Patrick Sweeney is a former gunsmith, competition handgun shooter, book author, and outdoor magazine writer who has done several books for Gun Digest. Complaints about his books are rare, and mostly petty, and he is normally very thorough. His book on reloading reflects a lifetime of interest and participation in the subject, and will be helpful to anyone involved in this activity – whether newcomer or experienced reloader. I have the Kindle version,and refer to it often while working at my reloading bench or gathering data for making a batch of newly reloaded ammunition. He discusses the different powders, primers, brass, and equipment needed to produce your own ammo – as well as the justifications for doing so.



THIS IS FROM JAN EDWARDS, OF the water quality of the river during the recent flood events.

Mike – We have some interesting results from this month’s water quality report for the lower San Bernard River. Two months ago was the first time since we started doing this in 2009 that the water was so fresh we could not measure it with the equipment we have (that was a flooding event down the Bernard). Last month we could measure the salinity again, but this month marks another first. This is the second time the river has been too fresh to measure the salinity – that’s twice in three months and that is the first time something like that has happened since we have been doing the testing. The water temperature is up and the oxygen content is down considerably (even compared to a year ago).The fresh water seems to be coming mostly from the flood waters of the Brazos flowing down the Intracoastal Canal. The interesting thing is, the water from the Brazos seems to be going both up and downstream on the Bernard. Meanwhile, the Brazos continues to spew tons of sand out of its mouth into the Gulf of Mexico. In this case, it looks like the mouth of the San Bernard is sanding up both from the river side and the Gulf side due to Brazos flood waters. (Reference Bert Smith’s pictures from June 1 and 6 found on ) There is so much organic material in the flood waters that we are watching for an incidence of black water as a result from these flooding waters. Numerous barges are backed up waiting to cross the Brazos at the flood gates, but the Brazos is on restrictions and they cannot get across. This has been going on for days now. That’s a whole lot of money sitting still. There is no question in our mind that if the mouth for the San Bernard was open, this flooding event would be greatly reduced in both size and time it takes to clear the flood plain.

There is no marine bird life working across the river and there usually is this time of year. We saw the first showing of schools of mullet working upstream for the first time this year.
Anyway – we thought you would like to have our observations.

We will be posting this information on in the next day or so.

Regards –
Jan and Roy Edwards

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BIG BORE SIXGUNS – by John Taffin

Another excellent large format book dealing with great handguns

Another excellent large format book dealing with great handguns

This volume by noted sixgun aficionado John Taffin covers the truly Big Bore revolvers from the first .357 magnums, .45 Colt, and .44 Specials to the brutal .500 Maximums. Although the title suggest otherwise, many of these very large caliber revolvers actually were of 5 shot capacity, because the cylinders needed the extra thickness this configuration provided. In these 336 pages are stories of the history of big revolvers, modern day big bores, custom big bores, shooting bog bores, hunting with big bores, and some other stuff, such as choosing the proper holster and ammunition. There are many good photos of some exceptional guns, and references to help you find out even more, should the urge hit you, as it probably will.

Mr. Taffin is a long-time writer for American Handgunner and Guns magazines, as well as a book author of some renown, and tells his tales from personal experience. Personally, I have this book in hard cover for at home, and on my Kindle for deer stand reading.

Give this one a try also (or see my review).

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RUGER PISTOLS & REVOLVERS, The Vintage Years, 1949 – 1973 – by John C. Dougan

This "coffee table" book is an excellent guide to Ruger handguns from 1949 - 1973

This “coffee table” book is an excellent guide to Ruger handguns from 1949 – 1973

This is a “coffee table” size book, and a very attractive one – with many pictures, charts, and other illustrations. It covers very well Ruger handguns from the very beginning with the .22 semi-auto that started it all to the double action revolver period – except for the Redhawk and Super Redhawk, because it was published in 2008, before that period of Ruger history was “written”. Its 391 total pages cover the history and glory of Ruger handguns of this period, including lists of serial numbers and chapters on custom Rugers and the period when engraved Rugers were going strong.

Mr. Dougan was President of the Ruger Collectors Association.

There is also a “sequel” volume dealing with Rugers from 1973 on, for those wishing to complete their Ruger library.

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GUN DIGEST BOOK of the .44 – by John Taffin

A whole book about the .44 cartridge? You bet!

A whole book about the .44 cartridge? You bet!

Most gun folks probably know the .44 family of cartridges – mostly the .44 Special and .44 magnum – are very popular, but Gun Digest was convinced they were SO popular that they commissioned gun writer John Taffin to write an entire, actual BOOK just about this subject – and a fairly long book at 288 large format (8 1/2″ x 11″) pages! In addition to the anomaly of the book itself is the prices it sells for! I see USED copies going for as much as $250, as since I paid $75 for my own used copy only weeks ago, I would consider the Amazon price listed below as a very good deal.

