Piracy on the High Seas

Posted by on March 10, 2012

As we all know, piracy on the high seas is alive and thriving out of Somalia.   Also out of West Africa, and no doubt other places.   I’m no expert, but I do wonder how a dozen pirates in a small boat can capture a big merchant ship.   But before I explore this thread, let me explain, for those who don’t live in South Africa, that, like most countries, we have several popular radio talk show hosts, one of who is Redi Direko.   Three years ago she interviewed Prof Paul Moorcroft who is a recognised expert about such things.  

It was an illuminating chat.  It was somewhat exasperating at the beginning, because, although Moorcroft explained the background and difficulties very well, he seemed to be dodging the obvious solution.  He gave the clue to that solution when he referred to the legal difficulties of arming merchant ships.   No doubt he meant the refusal of British Governments to allow British registered ships to carry arms, but no doubt most countries have the same attitude.

But I was pleasantly surprised when he said, near the end of the interview, that “it wouldn’t happen if they were armed.”   Then he agreed with a listener who suggested that a couple of 50 Cal Brownings would be just the ticket.   As far as I know that’s the first time anyone has had the balls to say it, and the really frightening thing is that such a simple and cheap solution is prevented by politics.

What politics ?   The politics by which governments want such complete monopoly of force that they won’t even allow ships to defend themselves against pirates.   Pof Moorcroft made it clear that a political solution would be first prize, but that there is no chance of that in the foreseeable future.   In the meantime, as he also pointed out, the cost of sailing round the Cape is enormous.   He also said that although the US and other navies are doing some patrolling, the area is just too big to patrol adequately, and the world’s navies have better things to do.

The 50 Cal Browning dates from 1918 but remains a formidable weapon.   Its big cartridge firing a heavy bullet gives it a long effective range, and a few seconds burst at close range will sink a pirate boat and kill the crew.   Cost would be minimal, loss of time a few minutes, and the only evidence an entry in the ship’s log.

Of course, what would work for a ship at sea should work for individuals on land.   I carry a gun 24/7 precisely to fend off the pirates that would kill me for my car or cell phone.   If it is agreed that ships should not have to surrender to pirates at sea, why should I have to surrender to them on land ?  It is of course argued that I should not “take the law into my own hands” and that I should rely on the police or give criminals what they want rather than fight.   Similarly, merchant ships are told that they must not take the law into their own hands (defend themselves against pirates) they must rely on the police (navy) or give pirates what they want (let themselves be captured for ransome).

If it is not OK for me to make a stand against criminals, why is it OK for ships to defend themselves ?   As matters now stand, both we and the merchant ships are in the same position, we are under constant attack by criminals, the police and navies can’t protect us, but we are told that it is not acceptable to protect ourselves.

Ammo Reliability

Posted by on February 5, 2012

There is an old saying “the first requirement for a gunfight is to have a gun.”  Some readers might not understand that, but we gun types know that it is just another way of saying “don’t get into it if you are unarmed,” or “your gun is no use locked in a safe at home.”

But I believe there is a more important, and less often mentioned factor, “the first requirement of a gun fight is to have a gun that WORKS.”   I saw a surprising number that didn’t.   Imagine pulling your gun, thus inviting fire, then finding it goes “click” not “bang.”

Handguns don’t work for a variety of reasons, but today I’m going to talk about the reliability of ammo.  It is generally considered a bad idea to carry handloads for defense.  Partly, that’s because of the habit of prosecutors to characterise it in court as your determination to assemble stiff loads to inflict more damage than necessary.  But it is also to avoid the risk of unreliability from poor handloading methods.

I have a 38 Special handloaded cartridge (not loaded by me) with a reversed primer.   But the factories are not perfect, and I well remember a 270 Win factory cartridge with a reversed primer.  That was in the gun shop where I was gunsmith.  That was a very rare item, to be seen once in a lifetime, but my boss couldn’t be persuaded not to return the box to the importer for refund.   In hindsight I was nuts not to have bought the box.  I do have a new WW 308Win case with no flash hole.

