Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Replacing and Restoring Grips on a Smith & Wesson K-Frame Revolver

I've really enjoyed owning and shooting my 1940s vintage Smith & Wesson British Service Revolver.  But, I haven't been enamored with the false pearl grips.  I'm sure that the Brits didn't send their officers into harm's way looking like riverboat gamblers.  I wanted something no nonsense.  When the grips shifted a bit when I shot Buffalo Bore .38 S&W at the range, I decided to get some wooden grips.

I had a tough time finding some that would look right and I was torn between smooth walnut or more traditional civilian grips.  I was also on a budget.  Fortunately, I was able to find some used grips online at Sarco, Inc.  

How to Clean Old Wooden Grips for a Revolver

When they arrived, they were pretty dirty and left brown marks on my hands.  So, I searched the internet for advice on how to restore them.  There were plenty of videos featuring men with garages working with a variety of compounds to get the grips into shape.  I didn't have the budget or dedicated space to do that kind of project.  So, I used plenty of Dawn dishwashing soap, warm water, an old toothbrush and some elbow grease.  The grips cleaned up in no time.  I did a couple of cleaning sessions, rinsed them thoroughly and let them dry overnight in front of a fan.  Then I used some acetone nail polish remover to remove some silver numerals that had been painted onto the bottom of grips by some former institutional owner.  Then I soaked them with Dawn again and hit again with the toothbrush and put them in front of a fan for another evening.

Smith & Wesson K-frame Grips Drying After Cleaning

How To Refinish Wooden Revolver Grips with Tru-Oil

There are a number of ways to refinish revolver grips.  Serious hobbyists do some excellent work with linseed oil.  However, since my grips were going on a cosmetically challenged shooter grade revolver and since I was on a tight budget, I opted to use Birchwood-Casey Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish.  Some folks do an awesome job and achieve a fine sheen with this product, but I just wanted to apply a couple of coats and stop while I was ahead.

Here are the steps I used:
  • I created a work area with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
  • I applied the oil with a rag (left over material from some new khaki pants that had recently been hemmed). 
  • I applied the oil in the direction of the grain of the wood.
  • I used another old toothbrush to work the oil down into the checkered areas of each grip.
  • I immediately wiped off excess Tru-Oil with my rag.
  • I set the newly oiled grips on top of a plastic shoe box to dry. 
  • After 2 or 3 hours, I applied a second coat of Tru-Oil. 
  • Again, I set the newly oiled grips on top of a plastic shoe box to dry.
Here is one of the grips shortly after oiling when I set it out to dry:

Smith & Wesson K Frame Grips Drying After Tru-Oil was applied.

My Old Smith & Wesson Revolver's New Look

Here are a couple of photos of my old Smith & Wesson British Service Revolver sporting it's spiffy new old grips.  I think these grips give me a better grip on the firearm, have the appropriate vintage look, match the aging metal work, and look pretty darned good.

The wooden grips definitely fill the hand much better.  I like the extra purchase provided by the checkering as opposed to the smooth faux pearl grips.

Observations on Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish

I'll let the serious woodworkers debate the merits of Tru-Oil versus other finishes.  I'll just say that Tru-Oil was easy to apply, didn't require a dedicated garage space, and didn't stink up the apartment.

Applying Tru-Oil.  I used a rag to apply Tru-Oil to my grips.  Since some of the Tru-Oil seeped through the material, I also got some on my fingertips.  I found that for a small project, it was fairly easy to clean my hands using Dawn.  But, some of the internet gurus recommended using gloves and I think I would go that route for a larger project.

Using a Toothbrush with Tru-Oil.  I also tried applying Tru-Oil directly to the checkering by dunking a toothbrush in the bottle.  That made a mess as the brush comes out with way to much oil and drips all over the grips.  Fortunately, the rag was handy and it was easy to wipe away the excess oil.  The toothbrush was handy for getting the oil down into the checkering.  I just don't recommend dunking it into the oil.

Tru-Oil Smell.  My wife can pick up on the faintest of scents and she said she noticed it.  However, it didn't linger, we didn't have to run fans, and we didn't have to leave the apartment.  Compared with many other gun oiling and cleaning products, Tru-Oil wasn't objectionable.  Amazon sells it in various sizes and you can also get it at retailers like Walmart.

Overall, I'm really happy with my little project and I found Tru-Oil convenient and easy to work with on my pistol grips.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Give Aways & Great Tactical Gear from Ridgeback Tactical

I've recently been involved in some very cool knife and gear give-aways!  I've been fortunate enough to win some very cool tactical swag.

