>FREE IDENTIFICATION & APPRAISAL OF YOUR WEAPON: Just e-mail me some pics and list any markings.
>WHAT'S IT WORTH? is the question I get the most. The best way to determine the value of your gun
is to search one similar to yours on Gun Broker. Log in, click on "Advanced", select "Completed Items",
and enter your Search Words.
Prices are affected by timing, venue, and who is bidding. So Rock Island Auctions, for
example, would be able to get a much higher price than I could.
>SAFETY WARNING: I recently watched the CNBC special entitled "Remington-- Under the Gun", in which it
was shown that the model 700 rifle could go off after the safety was released. I've had this same situation
on several other guns over the years, especially worn ones. When the safety is on, and you pull the trigger, the sear can
release and click, but the gun will fire when the safety is pushed off.
Antique guns usually do not have safetys, but often have a half-cock feature
which serves that purpose. A deep notch on the hammer surrounds the trigger sear. If the gun is dropped, or the trigger
pulled hard, this part can break off, which may not be apparent because the remaining notch may still hold
>BUGGERED CHAMBERS: This is a common problem with antique cartridge guns, especially foreign revolvers,
so always check before you buy. It was usually done with a fractional drill bit, in an attempt to convert to another caliber.
This kills the value of the piece, and could make it unsafe.
>LEAKING PNEUMATIC OR CO2 PELLET GUNS with synthetic valve seals: Usually this can be fixed by the application
of power steering 'stop leak' into the reservoir, which is formulated to soften and expand old seals. Snap hammer
2-3x, stand up overnight to soak seals, then next day charge gun. If still leaking fire a few times and/or swing gun around.
If it stops leaking, leave gun charged up overnight. On pump guns, inject thru air hole with hypodermic needle. NEVER use penetrating
or detergent oil in air or gas guns--it will ruin the seals. Store gun with a small charge to keep seals seated. Expand worn
pump seals by shimming inside with thread.
>CO2 PISTOLS: Do not attempt to disassemble the look-alike type pistols unless you have experience with
100+ gun mechanizims and 3 hands. Internally, they are more complex than the firearms that they replicate and were not designed
for field repair.
>SHORT CO2 BULBS: Also called "soda chargers", these were used on the earlier CO2 guns; get them on Ebay.
Do not use the NO2 bulbs(cake decorating).
>Reloadable PINFIRE CASES in 7mm, 9mm, 12mm, 16ga & 12ga. I haven't had a chance to try these, but
this is the only source: PINFIRE
UPDATE: Henry Krank of England also has these, but won't ship them to U.S.
>.25 STEVENS RIMFIRE: Old single-shot guns in this obsolete caliber can be cheaply fired again by using
.27 caliber #5 Power Loads from Home Depot behind a #2 buckshot pellet. Power Loads higher than #5 may split open,
depending on the tightness of your action, but lower #s are better for indoor shooting. .25 caliber Power
Loads are too small. Can also be used in .30rf guns.
>.32, .38, .41, or .44 RIMFIRE: Get the r.f. cases from Dixe Gun Works, but use green .22 nail gun
power loads only instead of the recommended .22 acorn blanks and powder. Round balls work best: less pressure and greater
accuracy than bullets. The .56-50 rf cases need the blanks & powder.
>.25-20: Rifles in this caliber can usually be rechambered to the hot .256 Winchester Magnum,
a more useful cartridge. .25-20 Winchester will not fit .25-20 Stevens.
>.32-40 & .32 Win. Special: The .321" bullets for these are expensive, but many of these guns have
worn/rough & oversize bores due to the corrosive early powders. .323"/8mm boat-tail bullets can be loaded backwards,
and used with tubular magazines.
>.35 WINCHESTER SELF-LOADING: One of the earliest semi-autos and the largest of the blow-back type. Resize
9mm Largo(Bergman-Bayard) cartridges in a .38 Special die and lube. Headspaces by press-fit. Or use 9mm Steyr or .38 Super
Comp as-is with a .25" sleeve in chamber. These are too short & weak for the .351 Win, which is basically a
rimless .357 Mag. That the bores on these guns are .005" smaller than the bullets is not that important.
>.401 WINCHESTER SELF-LOADING: Make from 7.62x39. Turn down base and expand neck to take .41 bullets, then
use a heavy taper crimp so that it will chamber. 10mm bullets are too small to engage rifling. Groove dia. is .406"
>.41 LONG COLT: This is a difficult caliber to reload because it is an outside-lube cartridge, similar
to the .22lr. Normal bullet seating does not work. Cases and dies are available, but bullets are a problem. The original bullets
were either .406" heel-type, or .388" hollow-base. Colt used the same .406" bores for .41 and .38-40(.40cal).