I have also seen a box of 30-06 factory ammo, few of which would chamber in the rifle for which they were bought.  I didn’t have a 30-06 headspace gauge so I couldn’t say whether the chamber was overly tight, but the rifle owner said that he had not encountered that problem before, and sure enough, various other factory cartridges chambered and extracted without trouble.

Yesterday I was serving as RO at my local range.  I had a chat with a security guy, who showed me an LM4 on which some idiot has replaced missing screw from the front sight, with a self tapper.   There are two opposing screws for lateral adjustment.  The front sight blade is now loose and thus innacurate.  It prompted discussion about the careless way in which many security personnel treat their weapons, and the importance of reliability of arms and ammo when the chips are down.

It reminded me of some of the faults I’ve seen with ammo.  Perhaps the most common is 9mmP.  Some older dies, including mine, have a crimp shoulder that seems to be more a roll crimp than anything.  But pistol ammo headspaces on the case mouth, which must therefore be a well defined shoulder, or step.  A roll crimp destroys the headspace, and in fact a 9mm cartridge with a roll crimp can jam itself into the chamber throat, and tie up the gun.  I’ve seen that quite often.  The answer is to use four dies.  That is, set the seating die (that’s the third die) so that it seats the bullet to the correct depth but does not crimp.   Then finish the job with a taper crimp die.  

A few years ago I loaded some 40S&W ammo for a friend’s Para Ordnance.  As he had bought a four die set I loaded the first few batches with all four.  Then I noticed that the Lee seating die did a better job than my old RCBS dies, so I figured I didn’t need the fourth (factory crimp) die.  At the next range session about one in four cartridges wouldn’t fully chamber.  They almost chambered but not quite, leaving the slide two millimetres short of closing.  The cartridge was always jammed solid in the chamber and had to be carefully tapped out with a cleaning rod while a second pair of hands gripped the pistol and hauled on the slide.

Investigation revealed that the chamber was slightly tighter than SAAMI minimum, while some of the loaded ammo was max or slightly over.   I forget the exact figures, but as I recall, the chamber was 424, while the ammo varied between 4235 and 4245.  The chamber is slightly tapered, so the ammo was wedging just before the chamber throat.  The Lee factory crimp die reduced the case mouth to slightly below 424.    Not much below, but enough to chamber.  I have not measured any factory ammo, so I can’t say whether it is significantly smaller than 424.  But I wouldn’t want to rely on that pistol in a tight situation.  No matter how well it might work on the range because of the factory crimp die, less than half a thou clearance all round is too close for comfort.

Lyttleton Engineering in South Africa once offered the Vektor CP1, a little polymer framed pistol in 9mmP.  It was a fixed barrel gas operated delayed blowback type, similar to the HK P7.   One day, on the range, my handloads that had worked flawlessly in my SS220 for years, failed to feed in a CP1, in a manner very similar to the Para Ordnance  described above.   So, when Lyttleton engineering had a stand at an exhibition at a Cape Town range, I took some of my handloads along.  Sure enough, the problem repeated itself, and Lyttleton’s engineer diagnosed the problem as slight residual flare at the case mouth that my seating die hadn’t ironed out.  He also admitted that the CP1 chambers were tight.  My SS220 had no trouble because its chamber, like most service pistols, is generous enough to handle less than perfect ammo.

That’s when I bought a Lee factory crimp die.  At a later test, the same CP1 fed that ammo perfectly.

The lesson is clear.   Understand what makes reliable ammo, load it carefully, and if you intend to carry any handloaded ammo on business, shuck it all through the pistol to ensure that it feeds and extracts. 

Vektor CPI  HK P7

The 50 Cal Boys Anti-tank rifle in Australia

Posted by on January 21, 2012

This story is based entirely on memory.   I have no records that I can find.   It is based on articles I read several years ago, but didn’t keep.  But the basic story is accurate if some of the detail might not be perfect.   