John did a lot more than just tell a few tales about shooting various .44’s here, he gives the history behind this cartridge, the men who helped make it what it is today, loading data, guns chambered for it past and present – as well as his own history with the cartridge, which is extensive. Anyone who is a true fan of the .44 probably knows a lot of this information already, but will still find something new.

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In 2009 - 2010, Ruger began producing their Blackhawk single action revolver in .44 Special

In 2009 – 2010, Ruger began producing their Blackhawk single action revolver in .44 Special

Those who love the .44 Special were eSpecially (pun intended) excited when Ruger brought out the Blackhawk “Flat Top” for the first time in that cartridge in 2009 – 2010. Of course, we could always shoot .44 Special ammo in a Super Blackhawk .44 magnum, but that is a bigger, bulkier, and heavier handgun.The little Flat top .44 Special with its 4 5/8″ barrel is a joy to handle and shoot. Mine is accurate, and shows almost no recoil with the 200 gr FMJ ammo I had on hand – even when shooting one handed. Of course, if you load the Special with a hard cast 240 – 250 gr bullet at 1200 fps, it rivals the .44 mag in killing power on deer sized game, and will suffice for hogs, as well. I was very pleased with my first shooting session, even with the FMJ ammo, and I have ordered new Starline Brass – and also reloaded the cases I fired plus a few I dug up from when I used to shoot .44 Special some in my magnums for a couple of dozen rounds with a mild charge of Titegroup powder behind 240gr lead semi-wadcutter target bullets.

For a long time I have “wanted” a Charter Arms Bulldog revolver as a self defense gun – not because Charter makes such a great gun (although they are much better than many give them credit for being), but because the little snub nosed double action revolver is chambered for .44 Special, making it a pretty potent companion. Even at the relatively mild loading of the Special, you get a cartridge equal to or surpassing a .45 ACP in knock down power, and the size allows it be be concealed almost as easily as a 1911. In addition, the double action revolver is probably the perfect “carry” handgun, as far as both safety and speed to get it into action, since you only need pull the trigger to fire at once, but it is much less likely to be involved in an accidental discharge. While the Flat Top Ruger is a single action, it retains most of the desirable features of the Bulldog in a handgun of better overall quality that holds 6 rounds instead of the Bulldog’s 5 – and the name Flat Top is just as rugged sounding as Bull Dog!

I am having trouble researching the manufacture date and other info on this pistol right now, as a lot of Ruger reference material was printed before the gun was manufactured. The cylinder on this one is “in the white”, as the previous owner removed the bluing to make it easier to polish out those annoying “turn marks” on the cylinder that most revolvers – especially New Model Blackhawks – are so prone to get. It actually looks pretty good – almost like a stainless cylinder – and sets off the finish of the frame which is really black, not blue, especially with the white resin grips. I may leave the cylinder as is, or I may see this as an opening to have some engraving done, or a color case hardened finish put on just the cylinder!

Note: Got this info this morning from a member of the Ruger Forum who is VERY knowledgeable on all things Ruger –


Best thing I can tell you is that you have one of the best models Ruger ever made; great cartridge, the mid size frame is the best-size-for-cartridge, it has all steel construction (no alum alloy parts), and they shoot very well. Some even feel that their fit and finish are above the ordinary because they were originally a special Lipsey’s distributor exclusive model which seem to get a bit more care than regular production items! If part of the original Lipsey’s order, it shipped by 12/2009, and will have a serial # under 520-20044 (MINE IS 520- 26014). But if it was ‘on the cusp’ of losing the lock, it likely didn’t ship until after 2012 when the lock was deleted.

You’re correct, the 44 Special mid size Flat Top Black Hawk was introduced in 2009. And fortunately they were not made before the barrel warning was moved to the bottom (THE WARNING ON MINE IS ON THE BOTTOM). The earliest issue had the 2nd line which includes the word “Newport” in a larger font than the 1st line. On later models, both lines used the same size small font (THIS IS THE CASE ON MINE).

A 520 serial # prefix labels this gun has having an internal lock. Likely however, it had been assembled during the transition and Ruger ran out of grip frames for the lock, before they ran out of cylinder frames still stamped #520…… After the lock was deleted, the prefix was changed to 521……….
The only other explanation is someone has switched the grip frame to the non-lock style, either way that’s a good thing!!

It likely has a blue hammer with polished sides (YES) and a stainless steel trigger, post 2013 production has stainless hammers and triggers.

