Web Objectives

It is in the best interest of gun owners to be model citizens and strictly obey all firearms laws and regulations and to exercise good judgment with respect to the storage, handling and use of their arms.  Nothing suggested herein is intended to suggest that anyone deviate from the laws of this land.  

That said, it should also be recognized that law abiding citizens are not in a position of negotiating away their Constitutional rights to satisfy some self-serving political agenda.   Hopefully, criticism expressed by the webmaster  will be construed as directed to politicians past and present who have insidiously restricted the bountiful freedom that Americans once enjoyed at the time of our Founding Fathers.   The goal of patriotic Americans everywhere is the total restoration of Constitutional government, with specific emphasis on gun rights.  Historically, when gun rights are lost, all other freedoms too are eventually lost.  Some novel approaches to achieving that goal of restoring legacy gun owners' rights are presented in this web.

As to the technical aspects that may be of interest to gun enthusiasts, several issues regarding equipment and procedures will be given.  Of special interest will be specific instructions provided for the handloading of standard .38 Special  and high-velocity (for revolver only) .44 Magnum cartridges, organized in a unique step-by-step cookbook process.  

It is assumed that the site visitor has some basic knowledge of guns and ammunition.  If a refresher is needed, the bibliography should be consulted for a list of good books on the subject.  

Disclaimer 

All information presented in this web should be considered the opinion of the webmaster.  Consult your lawyer for legal advice if in doubt of the legality of any firearms related matter presented in this web.  Laws vary by state, county and city.  There are about 20,000 gun owner control laws in the United States and rest assured that ignorance of the law is no excuse! Likewise, any technical information, and particularly that concerning cartridge handloading (reloading) is given in good faith, but with the caution that the user of this information does so AT HIS OWN RISK!

Gun Rights Issues

In the beginning there was one original gun control law, the Second Amendment (2nd) to the Constitution.  It reads:

"A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed."

The 2nd, as any good law should be, is easy to read, understand, and remember.  For a long time, all honorable men and politicians agreed on its meaning and we enjoyed a great deal of gun owners' freedom in the United States.  And society did not suffer for it either; we did not have drive-by shootings, maniacs shooting up their schools, or McDonald's massacres just because law abiding citizens exercised their intrinsic rights, backed up by the Bill of Rights.  Like the other Amendments, the 2nd did not grant freedom, but merely guaranteed that Congress would not have the power to take freedom away.  And like the other Amendments, the freedom guaranteed by the Bill of Rights extended to individuals of the States, and was not limited to just the States.  It had to be interpreted that way, for if, for example, the First Amendment (freedom of speech, press and religion) would apply only to the states, no individual would be assured that he could discuss politics in the open, establish a newspaper, or found a church; only that state legislatures could discuss politics in their houses of legislature, only the state could publish newspapers,  and only the states could establish churches.  Yes, the Bill of Rights must logically apply to individuals or it would mean nothing at all.  Then, one must consider the precedence of the Bill of Rights.  It must be the top level law, limiting the states' ability to pass laws which would usurp the freedoms the Amendments guarantee.  For instance, of what value would it be to you if the Constitution guarantees freedom of expression via the First Amendment and a state could come along and prohibit Little Richard phonograph records?  No, that is not a joke.  When I was in junior high, the school administration did just that, giving us a micro civics lesson in non-freedom.  The bigger lesson is, whenever a state keeps telling you how much freedom you have, watch out; you're being taken.  When you have genuine freedom, you know it and the State does not have to keep expounding on it, like telling us how you still retain all your gun rights as sportsmen and have nothing to fear from another dose of common sense gun control. Common sense gun control the Washington, DC way: no handguns, period, with a few exceptions that don't apply to you.  Again, it is logically correct to say that the Bill of Rights must be the highest law of the land or else it would mean nothing at all to the individual citizens.  No one needs to be a lawyer to appreciate the intrinsic order of Federal, State, County, and City law.  Each level must necessarily be over the next lower level or else we could have a situation, for example where some rogue municipality might pass a law saying that Federal Reserve Notes were not legal tender in town and only gold and silver dollars (real money) could be used to settle debts. On the other hand, that might be good thing, worthy of an exception!  

Given the above as an axiom, it must be concluded that the the 20,000 or so State, County, and local gun control laws are unconstitutional on their face and could theoretically be wiped off the books in one sweep. It should be noted that State and Local laws, of course are not illegal, as such.  It is just when they are in conflict with Constitutional Federal laws that they are illegal.  And the 2nd is Constitutional law.

For a very long time, the simple text of the 2nd was interpreted without controversy.  Free citizens enjoyed maximum gun freedom:  in the early 1900's it was common for men to carry a self defense firearm on daily walks in the city to protect against vicious dogs; through the early 1930's one could freely purchase a Thompson submachine gun, if he so chose (very good now for a room decor); until the end of the 1960's, it was possible to buy a mail order war surplus M-1 Garand, good for deer hunting.  All that has changed.  Our freedom has been severely limited, gun law by gun law, and there is no controversy regarding that fact.  In fact, freedom continues to erode and at an accelerated rate.  This erosion of freedom is largely due to a changing interpretation of the wording of the Second Amendment.  In particular, the problem has been in the short phrase, "well regulated militia."  This has been the thorn in the shoe so-to-speak.  Two schools of thought prevail: (a)  militia refers to state sponsored military, therefore, there is no such thing as individual gun rights and regulation can proceed even to the point of extinguishing completely all private gun ownership and (b) militia refers to the citizen body of able-bodied males who can come to the aid of the state for the purpose of defense and public order.  Expert opinion weighs on both sides and there is a stalemate.  On one hand, gun haters have an expert, Sarah Brady,  who says the Second Amendment is a myth in-so-far as private gun rights are concerned; but, on the other hand, Constitutionalist gun lovers  have U.S. District Judge, Sam R. Cummings, who on May 30, 1999 cited the 2nd as a guarantee of individuals right to keep and bear arms.  As long as there is stalemate, continual erosion of gun rights can be expected.

My thesis is that the Second Amendment must be resolved. It is an all-or-non situation.  Either we have gun rights or we do not.  Organizations like the NRA (National Rifle Association) and GOA (Gun Owners of America) have nobly stated the case for pro-gun interests.  They have literally beaten the horse to death over the years, with the same arguments presented ad nauseam.  And it has been to no avail, for we have seen continuing deterioration of our gun owners' rights.  To their credit, we must acknowledge that their efforts may have decreased the slope of decline, slowing down the damage, but the end point remains the same.  Ultimately, there will be no useful gun ownership rights left.  We will be lucky to have the vestigial gun freedom left in England and Australia. Their usefulness now is to accumulate the resources necessary to petition the Supreme Court to decide the following issues, which will seal the fate of gun owners' rights:

Does the 2nd define individual or merely states' rights to possess arms?

Does the 2nd make the myriad of Federal gun control laws unconstitutional and therefore void?

Does the 2nd take precedence over all restrictive state, county and municipal firearms control laws and therefore make them void?

Do pseudo-private enterprises (the post office, airports, etc.) and private entities such as retail businesses have the right to restrict gun rights guaranteed by the 2nd?

If the Court rules positively on the above questions of law, gun owners are home free.  They will no longer be prosecuted for open carry or concealed carry of their target, hunting, or self defense weapons anytime and anywhere (including NRA conventions, where carry is generally prohibited).  Please take note that the 2nd does not allow one to misuse a firearm.  All the existing laws concerning the wrongful use, such as firing a gun within city limits, reckless brandishing, threatening with a gun, armed robbery, etc. would be prosecutable and hopefully prosecutable with a vengeance.  The NRA could then devote its issues on hunting, history, product evaluation and so forth, instead of continuing to beg for gun freedom.  