Australia is a very big and lightly populated island.  When the Japanese were on the rampage in 1941, Australia was very vulnerable to invasion, and if memory serves, some Japanese forces landed in the Darwin area.  It was recognised that the army was not big enough to police the whole territory, and that in remote areas, civilians would have to provide intel as well as what resistance might be practical against a much bigger force.

The most obvious was sniping, in this case not so much picking off officers, more focussed on knocking out vehicles by shots through radiators and the like.  Consequently, large  quantities of Boys 55 cal anti tank rifles were distributed, with no records being kept, presumably so that a conquering Japanese army would not find records of who had the rifles.

At the end of the war, when the Australian Army asked for its rifles back, no-0ne had heard of them.  What surprises me is that there was such wall-to-wall conspiracy of silence, and determination to keep the rifles, between so many people who had never met and did not know each other, except for small numbers who might have known each other.   What motivated them ?  After all, what can you do in civilian life with a very big and heavy weapon for which ammo is impossible to get, except for the few enthusiasts and collectors who would like to have one for the hell of it ? 

Many years later, in the nineteen sixties I think, the Australian Army sold off a batch of 50 BMG barrels.   In those days there was no restriction on the purchase of rifle barrels in much of Australia.   The surprise was how quickly they sold, almost instantly.   Who’d need a 50 BMG barrel ?   In those days no actions existed except the 50BMG itself.   The answer was, to adapt them  to the 55 Boys.   55 Boys ammo was totally unavailable even then.   50BMG ammo was not readily available either, but more easily organised than 55 Boys for resourceful people.

Then, several years later, a substantial quantity of empty brass became available, probably also from the army, because commercial brass was not then available.  The writer of the article that told this story, took a chance and bought all of it.   He cleaned them, packed them  in lots of 50, and advertised them for sale.   To his amazement he sold it all pretty much overnight.   Where did it all go ?   Obviously to feed the Boys rifles that had been converted to 50 BMG.

So there are thousands of Boys rifles converted to 50BMG.   How do their owners keep them secret in this intrusive world ?    Where do they shoot them without some nosy person reporting them ?   Even more interesting, the barrel conversion must be quite complex, so how have so many been done secretly, and how have so many gunsmiths done the work without at least some being noticed ?

To make it even more interesting, I read about an interesting 50BMG cartridge conversion to 30 cal.   The 50BMG case is necked down to take a very heavy (and thus high ballistic coefficient) 30 cal bullet at very high MV.   250 grain at 4000FPS was mentioned.   Apparently they are used for taking kangaroo and wild camels at very long range.

How do gunsmiths do the barrel conversions secretly, working on rifles that could probably get them jailed if they are caught ?   In the dead of night with blacked out workshop windows and lookouts posted ?   The wildcat calibre also needs custom loading dies.   Maybe Simplex made them and saw no reason to tell.

I think it is a very interesting story.   If anyone can shed more light on it, or refer me to the old articles that described it, I’d like to know.   

Finally, for added interest, a few of the rifles are legally owned in the original 55 calibre, and I heard of at least one guy who shoots cast bullets from his.   900 grain if memory serves.    Don’t know how he gets brass, it wasn’t mentioned.   If he is reloading the original berdan primed cases, either he has a lot of them, or more likely doesn’t shoot it much.  If he is getting brass by case conversion, I’d love to know how.  

A few years ago, there was a guy in Zimbabwe reloading some old Kynoch 505 Gibbs or 500 Jeffery cases.   That was before that brass became available from Bertram and others.   The cases had very big primers, possibly the old British quarter inch, but I’m not sure exactly which.   As I recall, he converted them to boxer, and tapped the primer pockets for a machined brass insert that accepted a smaller primer.   Amazing what can be done when there’s no choice.

