Welcome, Guest
You have to register before you can post on our site.



Search Forums

(Advanced Search)

Forum Statistics
» Members: 5,570
» Latest member: petzlglyph
» Forum threads: 21,932
» Forum posts: 273,219

Full Statistics

Latest Threads
the broken fiskars hatche...
Forum: Knives and Assorted Weapons
Last Post: Scottman
20 minutes ago
» Replies: 2
» Views: 40
New sheath for a Roach Be...
Forum: Knives and Assorted Weapons
Last Post: Bob_Spr
2 hours ago
» Replies: 0
» Views: 5
In the beginning, it was ...
Forum: Knives and Assorted Weapons
Last Post: jbarrow
Yesterday, 03:13 AM
» Replies: 19
» Views: 485
How to determine when to ...
Forum: Knives and Assorted Weapons
Last Post: Deerstalker
04-23-2018, 12:40 PM
» Replies: 15
» Views: 296
Are There Any Hoodlum Hog...
Forum: Questions and Answers
Last Post: Deerstalker
04-23-2018, 10:21 AM
» Replies: 8
» Views: 1,308
A useful survival aid.
Forum: Backpacking and Gear Testing
Last Post: Limey Pete
04-23-2018, 08:17 AM
» Replies: 3
» Views: 92
Kudo's To Gossman Knives
Forum: Knives and Assorted Weapons
Last Post: Jimbo
04-21-2018, 03:32 AM
» Replies: 0
» Views: 29
17 dollar marbles Tactica...
Forum: Knives and Assorted Weapons
Last Post: Scottman
04-20-2018, 02:27 AM
» Replies: 0
» Views: 20
Kel-Tec Bullpup Shotguns
Forum: Questions and Answers
Last Post: Tn Ridge Rover
04-19-2018, 09:19 AM
» Replies: 1
» Views: 79
Crickett pistol thing
Forum: Knives and Assorted Weapons
Last Post: quietmike
04-16-2018, 08:30 AM
» Replies: 9
» Views: 628

  The (savage) Stevens Favorite
Posted by: Eric Stoskopf - 04-14-2004, 03:50 PM - Forum: Weapons FAQ - No Replies

Question for ML

Posted By: Eric Stoskopf - Cool Calm Calamity

Posts: 2374

Posted At: (2/15/04 9:38 am)

Reply | Edit | Del All

First, thank you for the informative post concerning the M6 Scout. I'm sure there are members here that will find the information useful.

If you don't mind, I'd like to pick at your brain tissue for a moment.

I seem to be stuck on the little Stevens "Favorite" rifles as they just seem like they would make a rugged/reliable small game gun. I was wondering if you've had any experience with the rifle(s) and if so, would you care to share those experiences.

Here's some information in case anyone's wondering just what the heck I'm talking about:


I particularly interested in hearing about whether or not mounting a scope on such a rifle would be a wise decision. Maybe that would defeat some kind of purpose...I don't know.

You have to give me credit ML (you to Bill!), at least I'm past the Guide Gun "thing"!


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The (Savage) Stevens Favorite

Posted By: ML - Registered User

Posts: 479

Posted At: (2/16/04 6:04 pm)

Reply | Edit | Del

The (Savage) Stevens Favorite

As with many of Mr. Stoskopf’s questions, this one, while appearing very simple on its surface, is in reality quite interesting and reaching.

A little background. Recently, Savage Arms brought their single-shot Favorite model back into their lineup (Model 30G in .22 Long Rifle, Model 30G-T as a takedown version in the same caliber, Model 30GM in .22 Magnum, and Model 30R17 and 30R17-TD in .17 HMR as a fixed-barrel and takedown version, respectively.

The rifle is a single-shot falling-block design with an exposed hammer. Savage offered the rifle on and off since 1972, when it was known as the Savage Model 72 Crackshot (note the name as one word).

Much, much before that, though, Stevens produced a similar tilting-block rifle, the No. 26 Crack Shot from 1913 to 1943. These had malleable iron receivers, and used screws instead of transverse pins through the frame to secure the hammer, lever, breechblock, etc. In 1939, Stevens switched these to pins.

These were extraordinarily popular little rifles, often viewed as boy’s guns. Once upon a time, I owned a takedown screw-framed model (ascertaining the exact year of production is difficult as these little rifles were not numbered serially), but it had seen hard, hard use before my stewardship and the bore suffered from both neglect and then over-zealous cleaning from the muzzle (it’s my firm belief that as many rifles—especially .22s—are ruined through improper cleaning as through neglect). Consequently, my little No. 26’s accuracy suffered mightily, and it was traded off.

But the little rifle was a joy to carry, at just over four pounds. And, indeed, it was simple to take down and detail clean.

So, enough of the history lesson: is one of the Noble Savages (sorry) a viable choice today?