In case of an adverse ruling by the Supreme Court, all hope is not lost.  It has been suggested that the NRA and GOA is in no hurry at all to get the 2nd into the Supreme Court for fear gun owners may lose.  That is not a healthy attitude, for the issue must be brought to a head as soon as possible so the next step can be taken if pro-gun forces do not prevail.  The next step would be to initiate a repeal of and replacement for the 2nd with a revised amendment  to fully restore all gun rights.  It makes sense, for if the 2nd is no good, then junk it.  The replacement must be crystal clear so that not even a Sarah Brady would have trouble understanding that the Constitutional right to bear arms is absolute, just like her First Amendment is supposed to be.  The NRA could play a major role in this effort, drafting the new amendment and solicitation of support among the states. The last thing we want is to have professional lawyer-politicians draft a new and improved Second Amendment.  Remember Bill Clinton, an archetypical politician, debate his accusers as to what the meaning of is, is?  No, we need some common folk do it right this time.  Its Government of the people, by the people and for the people.  And gun owners are the people.

In case you have been wondering why I have not presented the old, tired pro-gun arguments you have been used to hearing, I can tell you they aren't necessary and are not effective.  If I suggest that a gun might have saved the live of Miss Diane Whipple, age 33, former resident of the Pacific Heights district of San Francisco whose throat was torn out by vicious dogs, an opponent of your gun rights can just counter that by quoting a case where a one motel guest shot to death another who was given the wrong key and attempted to enter the wrong room; the room occupied by a trigger-happy tenant.  I can suggest that a gun might save a child's life from a cougar attack in a National Park, where guns are forbidden.  An opponent would just say waving a stick and looking big, as suggested by the signs posted by the Interior Department is just as effective and will save the life of one wild cat.  The Government may think it is a sporting event to take on a mad or hungry, aggressive bear with your bare hands but if you want to see what a hiker looked like after he had such a "mano a mano" encounter, click here:

bear attack

I can insist that one is better off with a gun than without one if caught in a riot, and beaten within a hairsbreadth of death,  like Reginald Denny was by Damian Williams and three other thugs in Los Angeles on April 29, 1992.  An antigun debater will just counter that a 911 call to the police would have worked better and safer than a private firearm in a riot.  Of course, we all know that there is no effective defense a woman can use against two large, vicious dogs other than a firearm.  Occasional accidents will happen, but can be minimized with firearms training, not presently given.  If waving a stick was a surefire defense for a large carnivorous cat or bear, park rangers wouldn't carry revolvers.  And finally, calling 911 wouldn't have done that poor soul any good because the police whizzed past his prostate body laying in the street; they had other fish to fry that fateful day.

Remember well that the police are under no legal obligation to protect you in a deadly event.  Their primary purpose is to protect the institutions of government and elected politicians in particular.  In most cases, they will go out of their way to help you, if they can, but many times they can not or do not.  In those cases, you are are own; the authorities will treat you as expendable.  The shooting victims at Columbine are a good example.  A pair of two officers should have gone in immediately and taken out the shooters.  Instead, hours past and many died needlessly.  The catastrophe was sanitized and you will never see the crime scene in all its goriness.  Sanitizing crime is a number one priority of police, not to "protect" the privacy of the victims (dead people have no rights).  But, not to shield the public from the real view of crime and its attending gore might induce people to demand their gun-carry rights.  The real truth is that the most adamant anti-gun proponents would get down on their hands and knees and pray for a gun if they should be so unfortunate to be caught in a McDonald's, Luby's, Long Island Railroad, or Columbine massacre.  As a refresher, James Oliver Huberty killed 20 people and injured 16 on July 18, 1984 at the McDonalds in San Ysidro, CA.  George Hennard killed 23 (worst mass killing by an individual in USA history) and injured 20 on October 16, 1991 at the Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen, TX.  Colin Ferguson killed 6 and injured 19 on the Long Island Railroad on December 6, 1993.  Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris killed 11, then themselves and injured 24 at Columbine High School, Littleton, CO on April 20, 1999.  The common thread of all these tragic events is that the murderers had the guns and the victims did not, thanks to our lawmakers with good intentions.  The killers broke every law in the book to do their dirty work; the victims followed every law in the book.  Also, in all cases, police help was late in coming and the trend is for longer action response time; in the case of Columbine, officers first at the scene failed to act, calling for the S.W.A.T. team.  Hours later, when all the killing was finished and it was safe to move in, they finally moved in to find the dead students and teachers. You will not be allowed, by the officials, to see the photographic evidence of these events and their attendant horror because if you did, you just might demand your gun rights and that is going to be embarrassing to politicians who preach freedom out of one side of their mouths, while usurping your rights out of the other side. It is impossible to predict just where or when the next deadly attack will happen; if you are there, just rest assure that without a gun you have no chance; with a gun you have at least some chance.  That is why restoration of gun rights is so important.

So why is it that so many "gun control" laws have been passed by the USA, a freedom loving country, that most of us are denied the ability to employ the effective defense offered by firearms when we leave our homes.  I think the answer is found in one word, "power."  Power of the state over the individual.  The state has now made its subjects totally dependent upon the state.  If guns in the hands of the people were as effective in reducing predatory crime as recent studies show, the police and the law-making body politic would soon wither away.  The power of the state would no longer be growth industry.  Gun control, better called, "people control," thus decreases individuals' power while it boosts the state's power.  Carried to an extreme, when total gun control overtakes a society, then the state becomes all-powerful, unstable, and has the potential to turn on its own people.  So, the best way to ensure a free and secure America is to ensure greater gun owners' rights; a gun owning America is a free America.

A gun is just so much metal.  It is inert and harmless.  It is the person holding the gun who determines whether or not a gun is "good" or "bad."  You will see a lot of statistics on how dangerous guns are.  Are 30,000 people killed by guns every year?  How about 100 children a week?  Remember, figures lie and liars figure.  At least half of all  gun deaths in this country are suicides, so guns take a beating with the numbers.  In countries where guns are not available there are suicides as well,  just done in other ways.  In the Philippines, where guns are expensive and tightly controlled, swallowing insecticide or jumping from tall buildings are frequent modalities of suicide.  Click to see a suicide not by firearm: 

fatal fall

Most of those "children" killed are in their late teen or early 20's and are involved in criminal gang behavior, like "drive-by" shootings.  These and other murders are accomplished by guns, but in third world countries, murder rates are often higher than ours, but accomplished with improvised weapons like iron bars, kitchen knives, bolos, bricks, baseball bats, ad infinitum.  Even a bamboo crucifix has been used as a murder weapon!  Does that call for crucifix control?  It is, therefore, axiomatic to say that guns are certainly not needed to do murder; instead, think of them as very handy to deter murder.  

If you really want to know how much gun freedom has been lost in our beloved United States, just try to carry a replica (toy) gun in San Francisco.  Your property will be arrested and forfeited.  Toy guns are illegal!  Read the law for yourself to see the extent to which local politicians will go to show  contempt to you and  your Constitutional rights.

SEC. 556.  PROHIBITION OF SALE OF REPLICA OR FACSIMILE FIREARMS.
     (a)     Prohibition of Sale. It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to sell, or, for purposes of sale, to exchange, give, loan, furnish, display, or market, or to utilize for promoting the sale of any merchandise, any replica or facsimile of a firearm in the City and County of San Francisco. The provisions of this Subsection shall not apply to any replica or facsimile firearm which, because of its distinct color, exaggerated size, or other design feature, cannot reasonably be perceived to be a real firearm.
     (b)     Definitions.
     “Firearm” shall have the same meaning as the term “firearm” under the Dangerous Weapons Control Law of the State of California.
     “Replica or facsimile of a firearm” shall mean any device or object made of plastic, wood, metal, or any other material which is a replica, facsimile, or toy version of, or is otherwise recognizable as, a pistol, revolver, shotgun, sawed-off shotgun, rifle, machine gun, rocket launcher, or other firearm. As used in this Section, “replica or facsimile of a firearm” shall include, but is not limited to, toy guns, movie or television props, hobby models (either in kit forms or fully assembled), starter pistols, air guns, inoperative firearms, or any other device which might reasonably be perceived to be a real firearm. (Added by Ord. 136-88, App. 3/24/88)

A day of Second Amendment celebration declared by a major gun rights group like the NRA might feature men carrying non-firing replica guns in nation-wide marches.  Many participants of such an event no doubt would be arrested and that could become the germ seed by which a Supreme Court case can be formulated.  After all, a 2nd  that does not even allow the carrying of a toy gun can be nothing more than a farce!  A positive outcome of such a  case could lead to the reversal of all 20,000 anti-gun laws in an instant.  Its certainly a lot better than trying to fight thousands of anti-Constitutional laws  one at a time.  