Converting berdan cases to boxer

Posted by on November 29, 2011

My last posting was about priming with berdan primers.    Willie Barnard posted a reply that explains a simple method of hydraulic decapping that he devised, which avoids the need for a lathe turned punch.    The only downside, if it can be called that, is that the pistol case must fit the rifle case within fairly close limits, so it might not work with all calibres.    But then, there are not many berdan primed calibres these days, only the 7.62 NATO and possibly some 5.56NATO.    It is a simple and clever method, and shows what can be improvised when the mind is applied.

Converting berdan cases to accept boxer primers is something done by very few reloaders.    Some of us, including Willie Barnard and I, do it for the hell of it, and because we don’t want to throw away good cases.    But generally, it is a survival measure that you do when you can’t get boxer brass.    In the nineteen seventies, when economic sanctions were imposed on South Africa, we had the strange situation in which boxer primers were imported sporadically despite the sanctions, but boxer cases were all but impossible to get.    It was therefore quite common practice to convert military 9mm brass to boxer.

At first sight, it is simple – you drill a central flash hole, at the same time taking off the berdan anvil.    It is easiest on a lathe, but works well (and faster) on a small drill press with a simple fixture to centre the case under the drill bit.   What about the existing berdan flash holes ?    Doesn’t matter, they are so small that they can be ignored.    A 2mm drill is suitable.    But the drill bit will wander when it contacts the anvil.    I found that a 2mm end mill works better – it machines off the anvil very neatly and drills the hole as well.

Somebody marketed a die that did the job a lot faster.    It looks very like a sizing die, for use in a loading press,  complete with what looks like a decapping pin.    But it isn’t a decapping pin, it is a hardened punch with a perfectly flat end.    In use, it is screwed into the press, and the case inserted into the shellholder,  just as for normal resizing.    The ram is brought up very smartly, and the “die” punches a 2mm hole through the web of the case, and removes the berdan anvil at the same time.    I have one of these – I have no idea who made them – Keith Dyer of Magnum magazine found two of them in a shop in Durban.    Apparently they had been lying around for years – nobody wanted them, so the shop gave them to Keith, who sent one to me because he knew I’d be interested.   I tested it – it works well – the hole it leaves is often a good bit off centre, but that doesn’t matter.   The hole is also ragged, but is easily cleaned up.       

Small berdan primers are 4.50mm (.177 inch) diameter, small boxer are .175, so the boxer primer is a loose fit in the berdan pocket.    In the 1970s the boys filled the gap with nail varnish.    I don’t think that’s too safe with a high pressure cartridge like the 9mmP, but a lot of it was done without trouble as far as I know.     What’s worse, though, is that boxer primers are thicker than berdan.   I measured a few of each, and the average was berdan 2.76mm, boxer 3.22.    Therefore, a boxer primer in a berdan pocket stands proud quite a lot.    It could prevent the slide of a 9mm pistol from closing fully, and I suspect that it was tolerated in a pinch, and that 9mm pistols are all military, with chambers that are generous enough for it to be gotten away with.    But I’m horrified at the idea of a slide closing on a primer standing proud of the case.    I have never heard reports of a problem in that respect, but, all things considered, I consider it a risky conversion to be done only when there is no choice.    

It is an even bigger risk with rifle because of the higher chamber pressures.    Large primers are even looser in the pocket than small primers.    It occurred to me that the berdan pocket could be machined deeper with an end mill ground to the right diameter, but the metal is already quite thin at that point, and would be dangerously thin if reduced by half a millimetre.

I know of at least one individual (a toolmaker) who made up some tooling for pressing something like a ring crimp around the primer pockets of rifle brass.    But it is not a crimp – it reduces pocket diameter for about one third of the depth.   It over-reduces it slightly, then it can be brought to the correct diameter for a boxer primer with a pocket uniforming punch.    That’s a neat way of doing it, but it doesn’t take care of the pocket being too shallow.   Maybe the guy has solved that problem too, maybe I should try to find him and ask.  

But until I get a satisfactory answer, I wouldn’t try the conversion – rather get some berdan primers.

