RE-OPEN THE MOUTH OF THE SAN BERNARD – AGAIN?

Just heard from Roy Edwards down in Rivers End near the mouth of the San Bernard that Brazoria Count Commissioner “Dude” Payne informed him that State Representative Dennis Bonnan reports the project to re-open the mouth of the San Bernard River is approved using restoration funds from the BP oil spill settlement, and could begin in the next 6 – 9 months.

Posted in Conservation/The Environment | 2 Comments

BACKUP TO A BACKUP? THE AMT BACKUP .45 ACP DAO

The story of my first exposure to the AMT Backup .380 semi-auto “pocket pistol” is documented in an earlier post here. To briefly recap, I found the gun in an old RV I was wrecking out for parts. It was lodged under the propane stove, and must have been there longer than the 12 years I had owned the camper. It was loaded, and in pretty good condition, all things considered. I spent some time and a little money getting it in like new condition again, and have shot it enough that it it now my bedside gun, and also goes with me on trips to my woods property. It is accurate enough at “belly gun” ranges to certainly be better than no gun at all, and I like the all-stainless steel construction, plus the slide safety and grip safety much better than a “modern” striker fired plastic pistol.

In researching the AMT pistols, I found that the Backup line was chambered in several calibers, from .22 LR to .45 ACP. My .380 is a double action/single action design, with no visible hammer. The later version that was chambered for 9 mm, .40 S&W, .38 Super, and .45 ACP was a Double Action Only (DAO) model which had NO safety – instead relying on a stiff trigger pull to keep the gun from firing except when it was wanted to fire. The .380 Backup is heavy for it’s size, but is a blow-back design, and recoils more than a .380 might be expected to. When I got a chance to pick up a .45 ACP Backup, I was a little hesitant, suspecting recoil might be a bit “sporty”!

Well, last week I found one for sale for a price I could not resist. It looks brand new, and did not appear to have been fired before today. It actually is close to the same size as my Para Expert 1911 .45, with it’s 3″ barrel – except that the Para has a full sized 1911 grip section, while the AMT grip is much shorter. The .45 model Backup is, however, both larger and heavier than the .380 version – while still being small enough to be very easily concealed.

The .45 AMT Backup is - thankfully - a bit larger and heavier than the same company's .380 version.

The .45 AMT Backup is – thankfully – a bit larger and heavier than the same company’s .380 version.

I must confess here that I was a little confused by the double action, single action terminology as applied to semi-auto pistols. Well, it really isn’t that complicated. You still must “rack” the slide to load the first round from magazine to chamber. After that, you merely pull the tigger for each shot, exactly as with a single action only semi-auto. The difference seems to be that with a single action, the hammer must be cocked by the slide being racked manually, or during a shot. Well, hmmm, the same logic applies to a DAO gun! With a single action/double action (which also exists), the first shot requires the trigger pull to both cock the hammer and release it to fire the gun, but following shots need only release the trigger. This results in a different trigger pull from the first to successive shots. In a DAO gun, the trigger pull is designed to be just as difficult for the second (and third) shots as the first, making the trigger pull a least consistent – much like with a double action revolver when fired in double action mode only.

The trigger pull of my .45 Backup is stronger than my 8# trigger pull gauge can register – but still not that difficult to shoot. It is not likely to go off in a pocket, however, under that pocket harbors a firearm savy mouse!

Posted in Rifles and Other Things That Go Bang! | Leave a comment

Muzzle Loading As The Most Basic Form of Handloading!

The more I mess with this gun, the more I like it!

The more I mess with this gun, the more I like it!

One of the things many folks forget about in line muzzle loading, is that loads of various power levels can be worked up by varying bullet size and weight as well as powder charge weight. When I sally forth to hog hunt with my new Optima pistol, I intend to use basically the same hard cast bullets I use in my revolvers, by putting them in appropriately sized sabots. This means 292 gr to 335 gr .44 caliber or 300 gr .45. Although the weights may be the same, the .452″ bullets should have a bit more “wind resistance” than those of .429″ diameter?

A selection of .44 and .45 handgun bullets that should be good pig "medicine" from a .50 muzzle loader.