The white grips are aftermarket. That’s also a good thing in my opinion, because the optional factory simulated ivory grips do not look as much like ivory as yours do. The NVB on the back indicate they are the XR3 size grip frame for the ‘New Vaquero’ and flat top ‘Blackhawk’, the only two current models that use that size grip.

Hope this is helpful”

Yes, the information was VERY helpful – at least to me.

This fine Handgun is in the Ruger production line now, so anyone wanting a dependable and “fun” gun to shoot that can also go hunting or spend time as a self-defense arm might want to give this one a look!

Posted in Rifles and Other Things That Go Bang! | 1 Comment


I have discussed some of the problems I encountered when I began loading my own ammo for my .480 Ruger before. Basically, the heavy hard cast bullets I wanted to use – 375 gr and 410gr slugs from Cast Performance Bullets – would not chamber. After obtaining the Lee bullet Lube and Sizer kit, I saw some improvement, but still had to go to extraordinary steps to get a tight enough crimp for the bullets to fully enter the chamber. Seems the “bulge” where the brass overlapped the bullet was too large. After consulting with the good folks at Lee Precision, they offered to make a “custom” collett sizing die for me in .475/.480 that gives a tighter crimp than the ordinary die set. Factory Crimp Dies, as they are usually called, are made for many calibers, and I use them on several, but they are not carried as stock items for the .480. This die would also work for the .475 Linebaugh, which uses the same .475 sized bullet.

The Lee Factory Crimp Die - or collett die - gives a much tighter crimp than Lee's normal die set.

The Lee Factory Crimp Die – or collett die – gives a much tighter crimp than Lee’s normal die set.

I paid for this service, of course, but the cost was very reasonable.

After the die arrived and I found that it pretty much solved the problem, I determined that the problem really was that my cylinders were too “tight”, and really need to be lightly reamed to accept the bullets (which will not pass through the cylinder when NOT loaded in a case!). I will likely do this, also. About the same time I found a used but newer .480 Super Redhawk cylinder that seems to have been reamed correctly at the factory. Since this one has a polished stainless finish, I am currently trying to figure out how to install it myself, to both solve the tight chamber problem, and give the gun a duo-tone “custom” look. Regardless of these other options, I plan to continue using the collett die to make sure I have a good, tight crimp that will not allow the bullet to “pull” and move forward under the recoil of the big .480, which could “lock” the gun up at an inconvenient time.

Lee gets a lot of credit here for going what I consider above and beyond the call in helping me!

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About a month ago, I was asked by a former resident of this area if the San Bernard River outlet was still closed, or could the then recent heavy rains have opened it. Well no. These pictures taken yesterday by pilot/photographer Albert Smith show that the even more serious flooding on the Brazos River watershed of last week has only made things worse for the poor San Bernard!

This aerial photo of the mouth of the Brazos River shows the amount of sand and silt that is flowing into the Gulf after last weeks flooding rains along the length of the watershed.

This aerial photo of the mouth of the Brazos River shows the amount of sand and silt that is flowing into the Gulf after last weeks flooding rains along the length of the watershed.

The first picture shows the flow out of the Brazos mouth, dramatically illustrating how much silt and sand is flowing down the Brazos from upstream in Central Texas and into the Gulf off the mouth, and then being carried to the Southwest by the currents along the beachfront.

And all that sand ends up here - at the already closed mouth of the San Bernard River - making a bad situation even worse!

And all that sand ends up here – at the already closed mouth of the San Bernard River – making a bad situation even worse!

The second picture shows more clearly where all that material temporarily suspended in the current is heading. Not only did the outlet of the San Bernard not open, but the additional silt from the Brazos is making it worse, plugging the former mouth even tighter. On the other side of the narrow beach, the current that is supposed to be exiting the San Bernard River mouth is churning along in the ICW, looking for someplace to go. Until and unless it either cuts a new outlet through the shallow marsh lakes between the beach and the Gulf, or man helps to open the original river mouth by dredging, currents in the ICW will hamper commercial and recreational boating alike, and flooding up the river when another dramatic rain event occurs will be even worse!

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The Ultra Dot red dot sight with rubber eye piece and polarized filter attached is almost as long as a handgun scope, but the actual sight is only 5" long.

The Ultra Dot red dot sight with rubber eye piece and polarized filter attached is almost as long as a handgun scope, but the actual sight is only 5″ long.

