt, one-party-controlled state government.

“When you see the words ‘Sheridan, WY’ stamped in the side of a Mark V action, it just looks right. We are excited to see the beginning of our manufacturing in Sheridan, Wyoming”, says Adam Weatherby.

Weatherby Sheridan Wymoing

Adam Weatherby made an opening statement at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, praising how Wyoming has welcomed his company. There were plenty of VIPs at the event, including First Lady of Wyoming Jennie Gordon, Former Governor of Wyoming Matt Mead, and Mayor of Sheridan Roger Miller. During the day, factory tours were conducted, and the Weatherby Visitor Center was filled with guests viewing Weatherby historical items. Food trucks provided meals for visitors.

Goodbye California and Its Extreme Anti-Gun Policies
Is Weatherby’s Wyoming move all about dollars and cents? Not entirely. California has become increasingly hostile to firearms manufacturers. TheFireamRack.com’s Dan Zimmerman observes: “[Weatherby] wanted to do business in a state that isn’t at war with the very products they make. A state that respects the Second Amendment and won’t try to claw back every single cent it can wring out of businesses located there. So Weatherby made the entirely rational choice to take their company to a place that values what they do.”

Weatherby Wyoming

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June 25th, 2019

Monitor Summer Barrel Heat with Handy Temp Strips

Barrel Heat Temp Temperature gauge strip McMaster Carr

You never want your barrels to get too hot, which can happen more quickly in summertime. Accuracy suffers when barrels over-heat, and excessive heat is not good for barrel life. So how do you monitor your barrel’s temperature? You can check if the barrel is “warm to the touch” — but that method is not particularly precise. There is a better way — using temperature-sensitive strips. McMaster.com (an industrial supply house) offers stick-on temp strips with values from 86° F to 140° F. A pack of ten (10) of these strips (item 59535K13) costs $12.16 — so figure it’ll cost you about $1.20 per barrel for strips. That’s cheap insurance for your precious barrels. For best barrel life, try to stay under 120 degrees F.

Barrel Heat Temp Temperature gauge strip McMaster Carr

Forum member Nomad47 says: “I have temperature strips (bought at McMaster-Carr) on all my barrels. I try not to shoot when the barrel gets to 122 degrees or higher[.]” Here are photos of the McMaster-Carr temp strips on Nomad47’s customized Savage.

Barrel Heat Temp Temperature gauge strip McMaster Carr

Bad things can happen if your barrel gets too hot. First, with some barrels, the point of impact (POI) will shift or “walk” as the barrel heats up excessively. Second, even if the POI doesn’t change, the groups can open up dramatically when the barrel gets too hot. Third, if the barrel is very hot, the chamber will transfer heat to your loaded cartridge, which can lead to pressure issues. Finally, there’s considerable evidence that hot barrels wear out faster. This is a very real concern, particularly for varmint shooters who may shoot hundreds of rounds in a day. For this reason, many varminters switch among various guns, never letting a particular barrel get too hot.

Neconos.com offers Bar-L Temp Strips that visually display heat readings from 86 to 140 degrees. Think of these strips as compact, unbreakable thermometers. With adhesive backing, they can also be used to monitor barrel heating. Put a strip on the side of the barrel and the barrel’s temp will be indicated by a stripe that changes from black to green. There is also a “general purpose” strip that reads to 196 degrees (bottom row). The Benchrest strip (86F to 140F) is in the middle. Bar-L temp strips cost $9.00, or $25.00 for a 3-pack.

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