Berdan Priming

Posted by on November 15, 2011

Berdan priming is really an unneccesary chore, but some of us do it for various reasons.   In my case, I couldn’t bear to throw out 300 good once fired cases, so, as berdan primers are still available (occasionally) in South Africa, I accept the chore of loading them.    

Once primed, the rest of the loading process is no different from boxer.    The chore is in the decapping.   There are two methods of decapping, a hook tool and hydraulics.    The only tool I know of is the RCBS.   It hooks into the rim or extractor groove, and a hardened tooth penetrates the primer and lifts it out of the pocket.   I have found it unreliable.  It works only some of the time, and breaks teeth often.    To be fair to the tool, military primers are crimped into their pockets and are very resistant to removal.  

Hydraulic removal is a bigger chore but works better.   At its simplest, the case is filled with water, and a close fitting steel or brass punch inserted into the neck and struck a smart hammer blow.    The hydraulic pressure is  often, but not always, enough to force out the primer.    It depends on the crimp.    On one occasion, half the primers came out easily enough, but the other half were so tight that the pressure bulged the cases enough to reduce them to scrap.    But that was extreme, and usually they come out without damage to the case.

It is a bit messy, but it is only water.   I do it inside one of those plastic cat litter trays.   It also works better with a base for the case.    I use a decapping base from a Lee Loader.    It is nothing more than a steel cylinder with a through hole and a counterbore for the case head.    The punch must be a tight fit, ie tight enough to need a couple of light taps to get it into the case neck.    If it is not tight, the water will squirt out the neck and the hydraulic pressure will be insufficient.

The first job after decapping is to chamfer the pocket with a chamfer tool.    I do that with my boxer cases because it eases priming, but it also removes the crimp from the berdan cases.    Future hydraulic decapping is then much easier.

I prime with a Lee hand priming tool.   As berdan primers are slightly bigger than boxer, they won’t fit into the shell holder.   I polished out the hole of a shell holder to take the berdan primers, and made a new punch to fit the hole.    Fortunately, it is for the 308 Win, which makes that shell holder fit a whole lot of other calibres. 

I haven’t checked whether press mounted primer arms, or ram prime tools, have enough dimensional tolerance to work with berdan primers, but if not, they shouldn’t be difficult to modify.

Small berdan primers are 4.50mm (0.177″) diameter, boxer are 0.175″(4.445mm).    Large berdan 5.50mm (0.2165″), boxer 0.210″ (5.334mm).    Note also different thickness.    Large rifle berdan 2.76mm (0.109″), boxer 3.22mm (0.127″).    As boxer primers are made to imperial dimensions, nominal thickness is 0.125″ so the measured 0.127 is because of tolerance.    Small boxer primers are 0.302 – 0.304mm thick (0.119 – 0.120″).    I have no small berdan to measure, but it can be assumed that they are thinner than boxer.

Sophisticated tools are available for hydraulic decapping.    They work on the principle of equalising pressure by having water inside and outside the case.    The idea is to avoid losing the cases by bulging them.    A buddy of mine made one – it worked very well.

All this is for bottle necked rifle cases.  It doesn’t work too well for short pistol cases like the 9mm or 45ACP, because the case tapers inside, and there is not enough depth for the punch to exert enough pressure.   It will probably work quite well for longer straight cases like 38 Spl and 357 Mag, but I haven’t tried it.

Alox/beeswax bullet lube – what is it ?

Posted by on November 1, 2011

50/50 Alox/beeswax has been the standard bullet lube since the nineteen sixties.    Except, that is, for the increasing use by commercial casters in the last few years of hard wax because it is cleaner and less messy in packaging.

It was developed by Col E H Harrison and his team at the NRA.    Before that, all sorts of concoctions had been used, some more effective than others.   Col Harrison decided that it was high time that something better was developed, that would work well even with cast rifle bullets.    It was a long and thorough search, well documented in his book “Cast Bullets” published by the NRA in 1979.

