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Kentucky Bob

A Beginner's Guide to Firearms For Survival, Hunting and Defense

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There's something else to address that Adi brought up and it's a good subject:  Should you carry a semi-auto with a loaded chamber?  


A lot of knowledgeable people carry a pistol with the chamber empty, and if needed they rack the slide to chamber the first round on the draw.  I've seen articles about Israeli Mossad training in this way, and those guys are FAST getting into action.  A gun can't very easily go off accidentally if the chamber is empty, and if someone manages to get it away from you they won't be able to use it until they chamber a round.  Plus, some of the older models of the semi-autos had fewer safety features built into them, making it possible that they could fire if dropped.  Nowadays that isn't so much of a problem, but the mindset is what will matter.  Lots of folks have fired 'unloaded' pistols.  Too many assume that if the magazine is out the gun is safe.


Leaving an unloaded chamber won't work with a revolver of course, leaving an empty chamber just slows someone down by one trigger pull.  People used to keep the old six-shooters loaded with five rounds and an empty chamber under the hammer for safety's sake, especially revolvers modeled after the old guns like the Colt Single Action Army that had no real safety mechanism.  Reproductions that have no "transfer bar" safety or "hammer rebound" safety should be left with the chamber under the hammer empty (see the section on revolvers).  Modern revolvers are built with internal safeties that prevent the hammer from contacting the firing pin unless the trigger is pulled, so a "six-shooter" really can be loaded with six rounds.  The main safety for a revolver is:  don't pull the trigger.  But when it comes right down to it the same could be said of a semi-auto.  


On the other hand if the worst happens and you've been surprised by an assailant, you may find yourself grappling with one hand on a gun that won't fire and the other tangled up with an opponent.   In such a case it may not matter whether you had a round chambered or not, you may not get a chance to use a firearm.  But it is difficult, to say the least, to chamber a round into a semi-auto one-handed.  Some are built with sights that are designed to allow you to snag them on a belt to allow you to rack the slide one-handed but it will still be difficult if you are in the middle of a fight.  Another possibility is that one hand may be immobilized due to injury.  There are techniques you can use to get a round into the chamber with only one hand.  These would need to be practiced just like any other pistol technique, and some of those techniques require a great deal of hand strength and dexterity.  As Adi said, situational awareness would be of the utmost importance so that one doesn't get surprised in the first place.  


Do I personally carry a semi-auto with a round chambered?  Yes, I do and have done so the last 20 years or so.  It's the way I've trained and the main safety on any pistol is located between the operator's ears.  I've learned to keep my finger off the trigger until the sights are aligned on target.  For me, knowing that there is a round in the chamber raises my awareness that there is a critical need for safe firearms handling.  There was a time that I didn't carry a semi-auto with a round chambered, but there was a rainy night that changed my ways.  Let's just say that it's dang hard to rack a wet slide with wet hands while also juggling a flashlight.



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"For me, knowing that there is a round in the chamber raises my awareness that there is a critical need for safe firearms handling." - Kentucky Bob


Well said...and it echoes something I remember reading decades ago from one of the gunwriter types, probably in Field & Stream, it was my favorite as a teenager.  Anyway, the writer mentioned that everyone in the house KNEW that Grandpa's 30/30 was loaded; it stayed loaded; we knew it was; and therefore we were d**n careful with it, around it, or any time he had it out for cleaning/etc. 


Now I suppose in today's society that's probably not the best of ideas in most households, but ya' know, I kinda feel a bit silly when I hand someone a pistol or revolver I just took off of my belt or outta my pocket and I feel obligated to say something like "be careful; it's loaded".  Of course it's loaded, it doesn't do me a bit of good if it isn't.  I have taken to just pulling the magazine and racking the slide, or dumping the cylinder before I hand it to the curious, even though they may be one of my trusted companions. 