The Savage offers a couple of advantages. Yes, indeed, it is simple. And certain models feature a handy takedown design. It’s also available in two other chamberings (.22 Magnum and .17 HMR) It’s probably as capable as any contemporary .22 out there in its class.

There’s no shortage of .22 rifles out there today, but I think the Model 72 is probably best compared with the single-shot offerings from H&R/NEF. These, too, are simple, robust, single-shot takedown rifles, although of break-open design. The Savage, though, is clearly more elegant, at least to my eye.

Make no mistake, though, the Savage is still a little rough around the edges. The stock is hardwood stained to look like walnut, and the wood-to-metal fit is utilitarian. No, it is not as “modern” as a contemporary bolt-action, and one should not expect national-match accuracy, but in terms of handiness it’s quite attractive.

Careful readers know Mr. Stoskopf has learned many lessons from Horace Kephart, and his attraction to the Savage, consciously or unconsciously, may be one of them. Kephart did much to further the concept of marksmanship in this country in a time in which the idea was floundering. One of his pet rifles was a .22 Stevens Favorite takedown, with the barrel cut back to 15 inches (an inch shorter than what the legal minimum is today). He also had the stock cut so that stock and action together added up to an identical 15 inches—thus giving him a takedown rifle in which barrel and stock/action were of identical length for tidy packaging. To this Kephart added a Cummins telescopic sight, again, a question Mr. Stoskopf brings up. These telescopic sights were long and slender, as long as the barrel and probably no bigger in diameter. Accounts hold that when Kephart took this rifle into the woods, “at first he found the shortness awkward, but he quickly got used to it and did much better shooting than he had ever done with the skeleton-stocked pocket rifles [such as the Marble’s “game Getter” or today’s new Springfield Armory M6 pistol and carbine].” Kephart later built up a prototypical period sniper rifle on the same lines, using a Winchester High Wall in .30 Govt. (aka today as .30-40 Krag).

To put a telescopic sight on your contemporary Savage Model 30? The question is more where to find a telescopic sight which does not overwhelm the rifle and destroy its balance. Were there a quality 7/8-inch-tube scope on the market, that would be perfect, but all the scopes with tube diameters like that are junk, and a quality Weaver of that diameter is ancient, and, alas, the glass just isn’t up to today’s standards. Something like a Leupold 3-9X Compact seems the most practical, but size-wise it will positively overwhelm the little rifle—it practically overwhelms a Remington Model Seven.

But you can try a scope, and always take it off. The Savage’s barrel is thick enough to easily drill and tap for a scope mount. And I think I’d follow Kephart’s example, and trim the barrel to 16 or 18 inches (both legal today), so the package would takedown and carry more easily. As to the non-takedown versions, I see less to recommend them. Were I to choose a .22 rifle that long, I’d choose a repeater like a Ruger 77/22, which will return superior accuracy, and which works exceedingly well with a telescopic sight.

Finally, the forend question. “Schnabel” is the German word for beak, as in a bird’s beak, and describes the shape at the end of the Savage Model 30’s stock—you can see it on some of the wood-stocked Remington Model Sevens (although not very pronounced there). It’s purely a function of style. Other forend types are “beavertail” (wide and flat) and “splinter” (very small and thin), both usually found on double-barreled shotguns, and “Alex Henry” (a design named after a noted gun builder and featuring an ornamental groove carved into the tip; it’s offered on some Ruger Number One rifles).


Print this item

  Bore Sighting The Ruger Mark Ii
Posted by: Eric Stoskopf - 04-14-2004, 03:35 PM - Forum: Weapons FAQ - Replies (1)

Sighting in scoped pistols

Posted By: Eric Stoskopf - Cool Calm Calamity

Posts: 2499

Posted At: (3/25/04 7:58 pm)

Reply | Edit | Del All

I'd appreciate some advise on how to properly sight in a scoped pistol specifically a Ruger Mark II.

Can the Mark II be bore sighted in the traditional manner like that of a rifle?

Thanks in advance.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Bore Sighting the Ruger Mark II

Posted By: ML - Registered User

Posts: 496

Posted At: (3/28/04 9:24 pm)

Reply | Edit | Del

Bore Sighting the Scoped Ruger Mark II

The other contributors here have given you some sound advice. Let me expand upon it a bit, and suggest the way in which I have gone about it.

The Ruger Mark II offers some inherent design features which make bore sighting it easy and accurate compared with some other handguns. (Boresighting, for those unfamiliar with the term, is the act of making preliminary adjustments to a telescopic sight by sighting through a firearm’s bore and adjusting the telescopic sight’s crosshairs to coincide with a point viewed through the bore. While no substitute for actually firing the firearm to verify sight adjustment, it is a very sound first step which can help you “get in the neighborhood” and which reduces the amount of shots you’ll need to fire during the actual verification.)

The Ruger Mark II aids in this process because it is possible to remove the pistol’s bolt and sight cleanly through the bore. Also, as this pistol features a barrel fixed solidly to the receiver, there is no barrel movement which one has to eliminate or take into consideration (for example, the tipping barrels of the Glock family or the M1911 Colt Automatics).