Success did not come easily.   It was not difficult to find products which prevented or minimised leading, but there was wide variance in accuracy.   It may seem strange that the type of lube should affect accuracy, but it does.   So the quest was for a lube that would prevent leading and also permit fine accuracy with rifle bullets.   Eventually, a particular type of grease made by Alox Corporation showed promise.   But the NRA, not satified with “almost good enough” pressed for further development.   The result was Alox 2138F, which is a thick grease.   

It was found to work best, across the board, when mixed 50/50 with commercial yellow beeswax.   The beeswax is the carrier, and the alox the lubricant.    It quickly became the standard, and is still the best lube for individual use, in my opinion.    But a few years ago, I forget exactly when, Alox Corp was bought out by Lubrizol Corp, and 2138F was discontinued.

It can be duplicated.   97% Alox 350 mixed with 3% Petrolite C-700 microcrystalline wax = Alox 2138F.    Alox 350 is still made, and Petrolite C-700 is made by Baker Hughes Corp.   It is not mixed by simply adding 3% C-700 to 97% Alox.   First mix 7% Alox with the 3% C-700, ie mix 10% of the total as a 70/30 mix.    Then mix that with the other 90% Alox.

There is some difference  of opinion about the exact mix.    One formula recommends 5% C-700.    It is not critical. 

Presumably that is how Lee and others mix their lube.   If not, I don’t what it is that they market as Alox/beeswax. 

When I bought 2138F, the smallest quantity was a 16kg drum.   That’s over one million bullets, so it’s a lot for one man to buy.   But it’s a very practical proposition for four or five guys to share.   A lifetime supply, and very cheap lubing.

Alox bullet lube – why I can’t supply it

Posted by on November 1, 2011

I have had a few requests for bullet lube on this blog and by e mail.  I can’t supply it.  Let me explain why.

In the early days of my commercial bullet casting, hollow lube sticks at retail price were much too expensive, so I imported a 16kg drum of Alox 2138F and mixed it with local commercial beeswax.   It was identical to the commercial product sold be Lee and others at one tenth the cost.  I am not aware of any bullet lube better than 50/50 Alox/ beeswax, even today.  I stopped using it in favour of modern hard wax only because it is too messy for packaging for sale. 

But I had a lot of it left, so I offered it for sale, either in its pure state or mixed with beeswax in big blocks or hollow sticks, for which I made a simple mould.   I didn’t advertise it in Magnum because the cost of such adverts is disproportionately high for the likely sales volume.   I offered it through SATalkGuns, my local club, and what other channels I could think of that wouldn’t cost much.   Two guys bought 1 kg each of bulk lube.   One of my own club members bought a few sticks.   Not one dealer in the greater Cape Town area would buy it.   So I couldn’t sell the 100% genuine product at half the price of normal retail.   I concluded that only branded goods will sell, and the price doesn’t matter.   When I moved to smaller premises recently, I gave it to a friend who likes to experiment.   There was about 10kg, which would make 500 hollow sticks.

Just for interest, I ran two tests to see how far a kg would go.  It averaged 40 000.   90% of my production was single groove 9mm and 38Spl, the remaining 10% being mostly 40S&W and 45ACP.    At the time (a long time ago) the alox cost R320 for 16kg, and local beeswax R25 per kg.    It worked out at 56 cents per 1000 bullets, or 90 cents per hollow stick.   At the time, hollow stick retailed at R11.

Alox 2138F is no longer available as a standard product.  It can be duplicated, but I will explain that in a separate post.

More on the 500 Jeffery

Posted by on October 27, 2011

I didn’t say who developed that 710 grain cast bullet load for the 500 Jeffery because I hadn’t asked his permission.   Now I can say it is Alistair Haig.   It was an unexpected experiment, because the mould should have been 625 grain, and is stamped 625, but the first results have been so promising that Alistair will be developing it further to establish its potential.

Being very heavy for calibre, it is similar in principle to the plated bullets developed by Frontier.   Frontier’s 458 bullet weighs 600 grains.   It has a very hard core, 11% antimony I think, with a thick plated jacket.   MV from the 458 Win is about 1800FPS, and penetration very deep.   If a 458 x 600 grain bullet at 1800FPS is so effective, imagine a 510 x 710 grain !!