Not sure if I've echoed your point or made it anew, or just blathered on meaninglessly in the late night hour, but guns are inherently dangerous in form and function and people sometimes are too - if we consider a gun to be loaded until we personally unload it then we will hopefully treat and handle it carefully. 


By the way, I am fully comfortable carrying my semiauto with a round chambered and the guns I tend to carry are safe enough to carry that way if the operator employs a bit of basic common sense to include using a decent holster which prevents accidental trigger manipulation.  I have never, in 40 years of gun handling, had a negligent discharge, but have seen scores of them, mostly by people who just weren't paying attention to the danger they were holding in their hand.  Probably the dumbest one was the doctor who had just cleaned his .45 and performed a functional check of the safety system both incorrectly as well as with a loaded magazine.  Not only did he almost blow his own foot off, but the entire unit went into freakout status upon hearing a gunshot within the compound in the middle of the night in a combat zone!


Bottom line for me, it's loaded unless I unloaded it or witnessed someone who knows how unload it in my presence (and I may still take a quick peek down the chamber to make sure).

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Ok, now for loading a semi-auto.  This of course means loading the magazine and then inserting the magazine into the pistol.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again:  Get some professional instruction if you can, and read the manual for your firearm.  Take a firearm safety course/hunter education course.


Now, the magazine holds a round in position for the slide to feed the round into the chamber.  If the magazine isn't in good condition, the gun just won't work properly.  The 'follower' is the part of the magazine that will be under the first cartridge, in the next photo it's a flat piece of steel with a streak from the brass cartridges that have rubbed against it.  You'll notice that there is an area to the rear portion of the upper opening of the magazine that narrows down.  These are the 'feed lips' and they hold the round in the magazine until the slide strips the cartridge from the mag to fee the chamber.  If the feed lips are bent or misshapen the magazine most likely won't feed properly:




To insert a round into the chamber, you have to take the cartridge and slip the rear part of the casing under the feed lips while pushing down on the follower: 






Then slide the cartridge all the way to the back of the magazine:






You repeat this process to fill the magazine's capacity by pressing the next cartridge down on top of the preceding round.  You can use a finger or thumb to assist by pressing down on the round already in the magazine, and many pistols come with a magazine loader to help do this.  It becomes especially helpful in high-capacity magazines when you get down to the last couple of rounds (yeah, now you'll notice a different mag, it was a different day...):






You'll notice that most pistol magazines nowadays have what are known as "witness holes", numbered cutouts designed to show how many rounds are in a magazine.




Well...that's interesting.  I've lost the photos showing the magazine being inserted into the pistol and the first round chambered.... doh.gif


Tune in tomorrow for the next installment... wacky078.gif

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Almighty gun guru k bob i have not noticed any information yet on buying used guns wich would be a great topic expecialy with money being so tight these days


That's a good point, hillbilly.


For the most part, I PREFER used guns.  Several reasons come right up:


1.  You can research the track record of the model (and avoid the Ruger LCR/LCP-type thing we discussed before).


2.  A good used gun is no different at all from a brand new one.  Except... cheaper.


3.  Sometimes, used is the ONLY way to get the gun.  Like a Virginia Dragoon .44 magnum...



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K-Bob hasn't chimed in yet, and I'm sure he will, but here's a couple of notes from my conglomeration of gun-buying experiences over the years:


There are good used guns available, and there are bads ones as well.  First 2 places I would check would be a REPUTABLE gun shop or a private individual (I stay away from pawn shop guns - if anyone asks I'll tell why but for now take it as a somewhat informed opinion). 


The private individual will more often allow you to test fire the gun, and usually won't mind if you have a gunsmithy type friend over to check it out - if he won't do either of these, then run away and don't look back - he's hiding something (The exception would be if you're buying an heirloom piece which someone rightfully doesn't want fired any more than necessary).  By the way, taking a smithy friend along to check it out is kinda like taking a mechanic to check a used car - if you can do it, it's a good idea. 