.40 caliber soft lead(swaged) bullets can be used, but not .40 cases because they are too fat. The bullets
will engage rifling on EX bores, but not worn ones. .38 S&W or Special cases can be used, but are very undersize.
There is no case that .41 LC can be made from. Expand neck to .40 cal, seat bullet just enough to hold it with
a .40S&W die, and run the cartridge up into a 7.62x39 size die to squeeze the case back down and make a heel on the bullet.
.41 bullets are too large for the chambers. Do not use smokeless powder in the 1877 Colt Thunderer because the chamber walls
are very thin.
>.22 Winchester Auto (1903): Not WRF which is back in production, or .22 Remington Auto which is similar.
Guns in this caliber can be used as single-shots with Aguila Supermaximums or CCI Stingers. Aguilas will eject nicely and
don't split open, but Stingers have a thicker rim and are more sure-fire. There is too much headspace with Aguilas
and the Stinger's case is too long to eject well. Nickel-plated cases split more than brass ones, and the Stinger's are no
exception. The .22lr is longer than .22 Auto, and won't feed thru the mag, so conversion is not an option. You can leave
out the inner mag tube, and just use the outer tube to hold cartridges, then just shake them into the chamber as needed.--UPDATE:
Aguila is now making .22 Auto. It is 2x the cost of 22lr, but so was it in 1910. About the same power as .22lr Standard Velocity.
> 9mm STEYR: An IPSC cartridge called ".38 Super Comp" is nearly identical and much cheaper.
Reload with Luger shell holder, .38 spl. dies and 9mm bullets.
>.22 VELO-DOG: This is a c.1900 c.f. cartridge similar to the .22 magnum used in small 5-shot folding-trigger
revolvers. Fiocchi still makes it, but you can cut soda straws into 1" lengths, press #209 shot shell primers in one
end and #4 buckshot pellets in the other, no powder required. Groove dia is .230".
>8mm OVERSIZE BORES: This revises statements in my book, and refers to Lebel, Kropatschek, Murata,
and Hungarian Mannlicher rifles, among others. Groove diameters I've encountered are .327"-.335", so slug your bore to be
sure. .330" FMJ-BT bullets are available from Privi Partisan, but are expensive and can't be used with tubular mags
unless you load them backwards into the case. The only cast bullet option is to size .338 LEE bullets in the LEE .329"
die. This bullet uses 8mm gas checks, and is a round-nose, so use magnum primers with tubular mags, which are harder. (Maybe
you could flatten the nose by using a flat-nose top punch in a Lubrisizer.) Test mag by loading up fully,
with the 3rd round a primed case only, and check primer for indentation after firing. Also, use a rest and do not hold
forend, in case of mag explosion.
>.38-40 OVERSIZE BORES: A common problem in this caliber for some reason. You don't see it as much
with the .44-40 caliber because original groove diameters for that one were .427" and modern dies can use .431" bullets. Some bores
for .38-40 were made oversize, such as in Colt revolvers which used the same barrels for .38-40 and .41LC . You
can have a barrel with good rifling, but the bullets keyhole in the target. I once had such an 1889 Marlin that
miked .413"! (supposed to be .400"). However, if you're lucky the chamber will also be oversize ( as with my 1873
Winchester) and you can use .41 cal bullets. If not, try resizing them to groove dia, in my case .407".
Anneal and taper expand the neck of the case to start a .41 SWC or resize fired
.38-40 cases in .44-40 die and expand. Run cartridge up into the .38-40 bullet seating die and push bullet down to the cannelure. The
crimper does this, not the plug. Now size the neck with a 10mm or .40S&W size die, which essentially forms
a "heel" type bullet. You can also reload other outside lube cartridges using LEE "factory crimp" dies,
but not in this case. I've tried .41LC bullets(.386"/.406") without success.
>.44 Webley Bulldog: Bores on revolvers in this caliber tend to be undersize, as small as .415".
Fortunately, 10.4 Italian Ordnance Revolver fits most of these guns and is currently made by Fiocchi. It's unique jacketed
bullet has a ridge which accomodates various bore diameters.
>LEAD HARDNESS TESTING: Bullet casters need to know the hardness of their alloys. This can be done by comparing
the unknown to a known sample with an automatic center punch. First check that the punch strikes uniformly; if not, take it
apart and lube it. Pure lead is used for muzzle-loading and paper-patched projectiles, wheel weights for black powder cartridges,
and hard lead for modern cartridges.
