Thursday, November 21, 2019

Tinkering Thusday - Tank Fighting AR

So, some of y'all know that I want a .50 BMG platform of some such. Pudge did too. He just took a rather interesting path to one....

SHTF 50: A ‘Budget’ 50
Well everyone, I did something. Again, I have Mack to thank for his wise words. (Something tells me I call Mack because I know he will agree that it’s a good idea. And if he doesn’t agree then I know I went off the rails…this pretty much never happens!)[I have talked him down once -Ed] I bought a Safety Harbor Firearms SHTF 50 BMG single shot upper with 29” barrel. Why did I buy this you ask? That’s a very good question and the only answer I have is, well, because.

While perusing the finest junk pocketknives and beef jerky at a recent gun show I came upon this behemoth of a 50 BMG upper and knew I wanted it. To be fair, I have been looking at this exact upper for over 2 years now but had never seen one in person. After a quick call to Mack to tell me yes and make sure the price was decent and a call to tell Red that I love her[Red is gonna kill me one day -Ed] I shook the man’s hand and toted a giant hunk of steel home that would’ve fit right at home with my gym set.

I had an extra Anderson lower (Of course it's the Poverty Pony -Ed) sitting at home just waiting to be outfitted with this new upper. After some digging through the old parts bin and a couple of gracious birthday gifts (perfect timing) I had everything I needed to complete my ‘budget’ 50 BMG. I know budget and 50 don’t really go together, but for what this gun is I think they fit nicely especially considering I have less than $1,600 total spent on this project.

I wasn’t quite sure at first what to expect once I got everything put together but I was excited. The upper comes with a heavier hammer and stronger hammer spring. It is even easier to install than setting up a standard AR. You do not need to install the bolt catch, the disconnector, or the buffer retainer. Everything else goes together like normal. Instead of just buying the parts I needed I went ahead and got a full LPK so I can easily convert this to another caliber later if I so choose.

Starting off I knew that I wanted a fixed buttstock and needed a decent scope on it. The stock was an easy decision as I had a readily available solid A2 buttstock. The sight was not quite so easy. Lots of research later I decided on a Burris Fullfield II 4.5-14 power. So far so good on this thing. The eye relief was my biggest concern but it is a non-issue here, this thing gave me plenty of standoff so I didn’t have to worry about scope bite. I haven’t shot it a ton but the sight is holding up well.

Speaking of holding up to recoil, I was pleasantly surprised with the recoil on this gun. With the weight of the gun and the muzzle brake I would equate the recoil to just a hair more than a 12 gauge 3 ½ inch slug. Not something you want to shoot all day but definitely not as intimidating as it first appeared. Luckily, my first shot was on target and I was able to get zeroed in only 4 rounds. (My checkbook appreciated this fact as well. However, I’ve only been spending $2-$3 per round so also not as bad as most people make it out to be.) After getting sighted in I decided to see what a 660 gr round would do to a cinder block and I was not disappointed. One shot dead center absolutely obliterated the cinder block and sent a 1.5lb piece flying almost 10 foot in the air and the same distance away. I’m thinking I should take a poll on what to try and destroy next.

Hopefully soon I’ll be able to really stretch out the legs on this gun and see what it (and me) are capable of at distance. I’ll make sure to keep everyone updated on how the gun, the sight, and my shoulder hold up after some more rounds downrange.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Wildcat Wednesday - A Book Review After a Movie

So, Tuesday; Jackie and I went and saw "Midway" at the theater. I'm reserving judgement until I see it again. Which will probably be next Tuesday. So look for a movie review forth coming.

However, I will say one thing that I already disparage the movie for is the complete and total disregard, nor mention, of that great Grumman product, the F4F Wildcat.

When I was a kid, Uncle Cart helped me glue together a Revell model of a F4F-3 of VMF(A)-211. Some of you long time reader's may know that as the unit of Hammering Hank, which was the first American unit to meet the Japanese somewhat organized, prepared, and well led.

Of course, the great old black and white propaganda piece "Wake Island" inspired my love of all things Wildcat.

So, all this superfluous back story brings us to our book review this evening.

"Wildcat: The F4F in World War II" is written by the dean of naval aviation historians, Barrett Tillman. And is a great book.

He covers the development of the F4F from the F3F biplane, it's adoption by the USN/USMC and the Fleet Air Arm.

And of course, the book covers the hellish darks days of 8 Dec 1941 until May of 1943, when the F4F Wildcat, generally driven by pre war regulars, held the line against a numerically and somewhat technically more advanced foe. And hold the line they did, with guys like Butch O'Hara, Jimmy Thach, and Marion Carl driving the stubby little fighter hard against the very best the IJN had to offer.