A selection of .44 and .45 handgun bullets that should be good pig “medicine” from a .50 muzzle loader.

Another option is to use the .45 cal “muzzle loader” bullets made by Hornady and Barnes that are shaped like modern centerfire bullets, even to having polymer tips to aid expansion. I also have a good selection of .45 jacketed soft nose bullets to try, and some 300 gr Barnes “Buster’ bullets. Sabots are designed to bring either .44 or .45 caliber bullets to .50 for shooting in muzzle loaders of this caliber, although you can also use the “powerbelt” type that is a full .50 in diameter with a plastic skirt that emulates the sabot.

These polymer tipped bullets are designed to expand at common muzzle loader velocities.

These polymer tipped bullets are designed to expand at common muzzle loader velocities.

The Optima is rated to shoot a maximum of 3 50 gr pellets, but this is discouraged by the powder manufacturers, who almost universally recommend no more than 2, 50 gr pellets, for a charge weight of 100 gr. Guessing this might put me over the 1000 fps muzzle velocity I really prefer with hard cast bullets for hogs, I purchased some 30 gr Triple Seven pellets, to make an 80 gr load. I originally thought if I wanted to go full bore “magnum”, I could use 2 50 gr pellets with one 30 gr, but 2 pellets of whatever size are the recommended maximum, at least by Hodgdon. This may be because it would be harder to ignite 3? Of course, for just “target” and “fun” shooting, either one 50 or 2, 30 gr pellets would make a much milder load.

UPDATE: Fired the CVA again, using one 30 gr Triple Seven Pellet, and one 50 gr, and chronographed the load at 1227 fps. Since this is over my hoped for velocity of 1000 fps, and well into .44 mag territory, I suspect this will be my hog hunting load. Actually, from the Lee Manual, the velocity range listed for recommended loads of .44 mag with a 300 gr lead bullet runs 1030 fps to 1225 – less than the velocity of my 80 gr Triple Seven load with that weight bullet! Going up to a 355 gr bullet, the velocities for .44 mag are even less, at 900 – 1178 fps. By comparison, under .45 Colt “Ruger and T/C only” loads, velocity with a 300 gr lead bullet runs about 800 fps, and with a 360 in a “hotter” load, 1000 fps is possible. Taking the next step, to .454 Casull loads, a 300 gr bullet produces 1260 fps, and a 360, 1200 – 1330. My treasured .480 Ruger can be loaded to Casull velocities, with a larger diameter bullet – .475″, and the fierce .475 Linebaugh gets 1450 fps with a 355 gr bullet, 925 – 1442 with a 370gr. I just traded for some 360 gr .45 hard cast bullets by True Shot and Cast Performance, and think I can get .454 performance out of them in the Optima! Looks like this is going to be a very versatile gun! Wonder if I can get .475/.50 sabots? Then I could use the over 400 gr hard cast I load for the .480!

With this kind of power, and good shot placement, one shot should be plenty!

Triple seven, besides coming in two weights, seem to shoot "cleaner" than some other powders.

Triple seven, besides coming in two weights, seem to shoot “cleaner” than some other powders.

Another popular in line powder is the IMR "Whit Hots" brand.

Another popular in line powder is the IMR “White Hots” brand.

Loads can be "made up" ahead of time for slightly faster reloads in the field.

Loads can be “made up” ahead of time for slightly faster reloads in the field.

Since the muzzle loader uses all the components of a cartridge load – except for the brass cartridge itself, I find working with the loads in even a limited manner to be interesting, as well as useful.

This handy holder carries six reloads of powder and bullet, plus 4 primers.

This handy holder carries six reloads of powder and bullet, plus 4 primers.

The carrier also has a place to hold 4 primers ready.

The carrier also has a place to hold 4 primers ready.

For extended range sessions, or speeding reloads a bit when hunting, the plastic tubes that IMR White Hots powder pellets are sold in make great “cartridges” when set up ahead of time. Each tube will hold 4 pellets and 2 bullets, or two shots. I have a little device that is designed to carry extra powder, and hold 3 of the tubes, so it will carry 6 reloads. It also has recesses to carry 4, 209 primers – although I would not recommend storing them like this for extended periods.