A lot of states have permit statutes in place that allow citizens to carry concealed weapons after going through a legal process.  The permit is called a CCW permit (concealed carry weapons permit).  Caution!  In most cases a permit is an empty promise, available only via favoritism.  The wording is usually, "....the sheriff MAY issue..."  instead of "...SHALL issue..." This makes for total discretion on the part of the issuing official and usually results in "WON'T issue!"  A standard, polite answer on denial is that the sheriff or police chief claims he is liable for any misuse of any permit he issues.  Wrong!  State laws specifically give him complete liability immunity from lawsuits arising from actions by permit holders.  I don't know where these law enforcement officials picked up this false information, but I strongly suspect it is widely circulated as an all-purpose end-of-conversation answer to those citizens who attempt to exercise their supposed gun rights.  The legal "reason" for carrying can be adequately covered by stating "self protection," but this is rarely enough to suit the licensing official.  Usually, you need to be something on order of a businessman carrying a lot of cash, and once a permit to carry is issued, it is often restricted to going from establishment to the bank.  Your life and your family's life doesn't count in most jurisdiction as reason enough for a gun permit.  Other restrictions are used, such as limiting  carry to one specific gun; it must make sense to someone that a .25 auto would serve as well for a jogger in the park who needs protection from dogs as for a hiker in the woods who might face a bear or mountain lion.  Restrictions discourage application for or use of a CCW permit.  Recently, to the credit of state politicians who yielded to the will of the people, the State of Colorado placed on the books a "shall issue" CCW permit law.  Like many states that have done so, it is riddled with numerous qualification hurdles and limitations.  One has to be practically a "saint" with respect to criminal history, undergo a rigorous, non-standardized "certified" firearms training regimen (which, at the discretion of the instructor, may include a twelve-stage timed shots exercise), pay a hefty license fee, be photographed and fingerprinted, submit to a Colorado Bureau of Investigation scrutiny, and attend a lecture on the laws pertaining to the use of deadly force.  While I am not overly critical of this intensive licensing  process, it may be overly exclusive in that the practical twelve-stage firearms test (minimum passing score = 80%) is difficult or impossible for older, slower people and those without much firearms experience, particularly women.  In the days before licensing, each person assumed the full responsibility for CC; the state has now superseded the individual, thus converting a former right into a privilege.  Once the Colorado CCW permit holder has his license, he is restricted from carrying a concealed weapon other than a gun, cannot carry a gun into school, into anyplace placarded, or anyplace with a permanently placed anti-weapon screening device.  It is mostly useless out-of-state unless there is reciprocity in effect.  While some of the states have made at least some effort on behalf of its citizens, the Federal Government has done nothing except making legal gun purchase and ownership, not to mention concealed carry, more and more difficult.  Even a misdemeanor "domestic violence" conviction will irrevocably destroy your gun ownership rights.  This goes against common sense: "domestic violence" can be as little a "crime" as a loud argument between spouses, places both domestic parties in jeopardy as it is not uncommon to charge both even though one may actually be faultless, and last but not least, the aggressing spouse hardly needs a firearm to do great harm if that is his intention (and seldom is).  Carrying of guns into Federal buildings, including your local post office is forbidden.  The myriad of restrictions is understandably confusing to the CCW license holder and it is easy to accidentally breach a restriction, possibly subjecting himself to a criminal charge, fine, and revocation of his permit.  Remember, what the state has the power to license, it has the power to revoke for cause it alones determines.

The reason why we don't have a law forbidding tornados, for example, is that a law which purports to regulate something over which man has absolutely no control is utterly ridiculous.  Yet, all gun control laws are exactly that and I will explain.  First of all, it is a misnomer to call gun control laws as such.  All so-called gun control laws are actually people control laws.  Calling them anything else is less than honest, but of course that does not surprise you, does it?  The reason why so-called gun control laws are useless is quite fundamental:  Let us suppose that society could somehow magically rid itself of every last one of those awful things, called guns, with a super-duper all-purpose people control law.  Every rifle, shotgun, pistol, revolver, B-B gun, bow, dart pistol, sling shot, water pistol, and child's cap pistol, gone.  All of them.  Then, seal the borders tight and keep them sealed, so not one solitary evil gun could be imported.  What do you suppose would happen within 24 hours?  Right!  Guns would spontaneously appear like fly larvae in spoiled meat.  How could this happen, you say?  Elementary, Dr. Watson.  It is called a zip gun.  For homemade guns are neither new nor difficult to fabricate.  A fancy machine shop is not needed.  The FBI itself has published examples of zip guns in their company newsletter.  Given a few pieces of pipe, a screw, some tape, perhaps a scrap of wood, a functioning single-shot .22 or shotgun of dubious safety and accuracy can be built in an hour or two.  Armed with a pair of them, a lone armed robber has two shots at his disposal.  A pair of robbers would have four shots between them.  Now it starts sounding as if they were armed with a real gun.  These improvised guns are real enough to accomplish an armed robbery.  They are real enough to rob an armed guard or policeman of his real gun.  The cycle of guns and crime would be rekindled.  Unfortunately, it will have been initiated by the criminal element, the very thing these people control laws were supposed to stop.  This is proof that such laws are totally futile, therefore do not merit  existence.  

Now a little food for thought seasoned with levity. In order for one to believe in gun control, the following premises must be believed:

The more helpless you are, the safer you are from criminals.

One should consult an automotive engineer for safer seatbelts, a civil engineer for a better bridge, a  surgeon for spinal paralysis, a programmer for computer problems and Sarah Brady for firearms expertise.

The Second Amendment, ratified in 1791, allows the states to have a National Guard, created by act of Congress in 1916.

Free speech entitles one to own newspapers, transmitters, computers, and typewriters; but, self defense only justifies bare hands.

Fewer guns make us safer, which is why there has never been a mass slaying at a gun show or police station and lunatics shoot up schools.

Banning guns works, which is why New York, District of Columbia, and Chicago police need guns against armed criminals.

Most people can't be trusted, so we should have laws against guns, which most people will abide by, because they can be trusted.

Guns are the gravest threat to society, because 83,000,000 gun owners didn't commit a crime yesterday.

Guns cause crime, just like matches cause arson.

Its okay for a  bank guard to protect money with a gun, but you can't protect your children with one.

People are too stupid to handle guns but are intelligent enough to vote for politicians who have our best interests in mind.

Any cheap gun is a "Saturday Nite Special" and any expensive gun is an "Assault Weapon".

The New England Journal of Medicine is filled with expert advice about guns, just like Guns and Ammo has some excellent treatises on heart surgery. 

Self Defense

That it is a law of nature, there can be no doubt that self defense is a characteristic of all living things, beginning with single cell organisms and working up through the food chain to man to societies we call states.  Since man has been civilized, self defense has been considered a God-given right endowed to everyone.  In this world we as humans may find ourselves having to defend against perils to our well-being ranging from animal attacks to a state gone bad (as in Nazi Germany or Red China).  Even a benevolent  state cannot eradicate these perils and make it safe for you and your family, so long as there are stray pets and felons on the prey.  

Since humans are not born with natural weapons like fangs, we rely on tools for defense.  The modern state wants you to use a tool called the telephone to call 911 when you are in desperate straits.  But the best and most effective self defense tool available to us is the firearm, for to summon 911 help takes minutes or more whereas help from a pocket policeman is there is seconds.  Most of the time, when there is a violent felony attack, the police arrive just in time to make their report and arrange transportation of the victim(s) to the hospital or morgue.

