Cheap Guns?

Speak Out Jan/Feb 2019

A $5-$6 Iver Johnson in 1894 sounds cheap. A S&W was probably $9-$12. Oh for the days of a sound dollar. In 1894 until 1932, $5 bought you 1/4 ounce of gold. Now, $350 in today’s worthless dollar. Because everything costs time and resources, making a gun with “old time” craftsmanship is expensive. About 1965-68 I bought a Colt 1911A1 when Colt raised the price to $90 retail from the $82.50 they had been since the Korean War. They were still using the same WWI-WWII era machines to build those guns. Some actually worked out of the box. All needed work to function and feed JHP or cast lead.

A $700 gun today is about $14 in “real” money. New CNC machines buildbetter guns than Colt’s gun assemblers of the 1970s. But that’s another story.

By the way, I just re-subscribed for another five years. I’ve read and subscribed since the first edition, volume one.

Jim Macklin
Wichita, KS

Top Breaks

I have to admit I got a kick out of your Insider on the old top break revolvers (Sept/Oct 2018). It reminded me to go into the gun safe and pull out my old break top. This particular gun came down from my grandfather to my father and then to me. It’s a .38 S&W caliber and on the top of the barrel it’s marked “Iver Johnson Arms & Cycle Works” Fitchburg Mass USA. It has a 3″ barrel, and the serial number D89976 is under the grips and on the trigger guard. It also has a concealed hammer. Outside of the fact it looks like my grandfather used it to drive nails, the gun is tight and really shoots well. Time to take it to the range again I think!

Ronald Sallow
Via email

Ron, we got a boatload of positive mail about those old guns, and lots of people dusted theirs off and shot them. It’s funny how we sometimes forget the “gold” we may have hiding in plain sight in a drawer or in the back of the gun safe! Let’s start a “Reach For The Relics!” week every year so we dust off the old iron and take them out to shoot! I’ll look into organizing something and get back to everyone. —RH

Happy Trails

Thank you for the great blurb on our latest raffle to raise money for our non-profit organization helping abused children (Insider, Nov/Dec 2018). Handgunner is my personal favorite gun magazine, and your support isn’t surprising to us! We began receiving internet and phone orders referring to American Handgunner before I even had a chance to see my copy of the magazine. Thank you very much!

Joel Dortch
Happy Trails Children’s Foundation 10755 Apple Valley Road
Apple Valley, CA 92308
760 240-3330 office

It’s always a delight to help you guys out with the raffle every year, and to help assure the doors stay open there. I’m not surprised to see Handgunner readers reached out to help! —RH

Guns At Auction

I enjoyed S.P. Fjestad’s article on value and auction planning (“Guns At Auction,” Nov/Dec 2018). More like it please!

I don’t buy guns to make money but I do buy and sell a lot of guns to just try them out. And keeping value is important to me. Maybe ask him to look at past guns that went way up in value (aka: how to spot the next Colt Python?). And perhaps ask him to do an article on guns that got expensive but ultimately came back to down to real world prices. Oh, and how about how the CMP 1911 sale will impact Colt 1911 collectible value and interest?

Via email

I sent your letter to Mr. Fjestad and he’ll be looking into your ideas for sure. —RH

S&W Shield EZ .380

I had purchased an EZ .380 before His Editorship’s article (Sept/Oct 2018), and I love it. It had to be returned for the manual safety upgrade so it was a while before I got to try it out. I had another .380 I liked, so I took both to the range for a shoot-off. Needless to say, the next day I cleaned them and took the other .380 to the gun shop and sold it. My gun likes the SIG SAUER Elite Perfor-mance, and the Inceptor ARX ammo the best. Roy’s article on the gun was spot-on. Thanks for a great mag!

Bernard Manning
Rochester, NH

Dream Gun

I just wanted to say thanks for the incredible job y’all do to make us happy people. Whenever anyone criticizes you guys they apparently have no idea what having class takes.
Just wanna’ mention something that crossed my mind today. If I could spend an hour just talking with people whom I have great respect for, it would be you all, from Mr.Taffin, Mr.Venturino and Mr.Connor to the rest of the team. This would be my gift I would cherish forever. By the way, I finally got my dream gun — a Colt SAA in .44-40! Thanks for all y’all do, and for keeping me enthused!