The reputable gun shop is in the business (and hopes to continue in the business) of selling firearms, both new and used.  It is to their distinct advantage to offer for sale guns which are in good shape and function correctly, and most of them do this pretty well.  They will normally assist you after the sale if problems arise, and some will even contact customers in the event of a recall.  The gun may cost a bit more, but you get a certain amount of expertise along with it and some level of commitment to you the buyer.


For all occasions, check the weapon carefully - if it's dirty reject it, unless it's just one you gotta have, or it's on your bucket list or something - guns that aren't cleaned before being offered for sale show an attitude of neglect on the previous owner's part - this is one of those areas you don't want to be subject to the potentially dangerous results of that attitude. 


If the trigger pull seems extremely light - ask about it - if it was "fixed" by removing spring mass or turns, use a new snap cap or a paper wad to make sure the firing pin leaves a nice dent in the primer area - I don't know how many people screw this up - the hammer/striker spring is lightened or shortened so much you start getting light strikes and no boom - Smith Model 59 owners are prime culprits for this failing. 


Loose safety is another no-no - Colt Mustang and AMT Backup primary notables in this area - opposite danger from above paragraph - here's a neat quote I saw that covers both conditions :


"The 2 loudest sounds in the world are a click when you expect a boom, and a boom when you expect a click!"




My last $.02 for buying a used gun would be to stick to name brands - with the exception of recalled models (do a little online homework here first) Ruger, Smith and Wesson, and Colt make good guns which they stand behind.  (if I didn't mention someone's favorite brand here don't take offense, other mfrs make good guns too but I'm just highlighting the top few).  A good used gun will cost as much or maybe even a bit more than a new cheap gun, but will last longer and give you better accuracy.  It will also retain much of its resale value should you decide it isn't what you wanted after all.




Surely like to hear from Kentucky Bob on this one too - this was just some stuff I've seen over the years - I've bought a lot of used guns and have gotten burned a couple of times, hopefully I've learned from the experience and can spare someone else some grief.  Worst so far was the first T/C I bought (pawn shop) - pointed it at an eight point buck about 30 feet from my tree stand, squeezed the trigger, and click!  Hammer mainspring had been shortened and primer did not ignite.  Could have fixed this but was so ticked off I sold the gun and have another on layaway - at a reputable gun shop.

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The only problem with used guns is the "rocket launchers" or .243  220 swift  22.250  etc. These rifles have a reputation of firing hopped up reloads pushing the limits of loads. After a few hundred rounds Ive found the breach can get burnt out.


Chamber - The rear part of the rifle barrel that is formed to accept the cartridge to be fired.


Rifling - Spiral grooves in a gun's bore that consist of lands and grooves which spin the projectile in flight and impart accuracy. Rifling is present in all true rifles.


Throat - The unrifled forward portion of the chamber, tapered to meet the rifle barrel bore.


Ive owned a .243 that I used coyote hunting and I pushed the limits of speed and bullet combination's. After a time I had to set my bullets farther and farther into the chamber to keep the distance between the bullet and the rifling or lands as close as possible without touching.


I have however seen my dads Remington 700 .222 remain as accurate as the day he bought it and he would just fill the case with powder and set the bullet.  :D

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That's some excellent advice there annt sugesstions as to where I can get gun smith training and where I can get information on recalled fire arms

Manufacturer's web sites will have a recall tab in most cases - you can get a book on gunsmithing from a public library, also a great place for Used Firearms Digest to check prices (and sometimes problems) on older guns. 


Chuck Hawks has a decent piece entitled "Buying a Used Handgun" which is on the free, non-subscriber portion of www.chuckhawks.com - I'll say here I don't agree with everything Chuck says about firearms, but his is an informed opinion based on years of experience, and his used guide is good enough to go by for most purchases.


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Tips for buying a used gun would be enough to fill an entire thread, lots of info out there!  There are a lot of great buys to be had out there if you know what to look for.  For instance, on a revolver you have to do a lot of things but first check to see if the gun is loaded.