Still not convinced that you and your fellow citizens have the right to demand from your democratically elected dictators your right to carry a personal defense firearm?  When a felon commits a violent, deadly attack, the media reports it, however superficially, because  you have a curiosity, a "want to know."  Notice, I did not say a "need" to know, because the authorities control that aspect and in their view, for the most part, the public has a  need to know nothing.  So, you read about a crime, here about it on the radio, or watch a news report on TV.  Very seldom, unless a photographer gets lucky or a reporter gets to the scene first, do you see a tone-downed photo or video tape.  A photo brings the story to you at a higher level; this is as far as it is possible to bring you in a news periodical or in a website.  Interestingly, in certain foreign countries, actual crime or morgue photos are published for the public to see; in the U.S., such full-coverage news photos are now rare to nonexistent.  Could it be that the media is hesitant because of its fear of lawmakers, whose backlash might tread on the media's sacred First Amendment (to protect the children, of course)?  The highest level, of course, is if you could actually have been there at the crime scene, where 3D visual and olfactory sensations complete the horror of the crime environment in which all of us live. What does this all mean?  Let's put it to a little test.  The group presented here is for illustrative purposes: 

 

Newspaper reports, "Woman stabbed to death in her apartment during robbery."  The TV coverage shows the meat wagon loading a covered stretcher, while the reporter jabbers, "Woman stabbed to death during robbery.  To see what really happened, click here:  

stabbing victim

Newspaper reports, "Woman shot by estranged boyfriend."  The TV coverage shows outside view of flat where victim lived.  To see what really happened, click here: 

shooting victim

Newspaper reports, "Democracy demonstrations  at Tiananmen Square squashed by the Peoples' Liberation Army, on orders of leaders of the People's Republic of China".  TV coverage shows stock footage of placard carrying political protesters marching in the street.  To see what really happened  when a government goes bad, click here:

demonstrator (male?)

That's not all.  If you or your loved falls victim to one of the crimes you have just viewed, do not forget that the state demands that the corpse be autopsied, needed of course for evidence, but adding the indignity of mutilation  to death.  Click here to see what happens at autopsy:

autopsy subject

Now you know why crimes are sanitized by police departments and the media before being reported to the public.  The public just might be outraged and demand that law-abiding citizens have the personal capability to stop such heinous events or at least, have a fighting  chance.  And that would mean their toting guns around, a power the state does not think you should have.  If you feel you should take personal responsibility for your safety and the safety of your family, then read on.

In states that issue concealed-carry weapon (CCW) permits on a "shall issue" statute, there is usually mandatory organized indoctrination to familiarize the permit holder as to the self-defense law and a range test of his gun handling skills.  Take it seriously.  In many jurisdictions you are on your own, but there are some common sense guidelines to follow:

 

Be a model citizen.  Never be provocative in demeanor or speech.  Be polite in public places, even if you have a legitimate grievance. Dress conservatively for the climate and watch what you do.  Even a loud car radio can start an escalating situation that seems to originate out of nowhere. In the event you sense trouble, back off immediately. Don't get into arguments with a frustrated would-be aggressor.  Leave the area if possible.

Carry a tear gas ejector.  A firearm is a last resort, all-or-none weapon. The law expects you to handle an unarmed attacker with non-lethal force. The first thing you should think of is to reach for tear gas.  Tear gas can be used early on to stop an attack or in some cases, a threatened attack, even where there is no reasonable fear of great bodily harm.  For instance, if an assailant brandishes a knife at you, but makes no aggressive movement towards you, you can tear gas him.  Likewise if an unarmed  thug verbally threatens you and makes a move to you, you can use tear gas. While tear gas generally causes no permanent harm, wrongful use of it can lead to serious charges by aggressive prosecutors who don't like to see you have any instrumentality which may aid you by a misdemeanor attack.  To stop any kind of felony, you are safe in using tear gas to take down the miscreant.  Tear gas is illegal or licensed in certain jurisdictions.  Check with the authorities.   

Travel by air excludes tear gas and firearms, unfortunately.  Every thug in town knows you are naked when you get off a plane and assumes correctly that you are carrying cash.  You are a target.  A three  inch, high quality Buck knife, with a plastic handle,  is better than nothing and is perfectly legal. If you do not wish to declare it and risk the airline company applying a more strict policy than the FAA, you may keep it concealed.  If you are stripped of all other metal on your body you are not likely to set off the metal detector alarms. Consider a knife as in the same class as a firearm; it is a deadly weapon if employed. Do not brandish a knife unless you intend to use it. Webmaster's post note: Knives have become perfectly illegal aboard commercial aircraft after 9-11; another freedom penalty extracted upon you, the law-abiding citizen.  You are now defenseless, save for your bare hands, when riding as a passenger.  Some pilots may be armed, but are under strict orders not to leave the cockpit for any reason; the purpose of their weapons is to protect the flight crew only.  They will land with a planeload of corpses, if it comes to that..

If you decide you need to carry a gun, there are a few considerations.  You need to keep it concealed, really concealed. Most holsters add bulk and some allow the gun butt to "print."  If a citizen sees you carrying, he may overreact and call the police.  Even with a permit, you may be charged with brandishing a gun.  Its very unfair, but it happens.  In the summer, in particular, one must be conscious of positively keeping a weapon out of sight.  Yet, it must be available on a second's notice.  There is a solution: it is called the belly-band holster.  A belly-band holster is an elastic belt which fits around the lower part  the body, below the belt line,  and has a loop to retain a small gun.  It will effectively hide a .25 auto or .38 snub nose. Just remember, though, you will have to be comfortable having two guns (one a deadly weapon and the other a friendly one) side-by-side all the time.  In the winter, there are more holster choices, and larger guns can be carried, if desired.  Some people like to carry "Mexican" by simply placing a gun in the waistband, without any kind of holster.

Here are the rules for shoot-or-don't shoot. If there is a chance that a missed shot could hit an innocent person, DON'T SHOOT. Keeping that cardinal rule in mind,  if someone shoots at you, duck, draw, and SHOOT.  If someone shoots at another person and it is clear that there was criminal (not justifiable) intent, and you have reason to believe that he will continue to target people, SHOOT.  If you are confronted at close range by someone who points a gun at you in an imminent threatening manner, SHOOT.  If someone draws a knife at you and lunges at you and cuts you, SHOOT.  If someone simply brandishes a gun and does not take aim at you, DON'T SHOOT.  If someone draws a knife and threatens you with it, but does not move rapidly on you, DON'T SHOOT.  If a lone unarmed assailant goes on the attack, DON'T SHOOT.  If you have only "deadly fear" that you will be harmed or killed, DON'T SHOOT.  If property theft or damage only is the reasonable outcome of a criminal act, DON'T SHOOT.  If law enforcement personnel are in the immediate area, DON'T SHOOT.  If you are home and a burglar breaks in to your domicile, some states will allow you to shoot the intruder on sight.  However, the police will be a whole lot happier and you will sleep a lot better if you are able to scare off the intruder or capture him.  Keep in mind, quite a few break-ins are done by juveniles.  There are a few cases in which technically speaking, one could argue that deadly force could be used, in particular, "where one reasonably believes that he will suffer grievous bodily harm or death."  Police who find themselves defending a questionable shooting will employ this defense.  I must stress that a bad shooting, has dire consequences, both criminal and civil.  Any shooting that falls in the category of "beyond reasonable doubt" rather than "beyond any doubt" is going to spell trouble for the shooter.  In other words, be absolutely sure before you point your gun at a human being and pull the trigger.

Don't pull a gun unless you intend to fire it.  While showing  the muzzle of a gun to a threatening individual would likely send him running without a shot fired, you take a big chance.  He might just call your bluff, show his hands, say he has no weapon and advance on you.  He knows you cannot shoot an unarmed man.  He could then overpower you and dispatch you manually, with a knife or even with your own gun. 

If you find yourself in a position where you have fired your weapon due to a deadly threat, whether or not injury or death has occurred, be careful as to what you say to law enforcement.  You will likely be in a distraught condition and cannot think straight.  It might be best to say as little as possible, such as you are the owner of a particular firearm, have fired x number of shots in legal self defense and you will make a statement at the police station in the presence of legal consul.  Avoid answering questions in the field because what you say under stress  might be unintentionally contradictory to later statements and therefore falsely signal to the authorities that you are lying.  A single, coherent statement made in writing under the watchful eye of an attorney will much better serve to recollect the facts for the authorities. 