Winning is exciting!  I was lucky enough and persistent enough to win two re-tweet contests on Twitter.  A Charlotte, North Carolina, tactical gear shop and on-line retailer, Ridgeback Tactical, has been running contests to get retweets of their auction announcement posts.  They've had some awesome gear for sale through  They've got AR-style uppers and lowers, AR-box magazines of all kinds, tactical optics, great knives, bullet proof backpacks and more!  Best of all, they have really reasonable prices on all the gear they sell.

I started retweeting them when they announced a knife give away a few weeks ago and I won a great Boker pocket knife.  It's called the Boker Magnum:

Boker Magnum from Ridgeback Tactical

Boker is a German-based company with a long history of making excellent blades.  This particular model is made in China, but it is quite hefty for a pocket knife and it has a nice thick cutting blade that should stand up to some real use and abuse.  I'm putting together an every day carry kit for our car and I think this will be an excellent addition.

I followed up two weeks later with another RT victory.  This time the guys at Ridgeback sent me a laser etched magazine and a T-shirt!  The laser etched magazine is a great addition to my small collection.  They have etched magazines commemorating the flag, the Gadsden Flag ("Don't Tread on Me"), Army special forces, the Marines, the Air Force, and the Navy.  These magazines would make great gifts for veterans.  Plus, with etched magazines, shooters can know which magazines are their favorites and which have been problematic at a glance.

The T-Shirt and Laser Etched Mag that I won from Ridgeback Tactical

You can see all the Ridgeback Tactical auctions on right here.  But, I really recommend following them on Twitter and jumping in on their weekend Retweet contests.  You can help a small business grow by spreading the word about their products and you can possibly win some great gear when they have a contest.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Book Review: How to Shoot Like a Navy Seal

There are some big differences between formal target shooting and tactical shooting for self-defense.  In a real life self-defense situation, your body is charged with adrenaline.  You might have someone shooting at you.  Your life and the lives of innocent bystanders are at risk.  Speed matters.  Accuracy matters.  It's a real challenge.  However, since I received my formal firearms training in college, my training was focused on marksmanship for small bore rifle shooting at the rifle range.  As I read more about shooting, I've always wondered how to adapt lessons that applied to slow deliberate shooting at a range to practical shooting for self-defense situations.  Fortunately, the e-book How to Shoot Like a Navy Seal by Chris Sajnog bridges this training gap perfectly.

A US Navy SEAL in Afghanistan

While Chris Sajnog excelled in for many years as a Navy SEAL and SEAL firearms instructor, he does a good job of tailoring his book to normal everyday shooters.  I had feared that a book by a SEAL might require me to run hundreds of miles, half-drown myself, experience hypothermia, and total exhaustion before expending unlimited amounts of ammunition at the range.

Navy SEAL Trainees covered in mud

Instead, Chris dispenses with the bravado and writes cogently about the fundamentals of shooting and how those fundamentals are adapted to combat shooting.  He covers basics like safety, stance, grip, sight picture, trigger control, breathing, and follow through.  For each topic, he thoughtfully covers the basics in a way that is practical for the civilian or law enforcement shooter faced with a tactical situation.  He shows how the basic technique changes for combat shooting. Chris covers the basics of pistol and carbine shooting using ubiquitous Glock-style handguns and AR-style carbines.

How to Shoot Like a Navy Seal is a quick read and is filled with very sensible training advice and tips on combat marksmanship fundamentals.  However, once you register with links provided in the book, you also get a series of free online videos that demonstrate the concepts discussed.  I found these invaluable.  They let you see exactly what Chris writes about in the book.  He shows you how to practice at home.  If you have an Amazon Prime membership, you can get the book for very low cost or even borrow it.

Overall, I highly recommend Chris Sajnog's book, How to Shoot Like a Navy Seal, and recommend you download it today!  For more training from Chris Sajnog, check out the training company he founded:  Center Mass Group.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Interesting Mosin-Nagant Variants - The Finnish Tikka M39

If you've been into Mosin-Nagant rifles and want to expand your collection without changing calibers, you might check out the Tikka M39 from Finland.   Regarded by many as the most accurate bolt-action rifle of World War II, the M39 fires the same 7.62mmx54r cartridge as the Mosin-Nagant.

Here is a link for you to read much more detail about the Finn M39 on  That's all well and good.  But, if you actually want to own a Finnish M39, you might be more interested in clicking to sign up for a drawing to win one from Classic Arms. 