>TIP-UP REVOLVER REPAIR: To fix loose hinges on these such as S&W or Marlin, remove
screw and open frame so that it is half way between fully open and closed. Hold 2 parts in place with a large magnet.
Now run a tap thru both parts(usually 10-32 or 8-32) and secure them together with a long set screw. When you close the frame,
it will now tighten up, as well as when it is fully open. Loose hinges on Remington tip-up derringers are usually cracked,
and require expert repair.
>HOW TO TEMPER SPRINGS: This is a 2-step process. 1st, turn an electric stove element on High, place
spring directly on it, and heat to an even red color, then quickly remove and quench in water. If you use the spring
now, it will break. 2nd, place spring in shallow pan and cover with motor oil. Take outside, ignite oil with torch and let
burn down completely, then cool(15-30min). Alternatively, place spring in pot of molten lead for 15min. It will float on top.
This method can also be used to re-temper springs that have been burned in fires.
>Severely rusted metal such as found on "dug up" bayonets or guns in poor condition can be easily refinished
by the use of Permatex aerosol RUST TREATMENT, Locktite's EXTEND, or Dupli-Color RUST FIX, available at hardware & auto
parts stores. Spray it on, and it turns the rust into a black coating resembling an old patina. It takes some practice to
get a glossy finish-- too much and it will come out flat. Also a good substitute for hot bluing when used over cold blue.
>The HOT BLUING of handguns and parts other than rifle or shotgun barrels can be done economically
in a 50cal. ammo box. Strip paint off bottom half, fill with 1 gal. distilled water and add your salts(about 7lbs.) Instructions
are different for each brand of bluing salts(black oxide coating). It is best to heat the solution outdoors on a gas grill
because of the caustic fumes. As the water evaporates, replenish with ice cubes, not water which will explode. After
you are done and the solution cools down(several hours), replace lid on can which will seal it for up to one year before the
salts start to creep out. Parts are best prepared for hot bluing by bead blasting.
> An alternative to hot bluing is Black Parkerizing. This is safer than hot blue and can be done on
the kitchen stove. After the treatment, card with a fine wire wheel for a satin finish.
>Best COLD BLUING solution: Oxpho-Blue(www.brownells.com
). Cold blue works best on sand-blasted finishes.
>Best GUNSTOCK FINISH: Deft clear semi-gloss aerosol. For touch-up over old finish, use Tru-Oil. For that
unrestored look, try Light Brown Oil Dye(for leather), over old finish, then buff.
>To prepare old military stocks for refinish: Strip off old finish and grease with caustic oven cleaner,
rinse under hot water and dry. Then repair the cracks and dings with Super Glue and Devcon 2-Ton clear epoxy, which is
hard enough to file and sand. Other brands of clear epoxy won't set up properly after the 3rd or 4th use.
>RUSTED BORES: Heavily rusted bores, as commonly found on black powder Civil War guns, usually have
enough rifling to shoot well, as opposed to older smokeless rifle bores which are frequently shot out.
These can be restored by soaking overnite in a new product called "Evapo-Rust", a liquid rust remover that does not
affect bare steel. (Go to www.evapo-rust.com
) . Fill bore with undiluted product and stand up overnight. Pour out the liquid next day; it should be black.
Now you can see the rust blisters better. Fasten an external-tooth lock washer to the end of a cleaning rod, and work it over
the blisters, feeling for rough spots as you go up and down the bore. You may have to treat & scrape 2-3x.
Here's another technique I've used: The bore on my .56-56 Spencer looked like a sewer
pipe, and a wire brush had no effect on it, but it appeared that there was rifling under the rust. The groove diameter miked
.535", so I turned the rim of a .45-70 case in my lathe to that dimension, and loaded it into a .50 c.f. case with
10 grains of Unique. I then fired this in my carbine using a c.f. breechblock, resulting in a brief screech and
cloud of rust. The body of the .45-70 collapsed, but the rim followed the rifling and engraved perfectly. I then followed
this with the 20ga. wire brush and a Scotchbrite patch on a smaller brush.
BUMP FIRE or TRIGGER BUMPING is a technique to get simulated full-auto from a semi-auto firearm. The easiest
way to do this is to push the trigger against something solid, such as a nail driven horizontally into a fence post.
Recoil will reset the trigger, and forward pressure will trip it again. Should be legal since there are no attachments or
modification to gun, but may attract unwanted attention. Other methods only work with certain guns, including the
auto-fire devices commonly sold at gun shows. My method is more accurate because you are firing from a fixed position.