Firearm Safety

There is no excuse for a firearms accident.  The legal consequences of an accident are just too profound, both from a criminal and civil aspect, not to mention the ethical duty every gun owner has to handle his weapon with the utmost skill and care.

The following ten rules of safe firearms handling are time-tested and highly recommended for all gun owners:

 

LEARN THE MECHANICAL AND HANDLING CHARACTERISTICS OF THE FIREARM YOU ARE USING.  Not all firearms are the same.  The method of carrying and handling firearms varies according to the make and model of firearm under consideration.  Study the manufacturer's instruction book to familiarize yourself with the procedures for safe loading and unloading and preventing accidental discharge of the particular firearm in question.
ALWAYS KEEP THE MUZZLE POINTED IN A SAFE DIRECTION.  Be sure of the bullet stop behind your target.  Never let the muzzle of a firearm point at any part of your body or at another person.  
FIREARMS SHOULD BE UNLOADED WHEN NOT IN USE.  Firearms should be loaded only when you are in the field or on the target range or shooting area, ready to shoot.  Keep guns and ammunition separated from each other and under lock and key when not in use.  Keep guns out of sight of visitors and children to prevent unsupervised access.
BE SURE THE BARREL IS CLEAR OF OBSTRUCTIONS BEFORE SHOOTING.  Even a bit of of mud, snow or excess lubricating oil or grease in the bore may cause the barrel to bulge or even burst on firing, and can cause injury to the shooter and bystanders.  Be sure you are using ammunition of the proper caliber and loading for the gun you are using.  If the report or recoil on firing seems weak, cease firing immediately and check that a "squib" load has not caused a bullet to become lodged in the barrel.
BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET BEFORE YOU SHOOT.  Don't shoot unless you know exactly where you bullet is going to strike.  Be sure of the bullet stop behind your target. When hunting, never fire at a movement or noise.  Take the time to be absolutely certain of you target before you pull the trigger.  A bullet, once fired, cannot be recalled.
WEAR SHOOTING GLASSES AND HEARING PROTECTORS WHEN YOU SHOOT.  All shooters should take these precautions to avoid eye injury from the effects of hot gasses and lead particles which may be ejected when firing as well as shooting noise which can permanently damage hearing.
NEVER CLIMB A TREE OR FENCE WITH A LOADED FIREARM.  Put the firearm down carefully before climbing a fence and unload it before climbing or descending a tree or jumping over a ditch or other obstruction.  Never pull or push a loaded firearm toward yourself or another person.
DON'T SHOOT AT A HARD SURFACE OR AT WATER.  Bullets can glance off many surfaces such as rocks or the  water and travel in unpredictable directions with considerable velocity.
NEVER TRANSPORT A LOADED FIREARM.  Firearms should always be unloaded before being placed in a vehicle.  A suitable carrying case or holster should be used to carry a firearm to and from the shooting area. 
AVOID ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES WHEN SHOOTING.  Don't drink until the day's shooting is over.  Handling firearms while under the influence of alcohol constitutes criminal disregard for the safety of others. 

Pistols vs. Revolvers

Samuel Colt's brilliant invention of the revolver, first manufactured at Patterson, New Jersey in 1837 remains to this day an American favorite.  Among its strong attributes are intrinsic safety, reliability, excellent out-of-the-box trigger quality, ability to fire any kind of bullet, and ease of use.  It might be added that revolvers can be made enormously robust and can handle the most powerful handgun rounds. 

On the other hand, the first commercially successful semiautomatic pistol arrived on the scene 58 years later, the brainchild of Hugo Borchardt.  His pistol the C/93 was the forerunner of the famous 1908 Luger.  Borchardt and later, Browning, perfected their guns with the needs of the military in mind.  Strong points in favor of the pistol include potentially better accuracy, high capacity magazines, ease of reloading, high rate of fire, and small profile for a given caliber.

With a rich history of both types of handguns, it is natural that gun enthusiasts have taken to both major classes with some favoring one or the other.  Most gun dealers will advise the undecided to purchase a revolver over a pistol.  I have owned both types and my experience leads me to favor the revolver. 

I have never had a revolver jam.  Only only once has a revolver failed to fire and it was because of an inert round.    In that one case, the gun remained fully functional, as when I again pulled the trigger, the cylinder advanced another notch and the gun fired the next round.  In the case of a pistol, such a failure to fire would require two-handed manipulation to eject the unusable round and chamber a new one.  Some pistols and pistol models are just chronic jammers and the gun store or manufacturer will not allow you to return it for a refund.  Gun reviews frequently mention malfunctioning of their test guns, but usually give some lame excuse as to why (pressure level, bullet weight or shape, bent magazine lip, etc.).  That these guns fail at all is somewhat puzzling because they are usually provided by the manufacturers and presumably are hand selected before submittal.  The one reason why a revolver might jam is badly assembled ammo, usually by an amateur, whereby the crimp is insufficient and a bullet works loose during recoil, making the cylinder hard to turn.  I have never seen this happen.

A revolver is intrinsically safe.  It has no safeties and does not need them.   And a revolver does not eject empty cases, or "shells," which can be a eye hazards to bystanders.  Also, the trigger pull of a revolver is either heavy (when fired in trigger cocking, "double action" mode) or light (when fired in hammer cocking, "single action" mode).  The modern revolver has a mechanism called the transfer bar, which makes it safe in the event the gun is dropped from a height onto its hammer spur.  In the old days, such an accident could lead to a discharge and was a definite safety hazard.  Pistols, on the other hand have all kinds of configurations to confuse the issue:  So-called double action only pistols have a heavy pull all the time, like a trigger cocking revolver. Some police departments prefer this type. It is safe, but the downside is loss of accuracy from having to pull hard on the trigger for every shot.   Other pistols are called double action pistols and they have a heavy pull for the first shot and a light pull on subsequent shots. After the first shot, the gun remains in a firing mode and dangerous unless your intent is to shoot again at a target. The first shot is less accurate than the subsequent shots; it is possible to fire a double action pistol in the single action mode for an accurate first shot.  Confused?  The hammer must be "decocked" to make it safe, with usually a special lever for this purpose.  Another type of pistol is the so-called single action pistol. An example of this type is the venerable Colt .45 pistol.  It requires working a slide and two safeties to make it ready for firing.  Then the trigger pull is light for the first and subsequent shots.  In order for the gun to be ready at all times, as for police work, it must be left in the "cocked and locked" mode, which is considered dangerous and a number of accidental shootings have occurred as a result.  The reason is that if a police officer must actually point his weapon at someone, but with no intent to shoot unless the event escalates, that subject being pointed at is in very grave danger.  He is only a light trigger squeeze accident away from being shot; when such an accident occurs, the officer tells the truth when he says the shooting was a complete mystery while under stress.  A revolver can be checked for an unloaded condition in a foolproof way.  By swinging the cylinder out, all the chambers can be visually checked for being loaded or unloaded.  When the chambers are empty, the gun is safe and inert.  On the other hand numerous accidents have occurred with pistols.  Usually the scenario is like this:  Children get hold of the father's pistol.  One child pops out the magazine with all the cartridges.  He thinks the gun is safe, but it really isn't, if a cartridge remains unseen by him, in the firing chamber.  Then he points the gun at the other child in jest and pulls the trigger.  The gun goes bang and another statistic is blamed on guns.  Other variations of this type of accident are adults loading the gun at the range or in the field and cleaning the gun.  The above described accident is defended by the manufacturer by blaming it on horseplay, unsupervised children, failure to lock up unloaded guns, and so forth.  All  is true, of course, but the proximate cause of the accident is the absence of a magazine safety.  A magazine safety prevents the trigger mechanism from working when the magazine is out of the gun.  The military and some police departments don't like a magazine safety because it prevents the gun from being fired it the magazine is out of the gun, either because it is dropped or in the process of reloading.  Such an inconvenience is never justified by the civilian use of a pistol.  If you buy a pistol, the first question that should be asked is whether or not the gun has a magazine safety.  One downside of a revolver, for police in particular, is that a revolver doesn't need or have a safety.  Thus, if a suspect was able to grab an officer's gun, he could easily use it against the officer.  A solution for this dilemma is for manufacturers to design a safety for revolvers, as such a revolver safety has existed in the past, though unpopular.