As the proud owner of a Swedish Mauser, I think the M39 would be an excellent addition to my own collection.  Good luck!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

What Firearm is Behind Your Blade of Grass?

Being Prepared to Resist Terrorism

The great Imperial Japanese Admiral Yamamoto was reputed to have cautioned against a World War 2 invasion of the United States saying that the Japanese would encounter a rifle behind every blade of grass.  Researchers now say that this quote is probably mis-attributed to the Admiral.  It's currently believed that a Navy man by the name of Robert Menard informally asked some Japanese Navy leaders following a joint exercise in 1960 about why the Japanese didn't invade the U.S. after Pearl Harbor and was told that they expected to find a rifle behind every blade of grass. 

Imperial Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto
While the quote wasn't Yamamoto's, it probably was an astute observation.  Fortunately, the Japanese never invaded the American mainland.  However, other deadly foreign ideologies have.  Our political leaders opened our doors wide open and even rolled out the red carpet for them.  We have a growing population of people who hate American values.  Now the enemy is among us just as if they were paratroopers for a foreign power.

Consequently, we all may have to be prepared to defend ourselves in an instant.  The enemy may find fault with you for the bacon you eat, the bathing suit you wear, your sexual orientation, your affiliation with the military, short sleeve shirts, or a woman's lack of a headscarf.  For all we know, the enemy might even be mad about a youtube video.  At least, that is what some political leaders have told us in the past.

While high profile terror attacks make the news, there have been plenty of smaller incidents that happen with scant notice.  These incidents often involve an enemy attacking a small number of people with a knife, a hatchet, or a firearm.  The media and politicians are all too happy to sweep many of these incidents under the rug and label them workplace violence, mental illness, or isolated incidents.  While these incidents may be isolated, they are terrorism and they are intended to bend America to the enemy's cultural and social will.  It's incumbent upon us as Americans to be prepared to resist such attacks.

The Smith & Wesson SD9VE
The question becomes:  What firearm is behind your blade of grass?  For our family, the Smith & Wesson SD9VE is our first line of defense.  It's a simple 9mm pistol that is easy to deploy, easy to shoot, easy to clean, easy to assemble, and compact enough to carry.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Arsenal of Fun: a Guide to .22-caliber Firearms for Target Shooting Fun

A Suggested Battery of Firearms for Recreational Target Shooting 

When you read today's gun magazines, you'll see endless numbers of firearms for personal defense. While they have their place, shooting is a recreational sport and pastime. If you don't have firearms just for fun, you are missing out.

Today, many shooters are focused on personal defense. They focus on military-style firearms and tactics against muggers, home invaders, zombies, and other threats. In a dangerous society, personal and home security is a serious issue. But, if fear and paranoia guide your shooting activities, you may be traveling a path that transforms you into a mall ninja. You can relax and unwind at the range. Shooting is and can simply be a fun recreational pastime and sport. Here are four types of .22-caliber firearms just for fun.

1. Single-Shot .22
- Shooting for fun begins with a single shot .22-caliber rifle. For beginning shooters who are focused on the fundamentals of shooting, the lack of a magazine full of ammunition, makes each shot count. Even experienced shooters can enjoy a return to old-fashioned marksmanship with a single-shot rifle where sight picture, breathing control, trigger control, and follow through produce results. Single shot .22 rifles are most commonly bolt-action rifiles, but break-action and falling block models are also available. Since shooters vary in size and shape, it's important to get a single shot .22 that's fits your body. However, gun makers like Keystone Sporting Arms, Marlin, and Henry Repeating Arms make wonderful single-shot .22 rifles.

2. Pump-Action .22 Carbine - Once upon a time, carnivals and fairs had shooting galleries where customers would shoot at targets with pump-action rifles firing .22 caliber short rounds. Today you can still find pump action .22 caliber rifles like the Henry Pump-Action Octagon rifle and the discontinued Taurus Model 62 Pump-Action .22 Carbine at gun shops. A pump-action rifle is fun to shoot and more involving to shooters than modern semi-automatic rifles.

3. Lever-Action .22 Carbine - The legends and lore of the Old West are closely connected to America's heritage of firearms ownership. Due to its appearance in hundreds of western movies, the Winchester 1892 rifle is an iconic old west firearm. Henry Repeating Arms makes a wonderful .22 Lever Action rifle that is faithful to the classic Winchester in many respects. Marlin's Model 39A is a classic lever action .22 rifle in its own right.