I like to use a bench-mounted vise with well-padded jaws.

First, remove the pistol’s bolt assembly as per the directions in the Ruger’s manual. This involves unlatching a mechanism in the grip-frame’s backstrap and withdrawing a large-diameter pin from the rear of the receiver. It’s quite an elegant system, but not very intuitive, and you’ll often see Ruger .22 pistols that have been scarred badly by uneducated owners who’ve tried to pound or pry the pin out.

Next, remove the pistol’s grip panels, and clamp the pistol’s grip frame in the vise, using the padded jaws. You want the pistol held firmly, but don’t want to tighten the vise so much that you crush the grip—the Ruger, especially, uses relatively thin metal here. Alternatively, if you have a set of prismatic or “V” jaws for your vise, you can pad these and clamp the pistol in the vise by the barrel proper, and this is even a better setup. (You can make a set of “V” block inserts our of some scrap 1-by-2 or 2-by-four lumber with masonite or plywood backing. You’ll find them handy for holding other round objects in your vise, too, like pipe. Really, you need them for only one vise jaw, while a conventional padded jaw is fine for the other side.)

Now, sight down the bore at an object some distance away. How far away? Ideally, the distance you imagine you’ll be taking most of your shots—whatever that may be. Our friend the informed Dr. Alex mentions firing your sighting shots first at ten yards or so—excellent advice, and we’ll come back to that in a bit. But for boresighting, further is better, as it naturally begins to close the angle between the telescopic sight’s line of sight and the bore’s line of sight. These are not parallel, but intersect at some distance, and for our purposes here, the further the distance the better. Twenty-five yards is good, and fifty yards perhaps better—but an exact distance is not critical.

Sight though the bore at an object, and center the object in the bore. This does not have to be a round, bull’s-eye target—a square is fine. Ideally, you do want the object to fill about half of the bore—too big and it will be hard to center. High contrast also helps; say, a black square or circle against a white background. Size, naturally, depends upon how far from the muzzle this “target” is mounted.

You can mount the telescopic sight in the rings at this point, or it can be mounted before. In general, it’s good to use rings which mount the scope as low as possible over the bore. This is of paramount importance with a rifle, as the low sightline aids in keeping a good cheek weld on the stock. With a pistol, the ergonomics are not an issue, but the lower the sightline comparative to the barrel’s bore line, the tighter the angle of convergence between the two at any given distance, and the more compact the overall package. Just make sure it’s mounted high enough that the focusing ring doesn’t foul the mount’s base, and that you still have room enough to grasp the bolt in order to manually cycle the action.

Now, using the windage and elevation adjusting screws on the scope, move the crosshairs until they perfectly intersect your target, checking periodically to make sure the target is still centered in the barrel’s bore.

Once this is done, it’s time to verify your rough zero by actually shooting. Here, Dr. Alex is right on—start at an extremely close range—seven to ten yards. Don’t start chasing the adjustments with the first group your fire, though, just note where the group prints in respect to the target, especially in regards to windage.

Now, start moving the target back, and note how the group’s point of impact moves. When you’re sure of where it will print at a reasonable distance—say 25 yards—then it’s time to correct for your final aim by once again adjusting the windage and elevation screws.

Do your actual firing for the most solid rest you can—sandbags or shot-filled bags are a great idea. A stuffsack filled with cat litter will work, too—just make sure you watch out for your pistol’s muzzle blast.

Pistol scopes generally have long eye reliefs, and sometimes they exacerbate parallax at certain distances. Usually parallax is worse up close—another reason to boresight at a target some distance away, and to perform your final sight adjustments also at distance. The scope manufacturer or the scope’s literature can tell you at what distance the scope’s parallax is set.

Hope that helps. And hope you enjoy your new Ruger.


Print this item

  Hammocks ?
Posted by: oldbadger - 04-14-2004, 06:21 AM - Forum: Questions and Answers - Replies (8)

Does anyone us the new ultralight hammocks they make now day's? Seems it might be a good way to go. Any good or bad comments would be appreciated. Thanks oldbadger

Print this item

  Fire Piston
Posted by: JeffW - 04-14-2004, 02:08 AM - Forum: Questions and Answers - Replies (6)

Hello to the group. I entered a response to a previous post concerning fire pistons however too much time may have past for it to be of current interest. I am at your service if there are still questions cencerning the fire piston and what it is capable of igniting.