Of course, even more flexibility in velocity and power ranges may be had if one chooses to load “loose” powder in the form of Pyrodex, Triple Seven, or Blackthorn 209 – even in an in line muzzle loader. I have not tried this option, and don’t intend to for at least the present. Powder pellets are fixed in weights, and it is not recommended to try to section them, but the ease of use factor is tremendous!

The in line “muzzle loader was obviously created to help hunters sort of “get around’ the muzzle loader only restrictions for special seasons originally called “Primitive Weapons Seasons”. With pelletized powder, modern bullets, and 209 shotgun primer ignition systems, they are hardly “primitive”! This type of firearm is as effective in many ways as a modern centerfire rifle – or handgun, and there is no reason not to hunt with one outside the one week muzzle loader only deer season. There are plenty of hogs in Texas to use these guns on, and they have sufficient power, range, and accuracy to get the job done. I grew up hunting with a single shot 20 gauge shotgun, and still hunt a lot with Thompson Contender single shot carbines and handguns, so a singe shot does not discourage me. Still it would be very interesting to try one of the over/under double barreled in line guns offered by – I think – CVA and Traditions!

Posted in Rifles and Other Things That Go Bang! | Leave a comment

CVA Optima Muzzle Loading “Pistol”

OK, I know a “pistol” is properly a semi-auto, but CVA markets this single shot muzzle loader as such, so who am I to differ?

When trying to get a deer this season with my Mossberg 500 pump muzzle loader conversion, I again thought it would be “nice” to try a break open ML with a removable breech plug. This feature not only makes good cleaning of the barrel and breech areas easier, but allows for unloading the gun from the breech end, instead of having to shoot a load out. As I once accidently loaded my Mossberg in incorrect order, putting the bullet in before the powder pellets, this would have been a great feature to have on that gun at the time!

This break open ML with 14" barrel and removable breech plug should be a very effective hog/deer gun.

This break open ML with 14″ barrel and removable breech plug should be a very effective hog/deer gun.

As single shot handguns go, the CVA .50 compares closely in size and weight with my .30/30 Contender - also with a 14" barrel.

As single shot handguns go, the CVA .50 compares closely in size and weight with my .30/30 Contender – also with a 14″ barrel.

Contender case and other accessories work well with the CVA .50 ML.

Contender case and other accessories work well with the CVA .50 ML.

This Uncle Mike's shoulder holster I "modified" for a 14" Contender barrel will also work for carrying the CVA ML.

This Uncle Mike’s shoulder holster I “modified” for a 14″ Contender barrel will also work for carrying the CVA ML.

The 4x Leupold handgun scope swapped easily from the Contender to the CVA. If this proves too much magnification for my needs, I'll drop to a 2x scope.

The 4x Leupold handgun scope swapped easily from the Contender to the CVA. If this proves too much magnification for my needs, I’ll drop to a 2x scope.

Finally got to shoot this firearm, and I like it. As a start point, I obtained some 30 gr Triple 7 pellets, and loaded one of these with a 50 gr pellet, to give a charge of 80 gr. Did not have the time to chrono the load, but it was not unpleasant to shoot, although it did knock my un-padded elbow against the shooting table. After bore sighting at home, the hit – with a 292 gr cast lead bullet – was about 3″ high at 25 yards. Certainly as close as bore sighting usually gets! If this load chronos around 1000 fps, this may be the one I end up using.

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Muzzle Loader Cleaning Aids

Muzzle loaders – even in line versions using pelletized powder – have “special” cleaning needs. The pre-saturated cleaning patches from Thompson Center are MUCH easier to use than trying to attach a dry patch to your cleaning rod and then wet it by hand!

Coating a muzzle loader barrel – inside – with a product like Bore Butter after each shooting session helps clean it as well as “seasoning” the barrel, much as seasoning a cast iron frying pan with cooking oil helps to keep the pan from rusting. With a muzzle loader – even when shooting so called easy load plastic sabots over your bullets – a bit of lube helps to allow easier bullet seating. The patches from TC or Traditions that are already presaturated with such a lube are also easier and faster to use than smearing a bit of bore butter on a dry patch.