You've got to get over your first impressions when you see the gun's finish.  A gun with a pristine finish may be a gutted wreck, or the gun that looks like 20 miles of bad road may shoot like a house on fire.  The outward appearance may give some indication of how well the gun was maintained, or it could just show honest holster wear.  On a gun (of any type--rifle, shotgun, pistol) with adjustable sights you should look for burred out screws, loose fit, damage to the sights, etc.  Look at the grips, the muzzle's crown, trigger, cylinder latch and any other external features.  One red flag I always look for is a "burred" or damaged screw head on the gun's frame.  This means that someone has been taking the gun apart--usually with the wrong size screwdriver--and doing who knows what to the guns internal parts.  A 'shade tree' gun smith may have been monkeying around in there.


Next, look at the cylinder crane where it fits against the frame while the cylinder is closed.  If there is a gap it probably means the previous owner watched way too many movies in which an actor dramatically 'flicks' or 'snaps' the cylinder shut with a flick of the wrist.  I personally detest seeing this behavior and it's pure-dee ignorance.  This can warp the crane (the part that supports the cylinder when the gun is open) and cause the cylinder's chambers not to align with the bore properly.  If the crane fit looks tight, it's time to move to the interior.  Open the cylinder, note the movement of the cylinder latch.  You want a smooth release, but you don't want the cylinder to just flop out.  There are several designs for keeping a revolver cylinder in place and if they're worn or damaged the cylinder may not held securely.  Try the ejector rod and extractor...if they're bent or damaged they'll have to be repaired.  Look at the chambers for pitting or other damage.  While the cylinder is open check the bore as well.  Look for pitting (rust spots that have eaten into the metal) and 'bulges.'  A barrel bulge indicates that the gun was fired with an obstruction in the barrel, usually a bullet from a 'squib' or underpowered load that didn't entirely leave the barrel.


Close the cylinder and check to see if it locks up firmly.  Don't look for just rotational play, clockwise or counter clockwise, but look for front-to-back movement as well.  Next it's time to try the action.  Hold the cylinder with light pressure between the thumb and forefinger of the left hand while you pull back the hammer with the right.  When the hammer reaches it's fully rearward position the cylinder should align a chamber with the bore despite the light pressure you applied.  Now with some models the cylinder will not lock entirely until the trigger is pulled--especially in older Colt revolvers.  Holding the hammer to prevent it from falling forward, pull the trigger and ease the hammer down.  If the action is "in time" the cylinder will align each chamber with the bore without trouble.  


Now, you need to check the hammer/sear engagement.  Sometimes the 'shade tree' gun smith will take it upon himself to "polish" or "hone" the contact surfaces between the innards of a gun to "smooth it out".  If not done correctly, the gun won't function safely.  So, this time cock the hammer back to full cock.  With the hammer back, try to push it forward with your thumb without touching the trigger.  If the hammer drops the innards have problems, time to pass on the gun.  On a double action revolver you should also take the time to try the DA action, placing gentle pressure on the cylinder to see if the gun locks up correctly in DA mode and just to try the overall "feel" for the DA trigger pull.  Personally, I'll pass on an 18lb trigger pull.


All that and I've only covered the bare basics of looking at a used revolver...lots more info to go, but it is out there on the 'net.  Just Google "how to buy a used ______"  fill in the blank--semi auto pistol, rifle, shotgun, etc. Here are some links about buying used guns from Chuck Hawks:









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I just traded for a Remington 788  .243 in mint condition with a Bushnell Legend 5-15x40 Rifle Scope. Im not at all impressed with the bolt. Its not very smooth at all and there seems to be a problem with the handle breaking off as its welded on. Stats confirm its a very accurate rifle some think out performs the 700. There appears to be a cult following for this reason. It was out of production in 1983 I think. I see some complaints  with the safety and a few years back you could send the rifle back to the company and they would send back a 700 but I dont think there still doing that. Theres some complaint that the .243 rounds have an excessive muzzle blast because of the carbine length of the barrel. Im not sure if mine is the carbine style Ill do some more checking on it. Every .243 Ive ever shot have a huge muzzle blast. I got the sling and five boxes of shells with it.