.22lr guns may not have enough recoil-- try CCI Stingers or Aguila Super Maximums. There is also a trick using a rubber
band which I have not tried. GO HERE
UPDATE: The bump fire stocks for AR-15 work too well-- expect them to be banned. If you buy online, the gov't
can find it.
>.58 RIMFIRE & CENTERFIRE CONVERSIONS:
The following is intended only for those who are totally familiar with standard reloading
Starting in 1865 there were several breechloading conversions of Civil War
muskets. The most common today are the Miller conversion in .58 rimfire, and the Needham conversion in .58 centerfire, usually
selling for $600-$800. These can be identified by "Parkers' Snow" and "Bridesburg", respectively, marked on the lockplates.
The Needham has been referred to as a rimfire, but all I've checked were centerfire. You may also encounter the
first Allin conversion in .58 rimfire or Remington Rolling Block conversions in both centerfire and rimfire.
As you might imagine, the centerfires are easier to load for than
the rimfires. In the case of the Needham, start with 24 gauge plastic shotshells from Fiocchi. The cases have to
be trimmed and sized; this latter can be done with a sizing ring made from a 7/8x14 plumbing adapter, or maybe a 28 gauge sizer.
The cartridge is very similar to .577 Snider, but shorter(1 7/8"). Other conversions use even shorter cases, such as the Roberts(1.25").
There is too much headspace with the Needham, so you have to take it up with an O-ring stretched over the base.
It is best to use a heel type bullet with the plastic hull because the wall is too thick to chamber with a
Minie. Try LEE's R-E-A-L .58cal.
I'm probably the only guy on the Internet who has made .58 rimfire ammo, but after
I reveal my secrets, you too can be an expert. My R&D has centered around the Miller conversion, but is adaptable
to other calibers. In this case, start with a 28 gauge plastic shotshell, unsized and trimmed to 1.5". Then drill
a #60 hole centered between the primer and rim, and at a slight angle into the shallowist portion of the case. Precede
this with a deep center punch dent to help guide the flame from the cap. This is a difficult ignition, so
use only FFFg black powder or finer to fill the case; other powders won't work or will result in hang-fires. Thumb press a
20 ga Sabot slug into the case and make sure that the cartridge will chamber; you may have to turn down or shorten the case.
The mold for these is Lyman #236-595, and the slug looks like a huge airgun pellet with a hollow skirt, . 576"/.560".
Now comes the critical part. Cap gun caps from the '60s can be used as primers; the
currently available roll caps are much smaller and weaker, and don't work. Smear some Glue Stick on the base and cut
off a cap from the roll and pierce its center with a pin. Align the pin in the ignition passage in the shell and
fold the edges of the cap over the rim, remove pin, and press cap in place. Insert cartridge in chamber with the
cap oriented at 2:00 and SLOWLY press breechblock closed. It is now ready to fire.
There are several things which can go wrong here, resulting in disaster, so pay attention!
Firstly, always make sure that the firing pin is fully retracted before closing the breech. After the first firing, it will likely
stick in the down position because of powder residue in the channel. You may also have to increase its length or travel.
Invariably there will be some mis-fires, so in this instance wait a full minute before opening the breech,
then clear the ignition passage with the pin and try again. There may be some leakage from the breech,
so always wear goggles and/or a face mask.
My second method uses 28 ga. brass shotshells from Graf.com., which take ordinary
Minie balls.These are Berdan primed, so the pocket has to be filled with the special primer or solder. Now drill
a #60 or smaller hole as close to the rim as possible and countersink it. This will be the same size hole as used on
percussion nipples, and can be drilled with a circuit board drill bit. Coat the back side of your caps with Photo Mount
or some kind of removable adhesive. Install caps as above.
Further experimentation is needed. The ignition passage could be 2 diameters,
as on a percussion nipple. The slow-burning black powder tends to melt plastic hulls, but also closes the passage somewhat,
for a better seal.
I have some suitable caps for sale; price is $3/144, sent 1st class. I actually
paid $2/144 for these things on Ebay and had to buy 5000. They are more powerful than current types. Might work
in Pill Locks. These can also be used to reprime rimfire cases: Remove powder, mix with solvent, and spin into rim. I also
have plastic 24 gauge, some Lyman Sabot slugs, and LEE R-E-A-L bullets..
All of this may sound like a lot of trouble, but it's worth it just to see the looks
of amazement when you take these old relics to the range.