The CVA “Barrel Blaster” cleaning system is a small jar filed with cleaning solution in which a breech plug or other “small” parts may be dropped and soaked for the ultimate in through and easy cleaning. The only caution is to dry the part as well as possible after removing it from the re-useable solution and before using it in the gun.

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Nude Bee’s Hive?

I have never seen a honey bee hive in the open on a tree branch before!

I have never seen a honey bee hive in the open on a tree branch before!

This bee hive is on a tree branch, with no protection for the comb. I’ve seen bees swarming around a queen on a tree branch or on a beam extending from the side of a house, even – but never an actual hive constructed basically out in the open. Seems like a heavy rain would make these bees at least very uncomfortable, and cold weather would be fatal? Since this one is above my in-law’s home in North Texas, on Lake Arrowhead, near Wichita Falls, they won’t have long to wait for some serious temperature drops!

Posted in Picture Of The Week | Leave a comment

Extend-A-Truck 2-In-1 Load Support

One of my regrets in trading my one ton dually truck in on a half-ton was going from an 8′ bed to a 5’5″ bed, thus loosing carry ability. One solution is simply to lower the tailgate and let the load “extend” beyond the bed. This works OK with lumber and some other things that create a long load, but is not especially secure. After researching various “tools” to overcome this situation, I decided on a bed extender made by Darby Industries in Falls PA (www.ExtendATruck.com).

The Extend-A-Trucl bed extension from Darby Industries adds up to four feet of load capacity to a pick truck bed.

The Extend-A-Truck bed extension from Darby Industries adds up to four feet of load capacity to a pick truck bed.

The extender is made of tubular steel and fits in the receiver hitch on my truck, then pins securely just as a trailer hitch does. The longer of the two pieces is in the shape of an “L”, and stretches out 4′ behind the truck bed. The second piece is a “T” with a 4′ “bar” that is adjustable to reach the height of the tailgate in the down position. This allows longer loads to be supported, and tied down securely using the tie ring weld to the ends of the “T” bar. If the position of the “L” is reversed to place the longer leg going up, it can be used with a roof rack to form a “ladder rack” to carry even longer loads at roof height.

This is a sturdy and versatile extension with a 350# carry capacity.

This is a sturdy and versatile extension with a 350# carry capacity.

This is a strong device, with a stated carrying capacity of 350#, but light enough to be easily removed and stored in the truck cab or bed.

Lumber, pipe, furniture - practically anything that is a longer load than the truck bed can be carried with the Extend-A-Truck device.

Lumber, pipe, furniture – practically anything that is a longer load than the truck bed can be carried with the Extend-A-Truck device.

Another use for this system the manufacturers did not recommend that I can see is to install it in the roof carry position and use the “T” bar to hold a rope or cable hoist to lift game animals for transport out of the woods to the cleaning area. I think it will work in this manner on my Kawasaki Mule, making it much easier for me to move a deer or hog by myself.

In the "second" position, the ed extender can be used with a roof rack to carry even longer items, like canoes or flat bottomed boats - or ladders.

In the “second” position, the ed extender can be used with a roof rack to carry even longer items, like canoes or flat bottomed boats – or ladders.

In this position, the extender could also be used as a game hoist.

In this position, the extender could also be used as a game hoist.

The extender works with any vehicle that has a receiver hitch, even UTV’s like a Mule. I often use my Mule or my golf cart to haul feeders, ladders (to fill feeders), and other fairly large things “back in the woods”, and this will be helpful.

The Extend-A-Truck can be used as designed for carrying longer loads on UTV's like my Kawasaki Mule.

The Extend-A-Truck can be used as designed for carrying longer loads on UTV’s like my Kawasaki Mule.

Using the Extender as a game hoist frame will keep me from going back to camp for the tractor to haul a deer or hog in for butchering.

This will work as a hoist from bringing hogs or deer to camp!

This will work as a hoist from bringing hogs or deer to camp!

My only two “complaints” about this accessory come from having to drill out one hole in the long end of the “L” piece that was too small to allow the pin to pass through. No real big deal, but it did have to be enlarged to use the extender.