A high quality revolver with suitable sights can accurately place bullets for hunting out to 100 yards.  While a pistol is theoretically capable of greater accuracy than a revolver, it is seldom realized.  A revolver bullet has to jump the cylinder-to-barrel gap and in doing so, it can be deformed, so accuracy can suffer.  However, revolvers as a rule have much nicer trigger pulls, which more than compensates for the usually atrocious pistol triggers of pistols.  Typically, pistols have a long, heavy double action trigger pull; then the trigger resets to a short, light pull (usually with a lot of creep) for subsequent shots.  That coupled with the usually very short sight radius and sloppy fit of the slide (which carries the sights) makes for a seven yard effective range for acceptable accuracy for a lot of pistols. 

Revolvers are designed for five to nine rounds cylinder capacity, depending on model chosen.  Reloading can be speeded up with speedloaders available at gun stores.  Remember, for self defense, one accurately placed shot is much better than trying to spray lead all over the place, potentially endangering others. 

For hunting, both pistols and revolvers are very suitable.  A single shot pistol, fitted with a scope and chambered for a rifle cartridge makes for a very potent handgun capable of rifle-like power and accuracy.  Big bore, long barrel revolvers, fitted with optical sights are somewhat less suited to the hunt but with skill, big game can be taken at short to moderate ranges of 50, 75, or even 100 yards. 

For maximum compactness, pistols reign.  Learn all the features of the gun if carried.  Be safe and remember its limitations.  One of the most reliable guns I have ever owned was a Belgium-made  Browning .25 auto, purchased new for $40 in 1968.  You may be aware that 1968 saw the passage of the 1968 Gun Control Act, which outlawed the importation of this delightful little precision-made pocket policeman.  Placed on the shit list by government fiat solely because of its diminutive size and foreign origin, new guns of this model have not been available for many years.  If you can find a good used one, expect to pay several hundred dollars.  Thank you, Congress.  In its place today are all the so-called "Saturday Night Specials," legal guns assembled in the United States, but generally of inferior materials, workmanship, and reliability.

My opinion is, unless you participate in a firearms sport that requires the use of a pistol, the civilian is best off with a revolver for all hand gun applications.  Police departments should seriously consider return to the modern six-shooter, for safety sake,  with pistols reserved for a back up carry gun.

Don't hold your breath, but after sixty years plus of ignoring firearms, perhaps Consumer Reports can bring itself to publishing a comprehensive article discussing all the issues in this section as well as doing a completely unbiased testing of various makes and models for reliability and durability, safety and ease of use, and accuracy.  I do not know if CR is pro or anti gun or just plain neutral on the subject, but surely they must realize that probably a third or more of its constituency keeps guns in their households and could benefit from their experience in product evaluation.  Its true that the popular gun press has been testing everything that shoots for years and years, but they most often recommend guns, particularly automatics, that come up short in dependability.  I must presume that such publishers do not want to infringe upon their advertisers' good will.  

Gun Sights

The subject of gun sights for rifles or handguns may not be glamorous, but intelligent selection of a suitable sight will make all the difference in the world at the range or in the field. 

Handguns from the factory come equipped with fixed or adjustable "iron" sights. I recommend fixed sights for snub nose defense guns. They are the most rugged and are smooth so they cannot catch on anything.  Accuracy is poor but adequate for the purpose.  They are fast, though.  An example of such a gun with fixed sights is the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard.  This gun has a shrouded hammer and can actually be fired while still inside a coat pocket!  That technique is reserved for an execution-style holdup situation and one needs to put a quick stop to it.  Adjustable sights are good for any sort of service weapon or sportsman's gun where ranges go out to 25 or even 50 yards.  These sights compensate for all the little inaccuracies in the manufacturing process, by allowing the shooter to zero-in the sight to the point of bullet impact.  These sights are fast too, like fixed sights, at close ranges, but take time to acquire the target at ranges beyond 25 yards, if any accuracy is to be expected.  Always remember, at close defense ranges, all that is really needed is to get the front sight on target and pull the trigger twice.

The next type of sight to consider is the optical sight known as the red dot sight.  An especially famous design is the Armson of New Germany, South Africa.  The sight is fixed permanently to the gun in a rigid mount on top of the receiver.  It will work on pistols, revolvers, or long guns.  The sight is powered by tritium, a radioactive material good for 10 years from the date of manufacture.  The sight is always on as no off-on power switch is used.  To use, keep both eyes open, bring the weapon up to firing position and placing the red dot in the field-of-view on the target. That's it.  Then, pull the trigger.  The bullet will impact the target defined by the virtual red dot.  Note that there is no projected beam; the red dot never leaves the gun sight.  The Armson is considered a military sight and commercial  distribution was limited.  More widely available is the Aimpoint, which I happen to like.  It is like the Armson, but battery powered.  It is of exceedingly high quality.  Beware! Secondary manufacturers of red dot sights have products which may carry design defects, such as out-of-round dots, parallax, and mechanical or optical deficiencies.  Buyer beware.  The red dot sights generally do not offer magnification and are fine out to 100 yards.  For hunting, small dots are used, say in the range of 2 to 5 minutes of angle (moa) at 100 yards. Self defense sights, employ much larger dots, up to about 10 to 12 moa.  To zero-in a red dot sight, I recommend the following procedure:

The ideal time of day to zero-in is usually early in morning before it gets windy, too bright and too hot.  Set up the target at the range desired for zero.  A good point is 50 yards for a hunting hand gun.  Place the gun on sand bags and align the red dot on the bullseye.  Using the ammunition you intend to use for the hunt, fire three rounds single action.  Mark the center of the group with an "x" using a marking pen.  Then, with the gun back on the sandbags, place the red dot on the bullseye, then, with the gun fixed in place on the sandbags, turn the windage and elevation adjusting screws of the red dot sight until the dot is moved to where it is on the "x."  You have now zeroed the gun site!  Fire another three rounds and repeat the procedure to check your work and make any final tweaks.  At first this simple procedure may seem mysterious, but all you are doing is fixing the position of the barrel and  moving the red dot to the point of bullet impact.  Zeroing a gun in six shots is something to write home about!  

I have had the opportunity to fire guns equipped with conventional telescopic sights.  They are accurate, but you do not see the bullet strike the target because the gun will jump from the recoil at the instant of firing, taking the field-of-view off target.  Though probably essential for certain long range hunting shots, I considered telescopic sights no fun to use.  As for laser sights, I don't think anything of them, but to each his own. 

Handloading (Reloading)

There is a lot of printed material regarding handloading.  Most of it is published by the manufacturers of handloading equipment and supplies and tends to describe the process using a particular manufacturer's line.  This limits the usefulness of such literature because common sense tells you that no one manufacturer can make the best of all types of equipment required for the process.  Here is a list of specifications and recommended equipment for the step-by-step procedure to reload the .38 Special cartridge, a popular number.  Although the basic procedure is similar when loading other calibers, there are some significant differences; for example, magnum calibers usually require a heat-treated lead bullet or a copper jacketed bullet.  The cartridge illustrated in the pictorial below is the standard S&W .38 Special; the data below it is loading data for a variant using a cast swc (semi-wadcutter) bullet, but having similar internal ballistics to the rnn (round-nose) factory product.  Do your research before loading!

DATA

Case Trim Length

1.150  (1.155/1.135) in.

Overall Length

1.440  (1.550/1.425) in

Bullet Diameter (lead)

0.3575  (0.359/0.356) in.