Jeff Wagner

Print this item

Posted by: Moccasinman - 04-14-2004, 01:11 AM - Forum: Hoodlum Workshop-Photos Please - Replies (7)

to make a "hand carved spoon", take a kitchen spoon, a knife, and your favorite stain. rough up the smooth surface, and daple the stain on kind of unevenly. grese it or waterproof coat it. voilà

Print this item

Posted by: Paulette - 04-13-2004, 10:55 AM - Forum: Hoodlum Workshop-Photos Please - Replies (9)

Anyone on here have any experience with llama's? I should have my first by the end of this week! It's a neutered male and and old friend has it and she assures me it has only spit at and when cornered by her horses. We were able to get a lead rope on him in a stall and walk him around easily enough. He coat is however a real 4-5 inch deep mass of burrs. So no llama wool this year. We heard he doesn't mind the whir of electric shears but could sure be crosstied for the process...she said her daughter tried to remove them with oil and only caused the llama an attitude over it. Not too bad of one he just appeared to rather keep the burrs than have them be removed. We were told that he loves to eat the plant that grows them and then loves to roll in the burrs and also to burrow through any hay for the alfalfa.

I have dreams of using this animal for a pack horse for my dry wood for the lodge. Hopefully I'll be able to train this creature for a useful task. The current owner says they are very intelligent and have the memory of an elephant.

I don't expect any problems with my dozen sheep but not sure at all that Clyde the colored angora and him will get along well at all.

TIA for any llama tips,


Print this item

  Brain Tanning
Posted by: George - 04-13-2004, 03:23 AM - Forum: Hoodlum Workshop-Photos Please - Replies (13)

At Winter Count Digger told me to soak the skirt I use when smoking hide in water and then mix the brain into this. I tried it

and it helps to keep the brains from rotting so fast and they last longer. The other thing is that flies won't land in the brains

they don't like the smell of the smoke.

So far I tanned 3 antelope, 2 deer and one coyote and I still have a stack of hides to do.

Print this item

Posted by: Oldpagan - 04-12-2004, 08:25 PM - Forum: Questions and Answers - Replies (4)

Warm Greetings

The thought of Hantavirus has been in the back of my mind for years now. At this point in life where I find myself learning to be a “Hoodlum”, and not the overburdened backpacker it comes to the forefront. While getting some dirt time, I would think that we would use the best cover / shelter we could find. I would think that creatures that live in the area as well would also use this space. Also the practice of setting snares and traps for food would / could turn up one of the four carriers of Hantavirus (Deer Mice, Cotton Rats, Rice Rats, White Footed Mice) would you abandon your snare or risk it? Also I would not be able to tell if it was a field mouse, marmot, or something I shouldn’t eat like one of the above. Ideas? Thoughts? Here are a few links on Hantavirus.







Print this item

  Recoil 101
Posted by: Eric Stoskopf - 04-12-2004, 05:37 PM - Forum: Weapons FAQ - No Replies

Recoil 101

Posted By: ML - Registered User

Posts: 308

Posted At: (6/25/02 11:03 am)

Reply | Edit | Del All

When Push Comes To Shove: Calculating Recoil

There’s a very instructive post over in the "For Sale" section of this Forum, and I’m going to reproduce it (with only minor edits) here: The posting party is Riddlin, a long-time member of this Forum.


"I spent most of last year working at a couple of guest ranches and an outfitter in the Shoshone National Forest outside of Cody, Wyoming. Lots of big cuddly bears in that neck of the woods. I had with me a Marlin 1895 Cowboy model .45-70 . . . [and bought] some Garrett 540-grain Super-Hard Cast Gas-Checked Hammerhead [cartridges loaded at] 1550 FPS. . . so the box said.

"I went out to a range to let a few fly before hunting camp. Well I will recount this only for educational purposes. I fired one (1) round through the Cowboy and said ‘Goddamn boys that’s enough!’ It literally jarred my teeth. I wanted no more. We always joked in the Corps about firing the Barrett 82A1 50 without a muzzle brake; well now I feel I have just a little idea how bad it might be."

(End of quote)

Here we have a working cowboy/outfitter and former United States Marine who’s drawn the line concerning recoil, and admitting that even he has his limits given a specific firearm/cartridge combination! And by doing so, he’s done all of us a great favor. At some point, depending on the individual, firearm, and chambering, you’ve got to say enough--it just doesn’t make any sense any more, and you’re not going to be an effective shot. Any professional will tell you he’d rather work with a hunter who shoots a standard caliber well than a greenhorn who shows up with a light a super magnum he can’t shoot well due to excessive recoil.

Now I thought Our Contributor Riddlin, if he’s recovered his vision yet, might be interested in knowing just how much punishment he altruistically sucked up in the cause of our enlightenment, so I warmed up the calculator and ran some numbers, calculating the free recoil of his hot Garrett .45-70 load in that particular rifle.

But first, an aside. Many variables go into determining how much of a beating you take or don’t take from a firearm. With rifles and shotguns, stock design is a significant factor, but tough to quantify. The closest we can come to a scientific number is something called Free Recoil Energy, expressed in foot-pounds. Basically, this is force generated were the firearm suspended by strings or wires and allowed to recoil backward freely. While not perfect, it’s an instructive comparison.