The F4F was kind of slow, kind of fat, and kind of short legged. But it was rugged Grumman designed American made Iron, with four or six John Browning blessed .50 cal machine guns, and if it could get a bead on a Zero, Jake, Rufe, what have you, it would probably flame the lesser Japanese airplane and generally get it's pilot home.

More importantly, even though the final ledger sheets may not have been in our favor at Wake, the Marshalls, Santa Cruz, the Eastern Solomons, or numerous battle over the Canal; we wore down the might of the IJN's finest fighter pilots in the process. And where as our top guys would rotate back to P-Cola and Sand Diego to train the fresh new butter bars of the Citizen Navy, the Japanese had their honchos fly until they died. And the Wildcat brought our guys home more often than not.

So, go buy Mr. Tillman's book. And his books on the F6F, F4U, SBD, and F8U.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Tinkering Tuesday - Honing the Hudson

So, Pudge was out and about defending us from Pinelandia agression. And well, I was drinking beer and watching football.

Hudson H9A (Worth the weight loss?)
Everyone here knows how much I love my Hudson H9 and how much I continue to gush over it every chance I get. Every time I shoot it next to another gun it reminds me how glad I am that I took a leap of faith. And even though that company went defunct, I recently took another leap of faith. The second year of Hudson’s existence they teased at the idea of an aluminum framed Hudson dubbed the H9A.

Well before that could come to fruition the company fell into issues and is now a thing of the past. However, KE Arms decided to throw us H9 owners a bone. KE Arms were the ones who were preparing to produce the aluminum frames for the Hudson and after all the proceedings got sorted out KE decided to release the frame. So, the moment I saw these hit the store I grabbed my credit card like a giddy boy on his first date trying to impress a girl. (He did go to West Point, so in his defense that was like five years ago - Ed)

After a hiccup of getting a slightly out of spec frame on my first go around I received its replacement and I was back in business. (As a quick aside, KE Arms was absolutely amazing to deal with. I did get a bad frame but replacing it was as quick and painless as waiting for a new toy can be.)
After receiving my frame I quickly fired up the old youtube like any good gunsmith and found someone who had already figured out how to fully disassemble the pistol and I went to work. It took me maybe 30 minutes total to find a video and get all the parts switched out and have my very own working H9A.

The majority of that 30 minutes was me examining the pistol so I knew exactly how everything worked on this machine. Now the H9A that I now have is slightly different than what was planned to be released but ever so slightly. The planned release handgun would have barely noticeable different slide serrations, polymer grips, and a G10 beavertail vs the steel one currently in place.

Besides these parts my H9A is as close to coming out of the factory as it could be. One of the best parts about this transition is that the Hudson uses a chassis system so all the hard abuse contact points that one would worry about with other aluminum handguns is a moot point here.  I’m expecting my H9A to hold up just as long as it’s steel frame brother.

Now to the couple of key facts and information that everyone really cares about. By just changing out the frame my Hudson went from a solid 34 ounces to a much lighter 28 ounces. That may not sound like much, but, almost half a pound in handgun speak is a ton of weight. This 28 ounces is much closer to Mack’s favorite Tupperware the G19 which comes in at 21.52 ounces and is very similar to the standard 4” aluminum framed 1911.

Still heavier than plastic but much more agreeable for a long day on your hip. But the best part about this diet is that this gun is amazingly balanced, dare I say even more so than the original, and still shoots amazingly. I was trying to keep my expectations low because I really didn’t believe that it would shoot the same, maybe close, but not the same. Well, I was very happy to be wrong here. This gun just plain shoots. It almost makes me look like a competent handgun shooter.

Thanks to Mack and some other friends who love to help me spend my money, I actually used a second Hudson for this and in turn was able to use my steel framed gun side by side. Minus actually feeling the weight difference when picking the guns up I could not tell any difference in the recoil. I shot everything from steel cased 115gr to 158gr (158 grn? What the hell were they? - Ed) hollow point self-defense ammunition and the gun recoiled the exact same round for round as the original.

I haven’t had any issues conceal carrying my steel H9 but I can tell you right now it will get replaced by my new H9A due to the fact that it shoots just as smooth but with less weight. My steel gun will still get run hard during competitions but my new carry gun will be the H9A. And just as before, if you run into a guy that goes by Pudge at the range, stop by and say hey and I’ll probably force you to shoot my H9 and now H9A.

Somber Sunday

 So, been wearing a badge for seven months now. I enjoy it. Have had good days, fun days, bad days, and even dare I say it, boring days. Tod...