Primer (small pistol)

Federal 100

Propellant

Hercules Unique

Weight of Charge

3.9 grains

Bullet

Lyman 358477 (semi-wadcutter)

Bullet Weight

156 grains

Bullet Composition

Wheel Weight + 0.5% Tin

Bullet Material Condition

Soft (as cast)

Bullet Lubricant

Lyman Alox*

Crimp

Redding Profile

Performance

830 fps

*Beeswax/Copper-Based Anti-Seize in  2:1 ratio may be substituted

Equipment Recommended:

1. Lead melting furnace Lyman Mag 20
2. Bullet casting mold Lyman #358477 six cavity 
3. Bullet sizer Lyman #450 with 0.358 die
4. Bullet lubricant Lyman Alox or equiv
5. Case tumbler RCBS Sidewinder
6. Press Redding "O" Type
7. Decap die Lyman Universal
8. Case processor Lyman Universal Trimmer with accessories
9. Case sizing die Lyman Multi-Deluxe carbide
10. Case expanding die Lyman "M" die
11. Primer seater RCBS Positive Ram Priming Tool
12. Powder scale Lyman M500
13. Powder measure Redding Match Grade 3BR
14. Seating die Lyman Multi-Deluxe
15. Crimping die Redding Profile Crimp die
x
Many accessory items will be needed to complete the tool complement for this enjoyable hobby of fabricating one's own ammunition.  Browse through the catalogues or visit your local gun store for help.

Bullet Processing Procedure: 

1. Melt and flux wheel weight material.  Additional tin is obtained from 50-50 or 60-40 solder.  Temperature 650 - 750 degrees F.
2. Prepare mold.  Clean cavity and grease hinge and rubbing surfaces with silicon grease.
3 Cast bullets.  Mold must normalize before castings are good.
4. Size and lubricate bullets.  Use 0.358 sizing die.  Lyman Alox in lower groove only.  Adjust sizer by adjusting bullet downward until lube enters upper groove, then adjust upward until  groove is free of lube.

Case Processing Procedure:

1. Tumble fired cases clean.  Use dry media.
2.  Decap cases.  Use Lyman Universal die.
3.  Clean primer pockets.  Use Lyman Ream/Clean Accessory Set.
4. Size cases.  Case lube option with carbide die.
5.  Trim cases, if required.  1.150 trim length (tolerance +0.005 -0.015).  Use Lyman deburr/chamfer tool on Universal Trimmer, 2 turns, to deburr cases.  Blow out chips with compressed air.
6. Expand case mouths.  Use Lyman Neck-Expanding "M" Die.  Adjust for 1/16" bullet entry into mouth of case.
7. Seat primers.  Use RCBS Positive Ram Priming Tool.  Check for primers a few thousandths below case head, by sight using a precision straight edge.

Final Assembly of Cartridge:

1. Charge cases.  Use Redding Powder Measure with Pistol Metering Unit.  3.9 gr. Unique
2. Seat bullets.  Preferred OAL 1.440.  Adjust for no crimp.
3.  Crimp case.  Use Redding Profile Crimp Die.  Adjust for medium crimp (mouth diameter reduction of 0.010).  Avoid damaging bullet OD.
4. Wipe clean finished rounds, inspect and box.

General Notes:

1. Approximate setting of Redding Powder Measure is 39.0 using the pistol metering chamber.  Construct a Grains vs. Micrometer Setting Graph per Redding instruction sheet. 
2. Avoid shortcuts such as seating and crimping case in one operation.  Dimensional variation will result.  Follow all steps for factory appearance and function.
3. See current manufacturers' catalogues for availability and stock numbers.
4. It may be necessary to modify slightly the seating die seating screw so as to positively push on flat of bullet head, not ogive, for uniform seating depth.  Check all dimensions with a micrometer (preferably) or a precision caliper.
5. It is considered prudent to test fire cartridges reduced-loaded to 90 to 95% of the recommended charge.  If firing tests confirm satisfactory results increase to a maximum of 3.9 grains.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Warning!!  The following specifications, data and recommendations are for a cartridge designed for revolvers only.  The pointed bullet design is unsuitable and dangerous for use in tubular magazine rifles as a recoil-induced chain reaction detonation of loaded rounds can occur.  This load has been substantially tested in a 9.5 inch barrel hunting revolver and provides supersonic bullet velocities with acceptable pressures.  That this round delivers such remarkable ballistics  from a handgun is made all the more so considering it utilizes cast bullets which you can make at home from readily available materials and equipment.  Work up your load gradually to safe pressure levels, as your technique, materials, and firearm may affect pressure levels..  Below the table is a recommended method to achieve a safe pressure level consistent with maintaining high performance.  Please note that some dimensional and tolerance data is non-standard due to the fact that the light weight bullet is configured with a crimping groove that requires it to be seated to a longer-than-standard overall length; this should not adversely affect revolver functioning but the handloader is advised to assure himself that the cylinder can properly accommodate the extra length prior to firing.  The pictorial specifies maximum allowable dimensions; it is preferable that the tabulated data in the table be followed.

DATA

Case Trim Length

1.280  (+0.005/-0.005) in.

Overall Length

1.660  (+0.000/- 0.005 ) in

Bullet Diameter (lead)

0.429  (+/- 0.001) in.

Primer (large pistol)

Winchester WLP

Propellant

Hodgdon H110

Weight of Charge

28.4 grains

Bullet

Saeco-Redding #448

Bullet Weight

200 grains

Bullet Composition

Wheel Weight + 0.5% Tin

Bullet Material Condition

Heat Treated

Bullet Lubricant

Special Formula*

Crimp

Redding Profile

Performance

1650 fps

*Beeswax/Copper-Based Anti-Seize in  2:1 ratio

Optical Comparison Method for Load Development

Loading manuals tell you to work up your loads gradually while looking for signs of overpressure: case cracks,  case bulging, or primers that have been "flattened," perforated,  or pushed out of their pockets, and  hard extraction.  I do not particularly like this recommendation because these are indications of gross overpressure and you end up testing on the high side of the pressure curve.  The optical comparison method is much safer as you work up the load on the rising low pressure curve and finish at most, only one small increment over the ideal pressure.  Caution:  If you have a bullet chronometer, use it to measure velocities for reference only; do not load to a specific velocity as this can lead to dangerous overpressures.

Start by test firing a few Winchester factory .44 Magnum rounds.  Save the spent rounds because you will optically compare the primer condition of the factory rounds to your handloaded rounds, using an eye loupe or good magnifier.  Now prepare six each of your handloads, starting with a 20% reduction and going to 5% over the specified 28.4 grains for charge weight.  Use increments of 5%; therefore, load the series, -20%, -15%, -10%, -5%, 0, and +5%.  At the range, fire the -20% loaded rounds, then examine the condition of their primers in comparison with one of the fired factory rounds.  You are looking for the same degree of "flattening."  Hold the two close together and angle against the light while looking at them with the loupe.  You will immediately see that the flat areas are different.  At -20%, the primer flattened area should be much less than the flattened factory primer area and the edges much "rounder."  This is a sensitive and valid comparison.  Then fire the rest of the series, examining the primers in comparison to the fired factory cartridge  primers.  At some point you will see the exact (or almost exact) condition of the primers of your handloads to the factory rounds.  This is where you stop and fix the propellant charge weight for your handloads.  You can then test the velocity, if you like, with a chronometer.  Adjusted for barrel length (about 50 fps per inch), you should be close to the above table.  If you fire the next increment above your ideal load; examination of the primers will show significantly more flattened area and less radius on the primer edges; this likely would do no harm during testing, but under no circumstances use loads higher than the ideal as defined when the primers of your handloads and the factory cartridge both exhibit the same appearance under magnification after firing.

Equipment Recommended:

1. Lead melting furnace Lyman Mag 20
2. Bullet casting mold Saeco-Redding #448 two cavity 
3. Bullet sizer Lyman #450 with 0.429 die
4. Bullet lubricant Beeswax/Copper-Based Anti-Seize 2:1 Ratio
5. Case tumbler RCBS Sidewinder
6. Press Redding "O" Type
7. Decap die Lyman Universal
8. Case processor Lyman Universal Trimmer with accessories
9. Case sizing die Lyman Multi-Deluxe carbide
10. Case expanding die Lyman "M" die
11. Primer seater RCBS Positive Ram Priming Tool
12. Powder scale Lyman M500
13. Powder measure Redding Match Grade 3BR
14. Seating die Lyman Multi-Deluxe
15. Crimping die Redding Profile Crimp die
x
Many accessory items will be needed to complete the tool complement for this enjoyable hobby of fabricating one's own ammunition.  Browse through the catalogues or visit your local gun store for help.