Kevin Ramsey
Via email

Model 19 Rules

Just received my latest issue (Nov./Dec. 2018) and what a surprise to see yet another article about my abso-lute, most-favorite handgun, the S&W Model 19! I bought a new Model 19 Combat Magnum 4″ when I began my law enforcement career and carried it on duty throughout my career. I loved that piece so much I soon purchased the same model in 2.5″ barrel and car-ried it as a backup and off duty. Terrific weapons both on the range and in the streets. Both now reside in a place of honor inside my gun safe where they share old cop stories with my much younger semi-autos and shotgun. Now I see where S&W has resurrected the 19 in two versions (Classic and Carry Comp) proving just how wise the R&D folks at S&W are — they listened to the master, BP Chief Inspector Bill Jordan, back then and they’re still listening to him now. Words of wisdom never die. Great job, S&W and a big thank you to John Taffin for his article!

Joe González
San Antonio, TX

Lee Loader Help

After reading through past issues of American Handgunner I came across an article on the Lee Loader and decided to give it a try. I’m a regular shooter and leave a lot of brass at the range, plus I have time to fill on occasion. My initial purchases were the Lee Loader in 9mm, Lee Case Conditioning Kit, digital cali-pers, impact bullet puller and a box of Hornady 9mm bullets. I decided to hold off purchasing powder and primers until I was familiar with the loader.

My problem is getting the bullets to properly seat and hold the proper length. Using a manufactured round to measure cartridge length, I go through the steps to knock out the fired primer, size the case and chamfer the case mouth. Proceeding to seat the bullet by dropping into the die results in crooked bullets, however the instructions suggest it may be better to start the bullet into the case which I find works better, although it is quite tedious. With the bullet appearing to be properly seated, the cartridge is mea-sured against the manufactured round (typically Winchester) and loaded into a magazine. Sling-shoting the slide to chamber the round it is then extracted and re-measured.

A measured round will show a set-back between 3/100″ to 1/10″, and in many instances I can push the bullet even deeper with finger pressure. I have been through several attempts with the same results. I am concerned about the set-back because of any potential increase in pres-sure. Those dimensions may or may not be significant, however the fact the bul-lets are not secure in the case is a major problem, I’d assume.

Any suggestion will be greatly appreciated as I am becoming quite frustrated with my results.

Bill Hoops
St. Louis, MO

I got back to Bill with a few questions and some ideas. Here’s what I sent him:

Are you using lead or jacketed bul-lets? Are you lubing the cases prior to sizing? Lubing assures the cases go completely into the sizing die. If the Lee Loader you have is the manual one, when you pound the case into the die, make sure it’s flush with the die when fully inserted. You might also try not chamfering the case mouth. That takes the inside edge of the case off making it hard for the brass case mouth to grip the bullet.

Starting a bullet by hand is often needed, but not so often if you’re using jacketed bullets. You might also try the copper “washed” Berry brand of bullets instead of lead. They may load easier and are less expensive than jacketed.

As far as set-back goes, unless you’re using a maximum load filling the case with powder, that amount of set-back isn’t an issue. There’s plenty of room in the case. And a slight set-back as it chambers won’t matter if it’s fired then. If you’re going to load and unload the round many times, the bullet may indeed work loose. But I think assuring they’re full re-sized and with no chamfer (or a very light chamfer), will likely solve things.

An auto case “holds” the bullet with pressure, no crimp, so proper resizing is important. Let me know how it goes. —RH

Problem Solved …

Roy, your information was spot on. I’m using jacketed bullets, and was sizing without lubing, as I interpreted the instructions, which indicated lubing was required for larger calibers. The case was only going into the sizing die to the case shoulder above the extractor groove. Being a novice I thought that was the correct depth.

On receipt of your instructions I worked several cases. I skipped the chamfering, lubed the cases with coconut oil, which was handy, and easily drove the case flush in my manual Lee Loader. Bullets dropped into the die and tapped in straight with no hand fitting. Addition-ally, after chambering the rounds and measuring, there was no set-back. I get your point about loading and unloading repeatedly and will avoid that. Appreciate your suggestion on the Berry brand of bullet. I am already anticipating acquiring a single stage press.

Thank you for your response to my email outlining my problem with the Lee Loader and the solution to that problem. I should add, I was the problem — not the Lee Loader! In addition to being an interesting and informative magazine with a great staff of writers, I also think of it as a catalog which I have referred to many times for firearms and related accessories or services featured in your reviews and advertisements.

Bill Hoops
St. Louis, MO

J-Frame Safety

I recently bought an older —1970 — Model 36 round butt from a liberal whose wife had the firing pin removed. After buying a new pin and rivet from Jack First Gun Parts it runs like a champ. But, is it safe to carry with five rounds in it? You seem to be a J-Frame aficionado so I figured you might know. I would suspect the answer is no?