The other thing I did not think about until I tried to back up with the extended in place, is that the back up camera on my truck is located in the tailgate! With he tail gate in down position, the camera only sees the extender bar – and the road beneath it – and both are closer than the truck wants them to be! This means the camera is useless with the tailgate down, but since the proximity alarm for behind the truck only goes off in reverse, it effectively becomes a “Backup” alarm. A small problem, but one that needs to be noted.

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Dodge 3.0 Liter “Eco Diesel”

Yes, it is a half-ton DIESEL!

Yes, it is a half-ton DIESEL!

The half-ton Eco-diesel by Dodge powers a 4WD “light truck” with a fuel efficient V6 diesel engine that puts out 240 hp at 3600 RPM, and 420 ft lbs of torque at only 2000 RPM. The engine is a 24 valve, double overhead (chain-driven) cam unit with a 16.5:1 compression ratio and common rail injection that is turbo charged and after cooled. This is a fairly high tech little diesel! It is actually a Fiat engine which has been in use in Europe for a long time with a proven track record.

The V-6 Eco Diesel engine fills most of the under hoof space on the 1500 series truck. Luckily, there are no spark plugs to change!

The V-6 Eco Diesel engine fills most of the under hoof space on the 1500 series truck. Luckily, there are no spark plugs to change!

With 4 full doors, this truck has a spacious and well thought out cab.

With 4 full doors, this truck has a spacious and well thought out cab.

My previous truck was a 2010 Dodge dually with the 6.7 Liter straight six Cummins engine. It had power and size I never really needed, but I sure enjoyed owning and driving it for seven years!

The half ton Eco Diesel is a step down in size from my 2010 1 ton dually.

The half ton Eco Diesel is a step down in size from my 2010 1 ton dually.

My dually did pretty well on fuel for a truck of it’s size, but still averaged only 12 – 14 mpg, with the best performance I ever saw at nearly 17 mpg on the highway, with a tail wind! The much lighter half-ton with a smaller engine is rated for 19 “in town” and 27 highway. I have heard of some owners who say they are getting over 30 on the highway, and right now mine seems to be averaging 28. I expect this to improve with a few miles on it, but even averaging 22 – 24 between town and open roads is a huge improvement in economy over my “big truck”.

UPDATE: My first “towing” test was today. Pulled my light trailer and Kawasaki Mule to my woods place. The truck pulled it well – as well, it felt, as my dually. Going down the road at 65 MPH, with no traffic, I got 17 – 19 mpg, as opposed to 12-13 with the dually. When I had to slow to 55 mph, the mileage went to 20 -22!

A backup camera is an excellent aid to towing! I can SEE the trailer hitch ball, and ease it right up to the trailer tongue! No more getting out of the truck to see how close I am – several times! It is also great for backing up with the trailer hooked to the truck, and if I were to need to check on my hitch connection, the camera on this truck can be manually activated when NOT in reverse.

One big difference in the two vehicles is that now I have to start using Diesel Exhaust Fluid to meet emissions standards. There is a six gallon tank for this stuff, with the filler located next to the diesel fill, and a gauge on the dash to monitor the level. Reports are that a full tank of DEF should last for several thousand miles. On our Christmas trip to North Texas, the DEF gauge did not dip very close to the half full make.This fluid was not necessary on my Cummins engines.

The fill spots for both diesel and DEF are located together.

The fill spots for both diesel and DEF are located together.

The dually was a bigger truck, with more power, less fuel economy.

The dually was a bigger truck, with more power, less fuel economy.

The dually was a problem to park in spots designed for normal sized vehicles, and turning in tight places was a challenge. I have sone tight spots on my entry road to my woods property that I have had to be very careful with, due to the extra width of the dual wheels and their fenders. The overall length of the 1 ton was more, also. These problems have all “gone away” with the switch to the 1/2 ton. I won’t be able to haul as much, of course, but I have trailers to help with that. The 5’7″ bed WILL be a bit of a problem, but I have an “extender” on order for hauling longer pieces of lumber and things like sheets of plywood or roofing “tin”.