The formula for calculating Free Recoil requires one to know the weight of the rifle or shotgun, the weight of the bullet or shot load, the weight of the powder, and the muzzle velocity. A formula appears as an appendix to this post.

Back in 1873 when Uncle Sam developed the .45-70 Government cartridge in the "Trapdoor" Springfield, the standard load was a 405-grain bullet propelled to 1320 feet per second by 70 grains of black powder, this launched by a 9.21-pound rifle. Cavalry troopers of the era were armed with a 7.9-pound carbine, and the recoil from the full-house rifle load was deemed too stout for these hardy souls in the lighter gun, so they were issued a 405-grain load propelled at 1150 feet per second by 55 grains of black powder.

Contributor Riddlin’s Marlin Model 1895CB "Cowboy" lever action weighs eight pounds (for all intents identical to the Cavalry’s Trapdoor Carbine) and hucks that 540-grain slug out the muzzle at 1550 feet per second.

Free Recoil Energy

Trapdoor Rifle, .45-70-405 at 1320 fps=

15.42 foot-pounds

Trapdoor Carbine, .45-55-405 at 1150 fps=

12.86 foot-pounds

And how much energy did our man in Wyoming absorb in the cause of our enlightenment?

Marlin M1895CB, .45-70-540 at 1550 fps=

43.90 foot-pounds

Buy that man a beer.

That’s almost three and a half times what the government thought a hardened cavalry trooper of the last century could absorb regularly.

Those Garretts are superb cartridges, offered by enthusiast craftsmen who are doing non-handloading shooters a great service. But they do exact a price.

The greatest lesson here, to my thinking, is that one should hesitate before one rushes out and plunks down a big wad of cash for a large-caliber magnum. Shoot a couple of hundred rounds out of a .30-’06, a .308, a .270, or even a .30-30 before you decide you really need more. If you do, and you can shoot it well, congratulations. By all means, use enough gun--just don’t handicap yourself with too much.

Best regards, and thanks to Mr. Riddlin again,



Calculating Free Recoil Energy (from Fr. Frog’s website)

Supply the following numbers, and have at it.

WG = Weight of gun in pounds

WB = Weight of bullet in grains

WP = Weight of powder charge in grains

VB = Muzzle velocity of bullet in f/s

I = Interim number (Recoil Impulse in lb/sec)

VG = Recoil velocity of gun (f/s)

EG = Recoil energy of gun (ft-lb)

I = [(WB * VB) + (WP * 4000)] / 225218

VG = 32.2 * (I / WG)

EG = (WG * VG * VG) / 64.4

Notes: The "4000" is the nominal velocity of the powder gases for commercial smokeless powder. It is sometimes stated as 4700 in some sources. You can try it with both values to see the effect of the different numbers. If you are doing these calculations for a black powder load use 2000.

Edited by: ML at: 6/25/02 12:12:42 pm

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Excellent information & painful

Posted By: Brother Dan - Registered User

Posts: 81

Posted At: (6/25/02 11:51 am)

Reply | Edit | Del

(This message was left blank)

You can know yourself only when the mind is open, unprepared to meet the unknown. - J. Krishnamurti

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Awesome! That was very informative! Thanks

Posted By: David R - Registered User

Posts: 123

Posted At: (6/26/02 9:52 am)

Reply | Edit | Del

(This message was left blank)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Re: Recoil 101

Posted By: Mountain Goat - Registered User

Posts: 359

Posted At: (6/28/02 4:01 am)

Reply | Edit | Del

ML great post but.......

There are other contributing factors to felt recoil. The design of the stock has a great deal to do with what the end user "feels" The fit, drop at the heal, and energy absorbtion device aka recoil pad all contribute to the reduction or amplification of felt recoil. I recently got a 6.2 lbs rifle in 300 WSM (that included scope) During the purchase process I had a long discussion with the manufacturer about recoil and weight. He convinced me that there due to stock design, composition, etc that the felt recoil would be manageable (he had designed a stock that produced a recoil impulse straighter back into the shooter instead of up (rotational) and the butt of the stock was wider with a thick efficient pad. What I found was a nice rifle that had an extremely quick recoil that I could not manage. I shot it 20 times with factory loads in a number of positions and finally excerised his garantee and returned the gun and went with a .257 Roberts. Much more manageable. Mind you a hunt with a .338 Win Mag and shoot a 50 cal and 45-70's regularly but could not manage the speed and volume of recoil from a ultra light rifle. I would say that the stock design did substantially help but not enough.

Oops rambling again

Take Care


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Re: Recoil 101

Posted By: Birdog - Registered User

Posts: 1300

Posted At: (6/28/02 5:14 am)

Reply | Edit | Del

Another thing you will want to consider if you are shooting a large caliber rifle, with a scope, is eye relief!

I hade a Rugar M-77, 7mm Magnum, with a Leupold 3X9 scope. The scope had a 3" eye relief, and when bench shooting, it was fine.