Thank you in advance for an answer, though. Keep up the great work on the magazines. I just love buying guns from liberals!

Via email

Andy, that gun is safe to carry with five as long as the internal safety bar is present. Just peek down in front of the hammer as you cock it and release it slowly and you should see it raise and lower, blocking and unblocking the hammer/firing pin from reaching the primer. If you don’t see something moving there, get a gunsmith to take a look for you. —RH

An Atta’ Boy

I just wanted to write to tell you about Nelson Holsters’ Stealth IWB holster. I was a dedicated OWB hol-ster wearer. I don’t wear an undershirt and all IWB holsters I tried were sweaty and uncomfortable. A friend urged me to try the Stealth. Since I own several Nelson OWB holsters, I know the quality and craftsmanship is there, so I decided to take the chance. I’m glad I did.
I never thought an IWB holster could be this comfortable and dry. The neo-prene wicks away moisture from the skin as advertised, which is a must in South Texas. It’s also very, very comfort-able against the skin, almost like it’s not even there. And, like all his holsters, the craftsmanship and quality can’t be beat.

Anyone thinking they can’t stand an IWB holster needs to try this one. It allows me to better conceal IWB, especially in must-conceal environments.

Robert Dunaway
Corpus Christi, TX

Ayoob Files Push-Back

I hope you publish my letter on the Daniel Shaver shooting (Ayoob Files, Sept/Oct 2018). All Ayoob did was try to justify the “not guilty” verdict for Brailsford. An innocent man is dead at the hands of police, and Ayoob lays it all at the feet of the dead man. How can we prevent these if we do not analyze what the police may have done wrong? Under tremendous pressure to change his testimony, Officer Brian Elmore still testified he did not think Shaver posed a risk. Also, all five reports written by the officers there did not mention Shaver cried and begged for his life. The judge was surprised this fact was left out. Only Langley testified he did not shoot because Brailsford was in the way. No testimony was given to say Brailsford was the “designated lethal cover” and two other officers had a clear sight and line of fire but did not shoot — even though they saw Shaver move his right hand. Also, Ayoob’s statement that officers are taught to “watch the hands” and armed citizens are wise to follow this advice, should have been qualified. The USDOJ is still looking at this. “Lessons Learned” was extremely disappointing in preventing similar occurrences. As I have said, police can learn to do things better.

Jim Santory
Via email

I sent Mr. Santory’s letter to Mas for a response:

In a case like this, what another officer thought necessary carries much less weight than what the officer who fired thought was necessary. It was important to explain why the jury acquitted. That’s why the phrase “Issues and Answers” appeared in bold in the article.

People with agendas and confir-mation bias rebel against things that change their first impression. The details didn’t come out until trial, and that left a lot of people who’d only been exposed to one side of the story a long time to stew about it.

Remember the ’70s B-movie, Ulzana’s Raid? When I was young, cowboys had white hats, and they and the cavalry saved the helpless from evil savages. “Cowboys and Indians” equaled “Good Guys versus Bad Guys.” By the ’70s when Ulzana’s Raid came out, the current politically correct meme had become the opposite: the cowboys and cavalry were Imperialist monsters, and the Native Americans were innocent victims. One film critic, Joan Baez, wrote the movie correctly portrayed savagery and innocent victimhood on both sides, and the lightweight Yuppies dumped a chorus of approbation on her for that.

Another film critic, Charles Taylor, later came to the first critic’s defense on that. He wrote, “What she had actually done was to demonstrate the ability to hold two contradictory thoughts in her head at the same time.”

If you think about it, we get so wrapped up in good guy versus bad guy we can’t accept the concept of a terrible mistake in which good guy shoots good guy, and we feel a need to declare one of them the bad guy to put our world-view back in order. I think a lot of that was going on in the case in question.

I didn’t write the article to justify Brailsford’s acquittal, but to explain it. “Justifiable homicide” can generally be interpreted as “The guy who got shot damn well deserved it.” I see this tragic incident as more of an “excusable homicide,” meaning “It shouldn’t have happened, but any reasonable person who stood in Brailsford’s position and knew what he knew, would very likely have made the same mistake.”

Cop or civilian, remember, the standard is “You don’t have to be right, but you do have to be reasonable.” For those who haven’t read the article under discussion, it can be found here: —Mas Ayoob