I traded a Remington Model 7400 in 30.06 with a Tasco .40 MM scope that I traded for and never shot + I paid $200 and one box of factory shells. I dont know who got the better deal but thats a sign that it was a good trade.  :D The 788's were a lower cost rifle when they came out.

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The rifle is in mint condition but I had major complaints with the bolt action. It wasnt smooth at all as the 700 are. I had Swedesneighbor look at it and he discovered that the magazine plate was dragging on the bolt. It has a hinged receiver door. If you drop open the hinged door it smooths out a lot better. With live ammo in it works great.


I havent shot it yet. Ive got a bench at the farm but we have deer grazing by the barn daily,wild turkeys, a pair of Canadian geese, a pair of crows nesting at the pond and ducks on the pond and I really dont want that .243 muzzle blast disturbing them right now.   :scared:

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Sounds like quite the toy, Swede.  Personally, I would disturb the wildlife.


Remmington 788


Description: Moderately priced, bolt action rifle commonly referred to as "Remington’s budget tackdriver".

Introduction Year: 1967

Year Discontinued: 1983 

Total Production: Approximately 565,000

Designer/Inventor: Wayne Leek

Action Type: Bolt action


Caliber/Gauge: .222 Rem. – 1967 – 1980, 1982

.223 Rem. – 1975

.22-250 Rem. – 1967

.243 Win. 1968; w/ 18 ½" barrel 1980

6mm. Rem. – 1969 – 1980

6mm. Rem. Left Hand – 1969 – 1980

7mm-08 Rem. – 1980 w/ 18 ½" barrel

.308 Win. – 1969

.308 Win. Left Hand – 1969 – 1980; w/ 18 ½" barrel 1980

.30-30 Win. – 1967 – 1970

.44 Rem. Mag. – 1967 – 1970


Serial Number Blocks: 1967 – 010001 to 068460

1968 – 6200000 to 6899999

1974 – A6000000 to A6199999

1978 – B6000000 to B6199999


Grades Offered: There were no high grades offered in this model.


Variations: In 1980 changes to the stock included a fluted comb, thicker pistol grip, and wider fore-end.


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ok im looking for a sugetion of that calibers for handguns a new shooter shoiuld progress with starting at a .22 i was thinking of going to a .380 next oh and this is for my wife. she has no interest in shooting a rifle at this point and refuses to shoot a revolver because she findes them "ugly" im trying to convince her that beauty in a fire arm donse not matter reliability is what counts and comfort of shooting

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Honestly, if you plan on stepping up from a .22 to a .380 you should be sure to do so in a larger handgun than some of the pocket guns like the LCP or Kel-Tec.  Those guns are great little guns, but they kick more than you might think and more than most novice shooters will like.  There are larger pistols chambered in .380 like the Beretta Cheetah and Browning BDA that are close in size to full-sized 9mm handguns.  Those are fairly pricey handguns, and Hi-Point offers a .380 pistol that's fair-sized.  I won't say it's a fantastic choice, but it is economical.  I think I read earlier that your wife has small hands, so get her to the gun shop to see what fits her.


A .38 Special loaded with just a nice light 148 grain wadcutter is just about the ideal load to step up to, but not starting out in a little five-shot snub-nose revolver.  Again, in a light revolver like that even a light .38 load will have some recoil that a new shooter may not like.  A full sized, four inch revolver is better to begin with.  This worked for my wife, who has now gotten used to pistols and has worked her way up to her own Ruger LCR.  However, if your wife is absolutely against a revolver that's going to take you back to either a larger .380 or a 9mm.  We've already been through a list of pistols that are available, so it will come down to what fits her hand the best and what fits your budget.

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