One of my brothers accused me of buying my first Dodge truck in 1994 because it resembled the Studebakers I used to love!

One of my brothers accused me of buying my first Dodge truck in 1994 because it resembled the Studebakers I used to love!

My wife loves the new truck for all the things mentioned above, and also because the ride is almost as smooth as a nice car. It is also VERY quiet, and much easier to get in and out of than the “taller” dually was.

Also welcomed are the new “gadgets” that were not available when I bought my 2010 truck, such as the backup camera and in dash navigation system. The 2016 truck also has LED lighting for the cargo bed. We opted for dealer installed “running boards”, but they are not needed as badly as on the taller dually. This truck also has “parking assists in the form of sensors on both sides and front and rear to warn if you are too close to another vehicle or other solid object.

A new “twist” (pardon the pun!) on Dodge trucks for 2016 was the twist shift knob located on the dash board, completely out of the way of any other operations. Although there have been safety concerns on some vehicles so equipped, mine seems to operate in a secure manner – at least at this point.

Another welcome “extra” is the remote start feature, which allows push-button starting of the vehicle from some distance away. This will come in handy for warming up the cab on cold mornings, and since the engine can be cranked without unlocking the vehicle, security is somewhat maintained.

The gears are shifted with a twist knob on the dashboard between the ignition switch and the radio/climate controls.

The gears are shifted with a twist knob on the dashboard between the ignition switch and the radio/climate controls.

Easy shifting with the twist knob, and the 4WD controls are just below it.

Easy shifting with the twist knob, and the 4WD controls are just below it.

Everything is on the instrument panel, from fuel economy to DEF tank levels.

Everything is on the instrument panel, from fuel economy to DEF tank levels.

The same display serves as the Nav/backup camera screen as well as controlling most other electronic functions, such as the radio and bluetooth.

The same display serves as the Nav/backup camera screen as well as controlling most other electronic functions, such as the radio and bluetooth.

The backup camera system on this truck is among the best I’ve seen, with a wide screen and good viewing area.

The backup camera screen is one of the largest I've seen.

The backup camera screen is one of the largest I’ve seen.

My new truck has dual exhausts, instead of dual rear wheels!

My new truck has dual exhausts, instead of dual rear wheels!

An obvious additional “performance feature” of the V6 Eco Diesel is that it has dual exhausts to help the engine “breathe”.

In summary, in my opinion, from my limited experience so far with the new Eco Diesel, it seems to be a real “winner” in terms of utility, ride, and economy. When diesel fuel pump prices rose to equal or even exceed gasoline, some of the diesel advantage was mitigated, but with the increased economy of the Eco Diesel, the longevity and strength of diesel power can be used to very good advantage in a half ton truck that is more user-friendly than other diesel pickups of the past.

The 20" chromed aluminum wheels look good and help add to ground clearance.

The 20″ chromed aluminum wheels look good and help add to ground clearance.

As a footnote, my dually turned out to be the best automotive “investment” I have ever made! The original “list” price was a bit over $50,000, and I traded my previous truck in with no additional down payment. I drove it for 7 years while paying off the loan, although I only had 60,000 miles on it at the time of my trade-in – and with what the dealership “gave” me for it on the trade in it almost amounted to banking my payment every month and driving the big truck for free!

UPDATE: Took the truck on its first real “road trip” over the Christmas holidays, driving to Lake Arrowhead near Wichita Falls to visit my wife’s family. I drove half way up then my wife took over and would not let me have the wheel back! She REALLY likes the way this truck rides and drives! Our average mileage for the trip was 26.7 mpg. Dodge estimates 27 on the highway for the vehicle, so this seems to be very close. We were driving in some hilly country on the way up on Hwy 36, however, and my wife likes to use the accelerator perhaps more than is necessary, loves to pass anything that might be in front of her! Had we set the cruise control at below the speed limit – and USED IT – I suspect the mileage would have been at over over 30 mpg.