I was out hunting and a couple of Bucks burst from the trees, so I made a quick shot from a standing position. I neglected to have a tight hold against my shoulder, and wound up with a nice moon shape gash across the top of my nose. I still have a deep groove in the bone where the scope hit me. It was at least 15 minutes before my vision cleared and I had blood all over my face. It affected my shooting for a long time after that.

Print this item

  Confessions Of A Brass Buzzard
Posted by: Eric Stoskopf - 04-12-2004, 05:18 PM - Forum: Weapons FAQ - Replies (1)

Confessions of a Brass Buzzard

Posted By: ML - Registered User

Posts: 351

Posted At: (10/9/02 4:16 pm)

Reply | Edit | Del All

Confessions of a Brass Buzzard.

You’ve seen them at the shooting range. Those grizzled old guys that hover around your bench until you’re packing up, and then swoop down to pick up your discarded brass shell casings. What do these guys do when it’s dinner time--shadow a table at a restaurant and ask, "You going to finish that?" They’re pathetic. They’re disgusting.

And I’m one of them.

Let me tell you a story about the brass buzzard’s Eldorado, a tale so epic in its scope that it makes the legend of the Lost Dutchman mine look like pocket change abandoned at an inner-city bus stop.

Some Forum members may be blissfully ignorant of this sickness. Brass buzzards pick up spent brass--their own or anyone else’s--because they intend to reload it. Therein lies the first problem--many of them don’t reload, but they tell themselves that they intend to, and that’s the first step down the slippery slope of rationalization that leads, inexorably, straight to the heart of the pack-rat’s den. The cartridge case is the single most expensive component of a round of fixed ammunition, and by scrounging used cases--many of which can be reloaded many times over--the buzzard had substantially reduced the cost of assembling ammunition for future shooting.

Some shooters purchase new, virgin brass, sort it by manufacturer and lot, and meticulously keep track of how many times they reload it. The buzzard, on the other hand, is happy to catch as he can. This behavior has substantial drawbacks: the buzzard often doesn’t know how many times his brass has been fired, and consequently how much life it still has left. The buzzard’s brass is invariably commingled, mixing different brands together, and often that means small but important differences in shell-case capacity and weight. The buzzard’s brass has often sat out exposed to the elements, which may fatigue the brass further.

But buzzard brass has that one big advantage, an advantage Mark Twain once addressed when he said, "It wasn’t the best for the job, but it was the cheapest--a quality which overlooks many other faults." And Mama, ain’t nothing cheaper than free.

* * * * *

To most people, the high desert of the Mojave, north of Los Angeles by about an hour and a half, is a threatening, desolate wasteland. For a select few, though, it is a place of wonder and beauty. It’s also a fascinating place for a variety of man-made reasons as well, home to Edwards Air Force Base (where man first flew faster than the speed of sound, and where the Space Shuttle still occasionally touches down) and the China Lake Naval Weapons Center (a true gun-nut’s dreamscape). I was dragged deep into the Mojave first by my father, who dreamed of finding gold there. Later, I explored the area from the saddle of a dirt bike, and it was from behind those handlebars that I glimpsed Eldorado.

It didn’t look like much at first--an old trailer in the middle of a treeless desert surrounded by abandoned cars and machinery of all sorts. If you haven’t grown up in the American West, it’s hard to imagine that outposts like this actually exist, and today they’re often meth labs. Recently, one old desert rat got sent to prison for attempting to blind pilots flying over his property with a giant (like eight feet in diameter) concave mirror he’d picked up at China Lake. Enterprising! He’d spent a little too much time alone out there, and was a might ticked at United Airlines interrupting his communications with the extraterrestrials. But this was before all that, so I rode up to check the place out.

A crusty denizen of the Mojave (complete with Smith and Wesson Model 19 on his hip) came out, and we had a little chat. He’d amassed quite a bit of interesting machinery in his little corner of paradise, all of it baking in the desert sun. For those Forum members who have never set foot in the Mojave, it’s a unique, very dry environment. The major airlines send their mothballed airliners out to the north end of Mojave airport for storage. Rubber doesn’t last long out in the baking sun, but the hot, dry environment means metal can sit out there for decades, and other than a little patina still look new.

Trailer Man had all sorts of cool stuff he’d scavenged from China Lake and Edwards. I was most interested in one 55-gallon drum full of pulled .30-caliber armor piercing bullets, and several other drums full of once-fired USGI .30-’06 Springfield brass. We parlayed for a little bit, and I bought a couple of quarts of the .30-caliber AP, and filled the pockets of my riding jacket with them. I was interested in the brass, but we were having trouble agreeing on a price.

That’s a bit of a misstatement. You see, I really didn’t have much money then, and he really wasn’t interested in money anyway, so we began to cast around for a trade. I noticed that he had an old Toyota Land Cruiser parked at the estate. I mentioned that I had one too--a 1971 FJ55, and that I had some parts--specifically, I had a lot of engine parts, since I’d yanked the old in-line six and replaced it with a 327 Chevrolet V-8, creating a Frankenstein I alternately called the Chevota or Toyolet depending upon my mood and how it was running. Trailer Man’s eyes lit up, and we struck a deal.

