A Wonderful Time of Year


Christmas is a wonderful time of year for hopeless romantics
who never grow up and still believe in magic.

You know those Christmas card letters you get where people tell you about their year? You either love them or hate them? Well, this is kind of one of those…

As I write this, 2022 is but a few days old. The holidays have passed and are mere memories. For me, it’s a magical time of year. There’s always something to be grateful for, and 2021 was no different. I still get excited in anticipation of Christmas.

Yesterday we had a few inches of snow. My daughter was home for a Christmas visit from her veterinarian studies. Santa had been good to us this year. Maybe too good — at least for me. He left a Henry 1860 rifle chambered in .44-40 under the tree with my name on it. You will be able to read about it in GUNS Magazine in the next month or so.

He also left my daughter a Ruger M77 Hawkeye chambered in .30-06 along with a Bushnell Engage 3-9X40 scope. An aspiring veterinarian, she knows hunting is a vital tool for herd management as well as a source of clean protein.

Here’s Tank and his daughter after a successful hunt on his birthday.

Tank and his wife at the fancy Italian restaurant.

My Birthday Hunt

Over Thanksgiving vacation, Samantha and I were “skunked” during the firearms season. With Christmas comes late muzzleloader season — my favorite. Samantha wanted/needed venison to bring back to school. As luck would have it, she connected on a fat, dry doe. As her “guide,” I was enjoying the day, her company, the outdoors and the hunt. As we get older, we enjoy experiencing things through other’s endeavors and this was surely the case.

We hunted on my retired state trooper buddy’s property. It was great catching up with Phil while sharing in Samantha’s success. I couldn’t have had a better birthday present. Who could? I was surrounded by beautiful country, watching my daughter take a deer on a leisurely evening hunt. To top it all off, my wife made my favorite birthday meal — Alaskan King crab legs with Penna Alfredo, followed by cake!

The celebration continued the next night with a fancy meal downtown at a wonderful Italian restaurant. The food is delicious, as only handmade pasta, meats and sauces can be. This was a culmination meal of Christmas, my birthday and my wife and I’s anniversary. For 32 years she’s put up with my shenanigans. My daughter and her boyfriend also joined us, rounding out the festivities.

Tank walking to the range in the winter wonderland.

MP Molds makes some of the finest molds bare none.

The 8-cavity MP Molds mold makes a pile of quality bullets in no time at all.

Snow Day

Having our first snow of the season I’m going to run you through a typical day of what is “work” for me now. After starting the coffee, I let the dogs out and feed them. I plug in the casting furnace and hot plate to get the lead melted and molds pre-heated while sipping coffee, watching the news and cogitating.

On this particular day I’d have a few hours to cast bullets before heading to the range with Samantha to mount her scope and sight it in at the range. Since Springfield Armory recently released their SA-35, an improved remake of John Browning’s famed Hi-Power, I felt the need to produce a pile of 9mm projectiles.

I’d be using MP Molds 8-cavity mold, dropping 140-grain flat-nosed slugs. Since I’m powder coating my bullets, these slugs don’t have lube grooves, giving them an extra 10 grains of weight. These bullets feed like a dream and are extremely accurate. The next mold is a 2-cavity hollow point design weighing approximately 125 grains. It feeds and shoots as well as the previous bullet, but has the advantage of a hollow point design.

After powder coating, I size them .358” which has proven to be the most accurate in most 9mm pistols. My usual load is either 4.5 grains of 231, or 5.5 grains of Unique — velocity running around 1,200 fps.

Tank’s daughter Samantha getting her Ruger Hawkeye M77 .30-06 sighted in. What a day

Snow Shoot

After Samantha and I mounted her scope, we headed to the range. It’s still snowing, and the drive took us through a winter wonderland of snow-laden trees and fields. To our delight, we were the only people on the range.

After setting up, we began the sight-in process. Starting at 25 yards, we weren’t too far off. Samantha made appropriate adjustments until she was just a tad low on a 2” Shoot-N-See target, which should be darn close for a perfect sight-in. We then moved back to 50 yards. Just a few finishing “clicks” put her dead-on. At 100 yards we’re about 1.5” high. The gun and scope are ready to go. Shooting in the snowstorm is a great practical exercise, adding challenge to the sight-in process.

I brought the Springfield Armory SA-35 along, shooting a few quick groups to test the sights and ammo. It’s a shooter! My quick offhand groups measure about 1.5” at 50 feet. I’m sure benching it would tighten things up somewhat. The 20-degree temperature finally won out. We decided on bringing subs home for lunch.

I love the holidays! It was a grand time of year for sure. I hope yours was as good, if not better, than mine. Wishing you all a happy and prosperous 2022.

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