Posted in Product Evaluations | 2 Comments

Taking Stock Of An H&R Handi-Rifle

The Handi-Rifle series of break open single shot guns produced by Harrington-Richards/New England Firearms offers versatility that AMOST rivals the Thompson Center Contenders and Encore guns. Both are break open single shots that can be had with barrels in several calibers that are interchangeable, but H&R does not stress that feature nearly as much as Thompson does. While Contenders and Encores can use virtually any barrel made for their respective model with no fitting or alterations, H&R prefers the customer to send in their action to have an additional barrel fitted at the factory. H&R does offer shotgun barrels, however, that can be “fitted” to the Handi-rifle action – but they only offer rifle and carbine length barrels, not the handgun length barrels that are the trademark of Thompson Center – and I have a soft spot for sngle shots and hunting with them.. Changing barrels is actually easier on the H&R, as there is no hinge pin to remove and then replace. I have both types of gun, and like them both.

Several years ago I acquired a Handi-Rifle in .22 Hornet for my wife. This is a really pleasant little rifle to shoot, very accurate. We have used it to take quite a few coons and several smaller feral hogs. A very useful gun, but not what you would call “pretty”. Recently I have been “jazzing up” some of my older guns, and when the time came for the Hornet to take it’s turn, I began by putting a Scope skins wrap on the 4X12 UltraView scope mounted on it. I had enough material left to cover the receiver, also. Even though the metal of this gun was in really good shape, I rust browned the barrel – just for a color contrast.

First step in "jazzing up" the Handi-rifle was putting a ScopeSkins covering on the 4X12 scope.

First step in “jazzing up” the Handi-rifle was putting a ScopeSkins covering on the 4X12 scope.

Let over material from the ScopeSkin cover was used to "coat" the receiver section of the rifle.

Let over material from the ScopeSkin cover was used to “coat” the receiver section of the rifle.

Next, the plastic stock needed to be replaced. I chose a laminated “thumbhole” stock in a camo color scheme with a matching fore end. The stock was fairly easy to install – only one screw attaches it, but after I received the set I learned the fore end does not fit without what H&R calls a “Meld adaptor” that mates the squared end of the fore end to the curved surface of the receiver. H&R did not have any of these adaptors, and Brownell’s – whom they recommended as a source – listed the part as no longer available. After some internet searching, I finally found a seller of used parts – Al Bolduc, of Siloam Springs, Arkansas – The Gun Garage (www.gungarageparts.com) who had these plastic adaptors, and ordered one. When it arrived it was a quick job to screw it to the fore end.

The vari-colored laminate stock from Boyd's adds weigh to the little rifle, increases both comfort and accuracy.

The vari-colored laminate stock from Boyd’s adds weigh to the little rifle, increases both comfort and accuracy.

The thumbhole type grip and MoteCarlo cheekpiece make this a very comfortable stokk to shoot.

The thumbhole type grip and MoteCarlo cheekpiece make this a very comfortable stokk to shoot.

When my Boyd's fore end did not "work", my temporaru solution while huntign for a spacer to match the fore end to the receiver was to paint the  factory fore end - a soli=ution which I'd have been satisfied with, had I never found the part to allow the use of the Boyd's piece.

When my Boyd’s fore end did not “work”, my temporaru solution while huntign for a spacer to match the fore end to the receiver was to paint the factory fore end – a soli=ution which I’d have been satisfied with, had I never found the part to allow the use of the Boyd’s piece.

Once I found the correct spacer/adaptor, I replaced the plastic stock fore end with the Boyd's unit.

Once I found the correct spacer/adaptor, I replaced the plastic stock fore end with the Boyd’s unit.

In my opinion, what we have now is a pretty “wild” looking little gun that is very useful as a truck or back door gun for varmints and pests that can also be used for bigger game if necessary. I already had a Lee Loader for .22 Hornet and a supply of 45 gr .22 hollow point bullets, so I ordered a set of Lee dies to really get serious about optimizing my .22 Hornet ammo. Maybe I’ll get other barrels for this action, when I decide which caliber might be the most entertaining. H&R makes barrels up to .45/70 and even .500 S&W, if the need for a stout cartridge spitting heavy bullets calls to me!

Cutom stcuk and scope/receiver treatments create a unique, one-of-a-kind little varmint rifle!