Bullet Processing Procedure: 

1. Melt and flux wheel weight material.  Additional tin is obtained from 50-50 or 60-40 solder.  Temperature 650 - 750 degrees F.
2. Prepare mold.  Clean cavity and grease hinge and rubbing surfaces with silicon grease.
3 Cast bullets.  Mold must normalize before castings are good.
4. Size and lubricate bullets.  Use 0.429 sizing die.  Bullet lubricant in lower groove only.  Adjust sizer by adjusting bullet downward until lube enters crimping groove, then adjust upward until  crimping groove is free of lube.  Rinse bullets with solvent, then wash with hot water and detergent to remove bullet lube.
5. Heat bullets to 450 degrees F. in oven and let soak for three hours.  Quench en-masse in water to harden.
6. Lubricate bullets.  Use 0.430 sizing die to avoid burnishing bullet OD.  Adjust sizer to lube grease (lower) groove only.

Case Processing Procedure:

1. Tumble fired cases clean.  Use dry media.
2.  Decap cases.  Use Lyman Universal die.
3.  Clean primer pockets.  Use Lyman Ream/Clean Accessory Set.
4. Size cases.  Case lube option with carbide die.
5.  Trim cases, if required.  1.280 trim length (tolerance +0.005 -0.015).  Use Lyman deburr/chamfer tool on Universal Trimmer, 2 turns, to deburr cases.  Blow out chips with compressed air.
6. Expand case mouths.  Use Lyman Neck-Expanding "M" Die.  Adjust for 1/16" bullet entry into mouth of case.
7. Seat primers.  Use RCBS Positive Ram Priming Tool.  Check for primers a few thousandths below case head, by sight using a precision straight edge.

Final Assembly of Cartridge:

1. Charge cases.  Use Redding Powder Measure with Rifle Metering Unit.  28.4 gr. H110.
2. Seat bullets.  Preferred OAL 1.660.  Adjust for no crimp.
3.  Crimp case.  Use Redding Profile Crimp Die.  Adjust for medium crimp (mouth diameter reduction of 0.011).  Avoid damaging bullet OD.
4. Wipe clean finished rounds, inspect and box.

General Notes:

1. Approximate setting of Redding Powder Measure is 21.7 using the rifle metering chamber.  Construct a Grains vs. Micrometer Setting Graph per Redding instruction sheet. 
2. Avoid shortcuts such as seating and crimping case in one operation.  Dimensional variation will result.  Follow all steps for factory appearance and function.
3. See current manufacturers' catalogues for availability and stock numbers.
4. It may be necessary to modify slightly the seating die seating screw so as to positively push on flat of bullet head, not ogive, for uniform seating depth.  Check all dimensions with a micrometer (preferably) or a precision caliper.
5. It is considered prudent to test fire cartridges reduced-loaded as described above under the topic, "Optical Comparison Method for Load Development."  If firing tests confirm satisfactory results increase to a maximum of 28.4 grains.

Range Testing

.38 Special

I use a home-made target stand using a pair of sawhorses, a length of 2x4, and some scrap wood for uprights.  Staple a sheet of corrugated cardboard to the uprights and then staple your target in place to the cardboard.  I use simple paper plates to which I draw a solid circle in the center using a felt marker.  In this day and age, it would be possible to print some professional targets on a laser or ink jet printer.  Set up your target 25 or 50 yards from a solid rest.  If you are in the field, the hood of a car will work.  Use sand bags to gain a steady rest.  Do not use a vise type gun holder!  A chronograph is useful in determining how close you are to factory velocity.  I use a ProChrono, a cheap, but reliable unit.  For those of you who are interested in the finer points of exterior ballistics, see the bibliography.  Utilizing exterior ballistics formulae it is actually possible to zero in sights, say for 150 yards, using a 25 yard target!  You just have to do the math.  But for most handgun cartridges zeroing at 50 yards is just fine.  A gun zeroed-in at 50 yards will be very close to target at 25.  Generally, zero-in for the maximum range you intend to use as the errors at closer ranges are less than if you zero-in at a close range and try to shoot farther out.  Hunters may want to choose 100 yards for a zero, in which case you can zero-in at 25 or 50 yards, making the math calculations necessary to do this.  One of the problems with trying to zero-in a handgun for 100 yards, using an actual range of 100 yards, is that the shooter's error will confuse the issue of just where the true point of aim is, from which point the adjustment of the sights is made.

Test your ammo by firing a reduced-load round and inspect for signs of overpressure.  Look for case cracks,  case bulging, or primers that have been "flattened," perforated,  or pushed out of their pockets.  Hard extraction is another sign of excessive pressure.  If all is well, work your way up to the full load unless your velocity as tested on the chronograph exceeds factory specifications.

Field testing of the rounds so loaded according to the instructions in the above section, yielded an average muzzle velocity of 825 ft/sec and 236 ft/lbs energy using a Ruger GP 100 with a six inch barrel.  This performance  very favorably compares to factory ammo, typically 753 ft/sec and 200 ft/lbs with a four inch barrel.  As for accuracy, from sandbags, and using open sights, I was able to achieve consistent four inch groups at 25 yards.  When plinking at about  30 feet, six out of six pop cans met their fate.  While this may not sound as impressive as those results you are used to reading about in the gun magazines, it is very realistic for field shooting by less experienced shooters using an ordinary out-of-the-box handgun.  I did check some of the esoteric characteristics like velocity standard deviation although I did not keep the data for inclusion in this web.

I believe the round is excellent for plinking and non-critical target work.  It might also be good for police officer monthly qualifications.  For home defense, I recommend using factory hollowpoints, although they can be expected to shoot to a slightly different, but probably insignificant,  point of aim.

.44 Magnum

Review the information provided in the section for the .38 Special range testing for general information which is applicable to the .44 Magnum as well.  

Field testing of the 200 gr., 1650 fps .44 Magnum handloads yielded excellent accuracy out to 50 yards, using an Aimpoint 5000 optical sight on a Ruger Super Blackhawk 9.5 inch.  With practice, hunting of medium size game may be practical out to 100 yards maximum.  The bullet carries approximately 1200  ft/lbs muzzle energy making it quite adequate and legal for hunting North American game.  Its felt recoil seems less than the standard 240 gr., .44 Mag.

This cartridge is not recommended for home self-defense.  It is intended for sporting use only, as in plinking, range use, and hunting.

Bibliography

CAST BULLETS, Harrison, Col. E.H. USA (ret.), National Rifle Association of America, Washington, DC, 1979.
A complete treatise on everything having to do with casting bullets in your workshop.
 HANDLOADING, Davis, Wm. C., National Rifle Association of America, Washington, DC, 1989.
Assorted articles on just about every topic of interest to the reloader.  Covers all rifle and pistol cartridges with specific handloading data for each.
LYMAN PISTOL AND REVOLVER HANDBOOK, Ramage, C. K., Lyman Prod. Corp., Middlefield, CT, 1978.
An all-in-one source book covering the theory and practice of handloading.  Excellent section on exterior handgun ballistics.
RELOADERS' GUIDE, Hercules Incorporated, 1989.
Good source of information for those who employ this line of powder in reloading applications.
THAT EVERY MAN BE ARMED, Halbrook, Steiphen P., The Independent Institute, Oakland, CA, 1984.
An excellent history book covering the origins of the Second Amendment and contemporary debates concerning it.

Links

www.gunowners.org  Gun Owners of America

www.handguncontrol.org   Handgun Control Inc

www.lymanproducts.com   Lyman Products Corp

www.nra.org   National Rifle Association of America

www.rcbs.com  Omark Industries

www.redding-reloading.com   Redding Inc.