4. Single-Action .22 Revolver - The lever action rifle is only half of the Old West equation. A single-action revolver completes the cowboy action ensemble. Ruger makes highly respected cowboy-action revolvers. A shooter can't go wrong with the classic Ruger Bearcat or adjustable sighted Ruger Single-Six Convertible. Both revolvers provide the classic six-gun feel in a package that is economical to shoot. The convertible Ruger Single-Six allows shooters to switch between .22 long rifle and more powerful .22 Magnum calibers.

Ruger Single-Six .22 Revolver - By Stephen Z (Ruger Single Six) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

So, take a deep breath, don't worry about the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI), and relax about the zombies, you can go shooting just for fun!

Personal Experience
Taurus USA website
Henry Repeating Rifles website

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Should I buy a .25 Caliber Pistol?

Should I buy a .25 Caliber Pistol?

It's a question many people ask from time to time.  Invariably responses come back from various experts and naysayers about the efficacy of the caliber and the expense of the ammunition.  However, I'm going to comeback with my answer. Then, you can read the small print.  Are you ready?  Here it is:


A .25 ACP Caliber Nalava Pistol (Source:

But, not necessarily for the reasons you think.

Expert Opinions on the .25 ACP

First, lets's acknowledge the experts.  The .25 ACP round is not a very powerful handgun round.  In fact, it pales in comparison with the more popular .380 ACP, .38 Special, and 9mm rounds that are currently most popular in modern concealed carry.  The .25 ACP round is also a little more expensive than more common cartridges.  If you are expecting a gun fight, the .25ACP is simply not the best available choice. However, not every firearm is about self-defense and not every round of ammunition is about killing people.  Sometimes, there are other perfectly good reasons to buy a handgun.

Seven Reasons You Should Buy a .25ACP Pistol

1. James Bond carried a .25 Caliber Beretta. If you are fan of Ian Fleming's original James Bond novels, then you know that he initially carried a .25 ACP Beretta. According to "The Handguns of Ian Fleming" post on Absolutely James Bond blog, Bond carried a modified Beretta 418.

Beretta 418 - By Bob Adams ( ( [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons
This literary reference gives the .25ACP pistol a bit of James Bond cachet and a bit of a sexy edge. Ian Fleming himself carried a similar Browning .25 ACP pistol as a Naval Intelligence agent during World War II. Again, it's more cool points for any pistol of this size and caliber.

2. .25 Caliber pistols are cute. Just as some people are obsessed with collecting the largest caliber handguns and rifles, other people have fun collecting the smallest firearms. The small size and low amount of recoil of a .25ACP round might attract women and elderly people into the shooting sports and concealed carry community. Many men wish that they could get their wives to come shooting. A .25ACP handgun might do the trick. Lots of people are put off by the "threatening looks" of various tacti-cool firearms. A collection of truly tiny firearms is interesting and may draw people in. In a free country, if a .25 ACP handgun floats your boat, go for it!

FIE Titan .25 Caliber Pistol

3. .25 Caliber pistols pose a challenge for shooters. A tiny handgun poses a unique challenge at the range. A vest-pocket .25 caliber handgun typically has tiny sights, a small grip, and very short barrel. All of these characteristics make it difficult to shoot a tiny handgun easily. Thus, it's a new skill and a new challenge to master at the shooting range. Challenge is fun. However, when handling these firearms use caution. With a gun this small, you must take extra care to ensure that your fingers don't ever cover the muzzle.

A Beretta Bobcat (Model 21) - By BRoys (By Uploader) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

4. .25 Caliber pistols are part of history. The .25 ACP round was designed in 1905 for small semi-automatic pistols. Some noteworthy firearms have been produced for the caliber. The Baby Browning and Colt Model 1908 are among the most famous.

Colt 1908 Vest Pocket - By Judson Guns (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
 5. .25 Caliber pistols are affordable collectibles. Since the .25 ACP round has been supplanted for self-defense by more potent .380 ACP handguns, you can often find .25 Caliber handguns at low prices. For many, this represents an affordable entry and space-saving way to get into gun collecting.

6. .25 Caliber pistols are still viable for self-defense. While there are better rounds on the market for defensive use, big rounds in small guns makes for lots of uncomfortable recoil. For self-defense, the .25 ACP is still a viable alternative for people who are recoil sensitive due to arthritis and other infirmities. No sane person wants to get shot. The lethality of the .25ACP should not be under-estimated.

7. .25 Caliber pistols are deeply concealable. Pistols chambered for .25 ACP still hold a size advantage over pistols chambered for larger rounds. If you really are an international spy or an undercover cop, the .25 ACP handgun offers a viable handgun in the smallest possible size.