Cutom stcuk and scope/receiver treatments create a unique, one-of-a-kind little varmint rifle!

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GW Universal Gravity Feed Tube

Many – if not most – barrel-type corn “deer” feeders use a battery-powered spinner to “throw” corn some distance from the feeder, in a circular pattern. Most of these have timers that can be set to varying times of day, and from one to several feeding times a day. This type feeder has the advantage of not needing a lot of attention, except for changing batteries, and the repairs any mechanical, and especially electrical device left out in the elements will need. Then there is the cost of batteries.

The other choice is feeders is the “self feeder” type, where the corn or other offering is simply available to the deer any time they want it. This type is often used when putting out “protein” supplements that you would not want to just throw on the ground.

The biggest advantage to a hunter in using a battery powered “thrower” feeder, is that deer will be conditioned to come to the feeder at the times you want them there the most. While there is always a chance of finding a deer near a feeder at any time of day, it is amazing how soon they learn when the feeder will be releasing corn, and will be there waiting for the sound of corn coming down. With the self feeding type, deer can eat when they want, making this type perhaps a bit more “sporting”?

Gravity feeders solve many problems with battery powered "scatter" feeders.

Gravity feeders solve many problems with battery powered “scatter” feeders.

A good gravity flow self feeder will have a drum of some kind as a “hopper” and will either be hanging from a natural or man-made point of elevation, which can be as simple as 3-4 pole legs, or as involved as a tall tripod from which the feeder is suspended by cables and raised and lowered using a hand winch. There are really neat looking self feeders on the market that mount on a “tee” post or the side of a tree, but these must be designed for use in areas with no coons or squirrels! These pests will empty such a feeder in short order, and the ones made of fairly thin plastic will get chewed up by sharp little teeth!

A decent gravity feeder can be made from a length of 4″ PVC pipe with a “T” fitting glued to the bottom end, even better is a “Y” fitting which can be positioned to “slant” upwards, so the corn doesn’t simply slide out. These feeders are economical and can be hung from a tree branch – using single strand wire helps keep coons from climbing down from above, as they will surely do if a rope is used. This feeder can also be hung high enough to usually keep coons from reaching it, yet be easily within reach of a decent sized deer. The same basic design can be attached to the bottom of a metal drum.

I use both types of PVC feeders, but recently put a Game Winner (Academy store brand) GW Universal Gravity Feeder Tube in use. I like this system so far. It has several pieces to adjust the distance it hangs below the drum, and this combined with the length of legs used can keep critters out. You also need to be aware the feeder station does have to be low enough under the drum to allow a deer to feed without bumping her head – or his antlers! The GW model is metal, and has 3 feeding trays with lips to help keep the contents from falling out on their own, There also is what GW calls an adjustable baffle, but really amounts to a sort of collar on the main tube that opens or narrows the opening the corn is allowed to feed through. It actually seems to work well, although I’m not sure I would call it a baffle.

Three feeding stations allow deer ample room to reach the corn.

Three feeding stations
allow deer ample room to reach the corn.

I used this feeder tube to replace a battery powered thrower, and was able to use the original mounting holes to attach it.

An adjustable "baffle" controls the amount of corn that down-flows, lips on the feeding stations keep it from falling out.

An adjustable “baffle” controls the amount of corn that down-flows, lips on the feeding stations keep it from falling out.

My setup with the GW feeder tube has the least amount of accessory tubing to keep it closer to the bottom of the barrel – which is 5 feet off the ground – and higher off the ground. I also put several short pieces of PVC pipe over the legs as further coon-proofing. In theory, as the coon tries to climb the legs, the different pieces of PC will slip and turn on the leg, hopefully making the furry bandit fall off. So far, it seems to be working, as I have not arrived to check the feeder and found corn all over the ground instead of in the barrel!

When installing the feeder tube, it is important to leave room for a tall set of antlers to fit under the barrel!

When installing the feeder tube, it is important to leave room for a tall set of antlers to fit under the barrel!

I recently purchased a second of these units, and will possibly return to Academy for a third after the second on eis mounted and in use.

Oh, these do not replace your scatter feeder for hog hunting. For that you need roll pipes and barrels!

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