A couple of weeks later, I drove the Chevota out into the Big Dez, and swapped Trailer Man a rebuilt cylinder head complete with rocker gear and new valves for his .30-’06 brass--two and a half 55-gallon drums of it. We both laughed at each other as I drove off, thinking we’d each pulled off the deal of the century and scalded the other poor bastard.

My end of the deal revealed its first setback before I’d even reached the pavement. Those FJ55s are long-bed four-doors, and I’d laid the drums down sideways. The drums had their heads cut off so they were open like big trashcans, and we’d clamped lids to them. With its 327, the Chevota was a hoot to drive on the washboard desert roads, and I was clipping along right smart when I hit a sizable washout, and one of the drums spit its head off, spilling God knows how many thousands of cases into the truck. For the next ten years, brass would mysteriously show up, even though I went through every nook and cranny of that FJ55 cleaning it out.

Second, I discovered that an empty .30-’06 Springfield shell case is what a Black Widow spider considers the perfect one-room apartment, and the thousands of Black Widows living in my thousands of new shell cases weren’t enjoying this washboard desert ride one bit. Again, for the next ten years, countless generations of pissed-off Black Widows called that FJ55 home.

What to do with a quarter-million rounds of .30-’06 brass when you’re living in a 400-square-foot apartment in the middle of Los Angeles? To my buzzard pals, I was the richest man alive--of course, at that time in our lives a significant factor of our net worth included the contents of our refrigerators. But now that I had it, what was I actually going to do with this stuff, and where was I going to store it?

In these years, lots of little nibbling commitments gnawed away at my time. I had a couple of part-time jobs. I was trying to write. I was waist-deep in graduate school, trying to read Hemingway and Faulkner and Shakespeare every night. I was working as an assistant in the Survival classes where Ron taught at CSUN. But the brass kept calling me.

So I started working it. Hell’s bells, I didn’t even own a .30-’06 then, but there’s still a lot you can do with that parent brass. I’d neck it up and neck it down. I’d shorten it, and blow the shoulders out. I borrowed dies from everyone I knew. I gave myself a repetitive stress injury from swaging out primer pockets. I broke hundreds of decapping pins. I imported a whole new generation of Black Widow spiders inside my home. I managed to produce loads for the .35 Whelen, .308 Winchester, .300 Savage, 8mm Mauser, 7mm Mauser, 7mm-’08, .280 Remington, .270 Winchester, .25-’06 Remington, .257 Roberts, .243 Winchester--even the original .30-’06. I even cut down some to make brass for my .45 ACP!

Of course, all of it had the wrong headstamps, and after a while that became its own problem. And meanwhile Hemingway and Faulkner and Shakespeare beckoned, as did the Chevota, as did the job, as did Mr. Hood’s trips and life in general.

That brass became an albatross around my neck. I tried selling some of it, but none of the other buzzards had any cash either, and all they wanted to do was trade more junk. I ended up with 600 pounds of lead wheel weights--now I was going to add bullet casting to my list of things to do. I’d trade the stuff off by the three-pound-coffee-can-full, and still I hadn’t made an appreciable dent in my supply. I swear, the stuff was asexually reproducing in the drums at night, and that after a week I’d end up with more than I’d started with. Those drums were like Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart--I’d hear them beating at night driving me nuts.

Finally I said enough, and worked an epic three-part deal to be rid of it all. But let me tell you, a man is never really rid of that much brass. Now, twenty years and two moves later, I still turn the stuff up occasionally. The Chevota is long gone, and how that brass ever got into the bed of my pickup I’ll never know, but it’s turned up there. It turns up in the pockets of old hunting jackets, in the bottom of old backpacks, in shooting bags and toolboxes and my camp kitchen. Every time I see a Black Widow, I can’t help but think that it’s the great-great-great-great-grandkid of one of those old Mojave arachnids.

Some time ago, I drove back out to the Dez to see if the old fart was still out there. I’d pretty much shot up all that .30-caliber AP (even gave a double handful to Ron way back when), and I wanted to see if there was still any left. But the old coot and his trailer were gone, like a desert mirage, and the whole place is now Honda’s Super Secret High Desert Test Track, complete with chain-link fence and remote cameras and robot dogs.

So heed my tale well, oh loyal Forum readers. That brass is probably still out there, silently multiplying for the last 20 years. There’s probably a half-dozen drums of it now. If you see it, just keep on driving and don’t look back.

And if you see some broken-down old climber lurking outside of your favorite restaurant like some scrawny stray cat, well, try to avoid making eye contact, and just throw me your doggie bag. I thank you in advance.