In many hunting applications, a “red dot” type sight is faster and easier to make accurate shots with than open sights – or a conventional optical scope. For what I intend to use my .480 Ruger Super Redhawk revolver for, I have decided a red dot is the way to go. Primary use will be hog hunting at fairly short range, often in low-light conditions early or late in the day, and probably at a target moving at some rate of speed from slow to fast – with follow-up shots possibly needed. I have mostly used the reflex type red dot in the past on my semi-autos, and still have a big C More sight on my .45 Colt Ruger Blackhawk, but for the SRH I decided to go with a tube type sight. Ultra Dot was almost the only choice, after reading the experiences of those with more knowledge of such things than I. Ultra Dots are, first, relatively inexpensive, rugged enough to withstand heavy recoil, have long battery life, and come with a lifetime guarantee. The 25 mm (1 inch) version I chose has the same 1 inch tube diameter as most scopes, so it uses standard rings. The 30 mm version might give a bit wider field of view, but I still went with the 25 mm to allow me to use the Ruger scope rings and mounting system that came with the Super Redhawk, instead of having to swap them out for the 30 mm rings Ruger does offer for the Ultra Dot. The 25 mm Ultra Dot is lightweight and uses the same CR2032 Lithium battery as my Burris Fastfire III sight did, and battery life has been seen at up to 4,000 hours. It has 12 brightness settings, windage and elevation adjustments, and comes with mounting rings, eyepiece, and a polarizing filter attachment.

For the price, and with their warranty, an Ultra Dot would be hard to beat. I’ll add a “range report” as soon as the woods dry out a little!

First Shooting Report:

After “bore sighting” at home to hopefully get to a good starting place, I got a chance to shoot my .480 with the Ultra Dot between rain events in early June. Shooting 375gr Hard Cast bullets pushed to a target velocity of 1000 fps, I only had time for a cylinder full at 15 yards, offhand. All shots hit very close to the bulls-eye, except for a couple where the “screen” suddenly went too dark to see much through. As it was a very bright day, I had the polarizing filter screwed to the end of the tube, and when I removed it, I seem to have removed the problem. I suspect that the filter unit unscrewed under recoil – which would be something to watch for if using it when hunting. Otherwise, I was very happy with the performance of the sight, and look forward to getting it completely and properly sighted in, so I can hunt with it – although from the sound of things this morning, it may be some time before the waters go down.

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Most homeowners with an interest in home defense who have shopped around for methods of concealing a holster near a bed or nightstand have probably seen the type where the holstered gun is held in place by a board or other framework under the mattress, then hangs down the side of the mattress itself. For true concealment, the holster might be also placed under the mattress skirt, where it is out of sight but could be fairly easily released. These holsters are reasonably priced, but the various brands have mixed reviews. Being a serious DIY guy, I had been giving the idea of building my own some thought for awhile now, and was prodded into finally doing it when I saw a post on an outdoors forum about using foam drink koozies for storing small semi-auto pistols. Not a bad idea, but then some smart ass posted a picture of using a flip-flop type sandal with a belt wrapped around it as a holster! Funny, huh? Or, maybe not …

Well, while I was looking for a flip flop to try as a budget inside-the-waistband holster, I came across a camo house slipper I never really used. Hmmmm. Just for grins, I slipped my compact 1911 in it, and darned if it didn’t fit pretty well! Of course, holes for a belt could easily be cut in the rubber sole, or the whole thing could be slipped inside your waistband as an alternative to the old Mexican carry method. The slipper is padded inside, of course, so it will cushion the pistol, and made strong enough to easily hold that little bit of weight.

The homemade bedside "hide-out" holster will handily hold a full sized 1911 with rail mounted night lite close at hand.

The homemade bedside “hide-out” holster will handily hold a full sized 1911 with rail mounted night lite close at hand.

One of the things I was looking for in trying to purchase such a holster would be for it to hold my chosen pistol with a rail mounted light, for things that go bump in the night. The house slipper holster is a pretty good fit for my full-sized 1911 with a light attached, unlike most standard holsters that will not have room for the light.

My Compact Para with 3" barrel is a really nice fit in the former house slipper

My Compact Para with 3″ barrel is a really nice fit in the former house slipper

Of course, the smaller compact Para 1911 I have with a 3″ barrel on a standard frame fits this holster even better

Using ideas "borrowed" from commercial designs, this holster is very easily made.

Using ideas “borrowed” from commercial designs, this holster is very easily made.

To make this easy bedside holster, I cut a small cross-section out of the rubber sole of the house slipper, to allow for bending it sharply. The heel section was screwed to a piece of thin scrap plywood roughly 4″ wide and maybe a foot long. When the wooden section is placed under a mattress, the slipper portion – with pistol – hangs from the side of the bed where it can be easily reached if needed. Cheap, effective, and “green” (the house slipper is “recycled”) – what is not to like about this holster system?

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