For those who are interested, Alistair’s 500 Jeffery rifle was built by Danie Joubert, on an FN Supreme 98 action with a Shilen barrel.

For further interest, cast bullets are being used in 50 Browning rifles in the US, and I have a report of 900 grain cast bullets being fired from a 55 Cal Boys anti-tank rifle in Australia.    There’s not much that can’t be done with cast bullets, at relatively low cost.

Dunno where the guy gets brass for the 55 Boys.    Primers, either, for that matter.    Probably stretching the last ounce of life from the brass, and altering the pockets for 50BMG primers.    That’s why so many Boys rifles have been altered to 50BMG in that country.   Why so many there in particular ?   I may have mentioned it in an earlier posting, but if not, its an interesting story for another time.

Cast loads in 500 Jeffery

Posted by on October 25, 2011

I like to collect info about the use of cast bullets, especially in rifles.   Cast rifle bullets work a lot better than many shooters think, especially in big calibres, in which jacketed ballistics can be duplicated at low cost.   I just had some interesting info from the South African owner of a 500 Jeffery rifle.   His standard hunting load is the 570 grain Rhino bullet at 218oFPS.   He wanted a cast bullet for practice and recreation.   He purchased a NEI 625 grain mould, which actually casts a 710 grain gas checked bullet.   The mould is stamped 625 which is obviously an error.   Although the bullet is very heavy for the calibre, he went ahead (very carefully) and developed a load.   The 710 grain bullet chronographs 1730FPS with moderate recoil and no signs of high pressure.   As he says, shooting a 710 grain bullet from a non-black powder cartridge is a novelty !   At the modest ranges at which the rifle will be used, point of impact is quite close to that of his standard Rhino hunting load, so he is happy to keep the heavy mould and shoot the bullet.

Rifle Scopes-Selection, Mounting & Sighting In

Posted by on October 6, 2011

I have published a new book entitled “Rifle Scopes-Selection, Mounting & Sighting In.”    As an ex gunsmith, I saw a lot of badly chosen and badly fitted scopes.  Some seemed more suitable for artillery pieces than dainty little sporters.   Some were so big that they cleared the barrel only with the highest rings, and even then some lens caps fouled the metallic sight.

I saw every imaginable example of poor fitting.   Holes drilled and tapped out of line, badly fitted bases, whether mismatched, skew or out of position in some way or other, one base higher than the other, and even the wrong bases for the rifle.   If they had been occasional examples it might not be so bad, but it was not unusual, as I saw such faults often.

But even when the bases are the right ones for the rifle, and are properly fitted, manufacturing tolerances in rifles and mounts guarantee that the rings will always be out of alignment until they are lapped.   Of the many I have fitted, I have not found a pair that was not out to some extent.   The amount is usually too small to see, but one or two thousandths is all it takes to allow scope slippage, because the rings don’t grip the scope securely.    I have seen the finish scraped off by the sharp edges of the rings, and scopes dented by over-tightening misaligned rings.

The good news is that scopes can be properly fitted by rifle owners.   This book, and others I have written and plan to write, is characterised by the sort of detail missing from most published work, and is aimed at the independent, self reliant, hands-on guys who like to do things themselves, and do them well.

It is not a big book at 82 pages, but with 29000 words and 92 illustrations, it is packed with “how to” detail.   It explains the effects of size and magnification, field of view, the importance of exit pupil, how to fit various base and ring types, precision lapping for perfect alignment, workshop sighting-in, range sighting-in, and the point blank principle with trajectory charts.   Also, for added interest, how to tilt a scope to extend its range.   

It is a E book, available direct from me, boothroyd@polka.co.za, and will be sent by e mail.   I will gladly send sample pages to those who want to see the quality of content before buying.

Price is $25.   Payment will be credit card via www.gunownerssa.org.   Payment instructions will be sent with the book.