Best regards,



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Re: Confessions of a Brass Buzzard

Posted By: yellercat - Registered User

Posts: 223

Posted At: (10/9/02 5:34 pm)

Reply | Edit | Del

scavanging brass at the range, one of lifes simple pleasures. thanks.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

i confess...

Posted By: mark48310 - Registered User

Posts: 23

Posted At: (10/10/02 7:41 am)

Reply | Edit | Del

i pick up brass where i can and have INTENDED to reload for years now...

but it gets worse...a couple years ago i got into blacksmithing and then knifemaking after getting Ron's video last year...now i find myself off on weekly forays to the train tracks and recycle stations trying to score more steel...my garage is loaded up with probably on the order of 3-4 tons of steel, more steel than i'll ever use in a lifetime...

and yet, i was out at the RR tracks yesterday scrounging and will probably do so again today...

i find myself at the scrap steel yard BUYING the stuff too, anytime i find something "interesting"...at 20 cents a pound, who cares, right? well, do that 20 or 30 time and it adds up...i've spent hundreds of dollars on junk...literally - junk...

i used to find old a/c fans at the recycle station...would tear 'em apart for motors...intend to use the motors for grinding wheels, buffing wheels, etc. now i have more "grinding stations" in my shop than i have square feet of space...i dunno what i plan to grind with all those grinders...if worse comes to worst, maybe i can just grind down my pile of junk steel...

there has to be some use for big piles of dust...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Re: Welcome back ML....

Posted By: wmerrin - Registered User

Posts: 574

Posted At: (10/9/02 6:27 pm)

Reply | Edit | Del


It's good to see you posting again... Great story.

You probably remember the private shooting range some guy ran on his property just off Hwy 14 a little northeast of I-5 about 25 years ago... in the Antelope Valley I think. I shot there a few times with a friend, and this guy had barrels of .38 spl and 5.56mm brass for something like a penny or two a round. How could you resist a deal like that? I actually reloaded some of the .38 spl, but the 5.56 is still in a box...



Wally Merrin


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Re: Welcome back ML....

Posted By: Bill Hay - Registered User

Posts: 2494

Posted At: (10/9/02 6:44 pm)

Reply | Edit | Del

Yeah, you wuz missed! How did your trip into those mountains go? Hope you had great time...

I got caught up in the scrounging brass affliction a while back... I actually started handloading, too! Luckily for me, I started going to Front Sight, and started buying hardball by the case load...

Ain't loaded a lick of .45 since...

I seem to recall a big crate of brass out in the garage... Sorted by caliber, and headstamp... Oughta get rid of it, I suppose. I need the room for all the knives that seem to be growing in number nowadays...

Great story, thanks for the telling...


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Re: Welcome back ML....

Posted By: CaliCollector - Registered User

Posts: 70

Posted At: (10/9/02 9:29 pm)

Reply | Edit | Del



i too am afflicted by the brass buzzards curse, drives my wife nuts!!!!! unknown case life, dirty brass, spiders, rocks, odd ball cases that always pop up when you KNOW that you only picked up 9mm, 38spl, .357, 45LC., 44mag, and 45ACP, how in the hell did i get a bunch of 32auto brass here?? ive got several 50 cal ammo cans full of misc. brass... most sorted out by caliber, and a couple cans that are still waiting to be sorted, one of these days ill set up my reloading press again, and start pumping out target ammo on that RCBS single stage... if i get back into it again, maybe ill hear the blue dillion call my name...Ray in California

"Beware the man with only one gun, chances are he KNOWS how to use it."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Thanks, Donkey Salami

Posted By: ML - Registered User

Posts: 353

Posted At: (10/10/02 2:42 pm)

Reply | Edit | Del

Thank you all for the kind greetings. Indeed, I managed to avoid any untoward alpine mishaps, although I did get my heart rate up a couple of times. In the end, eating that Donkey Salami I bought at a French street market was probably as dangerous as anything I did in the mountains. But you only live once, eh?


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

i was wondering who you were calling Donkey Salami, until i

Posted By: CaliCollector - Registered User

Posts: 86

Posted At: (10/10/02 10:36 pm)

Reply | Edit | Del


read your reply...lol... Ray in California

"Beware the man with only one gun, chances are he KNOWS how to use it."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Posted By: creature of forest - Registered User

Posts: 40

Posted At: (10/13/02 12:23 pm)

Reply | Edit | Del

I used to save brass for the end of civilization as we now know it, but I eventually came to believe that with the cost of reloading supplies and the time involved, I would be better off just buying bulk ammo. Now, my excuse for brass scrounging is that I am trying to complete a collection of every caliber ever made.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I feel like a kid at Christmas time...

Posted By: Eric Stoskopf - Cool Calm Calamity

Posts: 1718

Posted At: (10/13/02 5:23 pm)

Reply | Edit | Del

...everytime I spot a new post from ML.

Many thanks to ML for another wonderfully written story!


Woodsdrummer: my online wilderness journal

In the school of the woods there is no graduation day. Horace Kephart

Print this item